THE WIT AND WISDOM OF F. B. SRYGLEY
One of the great men in the movement to restore, defend, and maintain original, first century, undenominational Christianity was an unusual personality by the name of Filo Bunyan Srygley (1859-1940). In my “News & Views” of March 28, 2018, I included a sketch of his marvelous life, along with that of his brother, F. D. Srygley, and their mentor, T. B. Larimore. That sketch also appeared in my book Restoration News and Views: Plea, Principles, Perspectives, & Personalities , Hester Publications, Henderson, TN. The July 2020 edition of The Spiritual Sword likewise carried an article by me about this great Christian man.
In his monumental work, The Warrior from Rock Creek: Life, Times, and Thoughts of F. B. Srygley 1859-1940, Earl Kimbrough, an excellent student and writer of restoration history, has given us the definitive biography of F. B. Srygley. Brother Kimbrough was born and reared in the same part of Alabama as F. B. Srygley and spent fifty years researching and writing the book. It consists of 627 pages, plus an extensive bibliography and index. On receipt of my autographed copy of the book on September 24, 2008, I spent the next two weeks engrossed in the reading of this magnificent account of a magnificent life. I was sad when the book ended because it was as if a long visit with an old friend had ended.
In 2019 brother Kimbrough produced another fine book titled My Way of Thinking: Wit and Wisdom of F. B. Srygley. This book consists of well researched short and pithy quotations from the pen of Srygley during his half century of writing for the Gospel Advocate, along with some excerpts from his writing in the Senior Gospel Quarterly, 1931. To give my readers some insight into the wit and wisdom of this marvelous man, I will provide a number of quotations from this book. The date of the Gospel Advocate article from which the quotation is taken appears at the end of each quotation. As will be noted in a number of the quotations, brother Srygley had a crystal clear concept of the biblical and undenominational nature of the church of the New Testament. Sadly, this clarity is lacking among many modern members of the church.
“The church that the New Testament talks about is not a denomination or a party in religion. It is the body of Christ, which consists of all of God’s children” (Oct. 3, 1929).
“I still believe that the New Testament church embraces all the children of God. If it is spoken of in its universal sense, it means all of God’s children in a universal sense; but if it is limited to a locality, it embraces all of them in that locality” (April 3, 1930).
“A Christian is part of the church wherever he is” (Nov. 2, 1933).
“Anything that man gets into, of which Christ is not head, is not his church and has a human head” (July 5, 1928).
“If we do what the Bible teaches, we will get into [the Lord’s] church; if we do nothing but what it (the Bible, hf) teaches, we will never get into any other” (Dec. 23, 1937).
“I am fearful of any doctrine that belittles the church that cost our Savior his life to establish” (Feb. 2, 1939).
“When the New Testament was completed, all had been said about the church that was necessary for men to know about it” (Feb. 23, 1939).
“The New Testament talks about the doctrines of men and the doctrines of devils, but the doctrine of the apostles and the doctrine of God is in the singular” (Jan. 21, 1926).
“The Roman Catholics say Peter was the first Pope of Rome. I never see anything like a Pope [in
Peter, hf] except when he said: ‘Not so, Lord’ [Acts 10:14]. That does sound somewhat popish” (April 13, 1939).
“Jesus did not say, ‘Upon this rock I will build a Baptist church,’ and none of the apostles ever addressed even one of their letters to a Baptist church” (Jan. 14, 1926).
“No inspired man ever attended a Methodist Episcopal Church or advised anyone else to do so” (June 5, 1924).
“[John Wesley] never intended to start a church, but his followers started it against his advice. They had no authority from John Wesley, nor from the New Testament, to start one” (April 22, 1937).
“ ‘They were baptized both men and women.’ This would have been a splendid place [Acts 8:12, hf] to have said, ‘also infant children,’ if infants had been subjects of gospel address” (Sept.17, 1936).
“The Holy Spirit has been accused of doing things that he had no more to do with than I did” (Mar. 18, 1937).
“Some feel that they are too good and too kind to contend for the truth, but they are not too good and too kind to criticize their brethren who do so” (Feb. 3, 1927).
“The very fact that ‘Disciples of Christ’ is written with a capital D shows that these Disciples of Christ are different from the disciples of Christ in the New Testament” (Feb. 2, 1928).
“The apostles told us what to sing—‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’; how to sing—‘making melody in your heart’; and why to sing—‘teaching and admonishing one another’; but the New Testament says nothing about playing an instrument” (July 7, 1938).
“As for the air being full of instrumental music, my idea is that you had better try to learn how to worship God from the New Testament instead of the air” (Aug. 27, 1925).
“I know another thing—that, if the apostles used an instrument in the worship, the New Testament is silent on the subject” (June 27, 1929).
“The worship of God is too serious a matter for any man to dare to add anything to it” (July 31, 1924).
“I am unable to see why anyone should claim to love God or to be benefitted by the love of God while knowingly living in disobedience to the gospel” (Jan. 7, 1926).
“One may learn many good things from books made by men, but the only source of correct information about Christ comes to us from the New Testament” (June 16, 1938).
“It has always seemed to me that the gospel preacher, with his head full of common sense and the Bible in his hands, was superior to any so-called ‘educated’ sectarian [aka
denominational, hf] preacher” (Aug. 29, 1935).
“When one receives only compliments and no criticisms, he should at least have some doubts about his preaching” (Feb. 24, 1927).
“It appears to me that some preachers act like they think it would be better to take the broad way and be lost than to be called narrow” (Sept. 8, 1938).
“I confess that I have more hope for one who is in error and is headed toward the truth than I have for one who knows the truth and is headed towards error” (Mar. 3, 1938).
“If the fear of punishment has no place in the scheme of redemption, why did God teach man anything about it?” (Feb. 7, 1929).
“I never was much for going places without any place to go” (Aug. 11, 1938).
“If one monkey developed into a man, why did not all monkeys develop into men? They all had the same chance” (Jan. 29, 1928).
“Of course, as long as men keep preaching error, it will be necessary to preach against the error taught” (Aug. 27, 1936).
“As long as error exists on the important questions of how to become a Christian and how to worship God, the true soldier of the cross should never lay his armor down” (June 5, 1930).
F. B. Srygley passed from this life on February 11, 1940. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. At his death, H. Leo Boles wrote: “It will be a long time before, if ever, there arises among us another such man as F. B. Srygley” (Gospel Advocate, Feb. 15, 1940).
Hugh Fulford, August 11, 2020