Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1936

The History Of The Boll Movement


The present issue of the Gospel Guardian represents a Special Number. Its purpose is to inform the brethren everywhere, especially all of the preachers, of the actual origin of the troublesome "Boll Question". Few have had access to the inside facts which reveal the heart of the trouble from its incipiency. A knowledge of these facts will serve to disillusion many people as to the spirit of the men back of the Boll movement. It has been generally believed that they were men of deep reverence and spirituality but there has never existed a movement which in personnel furnishes a better example of wolves in sheep's clothing than the Boll party and its leaders.

A Sufficient Apology

In order that all may know that this issue of the Gospel Guardian is not a personal attack of the editor upon mere persons, nor yet a peeve that he is nursing, nor even his original suggestion, attention is directed to the letters on page 3, bearing requests from eminent brethren for the publication of the matter here presented. These letters are from brethren whose integrity is beyond question, whose opportunity to know existing conditions and to sense the needs of the hour must be admitted, and whose standing will in all evidence carry weight with unbiased persons.

N. B. Hardeman. President of Freed-Hardeman College, is not only a recognized educator but is the top evangelist in the church today. E. H. Ijams, President of David Lipscomb College, and James F. Cox, President of Abilene Christian College, are scholars of first rank and hold places of leadership in the church and in the world. These men are not promoting prejudices nor harboring hatreds nor perpetuating personalities. It is their knowledge of affairs and their abiding interest in the truth that calls forth the request for this admittedly far-reaching stroke. Their letters of request furnish sufficient ground for this issue and therefore sufficient apology for it. The publication of their letters is not intended at all to side-step responsibility or to escape any consequence incurred by a defense of the truth, but rather in the belief that the readers are entitled to know that this issue of the Gospel Guardian represents more than the editor's own opinion and judgment.

"The Simple History Of The Case"

In the November Word and Work. Brother Boll gave what he called a "simple history of the case" regarding the digressive division—the instrumental music case. There was an apparent weakness running through the whole of his article manifestly because he felt the effect of his argument against division over an admitted nonessential like instrumental music as it applies to the division he has caused and is promoting. So we are now giving him the "simple history of the case" on his own division.

The history of the case dates from the clash R. H. Boll had with the Gospel Advocate twenty years ago over his teaching. He was at that time its front page writer. Because of his visionary teaching he was dismissed. Later, upon his agreement with the management of the Advocate not to teach his theories, he was restored to his place. But instead of respecting his agreement he began again to feature his theories. He was again removed from the Gospel Advocate staff. He then denied that he had ever made any such agreement, and preferred some very serious charges against the Gospel Advocate editors. Among the things he said was this statement, which appears in the Klingman-Kurfees correspondence from its original source: "I know the men who are back of the Advocate today are false and unrighteous.." He called them "The Nashville Council"; "These Scribes and Pharisees": and "false brethren". The "combine", as he called these brethren. consisted then of J. C. McQuiddy, E. G. Sewell, A. B. Lipscomb, M. C. Kurfees, F. W. Smith. E. A. Elam and T. B. Larimore. The language used by this man of boasted meekness should be a great disillusionment to those brethren who have believed him incapable of being wrong even in spirit. This is only a sample of the many things of like sort that he has said about his brethren.

Yet he has only recently repeated his condemnation of the "vicious" attitude of others. Of all men he should have the least to say of such a spirit. The course of his whole movement has been one of enmity and revenge. And he would make the church the victim of it—which is the tiling that makes the issue more than personal; it becomes an issue between K. H. Boll and every member of the church who would defend its sacred heritage of truth and unity.

Publicizing The Case

It has been asked by good people with good motives: Why give publicity to a local affair? The answer is because Brethren Boll and Jorgenson have forced the issue upon the whole church. Before Brother Boll began teaching his heresies in the Gospel Advocate there was no division— not even dissension—on the questions involved. Before Brother Boll went to Louisville, Kentucky, there was no division there over the question- But now he has his own party in and around Louisville, disfellowshipped by the original congregations: he has his school and his paper, both devoted to the policy of promoting his teaching; and his missionary machinery, to hold a "bread and butter" grip on the missionaries. And in various and sundry ways which do not commend them to our consciences, nor unto God, they have pushed their party lines beyond Louisville and have challenged the entire church with their manifestoes. Because of this we believe the brotherhood should know "the simple history of the case".

A Statement Of The Issue

The idea has prevailed that the case under consideration has been chiefly an issue between Brother Boll and certain other brethren and that it turns on a mere speculation in teaching. This is a mistake. It is not, in the first place, a personal matter and his teaching is not, in the second place, a mere speculation. Doctrines which default prophecies concerning the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom; that dethrone Jesus Christ; that reduce His church in this dispensation to a mere substitute, or a vestibule, which is no better if as good; that would restore the old nation of Israel in Palestine; that would reincarnate the Lord Jesus Christ and seat him on David's throne in Jerusalem, literal, Judaistic, Palestinian and earthly, to be a world king in a world kingdom patterned more after the pagan kingdom of Rome than the glorious kingdom of heaven— that doctrine I say is more than a speculation. It is a vitiating heresy—a human creed. To call them speculators and their system of teaching speculation is giving the whole thing too much consideration. Their teaching is false doctrine, blatant and flagrant. No lover of the precious truth should waste any tears of sympathy over these men and their movement as the light is turned on them

The Barriers To Fellowship

While the line of battle has been formed over the doctrinal issues at stake, there is yet another issue either before or behind that one which would require a settlement in the restoration of these men and in order to absolve this case. It is a moral issue—a question of discipline.

The Klingman-Kurfees correspondence sums up the barriers to fellowship:

1. The heretical teaching of R. H. Boll.

2. The action of the Highlands Church in withdrawing from those men who opposed the teaching of these theories in that church by E. L. Jorgenson which resulted in disfellowshipping charter members of the congregation.

3. The charges made by R. H. Boll against the brethren of the Gospel Advocate (including J. C. McQuiddy. M. C. Kurfees, E. A. Elam. E. G. Sewell. F. W. Smith, A. B. Lipscomb and T. B. Larimore. ) that they were "false and unrighteous" men. If that charge was true, those men could not be fellowshipped. If that charge was untrue, then R. H. Boll could not be fellowshipped until his false charges should be removed and amends made.

4. The agreement made by R. H. Boll with the Gospel Advocate, which agreement he broke and afterwards denied.

This four-point statement of the case represents the issue confronting the Boll party today. Two of those items are based on doctrine, and two of them represent a moral issue. Until both issues are settled it is out of the question for churches of Christ to have fellowship with the Louisville-Boll party. These barriers to fellowship were raised by themselves and if because of these things they are out of fellowship with the church in Louisville on what ground can these men be fellowshipped by churches of Christ anywhere? The question, therefore, stands as a question of discipline as well as one of doctrine.

The A. B. Lipscomb Letter

Among all of these matters there is one that is especially significant from the present angle. It is the exchange of letters recently—just this year—between R. H. Boll and A. B. Lipscomb. Feeling the effect of a congealing sentiment against him. Brother Boll writes to Brother Lipscomb, as the only living witness to these things, to exonerate him. Brother Lipscomb's reply definitely fixes the blame. Read it. It is the straw that breaks the camel's back. It means that either all of these brethren who testify against Brother Boll are altogether unrighteous and untruthful, and Brother Boll himself alone truthful and righteous—or that he is the offender and has grievously sinned not only against the brethren with whom he was associated but also against the church which he has divided. His sin reaches up to heaven. Truly, "it will be but a little while longer, and we shall answer to Him" and it is the prayer of us all that Brother Boll may yet see the error of his course and set these matters right. He is the only man who can do it. It remains to be seen whether he will rise to do it or whether like Ephraim joined to his idol he will pursue the diabolical and devious way that has characterized his course of the twenty years behind him.

The Highland Episode

Vital to the case also is the record of facts submitted by C. A. Taylor of the action of the Highland Church (the Jorgenson-Janes church in Louisville) which withdrew fellowship from brethren Taylor and Rubel because they opposed the teaching of these heresies by E. L. Jorgenson in that congregation. The result of this action was division, the disfellowshipping of the older and charter members of the congregation who built and paid for the house of worship they occupied. This action—which Brother T. Q. Martin called a "piece of high-handed wickedness" and "this Highland outrage"—has been a stench in the nostrils of E. L. Jorgenson and the Highland church for years. They have sought in every way possible (except the only right way—the acknowledgment of their wicked deed) to escape the odium of this action. They have issued statements and explanations but have never rectified their wrong. The latest effort was the camouflage of "restoring" Taylor and Rubel upon supposed confessions and concessions they were said to have made. The sole purpose of this formality was an attempt to justify themselves, an effort at self-exoneration, at the expense of brethren Taylor and Rubel. Their very action in this matter, in their reiteration of false accusations against these men, only added insult to injury. Of course, such a" crafty maneuver was rejected by brethren Taylor and Rubel and all of those good people who stand with them. Notwithstanding this fact, E. L. Jorgenson and his group have circulated the report that these brethren were "restored" to the fellowship of the Highland church, and to carry out their designs they have withheld the facts from their own congregation—they did not read the reply of Taylor and Rubel to the church! For that reason and in order that these things may be known to all, that misrepresentation may be counteracted and truth prevail, the record of these actions has been supplied by Brother Taylor for this issue of the Gospel Guardian and will be found on page 12. The false move the leaders of the Highland church have made in this affair is the tacit admission, without a confession of it, that their action was a fatal blunder. They have been shrewd enough to twist certain statements made by brethren Taylor and Rubel into "concessions" but they have not been clever enough to conceal their strategy. As the matter stands, the responsibility for making the teaching of E. L. Jorgenson a test of fellowship in the Highland church rests solely on him and them and the only way to absolution in the case is for them to unconditionally revoke the action taken against these brethren, accompanied by whatever other amends the injury to these brethren and to the church may demand.


Over the period of these years Brother Boll has made many propositions. Each time, however, he has retreated from his own offers and his propositions have become a sort of a wolf! worn cry. As a connection between some of the facts herein presented it seems almost necessary to reproduce two editorials that appeared in the Gospel Advocate in 1932-33 when the writer was editor of that paper. The gesture of Brother Boll's hand under "Here's My Hand" and his subsequent "Doctrinal Manifesto" and the two editorials called forth by these utterances of his, furnish the actual setting for the present angle of things. In order that the readers may have a view of the whole movement in its stubborn course the 1932 "Doctrinal Manifesto" is reprinted herein together with the replies that were made to it.

Another important link in the chain of events is the article of Brother T. Q. Martin, dealing with the Jorgenson "Circular Letter" which appeared in the Christian Leader several months ago. Brother Martin is one of the most loved men in the church. He is a man of deep reverence and is not by nature a controversialist, but having exact knowledge concerning the things of which the Jorgenson "Circular Letter" was such a gross misrepresentation he could not let it pass uncalled. This article is vital to the present status of the case and should be read.

We commend these things to the consideration of that great brotherhood of gospel preachers to whom this issue of the Gospel Guardian is being sent complimentary, believing that when these facts are known to the brethren. the audacity of the men promoting the Boll party will stand self-rebuked, and that in the future neither countenance nor quarter will be given any of them, that this party may become entirely localized to R. H. Boll's own little diocese of churches in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky.

A Question For The Neutrals

For the "Boll sympathizers" who are all the time saying that they "do not believe the doctrine" but are neutral in the controversy and who hold the men of this movement in such fond regard that they cannot "draw the line on them" nor "cast them out", there is yet a question. Since they have criticized the Haldeman Avenue church and the "Haldeman Preachers" and in fact all the rest of us who have fought the battle on this issue—in view of the facts presented herein, let them suggest what course should have been pursued, that could have been pursued in interest of truth and righteousness. What would you have done in the matter, brethren? Can you point out anything in this entire record that is favorable to R. H. Boll and his party? If so, it is time to cease neutrality and come to his defense. If not, it is still time to cease neutrality and come to the defense of these righteous principles for which the faithful brethren in Louisville have so uncompromisingly stood through all opposition and criticism during these years. In short, if you were in Louisville with whom would you "play ball"—with whom would you associate? The answer to these questions will determine what your attitude should be toward these men and their movement anywhere else. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly: and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent". There is no alternative in the application of and obedience to this divine command.

Dear Brother Wallace:

In order that our young preachers and others may be informed regarding the origin and continued agitation over the teaching of Brother R. H. Boll and others, we believe it will be in order for you to gather up such facts as have appeared in various publications and tracts and publish these in your magazine with as little comment as is necessary. You have doubtless seen a recent correspondence between Brethren Klingman and Kurfees. Such a publication would serve as a ready reference to facts that have entered into this unfortunate affair.

After you have prepared your material, we would suggest that you confer with representative brethren for final approval before publication. Fraternally, Nov. 5. 1935 N. B. Hardeman


E. H. Ijams Dear Brother Cox:

For the last fifteen or twenty years, there has been more or less agitation over the question of Premillennialism and over questions pertaining to Brother Boll and his teaching. I have young preachers and others ask me the facts about what has been done and the origin of the trouble.

I have just thought that it might be well to ask Brother Wallace to get up these matters with no more comment than is necessary to explain and let this appear in his magazine so that all of us might have it for reference. One reason I am writing is because I have seen a recent correspondence between Brother George Klingman and Brother J. F. Kurfees. They have reviewed this pretty thoroughly and it seems to me that what they have written, together with additional facts, would be worthwhile to these young preachers who knew nothing of differences at the beginning. If this meets with your approval. I am suggesting that we sign the enclosed. I hope all may be well with you.

Faithfully yours.

Nov. 5, 1935 N. B. Hardeman


Dear Brother Wallace:

I wish to commend very highly the first issue of your magazine, "The Gospel Guardian". I am sure it will do much good. I shall be very glad to have a copy of it come regularly to our library so that our young preachers may have access to it.

The Boll question has been agitated so long and so many have written about it and discussed it that there is much confusion today in the minds of many of the younger members of the church. In order that our young preachers may be informed regarding the origin and continued agitation concerning R. H. Boll and his teachings, we believe it wise for you to gather up such facts as have appeared in various publications and tracts and publish these in your splendid magazine with as little comment as is necessary. You have doubtless seen a recent correspondence between Brethren Klingman and Kurfees Such a publication as we are requesting would serve as a ready reference to facts that have entered into this unfortunate affair.

After you have prepared your material, we would suggest that you confer with representative brethren for final approval before publication.

This is a form letter which was sent me by Brother N. B. Hardeman with request that I write you as president of this institution. I am very glad to concur with him and others in this request to you for this valuable contribution to the church.

With very best wishes to you in your great work. I am, Yours fraternally, James F. Cox.


Dear Brother Kurfees:

I have read very carefully every word of the entire seven page correspondence between you and Brother George Klingman- And I say to you frankly, that to me it looks like the last word on the matter. I cannot imagine what reply will be made to this, if any. And I do not see how Brother Klingman can afford not to say something in reply. It would be too much for me to try to ignore it if I were in his place.

After reading all the correspondence, including the statements from Brethren Smith, Boll, Lipscomb and Klingman, I am forced to the following conclusion:

When Brother Klingman makes some satisfactory reply to your letters, or condemns Brother R. H. Boll for being responsible for these conditions, then I may understand why he opened "this controversy". But until then, I shall continue to wonder.

I am always happy to see any one correct any error in his teaching, or conduct, therefore I shall be delighted to have any information concerning any endeavor toward correction.

Nov. 18, 1935 Thankfully, I, A. Douthitt.