An Open Letter To My Brother Ira A. Douthitt
In your solicitation for the services of a preacher for Rains Avenue church in Nashville, in the Gospel Advocate of February 19, 1959, you surprised many brethren by stooping to a type of misrepresentation and insinuation that would make our father and mother ashamed of you if they were living today. These are your words:
"We are not interested in any man who opposes our orphan homes, or our homes for the aged, or our schools, such as Lipscomb, Freed-Hardeman and Abilene College. We do not want a hobby rider of any sort."
1. Your statement is an evil insinuation, a deliberate misrepresentation and a false accusation against all your brethren who oppose church donations to the homes and schools to which you refer, and you know it. The brethren to whom you refer and in whom you say "we are not interested", are not opposed to the institutions that you call "our" homes and "our" schools; they are opposed to your begging the churches to contribute from their treasuries to those human institutions.
Please answer this question: Are you interested in employing "any man who opposes" church donations to those institutions, but is not opposed to the institutions?
Your answer will identify beyond doubt the brethren whom you slanderously misrepresent.
Don't you know the difference between opposition to an institution and opposition to church contributions to that institution? Of course you know the difference. Some may not know the difference, but you do; and that is why I say your misrepresentation of your brethren is deliberate. I know of some organizations to which you are not opposed, but I doubt that you would endorse church donations to those organizations. For example, I know you were not opposed to the Specification Oil Company, for you worked night and day trying to sell stock in that company to the people of Sedalia, Kentucky, when you lived there. A question: Would you oppose church donations to an oil company? Do you endorse every thing that oil company did? Are you opposed to the Life & Casualty Insurance Company? Would you oppose church contributions to that company? Do you favor church donations to every human organization to which you are not opposed? I know several brethren who work as hard as they can to build and maintain schools in which the Bible is taught, but they oppose church donations to what you erroneously call "our" orphan homes and "our" schools. Would you be interested in employing that kind of man at Rains Avenue? Of course you would not. If you had described the brethren that you "are not interested in" accurately and fairly your church splitting liberalism would have been more obvious, but you would not have been guilty of the indecent insinuation and malicious misrepresentation that you now are guilty of.
Some think you would not oppose church contributions to any human organization that is not inherently sinful; though I know you are terribly tangled in the meshes of modernism, I do not think you have sunk that low. Therefore, I still think that you know the difference between opposition to an institution and opposition to church donations to that institution.
2. Hobby rider. Of all the men in the world who are hurling the name "hobby rider" at their brethren you ought to be the last. For years and years wherever you went and wherever you preached, publicly and from house to house, you talked about the Bible college, begged the churches for donations for the schools and tried hard to get churches to put Freed-Hardeman College in their budgets. And even now you seem unable to advertise for a preacher for Rains Avenue without mentioning the schools and without hurling insults at those who are opposed to your church disturbing and unscriptural theories of church donations to schools. Ira, if any man on earth can be called appropriately a "hobby rider," surely you are that man. Do you know what a hobby rider is? I wish you would try to write out a definition of "hobby rider" that does not point directly at you. Surely you have not become so blind to truth and righteousness that you think that men who are begging the churches for donations to secular organizations are not hobby riders regardless of how much they harp on their theories. Your advertisement in the Gospel Advocate shows clearly that you cannot even resign at Rains Avenue (much less preach) without galloping off in all directions on your hobby horse, "our schools". Yet you have the monumental gall to call somebody else a "hobby rider"!
Churches all over the country are disturbed and some are split wide open over the question of whether or not churches should make contributions to schools and benevolent and missionary societies. If your life depended on it, you could not find even the remotest indication that it is God's will for any church to contribute one cent to any human institution whatever. If you know of any passage in all the Bible that does so indicate, please make it known. Can't you see that you are disturbing churches and alienating brethren over a theory which has become your hobby and for which you have no authority at all in the Scriptures? Are you willing to pursue such a course to the judgment? Have you forgotten what the Bible says about sowing discord among brethren? Your theories are doing it.
3. "Our." "Our orphan homes", "our homes for the aged", "our schools". Who is "our"? Does "our" mean the church? If so, is it the church ecumenical or the local church? Do you include the Catholic Church and all protestant denominations and the church of the Lord in your word "our"? Will you please name the conditions upon which an orphan home or a school becomes "our" orphan home or "our" school? Is Boles Home "our" home? If so how did it become "our" orphan home? Is Buckner Home "our" orphan home? If not, why not? Who is "our"? Please get yourself a pencil and a piece of paper and make a sincere effort to write the answers to these questions. I think it will help you to see how far into sectarian phraseology you have drifted.
Since you plunged into print several years ago with a challenge to debate the question of church donations to man-made institutions (then took to tall timber as soon as your challenge was accepted) you have manifested much bitterness toward brethren who speak out against your divisive hobby. And now you cap the climax with an ugly insinuation and a miserable misrepresentation of your brethren who are as sincere as men can be. Some may not know any better than to falsely accuse and to misrepresent; they may not have had the right kind of parental training. But you and I were taught principles of justice, truth and fairness from childhood. If our mother was living today, she would want to bend you over her knee and give you the spanking that you deserve. That is exactly what she would have done when you were a child if you had misrepresented and had been as unfair with your play mates as you now are toward your brethren in Christ.