Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1936
NUMBER 1, PAGE 15a-17b

"That Circular Letter From Louisville"

T. Q. Martin's Reply in the Christian Leader to the E. L. Jorgenson Circular Knocked Fire, Creating Consternation in Boll Camp, and Provoked R. H. Boll to Write A. B. Lipscomb the Ill-Fated Letter Which Brought a Crushing Reply. The Facts Presented in this Letter Alone Are Sufficient to Condemn the Whole Course of the Boll Movement.

The Gospel Advocate of December 20th, 1934, published an editorial from the pen of Brother F. B. Srygley, under the above heading. I had received from different persons three copies of that same letter. I suppose these copies of the letter were sent to me because of the reflection cast upon "Haldeman preachers". I suppose I have conducted more meetings for the Haldeman Ave. congregation in Louisville. Ky. than any other man now living, that is counting the meetings before and since the building of the present house used as a place of worship by this congregation. I shall later give attention to what is said in the letter about Haldeman Ave. But first I notice briefly, item 1 in the letter, to which item, Brother Srygley, who was present at the Winchester debate replied in his own inimitable way.

The Winchester Debate

That item asserts that the doors of the meeting house of the First Christian Church at Winchester, Ky. were closed against the debate "for one single solitary cause. The vicious spirit and method of the negative".

From the printed debate and from the testimony of competent witnesses who attended the debate, it develops that Brother Neal after boldly challenging the brethren anywhere and everywhere to debate with him, when his challenge was accepted, objected to having moderators, selected a chairman to preside, and when his chairman assumed the functions of moderator, and practically, the functions of dictator, he uttered no word of protest. Foy Wallace did not tamely submit to being told what he should say or not say in the debate. I have no doubt that Brother Wallace spoke very plainly and positively. I have heard him speak very emphatically when condemning error, but to say that his course was "vicious" or "unchristian" would not be true. "Vicious" is a very ugly word, especially coming from one of a group of brethren for whom special piety, long suffering and mildness in manner are claimed. Every time one of these disturbers of Zion is criticized an apologist arises to, tell us of the piety, self-sacrifice, devotion to Christ that these brethren display. I find that these sweet-spirited brethren can actually, when their pet theories are called in question, apply very ugly epithets to their brethren.

Let those who attended the Winchester debate after it was moved to the courthouse, answer as to whether Brother Neal displayed the same sweet spirit that he seemed to possess while in the house of the First Christian Church.

The Louisville Churches

But here is item 4 in the above named letter:

"There are in Louisville and in this immediate district (on the Kentucky side) thirty simple congregations of Christ. This count goes no further out than many of our brethren go for an evening's service. In three of these, and in three only, Boll, Janes and Jorgenson are not fellowshipped by the leaders. The three are Haldeman Ave., and the two selected groups; Atwood (which is Haldeman's mission) and Napoleon (which is the group formerly at Highlands). At one time there was a small group led off from Longfield Ave. by one Pendergrass who is now gone: whether they meet any more or not I do not know. One could almost say the only division in Louisville is Haldeman against all the rest! For all the opposition has grown out of opposition from Haldeman preachers".

This makes the impression that Haldeman Ave. congregation, and "Haldeman preachers" are a perverse group. No mention is made of any cause for opposition on the part of Haldeman Ave. nor of any cause why "the group formerly at Highlands" is not still there.

I formerly lived in Sellersburg, Ind., in the days before the divisive speculation was thrust upon the churches of Christ, by a "group" that would not listen to counsel or advice from any source. In those days I attended union prayer meetings at Portland Ave., in Louisville, Campbell St. (now Haldeman Ave. ) and at Highlands. There was beautiful fellowship among all these congregations. You could not tell who was a member of any particular congregation unless you should ask the question. All the "groups" in Louisville know this is a true statement.

I happen to know that Haldeman with its "selected groups" teaches and practices just what it taught and practiced when fellowship among the Louisville congregation was intact. Who broke the fellowship and provoked the opposition?

Have you ever known division in the body of Christ, when those who stood firm for the plain, simple teaching of God's word were not accused of causing the division? The Louisville case is not an exception. Let us note some facts of which the Jorgenson letter gave no hint.

Highland's "High-Handed Wickedness"

In May, 1918, Janes, Jorgenson and their associates in the Highlands Church, Louisville, Ky. withdrew Christian fellowship from R. 0. Rubel and C. A. Taylor, two as fine specimens of Christian manhood as I have ever known. This piece of high-handed wickedness was pretty thoroughly discussed in the Gospel Advocate of June 20th. and 27th and Oct. 10th. 1918.

The Haldeman Ave. congregation and hundreds of other brethren condemned that presumptuous course knowing that the reason for such action against these excellent brethren was their opposition to the speculative guesses about unfilled prophecy that these disturbers of the churches were and are still pressing. We are commanded to mark and to turn away from such, and inasmuch as that wrong has never been righted. Haldeman Ave. and others for 16 years have observed the apostle's instructions in Rom. 16:17. When congregations can withdraw fellowship from good brethren for opposing factions and divisive teaching, and go unrebuked, it is time to do some serious thinking and praying.

The late J. C. McQuiddy, writing about this Highland Ave. outrage, in Gospel Advocate Aug. 14. 1919 page 789 said:

"Christians should withdraw fellowship from him (E. L. Jorgenson) and in a spirit of gentleness should plead with him to repent and beg forgiveness for his unwarranted and unchristian conduct. No other course will satisfy the demands of justice.... Those responsible for the withdrawal have failed to give a scriptural reason for their conduct, though most earnestly entreated to do so. Is such vicious conduct to go down as an example to the churches of the future, unrebuked and unreproved? It is not an ordinary case. For an utter disregard of the Scriptures it has few, if any, equals. Every Christian should rebuke the wrong, not in a spirit of vengeance, but in a spirit of meekness. They should do it first for the salvation of E. L. Jorgenson and those responsible with him. Second, they should do it that other churches may not fall into a similar sin.

Does some one say I should not quote from Brother McQuiddy, since he had gone to his reward? Well, I have not misquoted him. And others have gone to their reward, between whom and Brother Robt. H. Boll there was, and remains to this day a question of veracity.

The Question Of Veracity

That Brother Boll is the chief man in advocating the peculiar views that have disturbed the churches in Louisville and elsewhere, cannot be successfully denied nor evaded. When the controversy between the Gospel Advocate and Brother Boll first arose, my confidence in both the management of the Advocate and in Brother Boll was such that I hoped matters would be righted in a little while.

My confidence in Brother Boll was shaken when in 1915 such men as E. G. Sewell, M. C. Kurfees, F. W. Smith. J. C. McQuiddy and A. B. Lipscomb claimed that there was an agreement between them and Brother Boll, that he, R H. Boll, would cease to feature his teaching on unfulfilled prophecy, which agreement Brother Boll denied. It did seem strange to me that the five brethren had falsified and that Bro. Boll alone had uttered the truth, and yet either the five brethren or Brother Boll did falsify.

Now four years passed and the matter stood thus, a question of veracity. In 1919 Brother Boll made a statement, in substance this: There are two senses in which the word agreement is used, and that he had made an agreement in a sense. I was forced to believe that Brother Boll was uncandid and that he was bound to know that he had not "come clean".

When he later made ugly, grievous charges, embodied in epithets which he applied to Advocate editors, my faith in the man simply died.

Here are the names of the Advocate editors at that time: E. G. Sewell. T. B. Larimore. M. C. Kurfees, E. A. Elam, F. W. Smith, J. C. McQuiddy, A. B. Lipscomb.

All these men save A. B. Lipscomb have gone hence. Brother Lipscomb lives at Valdosta. Ga. and may be consulted by any who are interested, as to his earnest, yet unavailing effort to induce the Highlands Ave. brethren, those guilty of the high-handed outrage against C. A. Taylor and R. 0. Rubel, to make some amends for their action. These men Taylor and Rubel were and are in fellowship with Haldeman Ave. The faithful soldiers of the cross, listed above, as deceased editors of the Gospel Advocate, lived and died in the fellowship of Haldeman Ave. congregation.

Boll's Vindictive Spirit

Now here are some of the epithets hurled at these men whose memory loyal Churches of Christ delight to honor, by R. H. Boll who is almost worshipped by some of his admirers: "The Nashville Council": "These Scribes and Pharisees": "false brethren": "I know the men who are back of the Gospel Advocate today are false and unrighteous": "they have inaugurated a campaign of willful misrepresentation"; "they sit in judgment on men and even on congregations—they brand, stigmatize, and ostracize whom they will, while they themselves are responsible to no man."

All these charges and epithets are found on page 5 of "A Statement Of Facts About R. H. Boll", published by the lamented F. W. Smith. Shall all this pass without rebuke?

That there is a serious division in Louisville over the teaching of Brother Boll and his associates cannot be ignored. That these brethren of the "Word and Work" have pressed their views on unfulfilled prophecy, to the disruption of congregations cannot be denied. It is not with me a question of how many or how few fellowship these brethren: but I shall still hope and pray that fellowship among the congregations in Louisville may be restored. But such fellowship can never come until those who have broken that fellowship, make amends for their course.

I have tried to write in the spirit of love. I know that I cherish no animosity toward any one. I write in the spirit of fairness, and I know it unfair to charge Haldeman Ave. and "Haldeman preacher?" with the responsibility for the division in Louisville. Ky.

T. Q. Martin.