Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 23, 1953

An Open Letter To Chas. A. Holt, Jr.

Gayle Oler, Quinlan, Texas

(In the Gospel Guardian of January 22, there appeared an article under the name of Charles A. Holt, Jr., in which he issued a challenge to Gayle Oler to debate. Since the challenge was made in the pages of the Guardian, and since it was the first knowledge the writer had of such a challenge, it is deemed proper that answer to him should be made equally public. So here in the pages of the Guardian we address our answer to Brother Holt — G. O.)

A LETTER TO CHARLES A. HOLT, JR. Mr. Charles A. Holt, Jr.

Mt. Pleasant, Texas Dear Brother Holt:

In a recent issue of the Gospel Guardian, you issued a challenge to me to debate you on the scripturalness and operation of Boles Home.

You have identified yourself with brethren who are unified only on one point as relates to Boles Home. You are all agreed to oppose it, but your reasons for opposing it are all contradictory. Some of you oppose Boles Home because you say it is an unscriptural organization within the church. Others of you oppose it because it is not within the church, and under any eldership.

I have never heard of your producing a plan for caring for the fatherless and widows that you are willing to state is the Bible way, and producing scriptural proof therefore. And let me say to you if you can produce such a plan by the word of God, telling us where these children are to be cared for, who is to care for them, who shall have legal custody of them, and what such scriptural care will amount to, and how extensive it is, and if you will produce ample scriptural proof for your remarks, there will be no need whatever of a debate. If you will, be so kind as to tell us in what particular kind of place God tells us to care for these children. And furthermore, you will render a service the entire brotherhood will appreciate, including every one of us here at Boles Home.

You have quite well identified yourself as an "anti." Now it will be very interesting to see you produce a "positive" plan you will term "scriptural" in organization and maintenance, which will include your scripture quotations for all the above things.

We are all agreed on the fact that the care of the fatherless is a responsibility of the church, but how the church is to care for the fatherless is the thing you should produce the scriptural answer for, if you object to the way it is being done at Boles Home.

This one thing I believe earnestly: If God has specified some place where the church should look after the orphans, and some manner in which they should be cared for, we should contend for that place to the exclusion of all others. But God has not specified the place or the manner, as you no doubt very well know, else you should have produced it long, long ago. And since he has not, you certainly are without authority or right in prescribing what is right or what is wrong.

God does tell us that the gospel is to be proclaimed by the church of the Lord, and that the fatherless are to be cared for. He nowhere tells us how that word is to be preached, or how the fatherless are to be cared for. That is why we understand that it is our right to preach the gospel over the radio, or in the newspaper, in brotherhood journals, or in any other way we may get the gospel out to people without altering the organization of the New Testament church, and to care for children in homes, public or private, so long as none of this alters the organization of the New Testament church.

So once again I earnestly and sincerely ask that you give a rather detailed plan for the care of the fatherless: something workable, something you will endorse, something that you will state to the brethren is correct for the feeding, clothing, care, physical discipline, recreation, and secular education of dependent boys and girls in any community. And do not fail to give your supporting scriptures therefore.

If you have got the absolutely "cut and dried," unmistakable scripture answer to that question, you can render a tremendous service to the brotherhood. You have got the information everybody is looking for, and I should like very much for you to afford me that information. That is what we need instead of your telling us how it should not be done. You would render a real service to come up with exactly how it should be done, giving us scripture authority for your remarks.

I will be glad to give you all the publicity and all the backing on such a plan that I possibly can. I would like for you, in mentioning this plan that you will work out, to tell us who will have the legal custody and retain same over these children. And if you suggest that it be the church, you will need to produce the scripture for the church having custody of the bodies of these children.

I would also like to know by what authority you expect the elders of the church which is to look after these orphans to adopt these children out to various people, and to render such a service as is so greatly in demand today, and for not rendering which we are being relentlessly criticized.

I am perfectly sincere in seeking this information. The brethren at Boles Home are as interested as any one else, and possibly more so, in doing this thing exactly right, because our souls are identified in this labor. And if you have got information that no one else has in the matter, or certainly that no one else has ever produced, we are interested in it.

Possibly from Brother Roy E. Cogdill, the owner and publisher of the Guardian, you can get some help. Brother Cogdill, as minister of the 4th and Groesbeck congregation in Lufkin, personally instituted proceedings to place five children in Boles Home, whom we accepted. When he placed the children in Boles Home, he knew that the children would be supported by churches of Christ somewhere.

Brother Cogdill once stated in the Guardian that in placing the children here, he acted only "as an agent for the father," but he signed the application as minister of the church there, and recommended that they be placed here.

The application which Brother Cogdill signed as minister of the 4th and Groesbeck congregation presented two questions, which I quote:

"Question No. 3. Do you believe that this child should be provided a place to live in some orphan home, and do you recommend that Boles Home receive him, or her?"

Brother Cogdill answered, "Yes."

"Question No. 5. Do you believe that this child is genuinely an object of charity and should be supported by the churches of Christ?"

Again, Brother Cogdill answered, "Yes."

The answers to both of the above questions were "yes" over the signature of Brother Roy E. Cogdill, Minister, 4th and Groesbeck Church of Christ, Lufkin, Texas. So possibly Brother Cogdill will be able to help you.

Brother Holt, you for a good many months have evidently entertained the idea in your mind that I am engaging in a sinful and un-Christian work here at Boles Home. You have long known that I was a brother in Christ, but not one time have you or any other of your fellow critics ever come in the name of Christ to explain to me what you might think was the error of my way. You evidently have preferred to conduct your affairs on a level of sniping, innuendo, and calumny.

The Bible says, "Even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." (Galatians 6:1) I have never given you any reason to believe that I would be unwilling to sit and discuss the matter with you, or to hear you in an effort to show me the error of my way.

If you believe that I have succumbed to the overtures of error, and if you count yourself as a brother of mine, and interested in my soul and the souls of others with whom I have to do, it would have been the part of Christian brotherhood and forthright concern for my soul for you to have come to me like a man and a Christian, but you have not. Is the very short distance from Mt. Pleasant to Boles Home too great?

Try as I may to avoid it, I cannot but be impressed that you are probably more interested in a fuss than you are in the salvation of my soul. You have never personally approached me or any director of this Home, so far as I know, in an effort to labor for the safety of the cause of Christ when you thought it was in danger here. You have never even written me a letter to such effect.

And while I am writing, I might explain that there is another reason why I cannot quite understand you or your motives: Some months ago, you made a statement in a business meeting of the church at Mt. Pleasant before the church divided and you took a group to the courthouse, that the accountant at Boles Home had taken money that had been sent in for a swimming pool, and had bought himself a personal car with it. When he learned of the statement you made, the accountant himself wrote you and asked for your source of information — told you the statement was not true — that you could not prove it, and I believe asked you to prove it or to retract it.

You replied in a letter that you did make the statement, and that if the statement was not true, you did not think that you had sinned in repeating such a false and slanderous statement. You offered no apology, and no retraction of your statement, and until now you have not.

Your slanderous statement is a reflection upon me and upon my integrity as well as upon the accountant. We are both under bond, as is every employee of Boles Home, and the simple proof of your statement would be of tremendous value to me and to this work.

Both I and the accountant ask that you either prove your statement or that you retract it as being untrue and un-Christian.

Here again it would have been the part of Christian manhood and brotherly love for you to have sought to correct our accountant in his supposed error instead of leaving him unwarned, unadmonished, and lost, as you evidently thought he was.

The statement was not true, and the bare fact remains that you are a slanderer of this good man by the spreading of a false report, which is downright gossip. We have called this to your attention twice before, and possibly this third admonition will cause you to either produce proof or correction.

So far as the need for a debate is concerned, let me say that if you produce the way for caring for the fatherless, giving scriptural proof, that will end all question in the matter. It will not be enough to say that it should be done through the church, or by the church, but what we want to know is how shall the church do it? You tell us!

Our entire brotherhood recognizes the right of the church to care for a sick person in a hospital, a preacher in a hotel, or a child in a home, whether the sick-caring, preacher-caring, or child-caring facility be public or private. God tells us to care for each, but withal provides no regulations as to how, where, by whom, or how long they are to be cared for.

The whole brotherhood is interested if you have got the "know how," some definite plan, and the "thus saith the Lord" to support it in the care of the sick, preachers, or dependent children. Don't tell us only how it should not be done. Tell us how to do it, according to God's word.

We shall wait for the plan, and we shall see. However, while we wait, we shall also be caring for the fatherless in their affliction, and try to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

Yours for the Cause of Christ, Gayle Oler