Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1936
NUMBER 1, PAGE 21-22

Brother Boll Withdraws His Hand

(Editorial in Gospel Advocate by Foy E. Wallace Jr.. Replying to The Final Statement of R. H. Boll Withdrawing His Offer of Harmony, January. 1933. )

There have been three novel issues of the Word and Work since October. In the October number Brother R. H. Boll said "Here's My Hand" on the proposition "that nothing shall be taught on any prophetic theme except what can be read from the Bible" and "to regard carefully, even scrupulously, what the passage in question actually says." But immediately succeeding this offer came the November Word and Work with a triple "Doctrinal Manifesto" published in special edition and sent free to all the preachers. With strictures on the manifestoes, the Gospel Advocate without reservation accepted Brother Boll's proposition. Brother Boll said: "If the brethren who have pressed the other side of the controverted matters will bind themselves in like manner, harmony ought to be complete." If by "the other side" another theory is meant, the Gospel Advocate is left out for we advocate no theory. But assuming that Brother Boll meant those who oppose his theory, and therefore included us, we accepted his proposition. Believing that he was sincere in making such an offer, we expected favorable results. Instead, the December Word and Work brings us the following statement, given in full as it appeared in that paper:

"When a fair and brotherly proposition like that presented in the October Word and Work ("Here's My Hand") is made an occasion of Rather denunciation and misrepresentation, it is evident that the trouble lies deeper than mere disagreement on prophetic teaching. Harmony can never "be complete." even with the extremist adherence to the letter of Scripture, unless there be a disposition to deal kindly and uprightly with brethren.

When a group of men set up their own prophetic views as a standard of sound doctrine, and on the penalty of ostracize: demand submission to the same—that is making a creed: and that—not mere difference and controversy, or brotherly correction of what they believe to be error—is "the insidious peril that is threatening the churches."

If our October proposal might yet be accepted in that fraternal spirit in which it was offered, and as intended to apply, not to one side only, but to all parties involved there would still be hope that something good would come of it. Meanwhile we assure our readers that the Word and Work shall not be drawn into unpleasant and unprofitable controversy. Beginning with the New Year, the Word and Work intends to make no further reference to adverse utterances in the papers. With malice toward none and charity toward all, we shall try simply, and to the best of our ability, to teach the word of God and by the manifestation of the truth commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God".

The foregoing "utterance" is rather a tame sequel to the virulent outbursts that have appeared in the Word and Work lately. In order that the issue be kept clear and the record straight before the brethren, a few final observations seem necessary.

First: It was immediately after this "fair and brotherly proposition like that presented in the October Word and Work" that Brother Boll featured his triple "Doctrinal Manifesto" in a special edition of his magazine which he sent free to all the preachers.

Second: In this special edition, sending forth three editorial encyclicals, harsh and denunciatory terms, even to the point of redundancy, were hurled at the brethren who oppose Brother Boll's positions on prophetic subjects. We pointed out a list of seventy-five words in one issue of the Word and Work the use of which was more severe than anything that has appeared in the Gospel Advocate. In fact, Brother Boll's doctrinal manifesto could quite appropriately have been named "A Doctrinal Denuncio." His talk about dealing "kindly" and "uprightly" with brethren would be received with better grace, as would also his protestations of charity, if he would remember that "charity begins at home."

Third: It is evident that Brother Boll insists on making a personal matter of these differences. But it is not a personal matter. We are interested only in the issue. There are thousands of brethren, the writer included, who could not make it personal if they wished, fix there are no personal differences or partisan feelings involved. Why should Brother Boll withhold unity from the brethren on such grounds and thereby try to force personalities upon them when they are interested in nothing except the issue of truth and unity upon it? It is hard to harmonize Brother Boll's valediction of "malice toward none" with his action in withdrawing his hand on his own proposition. The inevitable impression on the minds of many brethren just as sincere will be that his action in this matter is a betrayal of his own heart—that in his soul is the smoldering fire of malice toward brethren who have opposed him, deeper, indeed, than his love for unity.

Fourth: It is further evident that Brother Boll did not expect us to accept his proposition; but we did, unreservedly. But since he followed his offer of unity with three editorials virtually daring brethren to disfellowship him, it became necessary for some strictures to be offered on his bold declarations. Brother Boll now makes this the ground of withdrawing his hand. If that be the ground, then he furnished it himself. On the same ground, could we not have refused just as consistently his offer? If not, why not? It is a poor rule that will not work both ways.

Fifth: Brother Boll says his proposition was not accepted in that fraternal spirit m which it was offered But when did our brother become a discerner of spirits? His proposition was offered along- with a three-header doctrinal manifesto, and it was accepted with our editorial respects and logical strictures. But here is the issue: Brother Boll made us the proposition "that nothing shall be taught on any prophetic theme except what can be read from the Bible;... to regard carefully, even scrupulously, what the passage in question actually says, "etc. And now, because he thinks the proposition was not accepted in the right spirit, he will not do that—he will continue to teach and preach more than he can "read from the Bible" and will not "regard carefully and scrupulously what the passage in question actually says"! Before he will do that, some one must accept his proposition in the right spirit! This is a tacit admission that his theories are beyond what the Bible actually says, and he has inadvertently conceded the point. If Brother Boll's proposition is a righteous one why should he not stand by it, regardless of the spirit in others? In so doing, if there he those who do not have the right spirit, will he not have disarmed them in their opposition to him?

Sixth: Our brother editor now assures his readers that the Word and Work will not be drawn into an unpleasant and unprofitable controversy. A belated decision, indeed!—after five special editions of his paper carrying his doctrinal manifestoes to all the preachers. He fires the cannon, forms the line of battle, and ignobly retreats, casting aspersions on others. The controversy has manifestly been unprofitable to his failing cause, for brethren are getting their eyes opened to see that his system of heresy is not as harmless nor its advocates as innocent as they have appeared to be.

Seventh: Finally, Brother Boll makes a New Year's resolution—he will "make no further reference to adverse utterances in other papers." His doctrinal manifesto was issued just in time, for now he could not publish it without breaking his resolution. Therefore, if his manifesto was right, his resolution is wrong: and if his resolution is right, his manifesto is wrong. We think both of them are rather oblique.

If Brother Boll had published a New Year's resolution to cease the agitation of his peculiar and heretical notions, it would have been much the better part of valor, far more honorable, and would have received the universal applause of the brethren. Instead, he issues an obstinate resolve to continue his course. So the case is resting with Brother Boll's refusal to accept our hand on his own proposition. It is well that the brethren know henceforth where to place the responsibility for alienation and disfellowship. It rests upon Brother Boll himself. But if he will yet come to his own terms in that fraternal spirit he has extolled, but failed to practice, our hand is yet extended: for upon the proposition to teach only what we can "read from the Bible" and "to regard carefully, even scrupulously, what the passage actually says," we shall stand whether he does or not.