Hugh’s News & Views (A. G. Freed)

A. G. FREED

Arvy Glenn Freed was born August 3, 1863 in Saltillo, Indiana. His parents were Joseph and Elisa Hayes Freed and his mother was a relative of President Rutherford B. Hayes. He became a Christian early in life, but the date of his baptism into Christ does not seem to be known. Soon after obeying the gospel he began to preach.

A. G. Freed was educated in the common schools of Indiana and graduated with distinction from Valparaiso University. In 1889 he moved to Essary Springs, TN to help start Southern Tennessee Normal College. He began to preach and to debate extensively throughout west Tennessee and north Mississippi. On June 1, 1895 he married Cora Belle Baynham of Lafayette, KY, one of his former students. Two children were born to this union—Arvy Baynham Freed on August 10, 1898, and Martha Belle Freed Primme who lived for several years in New York City but whose date of birth I have not been able to identify. Arvy Baynham Freed lived only fifteen months and died on November 13, 1899. The baby is buried in Henderson, TN.

In 1895 Freed moved to Henderson, TN to become president of West Tennessee Christian College. One of his students was Nicholas Brodie Hardeman. Four years later, the name of the school was changed to Georgie Robertson Christian College, to honor the daughter of a generous donor to the school. A. G. Freed continued his extensive preaching and debating schedule during these years.

In 1906 Freed moved for a brief period of time to Denton, TX to be the President of Southwestern Christian College, but in 1907 he returned to Henderson, and in 1908 he and N. B. Hardeman, his former student, established the National Teachers Normal and Business College. In 1919 the name of the school was changed to Freed-Hardeman College. Today it is a thriving Christian university. In 1923, with the college out of debt, brother Freed severed his connections with the school and moved to Nashville, TN to teach at David Lipscomb College and to serve as that institution’s Vice-President and Principal of the High School.

H. Leo Boles, who at two different times served as President of David Lipscomb College, said of brother Freed: “In the field of polemics Brother Freed had but few equals and possibly no superiors. Brother Freed was not militant in nature, neither was he inclined to disputing. He debated because he saw the need of discussion, and was not afraid to defend the church or the truth of God as revealed in the Bible against any opposition. No man had greater courage when armed with the truth than did A. G. Freed, and no man wrought greater victories for the truth in discussion than did Brother Freed. He was kind, but emphatic, in his discussion. His great love for the truth of God led him to have no mercy on error. The church of our Lord in many places has rejoiced through the victories won in discussion by Brother Freed” (Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1932, pages 448-451).

On the polemic platform A. G. Freed met such stalwart Baptist debaters as Ben Bogard, J. N. Hall, and I. N. Penick. (Some of these—Bogard and Hall—he met more than once in debate). He met the well-known west Tennessee Methodist preacher and debater, R. H. Pigue, in seven debates, each lasting six days, for a total of 42 days in honorable discussion of biblical truth. Some of the propositions they discussed were: The Bible authorizes infant baptism (Pigue affirmed; Freed denied); The Bible teaches that sprinkling or pouring water upon a candidate is baptism (Pigue affirmed; Freed denied); The Bible teaches that immersion in water to a penitent believer is baptism (Freed affirmed; Pigue denied [Note: Is it hard to
see how a sane man could deny this proposition since it amounts to saying that immersion in water to a penitent believer is NOT baptism, hf]); The Bible teaches that baptism to a penitent believer is for, or order to, the remission of sins (Freed affirmed; Pigue denied). During the course of his life brother Freed engaged in scores of debates with denominationalists of various hues and stripes. Following his debate with Ben Bogard in Little Rock, AR in 1928 a Baptist preacher was baptized into Christ because he said he learned the truth during that debate.

In 1930 Freed’s book Sermons Chapel Talks and Debates was published. I have a cherished copy of this book in my possession, bearing (I am told) an original autograph of brother Freed. It is from the library of the late gospel preacher, A. E. Emmons, Jr. The book was a gift by Toni Emmons Kelley as a token of appreciation for the part I had in her brother Wayne’s funeral. Wayne was a friend for over 57 years (from the time we met as 15 year olds at Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, AL until his death in 2010). Wayne and Toni were the children of A. E. Emmons, Jr. who studied under brother Freed at David Lipscomb College. Brother Emmons was a great admirer of A. G. Freed, and on the back page of the book under the date of “6/29/31” he had penned the following words: “This book has been read within the past month with intense interest by its owner. I believe it represents a great life of study and service by the author. My personal appreciation for him has been multiplied. Untold benefits on some of the most vital questions have been gained. I am deeply indebted for this privilege. Anthony E. Emmons.”

In the book brother Freed addressed such subjects as Our Thinking; God and His Word; The Bible; How to Read the Bible; The Old and the New; Faith; The Beginning; The Millennium; The Grace of God; The Doctrine vs. Doctrines; Apostasy; Infant Baptism, and several other vital themes. The debate propositions with R. H. Pigue (mentioned above) are reproduced verbatim from the book as they appear on page 228. The last two pages of the book set forth a striking portrayal of “Bible Versus Baptist Doctrine,” written in connection with Freed’s debate with Ben Bogard in Little Rock in 1928.

A. G. Freed passed from this life on November 11, 1931 due to cancer of the liver. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville, TN. C. P. Roland, longtime administrator and teacher at Freed-Hardeman College/University, described brother Freed as “a Bible scholar and natural teacher.” H. Leo Boles said of him: “Brother Freed was an educated, Christian gentleman. He was gentle in nature; he had a poetic nature; he loved poetry and music. He was humble and kind; few could excel him in gentleness and kindness. It seems that he was a very Chesterfield in courtesy. He had the polish that graces one in society and makes one a charming companion and friend. He was loyal to the right [what was right, hf] and to his friends.” (Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, cited above).

Hugh Fulford, January 14, 2020

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