"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.IV No.II Pg.2,3
September 1941

Pointing The Way To Unity

C. E. W.

Our idea has been and is that the way to unity should be pointed out by preaching and practicing what the New Testament teaches. We have freely and sharply criticized the Murch-Witty unity meetings because we honestly believed they encouraged a unity by a compromise or surrender of principles to which we cling most tenaciously. Personally, I do not like Brother Witty's attitude. He seems to have only kind words and tender looks for Brother Murch and his digressive associates while he thinks the rest of us who will not smile and smile and smile on digressives and premillennialists should be ashamed of ourselves and expresses the opinion that the Lord is ashamed of us. He has aimed some sharp arrows of criticism at "conservative" brethren of late because we do not share his emotional enthusiasm for digression, or at least that is what it looks like to me, but if you can find anything he has written currently that would afford any offense to the organ crowd, send it to me. I would like to see it. He hopes that his new paper, "a brotherhood" enterprise, whatever that is, is destined to introduce a new era of greater fellowship. Candor demands that he employ some emphasis on the point of whether that greater fellowship will result in more or fewer organs and the like in the worship of the churches. My impression is that he steps along too gingerly in some places to know where he is going, if he is going where I think he ought to. His querulous complaints because some of us are not pussyfooting along with him is not any too reassuring but serves only to deepen our suspicions that when he arrives where he is going, he'll be at the wrong place. If he keeps on being too soft on things we think are wrong and too hard on things we think are right, he may eventually find it expedient to inaugurate some new unity meetings, even if they are not "national," to reestablish a lost fellowship between us. It is already evident that he is more in love with some digressives than he is with some of us.

We have from time to time urged some practical demonstrations of what has been accomplished in these "national Unity Meetings." Brother Don Carlos Janes, who is nearly as close to Brother Witty as he is to Brother Boll, if I have things straight, is pointing the way to the pot of gold at the end of the Murch-Witty rainbow. The following is taken from a recent report from Brother Janes in the Firm Foundation.

"From July 13th to 29th, Brother S. S. Lapnin. A Christian church minister from Bedford, Indiana, held a meeting with Highland church in Louisville. When he made his magnificent speech at the Lexington, Kentucky, unity meeting in 1940, the thought was publicly expressed that such preaching would be desirable in our congregation. After he was again heard both in the semi-closed instrumental music discussion and in the public sessions of the Columbus, Ohio, unity meeting of this ,year, he was invited for this work. The meeting, held in a 40 by 70 tent on the church lawn, was well attended and yielded eight or nine responses (eleven just before the meeting) and should contribute something toward the slow and difficult process of restoring unity at least in some measure among alienated brethren. Were all the Christian church brethren possessed of the same attitude towards organs and societies that Brother Lappin has and if all the conservative brethren had as much of the spirit of Christ as he has, the difficulties would be very largely removed. And if those who refrain from going to the unity meetings could bring themselves to the point of attending with open minds and open ears they could acquire some helpful information about present attitudes and views."

Now, there are a few points I am ready to concede and be done with them. Brother Lappin is "A Christian church minister" and can make a "magnificent speech." He is a prolific writer on the staff of the Christian Standard and an advocate of instrumental music in worship and defends the same societies the Christian Standard endorses. In other words he is a first-class digressive preacher and a smooth one at that. If attending the unity meetings results in making loyal brethren think that such men should be called for meetings in churches of Christ, then I think they should "refrain from going" even if Brother Janes does think otherwise. Brother Janes went and I take it that he carried along a couple of "open ears" and he no doubt would contend that he had an "open mind," although that would introduce another subject for controversy, and look at the result! He thinks a digressive preacher with Brother Lappin's "attitude toward organs and societies" should be called and used in meetings by the churches. What is Brother Lappin's "attitude toward organs and societies?" He advocates them and uses them in the Church where he is pastor. If Brother Janes thinks the churches generally are going to follow the lead of the Highland church in Louisville in calling digressive preachers for their meetings, a "slow and difficult process" is too mild to describe the results along that line. It just isn't going to happen, that is all! Any church that does it will be a marked church as Highland already is. It is well known that the Highland church is unsound in addition to what is really the matter with it. Digression and premillennialism have found their true affinity there. They should call Brother Witty next and then Brother Murch. Brother Witty would look about right sandwiched in between Lappin and Murch in the Highland church. Incidentally, the action of the Highland church in this matter justifies about all that we have said in recent years about the subversive influences of premillennialism among the brethren. It is a symptom of general and fundamental unsoundness.

Brother Janes thinks that Brother Lappin has more "of the spirit of Christ" than some of the rest of us who refuse to compromise the true principles of either doctrine or worship. When Foy Wallace whipped Charlie Neal in Winchester, Ky., Janes, Jorgenson and Boll said he did not have the "spirit of Christ." Neal did, and since he has quit the church, I suppose he still has! Brother Janes thinks "the difficulties would be very largely removed" if the churches would call men like that for their meetings. What "difficulties?" I'm a little curious to know whether or not Brother Witty thinks Brother Janes should be just a little ashamed of himself. He probably will not tell us but I think I know the answer anyway. If I did not think the Lord is ashamed of both of them, I might attend the next unity meeting and learn something about the "spirit of Christ" from a lot of digressive preachers who will be sure to be there.

Since Brother Janes has told us what he thinks, I'm going to tell you how I feel for what it may be worth. I'm a little more than tired of hearing a few soft-headed brethren brag on the digressives and throw spoiled eggs at "conservative" brethren who are both too smart and too loyal to be taken in by digressive tricks as old as the first organ that was ever slipped into a church over the protest of brethren who did "not have the spirit of Christ." "It makes me sick," as Brother Brewer would say, to hear it brayed around that digressives, premillennialists, and a handful of their sympathizers have a virtual monopoly on "the spirit of Christ," and I'm about ready to "suit the action to the word." The silly airs they are putting on is getting under my skin. I know them well enough to know that they are not any better, and some of them are not any smarter, than I am even. "This thing has got to stop," as Winston Churchill would say, or else. A Negro preacher arose to address his audience. Somebody in the audience punctuated one of his remarks with an over-ripe tomato which landed right in the middle of his black face. He patiently wiped away the remains and calmly remarked: "My deah brethrin. Ise gwine ter reason wid you-all a spell frum de scriptouhs, den Ise gwine ter ast de deah Lawd to beless us, and den de outdoinest fight a crap-shootin' niggah even seen's agwine ter kum off."

Brother Janes and the Highland church are giving us some idea of what these unity meetings are trying to do to us. Reporting it in the Firm Foundation will not fool anybody. It will the more quickly shock the brethren into a sense of the danger that lurks in such compromising movements. The way they will make up their minds about it will not be a "slow and difficult process." It looks as though Brother Janes, not Brother Witty, has thrown the tomato which will start a real fight, and we propose to be right in the middle of it. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Brother Janes should cling closely to Brother Lappin's coat tails during the fracas, so he can be insured an abundant supply of "the spirit of Christ." He is likely to need it. It is my conviction that Brother Janes is doing the cause of digression more good where he is and by what he is doing than if he were to join them outright. I think they feel the same way about it. The restraint that keeps me from saying the same thing about Brother Witty is not much of a handicap and may not be any by the time for the next issue to appear. The digressives always lose a pitched battle on the issues involved, so they propose to win by strategy what they cannot win by fighting. Witty and Janes are ready-made Quislings for furthering their schemes. All the talk about "the spirit of Christ" in connection with the campaign to open the doors of the churches to digressive preachers is just "smooth and fair speech" designed to "beguile the hearts of the innocent." There is nothing new about it. Appeasers mouthed smooth words in the name of unity when this organ fight first started and every mother's son of them went digressive. The aggravated case of alienated affections afflicting Brother Witty and Brother Janes will not result in the promotion of the sort of unity the Bible teaches, even if it does temporarily fool a few of the brethren and pleases the crowd who caused the trouble in the first place. Better take warning from Paul. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3) Brother Janes is fond of the adage "When the brethren are taught better, they will do more." Now, he thinks we ought to import some digressive preachers with the "Spirit of Christ" to teach us. Ugh!-C. E. W.