"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.XIII Pg.64-65
July/August 1944

Comments On Hines Letter

(F. E. W., Jr.)

The letter addressed to me from J. L. Hines was received while I was in a meeting in Dallas. Because it had reference to matters pertaining to the Dallas churches, I referred it to Brother Coleman Overby. He has very properly inserted the letter in his article and has very effectively dealt with the situation, as it exists. There are some things in the letter referred to, however, that seem to call for some remarks from me, which I shall endeavor to make within propriety.

The Personal Connection

My personal connection with these matters is due wholly to the fact that the churches called upon me to represent them in the event of a debate with Norris. I am sure that none of the brethren have said or thought that I am the only man who could successfully meet Norris. I certainly do not think that. I am not one of those "indispensable" min. But the brethren in Fort Worth, Dallas and Oklahoma City did think that under circumstances Norris should be required to meet me in this debate. The debate of tin years ago is involved and if another debate with Norris could be arranged the opportunity to rectify some wrongs would be offered. It was the unanimous judgment of the brethren who were disposing of these matters that Norris should be forced to engage me or else withdraw his challenges and back out. Frankness compels us all to say that but for the interference of Brother Hines, Norris would have had his back to the wall with his ears pinned back, without so much as an excuse. It was J. L. Hines who gave him his way out, and Norris grabbed the chance with jubilation. At no time have pushed myself into these matters. I left it to the brethren in the churches involved to act of their own will and accord. This is certainly a thing Brother Hines cannot say.

A Correction

It is necessary here to correct an error in his letter to me. I must say, contrary to what he has said, that he is not the first one from Dallas to communicate with me regarding the debate. Brother Coleman Overby talked with me over long distance from Dallas to Oklahoma City a considerable time before Brother Hines ever wrote me anything. The brethren in Fort Worth also were in direct touch with me even before that. His efforts to justify himself on the ground of being "first," therefore, are not according to the facts in the case.

An Unethical Intrusion

Since the Norris challenges were being made to the churches, demanding of them to select a representative, Brother Hines injection of himself into the matter can be considered in no other light than an unethical intrusion. The churches had an end in view. The conniving that took place between Hines and Norris defeated these ends - and Brother-Hines knew that it would do so, fully as well as Norris knew it, yet he was willing to help Norris do that thing. His conduct in the matter certainly appears to be an act of arrogance, of disrespect for the churches and of disregard for the interest of the Cause of Christ.

Specious Explanations

The "reasons" suggested by Brother, Hines for carrying on his private negotiations are too specious to be accepted.

He says that the churches were too "slow" in accepting the Norris challenge and in meeting the Norris demands. Well, they were working too fast to suit Mr. Norris, and when he saw what was taking place, that his challenge would be accepted, his demands met, and that he was facing another 1934 debate, he got in a hurry to find a way out of it. He found it in J. L. Hines. I think the facts will show that Brother Hines asked Norris if he would accept him as an opponent, and that his negotiations with Norris were being carried on at the same time the churches in Dallas and Fort Worth were endeavoring to complete their arrangements for the debate. Exactly contrary to that course, even though I had been asked by the churches to represent them in another debate with Norris, I did not write Norris anything at all, nor in any way communicate with him, while the brethren were carrying on their negotiations lest I should jamb the machinery somewhere. This is what Brother Hines should have done. But Brother Whiteside remarked, in reference to this case, that we can always depend on somebody "playing the fool, and there is nothing we can do about it since there is no law against it." I got the impression that Brother Whiteside was referring to J. L. Hines.

Naturally it requires time for twenty churches in two different cities to consummate plans for such a debate as that. Norris took advantage of that. Seeing what was up, he began writing letters, demanding quick action when he knew all the time he would side-step it. He demanded IMmediate acceptance from all the churches and all the preachers or his challenge would not last! Anybody can see the purpose of that - he did not want to give them time to get it done when he saw that they were going to do it. And it appears now that all the time J. L. Hines was helping J. Frank Norris. At least, it was during all of this that they were having their "chicken dinners" together. I learned long ago that one can cut wheat better when it is leaning from you. I have al ways applied it to arming up with teachers of error. Excuse me from any kind of a dinner with J. Frank Norris. When I meet him, it will be for battle and not for banquets.

Brother Hines must have known that it required time for the churches to act on these matters, and he also must have known that they were acting. That appears obvious in the fact that when he saw that their endorsements were immediately forthcoming, like Norris, he appeared to work all the faster to cinch his own arrangement instead of the one the churches were endeavoring to conclude. Apparently, he had only one thing in view - to defeat the plan the churches were executing and to expedite his own. To say that his plan was an altogether different thing and would have no effect on their plans one way or the other, that they were wholly independent of each other, is again entirely too specious. He surely knew that Norris was not going into two debates, and he could not have been ignorant of the fact that Norris was seeking a substitute for the debate the churches had demanded in answer to his challenges. For Brother Hines to be ostensibly working along with the Dallas brethren in the interviews with Norris but in actuality negotiating with Norris privately to defeat their plans is unspeakably bad conduct. In order to do a thing like that a man must covet notoriety as all-absorbingly as Balaam coveted the wages of unrighteousness.

A Gratuitous Offer

The offer Brother Hines makes in his letter to step aside and turn the radio debate over to me does not give any of us credit for having ordinary intelligence. I personally do not feel complimented by his offer. It is not even a well camouflaged one. He adopts the Norris method but is not skilful in the use of it. Our plans called for a debate under an iron-clad legal contract that would strip Norris of the unfair advantages he has always demanded, and put him on equal plane and par with his opponent. But Jake Hines inters a radio arrangement with Norris, on the Norris program, under Norris control and domination, giving Norris all of the advantage, which was the very thing that we were attempting to prevent. Thin he turns around and "offers" me his arrangement! Furthermore, his arrangement calls for Sunday night appearances only on the Norris radio program - so he would have me cancel meetings, hang around indefinitely through the week to take his place on a Norris sponsored and controlled radio circus! This is the "offer" Brother Hines makes me. In his letter he admitted that he knew I could not do it. But he makes an offer that he knows I cannot take. So he knew when he made it that he was safe in making it, for he knew it could not be accepted. That does not merely smack of insincerity - it is the article itself.

Another evidence of the duplicity of Hines and Smith in these matters may be seen in the following comparison of statements. They have both stated that they do not blame Norris for refusing to debate with me since I have restrained him from his calumnious personal attacks over the radio. The Dallas editor, who is Hines' colleague and furnishes him his medium, so stated in his paper. But it was J. L. Hines himself who formerly urged me to take legal action to prevent the Norris attacks over the air. It will be interesting to look these statements over in parallel columns. Here they are:

Editor Eugene Smith

"Wallace had written the radio station over which Norris preaches and with threat of reprisal and legal action restrained Mr. Norris from mentioning his (Wallace's) name on the air. This act of a thin-skinned egotist so aroused the ere of Mr. Norris that he now refused to meet Brother Wallace under any conditions and I cannot find it in my heart to condemn him for his decision."

(Smith, in Gospel Broadcast)

Associate Editor Jake Hines

"Well, I suppose you have heard by this time what Norris said last Sunday about you. He said he got his information from Dr. George C. Brewer, of Memphis, Tennessee.' Now note he said George' not 'Grover.' That may be a loop-hole, but of course we know who he means. He said further that he was going to publish his part of that debate and copyright it so none could touch it in anyway. If I were you I would forbid him using my name over the radio, in the papers or in his published part of the debate."

(Hines, in letter to Wallace)

Now, since Brother Hines and his editor-colleague do not blame Norris for refusing to meet me because I restrained his malicious conduct over the radio, I wonder if the Dallas editor can "find it in his heart to condemn" Hines, his "thin-skinned" fellow-editor, for what he said, and advise Mr. Norris not to have the radio debate with him. It seems that most anybody should be able to see the personal ambitions of the Dallas duet in their unholy activities.

The Thirty-six Point Agreement

The thirty-six point agreement between Norris and Hines is the climax of all gullibility on the part of Brother Hines. It is shrewdness on the part of Norris. They signed an agreement on thirty-six points of doctrine, whereas they disagree in only three. And J. L. Hines signed that kind of a thing. He thin "offers' it to me in lieu of the contract we had submitted to Norris. Excuse me, please!

There is not one distinctive tenet of the Norris Baptists, or any other Baptist, upon which I agree with them. There is not one thing peculiar to the Baptists, or any denominationalist, upon which we agree. They are wrong on every single distinctive point of doctrine. Such an agreement minimizes the difference between the church and the Baptists and is a play into Norris' hands. He will use it with telling effect. Agreed on thirty-six points and differ on only three! Whether he knew it or not, Brother Hines has sold out the church and sacrificed the truth in his signed agreement with Norris.

The Declaration Of War

It is proper for me to also say in this connection that I did not attend the conference in Dallas, called by Brother Hines, during my meeting there. After all of these things had come out, Brother Hines called the preachers together. Inasmuch as I had no personal quarrel with Brother Hines over these matters, I did not go. The churches had asked me to represent them, and individuals appointed for the purpose had negotiated with Norris. I did not care to become involved in controversies with J. L. Hines and Eugene Smith over the matter.

Later, I learned that I had sensed the situation accurately, as to the origin and purpose of the meeting called. Hines and Smith were in charge. For two hours, the brethren said, they abused and bemeaned the preachers and churches of Dallas. At the close, Eugene S. Smith announced his "declaration of war" on the Dallas preachers - he has vowed to expose and exterminate them. The meeting was called for no other purpose than to furnish Hines and Smith an opportunity to browbeat the Dallas preachers and churches For the general information of all, that is one reason why I have refused to accept interviews and conferences with these men.

Jake Hines and Eugene Smith have "declared war" on the churches and preachers in Dallas, and a carnal war it is, with carnal words as their weapons! We shall now have a trio bound together in abuse. They are J. Frank Norris, J. L. Hines and Eugene Smith. For ten years J. Frank Norris has abused the churches and preachers of Fort Worth. He has now been joined by Hines and Smith, apparently, and what Norris has been doing in Fort Worth, Hines and Smith well be doing in Dallas. Truly, these three min shall have much in common-in their abuse of gospel preachers and Christ's churches. No wonder the churches have withheld their endorsements, and repudiate these min. Brethren over the nation will gradually but surely learn their stock in trade - fanaticism and abuse

J. Frank Norris, J. L. Hines, Eugene S. Smith - a trio in the shameful common cause of vilifying churches of Christ and gospel preachers. It is their own declaration of intent to do so. Here we part company.