Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 3, 1955
NUMBER 26, PAGE 6,12b

Brother Woods Is "Substantially" Correct

Charles E. Crouch, Bessemer, Alabama

It was with considerable interest that I read a series of articles in the Gospel Advocate last fall, by Brother Guy N. Woods, on the subject, "Orphanages and Homes For the Aged." Recent developments have increased my interest in view of some statements made by Brother Woods in his first article, which are of "the most exceptional nature and absolutely unparalleled in this writer's observation among us in the recent past." Here are the statements to which I refer:

"Recently, however, opposition has become vocal and allegations are offered that the orphan homes and homes for the old and infirm are unscriptural; they encroach on the functions of the 'one body'--the church; they parallel in organization the missionary societies. We do not believe this now; (Emphasis mine, C.E.C.) and, we think that as recently as ten years ago, ninety-nine percent of the preachers regarded as faithful among us would Cave resented deeply such an allegation, and would have unhesitatingly rallied to the defense of our practice in this respect."

"The grounds upon which we rested our convictions from their earliest conception are, in our opinion, as substantial now as then; (Emphasis mine, C.E.C.) and we see less reason for changing them than ever before."

"We shall, in this series, set out the reasons why we do not abandon the position which, in all substantial particulars, we have always adhered to, (Emphasis mine, C.E.C.) and present numerous facts which, from a personal investigation, we have uncovered regarding the benevolent organizations among us." (Gospel Advocate, October 14, 1954.)

In this first of seven articles by Brother Woods, reality is staring him in the face, and for some reason he feels compelled to try to conceal the fact from most of his readers that he has made a complete switch on the institutional issue. The nearest he comes to admitting that he once held the position he now so vehemently denounces is this: "We do not believe this now." Yet he goes ahead immediately and endeavors, by false implication, to say that he never was opposed to any institutional homes for the reasons now being used against them, and, furthermore, that not more than one percent of gospel preachers were so opposing them until ten years ago. In the next two paragraphs he attempted to minimize his change, knowing that all informed brethren would become aware of it, by alleging that he still occupies "the position which, in all substantial particulars, we have always adhered to." Why this double talk, intended to say one thing to the informed, and quite a different thing to the ignorant? The implications in the above statements are false to the core, hypocrisy is literally dripping from every syllable, and they were written in order to label as hobby riders those honest men who cannot accept Brother Woods' present position. For these reasons, they are of the "most exceptional nature and absolutely unparalleled in this writer's observation among us in the recent past." In fact, I can recall only one statement, in the history of God's people, made by a prominent man of God, that equals those above. That was the hypocritical message David sent to Joab, upon learning that Joab had succeeded in the murder of Bathsheba's husband as requested by David: "Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another." (I Samuel 11:25.)

Even as late as January, 1955, Brother Woods asserted in a letter that he had not written one line in support of institutionalism, a subject against which he was formerly outspoken, but which his Advocate articles strongly defended. But let us allow him to speak for himself, and then the reader may judge for himself whether Brother Woods still occupies in all "substantial" particulars the position he has always adhered to:

"This writer has ever been unable to appreciate the logic of those who affect to see grave danger in Missionary Societies, but scruple not to form a similar organization for the purpose of caring for orphans and teaching young men to be gospel preachers. Of course it is right for the church to care for the 'fatherless and widows in their affliction,' but this work should be done by and through the church, with the elders having the oversight thereof, and not through boards and conclaves unknown to the New Testament." (Guy N. Woods, in A.C.C. Lectures, 1939.)

"It should be noted that there was no elaborate organization for the discharge of these charitable functions. The contributions were sent directly to the elders by the churches who raised the offering. This is the New Testament method of functioning. We should be highly suspicious of any scheme that requires the setting up of an organization independent of the church in order to accomplish its work." "The self-sufficiency of the church in organization, work, worship and every function required of it by the Lord should be emphasized. This lesson is much needed today. Religious secular organizations are always trying to encroach on the function of the New Testament church, interfere with its obligations, and attempt to discharge some of its functions. The church is the only organization authorized to discharge the responsibilities of the Lord's people. When brethren form organizations independently of the church to do the work of the church, however worthy their aims and right their designs, they are engaged in that which is sinful. All ecclesiasticism is wrong." "There is no place for charitable organizations in the work of the New Testament church. It is the only charitable organization that the Lord authorizes or that is needed to do the work the Lord expects his people to do." "No organization is needed to accomplish the work the Lord has authorized the church to do. When men become dissatisfied with God's arrangement and set up one of their own, they have already crossed the threshold to apostasy. Let us be satisfied with the Lord's manner of doing things." (Annual Lesson Commentary, by Guy N. Woods, Gospel Advocate Company, 1946, pp. 338-341.)

I believe these quotations from the pen of Brother Woods will enable anyone to see clearly whether he was among the "faithful 99%," or the "horrible 1%," of our preachers (as he classed them) of ten years ago. But now let us see where Brother Woods stood on January 17, 1955: "I indorse the operation of and urge both individual and church support for orphan homes such as Tipton and Spring Hill." (Telegram from Guy N. Woods, printed in The Indianapolis Debate, 1955, p. 329.) Now as most of our readers know, "Spring Hill" is an organization operated by a Board of Directors, separate and apart from the church. And on January 17, 1955, Brother Woods said that he urges church support of "such" homes. That should have been no surprise to anyone who read his 1954 Advocate articles.

But some of us have been wondering how Brother Woods can switch from one position on a major issue to the very opposite viewpoint, and, with untarnished moral integrity, allege, "we still hold, in all substantial particulars, the position we have always adhered to." Perhaps the answer is found in the meaning which Brother Woods attaches to the word "substantial." This reminds me of a story I heard in Baltimore, Maryland, back in 1941. It was a story of an old Cape Cod fisherman and a little boy of nine years. The little fellow approached the old seaman with the question, "Sir, can you tell me what a lobster is?" The old man said, "Why, Son, don't you know what a lobster is?" The boy replied, "Well, I think I do. Someone told me that it is a small red fish that swims backwards. Is that correct?" The old salt hesitated a moment and then said, "Well, sonny, that is substantially correct. Except, that a lobster is not a fish, and it isn't red, and it doesn't swim backwards."

Does this explain Brother Wood's double talk? Does he believe his brethren are as dense and gullible as nine year old children, and is that the type of clientele the Gospel Advocate is now catering to? Or, is the answer to be found in the fact that he is a chief staff writer for "The Old Reliable," and he sees the direction in which his paper is moving, and wants to continue with it? Some of us are really wondering just when Brother Woods made his change. When he was with us in a meeting in Baltimore in the fall of 1953, he told me that he was scheduled to hold a meeting, in December of that year, for the Jackson Avenue church in Memphis, G. C. Brewer, minister. And he was already booked for still another meeting with the same church, even before the first one was held. Now with most churches this might not be unusual. But could it be that the Jackson Avenue brethren knew before then that Brother Woods no longer was an opponent of institutionalism?

I have no quarrel with Brother Woods, no personal axe to grind, and if he really has had an honest change of convictions, I can still love him and respect him, and want to do so. But if he has undergone such a change, why doesn't he, with the courage and candidness of Paul, admit that he has in all good conscience done just that, and tell us plainly why he denounces as "obnoxious" those brethren who now believe WHAT HE TAUGHT ten years ago on the subject of INSTITUTIONAL homes? Some of us would respect him more if he would do this.