"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.V Pg.9b-10
May 1948

College Expediency Argument Paralleled With Digression

The following letter and reply will be understood by the reader. I give it to the Bible Banner readers. I am sure that many read it with astonishment. (W. W. Otey)

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March 2, 1948

Mr. W. W. Otey

Belle Plaine, Kansas

Dear Brother Otey:

You have written much on the current college issue and have said quite a bit about a debate on the question.

Enclosed I am sending you some propositions and asking you to meet Brother G. C. Brewer in a debate at a place to be decided upon later. Brother Brewer will affirm proposition number one, and we shall expect you to affirm number two. Number two is a reproduction of the proposition that you affirmed with J. B. Briney except we substituted the Bible college for instrumental music. It is no more a negative proposition than was your proposition with J. B. Briney.

If, as you seem to think, this question is as detrimental to the church as instrumental music, surely you will not be reluctant to again affirm a proposition of the same nature as the one you affirmed with Briney.

The only qualification that we ask of you is that you get Foy E. Wallace, Jr. and Cled Wallace to endorse you for the debate.

Please let me hear from you as soon as it is convenient.


W. L. Totty

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Propositions For Public Debate

I. The New Testament law of expediency permits a church of Christ to contribute to a Bible college and orphans home. Affirmative ____________

Negative ____________

2. The contributing of money by churches to schools and orphans homes operated by Christians and in which the Bible is taught is opposed to New Testament teaching and sinful. Affirmative ____________

Negative ____________

Mr. W. L. Totty,

Indianapolis, Ind.

Dear Brother Totty:

Will wonders never cease? Just recently G. C. Brewer wrote me that, "Daniel Sommer and others," had told him that I never should have agreed to affirm a negative with J. B. Briney, on instrumental music, forty years ago; that it was unfair. Now Brewer demands that I affirm exactly the same form of negative in regard to contributing from the Lord's treasury to support human organizations in their work. What has become of his sense of fairness, and what has caused his former courage to vanish? When did anyone know of Brewer ever before hesitating to affirm in clear terms anything that he taught and practiced? When did Brewer ever demand that an opponent affirm a negative?

Yes, I did affirm the same form of negative with Briney. But that was his own wording. It required a whole year pressing him to know what had happened to his well-known courage to affirm his own practice. He knew so well the weakness of his position that he utterly refused to affirm his practice. Yes, I signed and debated it, and have never regretted so doing. It accomplished at least one good. The greatest living exponent of instrumental music in the worship and defender of doing the Lord's work through human organizations was literally forced to defend their practices. It opened the way for Hardeman, Brewer and others, to get debates based on fairer propositions. That marked the turning point in staying the tide of innovations.

The principle now at issue—supporting human organizations from the Lord's treasury—is exactly the same principle then involved. And the advocates of supporting schools from the Lord's treasury are using exactly the same tactics innovators then practiced. Not the least difference. They demanded that we affirm a negative. The same men who criticized me for affirming a negative then, now demand that I affirm exactly the same form of negative. I knew then that it was unfair, even as Brewer and Hardeman have said. But now they demand that I affirm the form of proposition that they then said, and still know, is unfair. Why this reversal of position?

Still more surprising, Brewer offers to affirm: "The New Testament law of expediency permits a church of Christ to contribute to a Bible college and orphans home." Preachers, cut this out and paste it in your scrapbook, and label it: "Formed by one who has been a leading debater in the Church of Christ." Who ever heard of anyone proposing a debate based on "expediency". And when did anyone ever insert the word "permit" as the key word? "Expediency," "permit," the two words of measuring the scripturalness of the practice of the church of the Lord! Who knows what interpretation a skillful tactician would give to the word "expediency?" And which one of the several shades of meaning of the word "permit," would a dodging debater base his argument on? Surely Brother Brewer never thought for a minute that only man of ordinary discernment would sign such a meaningless proposition. Or, rather, one that can be made to mean anything the affirmant wanted it to mean.

Some have criticized me for my statement that the issue now involved is the same principle involved from the beginning of trouble with digressives, and that the same tactics are now employed. That I am correct in this statement, is abundantly evident. They refuse to affirm their practice and demand that those who oppose them affirm a negative. This is an exact parallel. They plead "expediency." Till about forty years ago "expediency" was almost the only argument offered in defense of their practices. Now Brewer, Hardeman and a student of Freed-Hardeman college have again started the soothing song of "expediency" that was sung to quiet disturbed minds and troubled consciences many years ago. That song so sweetly sung, silenced the conscience and lead astray many good people. So far as I know the digressives have not been singing that bewitching melody for many years. Little did those still living think that the day would ever come when "our" brethren would sing the song, originally borrowed from the denominations, not to support any truth, but to render palatable the nostrums, not emanating from Jerusalem, but from the daughters of Rome.

Another exact parallel needs to be noted. We then begged the digressives to cease pressing their unscriptural things, and save the church of the Lord from certain division. They loved their unscriptural things above all else. They closed their eyes, stopped their ears, and pounded with all their might the wedge of humanises. The church was split. Then they cried out: "You split the church by your opposition." We have now been pleading with our brethren to cease to pound the wedge of supporting human institutions from the Lord's treasury and save the church from another division. Some are even now charging that those who oppose this recent practice are to blame for the widespread disturbance to the peace and unity of the church of the Lord. When the division is complete Godwill know who drove the wedge. Fair minded people will know who is guilty of splitting the church and I am persuaded that the brethren who are now driving that wedge know in their hearts they are responsible for all the alienation that will most surely come. What a load of responsibility men assume when they disturb the peace and unity of the body of Christ by pressing the practice of contributing from the Lord's treasury to support human organizations.

Almighty Father, canst thou in thy providence save the body of the Lord from strife and division?

W. W. Otey

It becomes increasingly evident that the "college in the church budget" brethren are not at all satisfied with their part in the discussion that was carried on through most of last year on this question. As for our part, we are satisfied with the debate we have already had on the question. Not a position was taken that wasn't exposed, not an argument was made that wasn't answered. It is pretty well evident that they did the best they could to uphold their teaching and practice on this question and miserably failed. They could do no better the next time. Their continued letter writing and challenging evidences only their genuine dissatisfaction over the way the whole matter ended. However, from Brother Otey's attitude it can be seen that they could get a debate on their hands yet if they would affirm what they teach and practice in . terms unambiguous and unmistakably drawing the correct issue. We have never heard anything from the offer to publish the discussion between Brother Brewer and Brother Cled Wallace in the Bible Banner if the Gospel Advocate would also print it. Bro. Otey draws a parallel in his letter to Bro. Totty that even Bro. Totty should be able to see. —R. E. C.