Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1967
NUMBER 8, PAGE 11b-15a

The Man Of The "Campaigns"

Eugene Britnell

If I were going to write an article on the modern "Crusades for Christ" in the world today, I would have to write about Billy Graham for he personifies the movement. Likewise, one cannot publish a paper on the modern "Campaigns for Christ" among churches of Christ without writing about brother Jimmy Allen. For some reason, he has become identified with the "campaigns" of our time.

I accepted this assignment fully cognizant of the possibility of being misunderstood and having my motives impugned. Any time one writes about a man or sin, especially if he writes objectively and critically, he runs this risk. Let it be clearly understood that I am not alone in my opposition to much of the teaching and practice of brother Allen. Brother C. D. Plum has an article in the March, 1967, issue of TRUTH MAGAZINE in which he replies to Allen's false teaching concerning a forthcoming "campaign" in Parkersburg, W. Va. Brother W. L. Totty has published a series of six articles in opposition to Allen's work and "The Greater Indiana Campaign." Being faced with the same possibility of being misunderstood that I am, brother Totty wrote:

"I want to make it plain that I have no ill will at all toward brother Allen. I do not even know him. But I do know what he teaches, because of his writings. And when I point out the error in his teaching, I am not any more attacking him than Paul was Peter when he withstood Peter 'to his face, because he was to be blamed' (Gal. 2:11). We are obligated to point out error, regardless of who the teacher might be." (The INFORMER, March 5, 1967).

I have known brother Allen for approximately fifteen years, and I have observed his work and teaching here in Arkansas and throughout the nation. We have studied together, heard one another preach, and engaged in a considerable amount of correspondence.. We are friends and brothers in Cbrist. I have nothing personally against Jimmy. He is a fine man and I know that he has done a lot of good wor.k. I would help him in any way possible and I believe that he would do the same for me.

Friendship does not and cannot mean compromise. Error doesn't grow on trees — it is taught and practiced by people. It is impossible to disassociate error from its advocates. One cannot deal honestly and candidly with error without identifying those who teach and practice it. The apostolic writers and preachers made that perfectly clear to all. So I plead for an understanding; at what I shall say. This is not a matter of jealousy, envy or malice. I am not making a personal attack on brother Allen, I am opposing some of his teaching which I verily believe to be unscriptural.

Brother Allen is a member of the faculty of Harding College, and spends much of his time working in the financial interest of that institution. The "Harding College Bulletin" of December, 1966, carried a lengthy article, along with many pictures, entitled: "The Story of Jimmy Allen." The author said of Jimmy: "When Jimmy Allen was 17 nobody thought he'd amount to much. But the army settled him down, Harding's atmosphere converted him, and he's been preaching ever since."

How Allen Started

It is difficult to understand how one man becomes so popular in a particular movement. Why does one man become the man for "campaigns" across the country? Jimmy is a good speaker, but that alone does not account for his "success." Many other brethren are also good speakers and far more experienced in the word and work. Incidentally, to what may we attribute Billy Graham's success? (Since Jimmy often compares himself with Graham — he did in the article mentioned above — I suppose that I can also.) Is Graham all that good? Surely many other Baptist preachers are equally as good or maybe better. But for some reason a man makes a name and then he goes on that. People often go to Graham's meeting just to see and hear Billy Graham. He is famous!

Brother Allen held a meeting several years ago in Newport, Arkansas (his home County) and had more than one hundred responses. I attended some of that meeting. The report reached many papers, and naturally brethren began to want a man for their meetings who could get such results. Are all other preachers preaching a different message? Are they lacking in ability as gospel preachers?

Exalting The Man

Maybe it is unavoidable, but when any human being becomes too popular, people have a tendency to exalt the man above the plan. And, generally speaking, the man who has reached that point does not discourage it. Whether with or without his approval, wittingly or unwittingly, Jimmy Allen has been exalted above the role of a humble servant of God who desires only to preach "Christ and him crucified." Within recent months or years, I have had occasion to drive through such cities as Memphis and El Paso just before one of Jimmy's "campaigns." In each place, I saw huge street banners reading, "Hear Jimmy Allen." The same was true of radio announcements and other advertising. From such advertising, one concludes that the main attraction is Jimmy Allen, not Christ and his gospel. It's much like the familiar acts "Hear Billy Graham." In contrast, consider the attitude of the apostles as expressed in such passages as I Cor. 1:31; 2:1-5; 3:4-9; Gal. 6:14 and I Thess. 2: 6. Imagine a banner across the street in Corinth reading, "Hear Paul!"

Perversion Of Scripture

Of all the unscriptural teaching of brother Allen, I mention first his vain efforts to justify the type of cooperation involved in his "campaigns." Basically, they involve the same type of cooperation as the Herald of Truth or other sponsoring church arrangements. For example, I the "Greater Philadelphia Campaign for Christ which is set for August of this year, the arrangement is this: The sponsoring church is in Warrington, Pa.; the personal work is under the oversight of some elders in Oklahoma City; the master of ceremonies will be from Northwestern College; it is financed by churches over the nation; and the whole thing is under an Executive Committee! I would like to hear brother Allen try to defend that Committee while at the same time opposing a missionary society. Wouldn't that make for interesting listening?

In numerous articles and speeches which I have seen and heard, Jimmy referred to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9; Rom. 15 and Acts 11:27-30 in defense of his campaign-type of cooperation. Any man who can see a sponsoring church or an arrangement remotely related to that described above in those passages would have no difficulty at all in seeing a sprinkled baby in Acts 16:15! In the first place, those passages are all dealing with benevolence — not evangelism. Not a one of them teaches that a church or churches sent to a church to enable the receiving church to do a work somewhere else. According to these and all other scriptures on the subject, the receiving church was always in need. No church sent a contribution to another church in the work of evangelism.

Observing Others

Maybe brother Allen and many others among us spend too much time observing the "successful" work of sectarians like Billy Graham and Bishop Sheen, and not enough time in reading the scriptures. They watch those men and get the idea that Christians — people who are supposed to be governed by the Bible can also conduct these giant campaigns and network programs. In a speech before a Conference of the Herald of Truth in Abilene, Jimmy commended Graham and said that he was moving people with the truth. He went on to say that Graham did not preach all of the truth and then added, "sticking the plan of salvation on (to Graham's sermons, E. B.) is not going to run them all away." Doesn't Jimmy know that if Graham will "stick the plan of salvation" on as Peter did on Pentecost that he will run them away?

On The Holy Spirit

It seems that brother Allen has joined with some prominent men of several other colleges in advocating the modern heresy (among us) of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. On September 27, 1966, Jimmy delivered a "Chapel Speech" at Harding College and I have a copy of his outline. He stated that he did not believe that "the Holy Spirit operates only through the word of God in the life of a Christian." If the Holy Spirit does not operate only through the word then he operates in some way separate and apart from the word! That is what many sectarian bodies have always taught, and all gospel preachers--until recently--have denied it.

Commenting further, brother Allen said: "a. He does operate through the word. Eph.6:17. b. He operates only through the word in the conviction and conversion of sinners. There are no Christians where the word has not gone. c. However, the Holy Spirit actually dwells in Christians (Rom. 8:9). If he does nothing as the indwelling Spirit, there is no advantage to having Him in us."

In a review of this. W. L. Totty wrote:

"How does brother Allen arrive at the conclusion that the Holy Spirit 'operates only through the word' in the conversion of sinners but 'actually dwells in Christians' and operates separate and apart from the word in them? We all believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians; but when one uses the word 'actually,' that raises another thought.

"God dwells in us, Christ dwells in us, and we dwell in Christ; but Christ does not 'actually' (personally) dwell in us. Paul said, 'So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. ' (Rom. 8:8-9.) If one will read carefully Paul's speech, one will see that Paul is not saying the spirit actually and personally dwells in a person, because the apostle says, 'But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. 'If we literalize that, we have the apostle saying that the Spirit is in a Christian and at the same time the Christian is in the Spirit. Now, we know that could not actually, personally, be; because if it were 'actually' the Spirit in us, we could not actually be in the Spirit. That would be a contradiction of terms." (The INFORMER, March 19, 1967)

From a study of men in various movements through the years, it seems to me that when they find themselves without scriptural authority for some teaching or practice, they invariably begin to claim some miraculous or special influence of the Holy Spirit to which they then appeal for their authority. Are some of our brethren reaching this point?

The Social Gospel

Like so many others among us today, brother Allen has accepted the social gospel. He endorses the church sponsored social and recreational activities. On April 16, 1965, the White Station church in Memphis sponsored a "Jimmy Allen Birthday Dinner" in their "fellowship hall." Tickets were sold for $2.50 each. In what way is the church obligated to celebrate Jimmy Allen's birthday? We even oppose the church doing that for Jesus Christ!

Christians And Denominations

In his Harding speech, brother Allen said that he did not believe that "every child of God is worshipping in a building with a church of Christ sign hanging out front." In a note to brother Totty (a copy of which he sent to me), Jimmy later tried to explain what he meant. He quoted F. D. Srygley, Alexander Campbell, Moses E. Lard and G. C. Brewer as having believed "there were Christians in the denominations." Certainly we believe that a Christian may apostatize and join some denomination, but it seems to me that Jimmy implied that some children of God were worshipping acceptably under some name other than the name of Christ. I believe that the Harding students got that impression. If they didn't, Jimmy surely must have spent some time in explaining the meaning of the statement in his outline--explaining that it didn't really mean what it said! That could have sounded like the man who said, "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Campaign Responses

According to the information in a recent letter from brother Allen, only 30.3 percent of his responses for the past three years were baptisms. That means that seven out of ten of those who responded were restorations or "re-dedications." Certainly the erring need to be restored (Gal. 6:1), but such a percentage is a reflection on either his preaching or the way brethren are living. Speaking of these organized, emotional meetings and their responses, Vernon Morris wrote:

"Does it disturb one to know that one congregation permitted its young people to arrange to go down by the river at night and erect a cross and after proper emotional preliminaries were complete, the feeling at its highest, set fire to the cross and have young people, while in this emotional state, make decisions to be baptized? Does it disturb you to know that many of our big meetings or 'Campaigns' have turned into a 'king size' confessional booth, where we boast of 're-dedications' by the hundreds? What has happened to some of the private prayers to God? Don't get me wrong. I believe in confession and the confession should be made just as public as the sin is public. Most of these sins are between you and your God, why not settle it on that basis? Isn't it true that every time you meet at the House of God you actually 'rededicate' yourselves? Where did that term originate?" (FIRM FOUNDATION, Nov.22, 1966, p.743.)

I seriously question whether or not these "campaigns" are the proper places for confessions or restorations. If the person who responds is a member of some congregation, why not make the confession there? Was the sin not committed before and against the home congregation, as well as the Lord? How can one justifiably run off to some great "campaign" and make a confession? So, seventy percent of the responses should have been somewhere else!

Church Support Of Colleges

Brother Allen believes that it is scriptural for churches to contribute to colleges. I have a letter from him wherein he says so. By far the majority of brethren have always considered this an unsound position, and certainly it is contrary to the scriptures. He recently denied that Harding College is "primarily an academic institution" and affirmed that "its fundamental reason for existence is religious." If that be true, then Harding must be an adjunct to the church rather than the home and therefore the church ought to support it. Do you follow his thinking? I don't believe it, and this is not the basis upon which faithful brethren have defended such an institution's right to exist.

On Inspiration

In his Harding speech brother Allen said: "I do not believe that the people with whom I worship have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." He continued by saying that we should strive to speak where the Bible speaks, etc., and that there is room for growth in the life of a Christian. That is true, but if that is all that he meant by his statement he should have said that we did not UNDERSTAND all of the truth. Instead, he said that we did not HAVE all the truth. He further stated that "the Bible properly translated, is infallible and inerrant." But does he believe that we have a Bible on earth today that is properly translated? We shall see.

In "The INFORMER" of March 12, 1967, brother W. L. Totty quotes from a tape recording in which brother Allen said: "Well, I believe they (King James and American Standard Versions) contain the whole counsel of God; but I don't believe they are verbally inspired. I don't believe there is a translation on the market today that is verbally inspired. If they are verbally inspired, then the translators were inspired. Not only that, since most of the men, as far as I know, all of the men who had a part in the translation never experienced the new birth."

A Mormon will lay out several translations and then ask "Which one is the word of God?" How would Jimmy fare in such a discussion?

The original text of the Bible is verbally inspired of God. I believe that it can be translated and copied by uninspired men and still retain that inspiration. For hundreds of years after the death of the last inspired writer and before the birth of Christ the scribes copied and handed down the Old Testament, yet Jesus recognized it as inspired scripture. Read Matthew 23:1-3; Luke 24:44,45; John 10:35 and many other related passages. And what about the use of amanuenses by the apostle Paul (Col. 4:18; 2 Thess. 3:17; Romans 16:22)?

Someone may say that this is simply a matter of semantics, but is it? Maybe he did not intend to deny the inspiration of the scriptures which we have today, but his statements are certainly careless and misleading, especially when presented before students. Remember, he said that we do not have a verbally inspired Bible on earth today! Just why would a gospel preacher make such statements?

Salvation By Works

He said that he did not believe in salvation by works and gave Ephesians 2:8,9 and Titus 3:5 as proof. That is exactly what Billy Graham says and the very passages which he would use. Jimmy did not say salvation by works only. I believe in salvation by works and can prove it by Acts 2:40; 10:35; Gal. 5:6; Phil. 2:12 and James 2:14-26.

Sin And Salvation

In his Harding speech, he said that one does not have to "be right in every point to go to heaven," but that one "must be right concerning the way of salvation." I have always thought that the "way of salvation" was the way to heaven!

He stated that he did not believe "that one unrepentant sin will send one to hell." Now that's a strange statement from a gospel preacher. In debate with Baptist preachers they want to know how many sins will cause one to be lost. We reply that it is not a matter of how many but rather will any sin condemn us, and conclude that one unrepentant sin will condemn. Maybe we have been wrong!

One sin kept Moses out of the promised land! One sin killed Nadab and Abihu! One sin killed the prophet who was sent to Bethel! Read James 2:10 and Acts 17:30.

Allen asked, "What about unknown sins?" and then cited Psalm 19:12. That verse doesn't help him.

David realized that even "secret faults" could condemn him, and surely he repented or he would not have been praying. Remember, Jimmy taught that an unrepentant sin will not send one to hell! He said, "God's way takes care of us" and gave 1 John 1:7 as proof. But are we walking "in the light" and in "God's way" when we refuse to repent? Luke 13:3 doesn't sound like it! I don't believe the blood of Christ will cleanse us of all sins if we are not penitent of all sins.

Lack Of Confidence And Courage

If you want to see a man with a spiritual backbone as strong as a wet noodle, watch a man who is caught without scriptural authority. Brother Allen will not defend what he teaches. Time and again I have called upon him to debate these issues and he has refused. I have offered him space in our paper and he refused to reply. The only offer he has ever made was to discuss these things with me privately (which I do not oppose) and with the understanding that our discussion could not be recorded! What does he fear? When a man refuses to defend what he believes and teaches, he stands in willful defiance of a command of God (1 Peter 3:15). As brother James D. Bales wrote: "Those who oppose the right kind of religious debating are either weak in the faith; afraid of their own position; afraid of the consequences of standing for the truth; or they are uninformed on the particular question under discussion." (Christian, Contend For Thy Cause, p. 18.)


I could point out other things which brother Allen believes which I believe to be wrong or at least questionable, but these are sufficient to prove that he teaches error and is unworthy of the influential position which he holds among brethren. I don't believe that he can be trusted to teach the truth concerning the true nature and mission of the church, the autonomy and sufficiency of the congregation, and other things of major importance. If he continues as he has in the past, I verily believe that his influence will prove harmful to the church. I hope that brethren will cease to use him in such responsible positions, and I pray that he will repent and use his ability in declaring "the whole counsel of God."

I trust that I have written the truth in the right spirit and with the proper motives. If I have failed to do so, I pray that God, brother Allen, and all who are involved or concerned will forgive me, and I stand ready to make any correction that truth demands.

-P. O. Box 3012 Little Rock, Arkansas