Bro. Charles Holt and Sentinel of Truth

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Recently two issues of SENTINEL OF TRUTH have given me a little attention. In June, 1968 Brother Harold Spurlock worked me over. He disparagingly referred to me as "the erudite (!) editor of TRUTH MAGAZINE." However, I have not claimed or feigned erudition. Far from it. In fact, I even misspelled "Alleged" in the title of the article criticized by Brother Holt in the November, 1968 issue of SENTINEL OF TRUTH. Brother Spurlock contemptuously said, "The great prophet of TRUTH MAGAZINE has spoken. Let all the earth keep silent before him. Let all the world bow to his genius. Selah! Pause! Meditate upon the jewels of wisdom! Reflect soberly and ponder carefully." Isn't it strange how the brethren who complain most about how brethren treat them then deal out the shabbiest treatment.

More recently (November, 1968) Editor Holt wrote "lovingly" about me under the "endearing" title, "Witch Hunting." He said that I had gone on a "fiendish" witch hunt. A few years ago I sat in an audience and heard a man say some rather rough things about Brother Holt. Perhaps he will not object if I just appropriate a few of his (Holt's) remarks which he then made in reply: "I have no desire nor disposition to resort to the sort of vile charges as has my opponent ... But you know, were I disposed to engage in vile charges, I don't suppose I could find a man in the United States that would present a more fruitful field than my opponent! But I am not of that disposition, nor am I concerned with it; such is not an issue" (THE INDIANAPOLIS DEBATE, p. 138). If such a statement by Brother Holt was acceptable in 1954, perhaps he will not be offended by its usage again.

Charles and I have been rather close personal friends over a period of several years. He has taught me much of what I know, and has contributed much to making me whatever I am. He may now regret his work, but he did it nonetheless. Yet even though we have been close friends, repeatedly he refers to me in his November, 1968 article as "Mr. Willis." The way he has gotten so he can "Brother" nearly anybody, I would have thought that I was still at least "Brother Willis" to him. But I guess not. I suppose his "fellowship-everybody position does not extend quite as far as I thought it did. He stretches his fellowship far enough to take in members of the Christian Church, but I am still just "Mr. Willis."

In the December 19, 1968 issue of the GOSPEL GUARDIAN, Brother Yater Tant discussed some of the disappointments which he had experienced in his twenty years of editorial work. He said, "One (disappointment - CW) was the gradual drift away from the solid moorings of truth which I saw in Charles Holt over a period of two years. We did what we could to avert the tragedy, even to the point of incurring the disfavor of some mighty valued friends." I do not know if I am one of Yater's "mighty valued friends" or not, but I am one who thought he stuck with Charles Holt too long. Apparently Charles is now gone out from us, but we hope he is not gone forever.

Charles is excited because I quoted a statement from him in an article which I entitled, "Alleged Direct Operations of the Spirit among Churches of Christ." The statement which I quoted was, "wouldn't you enjoy and appreciate some spontaneity now and then! Wouldn't you find it refreshing once-in-awhile to have a relaxed and informal gathering; more or less letting things happen as they will -- letting the people open up, talk, ask questions, ask for prayers, even 'offer some testimony' or tell an 'experience' Have you ever been in a service like that? ... Not likely. Such is too much like the Holiness people and other 'emotionally-moved' people; and we just cannot afford to 'get happy' in our services."

I commented that Charles apparently "expects something to move people to 'get happy,' relate an 'experience,' 'offer some testimony' and do like the Holiness people and other 'emotionally-moved' people in our services." I raised the question as to whether Charles was here advocating the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. If not, he might even now indicate to us what power it was that he expected to cause people to get happy, "relate an experience," "offer some testimony," and do "like the Holiness people and other 'emotionally-moved' people." Something is supposed to make us act "like the Holiness people..."

However, Brother Holt advises us in the November, 1968 SENTINEL OF TRUTH, "When I wrote those lines the idea of 'getting the Holy Spirit' was NOT in my mind at all! Nor did I have in mind 'the direct operation of the Holy Spirit' in any sense." I appreciate this clarification from him. He adds, "I am NOT guilty, and therefore, there is no one 'among those whom the liberals would call "Antis,"' who believes in the 'direct operation of the Holy Spirit.'" I do not know what power Brother Holt DID have in mind, but he had some power in mind that was supposed to make people act "like the Holiness people ...."

I freely, readily, and gladly withdraw my insinuation that perhaps Brother Holt DOES believe in the "direct operation of the Holy Spirit." I certainly do not want to charge him with anything with which he is not guilty. He is guilty of teaching enough error, without charging him with teaching some that he does not believe or teach. So I withdraw my insinuation, and apologize for misunderstanding Brother Holt. Previously I commented regarding Brother Holt, "He either lacks the willingness or the ability to write and to express himself clearly -- he is often 'misunderstood."' I cannot retract that statement or apologize for it, for I believe it to be the truth.

I confess that I do not know what he was talking about. If it was not the Holy Spirit who was supposed to prompt persons in our assemblies to "get happy," "offer some testimony," "or tell an 'experience'," and to act "like the Holiness people and other 'emotionally-moved' people," Brother Holt would you please tell us what kind of spirit is so to move persons in our assemblies? I certainly do not want to misunderstand you again. But if it is not the Holy Spirit back of all these awaited activities, what spirit does prompt them?

Finally, in a burst of sarcasm, after disclaiming belief in the "direct operation of the Holy Spirit," Brother Holt adds, "This really ought to show the 'Liberals' that we are indeed the Lord's only anointed (his spelling--CW); the only true, sound, orthod03C, loyal Church of Christ Church!" I do not know about you, but I do not have much more time to spend on any person (Brother Holt or otherwise) who will so contemptuously speak of the Lord's blood-bought Body. Personally, the fear of the good Lord would still my tongue, close my lips, and stop my typewriter before I could utter such blasphemous ridicule. But let the railers rail on! There will come a day! Indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

March 1969