Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1936
NUMBER 1, PAGE 18-19

A Doctrinal Manifesto

(Editorial By R. H. Boll, In Word And Work. 1932)

In view of recent utterances of some religious journals, some editorial, some otherwise, the editor of Word and Work feels impelled to state again and anew his doctrinal position and church relationship. It appears that some editor and some other writers, and perhaps some other brethren, are not wholly decided as to whether they should any longer continue in fellowship with some of the rest of us who do not share their views of prophecy. In fact, they are almost decided to sever relationship with the brethren who so differ, unless, of course, those brethren would come across and fall into agreement with their views, which views they seem to have set up for a standard of soundness and basis of fellowship. Now, in order to clarify things and to make it easier for those writers and their friends to decide whether they can consistently fellowship with the brethren whose prophetic views are obnoxious to them, I thought good for my part to state my position, which is the only position and" creed to which I can and will subscribe. I feel assured that the rest of the objectionable brethren (though I have not consulted any of them) will indorse the same position. To this position I shall be true: and if any of us must be rejected from fellowship on such grounds. 1 can see no other chance. They will just have to put us out!

I shall not, however, try to formulate any statement. I simply quote from my tract. "The Church I Found," published about ten years ago. In that tract I outlined what I still believe to he the simple. nonsectarian Christian position.

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.

In Regard To Standards Of Doctrine

How as a babe in Christ I conceived of the Christian's freedom in personal responsibility to his Lord—comes back to me in the remembrance of little casual disputes. On one occasion a man said to me: "I know what you people believe on the intermediate state—I heard one of your preachers on it not long ago." "That doesn't signify anything." I answered him. "The preacher you heard may have been right, or may have been wrong. We are not bound to our preachers, nor by anything any man among us may say. Our only appeal is to the word of God." That was a month or so after my baptism. I have had no occasion to alter my position on that matter. To this day I take it that no man or set of men, however learned, venerable, and good, can be authority to a simple Christian. If any man is so scholarly or so deeply versed in the Scriptures, it ought to enable him to point out and set forth that much more clearly what the Scriptures say on any matter in question. If he cannot do that, his reputation is vain. It is certain that, for all his reputed knowledge and" ability, we will not take his word. When he can point out God's word on the matter, so that I myself can sec that it is God's word. I accept it—not because that able brother pointed it out but because it is God's word. To this day. in my judgment, the consideration that this or that great man taught thus and so, or that the editors of such and such a religious paper stand for this or that, or even that "the brotherhood" believes thus and so, weighs absolutely nothing, so far as the determination of the faith of the humblest Christian is concerned....

Such was my understanding when I became a Christian, and such I conceived to be the position of the one and only church to which I then subscribe or to which I ever expect to belong. To these principles I have never been unfaithful.

In accordance with this principle, I have never set up my findings in the Word of God as the standard of truth and test of fellowship for any one, nor allowed any one else's views to be set up as a standard for me.

I will quote a little further in order to help those militant brethren better to judge whether I belong to the church of Christ, and to their fellowship:

The Creed Question

I do not belong to any "church of Christ" which stands on any other platform, nor do I own any doctrine of any "brotherhood" which narrows down, or superadds to this simple basis of faith any doctrines of men, or any creed formulated by men. As I would not subscribe to a human creed that contained error, or any tenet or article of faith contrary in my judgment to the word of God—so neither would I subscribe to any man's creed if that creed contained to the dot all I now believe, and all I understand the Bible to teach. I can accept no human creed, good or bad. The moment a Christian bows to a human creed he ceases to be a simple follower of Christ. An alien authority has intruded between him and his Lord: and his claim to be a member of the church of Christ requires the explanation that he belongs to that particular party which holds to such and such a creed as the authoritative expression of its faith. If a man thus bound to a creed should see occasion (as any living, growing, thinking man must) to correct past views, or to enlarge past conceptions, and to take in new truths from the storehouse of God. he would either have to shut his eyes to light, or break away from the old creed, and formulate a new one every time he made a step forward. Thus comes the multiplication of sects. But the true Christian is committed simply to the word of God in the sight of the Lord—all of it, and it alone, and that is his ultimate and only standard of truth and doctrine, in which lies boundless scope for his growth and progress, and correction.

Now, if those brethren, over and above the fundamental statement of the faith, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the acceptance of the Scriptures as the word of God and only authority in faith and practice—if in addition to this they demand that in order to fellowship certain beliefs of theirs on certain points of prophecy shall be accepted, there is no alternative, but they must exclude us from their sect; for some of us certainly will never subscribe to their human creed. Of course they think their creed is true and correct—I give them credit for honesty of conviction. But what creed-makers ever thought otherwise than that their articles of faith were the Simon-pure truth? Indeed, they may have been for the most part and so far as they went true and correct. But I came out from an organization which set up a man-made creed, and I do not propose to belong to another of like sort I quote again:

The Church I Didn't Join

After all the writer has gone through, would he have to fear that while endeavoring to stand simply as a Christian, and to belong only to the church spoken of in the New Testament, he might inadvertently have fallen in with a sect which, while calling itself by that good name, stands upon something else than the whole inclusive and exclusive basis of the whole word of God? I cannot admit such a thought for a moment. When I say that I stand absolutely and foursquare upon the word of God, all of it and nothing but it—not any creed or theory of any man, either of my own or any other's, and that by that Word and with it I am content to stand or fall—I am declaring the fundamental position of the church of Christ, and of many thousands of simple Christians, my brethren in the Lord. If there be any organization that stands for less or more than this; if there be a party holding articles of faith and tenets of man's deduction and manufacture as a creed and standard of doctrine, written or unwritten— I do not belong to such a party organization, let its name be what it may. If, for example, there is a body of religionists who, in order to fellowship and unity with them, would demand submission to tenets such as—that Dan. 2:44 was (or was not) fulfilled on Pentecost; that the church is (or is not) the equivalent of the kingdom; or that Christ will not come until the world is converted; [or that Christ now is or is not on David's throne]; or perhaps, that certain portions of Scripture (say the prophecies) are not to be taught, or if taught not to be insisted on for what they plainly say and mean in simple, faithful acceptation of the inspired words—if I say there were such a body demanding submission to such or such like articles of faith, on pain of ostracism and excommunication from their brotherhood and fellowship—they do well to count me out, for indeed I belong to no such sect.

Now, this ought to make the matter perfectly clear. If then, those brethren insist that certain of us must subscribe to their views on prophecy (or else promise to keep silent on the subject), we must regretfully permit them to draw their line on us and sorrowfully leave them to their human sect which they have formed and which they call "church of Christ." But with the rest (who are many) who are merely simple Christians. I stand fully and whole-heartedly identified. May I quote once more from the same tract?

But from the people who call themselves simple Christians—with whom also I am wholly at one in all understanding of all that is required to make a man a Christian, and in all matters of congregational practice; who stand upon the whole word of God, willing to test all things by that word alone, in brotherly fellowship with all who stand with them upon the same broad (and narrow) basis—from them I would not be severed or distinguished for any consideration, nor for all the world excluded from their Christian fellowship. To that following I belong; of that people I am one, though the very least and unworthiest, were I cut off from them. I should be at a loss indeed, for I have no other plea than theirs, and nothing else to preach or teach, nor any sort of distinctive doctrinal principles to found a sect upon, even if I were capable of so evil a thing—which please God, I am not.

Here I must rest my case. I should be sorry to see a contingent within the professing church of Christ forget their principles and degenerate into a creed-bound human sect. But for no fear or favor, nor for the sake of any specious plea for unity, can I subscribe to anybody's creed or join their sect. So make up your minds, brethren, as to how it shall be.

Does It Read That Way?

H. L. Olmstead, a tooth and toe-nail premillennialist says that the song "I know that my Redeemer liveth and on the earth again shall stand" has "either been omitted or those words changed in some of the new books". He then adds: "I notice that they still read that way in Job. 19:25, 26." Now, does it read that way? Get your Bible, Brother Olmstead, read what Job says, apologize for what you said he said, and take it back, unless you want your perversion of Job's statement to stay on record. What Job said reads this way: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth". Neither the King James Version nor the Revised Version says; "again shall stand". And Job's statement was made several centuries before the Redeemer came and did stand upon the earth. Brother Olmstead either ignorantly or deliberately misrepresented Job, either of which is bad enough. But that's just a sample of how Premillennialists get their theory. It is just as easy for them to read things into the text that are not in it and ignore things in the text that are in it, as it is for an ordinary sectarian "Fundamentalist" like J. Frank Norris, with whom they have so much in common.