The discussion between Rev. J. W. Smith, of Benton,
Ark., and the editor of The Messenger will be held at Watermelon Creek
Baptist church, near Glennville, Tuesday and Wednesday, June 19 and 20.
The setting of the date was done too late for me to do much advertising.
Scores of people from a distance have expressed their intention of
attending, but, on such a short notice, will not be able to do so, I am
I have accepted all of Brother Smith's suggestions in
regard to the matter. I have tried for such a long time to get someone
to discuss certain matters with me, that I dared not suggest that we
take more time to advertise the meeting, for fear the debate might not
be held at all. so I accepted the date, although it is not what I
wanted. Also I have agreed to his suggestion that each speech be the
same night, and that each one be limited to thirty minutes. Further
agreements are that each morning session shall be at 10 A.M. and close
at noon, and that each afternoon session begin at 2 P.M. and last until
First Day-Tuesday, June 19th.
"The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, organized (built) His church during His personal ministry
on earth, and that church, so organized (built) has existed from that
time until the present."
"J. W. Smith affirms.
W. B. Screws denies."
Second Day-Wednesday, June 20th.
"The Scriptures teach that there is no hell to
which those who do not put their trust and belief in Jesus Christ, the
Son as God, will finally reach and there abide, being tormented
"J. W. Smith affirms.
W. B. Screws denies."
These propositions were accepted by me, just as
Brother Smith wrote them, except that the last word of the second
proposition was "eternally." I changed this to
"endlessly," feeling sure this was what he meant. So far
as I know, he made no objection to this change.
There was an insistent demand by many that the
discussion be held in Glennville. I had hoped to comply with this
demand. But the unexpectedly early arrival of Brother Smith, and
his wife to have the discussion so soon after his arrival, prevents
this. Also it leaves very little time for those at a distance to
get ready to attend, as they have been expecting the meeting to be in
I regret this, and urge you to make every effort to
EXHORTATION TO BROADNESS
"Our mouth is open toward you Corinthians,
your heart has been broadened. You are not distressed in us, yet
you are distressed in your own compassions. Now, as a recompense in
kind (I am saying this as to children), YOU also be
broadened". 2 Cor. 6:11-13.
Sectarianism, which means narrowness, was and is, one
of the curses of Christendom. Before becoming a saint, Paul had
been a member of a sect-he acknowledged it. Sectarianism found its way
into the church during the ministry of the apostle, but he was
continually warning against it. He labored earnestly to correct
this fault in the church at Corinth, when he discovered that the saints
were about to become Paulinians, Appolonians and Christians.
However, he could see that sects among them would work one good-the
disqualified ones would become apparent. But sectarianism was
wrong, and he warned against it.
In giving instructions to Titus, who was to
constitute elders to suit each city, Paul said "A sectarian man,
after one and a second admonition refuse."-Titus 3:10. If this
had been done-but why speculate? It was not done. The sectarian man
had no standing so far as Paul was concerned.
None except a sectarian person has any standing in
Christendom today. "Does he belong to our
denomination?" Is the first question that is asked.
The King James Version of the Bible, translated by
those who considered sectarianism as the most important of all things,
concealed the truth, by using the word "heresy," for sect, and
"heretic" for sectarian.
Sectarianism violates the broadness of fellowship
that the Father gives to all saints, and forces them to be narrow. In
some cases, perhaps, it smothers it so successfully that the saint is
satisfies with a restricted fellowship. But, normally, the heart of the
saint is broadened. He feels ashamed to yield to the narrowness and
non-fellowship that his sect imposes upon him. It causes distress. The
Baptist must fellowship Baptists ahead of other saints, but he rarely
feels happy in doing so. The Methodist must act as if his brother
Methodists are nearer to God than any other people, but his compassions
are broader than his creed, and distress him. The Presbyterian must
prefer other Presbyterians, but when he listens to the promptings of his
heart, he knows he is living a lie, and so on. This is normally the
Paul recognized that the HEARTS of the Corinthian
saints were broadened. He knew they were distressed in their
compassions. What they needed, was to follow their hearts, and become
broadened themselves. This is why he admonished, "YOU be
Sectarianism in Corinth had not reached the open
rupture that we see everywhere today. No doubt they all-Paulinians,
Cephians, Apollonian and Christians-met at the same place to worship.
But members of each sect refused to show fellowship for members of other
sects. Or, at least, they were expected and required to refuse this
Was this sectarian condition the reason why the
church, in its organic form, had become a place where there were
unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness? See 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
Probably so. What was more natural than that each sect should try
to augment its members, even if it had to take in those who gave no
evidence of grace? This is why Paul, from this time forward, never said
"Come in," but said emphatically, "COME OUT!" In its
early days, no doubt, the church had been organized, to pattern after
the Jerusalem church. Paul now saw this was a curse. Organization meant,
ultimately, sectarianism. He knew the hearts of the saints were
broadened; he desired that the saints themselves be broadened, in
response to their own hearts. This could not be done on the inside.
Therefore he would have them to come out.
The unorganized, non-sectarian work with which I have
the happy privilege to be connected, offers opportunity for every saint
to serve and worship God in a way that he is free from distress. There
are many who are sick of the restrictions of denominationalism, and long
for a fellowship as broad as the sphere of saints. Under my ministry,
and that of many others who are free from sectarianism, God has led many
saints out into the open field of freedom. Ask any one of them; he will
tell you he is happier than he ever was while wearing the shackles of
In our work and worship, we do not claim that we know
it all. We encourage scripture research. If a fresh truth is discovered
we are free to accept it. Saints who worship with us are not required to
accept it. If they refuse it entirely, this does not destroy our
fellowship for them. We make no effort to force anyone. Our fellowship
is based on conduct-not on doctrine.
In Georgia we call our assemblies "churches of
the saints." This is a scriptural name. But we do not try to force
it on others. In some other states those who believe with us along the
lines mentioned above, call their assemblies "classes." While
we prefer the scriptural name, we make no fuss over what they call their
assemblies. We believe in freedom.
"God is not for turbulence, but peace, as in all
the churches of the saints." 1 Cor.14:32. An unorganized meeting,
where each one is free to believe as he sees fit, and where fellowship
is not disturbed by the fact that not all see alike, cannot have
turbulence. There is nothing but peace for such an assembly. But an
organization, where there are certain ones in authority, where there is
an iron-clad creed that violates the consciences of some of the members,
and where there are certain ones continually seeking to
"discipline" those they do not like, is a hot bed of
turbulence. If such an organization has peace, it is to be wondered
We make no demands on saints. We do not even demand
that they sever their connection with sectarian orders. We know that
many of them have no use for the "churches" where their
"membership" is, except as places of social enjoyment. If they
can get this, let them have it. They certainly do not find rest of
spirit there. To find this and to hear the truth preached, they come to
But it grieves us to see many saints cramped,
distressed, because they are kept from expressing their fellowship for
other saints, and are not allowed to serve God in communion with people
who are not of their sectarian order. To such we should say, "Your
hearts are broadened. You are distressed in your compassions. YOU be
I was in a meeting where the preacher was one with
whom I had enjoyed sweet fellowship in other years. In this meting he
treated me as if I might have been a criminal. Going to him after the
meeting had closed, I said, "I'm sorry for you. It was not in your
heart to treat me as you did. And because you did treat me that way, you
are distressed. You are in bondage. Your masters told you to do as you
have done. If you will go to one of my meetings, I am free to treat you
as a gentleman and a saint. Praise God, I am free from this
He smiled, a slickly smile and replied, "Yes
this bondage is awfully painful." His heart was broadened. He was
distressed in his compassions. There are many such.
I said we do not even demand that saints leave the
sectarian orders. But we do advise it. They can hardly be free while
they remain in them, unless they can become entirely unconcerned as to
what may be the "disciplinary" measures such an organization
might take against them. I once thought that being "out of the
church" would be a calamity worse than death. I have found that it
gives such happiness that there is not enough money to hire me to go
The rulers of the sectarian organization expect the
members to look upon the order as the temple of God. This was one thing
that was sadly the matter at Corinth. So, Paul told them to "Come
out," he explained, "YOU are the temple of God." Not the
organization, but the saint, is God's temple.
Is your heart broadened, to do that which your order
will not allow? Are you in distress because of it? I implore you,
"You be broadened." To do this, it is better to "Come
out," unless you can, while remaining completely ignore its
AT OZARK ALABAMA
Recently I was privileged to hold a very pleasant
series of meetings in Ozark, Ala. I was pastor there when I was
"orthodox." Several of those who were members of the church
I served took an enthusiastic part in the meetings.