"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.IV Pg.6b
November 1943

Brother E. W. Mcmillan's Preaching

(F. E. W. Jr.)

During the past few years much has been said pro and con, publicly and privately, in pulpit and press of Brother E. W. McMillan's preaching. The criticisms have for the most part been made because of his particular connections with certain men and movements which have been under fire and which do not stand in the favor of the loyal brethren all over the world. The Bible Banner has had its part in these discussions and has contributed its share of the criticisms.

During the past few weeks occasion was afforded for Brother McMillan and me to exchange visits and to discuss in personal conversation many things pertaining to the kingdom of Christ and sound doctrine. He does not know what I am about to write or that I am about to write anything at all, but with all that has already been said over several years of time, I figure that he can take what I am about to say now, and I doubt if he has any objection to my saying it.

In one of our conversations, Brother McMillan asked me plainly what I thought he could do to regain the confidence of many brethren who are honest in their belief that he has not been loyal to the gospel in his preaching. Without assuming to be wise enough to dispense advice or presuming to prescribe a course of action for another, I did suggest to Brother McMillan, just as freely as he requested it, that if he would renounce his doubtful affiliations and "crack down" on plain gospel preaching, like he did when he first started out, it would in my humble opinion accomplish the thing that he desired.

The Davidson Movement was a definite threat to the church from every standpoint in everything it proposed. Had it succeeded the Cause of Christ in the United States, especially in Tennessee and Texas, would have suffered a major disaster, and all that has been accomplished during the past century for the New Testament order of things versus modernism and digression would have been lost. Many churches of Christ and many preachers of the gospel would have been ruined, as a few have been in spite of all that could be done. This movement was stopped. It is extinct as a movement, but its influence is still felt in the wounds that had to be inflicted and the scars that have been left as a result of the bitter fight. It was Brother McMillan's connection with this particular movement that marked him more than any other one thing in the eyes of thousands of loyal brethren who knew the character of that movement. I have believed, and yet believe, that brethren like Brother Sewell and Brother McMillan who were connected with the Davidson scheme, but who now see the mistake of it, should openly say so--simply renounce it--in the press, where all the brethren could see it and know that it was done, for that is where they helped to promote it. I am told by men who were present in a special meeting at San Antonio that Brother Sewell admitted that he had been deceived in reference to the Davidson movement. If that is true, Brother Sewell should say it to the whole brotherhood, just as he promoted Clinton Davidson and his schemes before the whole brotherhood. Nothing short of doing so could even begin to undo the harm that was done by the promotion of that movement in Texas and in Tennessee.

Another thing that had cast a doubt over Brother McMillan's loyalty to the gospel was his connection with the Central Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. This church had a record of softness and was generally so regarded by loyal churches and loyal preachers. Brother McMillan was condemned by many brethren because he preached for this church. But that issue has now been removed--because Brother N. B. Hardeman has recently preached for it, too. Since the Central Church refused to cooperate in or even announce the gospel meeting supported by thirty of the Nashville churches, and other evidences of antipathy to the plain gospel and the New Testament order of things, many gospel preachers thought that they should refuse to preach for the Central Church until proper amendments were made for the things that had been done. In this they thought they were supporting both the truth and Brother Hardeman in his stand for the truth in Nashville. But later, without the Central church having done anything in amendment or reparation of the wrongs that had been done, Brother Hardeman preached there in a number of services. Whether that was the right thing to do or not the right thing to do, his doing so eliminated the Central Church as an issue in the controversy. Brother McMillan was condemned for preaching there. But if it was right for Brother Hardeman to preach there, it was also right for Brother McMillan to preach there. The question of what was preached is not the point now--we all know that Hardeman preached the truth. The point here is the where, not the what. Other men have been criticized for going there and preaching there-the fact, that Brother Hardeman did so constitutes an endorsement of so doing and justifies Brother McMillan's connection with that church as its preacher. For that reason I say that the issue of the Central Church, so far as Brother McMillan is concerned, has been removed, and I am not willing to criticize him for doing a thing that another does without criticism, for it is obviously not fair to condemn one and condone another, regardless of persons.

I have said all of this in order to say something else. I recently heard Brother McMillan preach in two services in Austin, Texas. The subject of one of these sermons was "The Church Of The Lord." On this subject he preached "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." His text was "Upon this Rock I will build my church," He pointed out that the Lord's church is first of all a built church. He explained that material is not a building, but that material must be built into the building. He said in a very forceful way that the Lord builds us into it when he adds us to it, and he showed plainly how we are added. He did not stop there. He stated in unmistakable terms that denominations are not churches of Christ, and that when people go into them they are not built into the Lord's church. Furthermore, he called names, from the Roman Catholic Church down through all the orthodox protestant denominations. He told the audience that all these religious bodies held certain truths in common, such as the being of God, the deity of Jesus, the inspiration of the scriptures, and principles of morality--yet it is not what is held in common that makes a denomination, but rather the errors peculiar to them, which distinguish them from each other and from the church of the New Testament. The Jews on Pentecost believed in God, and had that much in common with the apostles--but were nevertheless outside the pale of salvation. So it is with the denominations, notwithstanding the truths which they hold in common they are nevertheless outside the pale of the Lord's church, and without salvation, because they fall short of obedience to the gospel, the specific thing that saves men and adds them to the church. And he did not stutter when he said these things. I take it that he believes what he preached. I have heard men who have a reputation for sound doctrine who did not "put it out" that plainly.

The other sermon I heard Brother McMillan preach was on the subject of faith. His definitions were plain and scriptural and he exalted the word of God as the only source and ground of faith--simply what God says. It was a sermon on the plan of salvation. There is but one criticism I would make of this sermon, and perhaps, others could make more than one of sermons I try to preach. It refers to what I have heard other preachers say--that faith, repentance, the confession and baptism, are not to be regarded as "steps" for it is all faith, faith from the beginning on through. Well, I think I know what Brother McMillan meant, but since we are said to walk by faith (and that was one of his texts) I just wonder how one could walk without taking steps. Besides, the New Testament says the very word--"walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham." Faith walks and faith has "steps." Faith is itself a "step" toward God, because "he that cometh to God must believe." I do not see any good reason for weakening an otherwise good sermon by a futile effort to eliminate "steps" from the "plan" of salvation--but this saying is not peculiar to Brother McMillan. Others who have been acceptable to the brethren have done the same thing. One good brother has written a tract entitled "Are We Preaching The Gospel?" and he thinks "we" are not because we call faith, repentance and baptism "steps" and refer to the gospel as "a plan" of salvation) But I still think I am preaching the gospel when I do it that way, and I'll just keep on doing it that way and baptizing hundreds of people as a result of preaching it that way, as I have been doing for about thirty years.

With that one exception I could endorse all that I heard Brother McMillan preach in his Austin meeting, and I think he would agree with me in what I have said about the "steps" of faith. I really do not think he meant that faith, repentance and baptism are not "conditions" of salvation, for he proved in the same sermon that they are.

It was announced that his next sermon would be "The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus"--so it is evident that he was preaching the plain plan of salvation through this meeting, and I rejoiced in the fact that he was doing so. Brother G. H. P. Showalter was in attendance in the meeting and had charge of the services. He exchanged remarks with me along this line and was pleased that Brother McMillan was preaching these simple truths of the gospel.

I have in the past wondered if Brother McMillan could preach the gospel. Now, I know he can, for he did. I heard him do it. What he has done in some places, or may do in other places, I cannot say, but he preached the simple gospel of Christ in the Austin meeting. Seeing that he can do it and has done it, if he does not continue to do so, constantly and unceasingly, the greater will be his condemnation. My prayer is that he may do soand I feel the urge to say that I believe he will.