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Page 1



I have profitably read from the pen of Fanning Yater
Tant since the middle 1930's. Some articles authored
by him over the past twenty five years reflect much of
his present thinking, especially with reference to his
"box-in-the-vestibule" plan as a means to amalgamate
what he now designates for contrast the "pro-
institutional" and the "anti-institutional" churches
into one body of people, working and worshipping
together. He assures us that neither would have to
give up anything that violates conscience or

A Unity Plan In His Open Letter
Tant made a very urgent appeal to Woods and

Lemmons in his Open Letter for the three of them to
"make a determined effort to 'narrow the gap' that has
developed among the Lord's people during these last
thirty or forty years."

He searches for a way that brethren (pro and anti
institutional) can "work together in the same
congregation, loving one another as brethren, giving
full and enthusiastic support to every 'good work'
which any of them desire to help?

"In other words, can brethren love and fellowship
one another in the same congregation when some of
them are ardent, enthusiastic supporters of orphan
homes and Christian Colleges, and others are adamant
in their opposition to church support of such

But of his vestibule box a quarter of a century ago,

he explains that "The time was not ripe for such.
Controversy was too sharp, feelings were too intense,
and 'compromise' was an obscene and malodorous
word!" Brother Tant says he hopes we have softened
in attitudes to the point that we will accept a solution;
preferably his "box" somewhere in the vestibule.

Brother Tant is very persistent in promoting his
"box-in-the-vestibule" plan as a vehicle to bring the
"anti" and "pro" institutional brethren together into
one body to worship and work as one congregation.
This plan by which to achieve unity is almost an
obsession with him.

Box-In-The-Vestibule: A Catholic "Poor Box"
"YES! That is precisely what I am suggesting."

Tant offers what he proposed twenty five years ago:
the adoption of the familiar Catholic "Poor Box"
which is found in every Catholic Church vestibule. He
says everybody knows that all contributions made
through this box are "for the poor," and "are NOT
used to erect buildings, pay salaries of priests, defray
utility costs, etc." Contributions for anything can go
into it.

Look at the Catholic "Poor Box" for a moment. If all
of us KNOW that the money put into the box is for the
POOR, and is NOT used to support the Catholic
Church at all, why cannot we use it and save the cost
and trouble of putting one in our own vestibule?
Certainly, no one would say that it is wrong to help the
poor as individuals any time and anywhere. This entire
arrangement is based upon the idea that if we can get
brethren to do this work as INDIVIDUALS and not as
the CHURCH, we would have no problem. Why, then,
would it be wrong to contribute to the "Poor Box" in
the vestibule of the Catholic Church?

Would brother Tant approve and support
INDIVIDUAL contributions to "any other project
which he, as a Christian deems worthy of support," if
this were done in a "box" in a Catholic Church
vestibule? If not, why not? Is it because it is not in a
"Church of Christ" building? But if an individual may
contribute to the "box" in the vestibule of a Catholic
Church building, would he not be supporting some
activities that are Catholic sponsored and controlled?

I think I know what brother Tant meant by the

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Page 2

"familiar Catholic 'Poor Box' in his Open Letter, but
the comparison of his vestibule box to the Catholic
"Poor Box" is more than just a name; it is a
denominational union plan that is as workable in
bringing about unity as our helping the poor through
the Catholic "Poor Box."

The Origin Of The Box-In-The-Vestibule
The first indication I can find that such an idea as a

box-in-the-vestibule was to be used as a unity
instrument was in the editorial of the Gospel
Guardian of May 31, 1956, page 76. Brother Tant
offered "A PROPOSED SOLUTION" to "The
Present Situation," which he described as a divided
sentiment and differing convictions as to the
scripturalness of orphan homes and the church
support of such. "These brethren cannot
conscientiously endorse, countenance, or condone
church contribution to homes for the orphaned and
the aged such as are now in operation among us." He
said that in scores of congregations a majority of the
elders had authorized monthly contributions to
orphan homes, "knowing that there are people within
the congregation whose conscience will be violated by
their participation in such a contribution!"

Tant writes, "We want to offer one constructive
suggestion which we believe will go a long way toward
relieving tensions and working toward a scriptural
solution of some of the difficulties now before us."

Now for his "very simple and obvious solution to
this problem:"

Let those who feel they must contribute to an orphan
home, do so directly to the home, and let NO
contributions be made from the church treasury.

Use the church treasury for ONLY that which all
accept as scriptural. Those who want to support
orphan homes directly, do so without criticism
"while the entire question is studied in the light
of God's word."

In this editorial Yater Tant did not say one word
about a box in the vestibule, but his principle was laid
as a foundation for the expression to be used the
following week in his editorial.

In his editorial of June 7, 1956 brother Tant wrote
under the heading: "THEY ARE DOING IT
ALREADY." He pointed to his previous editorial and
said he had learned one week that a number of
congregations had been following the course he had
laid out the week before. He had learned, first: "Some
churches are taking up a 'special contribution' on one
Sunday each month after their regular contribution
had been taken. Second: "Other congregations have
placed a box in the vestibule, clearly marked and
labeled as 'Contributions To The Orphan Home,' and
all who desire to do so may drop their contributions in
this box. All the money in the box goes to the orphan
home selected, and none of the money from the
regular treasury goes."

As far as I can determine, this is the first time the
expression, "box in the vestibule," is used in reference
to any idea closely resembling its present use. He also

Page 103



No. 2

Someone recently told me that they were very
concerned at the large number of seasoned men who
were leaving the pulpits all over the country. Also
many young men were quitting after a few years
preaching the gospel. I am also alarmed that so many
are quitting the work of preaching the gospel, but I am
far more alarmed at the REASON so many are
leaving. Moral issues are the reasons given by many,
and the total indifference on the part of the church is
another reason. That is serious because it involves
much more than attitudes and problems of preachers.

In the last issue I considered one attitude of young
men that is dangerous to their work as evangelists: self-
importance. There are some others I would like to
consider with the reader.

2. Youth Programs—Sports and Entertainment.
If there is a common denominator among young
preachers and a single plank they would put in the
program of the church, it is a "Youth Program" with all
the frills. The idea sprang up somehow that this is the
way to "make full proof of thy ministry" as they "do
the work of an evangelist." Sadly, some elders and
churches agree, and all follow the young man down the
trail of fun, sports and entertainment, and all the
while they are going away from the Lord and his

Some young preachers have a very false notion that
unrelated activities with young people will make them
successful as preachers. This is misinformation and a

wrong attitude. These young men involve themselves in
various sports and other such activities for the purpose
of increasing the enrollment of the congregation where
they labor.

This attitude has some bad side effects: little or no
study. The presumption may be that they feel little or
no need for hours of study, since they have acquired all
they need to know in the classroom at college, and they
may spend these hours in sports activities and other
entertainment activities and through this means save
the souls of the youth. Not so, young man; nothing can
be further from the truth!

"Bodily exercise profiteth little," but the most
significant of all is the development of self and others
spiritually. Above all, young preachers need to spend
every hour they have available studying the word of
God to understand what it means and to be able to tell
others the message accurately.

3. Immoral Sex—Adultery and Fornication. The
personal life of a preacher is very important to his
success, regardless of his age. By the standards of the
world, denominational clergy has been granted
personal, moral and religious liberty that are never
allowed by the word of God. These standards have
become the accepted standard by which many young
men who propose to preach the gospel of Christ live.

If we classify preachers as a profession, they rank
about number six or seven among all professions in
their immoral lives or extra-marital sex involvement
and the consumption of alcohol and drugs, as well as
other illegal and immoral activities. The great majority
of this group are young men who are no more than six or
eight years out of college. Most of them are husbands
and fathers and they bring innocent people to suffer
shame with them. What a person may think of the
conduct of a preacher is very important in his
conversion or non-conversion. When one sees the
hypocrisy in which many preachers are enrobed today,
he is unlikely to be influenced at all by any eloquence
or knowledge that the preacher may have.

I am appalled at the growing indifference of elders,
preachers and brethren in general toward the loose
sexual dress, language and relationships that are among
us now. About every type of sexual sin is receiving less

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Page 16

Send all News Items to: Wilson Adams, 6334 Auburn Ave., Riverdale, MD 20737

DICK BLACKFORD, P.O. Box 225, Owensboro, KY 42302. The
work continues to progress here at Westside. The church began five
years ago in October and met in a school for four years. Fifty-one
were in attendance when the work began. We are now averaging 110
with a recent high of 117, During the past year 21 were baptized, 13
restored, and 21 identified. We recently had eight home studies
underway. There are nine others with whom we have studied who
have not yet obeyed. In September we began supporting Eddie
Pagan (who grew up here and has been attending the Expressway
church in Louisville). He is preaching at Greensburg. The Westside
congregation is served by three elders and four deacons. The building
is located on Highway 60 West, near the Wendall Ford Expressway.

TOM O'NEAL, P.O. Box 723, Bessemer, AL 35021. I have some
additional copies of the 11 May 1983 issue of Walking In Truth, the
bulletin published by the church in Bessemer where I preach. This was
a special issue dealing with (1) What To Preach, (2) Prayer Posture, (3)
The Holy Spirit's Veil, (4) Is Communion On Sunday Evening
Scriptural? and (5) Clothing. If any readers would like an additional
copy of this material, free of charge, or would like to have a copy
sent to someone, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the
above address. Or phone (205) 426-4814.

PAUL K. WILLIAMS, 56 Maud St., Florida, 1710 South Africa. I
am to meet Ahmed Deedat of the Islamic Propagation Centre in debate
on the night of December 2. I will be affirming that Jesus Christ
was raised from the dead. The debate will be held in a sports stadium
near Johannesburg. A multiracial crowd of up to 5,000 is expected.
Ray Votaw will moderate for me.

EL TORO, CALIFORNIA—The Saddleback Valley church of
Christ is in need of a full time preacher. The church can provide up to
$1,000 per month in support. This is a fast growing area of southern
California. If interested please contact Walt Halagarda at (714) 768-
8518, or Peter Stratton at 472-0159.

CASEY, ILLINOIS—The Westside church here in Casey is in need
of someone who can devote full time to preaching beginning May
1, 1984. He will need to be willing to teach Bible classes 2 or 3 days
during the week. We are self-supporting with an attendance of 100.
Casey is a town of 3,000 located near I-70, about 35 miles west of Terre
Haute, Indiana. For information, write to the Westside Church of
Christ, Box 519, Casey, IL 62420. Or phone (217) 932-2290,932-5643,

GRAND ISLAND, NEBRASKA—The LeHeights church of Christ
in Grand Island is in need of a preacher. The following facts might
be considered by those interested in preaching here: (1) challenging
and exciting work in a very family-oriented community, (2) small,
young, enthusiastic congregation, (3) located 150 miles from Omaha,
90 miles from Lincoln, (4) most support would have to come from
outside sources. The church here can only give $400 per month but is
aware of other possible sources of support. Those interested should
contact Joe Hurd at 4203 Kay Avenue, Grand Island, NE 68801, or
phone (308) 384-0253. Or John Larma at 4204 Norseman Avenue,
Grand Island, 68801, or phone 381-0868.

TRENTON, TENNESSEE—The Northside church on Highway 45
in Trenton is in need of a mature gospel preacher who is sound in
the faith. Outside support will be necessary. We have been without a
preacher since February 1983. We have about 30 in attendance. If
interested please call Larry Stephens at (901) 686-0461, or Dennis

Cupples at 692-3376, or write to the Northside church of Christ, Box
367, Trenton, TN 38382.

(Taken from bulletins and papers received by the editor)

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Page 17

A public debate is to be conducted between Thomas N. Thrasher

(Christian) and Jerry L. Hayes (Pentecostal) on December 12-13, 15-
16,1983, beginning at 7:30 each evening. The sessions will be held in the
building of the Piney Chapel church of Christ on Alabama Highway 20
(U.S. Alternate 72) at Hillsboro, Alabama. This is about 8 miles west of
Decatur. The subjects to be discussed are the "Godhead" and the "baptismal

J.T. Smith, Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled to meet Roy Deaver,
Cookeville, Tennessee, April 23-26, 1984 in a public debate on the
Orphan Home question. The debate will be held in Gainesboro, Tennessee
(Jackson County). More details will be given later.

Tom Moody of the South End church in Louisville was in a debate with
Emmett F. Fields, an atheist, on the subject "Is the Bible God's Word?"
This was conducted November 14-15 at the First Unitarian Church in
Louisville. The debate grew out of an exchange of letters to the editor in
the Courier-Journal.

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