Draft and Ministers: a voice from spring of 1941

Appearing in the March 1941 issue of James A. Allen’s Apostolic Times is this from C. E. W. Dorris.  Charles Elias Webb Dorris is in 1941, by all accounts, a veteran preacher, debater and author.  He has not long been retired from Andrew Mizell Burton’s Life and Casualty Life Insurance Company of Tennessee. He remains active in church affairs, especially on the ground in the ongoing work of Central Church in downtown Nashville and through the pages of the weeklies and monthlies like Apostolic Times. In April 1941 Dorris celebrated his 70th birthday.


“Draft and Ministers”

C. E. W. Dorris

The following taken from the Standard Surpeme [sic] Council, 330, Bulletin, a four page paper published from Washington, D.C., doubtless will be interesting to preachers in the draft age.  For this reason, we here reproduce it.

“Several sincere conscientious objectors have refused to register under the Selective Service Act, and a few have gone to jail for violation of this law.  in Illinois, however, a young Protestant minister refused to register, and submitted to arrest, for quite a different reason.  He did not want to accept the automatic immunity from service extended, under the law, to all clerics.

“This was something that had apparently never been considered when the bill was drawn up.  After special consideration, the Illinois Draft Board acting with the approval of National Director Clarence Dykstra, ruled that any minister could wave [sic] his automatic immunity and take his chance in the draft as an ordinary citizen.

“Later it was learned that numerous Protestant divinity students and young ministers had objected to this clause.  They wished to play their part in the national defense program and did not want to hide behind the cloak of ministerial immunity.  In view of this fact, it seems probable that the Illinois decision will mark the way for similar rulings in other states.

“The exemption clause was originally pushed through by the Roman Catholic Church.

It makes no difference so far as I know who pushed the exemption clause through, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants or both, in either case the move was in keeping with the spirit of the New Testament.  This little Book exempts all Christians in all the world from bloodshed and all human slaughter pens.

The way I see it there are but two ways by which this war business can be stopped.  The first is to convert the world to Christianity and second for the governments of earth to pass a universal law that leaders like Hitler who want, and are determined to have war, to be put in the front rank where they will be the first to look down a gunbarrel [sic], see the powder flash and feel the strength of the bullet.  Either plan will stop so much of this war business, for the reason that but a few will be willing to rush into war under such conditions.  Had such a law been passed at the close of the world war and put in force I am satisfied that Hitler would have kept as quiet as a church mouse when a bunch of cats are around.


More to come from CEWD.

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:



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.



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.

The trouble is unnecessary

Yesterday I quoted some from E. L. Jorgenson’s comments in the January 1934 Word and Work.  Today I quote, without comment, from his “Publisher’s Page” in the December 1934 issue of that paper:

In the midst of bitter provocation and great temptation we have again sought to keep the paper clean of personalities and fit to hand to a neighbor.  Had we the Super-human power to read always and unerringly the inward hearts and motives of men we might at times debate and cut and slash and call names, condemn and judge; but in our limited, humble, human state we see no good, but only harm, to come from such a course.  It seems to use more needful that we study anew the way of true unity in Ephesians 4:1-3: lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance and love!  And that, too long content with the husks of mere controversial religion, we set ourselves to seek sincerely after that spiritual personal Christianity which is revealed in the New Testament.

If any may be tempted to point out our own frequent and evident failures on this line, the trouble is unnecessary: we know it and confess it.  And we ask for prayer that we may yet attain, and that editor and publisher may be granted all needed grace and wisdom.–E. L. J.

When others so speak

It is not at all easy to hear unkind words from your critics, or to hear unkind things said of those you know or love.  What should you do in such situations?  I hesitate to offer any easy, pat answer.  I have no such advice, and confess my suspicion of those who advise in such a way.

However, I offer to you the closing words of E. L. Jorgenson’s “Publisher’s Paragraphs” from the January 1934 Word and Work:

…while reserving the right to deal with error, we would not want to fall into the awful (though common) mistake of negative, critical, destructive teaching as our main stock in trade.  This is an error into which those fall, almost unconsciously, who have no real constructive message from their own study–in order that they may still have somewhat to say.  May the Lord deliver us from such a style; and from all unkindness of spirit toward all.

As to any personal reflections and aspersions directed our way, such scribes are to us, in this character, as if they did not exist.  The editor of W. & W. [R. H. Boll, MIce] rarely reads their fulminations.  His message could well be: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” (Neh 6:3.)  If some have taken advantage of our policy of silence on these lines, we nourish no bitterness: in a very little while they shall answer to God.  Meanwhile, and for this new year–

“Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound, … And a Christlike spirit everywhere be found.” Amen.  E. L. J.

Were we to follow Bro. Jorgenson’s course, we would first of all search our own hearts: do we have something constructive to say?  Is our spirit unkind?  Do we nourish bitterness?

The temptation to return fire is strong, but is it Christlike?  Even when we may rightfully speak truth, do we do it defensively?  With anger?  Spitefully?

Indeed, friends, we will encounter all manner of uncouth and unkind characters, from every quarter, but as we go about our lives, privilege the soft voice of Christ amid the din of competing self-interested voices.  May we be slow to speak, slow to be angry, and when we speak–even when we are offended–let our speech be seasoned with salt, and grace, and peace.

As bro. Jorgenson indicates, R. H. Boll was too busy with what he considered a vital and constructive work to pay any attention to a noisy detractor.  So, the second question we could ask ourselves is How busy are we with kingdom business? The need remains great; in the face of the deep need about us will we allow ourselves to be distracted by some crass remark?  Will we be so easily deterred from the mission of the kingdom?

If he ever needs me, I’m sure I’ll be too willing to assist, but God has not sought my opinion or judgment.  He has reserved judgment for himself; I cannot allow myself to be consumed by presuming prerogatives which are not mine.  He has given me a mission focused on his kingdom.  E.L.J. pursues mission and leaves judgment to God.

I find bro. Boll and bro. Jorgenson so very helpful.  I never read WW without receiving a blessing.  I hope you have as well.  The quote above is from E. L. J. “Publisher’s Paragraphs”, Word and Work, January 1934, 1-2.

DLC Honors Veteran Preachers, 1954


Here is another installment in my Dorris research.  From the February 25, 1954 Gospel Advocate, page 157, the men pictured are the “honor guests” of the 13th Annual Fellowship Dinner at the Lipscomb Lectures.  Each having preached more than forty years, the combined number of years preached, Willard says, is near 1300 years.  As one I know is wont to say…that calls for a lot of patience from all concerned.


Of the 26 men honored, 14 are from Nashville. Seven more are from Middle Tennessee.  Again we see the familiar faces of the elder statesmen from years past at these Fellowship Dinners.  Seated on the far left is George Bethurum, one-time classmate of Hall Laurie Calhoun at the College of the Bible and the man who was very likely behind Calhoun’s move to Nashville in 1926-ish.  Front-row-center is Price Billingsley, who published a paper–the Gospel Advance–and who took over Dorris’ Tidings of Joy in the summer of 1920.   To Dorris’ right is O. C. Lambert,  whom Dorris took to task a decade earlier concerning his (Lambert’s) stand with Cled and Foy Wallace on the ‘War Question.’  Lambert was in cahoots with the Wallace War Baby and CEWD was none to pleased about it.  There is much, much more to be done on that one.  And, I’m still sorting through what is happening even as this photo was snapped between Dorris and Benton Cordell Goodpasture, who appears in this august company for the first time.  He is standing behind Dorris’ left shoulder…close enough to shake hands but I think they are growing farther apart by the day.

As I remarked in an earlier post in this series, look carefully, ponder deeply the faces you see, and consider those who were absent.

CEW Dorris on Cled Wallace’s War Baby

This from CEW Dorris, Nashville, TN to Cled Wallace, Austin TX, September 9, 1942:

Dear Brother Wallace:

I have viewed your war baby which was displayed in the June issue of the Bible Banner and I must say that its one of the ugliest looking youngsters that I ever saw to have such a good looking papa.  It is a monster.  A very dangerous baby indeed.  It has its head and tail both up and shoots from both ends.  It looks to be as dangerous, if not more so, that its daddy thinks that Bollism is.  If the baby is generally accepted, I fear that it will do the cause of Christ far more harm than Bollism ever did, or can do.  It has been fed so much Texas goat milk that it has a bad complexion and needs some baby oil.  I am sending it a dose and if taken according to directions its complexion ought to clear up in three or four days.  But if it don’t let me know and I will send it a dose that will do the work.

Strike throughs represents Dorris’ own editing, which occurrred likely sometime in late 1945 or 1946 (my best estimate) as this letter (the first of several) was prepared for publication in booklet form, to be issued by BC Goodpasture and/or the Gospel Advocate Company. 

Follow the link above to two articles in the June 1942 Bible Banner.  They set Dorris, an ardent pacifist, off in a years long (1942-1945) correspondence with Wallace.  Actually, Wallace replied once that I know of by letter, and he reprinted an excerpt from one of Dorris’ letters later in the Banner.  Otherwise it seems that he (Wallace) did not answer Dorris.  He evidently shared the letters he received from CEWD with OC Lambert and perhaps others.  What I have are Dorris’ letters…There is much here I haven’t even read yet.   And then I have to unpack it and contextualize it.

So, this set of letters in particular and the general thrust of my research thus far, has brought me here: there is much, much more to CEWD that we ever knew.  For my paper at Stone-Campbell Journal Conference I will of necessity have to be brief and sketch the parameters of his life and ministry.  Skeleton-type stuff, pegs on which to hang things, rough outline, prelimiary findings, hypotheses.  I have another conference paper pending for later in the fall.  Looks as if I may then take up this correspondence for an in-depth look at Dorris’ ecclesiology vis-a-vis (Cled) Wallace-Lambert-(Foy) Wallace’s renunciation of David Lipscomb’s Civil Government.   Whew.  How’s that?

The state of my Dorris research is good news/bad news.  Good news is I have found some wonderful things; the bad news is it will take more time than I initially thought to process it all and begin to unpack it.  On second thought…that’s good news after all.

Christians and Carnal Warfare

Some followers of the meek and lowly Nazarene, who are taught as a fundamental principle of Christianity that we are to do unto others as we would have others do unto us, have conscientious scruples against sheding [sic] human blood in carnal warfare.  In 1918, a committee of representative members of the One Body, composed of Brother J. W. Shepperd [sic], Doctor J. S. Ward, and Brother J. N. Armstrong, was received by Provost Marshall, General E. H. Crowder, in Washington, D.C.  In the interview, they indicated to that high official that the principles of our religion forbid us “engaging in carnal warfare in any form.”  The General examined the Draft Bill and replied to them that under its provisions members of Churches of Christ are “entitled to non-combatant service, as provided by the Bill.”

As war talk is much in the air, and as our country may become involved in actual war, it seems suitable that our young men should have the benefit of the best counsel that can be given them as to what their attitude shall be.  At present we know of nothing better to submit to the authorities at Washington (the War Department) than a portion of the resolutions adopted by the Church at Valdosta, Georgia, April 6, 1933, in which they say, “In the event of the United States becoming involved in another war, we respectfully request that our young men be granted the same immunity as that granted to the Society of Friends (Quakers) during the World War, our position in this regard being identical with that of these people.”

–Don Carlos Janes, “Christians and Carnal Warfare” The Gospel Echo, November 5, 1939, p. 6.

Between “God’s Unspeakable Gift” and “Still the War Goes On”


The December 20, 1917 issue of the Christian-Evangelist, a prominent Disciples national weekly, was the annual Christmas number.  Through numerous articles, editorials, short stories, artwork and poetry centered on Christmas, the journal sent its well-wishes to her readers for the season.  Included are numerous quotes and reminders about the true meaning of Christmas.  Virginia’s famous letter even makes an appearance.

Among the many interesting items in the issue are two articles which merit special attention. Coming from the pens of two widely regarded ministers, J. H. Garrison and Edgar DeWitt Jones, they speak a word to us this Christmas season.  Just as a single page separates them in the journal, the issues to which they speak are equally close in our lives today. 

Jones’ Christmas meditation is from 2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”  There Paul roots the grace of giving in the prior grace of God.  We give because God has first given to us and his gift is grace upon grace.  Indeed, God’s gift is so marvelous, so wonderful, so gracious, that words fail to capture it or fully describe it.  God’s gift to us in Jesus, Jones says, is “the unutterably great boon of the heavenly Father to his children.” He concludes, “Hang the wreaths, twine the mistletoe, light the candles, give the gifts; but above all and best of all, remember Bethlehem and God’s Gift in that manger-cradle.”

Turn the page and you will see “The Editor’s Easy Chair”, a weekly column contributed by the journal’s Editor-Emeritus, J. H. Garrison.  Among the short notices in his columns are a few paragraphs, one of which opens with “Still the war goes on.  Armies advance and retreat.  Charge is met by countercharge, and the death list grows rapidly.”  Garrison further states that “the putting away of all hindrances to union so that the church may present a united front to its enemies, and the incarnation in our daily lives of the principles which Jesus Christ teaches as essential to the well-being of mankind is so difficult that nothing but a united church working in close cooperation with God can ever accomplish it.”

Jones and Garrison found themselves in the thin space between God’s unspeakable gift and still the war goes on.  In that thin space they called upon the church to embody the life of Christ in their lives.  In the face of war they called upon the church to make known to the world the Prince of Peace.  In the face of alienation and hostility they yet call upon us to make real the truth of Christmas: that God has come near…that God is with us.

This Christmas season we find ourselves in similar thin spaces.  Pressed between the gospel and the situation of our climate, our cities, our international situation, what are we to do?  Given the good news of God in Christ on the one hand, and the world in which find ourselves on the other, where do we go from here?  Two saints from our past have left us a word we should hear.  We know what we are to do and we know the values and truths we are to embody to our world.


McGarvey Ice

Director of Public Services

Disciples of Christ Historical Society

Nashville, TN



This came out Wednesday from Disciples News Service as the latest installment of our Moments in Disciples History Series.  For a short piece I did on Jacob Kenoly, click here. To sign up for DNS emails, click hereI have also added this essay to my Written Word page.


Anti-War Sentiment Growing

       A report of the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in the Nashville Tennessean, Monday evening, October 12, page 5, says: We are glad to find the anti-war sentiment growing.  We are coming more and more to see that war is antichristian.”

       It is strange to know that a people who claim to be Christians are at this late hour learning that carnal warfare is antichristian, but I suppose it is better to learn the lesson late than not at all.  How any one can read the New Testament and fail to see that carnal warfare is opposite the spirit of the Master is strange indeed.  It seems to me that the “Golden Rule” itself ought to be sufficient to convince any one who proposes to represent the Lord that a Christian cannot participate in carnal warfare, but that, on the other hand, if he does, he ceases to walk in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace.  No one can follow the Lord Jesus Christ, or even the “Golden Rule,” and take the life of his fellow man.  This is one of the first lessons a Christian ought to learn.  He who has not learned this lesson has not advanced very far in the principles of Christianity.  The Lord left carnal warfare and politics on the outside of the church, and that is where Christians ought to let them stay.

–C. E. W. Dorris, “Anti-War Sentiment Growing.” Gospel Advocate, October 22, 1925, page 1015.