The Situation in Tennessee, The Apostolic Way, March 1, 1929

The work done in Tennessee in years that have passed and gone, by such men as Harding, Lipscomb, Shrigley [sic, should be Srygley], Sewell and others make one who was well acquainted with their work and who now realize the deceptions, false doctrines, misrepresentations, and untruths that are being handed to the people under the guise of religious tolerance, and devotion; I say, it makes such a one feel sad, sad indeed. [There are several grammatical errors in this article.  I have not called attention to them, MI].

These apologists are so afraid of their position that no amount of persuasion will lead them into a written discussion.  They will refer to those opposing the Sunday school with sneers, as brother James A. Allen did in Gospel Advocate under date of January 24, 1929.  Brother Allen is a splendid writer.  He writes many good things, with which we agree.  But so far, has not intimated that he would, under any consideration, discuss the Sunday school question.  Why?  Oh, of course, he may have a “holier than thou” feeling, or “I am too big to fool with you,” but such is unbecoming to Christian.  The brotherhood at large have heard of this issue.  If he and other writers of the Gospel Advocate did not feel the pressure of our opposition to the Sunday school, they would not occasionally mention it.  But the very fact that they mention us and our opposition in a sneering manner shows that they are feeling the pressure, but haven’t the courage to let us be heard in their own columns.  All right, Brother Allen.  You are a great writer.  If you will not let us tell your readers that the Sunday school is wrong, maybe you will tell our readers it is right, and publish just one side like Firm Foundation did with the Early Arceneaux articles, but all right, do so if you will, but we will give both sides; we will let our folks read what you say and then read our reply.  Will you do that much, Brother Allen?

Brother J. P. Watson of Cookeville, Tennessee, a good man, a clean man, an able preacher, has been making desperate efforts under great handicaps of bad health and lack of support to call the churches back to the primitive Christianity, and he has been misrepresented, abused, until many brethren in Tennessee who have never heard him and know nothing of the position he advocates, would hesitate to have him in their community.

Incidentally, we will mention that a few very poor brethren in his community are endeavoring to build a house of worship.  They haven’t the means with which to build.  Some of our readers may have a letter from them asking for help.  I wish these brethren would have sufficient support and assistance as to enable them to get behind Brother Watson and support him for two years without a stop to preach in school houses, on the streets, anywhere that he could get a hearing in the state of Tennessee.  Such an effort on his part would arouse that state more than any other one thing that seems possible of accomplishment just now.–R. F. D.

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R. F. D. [R. F. Duckworth], “The Situation in Tennessee” The Apostolic Way, March 1, 1929, p. 4.

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I am unsure whether the little band of “poor brethren” in the community of, in or near Cookeville, Tennessee ever got their building off the ground.  In the 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States, there is one NC (Non-class or Non-Sunday school) congregation in Cookeville and it was established in 1984.  Perhaps some reader from Cookeville can provide additional information.

In Nashville, in James A. Allen’s community, the Westlawn Court Church of Christ was established in 1941.  It appears to be the oldest NC congregation in town.  Westlawn Court is in west Nashville, not far from what used to be the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ (and as things look now…the soon-to-be parking lot that used to be the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ…).  Other NC congregations in Nashville are the Fox Glove Drive (est. 1950’s? and now defunct) congregation which was near the old Harding Mall area and the Southside congregation (est. 1971) on Bell Road in Antioch.   Before Mac Lynn began, in the early 1980’s, using a system of letters to code the churches it is quite difficult to determine whether a congregation is “mainstream”, “non-institutional”, “mutual edification”, “one-cup” etc.  It may be that in 1929 one or more of the Churches of Christ in Nashville was of the “Non-Sunday School orbit.”  But I don’t yet know what congregation/s.  So, if Allen was feeling any pressure locally, I am unsure where it was coming from.  It may be that Westlawn Court Church was formed as a “Non-Sunday School” congregation, or it may have evolved sometime between 1941 and the 1980’s into an NC church, or maybe something else?  I can’t say yet.  It may be that J. P. Watson preaches in Nashville.  If anyone has heard of J. P. Watson, I would be very grateful to learn what you know.  Please comment or email me at:

icekm (at) aol (dot) com

Residence of James A. Allen, December 1939

James A. Allen, editor of Gospel Advocate and Apostolic Times lived at 747 Benton Avenue in Nashville. At least he did in December 1939.

Here is 747 Benton Avenue courtesy of Google Maps:

I hope at some time to begin posting to this blog photographs of this and similar sites in Nashville connected with the history of the Stone-Campbell movement.

Carnal Warfare: A voice from the summer of 1942

This from the August 1942 issue of Apostolic Times, a monthly published in Nashville by James A. Allen.  In 1941 Allen is in his late fifties.  He has been editor of Apostolic Times, a paper he originated and printed himself, for a decade.  He preceded Foy E. Wallace, Jr. as editor of the Gospel Advocate, serving in that capacity for most of the 1920’s until 1930.  Though not a student of either David Lipscomb or James A. Harding at Nashville Bible School, Allen claims both as his teachers and mentors.  Allen’s family worshiped at South College Street Christian Church in South Nashville where Lipscomb was an elder and Harding often preached.  His father, J. G. Allen, was an elder with Harding at Green Street Church of Christ, a congregation planted by South College Street.  Late in life he worshiped at Duke Street Church of Christ in northeast Nashville.  Allen spent all of his life, that I can find, preaching and teaching for these three congregations (South College in 1920 moved a block east and took the name Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ).  He, of course, preached often elsewhere in meetings.

Allen’s paper opposes all shades of secularism, denominationalism, premillennialism, worldliness and modernism in Churches of Christ.  Allen hesitates little, it seems, to call names.  He praises his friends as strongly as he censures his opponents.  He envisions a simple and primitive Christianity and urges his readers in every issue of the paper to stay with the Bible and with the historic Restoration Plea.  He frequently contributes articles to the Times (as he did in the pages of Advocate) fleshing out his understanding of both of these…the Bible and the Restoration.

This item appears on page 152, as the editorial of the August issue:

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CARNAL WARFARE

Dear Bro. Allen:

I read the Apostolic Times every month, and I think it is a very splendid paper.

There is a question I would like for you to answer for me: Can a man who is a Christian participate in carnal warfare and still remain a Christian?  I know that it is wrong to kill, but if he is commanded by civil authorities to do something else, what must he do?

*  *  *  *

No, a Christian cannot engage in carnal warfare.  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds.”  (1 Cor. 10;3, 4.)  “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-ruler of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’ (Eph. 6:12)

The position occupied by the churches of Christ has been known and accepted by the Federal Government for many years, and it is nothing less than a tragedy that a few have recently endeavored to compromise it.  They argue that a man is in one sphere as a Christian and that the same man can act in a totally different sphere as a citizen.

But to assume that any one can live one sort of life as a Christian, in one sphere, and that he can step out of that sphere into another, and in the other do things that all recognize he cannot do as a Christian, is to assume that a Christian can live a sort of Dr. Jeckel [sic] and Mr. Hyde kind of life that utterly incompatible with the teaching of Christ.  The genius who thought up this absurdity ought to be real ashamed of his brain-child.  The Christian life embraces every thought and action.  When a man steps outside of it into another sphere he ceases to be a Christian.

God is the Ruler and Governor of the universe.  He is over-ruling all.  He is using every man for the work that that man has fitted himself to do.  He does not use Christians for work they cannot do as Christians.

It is not a question of love for or loyalty to this great country.  We are living under the greatest and best form of government in the world.  We would gladly give our lives for this glorious land of freedom and liberty if we could do it without violating the law of God as given in the New Testament.  The influence of the gospel is what has made the United States great and the greatest service a Christian can render his country is not to engage in carnal war but to labor for the spread of the gospel.

Some ask, Suppose a ruffian should attack your wife or daughter, would you kill him?  such a question is like asking what would become of the man who was killed on his way to be baptized.  Questions of this kind involve consequences and consequences are in the hands of God.  It is our part to obey God.  What happens when we obey Him is in His hands.

–J.A.A.

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Allen does not print the querist’s name.  We are left to wonder whether it is a potential infantryman or one’s wife, mother or child.  We do not know if the author is a preacher.  We do not know if he or she is young or old.  In the end it matters little for us because there is no way we can know; it seems to have mattered none for J.A.A. and he very likely knew.  What I think is certain is that our anonymous writer is very concerned about the war and very concerned about how to live out in its midst a faithful Christian commitment.  This is Allen’s concern as well.

Quote Without Comment: James A. Allen, January 1940

This from the January 1940 issue of The Apostolic Times (page 71), published in Nashville.   Unsigned, I attribute it to the paper’s editor and publisher, James A. Allen.

Faith in Christ lies at the bottom of every Christian life.  Without faith there would be no Christian life.  The Spirit enters the heart through the gospel, and then a new life begins in the heart.  Faith is the first evidence of this life within.  A man cannot believe in the absence of the Spirit.  It is faith in the heart that causes the sinner to repent of his sins.  It is not through fear of hell that we obey the commands of the Lord, but it is through faith and love.

Save the Paper

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my research interests is Nashville’s Stone-Campbell heritage.  Judging from the folks who find my blog by searching for old Nashville churches like Foster Street Christian Church or Vine Street Christian Church or South College Street Church of Christ, I see I am not alone in my interest.  Here’s my appeal:

I am assembling information from, by and about these churches, ministers and related organizations.  Do you have paper (like directories or bulletins), photographs, sermons, postcards, old issues of periodicals like Gospel Advocate or Apostolic Times or ephemera from Nashville events like the Hardeman Tabernacle meetings or the Collins-Craig Auditorium Meeting, or the Nashville Jubilee?  Do you have photographs or postcards of church buildings?  For that matter, do you have an old map of Nashville that shows what the city was like in the 1940’s?  or earlier? Do you have clippings from the newspapers about people or events or congregations in the Nashville or Davidson County area?   Do you have memories of growing up at Vine Street Christian Church when it was still downtown?  Or Reid Avenue Church of Christ, Russell Street Church of Christ or Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ (all three are now closed)?  Would you be willing to talk with me–in person or by email or even by postal mail–to share your memories?  Would you allow me to borrow your old paper, copy it and learn from it?

Old paper is the stuff from which history is written.  And if it isn’t preserved then not only will vital data be lost but a story will be silenced.  I believe the Nashville story is a rich story, and a story worth keeping and worth telling and worth preserving.   With every funeral we lose some memory or story.  The time has come for us to assemble what remains while we can, and ensure that through its preservation the story will not be forgotten.

Check the steamer trunks in your attics, the boxes in your basements and the files in the closets.  Before you throw it away, email me.  Let’s preserve it.

icekm (at) aol (dot) com

South College Street Christian Church

A kind and generous friend passed along to me a sketch of South Nashville Christian Church, also known as South College Street Christian Church, South Nashville Church of Christ (all interchangeably) and finally, after 1920, Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ.

p1010043-copy

David Lipscomb is an elder here from the beginning until his death in 1917.  He preached to three or four ladies (some sources say 3-4 ladies “and a little boy”) in 1857.  It took 30 years for the congregation to grow to the point where they could afford a building.  So, Lipscomb was involved in one way or other with this church from 1857 to 1917. 

This photo is a digital photograph I took of a printout from a microfilm reader.  All things considered, it is an excellent drawing.  I’d not been able to find a picture of this building.  So I am very grateful to see it.

It is from the Nashville Daily American, Monday morning, November 14, 1887.

I will work on transcribing the article…but for the mean time I just had to post this picture.

I might add C.E.W. Dorris was a member at this congregation, under Lipscomb’s pastoral oversight, from 1892 to probably 1896 or 1897.  James A. Allen, who would be editor of the Gospel Advocate, grew up at South College Street and later at Green Street (planted by So. College).  Allen also preached for the congregation after they moved to Lindsley Avenue.  James A. Harding preached often in meetings.  The early opening and closing exercises of the Nashville Bible School were conducted in this building.  David Lipscomb’s funeral was conducted in this building.

And the list could go on.  I’ll return to this congregation and its story as it has become one of my many research interests.

Joseph Avenue Church of Christ

“May God’s blessing attend every sermon preached and every exhortation delivered over this sacred board. God bless every child of God at Joseph Ave. and crown their every (effort) for the advancement of the cause of Christ made by them in harmony with His will. This the prayer of an humble child of God,” inscribed B.C. Wilkes, Sept. 25th, 1905 on the underside of the pulpit he made for a new congregation.

 

A relatively young church itself, the Foster Street Christian Church in 1905 saw a need as the neighborhood developed to the north.  They greatly encouraged Joe McPherson in his tent meetings.  A new congregation was formed and later that same year, on the same lot, the church completed a building on the west side of Joseph Avenue at Scott Street (now Richardson Street).  The congregation of about nine families assembled to be taught and exhorted from Mr. Wilkes’ pulpit.

 

By 1921, the building being too small, the congregation built a larger building and moved across the street to the east side of Joseph Avenue.  This building still stands, serving the neighborhood in gospel preaching and the care of souls; it is now used an outreach center and Children’s Bible Theater by Nashville Inner City Ministry, an outreach of local Churches of Christ.

 

The work of the church consisted of preaching the gospel, caring for sick, the poor and the needy, and supporting missions, both foreign and domestic.  Revivals were held by some of the best-known writers, editors and evangelists in Churches of Christ, such as (among others) James A. Allen, D. H. Friend, R. H. Boll, Charles R. Brewer, C. E. W. Dorris, J. S. Ward, S. H. Hall, and Hall Laurie Calhoun.  Converts and additions to the church during these early years number into the hundreds.  By 1939, Joseph Avenue Church of Christ had a membership of about 450.

 

In the early 1970’s plans were made to relocate further north to the Madison-Bellshire area.  The congregation is now known as Kemper Heights Church of Christ and has worshiped on Tuckahoe Drive in Madison since 1974.  Mr. Wilkes’ pulpit is yet in use in the teaching and exhorting ministry of the Kemper Heights Church.