Footnote to Series

Connie W. Adams
Louisville, Kentucky

Just after completing the series on "The Fading Fear and the Spirit of St. Louis," I was browsing through some old Gospel Advocates. In the July 23 and July 30, 1942 issues there appeared three different articles about the Murch-Witty "unity meetings." All three articles were seriously critical of such meetings. John Allen Hudson wrote an article entitled "No Union by Human Opinion" in which he reviewed an article by a Dr. Kershner of the Christian Church carried in the July 2, 1942 issue of the Christian Evangelist. The article by Kershner was an appeal for fellowship between those using the instrument and those opposing it based on what he called "the spirit of freedom and toleration." Hudson's reply was quite pointed.

B. C. Goodpasture in an editorial announced that the Murch-Witty meeting for 1942 would not be conducted because of "traveling and other conditions." Brother Goodpasture observed that there were not enough people attending to make travel that much of a problem, even with the war going on, and that the crux of the matter was found in the "other conditions." He said:

"Again we insist that unity on the basis of New Testament teachings is highly desirable. It is both good and pleasant. But unity on the basis of compromise ~ never! The 'Disciples' have shown no intention, thus far, of giving up their innovations, even though Murch and Witty regard them as 'trifling causes '. So long as this is true, unity is out of the question."

"This 'unity movement' is imposing upon the church a problem which not only is not producing Christian unity, but, on the other hand, is inflicting upon us a situation which threatens to cause division along other lines"

But the most pointed statement of all was an article by Batsell Baxter entitled "Olives and Thistles." I believe what he said is not only pertinent to the Lemmons-Murch meetings which we have reviewed, but also to some ecumenical aspirations among some of the more conservative-minded brethren who foresee an increasing toleration of and fellowship with those who have divided the church of the Lord over sponsoring churches and institutionalism. But here is the article by Brother Baxter:


"We are willing to forget all the hard feelings of the fight over the organ. We are willing to fellowship you people without it; you can sing to your hearts' content without it, and we will make no objection. Now, you fellowship us when we sing with it!" That is about the substance of the "unity" movement that is prevalent in some quarters. Not one single man of the organ party has ever said he would give up the organ and the societies and worship without them.

The Olive Branch

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Of course; nothing could be finer! But there can be no unity of worship and work without a unity of conviction in respect to essentials. The olive branch that our organ brethren hold out is not an olive branch at all. Of course they are willing to fellowship us who do not use the organ. They always were---if we would get out and build us a church house our own and say nothing about "our differences."

The Thistle in the Olive

The "olive branch" they hold out is full of Stickers. It is a thin veneer for a big bouquet of thistles. They do not offer to come back. They do not recognize that they have gone anywhere. They do not offer even a compromise between their position and the position of those of us who cannot conscientiously use an organ in the worship or work through the societies. Their position has not changed one whit. All they ever asked for was the privilege of using the organ and working with the societies with our blessing.

The Withdrawal of Fellowship

This they all with one accord seem to forget: They put the organ into churches that had not been using it. That act brought discord where harmony had reigned. Those who could not conscientiously worship with the organ were given to understand that we would have it to do or get out. The organ and the societies were in -- and in to stay! We got out. We withdrew fellowship from them on the ground that they had introduced into the work and worship of the church things that we believed were not in harmony with the Lord's plan.

The Spirit of the Thing

Now they come in the attitude of the drunken man who ran into the banker's car and smashed a fender. After they had talked it over for a while, the drunken man put his arm around the banker's shoulder and said: "Aw, Uncle Bill, lets forget it!" Of course such a splash of whitewash did not appeal to the practical mind of the banker. He replied: "No, we are not willing to forget it until the thing is fixed." Now, our progressive friends"--some of them--survey the discord they have raised. They put their arms around us and say: "Let's forget it."

No Acknowledgement Made

No acknowledgement has been made. We are asked to accept the status quo, forget the past, and go along together as brethren, "you in your way and me in mine," with little reference to the Lord's way. No acknowledgement has been made; no, but an acknowledgement has been proposed. Well, what is it? It is just this, in substance: "The thing was not worth fighting over. You conservative brethren made a big mistake in making it a matter of principle. You erred in withdrawing fellowship from us who use the organ and societies. Now, if you will acknowledge that, we can have unity once more."

"Give and Take"

Most settlements between parties who differ involve some "give and take." This proposed settlement contains such an offer. The "conservatives" are to do all the giving and the organ party are to do all the taking. Well, we are used to giving in our relations with them. We gave up our meetinghouses when they put the organ in, but we did not give up our principles. They are used to taking. When the separation came, they generally got all the property, but they did not take our principles. In this unity movement they have simply come back for what they failed to get at first--our principles.

Men Without a Country

For a while after "the division" over the organ they seemed to be happy and even enthusiastic in their new-found "liberties." They had got rid o/a bunch of "mossbacks, objectors, pullbacks," and such other like epithets. Things drifted along well with them for a time. But many of them were eager for new lands of "liberty." They were not content with the organ and the societies. That was just an appetizer. A minority wanted to stop with the organ and the societies, but the majority pressed on. This minority are today men without a country.

Division in Their Ranks

They are alarmed at the progress" of the majority. The organ party is now divided into a big camp and a little camp. It is this little camp that has been having "unity meetings" with some of the "conservatives," as they call those who are opposed to organs and societies. Modernism, with its denial of the virgin birth of Christ, denial of the verbal inspiration o/ the Scriptures, denial o/ the deity of Christ, acceptance of the "pious unimmersed," fellowship of all creeds and plans of work and worship--these things and others of like nature have scared them stiff. They tried to call a halt; they failed.

Headed for the Falls

The "Progressive" boat is headed for falls. Like a boat slamming against the rocks in the rapids, they are careening madly along. The minority -- Restoration group --alarmed at the trend of things. Now they still in name with the majority who seem have as their slogan: "We don't know we are going, but we are on our way." In fact they are apart in a little group own. They see the dangers -- some of them. They hear the roar of the falls around bend of the river; they want to stop; but they are not willing to come back.

Encouragement and Support

In their sad plight they look with eyes to "the mossbacks," "the pullbacks." Like the girl in the poem: She ran away with her lover. As they started in a small boat across the lake, a sudden storm descended. To the brothers on shore "one lovely arm {he stretched for aid, but one was around her lover." To those who do not use the organ they stretch an arm for aid: "Brethren, fellowship us and work with us." But the other arm is round their lover -- their departure from New Testament work and worship. Not one speaker among them has ever suggested in their unity meetings that they are willing to come back. Brethren, these unity meetings are on the wrong basis. No good can come of them on such a basis.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 38, pp. 10-12

August 6, 1970