Browsing At Bethany

James C. Curtis
Athens, Alabama

"Browsing at Bethany," is the title of an interesting article appearing in the Gospel Advocate of Jan. 3, 1957, page 7. The writer of this fine article is Brother E. Claude Gardner. One will do well to read this piece over and over again.

Brother Gardner begins by telling about his visit to Vienna, W. Va., where he engaged in a meeting with the Grand Central Church of that city. Brother Gardner says while he was there he was privileged to visit Bethany, the home of the Campbell's. Then he tells us about various things listed under: serious reflections, at the cemetery, in Bethany, at the home, and at Bethany College. It is on the last one, "At Bethany College" I want to place emphasis.

Brother Gardner tells us that Bethany has fallen to the Christian Church which is sad to those who love God's word. Then all of a sudden Brother Gardner bursts forth with these words "to accept the Bible as the guide as propounded by Brother Campbell would lead him to give up the Missionary Society, liberalism, instrumental music, and other innovations." Brother Gardner had reference to Thomas Campbell's famous slogan, we speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent." If Brother Gardner strictly adheres to this principle, he would have to give up his Benevolence Society for sure. The Bible is just as silent on Benevolence Societies as it is on Missionary Societies. Now Brother Gardner, since Mr. Campbell would have to give up his Missionary Society because the Bible is silent on that, why wouldn't you have to give up your Benevolence Society? Please tell us through "SOME" medium. I suppose you hold to the principle, the Bible teaches three ways: precept, example, and necessary inference. That certain1y is what our faithful brethren have been teaching for years isn't it? If you subscribe to this, will you be so kind as to show us where the Bible authorizes by precept, example, or necessary inference, a Benevolence Socity. When you do Brother Gardner, I will give you my word I will show you that same chapter and verse in the Bible for the Missionary Societv of Mr. Thomas Campbell's. So come on now Brother Gardner and cite the passage for your Institutional Orphan Home which is nothing short of Benevolence Society.

Brother Gardner seems so disturbed about the Campbell's favoring the Missionary Society. It is a well known fact though, they offered the same kind of Bible authority (?) for their Missionary Society that Brother Garner and other brethren offer today for Benevolence Societies. They said, "The Bible says "Go Preach," and "Go Preach" here is generic. We are free to use any method we wish since the Bible doesn't say "HOW." Brother McGarvey and a host of others called the Missionary Society "A HOW" never admitting that it (the society) was an organization and not a method. It was a matter of congregational co-operation to these brethren when they met in Cincinnati, Ohio in October 1849, but look what a monster this little baby corporation meeting grew up to be. This lesson should warn you and me, Brother Gardner, that we cannot afford to give one bit in our contending for the local Congregational Church Government.

A Pledge

The effect that the visit to Bethany had on Brother Gardner was good. He says in his closing remarks "after this visit to Bethany, I as a Gospel Preacher, Administrator, and teacher in a Christian College, hereby resolve to make a stronger effort to instill in the hearts of people a deeper faith in the Bible, a loyalty to the Book, and a guarding against departures from the truth." This pledge and resolution by Brother Gardner is one of the most noble I have ever read. It thrilled my soul to read it. "But" it broke my heart to read in the same 1957 Gospel Advocate where he had broken his resolution the same year he made it. Brother Gardner why did vou break your promise so quickly? You promised to guard against all departures after visiting Bethany College, "but lo and behold" on Jan. 24, 1957 Gospel Advocate page 53, you broke your promise. Read dear friend Brother Gardner's article if you have your "Old Reliable" handy, under the caption of "Opportunism" and you will see Brother Gardner did not keep his pledge very long. Hear him: "when some have learned that the hobbyists intend to split the brotherhood, confiscate church houses, destroy good co-operative works of the churches, malign faithful brethren, divide congregations, kill orphan homes, harp constantly on their pet theory, become identified with other "ANTI" elements, then the opportunist decides it is healthier to pull away." Does this sound like the same Brother Gardner we read about on page seven of this same journal? Well it is. After saying he pledged to, guard against all departures, he breaks his word, joins in with Brother Goodpasture and all his promotional schemes, by calling those who oppose Institutional Orphan Homes (Benevolence Societies) Opportunist. What a pity You didn't do what you said you were going to do Brother Gardner, namely "Guard against all departures from the truth."

Truth Magazine III:3, pp. 22, 24
December 1958