"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.I Pg.14-16
January 1948


R. L. Whiteside

(The following article was sent to the editor of the Gospel Advocate weeks ago for publication. It was rejected and sent back to Brother Whiteside. Comparing it with the other articles appearing in the Gospel Advocate at the same time it will not be difficult for readers to judge what kind of articles the Gospel Advocate indorsed and preferred to publish.)


Some one said, "Consistency, thou art a jewel," and many have repeated the statement as if it always expressed gospel truth. A man's teaching and practice should be consistent; that is, he should practice what he preaches, in so far as what he preaches can be practiced. It is foolish for any man to try to make his teaching and practice consistent with what he taught and practiced in the past. A Christian should start with the high and holy purpose of learning all the truth he can, eliminating all errors as he finds them, and of practicing every practicable thing he learns. If he conscientiously follows that course, he is still consistent, even though he finds it necessary to make changes in both teaching and practice. A man who follows that course never looks back to see if he is consistent with his past teaching and practice. To strive to be consistent with the past is not a jewel; it is folly.

A man of sense changes when he finds that he is wrong; only a fool would refuse to change. And what is the matter with a man who thinks a man who makes radical changes is unreliable, unstable, and unsound? Many of the great men who adorned our holy religion made radical changes.

After Saul of Tarsus became a mature man he changed from the most bitter persecutor the early church had to its most ardent and determined defender. Nor was he two years in making the change. The late standard for testing character would make him an undependable weakling! But his former admirers and supporters became his bitterest enemies. To them he was a deserter, a pestilent fellow, a mover of insurrection, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; and they shouted, "Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live." As long as these leaders could use Saul in their hatred of the church, he was their right-hand man; but when he changed, and they could use him no more, they sought to destroy him. A man's self-seeking admirers became his bitterest enemies when they can no longer profit by his teaching and practice. Because Paul's preaching was cutting down their income, the silversmiths, led by Demetrius, stirred the city of Ephesus into a frenzied mob against Paul. If any parallels are drawn from these incidents, the reader will have to draw them; I merely state some facts.

No man should write in anger about another, and have it published, for he most likely will pronounce judgments that will just as readily apply to a host of others. Besides, he is likely to convict himself of insincerity and inconsistency, and of making a radical change. Illustration, or parallel: A and B were good friends. A helped B much in his business. On the war question A changed several years ago. B did not object to that, and they continued to be good friends till A objected to something B wanted to do. Then to make it appear that A was unstable, unsafe, and unsound, B refers to the change A made several years ago. B did not object to the change at the time, nor for several years thereafter. And so it seems that B made a radical change and convicted himself of insincerity, for he held on to A as a trusted friend for several years. Why did a thing done years ago suddenly look so bad to B ?

Barton W. Stone was born December 24, 1772. "At the age of eighteen he entered an academy at Guilford, North Carolina, with a view to qualifying himself for the legal profession." Here for a time he tried unsuccessfully to be antagonistic to religion. Then he became deeply interested in salvation; and after the fashion of the times he mourned and agonized for about a year before he felt that he was saved. He then decided to be a preacher. While studying Presbyterian theology he became confused and decided not to preach. He went down into Georgia, and taught in a Methodist academy for a while. He again decided to preach, and went back to North Carolina. He received his license to preach Presbyterianism and was assigned a territory in which to preach. But a few days after he reached his appointed territory, he left to go to Florida; but after going a short distance, he decided to go West. He finally, after preaching at several places along the way, reached Bourbon County, Kentucky, where he was ordained as pastor of Cambridge and Concord Presbyterian Churches, but he had outgrown some of the Presbyterian doctrines. He then lacked but a few weeks of being twenty-six years of age. Concerning his own ideas at that time Stone said, "I at that time believed, and taught, that mankind were so totally depraved that they could do nothing acceptably to God, till his spirit, by some physical, almighty, and mysterious power, had quickened, enlightened, and regenerated the heart, and thus prepared the sinner to believe in Jesus for salvation." At this time Stone needed some radical changes. Soon a great religious revival spread over southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee. Stone attended one of these great revival meetings in Logan County, and saw strange things. Some became cataleptic, some had the jerks, and some swooned away. Stone decided it was the work of God. Soon the same things began to happen under his own preaching. He needed another radical change.

The rigid Presbyterian of the Lexington Synod did not like the way Stone and some others were preaching. They put one preacher on trial, and the others knew they would also be tried. They withdrew from the Synod and formed the Springfield Presbytery. They still needed to change, and soon did so—they dissolved the Presbytery. But Stone still needed to change in his ideas as to the conditions of salvation, and he made that radical change. How many changes—some minor and some radical—did he make? I have not counted them. But he was not a weakling.

Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander were strict Presbyterians (strongly Calvinistic in belief) when they crossed the waters to this country. They made some radical changes before they got their feet on the solid rock of God's truth. They gave up the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, and turned to the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. This led them to give up infant sprinkling, then adult sprinkling. They, with several others were soon immersed, and then formed themselves into a church called the Brush Run church. For a while they had no affiliation with any denomination, but later became a part of the Redstone Baptist Association. Later Alexander was connected with the Mahoning Association, till by consent of all the churches in that Association, it was dissolved. They were then without denominational connections. They also changed on the place and purpose of baptism, and on the operation of the Holy. Spirit.

Walter Scott, one among the greatest of preachers, a Presbyterian from Scotland, gave up infant sprinkling, adult sprinkling; gave up Presbyterianism, and was immersed by a Mr. Forrester, an independent thinker. Later Scott became an evangelist for the Mahoning Association, and took part in bringing about its dissolution. And he, as did the Campbells, changed on the design of baptism, and on the operation of the Holy Spirit. And they changed from the idea of one pastor for two or more churches to two or more elders for one church. These great preachers made more radical changes than anyone ever charged Foy Wallace with making. Surely Brother Hardeman will not use the language about them that he used about Wallace, and say, "Due to their radical change on these important issues, they must be considered unstable, unsafe, and unsound." But with his standard of judgment, why not?

George Campbell, who did a great work in Indiana and Ohio, was born in Maine in 1807. His mother was a congregationalist, but at the age of twenty-three George broke away from congregationalism and became a preacher of the type of universalism called restorationism. About two years later he returned to his mother's church, "and in 1833 received license to preach from the congregational association in Boston." He then went to Indiana where his preaching gave great satisfaction to the congregationalists. But after hearing some plain gospel preaching he was led to do some intensive Bible investigation, and was then baptized by Brother Longley. So he made radical changes on important issues—from congregationalism to universalism then back to congregationalism, then to the plain gospel. And so, if any one had been sufficiently angry with him for these radical changes, he might have said: "Due to his radical change on these important issues, he must be considered unstable, unsafe, and unsound."

And there are preachers still living who changed from denominational preachers to gospel preachers; among them several who changed from "organized effort" to the sufficiency of the New Testament way of doing missionary work, and changed from the use of mechanical music in the worship to unaccompanied singing.

Brother Hardeman's charge against Foy Wallace could as truthfully be applied to these and to all the great men I have mentioned. And there are many others, among whom was "Racoon" John Smith who changed from a Baptist preacher of the Calvinistic type to a preacher of the gospel of Christ, and that was a radical change on an important issue.

Benjamin Franklin was born in 1812, and was about twenty-two years old when he became a Christian. He was never a member of any of the denominations, yet he made some radical changes. "In 1849 a large concourse of people, including many prominent preachers assembled in Cincinnati, to attend the Anniversaries'." These "Anniversaries" were meetings held jointly by a Bible society and a tract society which the brethren had been operating for some time. These societies were strengthened and the American Christian Missionary Society was organized. Brother Franklin was elated over these matters, and supported the Society in his writings for a number of years, and at one time he was Corresponding Secretary. After about ten years he began to lose interest in it, as did many others. By the time the war of the sixties was over, it had about played out. It was dissolved, and the Louisville Plan was organized, in 1869. For a while Franklin supported this plan, and says he tried to make it succeed. His biographers say: "Mr. Franklin endorsed the plan as a good compromise measure and tried to make it succeed. But he could not work in such spirit and hope as he had done for the Society, and the Disciples would not give it their moral and material support. Finally, Mr. Franklin turned against this new arrangement and pronounced it a failure. The outcry at this change of front on the part of the Review was very great. A flood of discussion followed, a great deal of which was wholly uncalled for and very intemperate." Brother Franklin wrote a long editorial about his change. Here are a few extracts from that editorial:

"In another column the reader will find an article from our worthy brother, John B. Corwine, and we have two more from him, equally as clear and conclusive as the one we publish, in which he proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the editor of the Review is not infallible, or certainly that he has not been in his past history; that he recommended the Louisville Plan in 1869, but now opposes it! This he has shown up with much ability, and greatly to the disadvantage of the editor of the Review. True, that matter has been explained in our columns again and again; but, then, it must be explained and discussed more and more. When other men commit a blunder, and afterward confess it, they are generally forgiven, but there appears to be no pardon for the editor of the Review! He has made a blunder and the law is, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:20) If the editor of the Review once went for the society scheme, wrote and published many things in favor of it, and thought it was right, he must think so forever, in defiance of all his experience in the matter, the demonstrations he has had, a more mature study of the Scriptures and thorough knowledge of them, and the history of religious operations; and though fully convinced that the whole of these schemes are wrong, he must continue to write and publish as much as ever in favor of them. Is not a man to be allowed to learn anything in a public life of forty years? Or may all other, men learn something, and when convinced of error, turn from it, but the editor of the Review must never learn anything, nor change his course from wrong to right?"

To use harsh language about a living brother that could with more reason be applied to the great men of last century seems to be the result of anger. Some day Brother Hardeman will regret that harsh language. There are other great men to whom this language can as reasonably be applied. Were these men I have mentioned consistent? They certainly were.