Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 2, 1951
NUMBER 13, PAGE 1,12-13a

"What Is That To Thee?"

Roy E. Cogdill

In the twenty-first chapter of John when Jesus had foretold some of the things that awaited Peter in the suffering he would undergo and the manner of death he would die, Peter noticed John nearby and asked of the Lord, "What shall this man do?' Jesus answered him by saying, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me."

I do not know what motive Peter had in his heart but the context indicates that it was not good, and Jesus rebuked him and reminded him to tend to his own business, fulfill his own obligations, and let the personal affairs of others alone.

The editor of the Gospel Advocate could profit by this simple lesson. He seems to have a disposition that makes it difficult for him to refrain from casting slurs, and trying to discredit those who differ from him. He does this usually by giving publicity to anything that he considers unfavorable to them, and leaving implications in vague, indefinite statements that would reflect personally upon others. In all of these efforts he has repeatedly shown himself to be the "little' editor of a "big' paper when it comes to disposition.

During the past several years he has given the influence of his paper and his own personal influence to one side or another of nearly every issue which has disturbed the church, and from our point of view has been rather consistently on the wrong side. He has steadfastly refused to agree to an open discussion of any of these issues from a scriptural standpoint, just as he has refused to definitely and unequivocally state his position on them. He has allowed the Gospel Advocate to be committed by others to "church support of the schools' without positively identifying his own position in the matter. At least if he has done so, it cannot be recalled by this writer in any statement he has made. Inferences have been left that are pretty definite, but the editor has not shown the courage to come out into the open and let his own convictions be known without doubt or question.

In similar manner he has given his own influence and the influence of his paper to the defense of other institutional set-ups, such as the "board controlled benevolent homes' that have grown up among the churches. No one, I am sure, has seen any positive effort from his pen to defend such institutions as scriptural and the right of the church to do its work through them, but he has given free course and plenty of space in the pages of his paper that others might make such defense, and has allowed practically nothing unfavorable to these arrangements to appear. His position again is known by inference only, and not by any courageous and forthright testimony from his own pen.

In the "centralized control and oversight' methods for evangelism and all the controversy they have caused, who has seen one word from brother Goodpasture's own pen in defense of those embryonic missionary societies? He has not come out openly himself in their defense, but he has again given his influence and the influence of his paper, and therefore, his encouragement to them. He has allowed little or nothing critical of them, or unfavorable to them, to find its way into the columns of his paper. Again his position is known only by inference and indirection.

In a dozen different editorials he has sought to disparage, slur, belittle, and otherwise discredit the Gospel Guardian, her editor, her publisher, and a number of her writers. All of it has been done in an indefinite, indirect manner instead of forthrightly and openly, so that if he were called to task, he could dodge the charge by saying that he didn't say he was talking about us! There seems but one explanation for the whole weak spectacle in this regard, and that is a lack of courage and an almost total absence of fundamental convictions concerning the truth. Even years ago, when the "war question' was raging, brother Goodpasture's effort was of the same character. Instead of discussing the issue forthrightly and from a scriptural point of view, he put in his time trying to discredit those who differed from him by mentioning purely personal matters that had nothing whatever to do with the question. All of which means that he has really stood for nothing as an editor, and he has certainly stood against nothing but "us."

One of his weakest and smallest efforts has been an attempt to discredit good men who honestly have weighed the testimony and changed their minds and, therefore, positions, in some of these questions. According to the editor of the Advocate, when a man changes his convictions on any issue in religion, he is as "unstable as water" and unworthy of being heard. This casts reflection on the sincerity of every Christian who has ever been a denominationalist and has turned to the truth. It disparages any effort to learn truth for fear that we may find ourselves wrong. It is the very essence of prejudiced sectarianism. Such an attempt to bind men forever to what they have already learned and to shut their minds against any continued study of the truth on questions is to make a god of tradition and to belittle the truth. It breeds dishonesty as well. Any man who would take refuge in such an effort is bound to possess a "little" disposition.

In the discussions that have occurred among brethren about all these issues, the Advocate editor has manifested a most unfair attitude. He has allowed the readers of his paper to hear only one side of the testimony; he has printed articles on only one side of the controverted issues. Articles from men worthy to be heard have been summarily cast aside and refused space without the dignity even of an explanation. When editorial use was made of an excerpt from a letter from brother W. W. Otey in such a way as to misrepresent brother Otey's position, that aged veteran of the cross wrote in to the Advocate correcting the misrepresentation. Brother Goodpasture refused to print the correction. The same thing happened to Yater Tant. When a ten-year-old article of his was used on the editorial page of the Advocate in such a way as to misrepresent his present convictions, he asked for a correction to be made. The Advocate's editor knew when he printed the article that it did not represent brother Tant's convictions on the question; but he refused to allow any correction to be made. What kind of an attitude leads a man to be that unfair?

With such a disposition toward "littleness' it is not a surprise at all that the editor would gladly seize upon such a "Statement of Fact' as that published by him on the editorial page of his July 12th issue. He knows nothing of the local situation to which this statement refers. He has no idea at all as to what the "intolerable" situation is to which reference is made. He has absolutely no knowledge of who has done wrong, what wrong has been done, or of any of the circumstances involved. In spite of this ignorance, however, and in spite of the announced policy of the Advocate that:

"The Advocate cannot be an arbiter in church troubles. Matters of this kind are local in nature and should be settled locally. We see no good to be accomplished in thrusting upon the brotherhood a church scandal.' (Gospel Advocate, June 1, 1939) in spite, we say, of these things, and without making any effort at all to ascertain the facts, brother Goodpasture rushed into print with the "Statement' as quickly as it reached him. It seems perfectly obvious that he ignored the stated policy of his paper only because he thought he had something in the "Statement' by which he could deal a blow that might tend to discredit the Guardian, her editor and her publisher.

What is the local situation in Lufkin to brother Goodpasture? Does he want to guarantee to the brotherhood that the statement signed by the three men is a true statement of fact? Did he know that the three men who signed the "Statement' constitute only one-half of the men who were elders of the Lufkin church as late as January 1, 1951? And did he know that one of the men who signed is himself the chief cause of complaint? Now, if brother Goodpasture wants to inject himself into this local matter, let him say so, and then let him open the pages of the Advocate fairly to an equal hearing and we will thresh the matter out. If he doesn't want to do that, then let him abide by the stated policy of his paper. Either be man enough to come out in the open, brother Goodpasture, or else be man enough to stay out of a situation that involves you not at all and about which you know absolutely nothing!

The editor of the Guardian has no connection at all with the Lufkin situation. Brother Goodpasture is much concerned about where he worships when he is in Lufkin. Well, he hasn't been in Lufkin on a Lord's Day in more than two years, and I believe he is in full fellowship at both congregations. If he ever should be here on a Sunday, I am sure he is capable of making up his mind where he wants to go to church without any help from the editor of the Advocate. (Incidentally, why did the Advocate recently list brother Tant and his son, David, as living in "Lufkin?' Was that an attempt to connect him in some way with the church trouble down here? Brother Tant tells me that on the very occasion of his visit to the Advocate with his son, he and brother Goodpasture talked of his residence in Abilene, and of David's being in school there.) Surely nowhere in the world have more congregations been started in more different ways and for more different reasons than in Nashville, and probably most of them were branded as "factions' when they started. It seems to be customary when a congregation is started and someone doesn't want it to be, to just call it a "faction.' But calling it one doesn't make it one.

A new congregation has been started in Lufkin because one hundred and twenty-five members of the Lord's church thought it should be done, and that they had the right to do it. The publisher of the Guardian is helping them in this new work for the reason that he thinks he should do it and has the right to do it. Nobody consulted brother Goodpasture about starting this church, and nobody is asking for his judgment on it now. We all know that he knows nothing whatever about the matter. We are willing for the Lord to be our judge in the course of action we have taken, and we expect to answer only to Him for it.

We are willing to furnish the full facts and history of the local situation here to anybody who has a right to want to know about it, and will do so upon inquiry. We have not aired the matter in the papers, from the pulpit, nor over the radio. We believe the situation is purely local, does not concern others, and involves no matter of doctrinal teaching—and we are not in the habit of shouting our family difficulties from the street corners and house tops. This reticence upon our part is not to be taken as evidence that we cannot defend ourselves under the proper circumstances and at the right time. If brother Goodpasture or anybody else thinks so, he may be due for a rude awakening.

We invite the editor of the Advocate to leave Lufkin to solve her own problems. That she will do so, if left alone by meddling outsiders, we have not a doubt in the world. We suggest therefore to brother Goodpasture that he try to tend to his own business, edit his paper, and try to keep some of the Modernism out of his Sunday school literature.