Science, Evolution 125
Though the pressure was very strong Editor Livingston Johnson of
the Biblical Recorder refused to open the columns of that paper for a
free discussion of whether evolution should be taught at the College.
In the meantime the alumni were active in opposing any restrictions
being placed on the teaching of any subject at the College and as
Poteat was the object of the attack they rallied to his side with great
zeal. In all the alumni meetings they expressed strong words in his
favor. They were at the meetings of the associations also, and though
they often could not prevent radical expressions from the floor they
did, in nearly all instances, put hostile resolutions to sleep. And Poteat
helped his own cause and that of the College by the enthusiasm with
which he fired the groups of the alumni he addressed. But most
helpful of all were his speeches before some of the associations in
which he revealed himself as doctrinally in accord with the
denomination, and zealous in its support. The influence of these
speeches was multiplied by such reports of them as the following
from the Biblical Recorder of October 18, 1922:
Dr. Poteat made a speech that literally swept the Association. He rang clear on
the great fundamentals, such as personal regeneration, the divine character and the
transcendently important work of Christ. He showed that it is our duty to carry on
this work according to the program laid down by Christ in Luke 4:16-21.
At the close of Dr. Poteat's address several who had attended Wake Forest paid
tribute to Dr. Poteat as a Christian gentleman and a great teacher. All who spoke
declared that their faith had been strengthened by the instruction they had received
in his classroom.
The culmination of the conflict was at the meeting of Baptist State
Convention in Winston-Salem beginning December 12, 1922. Though
not definitely on the program it was expected that supporters of the
existing status of scientific instruction at the College would have to
defend it. Both sides were well represented in the Convention, but
those who were assailing that status were
First, That the Pilot Mountain Association go down on record that we the churches
accept the divine plan of the creation of man.
Second, We oppose the teaching of any other theory in our schools and colleges.