October 24, 2017

The Gospel Advocate- “A Controversialist Paper” (Back Then)

By Dudley R. Spears

Browsing through some old copies of the Gospel Advocate, I came upon an article by Brother F. W. Smith in which 'he defended the "old reliable" as "a controversialist paper." They were discussing the use of the expression, "Christian Church," which was thought to be scriptural by Brother Smith. Other brethren were allowed space in that journal to object. Then, they did not have the "iron curtain" that has descended upon that paper today. Here is a comment from Smith that I pass along to the readers of TRUTH MAGAZINE.

"The Gospel Advocate has always been a controversialist paper, and I wish to say here and now that if the time should ever come while I am Connected with it that religious discussions are ruled out, I shall regret it exceedingly indeed. I will never be a party to the changing of the policy of the Gospel Advocate on the point of vigorously, courageously, and uncompromisingly contending against false doctrine, no matter by whom taught, whether by the 'brethren' or others" (Gospel Advocate, March 28, 1929, page 300).

But, "now it is different" with the "old reliable" from Nashville. Brother Smith surely now "regrets exceedingly" the policy under which the Advocate is conducted. The present editor's views along this line are expressed in these words.

"It is not the policy of the Gospel Advocate to print everything that is sent to its offices for publication . . . We are not disposed to profess to publish both sides of everything that comes up for attention, and then publish both sides only of those things that suit our peculiar purposes" (Ibid, March 19, 1953, page 162).

The editor again excused himself from free discussion of issues which divide the church in the following:

"It is our policy not to give space in these columns to personal animosities and partisan antipathies." (Ibid, July 14, 1954, p. 600)

It is understandable that the good editor would desire to avoid personal animosities and partisan antipathies, but since I have been reading the Gospel Advocate (about fifteen years) the only thing that I have seen written that remotely resembled the truth on the institutional question was written by brother Earl Irvin West on "Congregational Cooperation'' and that was stopped! In reality the Advocate has become a medium for the doling out of personal animosities and partisan antipathies in that many a man has been falsely accused without the opportunity of correction. Witness the abuse given to Florida Christian College (as it was called back then) and to W. Curtis Porter, Yater Tant and Roy E. Cogdill. When Brother Porter (now deceased) tried to correct an article written by one of his accusers, he was flatly ignored when he tried to get a correction run in the Advocate. Yet, Brother Porter was a man who had written numerous articles in the Advocate years ago.

Men and institutions change---but truth and the standard of integrity and honesty do not. May God help us all to be open minded, ready to study "both sides" of any problem. In the words of Brother Smith, "Let us always be vigorously, courageously, and uncompromisingly contending against false doctrine, no matter by whom taught, whether by the 'brethren' or others."

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 11, pp. 12-13

January 22, 1970

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