"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.VI No.XII Pg.2-3
July 1944

The Stigma That Turned Out To Be A Mirage

Cled E. Wallace

It will be recalled that Jimmie Lovell and the editor of the Gospel Advocate got all stirred up over a supposed "stigma" that threatened the good name of churches of Christ and proposed to wipe it out with a committee. At least the Gospel Advocate gave the scheme its editorial endorsement and said: "We hope to soon wipe the above stigma from our slate and hereafter care for those we call our own." The "Service Committee For Conscientious Objectors" is touted as "an avenue through which to help these young men" and, according to the Gospel Advocate, "to protect the good name of the church in which we place our hope." It seems to some of us that the chief hope of these brethren is in a committee rather than in the church. They think they have found it necessary to "provide an avenue of service" for the church besides the church. "A National Service Board for Religious Objectors" under sectarian auspices spent some $15,000 on some of "our boys" who ought not to have gone there in the first place. Churches of Christ did not authorize the expenditure but they are asked by a committee endorsed by the Gospel Advocate to pay it back to remove "the above stigma." Pay it back to whom and why?

The Advocate's "Abrupt" Change

I was surprised at the gusto and haste with which the Gospel Advocate jumped into this new sort of a venture among us, but before I got over my surprise, the Advocate took alarm and backed up. Almost immediately the editor changed records. His revised, if not changed point of view is that:

"Whatever obligation we have in the matter, as disciples of Christ, is owed to the boys rather than to the camps. No one on behalf of the church of Christ bargained with the camps to look after the boys. None could do that. Those who operate the camps volunteered their services, but found that they had committed themselves more heavily than they had expected. Yet the churches of Christ are not responsible for this miscalculation on the part of these denominations.

"Those who desire, as individuals, to make a contribution to the boys in the camps are to be commended for their interest and zeal; but they should be careful, in every respect, not to overstep the bounds of propriety in thought, word, or deed. The proper sense and relation of obligation should be kept clear, and no questionable or unscriptural means should be used."

So all the talk about "a stigma" was beside the point to begin with for there was none, at least where the Advocate and the committee tried to find one. The churches could not be stigmatized for not paying a debt they had not "bargained" for and had nothing to do with making. I am really gratified to see the Gospel Advocate back up and suggest that "no questionable or unscriptural means should be used," but I think it would be still better if the editor would just back clear out of this new and unauthorized "avenue of service." It is ludicrous for the editor of the Gospel Advocate to exhort the brethren to "be careful, in every respect, not to overstep the bounds of propriety in thought, word or deed," when he took an editorial lead in doing that very thing. In reality he asks the brethren not to pay any attention to his first editorial endorsing the committee for it "overstepped the bounds of propriety." I should say as much. The editor should be a little more "careful" himself. I'm not right sure that I know what brought about the quick "change" in the editor of the Gospel Advocate, but evidently it did not take him four years to make it. It is a remarkable feat considering his allergy to "changing." It is possible that he got in that first editorial without Brother Boles passing on it.


Nobody is surprised when Jimmie Lovell goes off half-cocked or not cocked at all, but when the "venerable" Gospel Advocate ties an editorial to the tail of this committee kite of his, then a few observations on committees in general seem to be in order. What is a committee anyhow? This particular one of Jimmie's places "no emphasis upon organization." But does not a committee imply an organization? Should it not act on organized authority? This one does not represent a local church and cannot represent the churches because they have no central organization to authorize such a committee. When I scrutinize the definition of a committee, I'm led to believe that this so-called "Service Committee For Conscientious Objectors" which had "to assume a specific designation," is really no committee at all. A group of brethren have just assumed to be something which they are not and have no authority to be. Unless the brethren are ready for a quick and radical change under the exigencies of a real or imagined emergency, these brethren and their mirage of a committee should be ignored. They are "overstepping the bounds of propriety" if not something worse. According to about the most abridged dictionary I can lay hands on, a committee consists of "persons appointed to examine, consider, and report on any matter of business." Who appointed this group of brethren to organize themselves into something that had to have "a specific designation," and tried to have it with "no emphasis on organization." What they are trying to do is absurd and the way they are going at it is unscriptural.

According to the light I have, the churches are having to endure too much outside meddling from impertinent sources. Churches are independent bodies with the right and duty to choose their own fields of activities, raise their own money, select their own workers and attend to their own business generally without self-appointed groups outlining their programs and assuming leadership in their affairs. They do not need Jimmie Lovell, the Gospel Advocate or anybody associated with them to provide "an avenue through which to" work. The churches are capable of providing their own avenues with what organization the New Testament authorizes them to maintain. They may not be perfect, but they would have to sit up late and try overtime to make as many blunders as Jimmie Lovell can. And I'm beginning to think the editor of the Gospel Advocate needs some sort of a committee to keep him on the same side of a question for at least three consecutive issues of the paper. I'm willing to contribute my part to that end without the aid of a committee. The fact that he has decided it pays to "be careful" ought to help a little.

The Letter To The War Department

There is evidence, too, that the "venerable" Brother H. Leo Boles is not exercising the proper care to stay within "the bounds of propriety." I think he was really stepping out too far when he wrote Washington and asked to be designated by the War Department "to pass on the qualifications of candidates for the chaplainry from the church of Christ." A Major in the Army "whose name need not be mentioned in this connection," but who is in touch with the situation expresses himself in these words

"Brother H. Leo Boles always leads the fight for purity and doctrinal strictness in the brotherhood and I think he is generally right. But here is a rich one. Chaplain Zimmerman, in the chief of chaplains office, Washington, said he received a letter from Brother Boles asking that he be assigned or designated by the War Department to pass on the qualifications of candidates for the chaplainry from the church of Christ. You perhaps know that each denomination has a committee to take care of the chaplains for the entire denomination and Brother Boles asked to be appointed in that same capacity for the church. Chaplain Zimmerman answered him that if a convention of the church of Christ would elect him to such the War Department would recognize him but not otherwise. Chaplain Zimmerman added in relating the incident that he knew such was impossible and he got a big kick out of Boles' asking for something that he and his brethren didn't believe in."

Now, I entertain the conviction that Brother Boles is a pretty big man, sometimes, and has done much worthy work for the cause of Christ, but I agree with the War Department that he is not big enough to take the place of a convention for all the churches of Christ. It may be that Brother Boles ought to be "commended for his interest and zeal" but he "should be careful, in every respect, not to overstep the bounds of propriety in thought, word, or deed," as the editor of the Advocate puts it. "No questionable or unscriptural means should be used." I am opposed to a denominational committee to look after things for the churches and I am also opposed to the idea of Brother Boles acting in that capacity even if he did think up the idea himself. Chairman Zimmerman in this instance seems to have a better idea of how the churches of Christ operate than does Brother Boles: I think Brother Boles ought to "be careful" about furnishing "a big kick" to government officials over matters of that kind. It is not good for the church. In fact it could amount to a real stigma. Another thing. I am under the impression that Brother Boles entertains the view that the government is owned and operated by the devil, that a Christian can have nothing to do with it beyond paying taxes and submitting to its laws with certain reservations. He cannot even vote or hold office. If I am wrong in this I am willing to be corrected. A recent proposition he submitted for debate implies that the chief motive of our government in this war is to destroy the property and lives of its enemies. Now he wants to do what looks like holding an office in the government and passing on the qualifications of chaplains in the Army. He is told that he cannot get the office unless the church elects him to it. I take it that he has dropped the matter and will not ask the church to vote on him. Possibly the government has information on his war record. I am just wondering what the chaplains he would "pass on" would preach when they got in the Army. They would be officially connected with the war effort and the government. If they entertained Brother Boles' view regarding Christians and war, could they function as chaplains? If he "passed on" a few who advised soldiers to lay down their arms and refuse to fight because "we must obey God rather than men," then we would have another "stigma" or a stink on our hands. In view of all the circumstances, I think Brother Boles has "overstepped the bounds of propriety" in this case, and I think the War Department would agree with me should all the facts be placed before it. The ambition to "pass on" things can grow on men, even good men, and the evidence tends to show that Brother Boles should "be careful" and hold himself within bounds. I think Chairman Zimmerman cooled him off before he got to the War Department. He was turned back at the gate, so to speak. Now if we can cool Jimmie Lovell and the Gospel Advocate off, and put that committee in the cooler, I think the churches can resume their business as usual. To keep the record straight and add our mite to Brother Goodpasture's effort to help the brethren to "be careful," we sometimes find it necessary to resort to some "facts that no other paper publishes."