"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.8-11
January 1948

Requested Revelations On The College Question

James W. Adams

Two articles have appeared in this journal from the pen of this scribe on the "college question." One of these articles produced some unfavorable reactions along with an abundance of favorable ones. The charge of misrepresentation has been made and corrections requested. Inasmuch as it is not the purpose of this writer nor of the Bible Banner to misrepresent any man's position on any question, it has become imperative that these matters be dealt with at length. Your scribe and the Bible Banner stand ready at all times to correct any statement which they have made that is not in harmony with facts whenever proof is submitted that such a statement has been made.

Questioned Statement No. 1

In the June issue of the Bible Banner, this writer made the following statement in an article entitled "The Voice Of Jacob But The Hands Of Esau:" If it is not the policy of A.C.C. to solicit churches nor seek a place in the budget, why is it commonly reported that Brother W. R. Smith, vice-president of A.C.C., advocated such from the pulpit of Southside church in Forth Worth some weeks past."

Brother Smith's Reaction. Soon after the appearance of this statement, a letter came from Brother Smith containing among other things the following information:

"Your informant was inaccurate in that I have not visited the Southside congregation within the 'some weeks past' as stated in your article. He is also in error as to my advocating from the pulpit there that Abilene Christian College should be placed in church budgets. It may be of interest to you to know that I have never advocated this manner of support for Abilene Christian College in Fort Worth or elsewhere, either publicly or privately."

The Basis of my Statement Relative to Brother Smith and Southside. I was informed by several reliable preachers in the Fort Worth area prior to the writing and publication of my article in the Bible Banner that Brother Robert C. Jones, preacher for the Southside church, had a short while before made a public or semi-public statement to the effect that "while he was in the North in some mission work, W. R. Smith preached in his place at Southside, and that at the very hour in which he stood in a pulpit in the North seeking to prove to the Sommerites present that 'our colleges' in the South are not supported by the church, W. R. Smith was in the pulpit at Southside trying to get them to do so."

When Brother Smiths' letter came to me, I did not know what to think, so I got in my car and drove to Fort Worth. Robert C. Jones was out of the city, so I contacted several reliable preachers of the city and asked them if they had ever heard Jones make a statement concerning W. R. Smith and his preaching a college sermon at Southside. One of the leading preachers of Fort Worth answered by quoting almost verbatim the statement of Jones which had come to me from other sources. Others corroborated the statement. I knew then that Brother Jones had indeed made the statement which was the basis of the "common report" of my article.

I came home and wrote Brother Jones in the Northwest where he was holding meetings. In the letter I called his attention to the statement he had made concerning Smith and asked for particulars. He was long in answering, so I drove to Fort Worth again. I found him at home, and in the presence of a mutual friend and reputable preacher, talked with him concerning the matter. He verified his statement and affirmed that it had happened just as the statement indicates. He did qualify his statement, however, by saying that he did not think that Brother Smith used the term budget or in so many words asked that the college be placed therein. Too, it had been longer than my "some weeks past" indicated. Brother Tones did say, however, that he had read my article in the Bible Banner and had not considered it a misrepresentation. He then told me the particulars of Smith's visit to Southside and that it was his judgment that Bro. Smith's speech under the circumstances was a solicitation for church support of the college. Before preparing this article I wrote Brother Jones and asked for the particulars in writing. His letter to me, which is not so complete or strong as his personal statements to me, follows:

"Two or three years ago, while I was doing mission work in the Northeast, Brother W. R. Smith preached at the Southside church in Fort Worth, Texas. According to several members of the church, Brother Smith made a typical college speech on Sunday morning and some individuals made contributions to the school at that time."

"Several members of the church complained of the speech to me upon my return, their criticism was not of the speech itself but they thought that the speech was made at the wrong place and the wrong time. I immediately prepared and preached some sermons on the relationship of the church to the college and other human institutions. I did this because we were afraid some would think the college should be supported by the church."

"On the Sunday Brother Smith made this school speech at Southside, I was in the Northeast trying to convince some Sommerites that our colleges were not church, or church supported, institutions."

Letter from the Southside elders. While I waited for an answer to my first letter to Brother Jones, I had another letter from W. R. Smith containing a photostatic copy of a letter addressed to him and signed by the elders of the Southside church in Fort Worth. The letter follows:

"Dear Brother Smith:

"We commend you in correcting the charges which were made concerning you and the South-side church in the June issue of the Bible Banner. The things said in this article were as much a reflection upon the Southside church and its leaders as against you."

"We herewith approve and confirm in every detail the statements in your letter to the author correcting his representations of your visit with this congregation in Fort Worth."

"Your last visit with the Southside church was September 30, 1945. You did not on this or any other date advocate from the pulpit or privately in the presence of the elders, placing Abilene Christian College in the budget of the church. Had you done this, our disapproval would have been registered with you at once and in no uncertain language. If reports have been circulated that you did this, we say here and now they are without any truthful basis. We believe, in fairness to you, the Southside church and the Bible Banner, that a correction and an apology should be made by the author of this article and published in the Banner. We shall hope and pray that he will do this."

Fraternally yours, Elders of the Southside church, Fort Worth, Texas

Signed By: Win. A. Pearson, Freeman Lacy, H. C. Sanders.

You may well imagine my surprise on receiving this letter in view of the statement of the preacher of Southside church, Robert C. Jones, concerning Smith's visit there. The letter has a very pious tone and unquestionably burns with the righteous indignation of offended dignity. Note especially the militant opposition against church support of the college and the grave concern for the continued good reputation of the Bible Banner. The letter would be all right too, if it were all one knew about these men and this church in their relationship to the support of the college by the church. It so happens that your scribe has access to other information. Due consideration will be given this letter later in the article.

Discussion With Don Morris and W. R. Smith. In August, I prepared an article for the Bible Banner concerning this matter and wrote Brother Smith that I would publish it. I then felt that Brother Smith was trying to hide, as some others are doing, behind a limited meaning of the term "budget." I firmly believed, at that time, that Brother Smith 'believed in and had solicited church support for the college. Before the publication of the article, however, and while I was in a meeting at Merkel near Abilene, Brother Don Morris, President of A.C. C., called me by telephone and asked if I would meet and confer with him and Brother Smith. I accepted on the condition that Brother Roy L. Hooten who was leading the singing at Merkel be permitted to sit in on the discussion. In this discussion, Brother Smith very plainly and strongly affirmed that he did not believe in or advocate church support for the college, and that he had never intentionally implied that he desired it. I asked permission to quote him to this effect and it was granted. Having had this understanding with Brother Smith, I decided to withhold the article which I had prepared and to write another (this one). Before writing this article, I wrote Brother Smith as follows:

"I am now ready to write an article in the Bible Banner in which I deal with the matter about which we have corresponded and talked. I want to set matters before the brethren in as clear a manner as possible and be fair with all concerned as it is possible for me to be.

"In our conversation at Abilene, you made a very plain statement concerning your personal attitude toward the support of the college from the church treasury. As I now remember it, you said, 'I do not believe in it. If I have ever given the impression that I was advocating such, I want it understood that no such impression was intended.' I understood this statement to indicate your opposition to the support of the college from the treasury of the church. Will you please confirm the above in writing.—"

Brother Smith has answered my letter as quoted above. His answer follows:

"Dear Brother Adams:

"Thank you very much for your kind letter of recent date. I am very much pleased that you are making ready to prepare an article for the Bible Banner treating the question we discussed during your visit in President Morris's office last summer. I am glad to make a statement summing up as nearly as I possibly can the discussion to which I have just referred. I want this statement to be viewed in the light of your statement which appeared in the Bible Banner last June.

"You said: (There followed my statement already set forth in this article J. W. A.).

"I did not at the time referred to above or at any other time or place solicit donations for A. C. C. from funds regularly contributed upon the first day of the week by Christians for the support and furtherance of the work and worship of the church. No one connected with A. C. C. has ever so much as intimated I should do so I have refrained, therefore, from this course of action because, first, it is not the policy of the school so to do, and second, it is my conviction that this is right in the sight of God."

"The statement above covers the issue as accurately as my vocabulary will permit me to say it. I feel sure this will be acceptable to you."

"With very best regards, I am

Yours truly,

W. R. Smith, Vice-President."

The Evidence Analyzed And Considered

The Letter From The Southside Elders. These indignant brethren advise your scribe to correct and apologize. Well, bless your hearts for your interest in me brethren, but I have nothing to correct nor anything for which to apologize, so I am afraid your fervent hopes and your prayers will neither be realized nor answered. I did not affirm that Brother Smith had done anything at Southside. I only recorded a report circulating in the Ft. Worth area concerning the matter. The report was circulated because of the statement of your preacher, Robert C. Jones, which statement, I have verified and he does not deny. I am not responsible for your allowing W. R. Smith, at his request, to make a college speech on Lord's day morning at the hour of worship (according to the testimony of your preacher). I am not responsible for the resulting complaints from some of your best members, nor for the semi-public statement of your preacher to which said complaints gave rise, which statement, occasioned my report in the Bible Banner.

It seems that you eiders need to apologize to someone. Now, you could apologize to Brother Smith for letting him do it, or you might apologize to the offended members who complained. On the other hand, you might apologize to your preacher for taking advantage of his absence to permit a thing to which he is undoubtedly opposed on what he conceives to be scriptural grounds. I am not responsible for Brother Smith's asking for the privilege and making the speech in question nor for impressions made. Perhaps he should apologize to Southside church, its offended members, and your preacher in whose place he spoke. Now, if you brethren must have someone apologize, Brother Smith might do it. If he will not, perhaps you can get your offended members who complained to Brother Jones and occasioned his statement to apologize for getting the wrong impression from Brother Smith's speech and passing it on to Jones. If they feel, however, that they are justified, I suppose, being elders, you could try to get Brother Jones to apologize for believing what some of your best members at Southside told him. Now I am not advocating this, and I am sure that Brother Jones feels perfectly justified in his course of action in the matter, but you, brethren, I presume are still hoping and praying for an apology, so I am trying to be helpful. I'll tell you what; perhaps all of you should just apologize to me for occasioning a report that involved me in this "mess" of political maneuvering that is utterly nauseating to anyone with an ounce of spirituality. It could be, however, that you would be willing to settle for less than an apology now.

As to correction, I have none to make. The report to which I made reference in my article was circulated because of a statement made by your preacher. I have verified the fact that he made the statement. He made the statement because of reports and complaints from some of your best members at Southside. They made the complaints because of impressions received from and objections to Brother Smith's speech which you permitted and indorsed. There is nothing for me to correct. May I repeat, I am not responsible for the speech, its being permitted, the impressions that were made, the objections to it and the complaints regarding it, nor for your preacher's statement which grew out of them. Yes, brethren, I have no correction to make.

Your letter sounds good with reference to your attitude toward church support of the college if your practice in the past were consistent with it. Have you been converted to this view since 1937? I have a letter from Brother C. A. Norred, a former preacher of the Southside church, which confirms in detail the fact that: In 1937 there hung upon the wall of the study of the South-side church building a Certificate of honor issued to Southside Church by Abilene Christian College in recognition of contributions made by said church to the college. You may remember that C. A. Norred took this certificate into the pulpit of Southside church and condemned the practice that caused it to be given to you; namely, the support of the college by the church. Some of your "no uncertain language" would have been most appropriate then, but enough about your letter, brethren. I bid you an affectionate farewell and trust that you may find someone to correct and apologize that your hopes may be realized and your prayers answered.

Brother Smith's Letter of Correction. While I have nothing to correct, I am abundantly willing for Brother Smith to correct any wrong impressions that may have been made by his speech at Southside. To that end, I have included his own statement in his letter in this article. I could only wish that Brother Smith's writing vocabulary were as broad and as expressive as his speaking vocabulary. In my talk with him at Abilene, I was impressed with the fact that he not only did not believe in but actively opposed church support for A.C.C. I gathered that it was a matter of conviction with him. Referring back to my recent letter to him, you will note that I asked him to confirm that impression. His answer; as you can plainly see by referring to his letter, does not confirm nor deny my impression. He said that he had refrained from soliciting donation from the church treasury because (1) that it is not the policy of A.C.C. so to do, and (2) that it is his conviction that this is right in the sight of God. Now, what does Brother Smith's statement actually say that indicates his or the college's position with reference to church support for the college? He says that he refrains from soliciting donations from the church treasury because it is his conviction that this is right in the sight of God. He does not say that it would be wrong in the sight of God for a congregation to make such a contribution. He does not say that he believes it would be wrong in the sight of God for the college to solicit and accept such donations. He simply says that it is right in God's sight to refrain. I think everyone would agree on that. I presume that even G. C. Brewer and Robert M. Alexander believe it is right in God's sight to refrain from soliciting the church treasury.

However, Brother Smith, on the basis of my conference with you at Abilene, I am going to take for granted that, if your vocabulary had been sufficiently large, you would have said that you do not believe in and are opposed to church support of the college. Now we are getting somewhere. George Pepperdine has never endorsed church support of the college; Florida Christian is on record against it; Abilene Christian is at least partially committed against it (the Vice-President). If we can get Freed-Hardeman, Harding, and David Lipscomb on the right side of this issue, everything will be right, everybody will be happy, and we can quit talking about the colleges and do something constructive to help them perform the great work which they can do in their proper sphere.

Questioned Statement No. 2

It has come to me that Brother J. B. Collins, former President of the Board of Directors of A.C.C., is telling that I misrepresented him in the same article in which the Smith statement appeared: Here are the facts I said:

"If it is not the policy of A.C.C. to seek a place in the budgets of local congregations, why does Brother J. B. Collins, President of the Board of Directors of A.C.C., urge it? I am reliably informed that he not only believes it should be done, but urges that it be done. He says that the same opposition was made to orphan homes several years ago and argues that it will be but a matter of time until the placing of the colleges in the budget will be the settled policy of the churches."

This is not the statement verbatim as it appeared in the Bible Banner but I have furnished Brother Collins with a copy of this statement as I wrote it.

Brother Collins wrote me that I was misinformed and demanded that I divulge the name of the party who gave me the information and make the correction in the Bible Banner. I answered by refusing to divulge the source of my information, feeling no ethical obligation to do so, and by offering to make full correction in the Banner and even apologize if Collins would furnish me with a specific denial of the statements and views attributed to him. I asked for a direct answer to four questions covering the matter:

1. Do you deny that you believe it is scriptural for a church to contribute from its treasury to the Greater Expansion program of A.C.C.?

2. Do you deny ever having expressed to any man your belief in the scripturalness of such a practice?

3. Do you deny ever having urged that a congregation make a contribution to said expansion program?

4. Do you deny ever having said that the same opposition which was made to the support of orphan homes by the churches several years ago is now being made against the colleges implying that just as the churches now support orphan homes, so will they support the colleges in a few years?

To date, such a denial has not been received from Brother Collins. It may become necessary for me to publish a complete file of the correspondence which passed between Brother Collins and me. I stand ready to do so. A complete file of the correspondence has been sent to the man who furnished me with the information concerning Collins. I promised Collins that I would do so, and I have.

If Brother Collins does not believe in and opposes church support of the college, why is he loathe to say so? If he does not believe it, and never has, and will say as much, I will know for certain that he never made the statements attributed to him. If he will specifically deny the statements attributed to him, his denial will be published and with it my apology for being too quick to believe and report such regarding him. I am ready, Brother Collins, what do you say?