Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 27, 1957

An Argument (?) That Boomeranged

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

The strongest argument (?) that the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation have made against brethren who believe and teach that every congregation should be responsible for the care of its own indigent members, has been, "They do not agree among themselves." And "let them agree among themselves." Doubtless thousands of good honest brethren who read those papers have concluded that there is nothing but confusion and lunacy among those who opposed the teaching of the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation on institutionalism. If they had not reached those conclusions, it was not the fault of Brother Guy N. Woods and Brother Roy H. Lanier because they had free access to the columns of the Gospel Advocate to accuse the brethren who differed with them of being hobby riders, Sommerites, cranks, crackpots, and about everything else in their vocabulary. It seemed for a long time that Brother Guy N. Woods and Brother Roy H. Lanier were vying with each other for the chief seat in the editor's sanc-tum sanc-to-rum, and when Brother Lanier found out that he could not express his real views on their orphan home theories, he eased out and went to the Firm Foundation where he could be the chief mogul. It is naturally hard for two ambitious men to amalgamate or subordinate their ambitions. However, Brother Woods knew when the split came their chief argument was gone, that is, "they cannot agree among themselves." Therefore he erupted like a volcano and completely buried the Firm Foundation and Brother Lanier under an avalanche of Woods' philippics or woodspir-it.

On the editorial page of the Gospel Advocate April 11, 1957 Brother Guy N. Woods says: "Readers of the Gospel Advocate will learn with astonishment and sorrow that our erstwhile associate staff writer on this journal for nearly fifteen years, Roy H. Lanier, now with York College, York, Nebraska, has through the columns of the Firm Foundation — and that with editorial endorsement — launched an attack on the position which the Advocate throughout its one hundred years existence, has held and propagated touching the management and operation of homes for the care of fatherless and destitute children."

Yes, I am sure the "Readers of the Gospel Advocate will learn with astonishment and sorrow that" the two chief staff writers of the Gospel Advocate have "busted up" on the rocks of institutionalism, and their chief argument(?) "they cannot agree among themselves" has gone down the stream of absurdities. Brother Woods in his haste, trying to soothe the "astonishment and sorrow" of his readers says that Lanier, in the Firm Foundation, with editorial endorsement "Launched an attack on the position which the Advocate, throughout its one hundred years existence; has held and propagated touching the management and operation of home for the care of fatherless and destitute children." I do not want to add to Brother Woods embarrassment, but I challenge him to name an orphan home that was operated by the churches of Christ sixty years ago. I also challenge him to quote just one sentence from the pen of David Lipscomb advocating or "propagating orphan homes for the care of fatherless and destitute children."

Brother Woods is a lawyer and a Greek student, but he does not seem to know anything about the teaching of the pioneers. However, if two or three brethren should be stung by an institutional bee and decide to build an orphan home; "and, when necessary and feasible to obtain license from the state so to do, along with letters of incorporation in conformity with good business practice," I would suggest that they get Brother Woods to see after those matters for them. Speaking of Brother Reuel Lemmons, editor of the Firm Foundation, and Brother Roy H. Lanier's position on orphan homes, Brother Woods says: "We are saddened by this development for a number of reasons: (1) These brethren are in grave error in this matter, as we shall hereinafter abundantly show. (2) They have aligned themselves with, given aid and encouragement to, and insofar as Boles, Southern Christian, Potter, Childhaven, Tennessee Orphan Home, and many other such homes among us are concerned, have espoused the position of the hobbyists in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Lufkin."

You will have to give Brother Woods credit for being consistent. He has but one place to consign all who differ with him on how to care for "the fatherless and destitute children," and that is to the company of "the hobbyists in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Lufkin." Therefore, according to Brother Woods we now have four cities of hobby riders and cranks "Indianapolis, St. Louis, Lufkin and Austin." If I understand it, Indianapolis is W. L. Totty's home, St. Louis is Sterl A. Watson's home, Lufkin is Roy E. Cogdill's home, and Austin is Reuel Lemmons' home. It may be that in yoking those four cities together Brother Woods has unwittingly violated the scriptural injunction not to yoke oxen and asses together. You know, Lufkin and Austin are pretty strong pullers, especially Austin, and that proved Brother Woods' waterloo. He failed to consider the strong influence that some of the wealthy friends of the Firm Foundation have in the Gospel Advocate office, however his strikes came in such rapid fire he got in two hits before that influence began to work. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I venture the assertion that Brother Woods has written his last article against the Firm Foundation on institutional orphan home; and having rolled the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Guardian up in the same bundle, possibly he will let the Guardian alone, for a while any way, and that will be good for all concerned.

I have heard all my life that politics make strange bed fellows, but I never even dreamed that I would ever hear Brother Guy N. Woods tell, Yater, and Roy E. to move over and let Reuel and Roy H. crawl in bed with them. Brother Guy was so "het" up over the matter that he would not yoke Reuel and Roy H. together with Brother Norvel Young and the Lubbock elders, where they belonged, so far as their position was concerned. I hope the readers of the Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation will not become confused and discouraged because of this rift in their leadership. Of course when we get "a careful analysis" of the total situation" it will show that the institutional "boys" did not know the "How" themselves.

During the apostolic age the churches took care of the fatherless and indigent among them. If for any reason a congregation had more than they could care for, other congregations and individual members helped them. See Acts 6:1-7; Acts 11:27-30, and chapters 8 and 9 of Second Corinthians. This was the practice of the pioneers during the first hundred years of the "Restoration movement." When ever men think they can improve upon God's plan, confusion and discord are inevitable.