"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.III No.XI Pg.1,16
July 1941

A Tornado In The Teapot

Cled E. Wallace

After the combined attack made upon us on the editorial page of the Firm Foundation, I suppose we are expected to fold our tents and quietly slip away somewhere to a remote retreat where we will henceforth neither be seen nor heard. But I think we won't, just yet anyway. I have a few more things to say before I relax into a posture of utter dejection, like the classical picture of the Indian on his horse in the midst of a storm, which I sometimes see hanging on the walls of homes I visit.

It seems that we have aroused a considerable-sized tornado in a teapot which I have an idea will blow out without even cracking the pot. I am a veteran and have seen it happen several times before, even a long time before our chief critic, Brother M. C. Franklin, decided to leave the digressives and return to the old paths. I once held a meeting in Greenville, Texas where Brother Franklin lives and I recall that he attended almost every service. I found him very companionable and helpful and therefore feel some surprise and regret over the fact that he is now loudly calling through the Firm Foundation for brethren everywhere to turn thumbs down on our "diabolical literature," referring to the Bible Banner, and to refuse us "all recognition" until we make our "acknowledgments to the entire brotherhood." On the whole the brother has laid out a good sizable task for himself in disposing of us and our "diabolical" ways and has started out by violating the law of love, he so sternly attempts to bind on us. I am also reasonably certain that he will not have the full support of the editor of the Firm Foundation in his ambitious efforts to rob us of "the munitions of war" and make it unprofitable for us to carry on. I appeared weekly (not weakly) in the Firm Foundation a good many years while Brother Franklin was running with the organ and convention crowd. I said things then, and have been saying them in one place or another ever since, that wrung everything from mild grimaces to howls of protest from some people, good or otherwise, for one reason or another. I get letters, editors get letters but somehow, maybe the Lord is with me, my ammunition supply has never been seriously depleted. And I'm really not afraid that the little squib Brother Franklin set off in the Firm Foundation will blow up our whole ammunition dump. If Brother Showalter, who is a fairly good friend of ours most of the time, had thought it would, he probably would have spit on it and put it out instead of publishing it. He only half endorsed it and wound up by making fun of it. He doesn't much like for editors and preachers to either be funny or try to be funny, but Brother Franklin offered him such a tidbit of temptation, even the sober-minded editor of the Firm Foundation could not resist a mild wisecrack. "And thus Brother Franklin concludes his soft answer' in an effort to turn away wrath." I'd have to try to be funny to get off one that good. When I finished Brother Franklin's stern arraignment of the Bible Banner and then read the editor's footnote, it hit me like the sun smiling at me through a rift in a cloud. During all the years I said things in the Firm Foundation at least as "diabolical" as anything Brother Franklin can now quote from me, I do not recall even a mild rebuke from the editor. Even worse things got in then and since that I did not write. I even now find myself in complete agreement with much that Brother Showalter says and think I know that he agrees with much that I say. I agree with some things Brother Franklin says but also think he has shown a sad lack of discrimination.

It is in order now to review the situation and see how the tornado got in the teapot. The Bible Banner, being more conservative than some of its critic is give it credit for, was shocked at some of the excesses in manner and language employed by some. We expressed ourselves rather vigorously, maybe too much so, but not more so than Brother Franklin has expressed himself about us. He cannot qualify as an apostle of mild expression himself. He accuses us of trying to "enhance" our "private interests" and suggests that even these are "not entirely ethical in their nature." He classifies us as "competing and malicious editors" and says we are "vindictive" and have "a vast reservoir of hatred." He thinks we belong to "a crowd of self-seeking ecclesiastical gangsters" and "are in deliberate rebellion against God." He finally thinks we have opened the pits of hell from which "sulphurous fumes" are "pouring forth." He wants to know if we have never read "A soft answer turneth away wrath." Well, have you? This is what made the editor of the Firm Foundation get funny without even trying. I don't blame him for I don't think he could have helped it even if he had tried. Of course, we merely enter a blanket denial of the ridiculous and intemperate charges made against us. They are simply not true as most people know. I think Brother Franklin has made a serious mistake but at that, he is a good man, I love him and do not intend to refuse him recognition or ask "the entire brotherhood" or even a part of them to do so. I shall not even ask him to use a soft answer on me to turn away wrath for I'm not even angry.

In reply to our rebuke of certain men for their fanatical antics in dealing with brethren and others, personal abuse of a most virulent type was heaped upon us. To this we made no reply and do not expect to. We are not interested in a personal feud and employ personalities only where they affect issues. There is a distinct difference between the fight the Bible Banner has made on issues and the campaign of personal abuse and defamation of character which has been directed at us. We rejoice that thousands of brethren, including the editor of the Firm Foundation, see and appreciate this. Call us all the ugly names you will and we shall continue to try to stick to the issues that affect the integrity and well-being of the church. We expected abuse when we started this fight and we have not been disappointed. But since Brother Franklin admits that he has read and wept over those scriptures that enjoin love and good-will among men, he should at least be fair with us. I do not charge that he has been willfully unfair, but he has been unfair anyway. He jumbles into a long, ugly list all the bad names and uncomplimentary expressions he could find in a certain paper, the name of which can be found in the Firm Foundation, and certain expressions he found in the Bible Banner. He jumbled them all together without saying who said what. He is free to quote the Bible Banner and give what expressions it used with proper credit. They can stand on their merits and we will stand behind them. He is "horrified" at the language but seems perfectly willing to soil the editorial page of the Firm Foundation with them. The Bible Banner would not even quote them. You will never see some of those expressions in our paper. We did not use them in the first place and do not propose to be guilty of "second-hand cussing" by passing them on even in quotation marks. We think we are cleaner in this respect than either Brother Franklin or the Firm Foundation. Brother Showalter says: "The vocabulary, about which Brother Franklin complains, justifies his vigorously expressed abhorrence. It is seriously vulnerable." I should say as much! You should not therefore have offended the sensibilities of your readers with them. We have publicly declined to "match adjectives" with the most intemperate villifier I have ever known to break forth in print. Regarding what he said and what we said, Brother Franklin remarks: "There is no choice. The one is as vindictive as the other." Very well, my brother, I have a proposition to make to you. You pick out the worst things you can find in my articles and I will pick out a few from your one article and you can put them in the Firm Foundation with due credit given and without comment let the readers judge how much "choice" there is. You have "vigorously expressed" yourself too, as Brother Showalter put it. The Firm Foundation is "going out by thousands to every part of the land." In it you call some prominent and widely beloved-brethren "infernal," malicious editors," "vindictive," "self-seeking ecclesiastical gangsters," deliberate rebels against God and other nice things like that. "What havoc will this matter not work, when it falls into the hands of a babe in Christ, or one who has recently been snatched from the toils of sectarianism? And when we tell folk that we take `the Scriptures as our only rule of faith and action,' we will only be met by the contemptuous sneers of a damned soul." Is Brother Franklin "so gullible as to think that some of them will not fall into the hands of 'outsiders'?" We have never used as severe language against our critics as Brother Franklin uses against us. I think I am right in this with possibly one exception I can think of. That more or less famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view, article I wrote in which I called the anonymous purveyors of slander crawling copperheads, or something like. The editor of the Firm Foundation evidently thought my "vigorously expressed abhorrence" was justified, as he voluntarily without any request from me, copied it on the editorial page of his paper. He did not even suggest that the language was "seriously vulnerable.

There is one little twist in this little tornado I can't figure out. Brother Franklin is, I think, properly "horrified" over the methods and the language of the same crowd that "horrified" us. We sailed into them with "vigorously expressed abhorrence" as Brother Showalter would say. Instead of helping us, Brother Franklin takes off his coat and sails into all of us "indiscriminately." We do not claim that he is as bad as the crowd we jumped on, but the way he is using his teeth and nails, we do think he needs a little elementary instruction on the rules of a fair fight. As for the other crowd, they do not know there are any rules.

Really, we believe and try to practice all those Scriptures both Brother Franklin and Brother Showalter have quoted to us. Sometimes, though, I think we do not make a much better out at it, than they do sometimes. Believe, me though, Brother Franklin when I tell you that I do not hate anybody. I'm no plaster saint. It wouldn't do any good for me to tell you how good I am, for most of it just wouldn't be so. I do get aggravated at the brethren sometimes, some of them, for the way they carry on and can't well blame you for being "horrified." But let's you and me "learn to endure with much longsuffering vessels of wrath," and not to be too hard on each other. The Bible Banner has done some good, now hasn't it?, fighting isms of various kinds and standing up for the faith. The editor of the Firm Foundation says it has and I believe he is right. Some of the ablest men in the church agree with us. You are the first one I have observed who called us "ecclesiastical gangsters" in print and that in the Firm Foundation. Why, Foy and I both were weaned on it. It may be partly responsible for some of our meanness, as well as some of the few virtues some people think we have. But I really do not believe you meant that and some other things you said. You were just aggravated like the little boy was who was trying to say his prayers one night before going to bed. "Now I lay me down to sleep. . . ."and his little brother tickled his feet and he had to begin over again. The third time he was interrupted, he said: " `Scuse me, Lord, till I slap the devil out of Tommy." I don't know just how long it will last, but I think Brother Franklin can now return to his devotions.

Brother John O'Dowd comes out in the Firm Foundation with a call for a peace conference. He hopes "that the parties involved in this controversy can get together and formulate some Christian peace terms." Well, now, I have heard some nice things about Brother John and some that were not so nice. Take him up one side and down the other, I do not believe that he is the sort of flower which would bloom brightly in the button-hole of a peace conference. If my information is correct, he is pretty much of a stormy petrel himself and has enough tempests of his own making to keep him pretty busy. As for us, we believed all we said about the activities of the wild boys, and up to date have nothing to take back or even discuss around a peace table. If we had to attend a peace conference everytime we attacked some abuse in or out of the church, we would have to arrange some way to get a portable one and take it along with us. Brother John doesn't express a very high opinion of us anyway and as long as he thinks of us as he says he does, we wouldn't take him along if he were portable. We think we are reasonable and we think we are right. We shall continue to say what we think ought to be said and of course everybody who reads it is at liberty to think or say what he pleases about it. Public opinion, enlightened or otherwise, will judge us here, and the Lord will judge us in the end. We face both judgments with calm confidence.