Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 19, 1953

Centralized Control In Germany

Keith Thompson, Jordan, Ontario

March 3, 1953 Mr. Yater Tant 717 E. N. 13th St.

Abilene, Texas Dear Brother Tant:

Here is a letter (Letter No. 1) which I just received from my good friend, brother Dick Smith. He asked me to forward it to you.

Dick and I attended college together and worked together one summer. As he says in his letter, "We've worked together, preached together, and prayed together." He is a fine Christian gentleman and a zealous gospel preacher. I have always admired his sincere desire to live and work according to the doctrine of Christ. Obviously he has not lost that desire since going to Germany. Unfortunately his zealous love of the truth has gotten him into difficulty with some of the brethren there and in Texas.

Some months ago when the "cooperation controversy" vas in high gear many brethren admitted the dangers of centralization but would not condemn it. Will this incident serve to open their eyes? Here are the "dangers" in their inevitable development. And thinking brethren can see that this is only the beginning!

"It was encouraging to hear your comments on Tant and Cogdill. Never having seen either of them, I've always been curious. We read the Guardian quite regularly, and have seen some good principles pointed out that we'd overlooked previously. However, even though Gatewood thinks so, I don't "get all my ideas from the Guardian." You see, recently, they asked me to hold next summer's tent meeting for the Westend church in Frankfurt. For various reasons I had to decline the invitation, the main one being that I don't stand behind the "College of the Church of Christ" which Gatewood and others in Frankfurt run. Previously they advertised it as a "seminary" but later dispensed with the term. However, the terminology is strictly a minor matter as far as I'm concerned. They want to set up a school to train preachers for all Germany. In fact, that's what they have now. I could go into a lot of detail as to many unscriptural aspects of the thing, but the main thing is — pardon the word — the doubtful (?) centralization involved. Every congregation ought to be a training school. Every evangelist ought to be a faculty, "to commit these things unto faithful men, that they may teach others also." The school has already been the cause of one of the best families leaving the Munich church, hundreds of miles away from Frankfurt. Anyway, Gatewood is now on instructions from Paul Sherrod "to clear up this matter with Dick, regardless of how long it takes." Thus he drives the 75 miles down here when he gets time, to argue with me. It also hurts him because I disapprove of their use of the brethren's money. They put up a huge building (750 upholstered seats) where they have a congregation of around 135 to fill-those seats!! They hardly fill the first four rows! The stained glass windows cost around $8,000.00. To top if off, they have a small auditorium in the school building which the Westend church had been meeting in for a few years and it seats 167. This school building (surely you've seen pictures of it) is right next to the huge new auditorium, and all is considered the Westend plant. The small auditorium is a modern room with fine seats, florescent lighting, baptistery, etc. There was no reason why it couldn't have filled the bill for a long time. In a poor country as this is, it would have been much better to have to use the small auditorium twice if necessary to accommodate the church, rather than build a huge temple that wasn't even needed. True, it's a matter of opinion, but I just can't back an operation like that."

Dick believes that he is being asked to leave Germany because of his disagreement with Brother Gatewood. I hope he is wrong in this conclusion, but I don't see how he can believe anything else.

Recently Brother Gatewood wrote an article telling of the shut down of their radio program through the influence of the Catholics. This is indeed regrettable. But has brother Dick Smith been asked to leave Germany through the influence of Brother Gatewood and his associates? I am not saying that these brethren are identical in thought and action to the Catholics. However, their centralization will certainly lead to apostasy if followed to its logical, ultimate end.

Here is a great challenge to brethren desirous of doing God's work in God's way. Brother Dick Smith is worthy of the support of all faithful brethren. Shall he be forced to give up the good work he and others have started and carried on?

I hope you brethren and others who believe that Dick is right will encourage some zealous congregation to support him.

Yours, in the one faith, Keith Thompson