"Doctrinal Differences and Lindy McDaniel (I)

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Some of the duties that fall upon us because we are Christians are rather difficult to discharge, because of personal attachments and strong emotions being involved. Particularly have I found this to be true as a gospel preacher, and perhaps even the difficulty in doing what one feels compelled by conscience to do is compounded when one accepts the responsibility inherent in editing a religious journal. It has been very difficult for me to have to differ publicly with many of my close friends. Lindy McDaniel is one of those whom I like to think of as being a close friend. I have had great admiration for his candidness in stating his religious convictions, no matter what the occasion may be, or how great the price. Just recently, some brethren highly complimented Brother McDaniel for setting forth in very bold language what he believed the Bible to teach, and this he did on a pre-game television program in Kansas City.

However, Brother McDaniel has wavered back and forth on the issues which we have been discussing recently in regard to "grace" and "fellowship." So great has been this wavering that Brother Cogdill and I spent 12 or 14 hours in discussing these matters with him in February, 1974 in the home of Brother Cogdill in Conroe, Texas. As a result of these discussions, it was mutually agreed that it would be incongruous for the Cogdill Foundation to continue to publish Pitching For the Master, a first-principle type paper which Lindy has written for several years, and which goes to many non-Christians, but which also is sent to many who are Christians. Many of the Christians on the mailing list of Pitching For the Master are very young boys and girls.

Since the May, 1974 issue would complete Volume VIII of Pitching For the Master, we agreed mutually that this would be the last issue which the Cogdill Foundation would publish. When Lindy sent the manuscript of the May, 1974 issue of his paper, he wrote me as follows:

"Enclosed is the May issue of Pitching For the Master. As mutually agreed, this will be the final issue under the Cogdill Foundation. I hold no bitterness in my heart, and I am truly sorry that the situation has developed along these lines. For conscience sake, and for freedom to express the truth as we understand it, I know of no other alternative. It is certainly true that I cannot agree with some of your means and methods of pressing the 'grace' and 'fellowship' issues, and to some degree we are not agreed as to some basic principles involved; and thus, this has resulted in the necessity for our going separate ways. " (Letter to me, April 20, 1974)

I regret the necessity of publishing quotations from personal correspondence. Some brethren consider publishing statements made in private correspondence to be unethical. In most cases, I would concur with their judgment. However, when truth is at stake, and when the well-being of the Lord's church is involved, and when my personal integrity has been assaulted, I see no alternative but to use whatever righteous means are available to exonerate one's integrity, and both to expose error and errorists, and to present straight and useful information to brethren who want it and need it. If Brother McDaniel objects to my quotations from his letters, he should remember that he provided Brother James W. Adams access to a personal letter exchange which he had with Brother Randall Trainer, from which correspondence some statements were published in Truth Magazine.

The May issue of Pitching For the Master had barely gotten in the mail until I began to get telephone calls and letters from brethren in many places regarding what was called by Brother McDaniel an "Important Statement to Readers." In this statement, Brother McDaniel proceeded to tell his readers why the Cogdill Foundation no longer would be publishing Pitching For the Master. The pertinent part of his statement read as follows:

"This will be the last issue of Pitching For the Master to be published by the Cogdill Foundation. Because of differences between myself and members of the Cogdill Foundation board, even though these differences are unrelated to the content and distribution of Pitching For the Master, it seemed prudent to all concerned to dissolve the association."

Frankly, I saw no need for him to make any statement whatever as to why the Cogdill Foundation no longer would be publishing his paper. I seriously doubt the wisdom of his bringing our "differences" before the non-Christian public. Though I have made no count in regard to this matter, it is probable that about half the people who receive Pitching For the Master are Christians.

In Lindy's April 20, 1974 letter, he stated:

"If there is too much material in this last issue, the easiest solution would be to delete the first paragraph on page 4. I have tried to be brief in my statement about the discontinuation of Pitching For the Master by the Cogdill Foundation, especially in the light of the large non-Christian readership and the inability of many others to grasp the nature of the problem. Yon may wish also to make a statement" (My emphasis--CW).

After leaving space for the address label, Brother McDaniel left me the stupendous sum of one-half inch space in one column in which my "statement," which he had authorized could be printed. In other words, he left me room for three lines of type (15-17 words) in which to express my "statement" as to why the Cogdill Foundation no longer would be publishing his paper. So, rather than to write my three-line "statement," I merely injected the word "doctrinal" into Brother McDaniel's statement as to why we no longer would be publishing his paper. It never occurred to me that my addition of the word "doctrinal" would be so objectionable to Brother McDaniel. I thought it much wiser to express the nature of these "differences," if anything at all was to be said about them. I was unwilling for the paper to go out with my name on the front of it as "Associate Editor" and published under the auspices of the Cogdill Foundation, of which Foundation I now serve as President. (I was chosen President of the Foundation after Brother Cogdill became ill last year, and at his request that someone be elected to replace him as President.) So far as Brother McDaniel's statement was concerned, these "differences" could have been that he and I had a fist-fight, or that I had beaten him out of $100, or nearly anything else imaginable.

Since he had authorized me to make a "statement," I can guarantee you that my "statement" would have included something in regard to the nature of these "differences." Imagine the howl that would have been heard if I had deleted a paragraph or two from Brother McDaniel's article in order to have space to include my "statement." Had I written such a "statement," it would have contained the fact that our differences pertained to his views on `grace," and `fellowship." He would have been plenty unhappy with my "statement." But I do want to state as clearly as possible that the word "doctrinal" was injected into Lindy's article by me, as I stated clearly in my editorial of August 8, 1974. It never occurred to me that he would object to the usage of the word. Our differences surely have not been personal in their nature. We have always gotten along just fine, personally. Perhaps I should have appended my initials after the injected word "doctrinal," but I seriously doubt that so doing would have made Brother McDaniel any happier. Far the wiser thing to have done would have been for him to have said nothing at all about "differences between myself and members of the Cogdill Foundation board . . . ." But he chose to publicize these differences before his readers, and I chose to state the nature of the differences.

Brother McDaniel has been quite upset about my injection of this word "doctrinal," and evidently has protested rather stringently about the matter to brethren in several places. Several have called me, after talking to Lindy. Some have written. Lindy and I had a lengthy telephone conversation after the issue of his paper appeared, and I agreed readily to accept full responsibility for declaring the nature of our "differences." His protestations, and the fact that several brethren are upset about the matter, now make necessary, a fuller discussion of the nature of these "differences." Those of you who read my article entitled "'In' and `Out of Grace'" which appeared in the May 23, 1974 issue of Truth Magazine already know something of the nature of these differences. But I think it necessary now that these "differences" be spelled out in greater detail. Then some of you will understand why we no longer were willing to publish Pitching For the Master. Others, who share some of Brother McDaniel's views, will continue thinking that he was greatly abused. But I hope that after these articles are completed that none will feel that Brother McDaniel has been misrepresented.

Though Lindy stated in his September 19, 1974 article that "This is all I intend to say publicly about the matter;" nonetheless if he changes his mind, space to reply in Truth Magazine gladly will be given to him. Evidently he only meant that the September 19th article was all he intended to say in print about the matter, for repeated accounts of his charge that I have misrepresented him continue to come to me.

October, 1972

In the Fall of 1972, as Brother Cogdill and I passed through New York City at the beginning of our journey to the Bible Lands, I had hoped to get the opportunity to talk to Lindy at length. But the opportunity did not present itself. I asked him, if at all possible, to come by my home as he returned to Texas at the end of the baseball season, as there were some very urgent matters which I wished to discuss with him. But for some reason, he was unable to come through Indiana, though I am not sure that he went directly from New York to his home in Baytown, Texas. Just a few days after returning from the Bible Lands trip, on October 23, 1972 I wrote Lindy as follows:

"For several months, I have been getting inquiries about whether you are in the process of changing your position on the subject of fellowship, and if you are in sympathy with the Ketcherside position on the subject of fellowship. I have made no inquiry of you until now, hoping that I would see you and have the chance to talk personally with you at the end of the baseball season. These inquiries have come to me through several different sources. I know not if any of them has come directly to you or not, but they should have done so...

"It is not my intention to try to coerce you in regard to what you believe in any way. What one believes, he must believe. However, if you have any inclinations for the Ketcherside position on fellowship, I want to know it now too. Truth Magazine inevitably is going to have a head-on confrontation with some brethren over the fellowship issue. That confrontation will not involve only Brother Ketcherside, but I feel confident that in time it will involve some among us who to varying degrees are in sympathy .with his position. James Adams has privately expressed to me an intention to review the Ketcherside position in detail, and I intend to carry that review, as soon as Adams can get around to preparing. it. He presently is encumbered by his move (to San Augustine, Texas-CW) and the necessary building of a new house.

"Quite frankly, I expect the next big controversy among us to be over the fellowship question. I am simply asking that you be completely candid with me now about your sentiments on that question. I have not talked with all of those responsible for the publications done by the Cogdill Foundation, but personally I want nothing to do at all with any publication that is either going to advocate or be in sympathy with the Ketcherside position on fellowship. Frankly, in light of your effort to convert people from denominationalism, I do not see how you could share at all the `baptized believers only' position on fellowship, and that is nearly what the Ketcherside position boils down to.

"I respect you not only as a brother, but also as a man. I repeat that I am not trying in any way to intimidate you in regard to what you sincerely believe. If indeed you do share some of the Ketcherside fellowship sentiments, 1 would expect you to be completely candid with me. At the same time, I am being candid enough with you to state that if you are in sympathy with the Ketcherside position on fellowship, I want nothing more to do with the publication of Pitching For the Master, and think that the other ones connected with the Cogdill Foundation would share my sentiment. I hope that a letter from you will put my mind at ease regarding the matter. I realize the difficulty in expressing in detail what one believes on a complex issue, but it would not take me long to let anyone know that I am not in sympathy with the Ketcherside position, nor would 1 have the least hesitancy to say so in no uncertain terms.

"If you feel it might be difficult for you to state clearly what you want to say on this matter, I suggest that in lieu of making a trip to talk to me face to face that you talk with either Adams or Cogdill regarding the matter. Neither knows that I have suggested that you discuss the matter with him, nor does either know that I am writing you this letter, as I write it. However, both are connected with the Cogdill Foundation, both know where I stand in regard to the Ketcherside fellowship position, and I would be willing to accept the word of either in regard to your expression of your sentiments on this matter.

"If you are in sympathy at all with the Ketcherside position, since the article you just sent me (for November 1 think it is) finishes up a volume, I suggest that this would be an excellent time for us to cease to publish the paper.

" . . I, for one, intend to take a strong stand in opposition to the getcherside position. I expect this expression of my sentiments to put me in a head-on conflict with a few brethren among us whom I consider to have some considerable sympathies with Ketcherside. If your sentiments lie with those who sympathize and seek to defend Brother Ketcherside's position, or even lean in that direction, I am frank to say that I would want to see pitching For the Master separated as soon as possible from the Cogdill Foundation, lest we appear to promote on one hand through pitching For the Master what we strongly oppose on the other hand through Truth Magazine.

"As before, I have only the kindest regards toward you, and certainly hope that some of the reports I have heard are not representative of your feeling. I knew of no better way to learn what your true sentiments are than by writing directly to you. I hope we can continue to stand side by side not only in the advocacy of everything taught in the New Testament, but also in opposition to every error whether inside or outside of the Lord's Body. "

The neat correspondence that I have in my file from Lindy will be quoted shortly. However, let me inject here that, as I remember it, Lindy and I neat talked by telephone. Though Lindy says he has no remembrance of making such a statement, I still must state what I very distinctly remember him saying. In our telephone discussion, Lindy stated that he does not take the religious papers with him during the baseball season, and has to do all his catch-up reading when the baseball season is over. At the time of our telephone discussion, Lindy told me that he really had never read much of what Brother Ketcherside had written. But he stated that at the time of my call, he was in the process of reading two of Brother Ketcherside's books, and that "the more I read from him, the more I find myself to be in agreement with him." Several brethren have verified to me that I recited this very conversation to them, shortly after it had occurred. But within a matter of two or three weeks, Lindy had reversed himself and seemed to be getting straightened out.

November, 1972

A prominent brother and his wife also were in the group that visited the Bible Lands. While on the trip, he told me that he had engaged with Lindy in a lengthy discussion on these matters in New York City the night before I arrived there. This brother therefore knew of my concern about where Lindy stood. On November 20, 1972 Brother McDaniel wrote this brother a letter. Since this brother knew of my apprehensions as to where Brother McDaniel stood, he sent me a copy of Lindy's letter, not as a breach of confidence, but to set my mind at ease in regard to the matter. In this letter Lindy said:

"I appreciate your recent letter and agree with what you said. My mind has been confused about these matters for some time. (My emphasis--CW) Now after restudying the restoration history, the recent problems in the church over 'institionalism' and the `sponsoring churches', the Arlington Meeting Book, and the writings of Carl Ketcherside in `Mission Messenger' (My emphasis--CW), I can say that I am strongly opposed to the views held by Ketcherside and others as to fellowship.' As I understand it now, the concept of `grace' that is being advocated today by various individuals is simply the forerunner of views advocated by Ketcherside. I have never embraced Ketcherside's view of `fellowship', but I have been caught in these views on `grace'. But it is my understanding now, based upon a great deal of research, that this understanding of `grace' is basically the understanding of the Protestant leaders through the years and has traditionally been rejected by every outstanding leader of the restoration. This does not establish truth, but ft does indicate which way the wind blows. Mach of this leans toward Calvinism, especially as regards the nature of man and the effects of grace, but I wig not attempt to detail these matters in this letter. (My emphasis-CW) It appears as if there will be a battle over the question of fellowship' in the near future. It appears that many of our young people, and a few of our older heads, have been caught up in concepts foreign to the teaching of the Bible (My emphasis-CW) and the spirit of the restoration. I have no doubt bat what these views have been propagated and will continue to be propagated, and the time Is now upon us to deal with these things out in the open. For my own part, I have been busy writing to these boys and others who have taken me into their confidence in an attempt to guide them back to the `old paths.' I can understand if my faith has been questioned by some, and I can only say that I was wrong to teach anything that tended toward these views, or gave encouragement or sympathy to those who advocate these views. (My emphasis-W) But in all good conscience, I can say that 1 have never embraced the concepts of Ketcherside on fellowship.' Although I have wavered somewhat this past summer on the subject of 'grace,' my past views of longstanding have been reconfirmed through study, and I reject the conclusions some have reached. (My emphasis--CW) This is perhaps the first time in my life that I have had to differ strongly with persons very close to me in the faith."

Please note here that Brother McDaniel admits that he has, as of November, 1972, "wavered" on the subject of grace, and that the concepts of grace being taught by some are simply "the forerunner(s) of views advocated by Ketcherside."

Shortly after writing the above quoted letter, Lindy wrote me a very similar letter on November 24, 1972 as follows:

"After a period of much study and reflection, it has become obvious to me that those who are leaning toward the concepts advocated by Carl Ketcherside are headed in the wrong direction. My mind is settled in this regard, and I must commend your work in combating this error. (My emphasis-CW) Ketchersideism is many-sided and complex, and it works like leaven. I have several very close friends involved in this movement, and thus it is of very special concern to me. However, I cannot say that they hold the extremes of Ketcherside with reference to such things as child in prospect' etc., but they are definitely in basic agreement as to the general concepts of `grace' and `fellowship: (My emphasis--CW)

"I have never personally held the views of Ketcherside on `fellowship', but I have been caught up in this 'grace' business. However, I now reject those views as being a perversion of the Biblical view. I am now in the process of writing to my friends who hold these views hoping to change their thinking. (My emphasis -CW) In addition, I am writing some articles locally for the Pruett & Lobit St. bulletin (in Baytown, Texas-CW) on these general subjects. These articles I will also submit to you for publication in Truth Magazine if you see fit. Enclosed is an article titled, Are The Righteous Sinners?' which deals with a phase of the question. You may publish this in Truth if you desire."

You can imagine how much joy such a letter from my good friend, Lindy McDaniel, brought to me. So on November 28, 1972, I responded to Lindy as follows:

"Your letter just received yesterday which indicated that you had decided you must oppose the Ketcherside position brought both joy and relief to me .... I hope you will use whatever influence you have to counter the effort of Ketcherside, and more importantly, his sympathizers among us. We are going to get hurt badly, in my judgment, by this issue. I concur that you were beginning your trek down the wrong road by your excessive emphasis upon 'grace.' The next step is the denunciation of 'legalism,' and the concomitant de-emphasis upon respecting the laws of God, both in life and teaching. I hope therefore that you have `headed yourself off at the pass' and now can proceed to try to help those young and misled brethren who are going to come out on Ketcherside's side eventually, unless my judgment is way off.

"I told both lames Adams and Roy Cogdill that 1 had asked you to talk with them. Thus, if you do not now feel that such a discussion is needed, I suggest that you write them a letter such as the one received by me yesterday."

For some time after November, 1972, it appeared that Brother McDaniel had planted his feet once again upon solid ground. On November 28, 1972, he wrote me as follows:

"I have heard criticism of Truth Magazine, both here locally and in other places, that too much emphasis is placed on reporting fights' and controversies' among the brethren, and not enough constructive teaching is being done. I mention this only because some in this area have ceased to subscribe to the paper for this reason. However, I cannot agree that this is a valid criticism, as much depends on the purpose of the publication and the seriousness of the controversies . . . . (My emphasis--CW) In this same vein, some have felt that your attack of Abilene Christian College has been overly critical and unjust, even to the point of unChristian conduct, judging of motives, etc. However, your documentation seems quite solid to me . . . ."

December, 1972

It was necessary that I undergo surgery on November 29, 1972. Thus, before I could respond to Lindy's letter of November 28, 1972, he wrote me again. In a letter dated December 12, 1972, Lindy said:

"Enclosed is the February issue of Pitching. As you know, we skip March, so the next issue will not be due until April. 1 have also enclosed an expanded article on the same subject for publication in Truth Magazine, if you see fit to have it printed. 1 know that this article is a bit longer than you desire, but I do not know how to deal with the subject and do it justice in any sense without writing that much. Whether or not this article is worthy of distribution through Truth is another question. I feel that others can write better and say more, but I also feel that more needs to be said in terms of combating `Ketchersidism' in the church. (My emphasis --CW)

"My IBM went on the blink just when I was getting ready to type the manuscript for the article on Law And Grace,' and so I had to switch typewriters . . . . I am teaching the young adult class on Wednesday nights dealing with the general subject of The Ketcherside Unity Fellowship Movement.' I possess a great deal of documentation on this, and the purpose of the class is to acquaint people with the characteristics of the movement. 1 have also enclosed a copy of the outline I have handed out to the class. The purpose of the outline is not to deal with all of the scriptural arguments, but to show the main characteristics of the movement."

In my letter of December 26, 1972, I responded to the afore quoted letters from Lindy. The pertinent part of this letter is as follows:

"You may have heard, but I have been out of commission for a few weeks. I had to have surgery Nov. 29th, and had to be in bed three weeks before that, while I awaited scheduled surgery. Yesterday was the first day that I resumed my work, and am I way behind! . . . Of course 1 have been getting for ten years repercussions on both the content and the style of Truth Magazine. You referred to criticisms you have heard in your letter of November 28th. Lindy, I certainly do not claim infallibility as to how to conduct a paper. However, I constantly confer with men whose judgment I highly respect. Very recently I have conferred with Cogdill, Adams, and Connie Adams regarding my editorial work particularly. They did not recommend that I alter my course. I, as well as anyone else, can only do what I think is best at the time, and then live with the consequences . . . .

"There are some young liberal sympathizers among us who are bending over backward to try to make some of us look bad, and to make the modernists (on the MISSION staff-CW) look good. I have as little use for a liberal sympathizer as I do have for a liberal . . . ."

(To Be Continued Next Week)

Truth Magazine XIX: 22, pp. 339-343
April 10, 1975