Guy Napoleon Woods
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Guy N. Woods
Guy N. Woods was born September 26, 1908 in Vardeman, Mississippi. He was the son of George Emmett and Eula Estelle Stokes Woods. His paternal grandfather was Napoleon Burrow Woods (1845-1907), and paternal grandmother was Mary Emma Leslie (1858-1903). His maternal grandfather was Henry Jefferson Stokes (1863-1949). His maternal grandmother was Mary Eliza Wood (1864-1949), both of Benton County, Tennessee. His maternal great grandparents were John King Wood and Nancy Burrell Foster of Benton County, Tennessee. He was the oldest of three children. His brother G. Earle was a gospel preacher, and his sister was Annie Mae Woods Bawcum. In his youth, Guy worked on the farm, and around the saw mill. His father was a logger, which was the reason Woods was born in Mississippi instead of the family hometown of Holladay, Tennessee. His father had worked at a sawmill in Vardeman for a brief period when Guy was born. Soon after they moved back to the family home of Holladay on the same acreage where the Church of Christ in Holladay now stands.
He attended high school in Holladay and was active on the debate team, an activity that would set the stage for a career of deliberation on the polemic platform. He was baptized by J.W. Grant August 24, 1926. The next month he preached his first sermon at Holladay, Tennessee on his sixteenth birthday. He attended Freed-Hardeman College, Henderson, Tennessee for two years.
Through the years he preached for a number of congregations on a regular basis: South Parkway, Memphis, Tennessee; Tompkinsville, Kentucky, 1929-1931; Post, Texas, 1932-1933; Kirkland, Texas, 1934; Wellington, Texas, 1934-1940; and Lubbock, Texas, 1943-1944. Beginning in 1945 he devoted himself to Gospel Meeting work throughout the country preaching for hundreds of different congregations. For over twenty-five years he conducted between 40 and 50 Gospel Meetings a year.
Woods was a great debater. By the early 50's he had debated over one hundred leading denominational debaters in the country. In his lifetime he perhaps debated more people than any of his fellow preachers before or since. Of his debating skills, Grover Stevens in the 1946 Woods-Nunnery Debate wrote, "Bro. Woods has been successful as a debater for several reasons. One is his thoroughness. He never allows an argument of his opponent to go unnoticed. He makes his arguments in a forceful, intelligent, yet very simple manner. He does not become excited, nor does he allow his temper to show itself. He confines his remarks to the issues and not to personalities, as can be plainly seen from reading this debate." He debated men from numerous denominations. Some of the Baptists that he met were: D. N. Jackson (twice), H. F. Pepper (five times), A. U. Nunnery (twice), L. J. Crawford (twice), M. L. Welch (three times). Also, it may be of interest to note that he has met L. J. Crosswell, able materialist debater, six times. The occasions arose where he was called upon to debate his brethren from time to time as well. During the 1950s and 1960s the "ultra conservative," or "anti" movement among brethren caused the need for someone to arise to the occasion and defend the truth of God's word. He very logically and succinctly defended the truth against all attacks. Perhaps the most famous of the debates held with brethren was the discussion known as the Birmingham Debate, November 18-23, 1957 between Woods and Roy E. Cogdill on the subject of support of benevolent institutions from the treasury of the church.
Woods-Nunnery Debate, 1946 With W.A. Bradfield As Moderator
For many years he published articles in the Gospel Advocate. He served as editorial writer for a series of literature produced by the Gospel Advocate. He wrote over a dozen books, including commentaries on: John; James; First and Second Peter, First, Second And Third John, Jude; How To Read The Greek New Testament; How To Study The New Testament Effectively; Shall We Know One Another In Heaven?; And many more. He was a staff writer, and later editor for the Gospel Advocate. For a number of years he compiled and edited the Gospel Advocate Quarterly series.
Guy N. Woods was the moderator at the Open Forum during the annual Freed-Hardeman Lectures for a number of years. This writer remembers well his experiences as a student at F-HC during the mid 1970s sitting in the Open Forum hearing the brotherly, but stern, debate between Guy N. Woods and Gus Nichols on the subject of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Inevitably a question on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would come up in the forum. While Brother Woods clearly and succinctly expressed his views, Gus Nichols would begin making his way to the stage for a rebuttal that the audience knew was coming. Late in life Woods published many of the questions of the Open Forum in two books: Questions And Answers Open Forum; and Questions And Answers Open Forum Volume II.
Guy N. Woods held a license to practice law having been admitted to the bar in both Texas and Tennessee. He held the qualification necessary to litigate before the Supreme Court. However he never engaged in actual practice.
One of his favorite pastimes was amateur radio. He received his General Amateur Radio License September 26, 1962. He soon upgraded to the Amateur Extra Class Radio License which requires an extensive knowledge of radio electronics and the ability to send and receive Morse Code at a rate of 20 words per minute. It is the highest class license available. One of the little known and unique tracts he wrote is an evangelistic treatise in ham radio language. It was really a tract on the restoration plea. He had many friends who knew him in a much different light through ham radio than his usual presence in church work. His call was WA4KCN.
Woods was in the forefront of technology when it came to his ministry. He was one of the earliest preachers to incorporate the computer in his work. He had an early DOS Bible program called Godspeed that he dearly loved for its searching capabilities. He published some of the first material about computers in the Gospel Advocate in the early 80's. He saw that the computer had great place in the work of the church; he learned all he could about them, and encouraged others to do the same. He learned how to connect his computer to his ham radio and send written messages across the air waves to those who had the capability to receive it. He was fascinated with such challenges.
His good friend Richard England described his death as follows:
"Not long before his death, he was quite ill, but still able to drive himself to the doctor. He was given some prescriptions which he immediately had filled. Arriving at home, he pulled his car into the garage which was beneath his bedroom. The space being sparse, he apparently got out of the car (while the motor was running) to make sure the garage door would come down without hitting the car. Having pulled the door down, he went up stairs into the house and forgot to turn off the motor. His hearing was greatly impaired in his latter years. He dressed himself for bed and stretched out. During the night he was overcome by the car exhaust seeping up into the bedroom. Early the next morning, knowing that brother Woods was quite ill, Neil Andersonwent by the house to check on him. When he arrived, the house was locked up and the engine on the car was still running. He called the police who came and helped get into the house. They found brother Woods in a coma. He lived two or three weeks after that, never really coming out of the coma. He did somewhat revive momentarily a few times to speak to his sister and one time to me.""
Woods passed away in Nashville, Tennessee, December 8, 1993. The funeral took place at his home church at Holladay, Tennessee. It was requested by Bro. Woods that it be low-key with only a brief message. His long-time friend and co-worker Neil Anderson spoke for a brief time. Then Richard England delivered a short eulogy. He was buried next to his father and mother at the Holladay Community Cemetery nearby.Alan Highers led the closing prayer at the gravesite.
Much of the estate left by Guy N. Woods was given to churches that he worked closely with through the years. He reasoned that much of the blessing he enjoyed in life came from his brethren. Therefore he believed it belonged to them and should rightly be given back. Contributions were also made to some children's homes as well.
Guy Napolean Woods touched the lives of many individuals in churches of Christ through the years. Many loved him, and there were some who hated him. But all respected him as a man of principle who stood for what he believed was the truth of God's Word. Only God knows the far reaching contributions this old soldier of the cross has made to the Restoration Movement in the 20th century and beyond.
-Many of the thoughts above were drawn from personal recollections, and sources such as Preachers Of Today Vol. 1; Vol. 2; Vol. 3; Vol. 4.and the Woods-Nunnery Debate, and friends of Bro. Woods who have given us information to be used here. We extend our thanks to all who have contributed information to make this brief sketch complete.
Dedication: Freed-Hardeman College Lectures 1977
Guy N. Woods
We hereby dedicate the 1977 Freed-Hardeman College Lectureship Book to Guy N. Woods - preacher, debater, scholar, lecturer, lawyer, author and Christian gentleman. For about a half-century brother Woods has preached and this work has carried him into many parts of the nation. After preaching in Memphis, Tennessee; Tompkinsville, Kentucky; and in Texas at Post, Kirkland, Willington, and Lubbock, he has been engaged in evangelistic work and debating. This influential pulpiteer now preaches in about 50 gospel meetings annually. He keeps about two hundred meetings scheduled ahead. His preaching career began September 26, 1926, at Holladay, Tennessee.
For about one third of a century he has been a staff writer of the Gospel Advocate, and through its pages he has fought many valiant battles for truth. He has been called on to deal with the questions that relate to the direction and destiny of the brotherhood. Always he has been equal to the occasion.
We express appreciation to brother Woods for his many years of faithful and able service in directing the Open Forum which has become the most popular period of the day. Likewise the volume brother Woods prepared giving replies to numerous questions submitted in the Open Forum has been well received This book, Questions and Answers Open Forum, is destined to be a classic and it will bless generations to come.
The Freed-Hardeman College Alumni Association has been pleased to recognize him as a distinguished alumnus by naming him "The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year" in 1970. The college also is pleased to honor this illustrious alumnus by hosting the Guy N. Woods Appreciation Dinner, February 7, 1977. A grateful brotherhood joins us in paying special tribute to him for his multiple services for the strength and advancement of the Cause of Christ. Through his work he has been a tower of strength in support of the college position for the "old paths." Of the lectureship (always held the first full week in February) he stated, "It is dedicated completely to the old paths . . . this school still stands for the old paths." The college deeply appreciates the loyal support and public commendations by brother Woods.
We thank God for this true and faithful servant of the Lord. We pray he may have many more years to preach Christ and Him crucified that he has so effectively done for over fifty years.
-The above dedication appeared in the 1977 Freed-Hardeman College Lectures book where Guy N. Woods was honored for his years of service by having the lectureship book dedicated to him.
See More Pictures And Other Information On The Life Of Guy N. Woods Here
Obituary Sketch From The Spiritual Sword
Guy N. Woods passed away in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday evening, December 8, 1993. Thus ended the life and work of one of the most influential men in the church in the twentieth century.
Brother Woods graduated from Freed-Hardeman, held a degree in law, wrote Bible commentaries, edited the Gospel Advocate, conducted well over a hundred debates, served as moderator of the Open Forum at the Freed-Hardeman lectureships for more than thirty years, and spoke in gospel meetings from coast to coast for over fifty years. He was a tireless worker. For many years he wrote the adult quarterly for the Gospel Advocate Company. During this time he had occasion to examine, and to comment upon, every verse in the Bible. He wrote two monumental volumes of Questions and Answers, based upon his many years of dealing with questions and controversial issues at the Freed-Hardeman lectureships.
The list of accomplishments, however, does not tell the whole story. Those of us who personally knew brother Woods saw a side of him which the public seldom knew. Because he often dealt with controversy, some thought of him only as combative and argumentative. How wrong they were! When brother Woods dealt with principles of biblical truth, he certainly was firm and forceful; but, in personal demeanor, he was a man of great meekness, gentleness, and graciousness.
It was a delight to be with him. He was truly a Christian gentleman.
He was a man of keen intellect. In addition to his scholarship in the field of biblical studies, he also mastered the study of computers and amateur radio. When he first acquired his amateur radio license (WA4KCN), he and I both lived in Memphis. He came to see me one day to demonstrate the operation of his radio gear (a Collins KWM-2) which he had installed in his automobile. He gave a call and was answered by an operator aboard a ship in the Gulf of Mexico! It was because of his enthusiasm and encouragement that I later secured my amateur radio license (WA4NVS). We had almost daily contact for several years through the wonderful medium of amateur radio.
The first debate I ever read was the Woods-Nunnery Debate. My father gave it to me when I was sixteen years of age because I was discussing baptism with a classmate at school. As I read that discussion, I marvelled at the ease with which brother Woods answered the various objections to the necessity of baptism. His work in this debate was truly superb. This debate book (now out of print) is a microcosmic picture of an era which is now forever gone. Conducted in 1946 at the Cedar Hill Baptist Church near Parsons, Tennessee, this debate was representative of the battles in which gospel preachers often engaged in those days. It was not a major debate with a major opponent (such as Hardeman-Bogard or Wallace-Norris), but it was far more typical of the day-to-day challenges which confronted preachers of the day, and one may get more of the "flavor of the times' by reading this discussion than any other I know.
In 1989, while passing through Parsons, Tennessee, I decided to seek out this location of Cedar Hill Baptist Church where the debate transpired. To me, this was a historical adventure. The old building was gone, but I found a brick building! located on the site where the old frame structure once stood. I spoke with a man in the community who remembered the, debate, conducted some forty-three year before! Later, I wrote brother Woods about the experience, and he related this interesting anecdote:
One morning during the debate as I was driving out to the community and while about a half mile, as I recall, from the building, I overtook a man walking along the county road and obviously headed for the debate. I stopped and invited him to ride with me. I think he did not recognize me until he had already accepted the invitation. The discussion waxed quite warm that day and there was considerable feeling exhibited on the part of the Baptists. Following the afternoon service on my way back to Parsons, I overtook the same man at about the same place and headed for home. Again, I stopped and invited him to ride. Quite frankly and with obvious coolness, he informed me that he did not wish to ride with me!
Notwithstanding this amusing incident, brother Woods reported that this was one of the most effective debates he ever conducted and that some thirty-five people were baptized as a result of this discussion. I hope that someday this debate will be reprinted.
Brother Woods was not only a friend to me personally, but he was also a great friend and encouragement to THE SPIRITUAL SWORD and the Getwell church. It was his practice for many years to preach for the Getwell congregation on the last Sunday of each year. This was one of the few Sundays each year that he was at home (when he lived in Memphis) and not engaged in a gospel meeting at some distant place. He often wrote to me to commend THE SPIRITUAL SWORD and to express his appreciation for the work being done.
In 1984, brother Woods asked that I write the introduction to Questions and Answers, Volume II. I believe now as I did then: "The name of Guy N. Woods will take its place in future generations along side those of McGarvey, Hardeman, Brewer, and others, whose contributions to the Cause of Christ have endured long after the principals themselves have 'crossed over the river to rest in the shade of the trees."'
-Alan E. Highers, Editor, The Spiritual Sword, Vol. 25 No. 2 January, 1994
Audio Lesson By Guy N. Woods
Open Forum, F-HU, 1969 (28.08 Min.; Open Forum Feb 8, 1969, 3:30pm - Question and Answer Session At Freed-Hardeman College Lectures, a forum made famous by Woods.)
Directions To The Grave Of Guy N. Woods
Guy N. Woods is buried in the Holladay Community Cemetery in the West Tennessee town of Holladay, Benton County. On Interstate 40 go to Exit 125 and go north on Hwy. 641 (SR 69). Go about 1.7 miles north and turn left on County Road 907 (Hwy.192) toward Holladay. Go 3.6 miles into the town of Holladay and (192) will take a hard turn to the right. (Note: Stay straight to go to where Church of Christ is located on the left. According to locals the Wood's home was located on the property where the church is located). To go to the cemetery, follow Hwy 192 to the right and take the first street to the left, Bible Hill Rd. Go 6/10 miles and the cemetery will be on your left. Turn left on Cemetery Rd. and go into the cemetery on your left. (Note: There is one located on the right as well. Be sure to go into the one on your left.) Go to about the middle of the cemetery and look to your right. The Woods grave will be a few stones in. The personal stones of Woods and his parents face east. Special thanks are extended to Tom Childers, Freed-Hardeman University, for providing photos of the gravesite of Guy N. Woods. I finally visited the grave of Bro. Woods Aug. 7, 2003 when attending the funeral of Dowell Flatt in Henderson. David Decker was with me, and we stopped by on the way home. GPS Coordinates below is actual location of grave in cemetery.
or D.d. 35.868691, -88.151215
Guy Napoleon Woods
Sept. 26, 1908
Dec. 8, 1993
George Emmitt Woods (Father of Guy N. Woods)
July 26. 1883
Aug. 19, 1970
Eula Stokes Woods (Mother Of Guy N. Woods)
Aug. 4, 1887
Jan. 2, 1985
Photos Taken 08.07.2003
Webpage Updated - 08.21.2020