A Matter of Importance - But What Is It?
Recently an article under the caption "A Matter Of Importance" was placed before the readers of the Gospel Advocate from the pen of brother Guy N. Woods. (See Vol. CIII, No. 1, January 5, 1961, pp. 7 and 10.) There is a principle stated in the article with which all could generally agree as the writer makes reference to Gal. 2:11-18, and stresses the thought that "It is obviously illogical, against self-interests, and sinful in the sight of God to encourage, support and maintain in one fashion that which we deplore, regard as highly improper and in conflict with truth, in some other manner." Surely it is not reasonable that any should tear something down in one effort, and then immediately turn around to build that same thing back again. It is not the principle that is mentioned that we wish to consider in this article, but rather some of the statements made in making application of the principle and the admission that was inadvertently made in doing so.
As we begin this study, let us first quote a rather lengthy portion of the article in question, and then make some observations on that quotation.
The church has but recently passed through a time of great crisis. A group of determined men has sought, unsuccessfully, we rejoice to say, to destroy the orphan homes, homes for the aged, and all cooperative evangelistic efforts among us, and turn the church of our Lord into a narrow, dogmatic and hobby-ridden sect. The scheme would have succeeded, in large measure, but for the fact that numerous brethren, set for the defense of the truth and determined that they should not pass, blocked their efforts. A major factor in the fight was the courageous manner in which the GOSPEL ADVOCATE editor opened the columns of this century-old paper and provided a medium through which the brotherhood was informed of the movement, and warned of its ultimate design. In doing this the ADVOCATE measured up fully to the high ideals which have characterized it through every contest of truth from the beginning of its illustrious history, and a grateful fraternity of faithful brethren regularly show their appreciation, by word and letter.
The first portion of this paragraph is a perfect example of an appeal to prejudice with no basis whatsoever in fact. Who are the "group of determined men" who have been trying "to destroy the orphan homes, homes for the aged, and all cooperative evangelistic efforts among us"? (Emphasis mine, REF.) There are a host of righteous souls who are opposed to some of the schemes of some who desire to force the orphan homes, homes for the aged, SCHOOLS, (I wonder why brother Woods did not include them in his sweeping statements) etc. upon the Lord's people as adjuncts to the church and through which the church is to perform her tasks. Most of this great host will also arise in opposition to the universal church being activated by means of some of the "cooperative evangelistic efforts among us" such as the sponsoring church set-up for sending and controlling preachers in the field, the Herald of Truth, the Gospel Press, etc. However, this is a far cry from the statement by brother Woods that these men had determined to destroy all homes and all cooperative evangelism! Friends, we just want you to get the facts.
Brother Woods is just "whistlin' past the graveyard" when he says the crisis over such things has been passed through. Those who are aware of the facts know there is still a great battle before us, regardless of where one may stand in the present controversy. Many of the liberal brethren would have you to believe the fight is all over, and there were just a few in that "group of determined men" who opposed them in these matters. Furthermore, you are supposed to think those few were just a "narrow, dogmatic and hobby-ridden sect" that has been soundly thrashed on all fronts. The trouble is, that this is just not the case. Those facts are real stubborn sometimes.
Brother Woods goes on to remind his readers of what a wonderful job the editor of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE has done in winning the great victory over the "group of determined men" who supposedly tried to wreak all of this destruction. In most issues of the ADVOCATE which I have seen for the past several years there is an abundant supply of bragging, boasting and backslapping as the writers commend one another and even praise and laud themselves. Someone perhaps needs to encourage the reading of II Cor. 10:18.
We are told that the "editor opened the columns of this century-old paper and provided a medium through which the brotherhood was informed . . ." The fact of the matter is that he closed the columns of the paper to everyone who did not agree with what he wanted said, and the brotherhood was then completely misinformed as to what was, and is, really going on if they depended upon the pages of this journal. The article in question is but another example of this misinforming those who read the ADVOCATE. In this matter the paper did not "measure up fully to the high ideals which have characterized it through every contest of truth from the beginning of its illustrious history" until the time her present editor took over, but rather sank to a new depth of irresponsibility and prejudice in journalism in her present high-handed policy of giving only one side of this controverted matter. A heartbroken sorrowful host of brethren regularly lament her degradation by word and letter! Many of them have, in disgust, completely severed relationships with her and refused to subscribe under such a perverted leadership.
We have known for some time that brother Guy N. Woods was going throughout the land making efforts to "blackball" some of the book dealers and publishing houses operated by conservative brethren. Now the editor of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE has "opened her columns" to him so that he may do a more thorough job. Hear him.
Occasionally brethren buy books, literature, and other church supplies from publishing houses, book stores and other agencies which either have done nothing to stem the tide of hobbyism and radicalism in the church; or worse, are engaged actively in promoting it. Such purchases actually subsidize false doctrine; they provide profits which are turned into the propagation -of their peculiar views through tracts, the publication of books, and the influence they may otherwise wield.
He next proceeds to set forth four questions which all who are responsible for the spending of the Lord's money ought to consider. Three of the four have to do with what stand the one from whom the purchase is to be made has . taken on current issues among the Lord's people. He then concludes the article by saying, "These are questions of no little importance the proper solution of which will mean much to the cause we love." (Emphasis mine, REF.) The emphasis that is found throughout this article causes us to wonder if the "cause we love" is the ADVOCATE and its program of pushing societies and schools upon the Lord's people to be supported from the treasuries of the church.
Next, we want to note an admission by brother Woods in behalf of the great "old reliable" GOSPEL ADVOCATE. He stated, as we noted, how it is so "illogical, against self-interests, and sinful in the sight of God to encourage, support and maintain" something in one fashion and yet at the same time consider it to be "highly improper and in conflict with truth in some other manner." The burden of his application of this principle is to attempt to line everyone up so that they will not make purchases from anyone who opposes church support of the orphan home societies, aged home societies, and certain cooperative evangelistic efforts that centralize control and attempt to activate the universal church in some centralized effort.
Now after an effort like this, one would just know that we could not obtain anything from the Gospel Advocate Company except that which was published by Christians and marketed by Christians. Furthermore, we would know it would be impossible to buy anything from that company that was published or handled in any way by one who opposed these centralized schemes of our brethren. But, alas! It seems that brother Woods neglected to read his 1960-1961 issue of the Gospel Advocate Catalog before he wrote, for there we find all kinds of things listed that are published by almost every denominational group one can imagine. Why, one can even buy books, literature, and other supplies that were written, published, and sold to the Gospel Advocate Company by those "determined men" brother Woods is accusing in his article and has warned his brethren against spending the Lord's money with the likes of such! For shame, brother Woods! Are you admitting your own sin in this regard by your close association with this company and your championship of her, her editor, and her policies? or are you just pointing to the guilt of the Gospel Advocate Company in this horrible sin? There is no way for everyone to escape from the guilt which is emphasized in the matter which is of such great importance.
Friends, do you know this company even sells as one of their main lines of VBS material (at least they advertised it as late as 1960) a series by the Standard Publishing Company? Of course, they went through and printed on at least some of it that "This workbook has been edited by the editor of the Gospel Advocate." It seems that he must have gone to sleep while he was editing some of it, but that is irrelevant as far as the point we are now noting. Why is it all right to traffic in material published by members of the Christian Church and wrong to buy material from a brother who is opposed to the church sending money to some other organization to do her work for her? It would seem that the only possible answer is that building up the Christian Church and her publishing houses will not hurt "the cause we love" so much! You see, they are not opposed to the church working through benevolent societies, missionary societies, and educational societies, and thus the cause of these institutions among us will not be harmed.
There is one other possibility, I suppose. One can buy Bibles from the Gospel Advocate Company that were published for non-profit distribution by the American Bible Society. However, they turn out to be quite profitable for the Advocate Co. when one orders them there. Anywhere from 25 per cent to 40 per cent can be saved on Bibles listed in their catalog with a number that is preceded by the letters "AB" by ordering it directly from the American Bible Society. It seems that it doesn't really matter what and who publishes a thing if the GOSPEL ADVOCATE can get her fingers in the pot somewhere and get a real good cut of the profits. They even handle material published by that "group of determined men" that they usually call "the Antis", and remember the matter of importance seemed to be to warn people from using anything that would be of help to them in any way. As I look at their catalog and see all these things listed I am not real sure what is the matter of importance!
There is a principle involved in considerations of this kind that has long been understood by all who have really given thought to it. We do not become guilty of "bidding God speed" (See II John 11) to any individual or group when we buy some service from them that we need; nor when we buy items and articles from those with whom we disagree in matters spiritual or material. When we buy our groceries from a Catholic, Jew, or Protestant we are not necessarily advocating nor supporting Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism. There is a vast difference in one giving money in exchange for values received in services or goods, and in giving money as an outright contribution. This principle has been understood by our brethren for many years, including brother Woods and the ADVOCATE as evidenced by their handling and endorsement of such a wide variety of materials published by so many organizations and individuals with whom they do not agree.
All of this leads us to wonder about the attitude of mind that prompted brother Woods to write such an article, and about the attitude of those who might blindly follow his guidance in this matter. Why should their jealousy, envy, wrath, strife, and even hatred be demonstrated to such an extent in such matters against those who are their brethren, but not against worldly and denominational people. Brethren, "if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal. 5 :15) . Read also Gal. 5 :16-26.
Truth Magazine, V:7, pp. 1, 6-8