"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.III Pg.1-4
March 1948

Is George Pepperdine College Sound?

O. L. Castleberry

Many rumors and facts have been circulated among our brethren concerning the soundness of George Pepperdine College. Brethren are deeply concerned and often anxious to know true conditions. As any "Christian" college wields influence that is far reaching and therefore greatly concerns followers of Christ, it is both natural and necessary that as many facts as are available be made known to Christians so that sound judgments may be possible. It is the sole purpose of this article to make known such facts. I have gone to great lengths in use of time, thought, work, prayer and money because all need to know the truth on the matter. I write this article because I love the Church of the Lord and believe its welfare is endangered by George Pepperdine College.

A few introductory facts should be mentioned here about George Pepperdine College. Unlike other of "our" schools it is not dependent on the general church members as individuals for financial aid or for the greater portion of its students. It derives its financial needs from Brother George Pepperdine. Most of its students come from denominations as is shown by the December 1946 enrollment figures when only 302 students out of 1109 were even nominally members of the church of Christ. While the number of students increases each year yet the percentage of members of the church of Christ decreases!

Not needing the support or recommendation of any great percentage of members of the church of Christ, the college authorities have been free to follow their own inclinations in all affairs. These inclinations have led to a policy which has included seeking worldly recognition, worldly friendship and praise, and even cooperation with denominations and their preachers. It has also included some modernistic attitudes toward Bible authority. These charges will be considered later in this article in detail.

The college is located in Los Angeles. Both Los Angeles and its neighbor, Hollywood, are extremely wicked. In such a location especially the true servant of Christ, interested in protecting the Church and the faith of its members from the influence of the outside must stand boldly and aggressively against the onslaughts of worldly influence. He must preach a gospel of strength and fearlessness, not of hesitancy and mild unconcernedness In guiding young boys and girls who may often be away from home and parental guidance for the first time, a tremendous obligation is assumed. A school which advertises in gospel papers that it offers a wholesome Christian environment to our youth is under great obligation to be sincere and wholly devoted to the church and its Head. When it fails to do so it is a failure which is heart-rending and terrifying to consider.

The position and trend of George Pepperdine College can perhaps be best presented by mentioning throughout the rest of this article facts concerning faculty, class work, and items in the college paper, the Graphic. Brief bits of information about such things should indicate the true nature of affairs at the college or at least be helpful in determining your own attitude if you are not personally familiar with these facts.

The Faculty

Much could be said concerning the faculty, however, only two men shall be considered: Dean E. V. Pullias and Prof. Ralph Wilburn. Dean E. V. Pullias came directly to the college from the Durham, North Carolina Christian Church. He had worshipped with this Christian Church for over three years and taught a very popular women's class for them without condemning instrumental music. Write Mrs. E. P. Baldwin and Mrs. Laura Conklin of 917 Chester Ave. if you desire to verify this fact. He sang with their instruments and presided over their communion table, a fact which was learned in direct conversation with Elder Joseph Spencer of the Durham Christian Church. The Christian Church there is modernistic and has young people's meetings with the Baptists. I went to Durham and verified my statements personally. Dean Pullias is now a very important policy influencing official at the college.

Prof. Ralph Wilburn, who holds a Doctor's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Chicago teaches most of the courses in what is called the Graduate School of Religion at Pepperdine. He uses such terms as "your theology" and "my theology" and "Paul's theology as compared with Christ's theology." Dr. Wilburn's "theology" and modernism has been most capably dealt with by Bro. John Wolfe in a recent edition of the Bible Banner. Brethren who have sat in the classes and heard what is taught wish to verify the charges of modernism already brought out in the Wolfe article. I and others plan to deal more with this trend at Pepperdine in another article. Dr. Wilburn speaks of the great inspiring spirituality of former and present denominational leaders and their various doctrines of grace etc., with deep enthusiasm and almost reverence. He classifies the premillennialist, R. H. Boll, as one of the "great" men of the Church, equal in stature to faithful men like Brother T. B. Larimore and David Lipscomb.

Cooperation With Denominations

Denominational cooperation is best shown by the meeting at the Pepperdine Chapel Sunday night starting at 7:30 p. m. November 24, 1946 of the Greyfriars Memorial Church, which, according to the printed programs for the occasion, regularly "holds a worship service every Sabbath evening at 7:30 in the United Presbyterian Church." Dean E. V. Pullias gave the words of welcome and the scripture was read by "Rev. Clifford Ramsdale." The college quartette was scheduled to sing and a denominational preacher, Dr. David Calderwood, preached his sermon. Music was accompanied by instruments. This meeting was held at the same hour as church of Christ services. A statement on the program read "we extend an invitation to you today to become partners in this great project." ('This project means to help build up the Greyfriars Memorial Church—a denomination.)

A big rally of a religious group known as Sky Pilots of America was held Sunday, June 15, at 3 p.m., in the Pepperdine Auditorium. According to its own literature the group was started by "Rev. Elmer B. Sachs of the Bassettdale Community Church" and "is interdenominational". Their rally at Pepperdine featured a whistler, tumblers, brass horn players, religious singing accompanied by instruments "and, of course, Rev. Mr. Sachs." Their announcement states, "The Pepperdine Squad of Los Angeles meets Thursday nights and is ready to initiate new members".

Further cooperation is shown in the frequent chapel speeches by denominational preachers. Though the student body is largely composed of sectarians yet the special outside chapel speakers are in the majority denominational members and preachers. One special speaker in the regular student chapel spoke on Jewish, Catholic and Protestant cooperation. At another time a film was shown in the chapel condoning and urging cooperation among the three groups mentioned. With regard to the chapel it should be said that sports announcements consume far more time than preaching or teaching the gospel.

Quotes below are from the college paper, the Graphic, which states, it is "published by students—under the supervision of the faculty committee." Dr. Wade Ruby is faculty advisor. It is therefore assumed that these articles have the approval of the college authorities. This therefore is the type of entertainment which has been recommended by the school through its paper.

Theatre Recommendations (Graphic)

Nov. 3, '44—A play is advertised as available in downtown Los Angeles called "White Cargo" which is a "tropical romance of love and lust in the Congo" with "Tonya in her fiery performance as the temptress." "It is the tale of heat savagery and dry rot of Africa's West Coast."

Feb. 2, '45—Theta Sigma Chi's (among many others) attend a play called The Drunkard. Beer and root beer with pretzels are served at this play during the intermission. A Pepperdine ministerial student regularly sang in this play.

April 20, '45—A stage show is recommended which "concerns Nifty Miller and her battle with a hula dancer and a snake-charmer for the love of her son." Hula dancing may be seen in this play.

Pepperdine's own play originally called "Spring Dance" was changed in name to "Wary Quarry". This play had as a part of the plot a mistaken illegitimacy. Much slang was used. This was put on in the Pepperdine auditorium.

Pepperdine Student Handbook ('44-'45)--In the pages of this student handbook a section is devoted to suggesting to students suitable places visit under the heading "Seeing Los Angeles". A place called Earl Carroll's is included as a place for the students to see. "Earl Carroll's" is a "night club" featuring "lavish girl shows" with "dancing and drinking" according to the Herald-Express paper of June 12, 1947. It features near-nude girl shows.

Duel In The Sun is a movie which according to Life Magazine "is a passionate spectacular, immoral western. It offers murder, rape, dancing, drunkenness, religion, prostitution and war". The heroine "has a wardrobe which barely keeps the rain off". "Condemned last week by California branches of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish organizations, by the D. A. R., the American Legion Auxiliary, the Girl Scouts and other groups, and threatened with a possible ban by the Legion of Decency"—Of this picture Pepperdine's Graphic states:

Jan. 8; '47—"After a depressing absence of good motion pictures downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood is suddenly alive with the long ballyhooed pet releases of the major studios. Selznick's Duel In The Sun sneaked under the dead line to be one of the major contenders for this year's Academy Awards. The Vogue Theatre is running the film, all seats reserved, for an indefinite engagement."

Feb. 5, '47—"PICTURES OF THE WEEK"—Motion Pictures of the week! In a brief view, the best pictures of the week appear to be . . . , "Duel In The Sun .

March 5, '47—"Still showing downtown at the Fairfax Theatre . . . "Duel In The Sun" . . . . still banned by the Catholic Church . . . . still breaking all sales records and still uncut by the censors".

Dancing at Pepperdine

Dancing is common in the life of Pepperdine students, even among many of the church members there now. A class in folk dancing, called Folk Games, is taught at the college. In this class girls wear shorts and some of the men who are with them wear equally as little. They dance rhythmically to music. While some of these dances are more like folk games others approach the modern dance. In one the man placed his hands on the woman's waist while they danced to music in shorts.

Lastly, Pepperdiners, through the Graphic find recommendations to view adagio dancing, ballet, Indian Mask Dances, and one hula-dance. Dance records are advertised in the paper with a Picture of a ball-room couple and another with a jitter-bug group dancing to illustrate the intended use of the records. One advertisement offers the services of a girl on campus in helping to dress for a "prom" which is a dance. The following are quotes to prove my statements:

Nov. .17, '44—"Argentinita,, the Queen of the Dance and her company (of dancers) will return here." (to L. A.)

Dec. 1, '44—"The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo returns here—will bring in addition to its own company of over seventy dancers .. . . "

Feb. 16, '45—"About the biggest news in the L. A. entertainment world this week is the annual dance series by the Ballet Theatre." Oct. 20, '44--"Recommended is a group of solo dancers of exceptional skill. Ballet as entertainment will be much the vogue this season." April 20, '45---Hula-dancers.

Nov. 20, '46—Indian Mask dances on Pepperdine stage.

Feb. 22, '46—Square dancing on Pepperdine stage in a play.

In the April 3, 1946 issue of the Firm Foundation President Tiner of Pepperdine said, "There has never been a single thing said or done at the college to encourage dancing and we would fight such an attempt." Has this been done ?

Lord's Day at Pepperdine

April 20, '46—All interested sophomores are invited to a beach party to take place Saturday and Sunday, May 4th and 5th.

May 25, '45—"For a day of fun (Sunday) the Delta Chi Omega and Theta Sigma Chi Sororities are planning to spend Sunday, May 27, at Huntington Beach enjoying sun, water and food_"

Nov. 3, '44—The Graphic points out "Bargain priced Sunday special matinee at 5 p. m. of the play they termed "a tropical romance of love and lust."

March 9, '47—Sunday night basketball game with Clifton's Cafeteria.

Dress at Pepperdine

God clothed Adam and Eve with skins when they were dressed in fig leaves only. The New Testament teaches "That women adorn themselves in modest apparel."

Graphic, April 20, '45—A type of dress is recommended which is "new and exciting. They're shoulderless around the low necklines" "cotton sun suits that double as swim suits are those of the two-piece design. Shorts are straighter in design.

May 24, '46—"Everything points toward cool deep neck-lines".

Jan. 15, '47—"Watch Hollywood for bathing suits and play clothes designs".

Pepperdine girls mix indiscriminately with men while both are wearing shorts at the dancing class described. Many appear in brief shorts on or near the tennis courts which may easily be viewed from the men's dormitory. Mixed bathing at the beach is common among students and sanctioned by the school. The latter statement is shown by such notices in the Graphic as the following:

April 16, '47—"Remember! Freshman Beach Party, Saturday, April 26 Details later."

A Summary

Readers of this paper have probably already heard rumors about this college. This writer has tried to present facts and offers further proof on request with regard to any statement made. Other men who may be referred to for more information are Homer Hailey, Otis Gatewood, John Wolfe, Albert Lovelady, Roy Tidwell, Arnold Watson, Glenn Wallace and John Bessire. Otis Gatewood, former instructor in Personal evangelism at the college and John Bessire, student, organized some class members to do personal work among the students as most students are not Christians. Dean E. V. Pullias told him that he forbade such organized personal work among the students and the attempt was stopped. Dean Pullias told Bro. Gatewood to go work anywhere he wanted to, that there was plenty of territory between Los Angeles and San Diego, but to let the students on the Pepperdine campus alone.

Many meetings have been held with the Pepperdine authorities by our faithful brethren but to no avail. Those who discuss improvements in the college are told such things as "We don't care" (E. V. Pullias to Albert Lovelady) or "This is a big country, if you don't like it here, go elsewhere" (said to another preacher).

If Pepperdine College departures are not corrected the college will wreck the faith and hurt the church to the extent of its influence, which is great. However great our feelings in such matters the Cause of Christ must not be made to suffer by our silence.

O. L. Castleberry

1244 W. 66th Street, L. A. 44

A few comments from brethren regarding the article "Is George Pepperdine College Sound" are as follows:

Otis Gatewood (Germany) "I believe you have presented facts as they are in a kind and Christian manner and I believe it will do good and no harm to have those facts published."

Roy Palmer (Germany) "I think that all the information which you have documented should be made known to the brethren, with the hope that the situation may be made better, or some be saved from its influence."

Homer Halley (Honolula, T. H.) "I believe it is accurate in every way and should be published in the brotherhood."

Roy Tidwell (Minister) "You may be assured that this article is a true statement of facts and that there are plenty of responsible brethren who will stand behind it."

Glenn Wallace (Minister, College Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas) "I will have a copy sent to the Firm Foundation with my request that Bro. Showalter publish it."