Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 16, 1963
NUMBER 3, PAGE 4,12b

A Significant Omission


On this page in the Gospel Guardian of April 4 we carried an editorial from the Gospel Advocate of February 21, 1963, pointing out some dangerous "modern trends" developing among the Lord's people. The editorial was a good one, and we commended it to our readers. We did not know, until it was called to our attention, that this article had originally appeared on the editorial page of the Gospel Advocate of May 22, 1947, and that when first published it had carried a section on "Centralization" as one of the dangerous "modern trends"....a section which was omitted from the re-print this year. We think there is some significance in the omission of this portion. Of all dangerous "modern trends" affecting the church of our generation, perhaps none has been more devastating than the trend toward "centralization." We give here that section of Brother Goodpasture's 194'7 editorial which he omitted from his 1983 editorial:


All centralization of wealth, influence, and power is fraught with danger. The dictator is an example of the danger of centralization. With every merger comes the possibility of misusing the increased power. The greater the power, the greater the temptation to use any means fair or foul to exercise that power. In some sections of the country the seeming disposition on the part of the larger congregations to absorb the smaller congregations in the community is quite evident. This is unfortunate for the cause of Christ. It fits well into the ambitions of preachers and elders to build up a "great" church, but it does not contribute to the best interest of the gospel. There are eighty-three congregations in Nashville and Davidson County — perhaps more than in any other section of country its size in the entire world. This was not accomplished by centralization. Rather, such men as David Lipscomb and James A. Harding sought to establish congregations in every section of the city and country. In this way more congregations were established and more men were trained to bear the responsibilities of congregational leadership and training.

It is easier to 'nip a trend in the bud' than it is to launch and complete a reformation.

Our readers will notice with interest the omission of this section, and will no doubt form their own conclusion as to WHY it was omitted from the current editorial. Was it because of a lack of space? Or does the editor of the Advocate feel that the trend toward "centralization" has been effectively controlled, and that this no longer poses a threat to the Lord's church? If so, what has led him to such a conclusion? Remember, in 1947 the "sponsoring church cooperatives" were just getting started. This was something new and unknown in our generation. True, the same plan had been tried in Texas back in the 1880's and 1890's, but due to the powerful opposition of such stalwarts as David Lipscomb, brethren had finally come to the conclusion that such combines were without scriptural justification, and had generally abandoned them. But In the mid-1940's the "sponsoring church cooperatives" began to get a new start. That was when brother Goodpasture wrote his warning against the trend toward "centralization." The warning was a timely one indeed. Had it been followed up with the same sort of adamant, uncompromising stand for the New Testament pattern as by the Advocate's editor of that earlier generation it is possible that the church of our day might have been spared the agony of strife and division which has so saddened all true disciples of Christ.

We were glad to commend to our readers the editorial of February 21, 1963. It is with an even stronger commendation that we urge you to read and study the warning against "centralization" from the editorial of 1947. Brother Goodpasture saw the danger sixteen years ago. What he feared in prospect then we fight in its developed reality now. It is no longer a "trend," but has become a mighty flood — and with no stopping place short of total apostasy from the Lord's plan for the government of his people. Once the New Testament pattern is abandoned, there can be no guide, no standard, no authority save that of human judgment.

— F. Y. T.