Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1951

Ambitious Men

J. A. Mcnutt, Paragould, Arkansas

One of the chief causes of factionalism and division in the church of our Lord has been the desire on the part of some individuals for preeminence. Truly, "Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." An unholy desire for power and prominence can lead to such strife and confusion among the saints. Worldly ambition caused Absalom to prepare his chariots and horses and to select fifty men to run before him. It led him to say, "Oh that I were made judge in the land!" and caused him to rise in wicked rebellion against his own father. It accused unrighteous Adonijah to "exalt himself, saying I will be King." (1 Kings 1:5) It led the mother of James and John to say to Jesus, "grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." (Matt. 20:21) Luke tells us of the strife that arose among the disciples over "which of them should be accounted the greatest." (Luke 22:24) "But Jesus called them unto him and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." (Matt. 20:25-27)

Seeking The Preeminence

In the "Spiritual Call" published by D. A. Sommer (November, 1947) Sommer wrote concerning W. Carl Ketcherside, "I have helped push him, even though it did me harm, and have said to him that I was willing to step into the background and turn the development and education on Mutual Ministry over to him, etc. But about three years ago I went out more among churches and saw some dangerous principles being advocated and practiced, and condemned them. Since that time some have made the cry of "jealousy." We never heard it before."

This is evidently the time that D. A. Sommer learned of the "three year plan," and the time that he quoted Ketcherside as saying, "If they will put the brotherhood in my hands, I'll get it somewhere." Did Ketcherside make this statement? Who wanted to be CHIEF when Sommer stepped down? Wanting the brotherhood "in my hands" sounds rather ambitious, doesn't it? One can almost hear Carl saying, "Oh that I were made overseer of the churches." He cannot deny that he advocates and teaches the doctrine of "Evangelistic Supremacy." The man is fired with dangerous ambitions.

Should Evangelists Rule The Church?

We are told that Paul sent Titus and Timothy (inspired men) to set the churches in order and to appoint elders. However, not even the apostles of the Lord made an arbitrary selection of "the seven" in Acts 6, but said, "wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." The selection was one step, and the appointment another. Where is the precept or the example for an uninspired evangelist to select elders? Or to rule over any congregation? Or to assume "evangelistic oversight?" Evangelists have no rights in congregations of which they are not members above the humblest Christian in the land. The Mission Messenger carries reports of "evangelistic oversight," but the term is unknown to the Bible.

Consider this report from Beloit, Kansas, by E. M. Smith, "At present I have the evangelistic oversight of the Beloit congregation, and invite all the faithful to worship with us whenever possible." (Mission Messenger, April. 1951) Sometimes reports are given of men being "in charge of" two or three congregations. Where is the scripture for these uninspired dictators? In the "Spiritual Call" there is a quotation from an address by C. H. Spurgeon which reads as follows, "We have given up the Pope, for he has blundered often and terribly; but we shall not set up instead of him a horde of little popelings fresh from college." (November, 1947) We are determined to reject these "little popelings" who attempt to take "the evangelistic oversight" of churches, regardless of whether they hail from some college or come down from St. Louis, Missouri, or Indianapolis Indiana. It matters not with us whether they are "fresh from college," or "fresh from one of Ketcherside's Six-Weeks Schools," we can do without these religious dictators who are anxious to "take charge of churches."

The Three Year Plan

We would still like to have a little more information about the "Three Year Plan." It was back in 1947 that D. Austen Sommer published, "The Inside Story," in which he condemned some of the practices of Ketcherside. Here is a quotation from that article:

"Then I ran across the 'three year plan.' This is a plan by which churches have turned over to Carl the arranging of preachers, Bible teachers, singers, etc., for a period of three years. Carl made a swing among the churches and wrote to me how they went into that plan, and he was elated. He obtained their workers for them. The elders sit back and nod their heads. It is easy for them, and we have many indifferent elders."

Did Ketcherside's friend and brother, whom he once professed to love and trust, tell the truth about the "three year plan?" How many churches "have turned over to Carl the arranging of preachers, Bible teachers, singers, etc?" Is he still elated over the plan? If Sommer spoke the truth, and all his authority was "turned over" to Ketcherside, and he accepted it with elation, the "One Man Pastor System" has its headquarters in St. Louis; and any man who can see through a ladder knows who aspires to be the "Head-Man." Remember, Diotrephes "loveth to have the preeminence." If any of Carl's friends think that he has been falsely accused, let them see if they can get him to deny that he ever advocated the "Three Year Plan!!"

What About The Discussion?

We would like to know more about Ketcherside's promise to meet G. K. Wallace in a discussion. Does Ketcherside intend to debate?

In his last letter to me Ketcherside said, "I deny that the work, as you are doing it, is the work of an evangelist."

I have a letter from brother Wallace saying, "I will affirm: J. A. McNutt is doing the work of an evangelist." Will Ketcherside deny this proposition? If not, he ought to drop his false and malicious charges that all "local preachers" are "hireling pastors" who do not do the work of evangelists. We shall see what happens!