Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1952
NUMBER 48, PAGE 8-10,11b

"A Misrepresentation" Is A Misrepresentation

Chas. M. Campbell, Akron, Ohio

In the Gospel Advocate of March 6, 1952, G. L. Mann of Fayette, Alabama, pretended to write under the title "A Misrepresentation" in defense of his position relative to an Easter service which was conducted in the church there last year — according to the local newspaper. However, as was undoubtedly obvious to even the casual reader, the premeditated, planned, and deliberate objective of the dissertation was a puerile, palpable effort to disparage the character and reputation of brother Marion Davis, the owner and publisher of Truth In Love. Of course, these pestilential plots against those who dare to differ with the dogmatism of modern institutionalism and other unscriptural innovations allied with its scheming system have become so common that they have only a minimum effect. Nevertheless, they have been indulged in since the times of the apostles of Christ and the martyrs of the first century. Although in the light of their exposure in the New Testament, they are of satanic origin, and in the light of history, they classify in the category of the infernal inquisitions of the dark ages, there are still those, even among us, who will attempt to impose such pious frauds under the guise of doctrinal discussions. Whatever the proposition happens to be, the issue is ignored, and the carnal weapons of character assassins are employed and utilized in the cherished hope of ruining the good name and destroying the influence of an opponent. During the entire period of time that brother Mann and I were engaged in correspondence regarding the newspaper report of the Fayette church service last Easter he continued to hurl base slander and contemptible slurs at brother Davis. He positively refused to desist, and no amount of reasoning could dissuade him from his course. Finally, in desperation, he directed his anarchical anathemas at me in the apparent hope of provoking me to leave the issue and engage in personal rancor. Notwithstanding, I assured him then, and I wish to reassure him now, that with me this is not personal in any sense but altogether doctrinal in every sense. With this explanation and introduction I shall proceed to analyze and answer the "arguments" presented in brother Mann's maneuvering on "A Misrepresentation."

Brother Mann presented letters of recommendation from two of his preacher friends as the climax to his treatise, and they expressed their confidence in his character. As far as I am concerned, he could have spared himself and his friends the time and effort expended in providing such and the Gospel Advocate the space used in publishing them. For nothing of that nature has been even remotely referred to in my part of the controversy Brother Davis could multiply such letters many times, and I suppose it would not be too difficult for me to secure a few such epistles of commendation. But to what advantage do they serve? They remind me of the suggestion made by the late and lamented F. B. Srygley, that a man who finds it necessary to carry a batch of letters of recommendation around with him is like the farmer's chimney that was always, propped up. Brother Srygley would laughingly quip: "it was proof that if the props were removed the chimney would fall down."

Brother Mann's implication that brother Davis has been disfellowshipped by the Fayette congregation is indicative of his method of procedure in the entire article and the correspondence which he had with me. The truth is, brother Davis withdrew his presence and support from the church in Fayette several years ago. Since that time numerous attempts have been made by various delegations (once they went in a body) to induce him to return. Under date of December 13, 1951, brother Mann wrote: "O'Dowd met with us and at the conclusion of the meeting, he told the brethren that they should have withdrawn from Davis long ago. He said the church should do it yet. Brother Killingsworth, a deacon here, carried O'Dowd to Tuscaloosa and one of the last things he (O'Dowd) said to him was that Davis should be withdrawn from." Yet, in a letter to brother Davis brother O'Dowd said: "I stated to them as I did to you that same afternoon, that if, brother Davis or anyone else involved would not do right and correct their wrongs, withdraw from them." If, as brother Mann implied, brother Davis had been disfellowshipped by the church, how could his assertion regarding O'Dowd's suggestion be in any sense applicable? Why did brother Mann attempt to leave such an impression? He certainly knew that Marion Davis had not been disfellowshipped by the Fayette church nor any other church. Also, brother Mann can well afford to give his attention to a further discrepancy in regard to his report of the meeting with O'Dowd. In the same letter to which reference has already been made brother Mann said: "The church here asked O'Dowd to meet with it. Davis was invited but refused." In his letter to brother Davis brother O'Dowd said: "The brethren there led brother Miles and me to believe that you had committed yourself to be present." In this same connection brother Mann should correct his written declaration that brother John T. Lewis of Birmingham, Alabama, would condemn brother Davis as unworthy of recognition among the brethren. In repudiation of the slanderous statement brother Lewis wrote to brother Davis and declared: "In reply to your question, I will say that I have never been asked by anybody to condemn you, neither have I told anybody that I condemned you."

Naturally a church that has men in the eldership who make rather liberal contributions to Baptist orphanages and demand of preachers that they call upon denominational pastors to direct the prayers of the church during protracted meetings should bother about matters of discipline and disfellowship. These facts have been brought to brother Mann's attention, and he is well acquainted with the details. Nevertheless, lest some reader should doubt the possibility of such conditions existing among the elders of a church of Christ, we submit the positive undeniable evidence. The following quotation is from the bulletin of The First Baptist Church of Fayette under date of Dec. 21, 1947.

"Remember that this is BAPTIST CHILDRENS' HOME DAY in all the Baptist churches in the state. We have a check for $50.00 from Mr. Joe Alexander for the home."

Brother Joe Alexander is an elder in the Fayette church. And, although brother Mann tried to justify the act on the ground that brother Alexander was acting in conjunction with the policy of the company in which he is a partner, he admitted that he was wrong in what he did. He "does not believe brother Alexander will allow a repetition of such contributions to Baptist Orphanages without using his influence against it." As was pointed out to brother Mann in personal correspondence, the fact remains that be did so. What he will do in regard to such matters in the future remains to be seen. And, any attempted defense of such an unscriptural practice is tantamount to an endorsement of it.

Regarding the charge that a man who is now an elder in the Fayette church has demanded that gospel preachers call upon gospel perverters (denominational pastors) to lead the prayers of the church where he worshipped, the following correspondence is in order.

Fayette, Alabama 4/7/43 Dear Brother Nichols:

We are well and happy, trusting that the same is true with you and family.

Brother Nichols, you remember telling me about a meeting being called at Milport and at the meeting you were criticized by brother Johnson (who is now at Fayette) for not calling on the Methodist and Baptist preachers of that town to lead in prayer while they were visiting your services.

"Will you please write back and tell me who called this little meeting among you brethren in which you were criticized.

"Johnson says you called this meeting and not himself. You may use the space below to answer, if you wish.


J. G. Pounds

As per brother Pounds suggestion and request brother Nichols wrote on the bottom half of the page as follows:

Before I moved to Milport I preached there in a meeting and someone called a business meeting in the old Post Office building, (Brother Black being Post Master), and I know the other brethren blamed the calling of the meeting off on brother S. M. Johnson. I do know that he at this meeting finally took the lead and tried to get me to call on the preachers of the Baptist and M. E. churches, Wages and Gann, to lead our prayers occasionally just to show them proper respect and to be courteous. I refused to have anything to do with that sort of thing. Now all who believe that I called the meeting to get brother Johnson to let me call on these gentlemen to lead prayers in my meeting stand up. Meeks Burks, Cap Loftis, Jim Prater, and W. K. Black, were, I think, the ones present. But what of it now?

Gus Nichols

Remember, brother Johnson is an elder of the Fayette church. So, brother Mann should insinuate that the church has withdrawn from brother Marion Davis! Does the leopard change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin? Does a man who a few years ago condemned gospel preachers because they did not honor the presence of denominational preachers in their meetings by calling upon them to lead the prayers of the church bought with the blood of God's Son change so suddenly and sincerely that he can now be depended upon to convince the gainsayers? Hardly!

Respecting the Easter service and the newspaper report, some further facts are in order. Then the reader can decide for himself as to whose "charges should be corrected." Brother Mann wrote as if my first letter to him was written before my article which appeared in the Guardian in criticism of the service as reported in the newspaper. Whereas, the article was completed and mailed before Mann received my letter. Certainly, then, it was before I received the letter from Mann about two weeks latter. When brother Mann's answer was received and his attack upon the good name and sterling character of brother Marion Davis was instigated the possibility of the correctness of the news item became more and more plausible. Notwithstanding, I wrote to brother Tant and requested him to withhold the article from publication. At the same time I defended brother Davis against Mann's malicious gossip and called upon him to produce the evidence from the newspaper editor to corroborate his claim to innocency in regard to the origin of the article. He became enraged at the suggestion; and with holy indignation and righteous resentment he wreaked his wrath upon the head of Marion Davis. Finally, more three months after the newspaper article appeared the editor provided the letter which brother Mann inserted Gospel Advocate essay on the subject. In part, the news editor said:

"You gave no indication, neither did I state in the story, copy of which is attached, that any 'special service' was planned. I gave your sermon topic a brief outline of the plan of service."

Now notice the second paragraph of the editor's letter:

"In this story I stated that you would hold special Easter services at the Fayette church.' (The emphasis is mine. C.M.C.)

In the item which the editor attached the positive unmistakable statement was made that "G. L. Mann, minister, will deliver a special Easter message on ' Power of His Resurrection." The story also said: "The theme of the song service will be in harmony with sermon subject and will be rendered by the entire congregation. The Lord's Supper will conclude the Easter morning service, starting at 11:45."

According to the above contradictory statements the newspaper editor, which were made in a private letter not the daily paper, and more than three months after the article appeared, just where and how does he exonerate brother Mann and clear him of responsibility regarding the origin of the story? Except that he said: "You gave no indication, neither did I state in the story (the very thing that he stated) that any special service was planned.

Who gave the editor the information about the song service which was to be "in harmony with the sermon subject?" Why the gesture toward sectarianism preaching on the subject, "The Power of His Resurrection," on Easter Sunday? That subject was so clearly related to the ones selected by the denominational preachers of the town that one is made to wonder if they met with brother Mann and he and they consulted one another before deciding to announce the common theme. Two other subjects announced in the newspapers were, "He Is Not Here But Is Risen,' 'and "Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also."

The criticism of the Pagan practice of Roman Catholic prominence in the little church bulletin did not and could not counteract and correct the impression made on the public in general and the religious populace in particular where the Fayette newspaper was read. Never-the-less, until this day brother Mann has not had the editor make a statement in the paper. 0, yes, he is very concerned about my article in the Gospel Guardian which few if any, of the denominationalists of his home town read (I wish all of them had read it), but he is not willing exercise his zeal in the least in an effort to enlighten the people of Fayette on the subject. How consistent!

Moreover, the article which has caused brother Mann to occupy so many contradictory and inconsistent positions and to engage in so much slander and slush was withheld from publication twice. It actually went into the columns of the Guardian while I was considering the propriety of its publication. Although I told Mann that I gave my consent for the appearance of the article after he failed to convince me of the correctness of his claims regarding the origin of the newspaper story, it was with a vague recollection of having written to brother Tant to withhold the item the second time. Not being able to locate the letter at the moment, I concluded that I was mistaken. Therefore, as I wrote to brother Mann, I assumed all responsibility for the appearance of the article.

And after reviewing the entire situation both in our exchange of letters and Mann's manipulations in "A Misrepresentation," I am more convinced than ever that the article should have been published. In fact, I am convinced that it would have been a serious mistake to have ignored the fanfare and fashion of Fayette. Also, I offered to publish an article in the Guardian in compliance with brother Mann's wishes, as far as his wishes were in accord with the facts in the case. Such an article would not have changed the complexion of the situation in Fayette, however. For such cannot be accomplished until and unless brother Mann and those responsible for the prevailing conditions there change their attitudes and positions relative to denominational error and sectarian fraternizing. That I made the offer as above stated the following paragraph from my last letter to brother Mann will prove most conclusively.

"Apparently you do not care what the religionists and the people of the world in general in and around Fayette think about the position which the newspaper reported you and the church there to hold in regard to Easter. You just do not want the brethren in distant places to accept what the newspaper said about the day's observance. Yes, your sermon subject smacked of sectarian ideas on Easter. And, if you wanted the people of Fayette to know that you were opposed to the celebration of the day, you most assuredly could have worded your subject so as to convey the idea. Surely Satan must laugh when those who propose to represent the church give such advantages to denominationalism in general and Catholicism in particular. You allowed the situation to develop right under your view, you were responsible for it, and yet you want to blame me for condemning such a challenge to the place and position of the truth of the gospel. Notwithstanding. I propose to fulfill your wish and prepare an article for the Guardian explanatory of the whole affair along with other details incident to it. Understanding, of course, that you will make a plain, positive statement in the local newspaper in correction of the matter. Also, in such connection, I shall expect you to write a withdrawal of your false accusations against brother Davis, or I shall feel perfectly justified in introducing them in any way I deem proper and advisable in the matter. In other words, if the situation is going to be adjusted, it is going to be with fairness, candor, and honor. It is not going to be an arrangement for redeeming you from a position in which your own concessions to denominational error placed you. If and when you wish to carry out your threat to 'publicize the whole matter' go right on. However, there is one fact of which you can be assured and that is if you publicize something, 'the whole matter' will be publicized."

It is hardly conceivable that brother Mann could afford to call upon the newspaper editor to make a correction of a supposed error in the much mooted article about Easter. To do so would most assuredly jeopardize his position in the sight of the sectarians in Fayette. According to his past proposals where they are concerned, he surely cannot be expected to do so. He voluntarily offered to exchange time on the radio with the Methodist preacher in order to benefit the revival meeting in which the latter was engaged, and the reverend gentleman thinks him quite a fine fellow for being so considerate in the affair. Truly enough, brother Mann offered the following explanation of his actions.

"I did not offer the Methodist preacher my time. The truth of the matter is that Radio Station WWWF gives fifteen minutes each morning for a religious broadcast. They call it 'morning devotional.' They have invited us to take one week of this time each month. I called the Methodist preacher and asked him if he wanted to preach during the week allotted to me and allow me to preach during the week allotted to him in exchange. The station approves such exchanges. Now suppose the Methodist preacher had gone to the station and asked for approval of such exchange and then I had refused. What do you think the manager of the station would have thought about the matter?"

Running true to form, brother Mann hides this time behind what the manager of the radio station might have thought if a certain supposititious case had developed in which the Methodist preacher had made a request of brother Mann instead of him making a concession to the Methodist preacher and the Methodist denomination. The Methodists were engaged in a revival, and the Methodist preacher naturally construed brother Mann's fraternal gesture as indicative of an endorsement of their meeting. Does brother Mann believe the Methodist preached the gospel during that meeting? In my answer to one of his letters I asked him if he did, but he has not thought it proper to answer me as yet. No doubt his effort to answer would be about as clear and convincing as his explanation of the newspaper announcement of the Easter service.

Under the circumstances, can any sober minded and serious person, who knows and believes the truth, find it possible to justify any kind of criticism or censure of brother Davis for refusing to support a congregation where such conditions have existed for years? Since brother Mann has injected sinful insinuations and wicked libel into his article, perhaps it is wise and proper to publish a sample of the trivial trash in which some brethren in Fayette and a former preacher there have dealt in their sinuous, subterranean course of opposition to brother Davis.

On a certain occasion a few years ago, a Baptist, who was a well known song director, and, I believe, a preacher, was visiting in the town of Fayette. On the Lord's Day he attended the church services with his brethren, and the leaders invited him to direct the singing. He did so. The service was on the air. The announcement was made that "brother Davis will direct our singing this morning." Whereupon, those aforesaid brethren, in their holy zeal for the truth, declared far and near that brother Marion Davis attended the Baptist denomination and directed their song service. The laughing was loud, for poor old Marion, in his blissful ignorance, did not realize that the service was going out over the radio. (The brethren did not say, and I do not know just what obscured the microphone from his view.) The story, very unlike brother Mann's attacks upon him, was not entirely devoid of fact. You see, the Baptist song director was named Davis.

Incidentally, what is the interest of the Gospel Advocate in this case? It had not been mentioned during the entire controversy. Not that it necessarily matters to me, but some brethren in this section of the country are wondering. It has been known to refuse articles of an infinitely and incomparably superior class to the hodgepodge sent in by brother G. L. Mann of Fayette, Alabama.