Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 1, 1956
NUMBER 26, PAGE 8-9,10b

An Interesting Correspondence

The Church Of Christ In Forest Hill

1208 West Forty-First Street Richmond 24, Virginia May 6, 1956

Elders, Church of Christ Fifth and Highland

Abilene, Texas Dear Brethren:

It has been called to our attention that you are trying to get a local TV station to carry your program. We have no reason for doubting that the program within itself is good, and we appreciate your interest in the spread of the gospel in this needy field.

However, we want it clearly understood that we do not endorse the arrangement by which you are trying to promote the gospel. We believe your setup is entirely unscriptural. The Bible does not authorize any one congregation to solicit funds from churches all over the land for the spread of the gospel on an international basis. We see your program advertised in various church bulletins as the "International Broadcast of churches of Christ." This implies a centralized agency through which local churches are working. For years we have fought that principle here in Virginia, and we are just now beginning to make a little showing against those who advocate it, namely, the "Disciples of Christ" denomination. Shall we tell them we have been in error all along? Perhaps you can tell us how to defend your setup and still point out the error in their arrangement.

We believe the "Herald of Truth" is destroying as rapidly as it is building. If we assume your plan to be scriptural, we still cannot endorse it. Your program is dividing churches, alienating affection among brethren, and doing as much to tear down as it is to build up. It is most inexpedient if we grant it to be lawful. It has caused more discord among brethren than anything since the music and society controversies.

We are inclined to discourage the "Herald of Truth" from coming to Richmond than to encourage it. In fact, we would like to see it discontinued altogether. Since we are charged with responsibility of guarding the flock at this place, we shall make it clear that we do not endorse your set-up. We think you would be wise to supervise the work of the Lord in your community and let the elders in other places oversee the work there.

Sincerely, Earl Alderman, Elder

Delmar P. Coffield, Elder William A. Lyell, Elder

26 E. 38th Street Richmond 24, Virginia

April 28, 1956 Mr. John F. Reese

Church of Christ, 5th and Highland Abilene, Texas

Dear Brother Reese:

This is in acknowledgment of your correspondence of April 9, 1956, in reference to the television program over WTVR in Richmond.

The word of God states plainly that "without faith it is impossible to please him." Not having found anything that even remotely resembles anything like the "brotherhood program" you are promoting in God's word, I would expect to abandon all I have been taught and have worked for the past thirty years here in this region of Old Virginia if I encouraged your project.

There is a large organization much nearer us than Abilene with arms outstretched if and when we find that God has ordained that we work through such a medium. That organization is the Virginia Missionary Society. If it were under an eldership it would be your setup exactly. For about fifty years now that group of "sponsors" known as the "Disciples of Christ" or "Christian Church" have been interpreting the word of God just about like you and yours. They read anything into the word that pleases them and with as much modernism as the other denominations.

No, brother Reese, I will not assist you in promoting your program. And to keep the record straight, I will state that we cooperate with and fellowship other brethren in the spread of the gospel as our ability will permit. The congregation where I worship and am one of the elders is only about ten years old. We have helped establish congregations in seven locations in this region and shall continue to do likewise. We have aided the work in five foreign countries and can see the need far beyond our ability to financially aid at this time. All of the above mentioned was accomplished without shuttling our assistance through some "sponsoring" church setup. I mention this because some might misunderstand and say we are "anti-missionary" or "anti-cooperation."

When I came to Richmond with my family about thirty years ago I found about eight or ten families worshiping as "God hath spoken." There was only one full-time gospel preacher in the state. It has not always been like that. In the last century there were over 100 congregations throughout the state. One congregation of this city had 500 members on roll. When digression came only four little congregations remained faithful. I will be very much disappointed if there are not more than that to remain faithful when this present departure reaches its maximum.

I pray that you brethren will return to the word of God and do the Lord's work in the Lord's way. Your arrangement is not authorized in the Scriptures.

Your brother in Christ, William A. Lyell

Evangelists: Elders

James D. Willeford W. F. Cawyer E. R. Harper W. C. Smith

W. C Foutz John F. Reese

J. M. Patterson L. E. Weathers

E. L. Crawford Lewis Smith

Church Of Christ

5th and Highland Radio Program

Box 1858 Ph. 4-9159 Abilene, Texas

May 11, 1956 Mr. William A. Lyell 26 E. 38th Street

Richmond 24, Virginia Dear Brother Lyell:

Just received your letter along with that which was sent by the elders as a group.

May we begin our reply by stating that it has come as a complete surprise that you brethren feel as you do concerning this work. I have been working for the Highland church in connection with the broadcast since the very beginning and it had never come to my attention previously that any such feeling existed on your part. For many months the radio program was carried over first one then another station and so far as I know, we never received one letter from you brethren admonishing us as to the enormity of the sinful manner in which the program was being carried on.

We have had several letters from a Brother Henry Ditter in Portsmouth from the start stating how unscriptural the setup is, but has as the rest only made statements that reflect a great many things he has been told by men in whom he had the greatest respect. No amount of respect however will take the place of bona fide information. For some unexplainable reason some of the preaching brethren seem to think that they know more about the setup under which this broadcast is carried on than the elders of the Highland congregation who have directed it from the beginning. No amount of information from us seems to have any bearing on the matter. Reminds me sometimes of the colored man who ate the can of axle grease thinking it was cheese. No amount of talk could ever convince him that it was not cheese. He would only admit that it did seem to be a little rancid. Of course this is no doubt only a story but it could well illustrate what we are trying to say.

A number of brethren have their minds made up that we are conducting this work in the same way as the Missionary Society. So far as the truth is concerned there is not the slightest resemblance. This you should know when once you have the truth as you seem to be well aware of what the Society really is. You can put the Society under a group of elders but it would still be a Society.

We do not go around charging other elders and preachers with being opposed to cooperation. This is simply another effort to create and develop sympathy for a cause. We might as well face facts. One can go to Hell just as easily for lying as any other reason. This is just as true when applied to preachers and elders who handle the truth loosely as to infidels. What we have never been able to find out from those who are so violently and zealously anti Herald of Truth is: "What is the pattern if it is so plain? and why has it been so long coming to light? That is the problem we are continually faced with.

Do you take the same position with those who are opposed to Bible School, Brother Lyell? Are you willing to drop the Bible School because you have never read where it is advocated or practiced in the New Testament, or are you Non-Sunday School yourself? Are you ready for the sake of unity with these anti-Bible School brethren to drop- all your classes and as you have suggested to us, "return to the word of God and do the Lord's work in the Lord's way"? Your arrangement is not authorized in the Scriptures. (That is if you have Bible School.)

Should you be interested in knowing EXACTLY how this work is carried on in CONTRAST to the MISSIONARY SOCIETY we would be glad to send you the information.

In the meantime we await receipt of what you consider to be the scriptural way of cooperating. No doubt you simply overlooked sending it.

Fraternally yours, s/John F. Reese

John F. Reese JFR:rnw

26 E. 38th Street Richmond 24, Virginia June 6, 1966 Mr. John F. Reese

Church of Christ, 5th and Highland

Abilene, Texas Dear Brother Reese:

The surprise expressed in your letter of May 11, 1956, that we are opposed to consolidated or brotherhood projects should not have been so great to you in view of the number of brethren who are awakening to the dangers of such arrangements. Many of us did not realize where the "Herald of Truth" would lead when it started. More and more brethren are opposing it because a scriptural study of the program and management under support by a plurality of churches with Highland as "sponsor" has persuaded us that such an arrangement is a departure from the old paths.

We assure you that we have diligently studied the issue in light of "God bath spoken," and we shall continue to give the matter due consideration. We shall remember, however, that the Bible is an all-sufficient guide in our worship and work. Our information on the "Herald of Truth" has come from its defenders. The first defense was that the program is scriptural, but now it seems that your policy has been changed. You now parallel your program with a Bible School and argue that such "is not authorized in the Scriptures." (Your own words.) This hopping from one position to another reflects your own inability to uphold your program. Just keep on with that sort of defense and still more brethren will come out in opposition to your setup.

My personal observation is that you and your defenders don't quite understand what "Scriptural authority" is. When you say that Bible classes are not authorized in the Scriptures you reveal the predicament into which you must realize you have plunged. Do you really believe Bible classes are NOT authorized in the Scriptures? Would you make that statement to your anti-class brethren in Abilene? Could it be that you know an arrangement like the "Herald of Truth" is not authorized, and rather than admit your endorsement of something unscriptural, you are trying to dodge by contending that something else is unscriptural? Brother Reese, if Bible classes are unscriptural, you had better abandon them now! Or is it your contention that Scriptural authority is no longer necessary? Would you make that statement to your denominational friends in Abilene? You would be "up a tree" if any of your anti-class brethren or sectarian friends saw the letter you sent me!

In the last paragraph of your letter you urged me to give you a scriptural way of cooperating. Please reread my letter of April 28, paragraph four. Will you say that the procedure described there is unscriptural? It is either scriptural or unscriptural. Will you please state which? Acts 11:27-30; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 11:8 and Philippians 4:15,16 are passages setting the pattern we have followed. Are you too busy to read them?

You say, "We do not go around charging other elders and preachers with being opposed to cooperation." Do you include E. R. Harper in that "we"? Has he not circulated a mimeographed sheet charging another preacher with being opposed to cooperation? Did he not charge that this brother "destroys all cooperation"? "We might as well face facts. One can go to Hell just as easily for lying as any other reason." (Your own words.)

We can avoid a tragic division again if you brethren will restudy the questions that are troubling the church today. I can assure you that the opposition is pleading that we do all in our power to avoid a repetition of the last century, and think of the souls that will be saved if we do avoid it. The early church grew and prospered until a centralization of authority destroyed its purity. May God help us to profit by the mistakes of the past.

Sincerely yours, William A. Lyell

P.S. Please feel free to send any information you have to me.