Hugh’s News & Views (. . . Spiritual Sword)


The July 2020 issue of The Spiritual Sword is a sterling edition of the quarterly publication having as its theme, “A Handy Guide To Pioneer Preachers.” Significantly, this issue completes a full fifty-one years that The Spiritual Sword has been in publication, all under the oversight of the elders of the Getwell Church of Christ in Memphis, TN. It also marks thirty-one years that Alan Highers has been at the editorial helm of this outstanding journal.

The July issue is a veritable storehouse of interesting, informative, sobering, and relevant material on the lives and labors of a number of great leaders and preachers in the movement to return to apostolic, undenominational, New Testament Christianity. In twelve articles the lives of twelve men are dealt with in much detail. Another article provides short sketches of five great men.

In this week’s issue of “Hugh’s News & Views” I provide quotations from each of the articles, in the hope that they will whet my readers’ appetites to delve further into the work of these noble men. I will give the name of the pioneer preacher and then the name of the author of the article, followed by a quotation from the article.

ALEXANDER CAMPBELL (Alan Highers, Editorial): “Alexander Campbell was a powerful and eloquent preacher, but he was more. He was an editor, writer, publisher, postmaster, farmer, debater, college founder and president, and a delegate to the 1829 Virginia Constitutional Convention. James Madison, a former president of the United States, described him as the ‘ablest and most original expounder of the Scriptures I have ever heard.’ ” / “As for Campbell himself, he steadfastly denied being the founder or head of any religious body. His life was devoted to ‘the restoration of the ancient order of things.’ He believed religious division could be ended by a return to the church revealed in the New Testament. He urged men and women to leave sectarianism and to be simply and only Christians and members of the church found upon the pages of the New Testament.”

THOMAS CAMPBELL (David R. Kenney): “In fact the restoration principle is rooted in the work and word of God—the ultimate Restorationist! The church of Christ did not begin with the Campbells (or Stone)!” / “While these men had their faults, they pursued the divine path clearing away brush, thorns, briars, and other obstacles. May we learn from them and go forward rather than back into the thicket of denominationalism from whence they came!”

BARTON W. STONE (Glenn Colley): “The role of restoration leaders such as Campbell, Smith, and Stone, relative to the church of Christ, was not that of founders. Few among us know more than a passing familiarity with these names. Perhaps this is a good thing, given the propensity that liberal pundits have had to attribute the development of the New Testament church to the Restoration Movement.”

“RACCOON” JOHN SMITH (Steve Higginbotham): “Whether discovered within or without the church, divisive sects were unashamedly opposed by Smith. However, the attitudes of many brethren today stand in stark contrast to the attitude possessed by Smith. We live in a ‘coexist’ culture. Our prevailing mindset applauds tolerance, defends diversity, celebrates plurality, and ironically is intolerant of any who would disagree.”

WALTER SCOTT (Dan Jenkins): “One technique he used was to arrive at a new place and gather the children in that area and talk to them about the Bible. He would ask them to hold up a hand and pointing to each finger talk of faith, repentance, baptism, the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He would drill them until they knew all five parts. He then told the children to go home and tell their parents that he would be preaching the same gospel that evening.”

MOSES E. LARD (Phil Sanders): “Lard loved a good debate. He loved to get into a discussion, and the hotter the better. However, he held that two conditions are essential to make even controversy lovely: ‘Let the end sought be truth, and the Spirit shown be Christian.” / “Lard felt that all error was hateful to God and should be exterminated.”

J. W. MCGARVEY (Gary McDade): “The destruction of the Bible by denying its credibility would have meant the destruction of Christianity itself, and although many people do not realize it today, J. W. McGarvey literally stood at the forefront of world scholarship in defending it against the raging rationalists of the German Tubingen School. The debt owed him for his work in this field virtually is incalculable.” / “McGarvey stated with urgency in 1868, ‘The question of instrumental music has become a serious one. There are many who favor it, and will listen to no argument against it.’ ”

TOLBERT FANNING (Gary Hampton): “We can learn several lessons from Tolbert Fanning’s life. First, let the Bible be your sole guide. Second, form your thinking slowly, taking in as much information as possible before making a decision. Third, love the lost. Fourth, recognize teaching can open doors. Fifth, live life to the fullest.”

DAVID LIPSCOMB (Allen Webster): “In 1899, Lipscomb said, ‘Nothing in life has given me more pain in heart than the separation from those I have heretofore worked with and loved.’ In 1906 he informed the U. S. religious census that churches of Christ and Christian Churches were separate. This acknowledged a division that had been developing for twenty-five to fifty years.” / “The obvious distinction was instrumental music, but the basic difference was hermeneutics. For churches of Christ, any practice not included in the New Testament was impermissible. Christian Churches saw practices not expressly forbidden as acceptable.”

T. B. LARIMORE (Hugh Fulford): “Of brother Larimore, David Lipscomb wrote: ‘He has sometimes commended the severest slashing I have done. He was a great friend of F. D. Srygley in his lifetime. Srygley was as different from Larimore as one could be on the point of discussion. To discuss was the joy of Srygley’s heart. Larimore never discussed or debated, cannot do it; but, as I happen to know, he very frequently encouraged Srygley in his discussion and furnished him facts and materials for it.’ ” / “He was a loyal member of the church of Christ and a kind, gracious, gentle, faithful, and persuasive preacher of the gospel of Christ.”

F. D. SRYGLEY (Alan Highers): “It is truly remarkable how much F. D. Srygley was able to accomplish in a short life that was plagued by tragedy and illness. Any time you see the name of F. D. Srygley, do not be afraid to open your eyes and read. You will be glad you did.”

F. B. SRYGLEY (Hugh Fulford): “When F. B. Srygley was born Alexander Campbell was still living, and he lived into the first year of B. C. Goodpasture’s editorship of the Gospel Advocate. Anyone wanting to know the history of the restoration movement (the movement to go back to the Bible and be the church set forth on its divine pages), especially in the South, needs to study the life and work of F. B. Srygley.”

SHORT SKETCHES OF GREAT MEN (David Pharr): Jacob Creath, Jr.: “As a child Creath developed deep reverence for the Scriptures. In later life he could say, ‘I never saw a day when I did not desire to be good and to please God, My Maker.’ ” Benjamin Franklin: “Franklin preached in the language of the people and drew large audiences. ‘He had the happy faculty of expressing both orally and in writing his thoughts in a clear, logical way.’ He was first of all an evangelist, proclaiming the simplicity of the plan of salvation and the apostolic pattern.” T. W. Brents: “[H.
Leo] Boles gave the following quote about Brent’s effectiveness as a debater: ‘I unhesitatingly pronounce him the most invincible logician, the greatest scriptural reasoner, and the most merciless debater I ever heard. He was absolutely without mercy toward error, but not so toward men; a man of charity toward human weakness and frailty, but woe to the man who stood before him to champion an unscriptural position.” James A. Harding: “In 1891 Harding joined with David Lipscomb to establish Nashville Bible School (later David Lipscomb College/University). Harding was aware of the danger of such an institution falling into other hands and becoming ‘a curse to the cause of Christ.’ He knew the history of schools such as Bethany, how their original purpose had been derailed by liberalism.” E. A. Elam: “In 1906 he was elected to the board of Nashville Bible School and became the Superintendent (Boles-Choate 126, 134). He knew and cherished the ideals of David Lipscomb and was always anxious that the college remain loyal to the original principles of Christian education. In his sunset years he was still reminding the Lipscomb Board of Directors of the importance of Bible knowledge and true spirituality (Ibid. 197f).”

Seventeen great pioneer preachers of the gospel! Seventeen insightful statements about them and their work! I hope these will whet your appetite to read the entire July 2020 issue of The Spiritual Sword. If you are not a subscriber to this superb quarterly, I urge you to subscribe today. You can do so for $8.00 per year. Write to the Getwell Church of Christ / 1511 Getwell Road / Memphis, TN 38111.

Hugh Fulford, June 16, 2020