Note Of Explanation
We ran out of space. We had announced that this issue would contain a statement by Weldon Bennett; but we have no room for it. It will appear next week, and with it will be further articles on this subject.
What Is The Issue?
Those of our readers who are interested and concerned will no doubt read all the statements in this paper, and in the issues to follow. A danger that The Gospel Guardian has warned against for several years seems now to have come out into the open in such clear and unmistakable manner that it can be neither ignored nor explained away. And this is but the beginning. Other, and perhaps even more serious, disturbances are in the offing. Brother Smith is not the only worker in Germany who has become convinced as to the dangers about which so many warnings have been given. Others also are alarmed and disturbed. And the uneasiness is not confined to Europe. The unrest in Africa is perhaps as pronounced as in Europe, and in some respects more so.
Let all those statements be read with calm and measured deliberation. No problem of this gravity can be dismissed lightly or carelessly as the fanaticism of "one or two" who have "rebelled against their elders." It is not so simple as that. And any attempt to make it so is a betrayal of weakness and a misrepresentation.
A word about Dick Smith. We believe his statement (printed in this issue) speaks for itself. It is the earnest, sincere, and honest setting, forth of deep convictions. There is no hysteria, no mud-slinging, no raving fanaticism. On the contrary, it is impossible for an honest man to read that statement without realizing how long and careful must have been the study given to these matters. Smith did not speak out until compelled to do so by an overpowering sense of responsibility to the cause of Christ. That he changed his convictions on some matters he freely grants. But he changed them AFTER HE SAW "CENTRALIZATION" IN OPERATION AND IN ACTION.
Let no one forget or overlook that fact. Dick Smith went to Germany like many others did, fully convinced that the "centralization" talk was unfounded and untrue. He believed what all of us were being told — that there was NO centralized control, that the Frankfurt school was NOT similar to Christian Colleges in this country; and that all the talk about dangerous "trends" was misdirected and unfounded.
Then he began to see for himself — first-hand and on the spot. And the evidence of his own eyes and ears could not be dismissed. Because he was deeply sincere and completely honest, he tried to see some way out of the problem. But by the passage of time, it became evident to him that the danger was growing rather than receding. And finally, the cause of Christ was so much at stake, not only for the immediate future, but for the whole generations that might lie ahead in Germany, that he could no longer maintain silence. "Two-faced?" "Hypocritical?" "Deceiver?" "Rebellious against the elders?" Well, these are the thanks he got for his honesty and forth-rightness!
We're ashamed of some of our brethren.
We urge this note of warning for the future: The situation that has come about in the case of Smith can be expected to happen over and over again on the foreign fields when shaky and uncertain methods are being used in the promotion of the work. Why? Because of two or three facts: (1) For the most part those who go to the foreign fields are young men of deep consecration, determined to give their very lives if need be for the gospel of Christ; (2) they are usually men of courage (else they would not brave the venture into strange lands); (3) as they study, and learn, and see with their own eyes dangerous and unscriptural trends and tendencies developing, their conscience will compel them to speak out in opposition. Regardless of what may be their understanding and attitude at the time of their initial undertaking of such work, time and experience, coupled with the continued earnest and careful study of God's word, will more and more bring questions concerning any phase of the work which may be without scriptural precedent or authority. And when those questions loom big enough, some public "repercussions" are bound to follow.
There are other workers both in Germany and particularly in Africa who are headed in the same direction as Smith. They are determined, as he is, to preach the Gospel to these foreign peoples; but they are becoming increasingly and sickeningly disillusioned with the "sponsoring church" which seeks to exercise the "centralized control and oversight" in these fields. So bitter has this disillusionment become in the case of Africa that we understand the Central church in Cleburne, Texas, (the "sponsoring church" for much of the African work) is regarded by most of the gospel preachers over there as one of the most serious problems they face! Breaking the strangle hold this "sponsoring church" has exercised is apparently one of the toughest of all tasks in their work.
And such difficulties will continue to arise. It is inevitable that such be the case. For free men, with no guide or authority higher than God's word, will not permanently let themselves be enslaved to any system or method which they can see clearly is a threat to the purity of the New Testament pattern. Our sympathy is, and will continue to be, with these courageous and honest young gospel preachers who so gallantly fight for the truth. They deserve our prayers, our help, our understanding, and our encouragement.
— F. Y. T.