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Kentucky Baptist History
By William D. Nowlin, 1922

Chapter 12
The Gospel Mission Deflection -- 1894 1 - [at end of essay]

[p. 130]
It will be observed that the author does not say "Gospel Mission Split," but "Deflection." The split has not yet taken place, but will come sooner or later. Just as the "Hardshells" had to be removed from our churches for the sake of peace and harmony, and for the progress of the kingdom, so the "Gospel Missioners," which is only another name for "Hard-shells," will have to be eliminated for the same reason. It is not the numbers but the spirit of the "Gospel Missioners" that will make this necessary. Their numbers are insignificant, but the spirit of this movement is bad.

They have already reached the point where they call all of our Baptist people "liars," "thieves," "murderers," etc. In the Baptist Flag, the organ
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of the Landmark Gospel Missioners, of April 29, 1920, a correspondent named Calvin Gregory of Pleasant Shade, Tennessee, in a page and a half of the vilest abuse he could heap on the Baptists of the Southern Baptist Convention, says: "Conventionism will stop at nothing short of murder. It will misrepresent, it will practice deception and fraud, it will rob the people, it will lie, it will embezzle the funds of the people, it is one of the greatest grafting machines ever known among the people." And to show that this is not simply an individual feeling of Mr. Gregory's on reading the above slanderous charges against the Baptists of the South, this author wrote a note which appeared in the Baptist Flag, July 22, 1920, calling attention to these awful charges, thinking it would provoke an apology. Here is the note: "One Calvin Gregory in the Flag says: 'Conventionism will lie, steal, misrepresent, and will stop at nothing short of murder.' Now, of course, what he means by 'Conventionism' is those who are members of the Southern Baptist Convention. For an 'ism' cannot lie, steal, nor murder. He says they 'will not stop short of murder.' Then if they will not stop short of murder, they will go as far as to commit murder. Not to stop short of murder means to commit murder. Any intelligent person will admit that this is the meaning of this language. Murder is regarded as the worst crime man can commit, and therefore receives the highest penalty -- capital punishment. No set of criminals can be worse than those who lie, steal and murder. So, Brother Gregory says, in effect, that those Baptists who belong to the Southern Baptist Convention are the worst criminals on earth, and deserve to be executed. This is the plain, legitimate meaning of his language.

"May our Father richly reward his faithful saints who are laboring earnestly and faithfully -- giving their time and money to extend his kingdom to the uttermost parts of the earth, who suffer such slander and persecution; and may he forgive our enemies who
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so slander us. God's richest blessings on those who love truth and hate slander."

Signed, Wm. D. Nowlin.

But instead of an apology the editor, T. F. Moore, answers the above in the same issue in the following language: "Brother Gregory does not accuse you, neither any other convention man directly, as guilty of the things named, and yet you, with all who affiliate with conventionism, are guilty of many, if not all, the things charged." He not only includes this author" in person by saying "you," but includes every member in the Southern Baptist Convention, saying "you, with all who affiliate with conventionism." "You are guilty of many, if not all." Again, in the Flag of August 5, 1920, a writer signing himself "Elder W. H. Moser, Clifton, Tenn.," says, referring to "the article written by Brother Wm. D. Nowlin in the Flag of July 22, 1920, in his comment on what Brother Gregory said about conventionism. Now I am going to take sides with Brother Gregory. I now make the assertion that conventionism will do anything to carry out its purpose." You will observe that this writer, as well as Editor Moore, endorses all that Gregory has said, that is, that "all affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention" will "lie," "steal," "embezzle," "rob," "deceive," "murder." In the same issue with the above is the following by W. C. Benson, Mangum, Okla.: "We heartily endorse Brother Clark's write up with regard to Oakley. If Brother Clark is not right with regard to this seventy-five million drive being hatched up by the devil, we do not know what truth means." Daniel Parker, John Taylor and Alexander Campbell never said worse things about the Baptists, in their fight against missions, than those above. The above are but samples of the abuse heaped upon the Baptists by the so-called "Gospel Missioners."

This is the reason why I say the split will come and should come. No self-respecting people can keep in their membership those who call them "liars,"
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"thieves " "embezzlers " "murderers "etc. And if they who say those things were sincere and had any self-respect, they would not stay in the churches with such people. However, when they are put out they are going to die, as did the "Hardshells" of nearly a century ago. The same anti-mission spirit which causes them to hate Baptists because of their mission zeal and success will keep them from building church houses, paying pastors and sending out and support- ing missionaries, which ultimately means death. These gospel missioners deny that they are opposed to mis- sions, as such, that they only oppose mission methods. That is exactly the plea made by Alexander Camp- bell, John Taylor and Daniel Parker when they began their fight against Baptist missions one hundred years ago; but time has demonstrated the fact that the malady was deeper than "methods." They soon went to the logical conclusion of their position and fought missions outright.

Gospel Missions in Its Beginning in Kentucky

This author is well informed as to the beginning of Gospel Missions in Kentucky. During the years of 1893, 1894 and 1895 he was pastor at Hickman, Kentucky. Elder J. N. Hall was then editing the Baptist Flag at Fulton, Kentucky. At this time Mrs. C. E. Kerr, Decatur, Georgia, was publishing a small sheet called "The Missionary Helper," which was advocating Gospel Missions. Hall frequently quoted with approval this paper, and finally suggested that the West Kentucky Association, of which both of our churches were members, adopt and support an independent missionary, in addition to what we were doing through the regular channels. At Spring Hill at the meeting of the West Kentucky Association in October, 1894, the first definite action was taken towards Gospel Missions in Kentucky.

In October, 1918, the author wrote to Dr. Don Singletary, of Clinton, Kentucky, the moderator of the West Kentucky Association, to know if he could furnish minutes of the association, or information as
[p. 134]
to the first committee appointed, consisting of Hall, Bogard and Nowlin, to employ and look after the support of an independent foreign missionary. On October 26, 1918, the author received the following letter from Doctor Singletary: "My Dear Doctor Nowlin, your letter of inquiry came in due time, and I am glad to be able to produce you some information. I have attended every association of west Kentucky, and have the minutes of every meeting. The time was October 9 and 10, 1895, at Liberty Church. J. F. Cargill, of Macon, Georgia, was present and preached. J. N. Hall had invited him and tried hard to get us to employ him. Hall read a report of Gospel Missions and it was discussed freely, amended, and the next morning the 10th, the whole thing was tabled as shown in the minutes, but that report is not in the minutes because it was tabled. Nor is the committee of Hall, Bogard and Nowlin mentioned; neither is Hall's offer to be one of one hundred to pay $5.00 each year for an independent missionary. Yet I am sure the latter was made and discussed. (I am sure of it, too, for I agreed to be one of the one hundred -- Nowlin.) In these discussions my memory is, that the Gospel Mission plan was not in any way to interfere with, or to lessen, our board work; and that Gospel Missions and money designated to it were to have a place in our minutes hereafter.

"The next year at Arlington W. H. Williams read the Gospel Mission report, and it is printed. I will quote some of the points. 'One of the oldest missionaries in China, T. P. Crawford, is laboring under this plan.' 'There need be no friction between the two plans.' 'Churches have a right to designate their funds.' 'On this plan we now have twenty missionaries in the foreign field.' On this arrangement I contributed to both plans, and increased my giving and my increase went to Gospel Missions.

"In 1904 at Columbus, T. A. Cross in Gospel Mission report says: 'We have about twenty-seven missionaries in the foreign fields,' naming 'China, Peru,
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Mexico, Cuba, and Syria.' In 1917 this same brother, T. A. Cross, in Gospel Mission report, says: 'T. L. Blalock, Tai An Fu Shantung, China, is our only real active worker on the foreign field.' They have lost ground rapidly and done much harm to our cause in West Kentucky Association. About three-fourths of our churches claim Gospel Mission plan and do almost nothing." Signed, Don Singletary.

The author then wrote Doctor Singletary to look in the minutes of 1894 and he would find the appointment of the committee. On November 1, 1918, Doctor Singletary replies as follows: "Dear Doctor Nowlin: As to Gospel Missions, you are right. The previous year at Spring Hill Church, October 10, 11, 12, 1894, Ben M. Bogard read the report on foreign missions in which he said, 'There are two plans -- convention plan -- the other Gospel Missions which is led by T. P. Crawford, G. P. Bostic, D. W. Herring and others.' Further he asks that 'Our association takes a decided advance step' and recommended that 'This association employ a missionary as soon as arrangements can be made; and this, too, in addition to the work we already have on hand.' A committee was appointed for this new plan, consisting of 'Ben M. Bogard, W. D. Nowlin, J. N. Hall,' 'to look after the employment and support of a foreign missionary' on Gospel Mission plan mentioned in report. This covers every point you ask for, I think. I quote the points in Bogard's report as printed that cover the beginning, but I skip many sentences not to the point." Signed, Don Singletary.

It will be seen from the foregoing facts that, 'Gospel Missions' was considered the first time in a Baptist association in Kentucky in October, 1894, and that the author of this history was a member of the first committee ever appointed by a Baptist body in Kentucky to select and look after the support of a gospel missionary; and yet the author has, all the while, been lined up with our organized work. The other members of the committee, [Ben] Bogard and [J.N.] Hall,
[p. 136]
were also lined up with the organized work at this time. Bogard was the pastor of the Fulton Baptist Church, a church in line with our organized work. J. N. Hall was a member of, and liberal contributor to, this church and its work, including missions. These facts show that "Gospel Missions" did not mean then what the term means now.

What Has It Accomplished?

The Baptist Flag of Fulton, Kentucky, is the exponent of this cult, so I shall let it speak.

Here is their Missionary Directory as published July 29, 1920, in the Flag:

Eld. T. L. Blalock, Helton, N. C.

At present no one on China field, but will sail with helpers the coming summer. 2

H. A. Roshto, Pineville, La.
H. D. Clift, Maury City, Tenn.
S. W. Joyner, Hollow Rock, Tenn.
C. B. Massey, Pleasant Shade, Tenn.
Calvin Gregory, Pleasant Shade, Tenn.
A. G. Stinson, Pleasant Shade, Tenn.

T. F. Moore, Fulton, Ky.
J. N. Joyner, Westport, Tenn.

Mrs. Jennie Lamas, Mariel, Cuba.

T. A. Cross, Bardwell, Ky.

"Those wanting to send direct to the missionary can do so, as it is your privilege, but our treasurer,
[p. 137]
T. A. Cross, sends every cent as directed, and is not a toll station to toll your funds. We donate to him during the year, and all should help." It will be observed that all are urged to help pay the treasurer, T. A. Cross.

The above shows that they have but one foreign missionary and he is not on the foreign field at this writing. "Home Missionaries" are men who have simply the "recommendation" of the Gospel Mission Association without salary.

The following from J. A. Scarboro, one of their leaders, taken from the Flag of November 25, 1915, shows in what sense they are missionaries. Elder Scarboro says:
"I am on a little farm in the piney woods of Georgia. . . . Stripped of everything I possessed and compelled to sell books and furniture to get here, we came last spring and have farmed this year. . . . All of us have labored in the field, including my devoted wife and little children. . . . . I never spent a year in my life with a heavier burden on my heart. . . . I was compelled to do so. At the General Association I was 'recommended as a missionary to cut his own hay as he went.' Anybody can be a missionary on that basis. . . . I could have done state mission work, or editorial work, or any sort of work, but nobody seemed to want me, or if they did; they did not say so. And so I left because I had to. And so I have spent the year, much of it in the cotton field. . . . We have a few Landmark Baptists with much means, and the few we have are scared half to death if they think they will lose a hundred dollars. It is pitiful and sickening to a man who sees opportunities and wants to do something. . . . Letters continue to pour in, asking me to go here and there all over the South, and seven out of ten of them say little or nothing about expenses. God pity our people and our cause. Why ask men to perform impossibilities? If I were called upon to prescribe for the Landmarkers, I would say, Get religion enough to

[p. 138]
support the workers. I have read appeals and begging for funds to support a few missionaries among them until my very soul is sick of it. I will never beg another Landmarker to do anything for me or anybody else. To urge a man to go out as a missionary and then advertise him as ready to starve for want of a pittance out of our abundance to support him is scandalous. Self-respecting men have no respect for a people who will do that sort of a thing. We have a faithful few among us, but there is an army of people who call themselves Landmarkers who are not worth two beans in any cause. They sadden and sicken the heart to contemplate them. Brethren, let's do mission work, or take that label off our name and just say we do not believe in missions. Let's be truthful."
This wail of the strongest man among the kickers against God's mission work, as the Baptist churches are doing it through their organized channels, reiterates what has often been said, that the objections to conventions and boards -- with few exceptions -- are hypocritical excuses for doing nothing. Scarboro certainly tells the truth -- turns "state's evidence."

This movement is led by a bunch of disgruntled would-be leaders, who kick the leaders and lead the kickers.

Thus it will be seen that the "General Association of Landmark Gospel Mission Baptists of the United States of America" has one paid missionary. The others only have the endorsement or "recommendation of the General Association to cut his own hay as he goes." And Scarboro adds, "Anybody can be a missionary on that basis." So he can.

The following from a Flag editorial February 5, 1920, is in harmony with the above. "Perhaps not one church in all our fields is able or willing to try it alone in sending a missionary either into the home or the foreign field. Why not unite our forces and funds and keep alive one or two in both fields?" The editorial only suggests trying to "keep alive one or
[p. 139]
two (missionaries) on both fields." It doesn't suggest anything more than "keeping alive one or two" missionaries and this clearly implies that they are not now doing that.

T. A. Cross, in his report to the West Kentucky Association, 1904, says, "We have about twenty-seven missionaries in the foreign fields." In 1917 this same brother, Cross, in his report on Gospel Missions to the West Kentucky Association, says, "T. L. Blalock, China, is our only real active worker on the foreign field. " In a little more than a dozen years they have gone from twenty-seven foreign missionaries to one, according to their own report.

This is due to the fact that in the beginning the Gospel Missioners did not fight the organized work of the Southern Baptist Convention, but claimed that their work was "in addition to the organized work," and in this way they had the help of many loyal Baptists such as Doctor Singletary and this writer, who contributed to this cause to encourage many who were doing practically nothing for missions; but when they began to draw the lines and fight the organized work and vilify the Southern Baptist Convention these withdrew their support and you see how they dropped from twenty-seven foreign missionaries to one. That is the progress they have made.

They have also made progress in their position on missions. In the first report on this work, October, 1894, made by Ben M. Bogard, he says" there are two plans -- convention plan and gospel mission plan." In 1896 W. H. Williams says, "There need be no friction between the two plans."

At the time J. N. Hall urged the appointment of an independent missionary by the West Kentucky Association he was contributing to the regular organized work through the Fulton Baptist Church, and for many years after was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Minutes of the Southern Baptist Convention for 1902 (p.4) show "J. N. Hall, Fulton, Kentucky, " a registered messenger on the financial
[p. 140]
basis. He was a member of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky when he died. They have now reached the point where, instead of saying "there are two plans" and "there need be no friction between the two plans" they say "conventionism is one of the greatest grafting machines ever known among the masses.," and "an unbaptistic robbing machine." They also say "all who are affiliated with conventionism" are guilty of "lying," "stealing," "robbing," "embezzlement," "deceiving," "murdering," etc. The attacks made by the Gospel Missioners on the Baptists are far more vicious and bitter than those made by the Hardshells nearly a century ago, and of which history gives account.

The Gospel Missioners, so far as the author knows, have no organization in Kentucky. They have an association called "Kentucky-Tennessee Association," which is composed of a small following in a few west Kentucky churches and a few in Tennessee. The minutes of this association for September 15 and 16, 1920 (pp. 1 and 2), show twenty-seven churches represented by messengers, but a note by the clerk just following the list says, "Not all the above named messengers were present," so we do not know how many churches were really represented by messengers in this meeting.

Their general organization is "The General Association of Gospel Mission Landmark Baptists of the United States of America," with headquarters at Texarkana, Ark.-Tex. They have made several changes in their title within the last few years. Minutes of the meeting of December 7 to 10, 1920, held with Nebo church, Bay Springs, Miss., says: "The messengers of the churches composing the Baptist General Association of the United States." At this same meeting, as recorded on page 5, the word "Missionary" was added to their title. We notice that the words "Gospel Missioners" and "Landmarkers," made so prominent in their beginning, are entirely eliminated from their minutes of 1920. They
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object to conventions, and so have an association claiming more territory than any Baptist convention in America. They object to a mission board, and so have a "Mission Committee" performing all the functions of a board. They decline to have a corresponding secretary, but have a "Mission Treasurer" to perform the duties of a corresponding secretary. They criticize the salary paid by the convention to their foreign mission corresponding secretary, and yet they pay their mission treasurer far more in proportion to the business done -- the money handled and missionaries supported -- than the convention pays. They claim that there is no scriptural authority for a "Southern Baptist Convention," but that there is scriptural authority for a "General Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of America." It is not the author's business to try to explain the inconsistencies of these claims, but to state them. The spirit that dominates Gospel Missions is not the spirit that sends out missionaries and supports them.



(The author sent a copy of this manuscript to Doctor Singletary, and asked him to read carefully the chapter on "The Gospel Mission Deflection." Following is his answer.)

Clinton, Ky., February 7, 1922. Elder Wm. D. Nowlin:
My Dear Brother: -- I have read and re-read your manuscript, chapter XII of Kentucky Baptist History on Gospel Missions with much interest. I have all the West Kentucky Association minutes now before me, and have just read and re-read them as to the beginning of the Gospel Mission Plan in Kentucky. They show that your history states the facts, and is in full accord with their own statements as written and published by themselves.

I was also present at every meeting of the association and took part in their plan several years.

Please send me a copy of your Kentucky Baptist History as soon as it is published.
Your friend and brother,

2 NOTE -- Later the Flag reported that T. L. Blalock had returned with helpers.


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