Reaction To Dismissal Of Guy N. Woods As Editor Of Gospel Advocate

Compiled by Mike Willis

The administration of the Gospel Advocate recently announced that they were making a change of editors. Brother Guy N. Woods is being replaced by Furman Kearley. Some of our liberal brethren have not received this announcement very well. Their assessment of what changes are occurring is interesting reading. Although I would not share their assessment of brother Woods, I find their reactions to his replacement newsworthy enough for inclusion here:

BEN VICK: The Informer, Indianapolis

After quoting Acts 20:28-31, brother Vick wrote:

. . . The words came to mind as I read of the changing of the guard at the Gospel Advocate (Gospel Advocate, June 6,1985). According to the report, Brother Guy N. Woods is being replaced as the editor of the Gospel Advocate. Though I did not concur with all that brother Woods has done since he has been the Associate Editor and Editor of the Gospel Advocate, he did staunchly and boldly oppose the Joplin Summit, Shelly’s false doctrine and took a firm stand on many other issues. Brother Woods truthfully stated, “In keeping with the purpose and origin of the Gospel Advocate, I have dealt firmly, yet kindly, with every major problem facing the Lord’s people today; yet, I have never lost sight of the fact that the paper is a family journal and must address itself to the spiritual needs of people.” This, I suspect, is the reason for his being ousted from the editor’s desk at the Gospel Advocate. . . .

My suspicion for the reason of the change In editors is based on whom the Advocate has announced to replace Woods . . .

I wrote on June 11, 1985, to Nell W. Anderson, President and Publisher of the Gospel Advocate, of my dissatisfaction. In part, I wrote:

“The appointment of Furman Kearley to the editorship of the Gospel Advocate is an indication of the future direction of the paper – a downward trend. His participation in the Joplin Summit in ’84 shows his spirit of compromise. This action is a slop in the face to all the faithful defenders of the faith who at one time held the editor’s pen for the Advocate but have gone on to their reward, What a sad day in Israel, the Philistine camp rejoices.

“This change in editorship has brought dark and ominous clouds upon the horizon. I, being neither prophet nor the son of a prophet, predict, due to this decision, that the Advocate’s influence and circulation will decrease and may even cause its demise” (the Informer [23 June 19851, published by the Shelbyville Road church in Indianapolis, IN).

We doubt the publisher of the Advocate will ever reveal the reason for removing brother Woods from the editor’s desk, but we are still of the opinion it was due to his opposition to the unity efforts being presently made with the Christian Church (Ibid. [4 August 19851, p. 3).

Response from DUB McCLISH:

quoted from The Edifier, Denton, Texas

Many of our families read The Gospel Advocate because our elders and I recommended it to you. A major reason we recommended it was because of our confidence in its editor, brother Guy N. Woods. Those who have read the June 6 issue realize that he has been replaced as editor, effective July 18. This startling move was made without consultation with or knowledge of brother Woods. No reason was given him for his demotion. It is obvious that an able-bodied and able-minded editor is not replaced unless a change in the direction of the paper is desired. I and many others (including our elders) have written a letter of concern to brother Neil Anderson, President of The Advocate, with a copy also sent to brother David McQuiddy, owner of The Advocate Company. I have encouraged dozens of others to do likewise. My letter, dated June 7, appears below:

Dear brother Anderson: I am writing to express my dismay, indeed, almost, my disbelief, in the news of brother Woods’ demotion, removal, firing, or whatever term best describes what took place to unseat him. In particular, I am concerned about the following factors:

1. This is a most crucial time relating to issues of far reaching consequences in the Lord’s church, particularly those of fellowship, unity, Biblical authority, etc. No one is better qualified to teach the truth on these matters than

brother Woods. Yet, at a time when his voice is sorely needed, you have silenced it, for all practical purposes.

2 Whether those brethren in the renewed “unity” efforts hod anything to do with the decision or not, it is most certain how they will interpret it and that they will use it in every possible way to their advantage. This will be interpreted by them and by others as complete disapproval of brother Woods’ altogether justifiable criticisms of the “Summit” meeting and its many evil fruits. I wonder, in fact, if this move was Intended to send such a message. I am not accusing, I am merely asking.

3. Brother Woods’ successor (brother Furman Keorley) has placed a cloud over his own judgment and stability in recent months by his statements at the Joplin “Summit” meeting. Also, he has lent his name, generally linked with doctrinal soundness through the years, to the many unsound and weak voices on the campus of Abilene Christian University (one of my alma mters). He has no real “track record” of much writing. . . . I cannot understand why a man of such proved scholarship, soundness and stability (as brother Woods) would be unceremoniously replaced with one who has much to prove to many of the Advocate’s readers.

I fear that you have made a crucial blunder that may prove to be fraught with the most far-reaching sad consequences to the cause that many of us would give our lives for. I shall be fervently praying that brother Kearley is equal to the task (The Edifier [27 June 1985], published by the church meeting at 312 Pearl St., in Denton, TX).

IRA Y. RICE: reprinted from Contending For the Faith

Many strange and not-so-wonderful things are transpiring behind the scenes among “us” these days — not the least of which comes the sudden announcement that Guy N. Woods is being replaced as editor of the Gospel Advocate by one Furman Kearley . . . .

And just who is Furman Kearley? Few of the brotherhood indeed ever heard of him until it was announced that he would be one of the featured speakers at the ill-famed, so-called “Restoration Summit” almost a year ago at Joplin, Missouri.

How Reliable Will “Old Reliable” Be Now?

For a great many years it has pleased the GospelAdvocate to refer to itself (and to be referred to) as the “Old Reliable.” If this still is their wish and intention, then why should Neil Anderson choose to replace one of brother Woods’ reliability with one whose chief claim to fame is that compromising dialogue between himself and Wayne Kilpatrick that was video-taped by Joe McDonald at Joplin.

That there can be no mistaking the compromising situation that now is being forced upon the Gospel Advocate, let us read the dialogue how Kearley and Kilpatrick would advocate fellowship with the Christian Church one more time. . . .

Was Woods Undermined By Alan Cloyd?

As near as we can judge, this replacement of brother I Woods as editor of the Advocate goes back to a conversation that Alan Cloyd, chief instigator of the Joplin Compromise, alleges he had with Anderson after Woods’ marvelous editorial “The Joplin Unity Meeting” appeared in the Advocate under the date of October 4, 1984.

To hear Cloyd tell it, he thinks that he did quite a number on Woods with Anderson. If so, would this explain Woods being replaced with one favorable to fellowshipping the Christian Church? (Contending For The Faith July 1985], p. 2).

Response from TOMMY J. HICKS: printed in The Handley Herald, Ft. Worth, TX

WHY? That question has been an ever present vexation to me since reading the statements published, by you and brother Woods, in the June 6 issue of the Gospel Advocate. Neither you nor brother Woods provided our readers with an explanation as to why a change in editors was being made. As President/Publisher of the Gospel Advocate and as a brother in Christ, you owe your readers that courtesy.

There were numerous implications in the two statements. None of those implications is calming. The most glaring and unsettling implication, one contained in both statements, was that the decision to change editors was made by someone other than brother Woods. Brethren closely associated with the Gospel Advocate have since confirmed this. Again, why was brother Woods removed from his position?

I can think of only three reasons why such a drastic action was taken. One reason could be that he was not capable of handling the job (because of old age, lack of literary talents, poor health, etc.). Everyone, who knows brother Woods (sound in mind and body) and the success of the Gospel Advocate with him at her helm, knows he is not only capable, but that he is beyond all doubt one of the most able editors in Christian journalism. A second reason might be that brother Woods has committed some grave offense. If so, without necessarily specifying the offense, your readers need to know if this was the case. However, unless brother Woods has done something seriously wrong, it would seem that a miscreant act has been perpetuated against him. A third possible reason for removing brother Woods from the editor’s chair is that you did not want to follow the course he was steering. I would remind you that brother Woods has only, but expertly, followed the some course as his noble predecessors.

It is because of editors such as brother Woods that the Gospel Advocate has become affectionately known as the “Old Reliable.” If the Gospel Advocate begins “advocating” both sides of every issue (viz. Firm Foundation under Reuel Lemmons), if the “Joplin Summit” philosophy, the Crossroads philosophy, or any other erroneous views find in the Gospel Advocate a platform from which to spread their heresy-then “Gospel” should be removed from her name. Furthermore, she will not be “Reliable” anymore.

Brother Anderson, I pray that you have not made a colossal mistake. Please limit the Advocate to the Gospel and its defense. Keep the “Old Reliable” reliable. If you do not, you will have given the cause of Christ the greatest blow of the century (The Handley Herald [3 July 1985], published by the church which meets at 3029 Handley Dr. in Ft. Worth, TX).

GARLAND ELKINS: The Getwell Reminder

It is a sad day in Zion that brother Woods is no longer editor of the Gospel Advocate (The Getwell Reminder (13 June 1985], p.2).

Rubel Shelley: The Ashwood Leaves

Rubel Shelly’s remarks indicate his feelings about the changes occurring among our liberal brethren.

There are some important and promising things happening in the journalistic field within our brotherhood. Image has begun under the editorship of Reuel Lemmons and is receiving rove reviews. It is a quality publication with the positive perspective on the future we all need to share.

Among older publications among us, there have been facelifts and staff changes . . . . The Gospel Advocate has just announced a change in editors, with Furman Kearley assuming this important post…. (The Ashwood Leaves [14 July 1985], published by the Ashwood church in Nashville, TN).

Our liberal brethren are moving further and further into the mainstream of Protestant denominationalism. Men like the late W.L. Totty and Guy N. Woods who once stood on the vanguard of liberalism and defended their liberal brethren in debate, find themselves in their later years working to slow down the liberalism which they help to create. Brother Woods and many other “conservative” liberals are writing like “anti’s” trying to close the flood gates which they helped to open. They are protesting congregations’ recreational involvement, the liberalism in their colleges, the Crossroads movement, fellowshipping the Christian Church, and other liberal movements. They can only succeed in one of two ways: (1) dividing the liberals into two camps; (2) slowing down the inevitable move further into the mainstream of Protestant denominationalism. Their future, as brother Vick put it, is “dark and ominous.”

We find no occasion to rejoice in these events. We use this occasion to remind each of us of the dangers of apostasy. There is no such thing as a “little liberalism.” It grows into a monster which destroys the New Testament church. Let the wise be warned.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 18, pp. 560-562
September 19, 1985