Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 47, PAGE 1-2a

April 6. 1967

Banowsky Backed Down

Roy E. Cogdill

Some time ago there appeared in the Winnetka Avenue Church Bulletin, Canoga Park, Calif., which I was editing, an article criticizing William Banowsky of the Broadway Church in Lubbock, Texas, for appearing on a special Sunday School Convention Lecture Program at the First Baptist Church in Van Nuys, Calif., as a featured speaker. The article was based on an advertisement which appeared in the Los Angeles Times. It was a sizeable ad and carried rather large pictures of some of the feature speakers such as Banowsky and Creswell of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

The article was reprinted in a number of the bulletins over the country and among them the bulletin of the Caprock Church in Lubbock, Texas, which is edited by brother Paul Keller. Brother Banowsky called brother Keller by phone to tell him that he did not actually make the speech. He admitted that he was invited, that he accepted the invitation and planned to speak, but that after the advertising had been sent out he wrote and asked to be excused and hence, did not actually make the speech. Brother Keller offered him space in his bulletin to explain why he did not make the speech but brother Banowsky declined to make any explanation. Brother Keller contacted him a second time offering him space to explain why he did not fulfill the engagement. Again he declined saying he did not wish to "make a mountain out of a molehill."

Several things occur to this writer about this incident. First of all, why did brother Banowsky agree to go make the speech? Did he not know that he would put himself in a compromising position by doing so? Did he not know that at a "Sunday School Convention" he would be out of place unless he was there to teach the truth about such unscriptural organizations and their practices? Did he not know that he would be fellowshipping and fraternizing with this organization if he attended and spoke without raising his voice against it? Could he not discern the fact that he would be considered along with Creswell and others on the program as being in complete accord with what was being done and the organization doing it? Did not brother Banowsky know when he accepted the invitation that I John, verses 9-11, condemned the thing that he agreed to do? Did not his conscience and convictions rebel against such compromising with sectarians, false doctrines, and denominational organizations? Why did brother Banowsky agree to go and allow the advertising to announce him as a featured speaker on the program? The ad even featured the church for which he preaches and its size.

Then, we would like to know, why did he not go when he had agreed to do so? We would like to have his explanation of his backing out. Did he discover such passages as II John, verses 9-11, after agreeing to make the speech? Was it because of a change of conviction due to something he learned that he did not know when he accepted the invitation? If so, he should say so and let it be known that he accepted the invitation through ignorance of the truth in the first place. We would think a lot more of him if that was the case. It is not such a crime to be ignorant, if we are trying to learn the truth and will respect it when we learn it. There is probably much that brother Banowsky, along with the rest of us, does not know though he is a "doctor" and reputed by some to be quite learned. If I were he, I had much rather my information would be reflected upon than my respect for and convictions concerning the truth.

Did he back out because of some pressure that was brought upon him? If so, then he followed someone's judgment beside his own and for the sake of expediency or influence did not fulfill his obligation and appointment. That is politics. Surely the brethren at Broadway did not refuse to let him go. Our impression of them would be that the only reason they would so act would be out of expediency and not because of any convictions they might have against it. Their regard for the truth of God's Word went down the drain a long time ago. Did some of the churches closer to the scene of the convention advise Banowsky and plead with him not to come? The Van Nuys, California, church surely did not interfere with his accepting such an honor. They do not have enough regard left for the truth to be too much offended we are sure.

The only explanation we can offer (and we are left to our own conclusions in the absence of Banowsky's willingness to explain his action) is one of the following: (1) At the time he accepted the invitation he did not know that the truth condemned his participating in such a meeting and lending his fellowship and encouragement to error: (2) Having learned the truth later, he refused to carry out the obligation because of his respect for truth; or (3) he refused to carry out the engagement purely for political reasons. If the latter is true, he deserves no consideration. The only other alternative we can think of in explanation for his actions is that knowing what the Bible teaches about fraternizing with error, he simply did not have enough regard for it to be governed by it and therefore agreed to make the speech. He backed out on it solely because of some pressure brought upon him by others or because he was afraid of their disapproval.

Brother Banowsky thinks that by even trying to explain the matter he would make a "mountain out of a molehill." Participating or not in such a program and having fellowship with error is to him a "mole hill. Perhaps that attitude rather eloquently answers our questions about why he agreed to go in the first place and why he did not go in the second place. That makes all assumptions about the matter entirely unnecessary.

We do know that the "liberal brethren" are more and more finding common grounds with denominationalists of every kind and participating in inter-denominational meetings. Cleon Lyles on the platform with a Catholic Priest and a Christian Church preacher in Little Rock demonstrates this. Frank Pack taking part in Los Angeles with the Christian Churches in celebrating the relationship between those "bodies religiously that originated with Campbell and others in the Restoration Movement" is another demonstration. J. M. Powell in similar activity at Parkersburg, W. Va. demonstrates it again. There are many other incidents of the same attitude. They have enough of a common attitude toward the Word of God that they can find common ground. This eliminates the excuse for their existence. They should go out of business and join the sects and be done with it.

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