Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1955
NUMBER 16, PAGE 1,3b

"Orphanages And Homes For The Aged" -- No. 2

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

In speaking of "Sunday school or missionary or charitable organizations" Brother Lipscomb says, in Queries and Answers, pages 80, 81, "No Christian has a right to work in any of these organizations. He must do what he does as a member of the body of Christ. Acting as a member of that body, he must do it with a proper regard for the members of that body. The elders are made the rulers, to see God's laws carried out. Work ought to be done in harmony with the position of the elders. This does not mean that they should never work save as the elders direct, or that they should wait for the elders to tell them before they work. Unfortunately, some get in as elders who never direct or advise work. In the church the elders should see all work is done as the Bible directs, teach the Bible, do all in the name of Christ. But when men are away from the church and opportunity offers, they should teach — teach individuals and classes as opportunity offers. They should do it as members of the church, and not as members of some human organization."

In the Gospel Advocate of October 14, 1954, Brother Woods says, "But, devotion to truth is its one defense; and one cannot honorably remain silent where it is in issue. (That is my reason for comparing Brother Woods' articles with the literature of fifty or sixty years ago, with which Brother Woods seems not to be familiar. John T. Lewis.) We have been deeply pained at the trend of events in recent months. We have observed with sincere regret actions and attitudes which must inevitably result in harm to the cause of Christ, and irreparable injury to men who otherwise might long be useful servants in the work of the Lord. Satan, alas, has many devices; and those whom he cannot delude in one fashion, he may ensnare in another. We shall, in this aeries, set out the reasons why we do not abandon the position which, in all substantial particulars, we have always adhered to, and present numerous facts which, from a personal investigation, we have uncovered regarding the benevolent organizations among us. (Italics mine, J.T.L.) Our readers will then be in position to decide from the evidence thus uncovered, whether all of us were in digression until approximately four or five years ago, or whether a segment of our brethren have simply abandoned truth to which they once adhered, and are now serving the cause of hobby-ism."

I suppose "the benevolent organizations among us," which Brother Woods says, "we have uncovered," were the "Sunday school or missionary or charitable organizations" that Brother Lipscomb was trying to cover up. He says, on page 231, of Queries and Answers, "Every evil that has ever been brought into this world has come through man's seeking good in his own inventions and ways instead of in God's. This disposition has brought evil continually. It never has brought good to man. It cannot bring good to man until man gets wiser than God. (I do not think man has attained that wisdom yet. J.T.L.) This is true in earthly kingdoms. There has never been a human addition to the church or worship of God that did not bring evil and not good." I do not know why Brother Lipscomb listed the "Sunday school, the missionary society, and the charitable organizations" in the same category, but he did, and he is gone now and we can never know why he did it. He evidently thought that "charitable organizations" introduced into the church would have the same evil effects that they had when they were brought into the church, by the digressives, more than a hundred years ago.

Brethren B. C. Goodpasture, now editor of the Gospel Advocate, and Guy N. Woods are men of unquestionable ability, and they teach and debate that "the benevolent organizations among us" are different from the organizations in the Christian Church. I know Brother Woods speaks of "facts which, we have uncovered regarding the benevolent organizations among us," but I do not know what "facts" he has that Brother Lipscomb did not have, unless it was something about "cheros" and "chera." I have been teaching for more than fifty years that there is no difference between a ladies Bible class doing benevolent work, and ladies aid society doing the same thing. However, there are some young gospel preachers, who have not lived as long as I have been preaching the gospel, that will tell you that Lewis belongs to the Johnny-come lately Sommerites. I will now quote from Brother E. G. Sewell's deposition in the Newbern, Tenn., church trial.

Q. "What do you know of the organization, objects, and operation of the Tennessee Christian Missionary Convention? Please give the matter as fully as you can — the nature of its organization, its purpose and plan of operation."

A. "They claim that their purpose was to preach the gospel in destitute places, but claim that they could not do that as effectively without some organization of that character; and other claims that possibly might be mentioned besides these. But these things all came up, not by members that were in that congregation at the start; members that came in, moved in afterwards, some of them from other states, and became members of that congregation that started the work. It was first started by ladies in what they called a sewing society. (Italics mine, J.T.L.) Those ladies consulted together and wrote letters and sent to all the churches that they could hear of throughout Middle Tennessee, requesting those churches to send money to this congregation to be used in sending the gospel out to destitute places in the country. That failed. They got no responses from that, that I ever knew of, at all. They then employed A. I. Myhr. They had saved up some money, and they employed A. I. Myhr to come and go out and visit the churches and raise funds to assist in sending the gospel out to destitute places, as was their claim at the time they met."

Q. "Who is this Brother Myhr that you speak of, and was he originally a member of the Woodland Street Church?"

A. "No, sir; he never was a member of the Woodland Street Church, that I know of. He came here first before the society was introduced. R. M. Giddens got the congregation to send and have him come and hold a meeting. That introduced him into the congregation of Woodland Street."

That is what "the ladies sewing society" did to drive Brother Sewell and about twenty others out of the Woodland Street Church, and to take over the property. Brother Lipscomb had given eleven hundred dollars to help build the Woodland Street Church, and naturally he did not like the way "the ladies sewing society" had driven Brother Sewell out and sewed up the property. He had the following to say about it. "We accord these and all other people the right to form such organizations as they desire. But we deny their right to claim to represent the disciples of Christ, who repudiate their course, or to take possession of and appropriate property belonging to them, as is now done on Woodland Street. This article was written at the urgent request of a number of preachers and teachers, my own judgment concurring, and has been read and heartily approved by those signed below, some of them not being cognizant of all the special facts stated. We believe that it would be almost unanimously signed by the preachers and teachers in Middle Tennessee and by nine-tenths of all the State. Signed: E. G. Sewell, J. C. McQuiddy, W. H. Timmons, J. A. Harding, W. Lipscomb, Sr., E. A. Elam, L. R. Sewell, G. Lipscomb, Nashville, Tenn.; J. W. Grant, Gallatin, Tenn.; J. E. Scobey, F. W. Smith, Franklin, Tenn.; W. D. Anderson, Leiper's Fork, Tenn.; H. Zellner, Brentwood, Tenn.; James H. Davis, Decherd, Tenn.; T. H. Smith, Dover, Tenn.; F. B. Srygley, Lebanon, Tenn." Gospel Advocate, 1891, page 677.

My relationship to some of the above signers: I was in school under David Lipscomb eight years, I was in J. A. Harding's classes three years, under W. D. (William) Anderson four years, all in the old Nashville Bible school. Brother J. W. Grant taught in the school while I was there; but I did not have any lessons under him — he taught higher mathematics. Brother E. G. Sewell held a tent meeting at the old school while it was on South Spruce Street, I knew him well. Had a passing acquaintance with W. H. Timmons. Brethren E. A. Elam and F. W. Smith made my home their home when they held meetings at the West End Church many years ago. The last time I saw Brother Elam I spent the night with him at the school and he kept me up late telling me about some things that he was concerned about at that time. Brother Srygley was one of the first preachers I ever heard. It is possible, therefore, that I absorbed some of their extremes. More to follow.