Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 23, 1951
NUMBER 16, PAGE 4-5a

A Mistake Corrected

In spite of every effort to be fair and accurate, it is inevitable that now and then some error shall find its way into our columns, and some mistake shall be made in editorial handling. When such occurs, the only proper course is to make correction and try, as much as possible, to give the same space to the correction that was given to the original error. With that in mind we publish herewith an exchange of letters between brother Ira A. Douthitt and the editor:

July 13, 1951 Dear Brother Tant:

I have just read your editorial in the Guardian of July 12th. I do not have any word of reply to you for my proposition was not addressed to you, as the last words of my article show.

However, I do have a private word to say to you personally, because I have always regarded you as a fine Christian gentleman, and I do not believe that you would want a false statement about me to go uncorrected. I quote these words from your article, "In that Lawrenceburg meeting with Cogdill to which he refers in his article, brother Douthitt said that he had never studied the question, and didn't know which side of it he was on, but would want to debate it."

Brother Tant, these words are untrue. First of all, I never said I had not studied the question, for I had studied it for years. I never said anywhere to anyone that I did not know which side I was on.

Brother Tant, I was right then offering to meet one of the strongest debaters in the church, and certainly it doesn't seem reasonable that I would offer to do that any time when I didn't know which side I was on.

Now, brother Tant, if I had made that statement about you, I believe, as a Christian, I would want to correct it, and I feel that you will want to do the same thing.

I hope the very best possible for you in every good way. Drop me a line at your leisure, and make it convenient to visit in my home when you are in these parts.

Thankfully, I.A. Douthitt


July 26, 1951 Mr. I. A. Douthitt Chattanooga, Tennessee Dear Brother Ira:

Thank you for your good letter of July 13th. I certainly meant you no injury when I reported that Lawrenceburg conversation, and you have done exactly right in calling my attention to the injustice done you. You know of course that I will gladly make correction through the pages of the Guardian.

I am convinced that my impressions of what you said were not accurate and that I did make a mistake in printing the statement which you quote. You have a right to feel aggrieved at the light in which my words put you. I have checked with brother Cogdill as to his memory of the talk, and he writes, "What brother Douthitt did say was, 'I can't answer the argument on either side of the question.' Rufus Clifford, Wallace Layton, and others were witnesses of the conversation."

Your saying, "I can't answer the argument on either side" is not the equivalent of your saying you had never studied the question, did not know which side you were on, but still wanted to debate it! I can see that my representation of you in that light would make you look ridiculous to the point of imbecility. It was careless and unkind of me to have printed the report until I had checked with Roy or with some other who was in a position to know accurately what the conversation was. I offer my apology for the Guardian statement.

I can hardly accept your declaration that the proposition was not addressed to me. Obviously it was not addressed to me personally; but it was addressed to the Gospel Guardian, the paper I edit, and it was clearly intended for publication. I published the article, and then exercised an editor's prerogatives in making a few comments on it. Is there anything out of line in that? You showed clearly both in the article and by sending it to half-a-dozen papers that you yourself regarded it as a public and not a private challenge. Had it been private, you would have mailed it only to the men whom you named in the article.

Since the editorial and article appeared, I have had two or three letters objecting to my asking you to defend the Missionary Societies. Those who wrote seemed to think I should not have asked you to defend that which I knew you did not believe in. I recognize the merit of their suggestions. Really, I had no thought of trying to force you into a defense of the Societies. I included that proposition only to highlight and emphasize the absolute, deadly and undeniably parallel between what you wanted to defend and what I knew you would oppose.

I was hoping that you would be able to see that there is positively no essential difference to be made between a BOARD OF BENEVOLENCE through which the church may do her benevolences and a BOARD OF MISSIONS through which she may do her evangelism. The one you defend; the other you oppose.

I still would like to press my suggestion that you and Cecil exchange a few letters on the subject and work out an agreeable proposition for a discussion. I think there is very little chance of arranging any debate of the matter involving the brethren you name. We tried it with Brewer nearly two years ago, and failed; I do not think any of the brethren would be the least bit interested in debating with W. L. Totty on any subject at any time in any place. And I doubt that brother Hardeman would debate the issue, although he might.

But you and Cecil could do a good job of it. Your convictions on the subject are opposed; you are both able men; you are brothers in the flesh, as well as in the Lord, and that would assure the debate being on a friendly basis. I know such a discussion would do good. You are right in thinking that it is sorely needed. How about your writing Cecil and trying to interest him in such a matter?

The Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation, as you know, are pretty firmly committed to a policy of not allowing the other side to be presented in their columns. They have both rejected article after article setting forth a position contrary to that they espouse. The Gospel Guardian, however, would be delighted to carry the entire discussion, both your articles and Cecil's.

Be assured of a continuation of the warm personal regard in which I have always held you. I reciprocate fully your expressions of esteem and goodwill. And I will certainly take you up on that invitation to visit in your home when I'm in that area—though how Miss Reggie can stand both of us at the same time is more than I can see! Yours as always, Yater Tant We sent the above letter to brother Douthitt as a personal apology to him and intend its publication here to be in the nature of a public righting of an injustice done him. It would have taken a man of prodigious stupidity to have uttered the statement we attributed to brother Douthitt. And brother Ira may be prodigious all right, but he certainly isn't stupid. Our representation of him in that light was unfair and false. We herewith offer our apology; and hope that this editorial will be read by every single person who read the one in which the statement was made.

We still think the idea of an "all-Douthitt" discussion of these questions is a good one. We've had a number of letters from good brethren on both sides of the question applauding the idea. It is certainly obvious that some formal discussion of the issues is much in order. And why should not these two fine brothers, representing opposite convictions, present the matter? They are certainly on opposite sides on the question of church support of the schools, and although we've never discussed the matter with Cecil, we would guess they are also on opposite sides of the fence on the question of the church doing her work through benevolent institutions. We will gladly publish whatever articles they may want to write on the subject.

— F. Y. T.