"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.V No.VII Pg.6-7
February 1943

An Editor Tiptoes Around A Vexing Problem

Cled E. Wallace

The following insertion is an editorial excursion which lately appeared in the Gospel Advocate, Nashville, Tennessee. In order that our readers may see the significance of the stand the editor of the Advocate has taken, and ponder the full import of his editorial declaration, his article is copied in full.

Support For The Conscientious Objector

At long last it seems that the vexing problem of feeding the conscientious objector has been solved! In a recent exchange, an "ace writer," with peculiar insight and financial wizardry, proposes a tangible solution of the matter. He suggests: "The men who are responsible for teaching these boys (the fourteen conscientious objectors in the camp at Magnolia) the kind of impractical idealism that put them where they are, and are shuddering themselves into chills over the terrible persecutions they are suffering, ought to feed them." Yes, we think that the men who taught them should feel an obligation to feed them.

The question is: Who taught them? If we could answer that question, we would know to whom the appeal for support should be made. "This scribe" is not personally acquainted with any of these fourteen boys or the sources of their instruction. But there are certain possibilities in the case. The most reasonable supposition is that they have been studying the New Testament. (Since the present writer, according to two "fellow associate editors" lifted only a "belated" and "timid voice" in defense of the conscientious objector, he can hardly be charged with having taught them. With his teaching it was a matter of being "too little and too late." Yet he is not unwilling to "do his part" for the boys. It is possible to contribute to the relief of less worthy cases of impecuniosity!)

It is remotely possible that some or all of these boys read a certain expression of "sentiments" under the ominous title of "War Clouds" back in 1936. They may have been made "conscientious objectors" by such sentiments as these: "It is to be greatly deplored that some brethren will write articles that even point in the direction of Christians engaging in carnal warfare. It is distinctly noticeable (and still is-B. C. G.] that any such advice from Jesus and the apostles has been conspicuously absent from their articles. They arrive at their conclusions by deduction, patriotic effusions, and other belligerent war-like ratiocinations rather than New Testament teaching... No matter what one might do under this or that exigency, no man can produce the Scripture that gives a Christian the right to go to war, much less to make it a wartime duty. It would comport far more with the gospel of Christ for our preachers to be exhorting Christians to follow Christ and the apostles even to prison and martyrdom than to be instilling within them the spirit of militarism, war, and hell. No, I am not a patriot--I am a Christian. [we might ask: Is it impossible to be a "patriot" and a "Christian" at the same time? If one becomes a patriot, does he cease to be a Christian?-B. C. G.]" (Foy E. Wallace, Gospel Guardian, March-April, 1936, page 5.

Again, these boys may have read a frantic appeal which appeared in the BIBLE BANNER of May, 1941, under the intriguing and pacific title, "Put Up Thy Fist, Brother." This article was written in a "big brotherly" spirit along about the time an abortive effort was made to take "some adolescent editors" to the journalistic woodshed for an editorial drubbing. Naturally these boys would conclude that if it was wrong to use as relatively harmless an instrument as the human fist on one's fellow man, it certainly would be wrong to use a more deadly instrument on him. Although the article was apparently written to calm the spirit of a brother who was coming to the rescue with his fist, yet it might easily be given a wider application by these "freak specimens." Ponder this advice: "We have become partakers of the divine nature, and fists and clubs and abusive language are definitely out. If any literal blood is shed in this conflict (with the "adolescent editors "B'. C. G.], it will be ours, not theirs." All this was said primarily for the benefit of a "magnificent giant who has had army training"; with the "big brotherly"-yea, fatherly-admonition, and in language almost Abrahamic, he further urged: "But remember, son, that we are not in that sort of a fight." But these "misguided boys" might be expected to make a personal application of it!

If these boys at Magnolia were influenced by the foregoing "sentiments" in becoming "conscientious objectors," they will feel forsaken when they reflect upon the radical change in their erstwhile preceptors. They, along with others, will feel that when the hat is passed, the authors of the aforesaid pronouncements should "chip in." It seems a bit strange that they should be styled "fanatics" by those who, possibly, contributed to making them what they are! Their present critics did some "agitating" as early as 1936.

"Those who are responsible for teaching these boys ought to feed them." Yea, verily!

A recent article of mine on "Who Is Doing the Agitating?" has "woke up" the cautious, mild-mannered editor of the Gospel Advocate. It has agitated him to the point where he has made one of his rare, personal appearances on the editorial page of his own paper. A lot of people, including me, who are in sympathy with the editor's point of view, and who are not, are delighted. He has written a colorful editorial that everybody will read without yawning. It is by far the peppiest thing we have ever seen from his pen. The fact that it is pointed at me and the editor of the BIBLE BANNER does not in the least dampen my satisfaction. We have occasion to feel flattered that he took us as subjects on this his first venture into racy writing and actually adopted our style in doing so. Even if he did do some skillful tiptoeing around a "vexing problem," I think he ought to be rewarded with a few extra subscribers for his unusual effort. He has furnished us with some entertainment and something to think and write about. The fact that I regard the editor of the Advocate as a very gracious gentleman and entertain a high personal regard for him will serve to guarantee that anything I say about him or what he has written will be free from personal animosity.

He is trying to fix the blame, if there be such, for the current phenomenon of "conscientious objectors", Our friend thinks "he can hardly be charged with having taught them" and he seeks to place the blame on the editor of the BIBLE BANNER, me, and the New Testament. He thinks "the most reasonable supposition is that they have been studying, the New Testament." Well, if that is where they got it, they are right, and the rest of us, including Brother Goodpasture, are wrong. "These fourteen boys" are a sublimated variety of "conscientious objectors," if I understand the matter. They will not do even noncombatant service in the Army. They enter a detention camp under sectarian auspices and preachers and editors call on the churches to feed them. Does the editor of the Gospel Advocate think the New Testament demands this course of all Christians subject to military call under the laws of the land? Does he think there is anything a Christian can do to help win the war? Suppose he settles down and tells us just what it is, if anything. Tiptoeing will not quite satisfy anybody on either side of this "vexing problem." Going to sleep behind an editorial desk on the question, will not help much either. Since he has adopted our style and sailed into us, which we do not at all resent but rather feel gratified over, I think the readers of the Gospel Advocate will expect him to be somewhat more specific in dealing with some questions. Does he think it right for the government to defend its existence by force of arms? Does he think the members of the armed forces are either actual or potential murderers in the discharge of the duties such a connection involves? If there are any members of the church among them, should they be disciplined by the church and withdrawn from in case they decline to sever a connection? Everybody knows what we think about these things, but there are a lot of people who would like to have a frank statement from the editor of the Gospel Advocate about what he thinks of them. We will not be too critical of the style he uses in telling us, just so he tells us. He has proved that he can get racy when he wants to. I do not mind saying that I am both surprised and delighted.

Now, if I am partly responsible for the "poorly educated" consciences Brother Showalter says "these fourteen boys" have, and Brother Goodpasture seems to think maybe I am, then I ought to help feed them. Being of a generous nature, and inclined to be tolerant even toward brethren with "poorly educated" consciences, I might even toy with the idea of giving them a handout anyhow. However, if they are performing all the useful services some brethren are writing me about, it seems to me that ought to entitle them to something to eat and wear and a place to sleep without going outside to pass the hat. But if it is necessary for Brother Goodpasture to "pass the hat" to keep them from going hungry, in spite of the magnificent services they are rendering the government, responsibility or no responsibility, I'm willing to "chip in." The hungry ought to be fed when possible regardless of the state of their consciences. However, I decline to help make heroic figures of them.

Brother Goodpasture thinks we have changed and seems inclined to taunt us with a charge of inconsistency. I take it that he does not mean to imply that any conviction we currently express lacks genuineness or is in any degree counterfeit. What we have said at all times has been boldly expressed and widely read, and at times hectically discussed. Personally, I am not inclined to do any dodging, nor do I think the editor of the BIBLE BANNER is. We claim to be men of conviction and if either of us says a thing today that contradicts something we said yesterday, of course a change of views is implied. We do not make any claims to inspiration, nor do we think that any view we may express on any theme is necessarily a final and fixed decree either for ourselves or others. We are certain that the Bible is always right.

Brother Goodpasture obviously thinks he has made out a clever case against us. It is a mild expression to say that I doubt it. He digs up some old issue of the BIBLE BANNER and fishes out some advice that I gave to a brother of mine. Under the provocation of a vicious and insulting attack a certain "unmentionable" published a scurrilous attack on our character, this brother expressed a willingness, if not some eagerness to right things with his fist. I gave him some good advice that he followed. When he cooled off he knew I was right and that advice is still good under all such circumstances. Had he carried out that impulse he would have violated not only the teaching of the New Testament, but also the law of the land. I do not resist personal insults with fists and clubs and abusive language, nor do I desire anybody else to do so on my behalf. If I did there would be several candidates for a clubbing, including some preachers, who have written me abusive letters. Incidentally, all of them are conscientious objectors.

"We have become partakers of the divine nature, and fists and clubs and abusive language are definitely out. If any literal blood is shed in this conflict, it will be ours, not theirs." What does all that have to do with the legitimate functions of government and a Christian's relation thereto? Just none at all. It is significant that this distinction, the main point of our contention, has been ignored, and our critics point scriptures at us that we believe as devoutly as do they. I still hold to every word of advice I gave to my agitated brother and it is not at all inconsistent with my attitude toward government. If there is, let the editor of the Gospel Advocate point it out instead of tiptoeing around the chief point.

Brother Goodpasture appears to be a little gleeful over "an abortive effort" we "made to take some adolescent editors' to the journalistic woodshed for an editorial drubbing." It did seem to be somewhat "abortive" at the time, judging from the shrieks of rage and profanity that came from "the woodshed." The wild boys did act up in a most shocking manner. I had no suspicions at the time that Brother Goodpasture entertained any sympathy for them. One good friend of mine gave me a good-natured razzing to the effect that if we had known what sort of little animals were down in that hole, we would have been more cautious about how we poked a stick into it. At any rate the sequel was not so bad and it seems to have yielded some peaceable fruit to them that were exercised thereby. Things are pretty quiet in the Valley since the main big noise moved to California. The Oklahoma "unmentionable" is so quiet, I could not tell you whether he is still there or not. Incidentally, they are conscientious objectors. If recalling those hectic days stirs Brother Goodpasture's risibles, I can't say that I blame him. I laugh myself when I think about it. You must admit that the boys got a good spanking that they needed, even if they did scratch and bawl and kick our shins and spit on us while we were applying the leather where it did the most good. Their behaviour may not be exemplary even yet, but on the surface it has greatly improved.

When you get ready to pass the hat again, Brother Goodpasture, come around. I am not making a definite pledge to "chip in" something, but I'll think about it. When I make another "radical change," I'll let you know about it.


For the longest I have been thinking of writing to tell you how I appreciate the firm, bold stand you and Cled have taken in defense of the truth of God's word, but just neglected to do so. May both of you live long to keep up the good fight of faith.-M. L. Vaughn, Abilene, Texas.

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Our sister, "almost seventy," says: Ideas remind me of kernels of popcorn. They lie dormant in the popper until applied heat starts a commotion. As the pressure increases the bigger they get to be; then someone lifts the lid, and out they pop. Moral: Keep the lid on tight, and let them pop out against each other.-Mrs. Eddie W. Swank, Dickson, Tenn.

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I wish to reiterate my approval and appreciation of your valorous and victorious fight against the conscientious objectors' idea. They have not answered your arguments. The effort to indict you with resorting to the same "tune" as the digressives in reply to your suggestion that they agree among themselves before offering to debate, fails in the analogy because the cases are not parallel. We are in agreement among ourselves on the issue of opposing instrumental music and these brethren are not in agreement among themselves on opposing participation in the war, as to the nature and extent of that participation. Brother Cled surely exposed the absurd plea in behalf of the conscientious objectors in the detention camps.-Bryan W. Vinson, Longview, Texas.