By Earl E. Robertson
Brother John Waddey of Knoxville, Tennessee had an article in the September 1975 issue of First Century Christian entitled, ‘Anatomy Of An Anti.” Never in my life have I read so few lines with so many Unprovable Assertions. In fact, I am somewhat surprised that the editor of that journal printed it! However, usually every Naaman hangs on his own gallows-the gallows prepared for others (Esther 7:10). Brother Waddey says the Anti is an “alarmist, fearing that the church is apostatizing,” Again, he writes, “they are trying to save the church from this imagined apostasy.” His third charge is, “most all antis suffer from spiritual false pride.” His fourth, “they always suffer from a legalistic attitude toward their religion. They are more interested in rules than in the soul of men.” Again, he says, “the anti mind is addicted to mote hunting.” His ninth charge is, “Anti brethren are strongly opinionated.” Number eleven, “all antis love to forbid the church from practicing some good work or method of doing God’s will. It matters not to them that God has not prohibited it.” Number twelve, “when a man is of the anti bent he will sooner or later be involved in a factious strife within the church.” He additionally asserts that among the antis “funds are generally expended in attacking non-conforming brethren through radio broadcasts and journals, Rather than evangelize, they work as parasites.” In blind prejudice he exclaims, “they would rather see a congregation, or an entire mission effort, destroyed, rather than allow it to exist without accepting their views. This is true also of congregations here in the States.”
The virulent sayings in these worthless charges made by this brother cannot be proven true by him, against these brethren who demand Bible authority for congregational function, and he surely knows it. These are mere assertions made by him and he offers no proof whatsoever to substantiate them! The treacherous and serpentine efforts of Ahab to implicate Elijah as “he that troubleth Israel” is as reasonable and true as Brother Waddey’s wile, insidious charges (1 Kings 18:17ff). His charges remind one of the legendary kings of Corinth, Sisyphus, who, condemned to roll a heavy stone up a steep hill in Hades only to have it roll down again as it nears the top, He chooses to blame the wrong people for his problems, but we will not sit idly by and allow them to pass. Why did he not name someone and give us an account of his “anti” work? It was much easier for him to do what he did. His trouble is not created by those who call for Bible authority for congregational action, but, like Ahab, “thou and thy congregation. They did succeed in leading astray three families. The congregation is determined to carry on the Lord’s work, but they need help. They are surrounded by anti-congregations and preachers that are working unceasingly to destroy them. For over a year they have been trying to find a faithful preacher to move there and work with them. Is there a sound congregation somewhere that would send a strong preacher to help save this beleagured congregation? Is there a brother reading this who would accept the challenge? The Oil Valley brethren can supply about half of a family man’s salary. Monticello is a lovely, quiet town of about 5,000 in a farming area. It is an ideal place for a family to live. If you are interested in this needy mission work, please write or call John Waddey” (Gospel Advocate, Jan. 30, 1975, p. 79).
Though this “beleagured church” is “surrounded” by congregations and preachers who are working unceasingly, John declares it is a “Mission work.” Is he not the man “expending funds attacking the non-conforming brethren?” Is he not identified here in as “anti-bent”? Brother John, Paul is asking: “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Rom. 2:21). Would not this man rather see all these socalled anti churches” die if they do not accept the views of no rules”? Hopefully, the digressions of these brethren will be partial means of causing their, restoration (cf. Jer. 2:19).
Father’s house” are the troublers, said Elijah. Brother Waddey had the choice of honestly stating the position held by many Christians that the church of Christ is sufficient for the accomplishment of all work God gave it to do without its subsidization of human organizations to the performing of this work, and then showing by the word of God what is wrong with; or, making a great number of unprovable charges without the slightest trace of evidence to substantiate such. He chose the latter and subterfuge shows in every word!
His article smacks spiritual criminality. It reveals no understanding or acceptance of the fact that all actions of churches of Christ must be circumscribed by the word of God. He belittles “rules”. (divine authority), asserting that souls can be saved from sin apart from them. The power of God to save souls is the gospel of Christ and it is the only “rule” by which salvation is offfered to sinners. He would have us think the name of Christ is unimportant. But salvation is offered only in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:11,12). The “rules” by which this is offered, Brother Waddey, are “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). None can be saved without obeying these! Or can they? “Name” comes from nomos, and is defined, “In the New Testament a command, law; and 1. of any law whatsoever: Rom. 3:27; a law or rule producing a state approved of God, i.e. by the observance of which we are approved of God.” Men are made right with God through the name (law, authority) of Christ. Guidelines for salvation, Christian behaviour, and church action are essential. Without rules for action (individual or congregational) no action could ever be unruly. Yet, the word of God says, “Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Phil. 3:16). Again, the apostle says, “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).
Beleaguered Church Needs Help
Let us see what further this brother has written: “Beleaguered church needs help. For the last two years I have been associated with the church at Oil Valley, near Monticello, Ky. They have a lovely new building and number about forty in attendance. In 1974 the anticooperation brethren tried to take over this congregation. They did succeed in leading astray three families. The congregation is determined to carry on the Lord’s work, but they need help. They are surrounded by anti-congregations and preachers that are working unceasingly to destroy them. For over a year they have been trying to find a faithful preacher to move there and work with them. Is there a sound congregation somewhere that would send a strong preacher to help save this beleaguered congregation? Is there a brother reading this who would accept the challenge? The Oil Valley brethren can supply about half a family man’s salary. Monticello is a lovely, quiet town of about 5,000 in a farming area. If you are interested in this needy mission work, please write or call John Waddey” (Gospel Advocate, Jan. 30, 1975, p. 79).
Though this “beleaguered church” is “surrounded” by congregation and preachers who are working unceasingly, John declares it is a “Mission work.” Is he not the man “expending funds attaching the non-conforming brethren?” Is he not identified here in as “anti-bent”? Brother John, Paul is asking: “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Rom. 2:21). Would not this man rather see these so-called “anti churches” die if they do not accept the views of “no rules”? Hopefully, the digressions of these brethren will be partial mans of causing their restoration (cf. Jer. 2:19).
Oil Valley Known By Me
The Oil Valley church is not unknown to me. I lived in Monticello for years and drove out to Oil Valley early Sunday mornings and preached. I know what I then preached, and I also know that those brethren asked me to return for meetings after I moved out of state, and 1 know what I preached in those meetings! In those days I knew what those brethren believed, if they believed what they often said to me, and I have no doubt concerning their honesty. They, having no services on Sunday evening, came to Monticello. They were respected and godly saints. Many of them are now gone from their labors. God bless their memory. In later years I have been called back for funerals of some of those saints-men who did the work of the Lord and whom I loved as dearly as any Christians I have ever known. I have been often times a guest in their homes and believe that I knew them and that they knew me. What Brother Waddey saw in his “Anatomy” was not what he thought he saw: his obsession for congregational actions without “rules” simply burst forth in this assertive vision he poured out upon a suffering brotherhood. In these words of Jesus, we say: “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee” (Lk. 19:22).
This church got itself a “strong preacher” as Waddey begged for in the Advocate article. As to his strength the record speaks for itself. See if the record does not reveal the fact of a “flip-flop” from church of Christ to Christian Church; from Christian Church to church of Christ! See further if some who have come to the aid of that “beleaguered church” see nothing wrong with instrumental music in worship. Yes, the record speaks for itself, Brother Waddey. The “attack (of) non-conforming brethren” through a journal (First Century Christian) is “parasitic” indeed! Brother John tells us the “antis” are willing to practice deceit in order to grab control of a congregation. I wonder what produced the change at Oil Valley? The Oil Valley agree with the stand set forth in Waddey’s article, which position it did not hold a few years ago, who and what brought about this change? Who taught Oil Valley it was “obligated to separate” itself from brethren? Brother Waddey, I remember when there was no such separation! The separation of Oil Valley from the other brethren in Wayne County came after John Waddy went there and became involved in “factious strife” within the Oil Valley church! Indeed, the very crimes he seeks to lay to the “Anti’s” charge are his own – his very own! Shame, shame, my brother!
Is Waddey An Anti?
Writing in the October 1975 issue of the First Century Christian, page 8, Brother Waddy directs some thoughts to “Christian Colleges and Church Budgets.” He loathes the very idea of churches’ contributing from their treasuries to the generaf support of our “Christian Colleges.” He tells us that the question as to whether churches should do this is a “perennial question,” Then he says, “To introduce this (church support to the schools, EER) into our brotherhood would most surely trigger a fight and a corisequent division. This should keep us from such a trend. Surely the peace and welfare of the church is more important than getting the colleges into the church treasuries.” He concludes his article saying, “May we not Jeopardize a harmonious and well-working relationship by an unwise and questionable attempt to put the colleges into the church budget.”
Is Brother John this far behind firne? Where has he been all his life? Brother Waddey, the question of churches’ supporting colleges is no more “perennial” than the acutal church support of them has been and is. Don’t you read what your brethren write on this matter? Churches do not conceal the fact that they are engaged in support of the Colleges-David Lipscomb and Freed-Hardeman are good examples.
“Ready Unto Every Good Work”
We call to Brother Waddey’s attention evidence from these two secular institutions which affirm the practice he alleges does not exist in fact, and the testimony of churches saying they do practice regular support to the schools. In a letter mailed out to churches all over the country Brother Batsell Barrett Baxter said, “Enclosed is a copy of a newspaper ad of the Charlotte Avenue church here in Nashville. I would particularly appreciate your taking the time to read this ad and especially my letter of appeal to the church of Christ. For over half a century this great Nashville church has contributed each year to our program of teaching the Bible. They have done this under the scrIptural authority of Titus 3:1, which admonishes Christians ‘to be ready unto every good work.’ Many congregations are now helping to defray the cost of teaching the Bible to the more than 3200 Lipscomb students every school day. Some give on a monthly basis, some by an annual contribution, and others give the entire contribution on a particular Sunday. I would like to ask you to seriously to consider helping us in one of these three ways as we endeavor to do this crucially important work. if the Christian colleges are to survive-and to remain Christian-the support of the church is absolutely necessary.” (Emphasis mine, EER). In the “President’s Report to Board of Directors” Athens Clay Pullias, President of Lipscomb, said their financial plans were to “secure in gifts from congregations $350,000, or more, each year to support the teaching of the Bible.” The Finanicial Report of the Central church in Nashville, April 30, 1976, under “Missionary” work, says it gave for that month 5100.00 to David Lipscomb College Bible Department; 550.00 to Columbia Christian College; $25.00 to Western Christian College. The Herald of Truth got 550.00, Brother Waddey, this is all “Missionary work.” This has the same character as your “Missionary work” at Oil Valley! Your objection to this church work is not, because you “suffer from spiritual false pride,” is it?
Many letters of appeal to the churches go out from Freed-Hardeman. In a letter, signed by Jess M. Wilcoxson, Director of Development, we quote: “In order that Freed-Hardeman College niay ccritinue to function in the role for whence it has endeared itself to the brotherhood, it is necessary that interested congregations be informed of the ways and means at their disposal in which they can continue to su.-pport the good work of Christian education.” He further writes, “As one of a thousand churches being asked to coiltribute $100.00 between now and January 1, 1972, you will be joining forces with other interested congregations in the furthering of the great cause of Christian education at Freed-Hardeman.” Brother E. Claude Gardner, President of this College, asked the church I worship with, in a letter dated November 14, 1975: “May I request that you join with other congregations in supporting the Bible department at Freed-Hardeman College on the FIFTH SUNDAY OF THIS MONTH.” He writes of the result of this appeal in another begging letter, February 2, 1976, saying, “We were pleased to have some good congregations respond to our request the last fifth Sunday,” Brother Waddey, do you really not know that this is the common practice of churches you style “the main stream?” I am not a prophet, but I do know some history, and 1 know that if this brother is sincere in this he is in for an inelegant awakening-by his own crowd!
His Reasons For His Antipathy
In a Johnny-Come-Lately fashion he says, “While we encourage loyalty to all faithfully operated schools, this must never lead us to misuse the Lord’s money.” He tells us the church support of Colleges “is not the God ordained work of the church.” To give such support he believes its “means to divert funds given for these high and holy pufposes (evangelism, benevolence and edification of the saints, Eph. 4:11-13) to such mundane things as athletics, social programs, dramatics, and a host of similar things that inhere in a college’s program. We do not condemn these things as such, only the Lord’s money being used to finance them.” So, with this brother, it is a matter of misusing the Lord’s money and that he must condemn the practice!
Will this “negative view” held by this brother lead him to ultimately “break fellowship with the main stream of the church and form a splinter body?” Should I mishandle the truth in this article as he so falsely labeled us in his it would be this way: (quoting him) “They are usually labeled anti brethren because of their negative views. They come in many varieties: antiBible class; anti-women teachers; anti-multiple cups; anti-1c,cated preachers; anti-orphan home; anticooperation,” and anti-education! Brother Waddy knows we are not opposed to orphans having homes and churches cooperating; and I know he is not opposed to education. He believes there is no Bible authority to use the “Lord’s money” to support human colleges, and we equally believe such. He quotes both B. Baxter and N. B. Hardeman and they both are on record saying church support to Colleges and Orphans Homes stand or fall together, because both are human institutions.
Is Brother Waddey’s anti-ism to be understood in the light of his article “Anatomy Of An Anti?” Are we to think of him as an “alarmist, fearing that the church is apostatizing”; that he is “trying to save the church from this imagined apostacy”; that he is “suffering from spiritual false pride, thinking. very highly of his knowledge, spirituality and loyalty to God, while discounting the same in other brethren who do riot see things his way”; that he is “suffering from a legalistic attitude toward his religion, that he is more interested in rules than in souls of men (after all, church support to the schools is said to be ‘carrying out the Great Commission’)”; that his “concept of religion is primarily a code of negatives and prohibitions”; that his “negativism results in a lack of vital love and concern for fellow-men and even fellow-saints”; that his “mind is addicted to mote hunting”; that his affliction with antiism has caused him spiritual ailment and trouble “distinguishing between traditions and cultural practices in the church and God-given Biblical principles”; that he is “strongly opinionated”; that his “anti philosophy affects his method of Bible study”; that his being an anti makes him “love to forbid the church from practicing some good work or method of doing God’s will” – that “it matters not to him that God has not prohibited it”; that being “anti bent he will sooner or later be involved in a factious stfife within the church”; that he is “so consumed with his ‘issue’ that he does not have time to seek out and teach lost sinners the gospel”; that he is “heartless towards mission work” and will “practice deceit” to have his way in this matter, contending that he is “loyal” to the Lord? Yet, in his condemnation of church support to schools, he begs of his position, “Nor should a brother be judged an adversary or an enemy who expresses a negative view of a controversial subject.” Brother!, that is exactly what you did in your article one month before!
It appears that Brother Waddey is willing to do the same thing in the church over congregational support to colleges that he did over congregation support to human Orphan Homes and the Sponsoring type church cooperation-split. His work at Oil Valley resulted in a division there (they were all together until he got there), and he says of the church support to the schools, “To introduce this into our brotherhood would most surely trigger a fight and a consequent division.” Waddey has to have his way in going (onward, 2 John 9) and coming (opposing congregational support to the schools). Why can he not see his inconsistency? The right to support one man-made institution with the “Lord’s money” is the same right to support the other, Brother Waddey. This is exactly what the “giants” before you and the ones with you have said and are saying, What Bible do you have for one but do not have for the other? Why is one scriptural but the practice of the other is unscriptural and grounds for “a fight and consequent division”?
The great brotherhood can now wait for our brother to give a scriptural solution to the issues that so acutely press upon it. He only wants his cake and eat it also.
Truth Magazine XX: 30, pp. 471-474
July 29, 1976