"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.II Pg.8-9
February 1948

Reply To Brother Wolfes Criticism

We here at Pepperdine have all read Brother Wolfe's article with deep Christian sorrow. There are two chief reasons for our concern.

First, Brother Wolfe didn't offer any criticisms or suggestions to us for the improvement of the work while he was here, or at any time later. When he left he called by the offices of his teachers and expressed his appreciation for their work. We believe that it is a basic principle of Christianity to go directly to the brother or brethren concerned if there is a criticism to be made. We regret that Brother Wolfe violated this principle.

Second, Brother Wolfe implies a lot of things about Pepperdine which will undoubtedly disturb some sincere people who do not know the facts, and most of the implications have little or no relationship to the incidents which he reports. For example, he implies that all of the teaching at the College, and especially all the Bible teaching, is a menace to the church, when probably he refers at most only to a few advanced graduate courses which he may not have understood very well. We do not object to sincere criticism—in fact we are glad to have it—but we regret that Brother Wolfe felt it was wise to give an impression that even he believes that all teaching at Pepperdine is a menace. We do not believe that Christian judgment should be based on hearsay and on isolated statements lifted from context.

The article has given me an opportunity to study even more intensely than before the work of our religious department by talking in great detail with the men in the department and with many who have studied in the department. It gives me great joy that, although there are some misunderstandings now and then on the part of some students, all teaching in our Department of Religion is fully dedicated to the teachings of Christ. The men in the department have the deepest respect for the Bible as the inspired word of God, and their whole aim in life is to defend and proclaim its truth.

The fact that Brother Wolfe and possibly others have misunderstood the purpose and nature of some things taught in probably one or two classes in advanced courses in our graduate department of religion, of course, deeply concerns us and will cause us sincerely to expend every effort to ascertain the reasons for such misunderstanding, because that is the very opposite of our goal and intention. We are convinced of the soundness of and great sincerity of all members of our staff, and they are sacrificing greatly to achieve the fundamental goals of real Christian training.

Nothing would be more foolish than for Pepperdine to drift or in any way depart from the truth. It is our deepest desire to come into closer and closer harmony with God's will as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. We are striving to express that harmony in sound doctrine, in attitudes, and in manner of life. We ask the prayers and help of Christian people everywhere as we strive toward the ideal of complete compliance with God's will.

Since many sincere people do not know what we are doing here, and may be misled by Brother Wolfe's report, I wish to state very briefly what the men in our Religion Department believe and teach on the points mentioned by Brother Wolfe. I have attempted to deal only with the points touched upon in Brother Wolfe's article. These things are so evident that it seems almost foolish to mention them, but since Brother Wolfe misunderstood perhaps someone else might, so here they are:

I. The Bible the Inspired Word of God. The faith that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is the foundation and cornerstone of all religious (and other) teaching at Pepperdine. All of us believe this truth; all of us teach it.

2. Full Revelation of God in Christ. We are not sure that we understand what Brother Wolfe means by "the evolutionary principle," as he used the term. Most people reading Brother Wolfe's statement probably thought he was referring to something about evolution as the term is usually used, but some who know him say he is criticizing the teaching that God gradually revealed himself to man in the Old Testament and finally fully revealed himself in Christ. This is generally recognized, I believe, as the teaching of the New Testament, notably the book of Hebrews. If this is what is meant by the term, "evolutionary principle," of course the 'New Testament teaches it and we believe it, but we would not call this principle "evolution," rather we would call it God's revelation of Himself to man.

3. An Educated Ministry. We do believe that it is valuable for those who preach to be educated. We have no faith in or respect for learning that creates pride or weakens faith. But we are confident that a faithful, well-educated ministry absolutely true to God's will be a great aid to the Cause of Christ. We do encourage men who are mature and who wish to teach to go on to the universities for the training that is required for teachers, but we constantly warn and guide them against influences that might lead them from the truth.

4. Christ died for our sins. No one could be a Christian and not believe the truth that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." In courses in the history of Christian thought since New Testament times the student must study the ideas that many thinkers have had about the meaning of the atonement. Perhaps Brother Wolfe's misunderstanding arose out of this study. However men may interpret the Scriptures, we all believe the simple, beautiful truth that Christ atoned for our sins, and as Christians we would not think of teaching anything else.

5. Miracles of our Lord Genuine. We believe as the Scriptures teach that God gave Jesus the Christ great and special powers, and we have no doubt whatever about the reality and genuineness of the miracles. That anyone here believes that the special powers of our Lord were merely "hocus-pocus" is simply unthinkable.

6. The Christian Teacher Must be Informed. This is perhaps the most important point in Brother Wolfe's article, for it was here that his misunderstanding arose. In advanced study, a student must read, study, and understand from varied sources what has been written on the subject. We get some students who wish to have an advanced degree (which merely represents certain study), but who seem disturbed and afraid to do the study involved. It may not be wise for some persons to read and study widely, for it is true that advanced study is for mature students who wish to acquaint themselves with all error in order to be able to refute it. Advanced study would he meaningless if the student merely read one side of the issue, especially if he read only what he believed already. Although the teacher guides the students it is necessary that the student do some thinking on his own. In short, it is true that we require our students to read widely and thoroughly in the books that we do not believe. We are sure they cannot be staunch defenders of the truth unless they are acquainted with error. Perhaps this reading is what was meant by the somewhat unkind phrase, "Bible explained by atheists."

7. All Scripture Inspired. Quite a point was made of the statement, "Paul was fond of." This may have been used, but if so, it was used merely to emphasize the manner of speech that the Holy Spirit used when speaking through Paul, as compared with the manner of speech used when the Spirit spoke through John. This is all there is to the point about "Paul was fond of," and of course we are sorry if there was misunderstanding.

8. Christ's Resurrection a Basic Truth. We are not sure we understand Brother Wolfe's point about the resurrection. He may be raising a point about what is sometimes technically called the "doctrine of the resurrection" which seems to have something to do with a theory about how the idea of the resurrection developed in Jewish thought. But the sincere Christian reader not acquainted with these technical terms will get the impression that Brother Wolfe is saying that we here at Pepperdine deny the resurrection. Whatever may have been Brother Wolfe's point on this matter, all may be assured all of us here believe and teach the simple teaching of the New Testament on the matter of the resurrection.

9. One Faith, One Hope, One Baptism. We believe that the church of the New Testament is the true church of Christ, body of Christ; that all who obey the Gospel of Christ are members of that body; and that all who have not so obeyed the Gospel are not a part of that church. We are opposed to all forms of denominationalism, and of course never advised anyone to remain in religious error. We do not seek or hope for any new movement. We believe the Gospel of Christ is complete and adequate, and agree with Paul where he said in Galatians 1:8, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." We do believe that the problem of keeping the church pure is a continuous problem, and that we must constantly work in every generation to keep it like the New Testament pattern. All of us here are dedicated to such a continuous "restoration." In that sense I judge we are all interested in a "new movement," except, of course, it isn't new.

I believe I have mentioned as simply and sincerely as possible what we believe and teach on the questions raised by Brother Wolfe. What I have said is not hearsay. It comes from long discussion with the men involved over a period of years and coming down to this very hour. If some point has not been covered in what I have said, suffice it to say that we stand firmly and squarely for the teachings of Scripture on all matters of religious faith and conduct. God being our helper, nothing will move us from this stand. Our teachers of religion are especially selected on the basis of their devotion to Christianity, their earnestness of conviction, and their purity of life, as well as for their excellent quality of teaching.

Our work here is open to public inspection at all times. All interested persons are invited to visit our campus, attend our classes, and raise questions about the work being done. Our sole desire is to be well pleasing to God in all humility and truth. We shall do all in our power to be true to the trust that an increasing number of Christian parents put in us.

HUGH M. TINER, President