Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 15, 1962
NUMBER 44, PAGE 4,12-13a

"Judgest Thou Not Thyself?"


Roy E. Cogdill

I do not very often see the Firm Foundation for I long ago lost interest in its compromising attitude toward "spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places." But this past week someone handed me a copy and called my attention to the tirade that appeared on the editorial page by its editor. After brother Lemmons became editor of the paper, he soon demonstrated that he was a "spiritual contortionist" of great ability. He no sooner commits himself to something than you find him compromising and reversing himself especially when pressure is brought upon him. He has too much ambition, too many friends of power and influence and money, and he is much too sensitive to pressure to stand for anything for long at a time. Of course, he has let it be known all along that if he has any venom about anything and if he lapses into an impious attitude ever, it will be when he looks in the direction of the Guardian. All of the fairness and justice that he can muster on other occasions deserts him then.

He delivers himself of a veritable tirade against Yater Tant and charges in this editorial that Tant has set himself to split the church and form "another sect." He thinks he finds the proof of this in a recent statement made by Tant urging the churches to run an advertisement on the "Where To Worship When Travelling" page of the Guardian and also in the report published by the Guardian of the beginning of a new congregation in Waco. It makes one wonder where brother Lemmons has been if he is so far behind in recent events.

His charge is an old charge. More than a hundred years ago when brethren rose up in the path of the innovators who introduced the missionary society and instrumental music into the churches of Christ to challenge their right to bring into the church such human innovations, the "innovators" cried "anti-missionary" and "non-progressive" and charged that those of the opposition were dividing the church. Lemmons, Goodpasture, Woods and these modern innovators are raising the same cry today with exactly the same spirit.

These brethren engaging in such subterfuge know well that in the case of instrumental music and the missionary society the "new sect" and the division was not the result of the opposition to such innovations but of their introduction. Yet they refuse to recognize the fact that the same thing is true of their modern innovations. It was not the so-called "anti-ism" that divided the church over instrumental music and the missionary society. Rather it was the "innovators." Now, why can't brother Lemmons be honest enough with himself to see that his relation to the present strife is exactly parallel to these "innovators" of more than a hundred years ago? He is not a party of the opposition but rather stands with those who have introduced, without divine authority but upon the basis of supposed "expediency," these innovations that have brought dissension and strife. The parallel is positive and clear.

1. Such innovations were introduced because of their popular appeal. All sectarian bodies had previously followed such a course.

2. They were justified not on the basis of necessity but "expediency"; not on the basis of scriptural authority but of human judgment and personal privilege.

3. They were opposed on the basis that they were violations of "faith" for the reason that they had no divine authority.

4. They were injected into the church over the earnest convictions and against the consciences of many honest brethren.

5. Those conscientiously opposed either had to violate their convictions and consciences by acquiescing and participating in that which they earnestly believed to be wrong or separate themselves therefrom. Upon that basis many new congregations were established.

6. The only road to unity was for the "innovators" to have enough regard for unity to generously forego these "expediencies" (from their point of view) for the sake of preserving peace among brethren, in which event there was involved no sacrifice of anything essential or necessary in doing the will of God and no violation therefore of faith or conscience with them; or for those brethren conscientiously opposed to these "transgressions of divine authority" and "violations of faith" (from their point of view) which involved both a sacrifice of conviction and conscience, to be willing to make such a sacrifice for the sake of peace.

We would like for brother Lemmons to write another editorial and tell us whether or not he would recommend the latter course to those of us who occupy the relation of opposition to these practices about which this dissension has arisen among brethren. Would he take the position that we should swallow these things which we honestly believe to be contrary to the teaching of the New Testament and go contrary to our consciences in order to preserve peace among the brethren? If this is his recommendation, why does he not fellowship the Christian Churches, the premillennial brethren, and other forms of error? Is not peace worth such a price? If not, why? Isn't he willing to be as generous as he expects us to be?

1. Brother Lemmons is evidently unaware that when he condemned the brethren in Waco, who had to walk out of the liberal churches of that city in order to keep from violating their convictions and consciences, he pronounced a "double anathema" upon some of his liberal brethren who have gone to some length in many places over the country to establish liberal churches in localities where there were already good churches and only upon the basis that they were not participating in these present day innovations and promotions. For an instance of such action he could go to Lufkin, Texas. There, some two or three years ago, some brethren who had been worshipping for some years at Diboll, south of Lufkin, came into town, evidently with financial backing, and established a liberal church, built a new building just a few blocks from the Fourth and Groesbeck place of worship. There were already four good churches in Lufkin, but, of course, they did not contribute to the Herald of Truth, or to the Benevolent Societies. Evidently these brethren acted upon the basis that it is necessary for a congregation to contribute to these or it is not worthy of fellowship and they could not therefore worship with them. The congregation was not needed unless such was their conviction or they acted purely upon the basis of animosity toward the churches already in existence. Either picture is not a pretty one. Which would brother Lemmons use to justify their action?

Then take the case of Lexington, Kentucky, Innovations had wrecked the church there twice. Once when instrumental music and the societies led the churches into digression, and the second time when premillennialism came along. Brethren started over in both cases and had built a splendid church near the campus of Kentucky University. But of course, they did not go along with the present day promotions and innovations in the form of sponsored church co-operation (the Herald of Truth) and the benevolent societies. Accordingly the Garfield Heights church of Indianapolis, Indiana, hired Basil Overton to go into Lexington and start a liberal church that would support all present day promotions and innovations. They bought property in the same area of the University Ave. Church. They have made every attempt to influence people away from the church already there. Their supporters and friends have written those moving there and others and warned them against going to the University Church and urged them to support the liberal church. I read letter to a young couple from Batsell Barrett Baxter, When I was there last fall, advising this couple to go to the liberal church and insinuating that the University Church is not scriptural or faithful. Does brother Lemmons agree with brother Baxter, Overton, and those supporting him and furnishing the money to do what he has done, that the University Church is not a fit place for a Christian to worship? Have these brethren started a "new sect" by establishing this liberal church? Do they believe that support for Herald of Truth and the Benevolent societies are essential to doing the will of the Lord and that the Church loses its scriptural identity without doing so? This is the only basis upon which such an effort could be possibly justified. Tell us, brother Lemmons, is it wrong to start a congregation in Waco when there is not a church there where one could worship with out having part in that which he conscientiously believes to be wrong, but right to start a congregation and divide the people of God in order to have your way about a matter of judgment or expediency? Your answer will be interesting.

Then we suggest that brother Lemmons turn his attention to Newbern, Tenn. The church in Newbern built a new building and sold their old house to the American Legion. After more than a year, a group of liberal brethren in a country congregation made up the money and bought the old building back from the American Legion and moved into town so that a town of 2,500 people might have two congregations calling themselves "Church of Christ." Did these liberal brethren honestly feel that the Cause of Christ was not represented in Newbern? Is this the reason they moved into town? If so, then it was because the church was not going along with these modern innovations. Does this destroy the identity of the church? Is it impossible for these liberal brethren to worship with God's people unless they support the benevolent organizations among us and the brotherhood wide promotions of this present day? Are these things essential to being the "Church of Christ"? If not, then what justification do these brethren have for forming a "new sect."

Instances of this sort have been multiplied. In Tampa, Florida, at the present time liberal brethren are in a campaign to establish a liberal church and are carrying the campaign on by a personal visitation among the member of the congregations of the city to try to win them away. It is the report that a good many thousand dollars have been poured into the effort by liberal brethren and churches from Tennessee and Texas. Why? Because in order to be a "Church of Christ" a congregation of God's people must build and maintain benevolent organizations other than the church and must be willing to delegate their resources to the large sponsoring churches who have promoted giant programs of work for the whole "brotherhood"? Is this the thing that makes such an effort legitimate for them but wrong for others? We would like for brother Lemmons to tell us!

He could also look into the facts of such efforts at other places. In one of our religious papers a liberal church in Riverside, Calif., recently announced that they would establish a congregation of their own kind in San Bernardino, Calif. They stated that the church at 1354 Mt. View Ave.; which has been a great church for a good many years and has supported as much gospel preaching in weak places as any church in California, has "digressed." How? Not because they have begun the use of instrumental music or adopted the teaching of premillennialism but because they do not go along with the doctrine that they should turn their benevolent work over to a human organization or relinquish their resources and their program of supporting the Gospel to the ambitious elders of some "sponsoring church." Do you endorse this, brother Lemmons?

Brethren who are so determined to commit the churches to such programs have voted out elders by majority rule who won't bow to their demands. They have seized buildings and gone to court to obtain or retain them and force many of those who helped to build them to either allow these programs to be crammed down their throats or get out. Look into the facts at Huntsville Ala., Spring Creek Church near Henderson, Tenn.; East Bakersfield, Calif., and a multitude of other instances of such actions, shameful and unchristian to the extreme. Has brother Lemmons ever raised a cry about such "a new sect" emerging in such a picture? We have not seen it. And for good reason we think. Verily, "the legs of the lame are unequal."

We would ask further, has brother Lemmons read the book "Churches of Today"? Did he notice the information sought by brethren Baxter and Norvell Young in their questionnaire to the churches for listing in the book? Has also noted that, almost without exception, the churches listed replied in the affirmative that they believed in AND SUPPORTED COOPERATION BETWEEN CHURCHES OF CHRIST SUCH AS THE HERALD OF TRUTH AND THAT THEY BELIEVED IN AND SUPPORTED THE HOMES FOR CHILDREN BUILT AND MAINTAINED BY THE CHURCHES. This is necessary to recognition among these brethren. They extend no fellowship without these characteristics. Has brother Lemmons taken no recognition of the "quarantine movement" instigated by the Gospel Advocate a number of years ago? Does he not know that those who are as honest and worthy of consideration as he, have been "canceled," "quarantined," "disfellowshipped," misrepresented and mistreated by churches all over the country which we have helped to build and in many instances by churches which we even established at personal sacrifice? And all of this because we dared oppose these human promotions and have insisted on our right to preach what we earnestly believe the Bible to teach? And without being personally given a hearing or any other consideration? Never have brethren witnessed the attitude and received the treatment handed out by these pious promoters of human arrangements to those who dare oppose them. We are not complaining, brother Lemmons, for those who are not willing to make such a sacrifice for what they believe to be the truth of God would be unworthy of any consideration, but we do believe that your whining castigation about destroying the unity of brethren is wholly inconsistent with your party spirit so often displayed in your own action and writing. "Therefore thou art inexcusable, 0 man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things." (Rom. 2:1-2)