The Bible Banner - Past Present And Future
It has been about six months since an issue of the Bible Banner has appeared. This temporary lapse in publication has been due almost altogether to the enormous issue of the Special Edition on the Norris-Wallace Debate. The task of bringing out that Special Edition was a huge one, and, in addition to the vast expense, it exhausted reserves in stock for several issues of regular size. The two issues of the Banner that followed the Special carried matter that had been previously put into type and was being held for regular issues. After these issues were printed, we deemed it expedient and practical to "pause" in our "offensive" to let "supplies" catch up and to "consolidate" the lines. This we have done.
Concerning the Special Edition, testimonies of the great good that it has done all over the world have come to us in a constant stream and flow of praise and appreciation-far too many to pass on in print even in a cross-section percentage. It has not been possible to acknowledge letters, cards, messages, and even telegrams, from friends of Christ and his Cause in the four corners of the earth, but it his impressed us all with the fact that our labors have not been in vain.
The attitude of our subscribers toward the unavoidable suspension in publication has also been superb, Concerned not for a dollar invested in a subscription, but rather for the welfare of the Bible Banner, many inquiries have come, all of which were withheld until the inquirer felt that he just simply had to know if and when another Bible Banner would appear on the scene of things. To answer these inquiries a card was mailed to subscribers advising them of plans in the making for a series of special numbers to be issued on a change of frequency in publication. During this time we have kept- in touch with our local postal authorities and have had their generous and courteous cooperation.
In view of these developments, however, and in consideration of the fact that there are many thousands who are now reading the Bible Banner who were not in on the start of the Bible Banner, hence somewhat if not altogether uninformed of the past with reference to it, it appears entirely proper and appropriate to dwell on the past, present and future of this very unusual, and with becoming modesty, extraordinary Bible Banner! Whether it has been liked or disliked, no one has ever denied that it is an unusual and extraordinary publication. I know that it is--and I will take all of the consequences for saying so. For the information of some, and to serve as a reminder to others, the following chronicle is submitted.
I. The Past
The history of the Bible Banner links with the Gospel Guardian. After the debates with Neal at Winchester, Kentucky, and Norris at Fort Worth, Texas, it appeared to be imperative that we should have a medium of expression to meet the enemies of truth and right, if need be on their own ground, to repel their attacks, stop their campaigns of falsehood and calumny, and having done that -- to launch an offensive for the truth against error. The papers that were being published did not offer such a medium, could not afford it, and would not attempt such a task. There was no alternative but to start one that could and would take up the fight against Premillennialism with all of its dormant divers doctrines and latent errors and evils. To meet this need the Gospel Guardian was first published. The following initial statement appearing in its first issue will serve to set forth the policies and principles of that ideal publication.
The Gospel Guardian
Through the substantial support of some loyal friends I am able to offer this magazine to the religious public. The magazine is my own. There is no company or corporation back of it. The only backing it has received or will receive above the volume of subscriptions we hope to accumulate is the backing of individuals who are friends, not of the editor only but of the cause the magazine has espoused. We merely want the readers to understand this point, but with it one more i.e., the appearance of the Gospel Guardian does not mean the birth of another journalistic beggar. It will not beg its way. We hope to make it pay its way.
The name of the magazine suggests its mission and policy. It is controversial-doctrinal to the core. Paul said to his young protg, "O, Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee." The gospel needs guarding. It is the state of current religious thought and the needs of the cause with which my own life and labors have been identified that have called forth this magazine and that is the sole cause for its existence. It has been more than one hundred years since Stone and Campbell and their coadjutors brought their plea for the complete return to the New Testament to this continent. During this time, though the triumphs of this plea have been signal, there have been many defections from it and its steady progress and highest success have been periodically retarded. But for the fact that the eminent men connected with this plea kept the church of the past generation or two thoroughly indoctrinated, and that by controversy, the plea would have become absorbed in the constant drift of things and lost from view.
We are overlooking the fact that the present generation has not had the advantages of the thorough indoctrination the former generation had under the "giants of those days." The whole ground of the restoration plea needs repeatedly to be reviewed and restated
Under the present trend it is not impossible that the church may be a lost institution among the denominations of the world.
Schools have been tempted to abandon their original purpose to vie with the standards of worldly schools. To a certain extent such standards must in our day be maintained but not to the point of sacrificing or even of compromising the original aims of the Christian school. Loyal to these aims they may be a great factor in the dissemination of truth; unfaithful to these aims through their influence they may sweep the church into another wholesale digression.
The full and free discussion of the great fundamentals of the gospel is peculiarly timely now, when so many errors and isms are so rife. There has been a generation of younger Christians since these issues were made the common theme of every gospel pulpit. Now the canned sermons of Chappell and other denominational pulpiteers are more common from some of our own pulpits than the gospel of Paul.
While the range of subjects to be treated in this magazine will embrace the entire field of faith, doctrine, worship, work and growth of the church, yet special attention will be given to some particular errors, such as Premillennialism. To be specific we desire the publishers of the Word and Work, at Louisville, Ky., to know that we are set for the defense of the truth against the errors that periodical propagates. We shall meet them on the issues drawn and everything of major importance appearing in it will receive due and proper attention. While doing that, as a sideline, we shall attend to apologists and neutrals who carry water on both shoulders and as often as they appear we aim to see to it that they either take one bucket off or spill them both...
My magazine has a field of its own. It was conceived and is now published in the conviction that its definite policy and purpose justifies its existence. I shall strive with all my strength to make it merit the confidence of those who have made it possible. That it may be further received with a generous welcome and a liberal support by all who are jealous and zealous of the doctrinal purity of the church and who believe in the defense of the truth against all errors and isms is the fervent prayer and ardent hope of the editor. F. E. W. Jr., Gospel Guardian, October 1945. Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Notwithstanding the worthy claims of the Gospel Guardian to exist, it became involved in the difficulties of publication too great for me to overcome, handicapped as I was with no resources -- and I could not go on alone. To have done so would have required all of my personal income, which, aside from being needed for the existence of my family, would have been too limited for the task I had undertaken. At that time even interested brethren had not been fully aroused to the need, nor convinced of the condition of the cause on the issues involved, as they later were convinced and aroused -- therefore, being unable to carry on, the Gospel Guardian, after nine numbers, was discontinued.
The jubilee that was held in some circles upon the demise of the Gospel Guardian was not for long. The impetus that was given to Premillennialism and other insidious and seditious influences among us only served to convince some good brethren that such a medium was in reality essential to the "defense of the church against all errors and innovations." It was out of this realization some two years later that the Bible Banner was born. It was in reality the Gospel Guardian brought again into being -- the spirit of the Guardian come back to life. The initial editorial of the Bible Banner will serve to set forth the demand for its creation, or re-creation, and is here inserted in essential parts.
"Jehovah-Nisei-The Lord My Banner"
"There is something in a name. Bible names always meant something. When Abraham was moved by divine fiat to offer his son Isaac upon the altar, God provided the sacrifice, and Abraham called the place, Jehovah-jireh" The Lord Will Provide." God does provide for all who like Abraham implicitly heed His voice.
When Gideon answered the call of God to go in His might to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, he built an altar at the scene of his called and named the place, Jehovah-shalom-"The Lord Send Peace." God did send peace. But it was peace through conflict, not compromise. We do not see Gideon calling a "unity meeting" with the Midianites; he did not ascend a knoll, lift up benedictory hands, stretch out spreading arms to Israel's foes, and say: "Let us have peace together." He drove the Midianites out by "the sword of the Lord and Gideon." There are some who seem to think that the Lord has dispensed with the sword, dismantled the armour, and resorted to diplomatic conferences with the powers that be.
"When Amalek fought against Israel, Moses stood on the mount of battle with his hands uplifted, supported on either side by Aaron and Hur until the going down of the sun, and when Israel prevailed, he called the place, Jehovah-nissi--"The Lord My Banner." God was Israel's ensign, Israel's standard, that day. God is our Banner now. The inspired Psalmist said: "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." (Psa. 60:4) The prince of prophets said: "Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." (Isa. 13:2) In the spirit of these sacred sentiments the present paper is promoted as a banner of truth in a day of need-hence, The Bible Banner.
"A Potential Text"
"A general softness is pervading the church. Firm faith and plain preaching, once universal and unanimous among those devoted to the ancient gospel, are now yielding to the persuasions of the plush-mouthed and velvet-tongued moderns among us who piously admonish us to "speak the truth in love," but who only seek refuge behind this divine behest for their own compromises while they themselves ignore the very manner in which the inspired author of this counsel, the fearless and peerless Paul, did speak the truth in love. He himself applied that principle. Observe him in action; witness his courage; behold him on defense (not the fence); accompany him on his itinerancy; hear him preach and watch him "turn the world upside down" leaving behind him a religious upheaval that is comparable only to a typhoon of cyclonic destruction of every false thing; listen to his release of righteous fury against Elymas, the perverter, and his Stephen-like arraignment of the "enemies of the cross of Christ;" follow him through persecution to prison; think on his resolute charge to Timothy-then compare the pliant preaching so prevalent today, condoned by the capricious canting of such a potential text! Did not Paul give us an example of "speaking the truth in love"? May we in fact rather than mere fancy imbibe the spirit of that apostle who enjoins us all to love the truth and speak it.
"The Spirit of Christ"
"Other stock expressions of apologists for the soft-pedal cadences of sweet preaching are that we should manifest the spirit of Christ, and do things in the Christian way. The word "manifest" means to make clear and plain, apparent. Then to manifest the spirit of Christ means to make clear and plain what Christ thinks of the errors and shams of religion. This can be done by showing what He said and did regarding the teachers and institutions of error in his day. He said they were human plants and would be rooted up, and He called them all by name. A follower of Christ should always manifest the spirit of Christ; and a Christian should always do everything in the Christian way. There is no man whose soul senses a deeper desire for these Christ-like traits than my own, unless he has a deeper soul. But how may we know the spirit of Christ save as He exemplifies it? Follow Him through Nazareth to Calvary and hear him release His spirit in reiterated excoriation of religious blind guides and their blind alleys. To the divinity doctors and phylacterised Pharisees He had a bad spirit-the spirit of Beelzebub! If the very spirit of Christ in His own preaching was stigmatized as the spirit of the devil by pharisaical praters and pretenders who had their piety on parade, those who preach today as Christ and the apostles did, need not think to escape the same stigmatic criticisms. The Lord's way of preaching is on record. He said those religious leaders did things "for a pretense" and should receive "the greater damnation;" He said their proselytes (converts) were "twofold more the child of hell" than themselves; He said, "Ye fools and blindye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel" (the Lord even had a sense of humor and resorted to the ludicrous in exposing their shams); He said, 'Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell," and "upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." Such was the preaching of Jesus. Do those who talk so much about "the spirit of Christ" preach that way on anything, ever? Rather do they seem to think that "the spirit of Christ" and "Speaking the truth in love" means to be so gentle and love everybody so dearly as to let them die and go to hell before we would nettle their feelings by telling them the truth!
There are religious Pharisees with us yet whose sins and shams demand castigation "in the spirit of Christ." Preachers today can choose between two courses: the course of the least resistance in preaching only that portion of the truth in a mild and affirmative manner which meets no opposition, or like Jesus and Paul, preach the will of God in all of its condemning as well as saving power, without thought of man's fear or favor. But the praise and popularity that accrue from compromise and neutrality are empty, indeed. "He makes no friends who never made a foe."
"Back of much of this doctrinal softness is the influence of some of the colleges among us. They have harbored teachers of error; they have promoted a spirit of worldliness; they have manifested an air of superiority; they have conducted campaigns among the churches to affiliate church and school which will eventually, if continued, result in college domination and control in the church. The college domination danger is not imaginary. . . . . When it is said that "the church that does not put the college in its budget does not have the right preacher"--that is college domination. It means college control of preachers, with a threat. When the ban of boycott is placed on gospel preachers who do not "cooperate" with the college, or who criticize anything the college does, and who oppose the church-budget scheme of linking the church and college together--that is college domination with vengeance. When the president of the college can sit in his office and dictate letters to young people in various churches who belong to "The Ex-Student's Association" and through them influence the policies of a congregation on certain issues, even to the point of who shall or shall not preach in certain places--that is college domination. When these young people in the church, whether preachers or not, feel that they are obligated to the institution that graduated them, and they become virtually an auxiliary of that college in the church where they are--that is college domination There are those who measure a man's loyalty to Jesus Christ by his loyalty to the college. This attitude is tested by the fact that he may criticize the church and bring no censure from college devotees, but if he criticize the college, let him be anathema! These are some of the dangers in this form of institutionalism growing up among us, the gravity of which cannot be denied.
"Lines of Cleavage"
"Other signs of doctrinal weakness settling down upon the churches are seen in such issues as that type of congregational anarchy existing in majority -rule government in the church. This was back of all the dividing wedges of division driven by the digressives fifty years ago. By majority rule they confiscated property that belong to loyal brethren through the elders, who without restrictions named in the deeds to property, were helpless in courts that considered the property rights were vested in the majority or held that a civil court had no jurisdiction. The majority rule issue has taken definite form and looms as an issue in the, near offing. The lines of cleavage exist in localities. Elders who are concerned for the church will do well to check and double check the preacher's record on this question before he is called to their service. Once a majority rule preacher has done his work, the elders have been disarmed and a rebellion is in full charge, led by an ambitious preacher. The sequel to all such cases is simply and other church gone wrong.
"There are many important issues before use. They are not imaginary; they are real. We have been taking too much for granted. The present generation has not enjoyed the thorough indoctrination accorded former generations under the giants of early restoration days. There must now be a general return to militant preaching, the old type of preaching---and the old type of journalism--plain first principle preaching and teaching and writing that defends the truth against all errors, teachers of error and institutions of error by name, make, model and number. It is the only thing that will salvage the church from the calamity of another wholesale digression. It may be too late to redeem a large element, in nearly every church who have been saturated with weak teaching and are virtually out of sympathy with the original primitive plea. There will be a certain sloughing off as a result of this weak element-but many can be retrieved, and the church can be saved for sound doctrine if elders and preachers will awake from their lethargy and arm themselves for battle. This has been the history of God's people and the church in all ages."-F. E. W. Jr., Bible Banner, July 1938.
As a proof of the immediate effectiveness of the Bible Banner, its announced policy to expose certain subversive men and movement among us, who and which were an ominous threat to the doctrinal purity and integrity of the church, drew from them threats of intimidation against us all the way from personal destruction to libel suits --they would "sue the sox" right off our feet! Clinton Davidson, an arch-innovator, premillennialist and digressive, who had been hibernating with a modern Christian Church in New York for years, and who referred to the church as "the alleged Church of Christ," became the leader of the compromise movement in the church. His threatening letters were received by numerous brethren who were the tentative incorporators of the Bible Banner. Brother Leon B. McQuiddy, who was taking the lead in the permanent organization of the Bible Banner, took the Davidson threat seriously, and withdrew from the publication plan after only a few issues had been published. I was again left with a publication on my hands, to sink or swim, live or die.
The calumniators then seized this opportunity to attack our integrity in a series of anonymous letters, among which was one which attempted to convict me of fraudulent claims as to the incorporation of the Bible Banner, and which compared me to a criminal character who would fraudulently "organize" a Harry Somebody's Oil Company which did not exist but sold fraudulent stock - assuming that we had thus deceived people into subscribing for an incorporated Bible Banner! This particular anonymous letter was circulated under the heading of "Just The Facts" and it became necessary after a time for the Bible Banner to issue a statement of facts clarifying the matter, which was done under the same heading adapted by the anonymous document. The relevant sections of that statement are here inserted.
"Just The Facts"
It becomes our present duty, in keeping with the promise made in the last Bible Banner, to state "just the facts" regarding the announcements appearing in the Gospel Advocate and the Bible Banner just prior to the introduction of this magazine to the reading public. It was announced that the Bible Banner would be launched "Under Safe Management" and that it would be incorporated by J. W. Akin, J. E. Williams, George W. Birchfield, Cled E. Wallace, Austin Taylor, and Foy E. Wallace, Jr. It was also stated that the company would be capitalized and made financially safe. These promises were all made in good faith. The brethren mentioned had all agreed to such an arrangement and consented to the use of their names as they appeared.
A short time before this announcement, my long time friend, Leon B. McQuiddy, of the Gospel Advocate, proposed to finance a paper in the west, and to back me in the publication of it. It was his intention to incorporate the paper and capitalize it for a sufficient amount of money to secure its future as a permanent magazine. All statements which appeared in the papers were printed under Brother McQuiddy's personal okay, and the issues of the Bible Banner containing these announcements were printed on his presses. At this time, Brother McQuiddy doubtless believed that he could promote this paper in the west to both his advantage and that of the Cause generally, though he said that he expected to lose considerable money on the venture for at least two years; after that he felt that it might become a financial success.
Various and sundry matters delayed the business details, and then, finally, incorporation of the Bible Banner was abandoned by Brother McQuiddy, with his request of me that he be released from the agreement and permitted to withdraw from the management of the paper entirely and have me launch out again on my own. In consideration of this unexpected development, Brother McQuiddy offered some further financial assistance as a contributor to the paper until it could become stabilized. While this was a great disappointment to me, and to others involved, I have never wanted any man to do anything that he did not want to do. I had not made any propositions to Brother McQuiddy when the paper was started; he had made the propositions to me. I accepted them; and when he later desired to be released, there was no alternative but to release him, and if there had been I would have released him anyway. He doubtless has reasons which he considers valid, however, I feel that influence and pressure from various sources caused Brother McQuiddy to come to this decision, as nothing exists in connection with my own affairs now that did not exist before, all of which Brother McQuiddy knew unless he knows something that I did not know. Be all of this as it may, Brother McQuiddy abandoned the original plans, which is the reason why the Bible Banner was not incorporated as announced by himself in the Gospel Advocate and the Bible Banner.
It was about this time that one Clinton Davidson wrote the men whose names had been announced as incorporators of the Bible Banner that his "eminent legal counsel" had advised him of supposed libelous references which had appeared in the Bible Banner, and inquired of their connection with the paper. If this was not a threat to sue, nobody knows what a threat is, and if he did not intend to sue some or all of them, then evidently his letter must be interpreted as an effort to intimidate those men who were thought to be backing this paper. It may be that Brother McQuiddy felt that, as an editor, I am too stormy and might involve him in tangles with such men as Clinton Davidson who had intimated upon numerous occasions that he would sue me and others if we did not behave. Of course, it would not do any of them any good to sue me, but they might get plenty out of Leon McQuiddy. I do not blame him for not wanting to be sued over what I might say about Clinton Davidson, and others like him, whom I believe to be enemies of the New Testament church. Situated as he is, threats to sue might have effect, but it will take more than New York "eminent legal counsel" and Philadelphia lawyers to call me off.
Feeling that perhaps I had been done some financial injustice, Brother McQuiddy very generously offered to pay me a liberal monthly salary to discontinue the Bible Banner and write for the Gospel Advocate once a week under an editorial committee. Possibly I need one; but I knew I was not worth as much more than his other writers as was offered me; and I could not have been true to the trust of my friends who believed what we said about the permanence of the Bible Banner, if I had discontinued it. I would rather work for nothing and be true to my personal convictions than to receive as much per day as was offered me per month. Therefore, without reflecting on any man's motives in the matter, but in what I considered duty's demands, thanking Brother McQuiddy for his offer, I nevertheless refused, not knowing the destiny of the Bible Banner, but firm in determination that if it should sink I would sink with it.
"Thou has given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth"--and by the help of our God and those who love his Cause, we aim to keep the Bible Banner waving-F. E. W. Jr.
Bible Banner, May 1939. When men are bent upon mischief, especially when it involves well-laid plans for the personal destruction of one who stands in the way of their unrighteous cause, there is no limit to the ends by which they will attempt to accomplish their means. In an attempt to accomplish such ends Clinton (Copyright) Davidson, of the State of New Jersey, sought to capitalize on the misuse of the name of my friend and benefactor, J. W. Akin. His shameful act brought forth the following very plain statement from Brother Akin, which was published in the Bible Banner.
Concerning The Bible Banner Company
Some months ago when Brother Leon B. McQuiddy proposed to back Brother Foy E. Wallace Jr., in the publication of the Bible Banner, I agreed to serve as an incorporator of the paper along with other brethren whose names were mentioned in that connection. But when the plans were changed, and the corporation was not formed, my connection as above indicated was not established. Later, in answer to an inquiry from Clinton Davidson, of New Jersey, I briefly stated the fact that I had no connection with the paper. Since, however, a photostatic copy has been made of my letter and circulated with the apparent intent to injure the reputation of Foy E. Wallace Jr. I wish to say that the use of my name was according to the understanding at the time, and further that I regard the photographing and circulating of my letter a misuse of the same.
-J. W. Akin.
The name of Austin Taylor, known to all of the churches in the west as the greatest gospel singer of this generation, was involved in these proceedings due to the fact that he was to have been one of the incorporators of the Bible Banner. Brother Taylor spoke out on the matter as follows
Austin Taylor Speaks
Dear Brother McQuiddy:
There has been, as you know, considerable criticism of Brother Wallace because of the failure of the plans to incorporate the Bible Banner, and it has also been an embarrassment to those of us who have been backing him. I feel that you should make a brief statement assuming the blame for not forming the corporation as announced in the Gospel Advocate, and thus save time, trouble and embarrassment, as something will have to be done to clear this matter up if you do not make a statement assuming the blame. -Sincerely yours, Austin Taylor.
Incidentally, Brother Taylor still has that Davidson letter which contained the threat of legal action against him for his connection with the Bible Banner! But Davidson does not know Texas men-- (he did not know them, he does now). It would take more than one man from New York or New Jersey to scare Texas Taylor, and other rugged Texans like J. E. Williams, G. W. Birchfield and J. W. Akin. Besides being men of high character in the world and in the church--they are just not the kind that can be scared. As for me, from the very start, I offered to provide a reception committee in Oklahoma City to meet the New Yorker, any time he wished to set the date, to greet him legally or otherwise.
Meanwhile, during all of this siege of personalities, forced on us by the pious element among us, we carried on with the Bible Banner until other men filled the breach. The following statement was inserted in The Bible Banner when an interested group of brethren who appraised the situation accurately and believed that the Banner deserved to survive, agreed between themselves, to see it through.
The Future Of The Bible Banner
Because the original plans for incorporating and financing the Bible Banner were not consummated, an effort has been made to discredit our publication and its publisher, and to create doubt in the public mind as to its continuance and performance. That our many friends, who have felt a concern for the Bible Banner may feel fully reassured, we are glad to announce that a group of Christian business men, who believe in the principles for which the Bible Banner is fighting, have entered into an agreement with the editor to contribute monthly to the cost of printing the magazine for a two-year period-the agreement subject to renewal at the expiration of that period. The amounts subscribed represent a donation from these men to the Bible Banner. One clause in the agreement reads:
"It is understood that this is a gift to the Bible Banner and I (the donors) will have no part whatever in its ownership, management or otherwise." The editor of the Bible Banner will therefore be solely responsible for what appears in these pages, for the information of the legally minded brother and his "eminent legal counsel" who recently wrote ominous letters to certain brethren who (he thought) were involved in the ownership of the paper. As it is, like it was with Mr. Clarence Saunders, of Piggly Wiggly fame, who was the "sole owner of his name," so it is with me and the Bible Banner, unincorporated.
The effect of this announcement, we believe, will be far-reaching. Friends will be gratified; readers will be satisfied; enemies who sought to capitalize on rumors of reverses, will be mortified-but most of all, we trust that the Lord may be glorified, his true people edified, and in all the Cause of the New Testament church magnified.
So with genuine gratitude to all who are helping in this fight for the truth, with malice toward none, and due in humility of heart, we take courage and press on. -F. E. W. Jr., Bible Banner, May 1939.
So, much to the chagrin of some sweet spirits among us, the Bible Banner lived--it did not die. But its way has never been easy. The fight has been hard, all of the way, but it is worth it, for the church has been saved not only from the blight of Bollism, but from a movement which was far more bold, vigorous and challenging, and no less insidious - The Davidson Movement. The triple threat of Bollism, Premillennialism and Davidsonism was met at every turn, their approaches blocked and their attacks repelled.
There are many who know what relation the Bible Banner has sustained to this long and difficult fight, and who concede that it has been the deciding factor in stemming the tide of modern errors--but there are yet too many who do not even now sense what the actual dangers were and yet are in these surging issues. Many who did not understand the situation, stood by and criticized while the battle was raging. They pronounced it "personalities," being unmindful that when personalities were involved the editor of the Bible Banner was on the defensive. We took the offensive only when the truth of the gospel was at stake. We have never felt either an inward or an outward desire to make personal attacks on men, and it is only when men have been so involved with their own insidious systems of errors and isms that we have permitted ourselves to be compelled to deal in such. We had far rather defend principles than denounce men. Sometimes, however, the faithful performance of the former demands the latter. With this apology for the past, we offer some considerations for the present.
II. The Present
On occasion some have been heard to object to the Bible Banner because forsooth it could not be handed to an outside friend or non-member of the church. That in itself does not constitute an objection for the simple reason that the Bible Banner has been published primarily for the "inside" instead of the outside. But outsiders have been known to receive a lot of good from it, and have said so. Many members of the church are entirely too timid about what they would have friends to see, hear and know. I have heard members remark that they did not want their outside friends to hear certain plain gospel sermons which exposed their errors. So what some weak members of the church think cannot be handed out to a sectarian friend does not furnish a just ground of criticism of a sermon, an article or a periodical. But regardless of that, it is a well known fact that the members of the church need the Bible Banner and it has served to inform them on important issues, converted hundreds from errors which they had already embraced and save thousands from falling into such errors. Therein is its existence thrice over justified.
In the continuation of the Bible Banner our highest aspiration is to clearly and unmistakably set forth the principles of the gospel, with an unrelenting attack on every thing opposed to New Testament teaching. The character of the fight for truth and right is twofold--defensive and offensive. Defensive because the truth cannot be merely stated--it must be defended also. Offensive because battles are not won on the defensive merely. Herein lies the Bible Banner's greatest distinction.
Under such a policy our duty is to speak without restraint upon any issue that affects the purity of the church and the integrity of the gospel, yet without the appearance of that bigotry which papers too often assume in their role of attempting to control the preachers. If our churches have been endangered by "college domination" our preachers have been no less threatened by "paper control." Conversely, some men and movements among us have sought to make 'a tool of the papers and have too often attempted to use an editor to say and do things which they would not themselves do or say. In actual experiences, I have been pushed out in the front by "friends" to be shot at on some issues only to find that "he" or "they" had vanished when the firing began! I have had my fingers burned when in all sincerity I had been used in doing something that turned out to be pulling chestnuts out of the fire for some who had an axe to grind. Experience is the best teacher, and it invariably teaches a safe rule - namely, when there is a suspicion that somebody is trying to use you for "a cat's paw," don't let them do it. For the truth and for the church I should be willing to give myself and sacrifice my all, but to be used by any man or any group to promote their selfish interests--No!
There are others, too. First, those who either try to "fix" us, or who think we can be "fixed," in certain courses of action or lack of action. Personally, I wouldn't give a fig for somebody's "information" or "advice" who even suspicions that we can be "fixed" on any question, nor shall we be threatened or cajoled into any action which is not in our own conviction and conscience right to do and true to teach. Second, those who try to make "personalities" out of every fight that has been made for the truth. They brand it as "a personal grievance." This furnishes an excuse for side-stepping an issue--an alibi for not taking part in the fight. Thus premeditated efforts have been made to turn important issues into personalities so that certain parties to false doctrine could hide in the smoke which they themselves create. And in some notable instances a man has sulked in his tent over so-called "personal grievances" while we were making a major fight on some important issue. But when the smoke of the battle cleared away, and victory on the issue was evident, out of his sulk-tent he dashed for a ride on the band-wagon! The old story of how "we killed a bear" would be a fitting recitation for him.
We have no personal grievances, they are not worth having; and, if we be not deceived in heart, we have not engaged in personalities except when someone has stood in the way of the truth. In that case there is no alternative -personalities or no personalities, the way must be cleared that the truth in free course may prevail. This has been the past policy of the Bible Banner and is a commitment on our conception of its present obligations. So help us God.
III. The Future
As repeatedly stated, the original purpose of this magazine was to deal with special issues, covering the field of controversies; keeping the issues before the church clear and drawing the lines tight. As long as controversies continue, so long as issues exist and lines are loose, that long the Bible Banner shall proceed in its course of clearing issues, covering controversies, and tightening the loose lines. In so doing we have the assurance of the support of thousands of loyal and truth-loving members of the Lord's church all over the land.
With reference to the immediate future-- there will be a change in the frequency of publication. With this issue the Bible Banner becomes a Quarterly instead of a Monthly. In making this change in cooperation with and by the consent of the United States Post Office Department, we believe that we are taking a step forward. There are numerous weeklies and monthlies being published, perhaps too numerous - but the field is open for the type of Quarterly published many years ago by a few of the pioneers of the church. The periodical published by Moses E. Lard, under the title of Lard's Quarterly, is an example. Then there were others such as The Christian Quarterly, edited by W. T. Moore, and later The New Christian Quarterly, edited by J. H. Garrison. Many of the greatest preachers and writers in the church in the early day contributed specially prepared essays to these periodicals. Such a publication has the advantage of offering space for a full, lengthy and complete treatise of an important subject, which a weekly publication cannot offer. As a general medium, a weekly cannot afford space for essays of sufficient length to do justice to many themes. Regard for variety compels brevity, and important subjects must be treated serially and partially, usually to their detriment. In changing the frequency of the Bible Banner to a Quarterly our aim is to make every issue a special issue and to fill it so full that it will take the average reader the full quarter to digest it and get ready for the next issue. The size of the magazine will be three times larger. The subscription price remains the same-one dollar per year-and we shall strive to make every issue of it worth that dollar.
In a final word-without business organization or company, the Bible Banner has grown into a circulation that will compare with any paper published among us, including the oldest of them all, and it covers a far wider territory: It will continue to be published from year to year on whatever basis seems feasible and expedient. If and when (if ever) it should appear advisable for any reason to lapse it or discontinue it altogether, no injury will have been done in so doing, nor would there be any reflection on integrity or imputations of honor in so doing. Through the years we shall strive to publish the Bible Banner as the need exists and ability makes possible, and all the while we shall be "set for the defense of the gospel," as always before, and to any or all who may oppose it, will still say that so far as our responsibility goes - THEY SHALL NOT PASS! -Foy E. Wallace, Jr.