"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.XII Pg.8-10
December 1948

Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire

James W. Adams

Out of the frying pan into the fire is a very apt description of the Japanese work to this moment. From the standpoint of soundness, the more the movement develops the more muddled it becomes. This article proposes to high-light the movement to date with special emphasis on recent developments.

The Beginning Of The Movement

The present movement to evangelize Japan had its origin in Chicago, Illinois, with Brother 0. D. Bixler a self-styled premillennialist. It was sponsored by two congregations acting jointly as a supervisory board, Cornell Avenue and Brookfield. Both of these congregations are open to question with reference to their soundness on the premillennial doctrine. The leaders of these two congregations who constituted the supervisory board of the "missionary" movement were for the most part premillennialists or their sympathizers as has been pointed out in a previous article. Operating under the supervisory board was an administrative board composed of members of about five different congregations. This board also was honeycombed with premillennialists and their sympathizers. Each of these boards had its respective treasurer, so it is safe to conclude that they were fully organized. In all of its essential features, therefore, this movement was an embryonic missionary society, to say nothing of its being filled with premillennialists and their sympathizers. Added to these was the fact that the movement proposed work that is no part of the mission of the New Testament church, namely; establishing and operating hospitals; underwriting food industries; establishing and operating schools and colleges. For these reasons, the movement thus launched was opposed by loyal brethren and made little progress.

The Second Phase Of Development

At this point, the Chicago churches weeping over unjust persecution, as they put it, magnanimously laid the movement on the broad shoulders of Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee. That is, they requested that Union Avenue assume the responsibility along with its preacher, Brother E. W. McMillan, of directing and promoting the work. A survey of the work including a visit to Japan was made by Brother McMillan resulting in the assuming of the responsibility of directing and promoting the educational phase of the work by him and Union Avenue churches. An interesting sidelight is the fact that at almost the very date of Cornell turning to Union Avenue, Brother Bixler was in Louisville, Kentucky circulating among the premillennial churches of that city in the interest of his movement.

After Brother McMillan's visit to Japan, it was announced through the papers that Union Avenue and Brother McMillan were responsible only for the religious and educational aspects of the work and that Brother Bixler was still in charge of the medical phase of the movement. Further, it was urged that contributions be sent to Brother Bixler by loyal members of the church for that work. Two things were indicated by this announcement: (1) The work was to retain its premillennial connection; (2) The work was to retain its institutional objectives—hospitals, colleges, etc.

Another interesting development was with reference to Brother Bixler. At Abilene Christian College, Abilene, Texas, he bowed out of the Japanese work and turned it over to loyal brethren. This was hailed widely as the most unselfish gesture of the age. Later, however, Brother Bixler came back in the Firm Foundation and other papers pleading for a place in the Japanese work.

Because of the unscriptural objectives of the movement with reference to building and maintaining institutions and its retaining premillennial connections, it was still opposed by many. About this time, Brother R. C. Cannon, supposedly sound on the premillennial issue, was appointed representative missionary to replace Brother Bixler. It was then suggested by the Bible Banner that, inasmuch as Brother Cannon was known to few and in view of the premillennial reputation of the Japanese work, Brother Cannon should make known his views concerning premillennialism. In the meantime, Brother McMillan was traveling throughout the brotherhood seeking funds from individuals and churches for the building of a school in Japan thus keeping alive the institutional angle of the work. These developments bring us to

The Present Situation.

At this moment, the work in Japan has not developed so as to enable one to have much hope for its soundness. All recent revelations but indicate that it continues to have its original characteristics. That you may be able to see that such is true, we shall note some recent reports from the work.

The statement from the workers in Japan. The following statement appeared in the Firm Foundation from the workers now on the field:

Tokyo, Japan.

Dear Brother McMillan:

We whose names appear at the close of this statement, understand that the premillennial issue is being somewhat injected into the brethren's thinking in the States to the extent that some are asking about the beliefs of the missionaries in Japan on that subject.

Though we are not in sympathy with any extreme which might be always demanding of others that they "declare themselves" on every issue, we do believe that those who trust us in Japan to teach the pure gospel of Christ have a right to know our beliefs on teachings which have occasioned strife in America.

We are not as old as some others in preaching, therefore we do not claim to know as much as some others on the subject. We, therefore, would regard it as a religious tragedy for the premillennial issue to be ever introduced in Japan. The personal beliefs of each of us, however, within the limits of our study, are that the premillennial doctrine is a departure from the Bible teachings on the kingdom of Christ. We would expect to oppose the introduction of premillennial teachings in Japan as false doctrinally and unrighteous from the viewpoint of wisdom and peace here.

We recognize that, to some, the sending of this statement could seem as the signing of a creed. Though we are as much opposed as any one could be to all tendencies toward creed making, we sign the statement together as a convenience, and we send it home for good understanding there, because as already said, brethren there have a right to know our beliefs and what they are supporting. You may use this statement in whatever way may seem best in serving the cause of Christ there and over here.

Fraternally yours,

R. C. and Norma Cannon

Logan and Madeline Fox

Joseph and Rosa Belle Cannon

Virgil and Lou Lawyer

Harry Robert and Gerrie Fox

Charles and Norma Doyle

A few remarks are necessary on the statements of the letter above. You will note that it is written apologetically. The writers of the letter seem to be pleading for understanding and forgiveness from some party or parties for "declaring themselves" or appearing to "sign a creed" on the ground that they have to satisfy some cantankerous brethren in the States. Why should anyone have to apologize to anybody for expressing his views concerning truth and error? Another thing should be considered by the writers of the letter, namely; that there are thousands of preachers who have never been asked to "declare themselves". Why? For the simple reason that they have always acted so as to avoid suspicion. Their stand is known!

Paragraph three of the letter above should also be noted. The writers plead limit of knowledge on the premillennial and "Kingdom of Christ" question due to age. In a letter which Brother McMillan wrote in connection with the above, he states that their ages are from 22-35. It occurs to me that Foy E. 'Wallace Jr. was but little older than the oldest of these people when he met Neal at Winchester, Ky. and J. Frank Norris in Fort Worth in debate on the Question. Too, all of these folk are, I believe, former students and graduates of "Our Bible colleges"—the only place where one can get "a Christian education". Is it possible that a "ministerial student" can graduate from one of "our Bible Colleges" with a "Christian Education" after four years of study in its "Bible Department" and not learn enough about the kingdom or premillennialism to be absolutely certain that he does not believe the latter. Oh, but you say, "The letter says that these young people do not believe it." But you are wrong. Read again! The letter says "within the limits of our study". The necessary inference from such a statement is that these young people are not certain whether they do or do not believe premillennialism, The strange thing to me is that intelligent Christians with good educations can write so much and say so little. In one paragraph, these "missionaries" could have said, "We do not believe premillennialism. We do not propose to fellowship premillennialists. We will most certainly oppose the doctrine wherever and whenever it may arise." Positive, unequivocal statements that are to the point carry conviction and beget confidence. Apologetic, verbose, ambiguous, and qualified statements such as the letter in question contains perpetuate suspicion and make for a total lack of confidence. Another thing worthy of note is the fact that it is said, "We would regard it a tragedy for the premillennial issue to be ever introduced here". Question: Is it the premillennial issue that does the harm or is it premillennialism? If the doctrine were taught, would these people make an "issue" of it? They say, "We would expect to". What do they mean when they say "expect to"? Such weak statements have marked the Japanese work from the beginning. This being true, can the brotherhood have any confidence in the soundness of that in which it is investing its money?

The Representative Missionary

Considerable emphasis has been made regarding the soundness of this man, Brother R. C. Cannon. I have in my files a letter from a school mate of his in days gone by assuring me of his personal confidence in Brother Cannon's soundness. Others indicate that he is under the influence of some of our West Coast "liberals". Jimmie Lovell put him forward as his man for Representative Missionary several months ago, and that is certainly no recommendation of his soundness. I do not know him, therefore, just do not know. However, the following excerpt from the Gospel Defender of June 1948 makes me wonder:

Editorial (Jack Hardcastle, Long Beach, California, Editor)

I have sat in a number of "preacher's meetings" during the past two years and have heard n many different subjects discussed. One subject which seemed never to be exhausted was "'Worship". As might be expected when so many preachers have opportunity to express themselves, many different thoughts, some good and some subject to question, were presented from time to time. I heard R. C. Cannon, who now is "Representative Missionary for the Churches of Christ" in Japan, take the, position that the church should make use of symbols and imagery: the cross, pictures of Jesus, the saints and martyrs, for the purpose of encouraging the "worship experience" in the congregation.

If this statement is accurate, and I have no reason to believe that it is not, Brother Cannon may need to "declare himself" on things other than premillennialism. I doubt that an intelligent Japanese would see much difference in an image of Buddha and a statue or picture of Jesus.

Louisville Bible Conference

Another recent and interesting development is an article in the Louisville Times, 'Louisville, Ky., September 3, 1948. It follows:

Ministers from nine states and a missionary from Japan are to attend a five-day Bible conference opening here Monday night under the sponsorship of the Church of Christ.

The missionary is Orville D. Bixler, formerly of Louisville. He served in Japan many years before World War II and returned there after the war.

States to be represented at the conference include Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Iowa, and Arkansas.

Sessions from 10 a.m. until noon and from 2 until 4 p.m. are scheduled at Shawnee Church of Christ, 41st and Michigan. Evening sessions are from 7:30 until 9:30 at Portland Church of Christ, 12500 'Portland.

It would be interesting indeed to have a list of those preachers who attended this premillennial Bible conference. Brother Bixler who has lately denied being a "real premillennialist" you will note was the featured individual present. I wonder if some of those who have been featuring and defending him in Texas were those present from the state? Brother Bixler fellowships and labors with American premillennialists, then wants us to fellowship him in Japan and give him a place in the work. Brother McMillan and others urge us to send him our money and propose to work with and fellowship him on the Japanese field. The sad thing is that some are falling in with the scheme. Well, "you can have it. I don't want it. It's too rank for me".

Arcadia California Brochure

The final development is an expensive brochure received in the mails from the "Arcadia, California Church of Christ" pleading for $125,000 with which to buy a building in Tokyo, Japan to be used as operations center for the "Tokyo Christian Effort". Accompanying the brochure is a letter saying that if one does not give to the purchasing of this building, he is not a Good Samaritan. The thing that interests me about the matter is the fact that among other things the building is to be a center for social contacts and physicians. This like all other reports from Japan and those promoting the Japanese work indicates that the original objective of Bixler's movement remains the ideal of the movement today—a highly organized institutional program. Brethren, can the church as such scripturally establish, own, and operate colleges, schools, hospitals, and recreational centers? I deny that this is the mission of the New Testament church. Such is and ever has been the denominational program in religion. Such is and ever has been the program of our digressive brethren. PREACHERS AND FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, ARE YOU READY FOR A GROUP OF HIGH PRESSURE SALESMEN AMONG US TO LAUNCH THE CHURCH UPON THE ROAD OF DENOMINATIONAL AND DIGRESSIVE ERROR?

Some of us are not willing that it should be so, and therefore expect to oppose it so long as we have power to speak and write. Give Japan the gospel? To be sure, but not on the basis that some propose to do it. If it cannot 'be done on a scriptural basis, what has been accomplished when it is done? Brother Bixler's missionary scheme moves on, but it is out of the frying pan into the fire and "the latter end is worse with them than the beginning".