"Pride, Prejudice And Papers"
Elsewhere in this issue, and under the above caption, will be found an editorial from the Firm Foundation of May 28, 1957. This is the kind of writing that made this great paper a bulwark of strength in days gone by; it is the kind of Christian journalism that is all too rare in our generation. Brother Reuel Lemmons, editor of the paper, has sounded an appeal to truth, common sense, and straight thinking that ought to challenge every Christian in the land.
It should be remembered that the Firm Foundation was born for this very thing. Old brother "Aus" McGary became convinced that Brother David Lipscomb and brethren east of the river generally were in error in their teaching and practice in the matter of "sect" baptism. While the pages of the Gospel Advocate were open to McGary to refute this teaching, he nevertheless felt that a more effective campaign for truth could be waged if he had his own medium. In the heat of controversy, the Firm Foundaiton had her "baptism" into the realms of Christian journalism. (This editor has some reason to know about that battle: His maternal grandmother, Fannie Mills Yater, living at Hartsville, Tennessee, was an ardent admirer of David Lipscomb and Tolbert Fanning, even naming one of her sons Tolbert Fanning Yater. The family moved to Bosque County, Texas in 1878, just when the "sect baptism" issue was beginning to get hot. When the Firm Foundation began, Grandmother Yater read every issue of it, as well as continuing to read the Gospel Advocate. She became convinced, totally and forever, that A. McGary had the better of the argument with Lipscomb — and persuaded the brethren in the little congregation where she worshipped to get a preacher named J. D. Tant, who shared McGary's views on "sect" baptism, to hold a meeting. He came, met Nannie Yater, married her a couple of years later, and raised a family — of whom this editor is one of which.)
That battle over "sect baptism" raged for years — through the papers, in public and private debates, in gospel meetings, and just about everywhere else that brethren got together for any length of time. And out of controversy — came TRUTH! As a matter of fact, the extreme elements in both groups gave a little. The Gospel Advocate brethren gradually got away from their insistence that "the vast majority" of people who had been immersed had been scripturally baptized; and the brethren who were with Brother McGary little by little, began to concede that in some rare, isolated case it might conceivably be possible that an individual had understood God's teaching on baptism, and had been scripturally baptized by a denominational preacher, if he could have found such a preacher with sufficient courage to defy denominational doctrine and practice.
But the Firm Foundation almost certainly saved the day in that battle. By her courageous stand for truth, and her insistence on free, open, and unfettered discussion of the issue, the church was finally brought to a general agreement and understanding as to Bible teaching on this vital matter. Let it be devoutly hoped that this editorial by Brother Lemmons will be the clarion call, sounding the opening of a new phase in current discussions; and that once again we will see this great, old paper stand like a bulwark against the threatening tidal wave of innovations and human organizations in the church which some are so ardently defending and promoting.
[Pre]Sentation Of Our Position."
The articles by Brother Roy Lanier published some weeks ago were highly significant. They demonstrated that Lanier had the courage and the self respect to sever his connection with the Gospel Advocate when he realized that that journal was becoming more and more liberal and modernistic; and they demonstrated that the Firm Foundation management was willing to let the brotherhood generally know of the deep and irreconcilable difference' existing between the position of the Gospel Advocate and that of the Foundation. That is a healthy sign. Far from being an occasion of regret, it was something to bring a wave of hope and encouragement. For it has been known for a long time that there were differences; all the "hush-hush" policy in the world could not hide that fact, and all the efforts on the part of some to brand those who differed from them as an insignificant little group of hobbyists and Sommerites and crack-pots, deserving only of quarantine, isolation, and oblivion, could not conceal the fact of such a cleavage.
And now the differences can be discussed in ALL the papers, openly and freely. The Firm Foundation has made a tremendous contribution in that direction. And the editorial from the May 28 issue sounds exactly the right note for such a discussion. Let us, therefore, have a moratorium on all this name-calling, quarantining, branding, cancelling of meetings, breaking of fellowship, and the ugly and wicked spirit which has promoted such. There is no necessity for a division over current issues. The Gospel Advocate supports and endorses any kind, and all kinds of orphan homes for the churches' benevolent work — those under elders, those under a board of directors, those operated by an individual, etc. The Firm Foundation is definitely, totally, and unreservedly committed to oppose any organization other than the church being built and supported to do the church's work.
And the Gospel Guardian thinks there is an element of truth (and an admixture of error) in BOTH positions. We believe institutional orphan homes have a right to exist; and that churches can buy their services under the proper circumstances. And we believe also that the homes now "under an eldership" are generally wrong in organization as now conducted — i.e. "brotherhood" institutions.
So let the discussion continue!
— F. Y. T.