"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.V No.VII Pg.14-16
February 1943

The Gospel Advocate And The Conscientious Objectors


On page 6 of this issue will be found the full text of an editorial in the Gospel Advocate by B. C. Goodpasture, consisting in an assortment of discomposed quotations from several articles by Cled E. Wallace, W. E. Brightwell and me. Brother Cled has very effectively attended to the part of this three pronged editorial brusque that refers to him. It is my intention in this article to properly attend to the part of it that refers to me. W. E. Brightwell, a member of the Gospel Advocate organization, is abundantly able to take care of the part of it that involves him.

The readers could hardly penetrate some of the references, incomplete quotations, garbled phrases taken out of their setting, and numerous other implications, and get a correct impression of any of the matters referred to by Brother Goodpasture. Quoting from a former statement of mine, the editor injects comments of his own in brackets and inserts his several B. C. G.'s. Aside from being poor literary form, it is bad manners to do that, and indicates a bad case of editorial jitters.


It is significant that the editor commits the Gospel Advocate, editorially to the position of the Conscientious Objectors of the concentration camp variety. He thereby exposes to the public a divided house in the Gospel Advocate organization. The publisher and owner, Leon B. McQuiddy, is not a conscientious objector. He does not even hold the noncombatant view, and he has had and is having difficulties with those in the Gospel Advocate organization who do hold those views. Besides the publisher himself, there are important men in the organization and on the staff such as W. E. Brightwell, C. R. Nichol, R. L. Whiteside, and others who are definitely opposed to the position to which Brother Goodpasture has committed the Advocate.

The editorial is a commitment against all phases of military and government service, combatant or noncombatant. The editor says that he thinks the fourteen young men in the detention camp are "conscientious objectors" because "they have been studying the New Testament." Then the New Testament put them there, and if it put them there it puts every other member of the church there. If these conscientious objectors are right, it is wrong to do noncombatant service for the government, or to render any kind of service whatsoever to assist the government in this crisis. Brother Goodpasture says they are right; that the New Testament teaches their idea and sustains their course of conduct. He therefore commits the Gospel Advocate to the position against noncombatant duty and binds it to the conscientious objectors' position.

If the editor believes that, and according to his article he surely does, he should by all means exert his full influence as editor, preacher and member of the church to the making of conscientious objectors and should appeal to all of our young men to enter the concentration camp. Does not the fact that only fourteen have been interned from our ranks become slam on the extent of the Advocate editor's influence--or else a reflection on the performance of his duty under his conscience?

"Freak Specimens Of Humanity"

Among the examples of misrepresentation by incomplete quotation, with which the Advocate editorial abounds, is the reference to "freak specimens," a term used in the now famous government article in the March, 1942, issue of the BIBLE BANNER. The aggravated editor resents the use of that expression and leaves the impression that we have referred to all who oppose our position on civil and military government as "freak specimens of humanity." As a matter of record that expression was used to describe only a certain type of mind that cannot consent, for conscience sake, to do any useful thing for the government and must therefore be quarantined--interned for the duration. We merely ask the readers to take note of the fact that the personal application was made by the editor himself--we did not do it.

In his reference to some of these matters the editor of the Advocate is, as he very well understands, replying to W. E. Brightwell as much as he is to us. Brother Brightwell is a member of the Gospel Advocate organization. Will he be accorded the privilege of defending himself in the Gospel Advocate? Or has Brother Goodpasture taken advantage of his editorial portfolio to club another member of the organization?

"War Clouds"-"Back In 1936"

Much has been made of that short statement of mine in the Gospel Guardian in 1936. I have had no disposition to suppress my words. Rather have I had the desire to correct the misstatements and misapplications of that little article and to set the matter right. In proof of this I here insert that statement in full, without the deletions, brackets and B. C. G.-ses of another editor. Read it

With the clouds of war hovering over the nations of Europe and possibly threatening the whole world again, it is to be greatly deplored that some brethren will write articles that even point in the direction of Christians engaging in carnal warfare. It is distinctly noticeable that any such advice from Jesus and the apostles has been conspicuously absent from their articles. They arrive at their conclusions by deduction, patriotic effusions, and other belligerent warlike ratiocinations rather than New Testament teaching. It has also been noticeable that those who would defend the Christian's participation in war have either been to war themselves or have had relatives in the service. It seems like an effort at self-justification. I sympathize with any man, young or old, who has seen and experienced the horrors of war, but I do not sympathize with the effort to lend to it New Testament sanction. No matter what one might do under this or that exigency-no man can produce the Scripture that gives 'a Christian the right to go to war much less to make it a war time duty. I know that Paul said, "Be subject to the powers that be," but Paul refused to be subject to them on certain questions. The question, therefore, is how fair shall a Christian be subject to the powers that be? To prove the Christian's duty of war participation the answer would have to be--in everything; for if not in everything, one exemption grants others, and the premise is gone. If war is incompatible with Christianity, then a Christian's participation in it is impossible. It would comport far more with the gospel of Christ for our preachers to be exhorting Christians to follow Christ and the apostles even to prison and martyrdom than to be instilling within them the spirit of militarism, war and hell. No, I am not a patriot--I am a Christian. Were I a citizen of Germany, France, Italy, or England, still I would strive to be not a patriot, but a Christian. God help us in time of war to remain Christians, live or die.

Now, the above statement was not made by "(Foy E. Wallace, Gospel Guardian, March-April, 1936, page 5) " at all, as the Advocate says it was--it was made by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Nor do I have any disposition to escape the responsibility for the statement. At the time it was written I held the noncombatant viewpoint--but I was never a C. 0. I had taken for granted the noncombatant view, having heard it expounded by my seniors from my youth up. The piece I wrote reveals how fully I had accepted and how fervently I felt that sentiment. The article also indicates that it was only a sentiment, for not one single argument nor the slightest effort to prove or disprove anything was made. On the contrary the article logically yielded to the opposite view of the military question by the admission that the "deductions" were all in favor of the other side. It thus conceded what was deducible in the premises. As for "belligerent warlike ratiocinations," my sentiments are still against such as that, and I am no more sentimentally disposed now than I was then to militarism and war. I have never preached a sermon on the subject. That is more than the "agitators" can say for oftentimes when they have only one sermon to preach, they preach on the war. From the conscientious objectors' viewpoint, however, I suppose that is what they really ought to do, nothing deterring them, and if Brother Goodpasture thinks they are right, he should be doing the same thing. But they certainly cannot charge the agitation to us.

That the terrors of war are deplorable is a fact admitted by all. So are the horrors of crime. But the latter fact does not mean that the due processes of government, even to the extent of capital punishment, are wrong. Neither does the former fact mean that the prosecution of this war against international criminals is wrong. Brother Showalter aptly said that there is no difference in the application of that principle in time of peace and in time of war-one is municipal law enforcement and the other is national law enforcement. Obviously, if it is right for the government to exist, it is right for its citizens to defend its existence. If civil government is right, military government cannot be wrong, for the existence of the former depends upon the potentialities of the latter.

Regarding the point (?) which is "noticeable" on relatives, some who were and are of closer kin to me had been enlisted in the army and the navy prior to the publication of that statement than any who are enlisted in the armed services now. So that much-mentioned point goes out--and the assertion that I made about the relatives of those who held the views that I now hold goes out with it. The assertion was an unwarranted reflection upon all who served the country in time of need or who had relatives doing so. I not only retract that statement, I apologize for making it. Let the free-for-alls make of that and of this what they will--they have my consent.

In reference to the statement that no man (italics B. C. G.'s) could cite apostolic precept and example for participation in military service, since I am the man who said that it could not be done, I certainly felt that I am the man to show that it could be done, and I have done so. The proof of it is found in the articles on "The Government-Civil and Military" which have appeared in the BIBLE BANNER, and those arguments need not be repeated here. That is not the purpose of this article. It is sufficient to say that while those arguments have been talked around and about, they have not anything like been answered.

"Who Taught Them?"-Back In 1927

It is a matter of common knowledge that there are numerous brethren among us, including a number of preachers, who insist that there is nothing essential or fundamental one way or the other in the teaching of R. H. Boll, that his theories are harmless. They contend that he and his group should be accorded fellowship among the churches, and that they should be invited to conduct meetings among us as a means of maintaining a working and worshipping fellowship. The editor of the Gospel Advocate does not believe that, and the Advocate does not advocate that course. But in 1927 at the close of the Boll-Boles discussion, which was published in the Gospel Advocate, Brother H. Leo Boles stated that there was nothing about the teaching of R. H. Boll fundamental enough to warrant a breach of fellowship and that the "differences" were not serious enough to keep him from fellowshipping them "as brethren in the Lord." That certainly was an admission that the purity of the gospel and the integrity of the church were not involved in the issues that had been discussed between them. Does Brother Boles hold that view of the matter now? No. Several years later he retracted that statement and affirmed that Rom. 16:17-18 should be applied to R. H. Boll and his group. But Boll and his group had not changed either in teaching or in practice, nor had the circumstances changed--Brother Boles had changed.

The Gospel Advocate likes to refer to my statement in the Gospel Guardian "back in 1936" on the government question, which does not express my views now. But they have been very careful not to refer to the statement of H. Leo Boles in the Gospel Advocate "back in" 1927, on the Boll question, which does not express his views now. The Word and Work (R. H. Boll's paper) and J. N. Armstrong do that for them--they refer to it very often--but the Gospel Advocate maintains a sphinxly silence on that point. Brother Holes say that it is unfair for the premillennialists and their sympathizers to always be quoting a statement of his that he has retracted. But the Gospel Advocate is very eager to quote a statement of mine that I have retracted. Not that I object--indeed, they would do well to feature it more and what they have said less, for short as the article was it appears to have been more effective on that side of the question than anything they have written. The point is, they object to the use that brethren Boll and Armstrong make of a statement that Brother Boles had retracted, but they turn right around and make precisely the same use of a statement that I have retracted. What is the difference? The only difference that I can see in the two cases is that it took Brother Boles nine years between 1927 and 1936 to change his mind on the Boll question, while it took me only six years between 1936 and 1942 to change my mind on the government question. But until this day the Gospel Advocate has never let the H. Leo Boles retraction of that 1927 statement see the light of type. It was left for our own magazine, the Gospel Guardian, to do that with Brother Boles' consent. And the Gospel Advocate won't even talk about it.

In reference to "support for the conscientious objectors" the editor of the Advocate says: "The question is: Who taught them?" He intimates that perhaps we should support them as "it is remotely possible that some or all of these boys read a certain expression of sentiments' under the ominous title of War Clouds' back in 1936." Very well, another question is: Who taught certain brethren, including a number of preachers, that the teaching of R. H. Boll is harmless? At the time the statement was made Brother Boles was president of, and Bible teacher in the David Lipscomb College. Is it not "remotely possible" that "some or all of these boys" who are so weak on premillennialism may have heard and read the "sentiments" of H. Leo Boles in that amicable declaration of fellowship on the Boll question "back in" 1927? So Brother Boles and the Advocate are, according to the logic of its editor, obligated to succor and support the Bollites lest they too shall "feel forsaken" when they "reflect upon the radical change in their erstwhile preceptor." Canny or not, I still say that sauce for the goose is salad dressing for the gander!

The Advocate editor seems to think that if a man ever taught an error of any kind he should be required to contribute to its support the rest of his natural life--that is, when it refers to the other fellow. If that is true, we shall insist that the Gospel Advocate is in the same boat with the BIBLE BANNER. But the BIBLE BANNER can do something to remedy the situation that the Gospel Advocate cannot do. If Brother Goodpasture decides that it was the Gospel Guardian "back in 1936," and not the New Testament, that made "conscientious objectors" out of "these fourteen boys" in the Magnolia detention camp, and will furnish us their names, we will send them the BIBLE BANNER to correct the mistake and the misapplication of principles in that 1936 issue of the Gospel Guardian. That is better than they can do for the Bollites up to now, for the Gospel Advocate has never once published Brother Boles' retraction of his mistake back in 1927. The Boll sympathizers could never find out anything about that retraction by reading the Gospel Advocate.

On the matter of Christianity and Patriotism, the editor of the Advocate does not commit himself. He merely brackets these two questions: "Is it impossible to be a patriot and a Christian at the same time? If one becomes a patriot, does he cease to be a Christian?" My answer is, No--to the contrary, it is quite possible to be both a Christian and a patriot at the same time. The statement, "I am not a Patriot--I am a Christian," is a form of expression that a Bible student or anybody else acquainted with literature understands. Jesus said, "Labor not for the bread that perisheth but for that which endureth unto eternal life." Is it impossible to labor for temporal bread and spiritual bread at the same time? Paul said: "Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel." If one baptizes people does he cease to preach the gospel? Really, I thought everybody knew by now that in an elliptical expression one member of the sentence is denied that the other may receive an emphasis. So it is with my statement, and no more than that was intended even at the time it was written.

Now let the editor of the Advocate answer two or three questions: When members of the church enlist in the armed forces of our government do they become actual, or potential, murderers? If no, what makes military service wrong? If yes, should the church withdraw fellowship from murderers?

"Rather Be Right Than Consistent"

A few years ago someone wrote F. B. Srygley that what he had lately written was inconsistent with what he had formerly written on the same subject. Brother Srygley's reply was: "I would rather be right that to be consistent." He certainly did not mean that he could be inconsistent and right at the same time, for to be right a man must be consistent. Brother Srygley meant that he would rather change and be right than refuse to change merely to be consistent with what he had said in the past and be wrong. That is precisely the reason why so many become grounded to error and stay that way—they fear to change even when facts and fairness require it. So I have simply become consistent in order to be right. But if the Gospel Advocate is consistent with its recent editorial, it must espouse the "conscientious objectors" position. In the light of that editorial it cannot even assume the noncombatant position. The Goodpasture editorial commits the Gospel Advocate to the concentration camp.

The simple truth of the whole matter is that since 1936 I have changed my views on some phases of the government issue. Am I alone in making such a change? I have recently talked with men who are older than I am and wiser than I will ever be, who did the same thing in a similar period of their lives—men who went to school to David Lipscomb, but who later abandoned his views on Civil Government. I have given the reasons for my own change. I have done so in a straightforward, unequivocal manner. I felt that it was my duty to the church, to our many thousands of readers, to the government of which I am a citizen, to my sons whom I desire to rear to be both good Christians and good citizens, and therefore to myself, to set these matters right. My statements have been forthright and upright, but they have not in some quarters been thus accepted. It was anticipated that some papers and some editors would get ugly about it. In fact, they do not have to "get" ugly—they stay that way. But we did not expect the polished editor of the Gospel Advocate to descend to that plane. Men who feel the necessity of resorting to weapons of insinuation and aspersion, with veiled implications, must know the weakness of their contention and realize their inability to sustain it on the high plane of argument. Personally, I have no reply to make to their slurs.

Reverting to a reminder in a final word: I have no objection to the Gospel Advocate quoting what I said in 1936 on the government question, if every time they quote me they will also quote what H. Leo Boles said in 1927 on the Boll question. If they do not—the Word and Work and J. N. Armstrong will. And if Word and Work and. J. N. Armstrong do not—I will.

(NOTE: As we go to press another editorial jab appears in the Gospel Advocate of February 18. That editorial will be properly attended to in the next BIBLE BANNER. We will see who is guilty of "a dodge" and "a mere subterfuge."-F. E. W., Jr.)


In view of these things and my long connection and work with the courts, and in view of the teaching of the Bible as I see it, that we should be subject to the fundamental principles of the law governing our country, I had in mind to write an article or so along this line; but since you and your brother, Cled, and some other splendid writers have done such a worthy and commendable job along the very lines I had in mind, I am perfectly willing to rest the case, and believe that the evidence produced will stand up not only in the general satisfaction of those vitally concerned, but in the Great Tribunal above, the court of last resort.—A. F. Hall, Holdenville, Okla.