By H. Edward McCaskill
I have been a reader of The Spiritual Sword, published by the Getwell church of Christ in Memphis and edited by my long time friend and former teacher, Thomas B. Warren, for a number of years. The material contained in this publication has been excellent and I have appreciated a host of timely and scriptural articles from Tom and his staff of writers.
Occasionally, however, Tom gets a bit overly zealous and takes a thrust at some he designates as “antis.” I assume, in the present usage, as he has in the past, he is referring to those of us who oppose the sponsoring church arrangement and church support of human institutions.
In the Volume 6, Number 3 issue, dated April of last year, Brother Warren says in as article entitled, “Skepticism is the Basic Issue Now,” “On the one hand, the men who uphold the `anti’ positions (I mean no unkindness in using this term) are men who believe in God and in the Bible as His inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word. They hold that truth is absolute (objective) and is attainable (can be learned). In all of this (and more) they are right. But, they disallowed what God has authorized (cf. Tim. 4:1-5) and thus caused great trouble to the church.”
I, for one, do not believe a simple statement such as the above, regardless of how kindly and graciously made should go unnoticed. Brother Warren’s magazine, to my knowledge, has not devoted an issue to an objective study of the “Institutional Controversy.” Nevertheless, statements of the above accuse those of us who have for almost a quarter of a century sought God’s authorization for the above mentioned endeavors of being the guilty ones of disturbing the Lord’s church. If God has authorized such then I, with all honesty and sincerity, want to know it.
Tom, it seems, has wilfully forgotten that he among others helped some of us to see the truth in the institutional controversy and the fallacy of false reasoning on these issues many years ago. For example, in a three part series of truth-setting articles that appeared in the Gospel Guardian, Volume 6, Numbers 3, 4, and 5, dated May 20, May 27, June 3, 1954 respectively, under the title, “Evasions of the Law of Rationalism”, he showed, in article 1, that the Herald of Truth sponsoring-type-arrangement and church support of human institutions such as Boles Home could not be defended on the basis of the say-so of some highly respected individual. In article 2 he showed that such could not be authorized on the basis of emotional appeal. Simply stated, the end does not justify the means. The third article, “Argumentum ad hominem” – argument to the man-stated, “Again, some brother writes an article in which he calls in question the principle of ‘cooperation’ involved in such things as the Herald of Truth! As an ‘answer’ to the arguments which were made, other brethren say, Oh, he is just as “anti.” He is not for real plans which really get the job of preaching done. You need pay no attention to what he says. . . . ” And further in closing his article Tom makes a timely appeal: “Brethren, may this sincere plea sink into good and honest hearts: let us grow spiritually to the point where our practices may be called in question without our making a personal attack upon the man who asked the questions.” Tom was right then even though he may have forgotten his appeal and has resorted to the same tactics he at one time abhorred. One would definitely surmise and conclude from a reading of these articles (and others that he wrote —- remember those two interesting fictitious characters Kareah and Jakim?). Later he changed and even debated the issues with Bro. Cecil Douthitt in Houston, and assisted others as a moderator in their discussions. Still, some of us have not been convinced with his “component parts-constituent elements” arguments establishing Biblical authority, nor appeals to emotion, or to name calling, nor to the words of highly respected men of the scripturalness of such arrangements under consideration.
Furthermore, if seeking Biblical authority through command, example, or necessary inference, has caused great trouble in the church then trouble shall continue. I will simply not accept the incrimination of Tom’s usage of Tim 4:1-5 and admit that I have “disallowed what God has authorized.” I am still waiting and willing and anxious to learn, after all these years, where God has allowed it.
Truth Magazine, XX:26, p. 11
June 24, 1976