Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 2, 1956

We Like The Suggestion

F. Y. T.

Brother Pryde E. Hinton of Dora, Alabama, sends us a brief note, pointing out that the present controversies within the brotherhood are causing grave concern to all who love the Lord, and offering the following:

"I suggest the following course of action in this present controversy: Let two brethren, selected by the two papers, namely the Gospel Advocate and the Gospel Guardian, write a series of articles to be published in both these papers. Without attacking directly the positions of the other, without ever belittling the veracity, honor, ability, or motives of the other, these two men would write as clearly and as exactly as they can what the New Testament teaches by precept, example, and necessary inference on the issues involved. Neither I nor most Christians have any interest in the malevolent motives which may be attributed to some brethren. We want the truth. I have no commitments to, or tie-ups with, any man or paper that will prevent my accepting the truths of the gospel. This writing is sent to both the Advocate and the Guardian editors. Please consider my plea!"

Now that strikes us as being a logical, sensible, and worthwhile suggestion. We here commit ourselves as being entirely agreeable to the idea. We already have our man picked out, and are ready to let him and the Advocate representative begin exchanging letters at once looking toward agreement on the exact wording of a proposition which will correctly set forth the point, or points, at issue. All that remains is for the Gospel Advocate to nod assent to Brother Hinton's suggestion, and we can get the discussion set up for early publication in both papers.

Many of us recall that nearly thirty years ago the Gospel Advocate carried a lengthy discussion in its pages between R. H. Boll and H. Leo Boles on the subject of premillennialism. This debate was later published under the title "Unfulfilled Prophecy" (which we always have considered a misnomer). If the proposed discussion on present day issues should materialize, it might be well to put it into permanent form also for the benefit of those who will want to study the question in years to come. If our memory is correct on this point, we believe R. H. Boll did not carry the Boll-Boles discussion in his paper, "Word and Work," although he may have done so. We know that through the years he has carried excerpts from it, especially from his own writings in the discussion.

At any rate, the Gospel Advocate did not make the impossible and preposterous suggestion that Boll line up four or five other papers and get them all to agree to carry the material before they would publish it in the pages of the Advocate. The management of the paper was supremely confident that H. Leo Boles was defending the truth on the question then under discussion; they were so confident of that, and of his ability to demonstrate that to their readers, that they had no hesitancy at all in engaging in the discussion. Does the same confidence exist in the present management relative to issues now under discussion? If so, we may expect the discussion proposed by Brother Hinton to materialize. If not, some way will be found by the Advocate to avoid the discussion.

If it be argued (as Brother Woods has attempted to suggest) that only an insignificant minority opposes "sponsoring church cooperation" and institutionalism, and that therefore it would be unwise to give them "recognition," we reply by the positive affirmation that there are today ten times as many who oppose institutionalism in the Lord's church as there were thirty years ago who favored premillennialism. Now let us see if the Gospel Advocate is as certain of her ground in advocating the one as she was in condemning the other. Such projects as Herald of Truth and the Lubbock Plan have already gone far, far beyond anything premillennialism ever did in threatening the unity and peace of God's people. It's time these matters were forthrightly examined, and that in the friendly, objective, and fair-minded way in which Boles and Boll discussed premillennialism.

We believe any serious study of present day issues will soon demonstrate that current differences are rooted more in the realm of authority than they are in the realm of interpretation. Brother Hinton suggests that brethren writing should seek to set forth "as clearly and as exactly as they can what the New Testament teaches by precept, example, and necessary inference on the issues involved." It will perhaps astonish many brethren to know that the "sponsoring church" advocates freely admit that there is "neither command, example, or inference" authorizing the thing they defend, but that it is justified by other means. One champion of these centralized cooperatives recently publicly declared:

"All my life I've been taught that God binds His will on men in three ways only — direct command, approved example, necessary inference. Now does that always follow? I am here to say I don't believe it. And I don't believe that I ever have believed it."

In the recent Lufkin debate it was freely admitted that there is neither command, example, or necessary inference for the kind of centralized cooperative arrangement involved in Herald of Truth; but it was contended that such an arrangement is justified "by principle eternal." In the Porter-Woods discussion at Indianapolis, it was argued that God has commanded the churches to care for the needy, but has NOT specified the "how" (meaning organization) for such care. These questions are vital. They must be answered — one way or another. Are brethren willing to study the Bible for the correct answer?

We shall await with considerable interest the reaction of our Tennessee brethren to Brother Hinton's suggestion. Perhaps a fine, brotherly investigation, carried in both papers, will help to unite us all on a Bible answer to these troublesome questions.