December 13, 2018

EDITORIAL : “This Church’s Medical Center Apartment Ministry”

By Cecil Willis

Digression and the spirit of innovationism never stand still. They continually press for and persist in having their way. If they are stopped on one front, they simply open another beachhead, and proceed with their pernicious ways. They will listen to neither scripture nor reason. As Moses E. Lard one time said, one might as well be cracking syllogisms or scriptures on the head of the Man of Sin as to appeal to those possessed with the spirit of digression with either scripture or logic.

A few years ago some of the bolder liberals were telling us what they would object to. They did not oppose the digressions then being discussed, but they assured us that if things went from bad to worse, they would raise a mighty voice against apostasy. Have they done so? Only tile very faintest peeps have been heard, and even those were quickly stifled or disregarded.

A score of years ago, when the institutional orphan home was such a heatedly debated question, some whose influence has always been with the liberals but who assayed to agree with us on some fundamental principles emphatically told if that if they ever put the college in the budget, "brother they are going to hear from me." Have they put the college in the budget? Certainly so. About ten years ago, Herald of Truth speaker, Batsell Barrett Baxter, thought the foundations had been sufficiently undermined that his brethren would accept the support of any human organization. And he was right. He boldly announced that the church support of institutional orphan homes and the church support of colleges stand or fall together. His premise was valid. Indeed they do stand or fall together. Some of us believed that the church support of all human institutions fell together. Others felt that the church support of myrid institutions stood together. Then there were those uncomfortable, quivering, quaking, inconsistent, and naive brethren who thought that one could admit just a little of digression. These are the ones who prided themselves in being middle-of-the-roaders.

They solemnly swore, again and again, that if they ever try to put the college in the budget, the fight would be on. I must confess that way back yonder, in my naive days, I believed these men meant what they said. So I even hoped that tile digressives among us would open the entire digressive bag, and pour out all its contents. I thought, and then some of the brethren would wake up. But I was wrong, and for at least a decade have known I was wrong in thinking the bigwigs among the liberals would put up a stiff fight when the colleges were put into congregational budgets.

David Lipscomb College, Freed -Hardeman College, and several other schools, now openly, admittedly, and unabashedly solicit congregational funds. I thought that G. K. Wallace, Guy N. Woods. Reuel Lemmons, Roy Lanier, Sr., Gus Nichols, E. R. Harper and others would really put tip a stiff fight. But apparently these men realize now that they have cut the heart out of their argument against congregational support of colleges. I admit that Glenn Wallace, Lemmons, and Lanier have put up a little pitifully weak protest.

Several years ago, immediately after Baxter had circulated nationwide about fifty thousand copies of his tract, word was discreetly let out to some of the conservative brethren that their presence at the Abilene Christian College Lectureship not only would be tolerated, but also actually would be appreciated. Reuel Lemmons was really going to blast Baxter and the college-the-budget brethren. He wanted the backing of the men who shared his views about the college in the budget. Dozens of men spent literally thousands of dollars in order to go to Abilene to witness and to hear the big explosion. And talk about a fizzle! Brother that speech of Lemmons was a real dud.

Meanwhile, back on the Nashville farm, word must have been sent to Lemmons informing him that he had better keep his mouth shut. There was not the slightest, faintest little peep out of him at the Abilene Lectureship. He did like another brother I went to hear one night who had sent me word that he was once and for all going to make his position on the issues absolutely clear. Quite a few brethren attended to hear this bombastic speech.

But . . . about the time the brother-got up to make his speech, in walked two elders from a liberal church that was helping to support this brave preacher. I do not now remember what he preached, but I do know that he did not get within a country mile of any part of the controversial issues. At least this man was honest. When inquiry was made as to why he did not make the speech that he had indicated beforehand that he was going to make, he very candidly recited the fact that two elders from a liberal church that was helping in his support had come in. And quoting him as best I can remember what he said, he replied, "What did you expect me to do? Cut my own throat?"

Lemmons never told us why he did not make the daring Abilene speech he had said he was going to make. Batsell Barrett Baxter and the Lipscomb-Freed-Hardeman confederation have proceeded with their programs of moving in on congregational budgets. Lipscomb says it now expects $350,000 "or more" per year from churches. Wonder where G. K. Wallace has been the last few years on this issue? He told Carl Ketcherside in St. Louis in the early 1950s that he was right in opposing the church support of colleges, and that he hoped Ketcherside was successful in getting his (i.e. Wallaces) sinful brethren to quit the practice. Where is our bold friend, Guy N. Woods? Hes silent as a cemetery. Oh yes, I must admit that James P. Miller was able to twist Woods leg hard enough in the Montgomery debate to make Woods say that lie still thought it was wrong for churches to support colleges, but it took four nights of pressure to extract this admission from him. I suspect that Woods does not want his declaration made in Montgomery circulated too widely. It might hurt his influence. Why does not he voice his objection in the Gospel Advocate, in which he frequently writes?

Woods is really firing away at someone whom he calls "liberals" through the pages of the Gospel Advocate. The pages of the Gospel Advocate apparently are open to him to use as he sees fit. Wonder why he does not fire a salvo or two at B. C. Goodpasture, Athens Clay Pullias, Willard Collins, Batsell Barrett Baxter who encourage the practice of that which Woods says he thinks is sinful? Reckon there might be a little bit of brotherhood politics involved in his quietude?

But I guess you are wondering how in the world I got way off the title of this article, and on to another subject? I was just wondering that myself. Oh yes, now I remember. A few years ago, these same brethren were telling us how they were really going to get on the firing line if the brethren ever started "Church of Christ Hospitals" and tried to put them into congregational budgets. Well, they now have done it. The title for this article was lifted verbatim from Bering Today (Sept. 10, 1972), the bulletin of the Bering Drive church in Houston, Texas, where Ron Durham preaches. The Bering Drive brethren state that "No area of our work together has brought more visible evidence that we love others as Christ loved us. It has been a ministry that has won honor for the Great Physician both here and abroad . . ." Brother Reuel Lemmons tells us he is strongly opposed to church support of colleges in this country, but will turn right around and promote some project that involves church support of colleges in some foreign land.

Lets all stand around and watch now while Lemmons, Lanier, Wallace, Woods, etc. shoot down the Bering Drive Hospital Ministry. If it is right for brethren congregationally to support "Church of Christ Hospitals" on foreign soils, on what grounds can the same kind of operations be opposed on American soil? The Bering Drive church also recently had one of the modern, real relevant gospel meetings. Among the subjects discussed were "Between Washington and Jerusalem: Politics in 20th Century America," and "Houston and the Urban Future." I would guess they had real first century preaching, with subjects like that! Wouldnt you? It would not take any Bible passages to speak on either one of those subjects. But if one is not going to use Scripture in his speech, reckon why a church would sponsor it? I guess this is what some of the brethren mean by "relevant" preaching. If one used any scripture on either one of those subjects, lie would be off the subject assigned him.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 6, pp. 3-5
December 7, 1972

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