Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 17, 1955

They Want Division -- Now!


With shock and dismay brethren all over the nation a few weeks ago read in the Gospel Advocate what amounted to an open declaration of intent on the part of that journal and her supporters to divide the Lord's church over the "institutional" question — church support of colleges, institutional orphan homes, etc. No punches were pulled and no effort was made to disguise the brutal and cynical purpose behind the campaign. The Gospel Advocate believes herself so powerfully entrenched that she feels confident of being able to promote a "split," slough off what she supposes (falsely) will be a paltry fifty or one hundred thousand discontented "troublemakers," and go ahead with her plans to "institutionalize" the Lord's church without let or hindrance. One by one she is lining up her supporters for such a campaign, requiring of each of them full and hearty support for her position on church contributions to colleges as well as other questions.

The reasons behind this campaign are not difficult to discover. It has become apparent to all of us that when brethren STUDY the institutional question, they will more and more come to understand the New Testament teaching on the adequacy equality, and independency of New Testament congregations. All over the nation there has been a noticeable awakening of interest among Christians, and an apparent willingness to examine, re-examine, and ponder earnestly exactly what the New Testament teaches on the "institutional" question. Promoters of church support to colleges (of whom the Gospel Advocate is chief) realize that if the discussion and study continues, they have much to lose. Too many brethren will be brought to a realization of Bible teaching on this question; their hopes to "get the schools in the church budgets" may well be delayed for a whole generation — and perhaps forever. So the political thing to do, from their point of view, is to promote, foster and encourage a division NOW, get rid of all those who are calling for a study and discussion of the question, stifle and shut off all controversy over it, and go ahead with their plans for a "super" church, tied in with all the educational, benevolent, and evangelistic associations and institutions of their choosing and endorsement. Since the "objectors" are causing so many people to study the question, the "objectors" must be quarantined at once. That is the thinking behind the "quarantine" editorials and letters which the Gospel Advocate has lately been featuring.

We do not think the campaign will succeed, although it may. If the Gospel Advocate can line up enough agitators and sycophants behind her, she may effect the division she apparently desires. But if she thinks she will take ninety percent of the church with her in her efforts, we believe she is due for a rude awakening and disappointment. Brethren are not going to be as friendly as the G. A. may suppose to her plans for division. Too many of them have taken to heart the Bible teaching on that subject.

But what shall we think of the spirit and attitude of a brother who deliberately sets himself the task of promoting a split or division within the body of Christ? And what shall we think of the scores of brethren who either through fear of reprisals if they don't go along, or because they share the same blind determination to promote the "institutions" regardless of what happens to the church acquiesce in the evil purpose?

Meanwhile, the Gospel Guardian continues to plead for a free, open, and brotherly discussion of our differences. It is in Bible study, not in violent disruptions of fellowship, that the cause of Christ can best be served. The longer open division can be postponed, the less likely it is to occur, and the less serious it will be if it does occur. Every month and every year that a break in fellowship can be delayed increases the chances of avoiding the break altogether. Many of the brethren in the schools are openly and avowedly opposed to church contributions to the institutions; many of the brethren in the institutional orphan homes are frank in stating that it is their desire that the homes be separated entirely from church connection, and be operated solely as private "service institutions." The longer these questions are discussed, the more probable it is that final general agreement and unanimity of belief (based on plain Bible teaching) can be reached. No orphan child will suffer, and no school will be deprived of rightful support. But things will be done in scriptural rather than unscriptural ways.

But if division is forced upon the church NOW, it may well be that a new denomination will emerge, and the Gospel Advocate will head up a modern faction, just as the Christian Standard did nearly a century ago. That is a tragedy all of us ought to want to avert. The "quarantine" campaign instigated by the Gospel Advocate amounts to her declaration of war on those who do not go along with her ideas — or who refuse to keep silent on the disputed questions. There are troubled days ahead, we are sure. But we are not as pessimistic about the final outcome as are some others. There will certainly be some cities in which the Gospel Advocate influence will be able to split the congregations; but we do not think there will be many such. And as for us we are going to do our very best even to diminish the number that may be likely.

We have received a veritable basket full of articles and letters in the same vein as Brother Cogdill's (see this issue), not all of which we will be able to publish. But we will publish a few. Some of these communications were from men who are now staff writers on the Gospel Advocate.

— F. Y. T.