"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.VIII No.II Pg.40b-43
October 1945

The New Campaign Of Calumny; Part 5

Perhaps no comment from me on the foregoing documents is necessary. My friends know me and explanations to them are certainly unnecessary; and my enemies would not believe me on oath, nor accept any explanations and overtures on my behalf from any other source. But there are a vast host of people in between who are affected by these things and who love the Master whose cause is involved. It is for them and for that Cause, and for no other reason under heaven, that I have subjected myself to the suffering of publicizing for so long matters of purely a personal and private business nature. I doubt if a single one of my critics would be willing to submit his personal record to the scrutiny that has been given mine. In fact, should any of them accuse another in the presence of the Lord in business and financial matters, I wonder if He would not stoop before them to write something on the ground. Could any of them cast the first stone? Let them open their private records for the inspection and scrutiny of others and see.

Whether further comment is necessary or not, there are some remarks that I feel are permissible in the premises.

First, I am not even concerned, much less anxious, over the matter of whether the elders of the Central church in Houston and their preacher endorse me or do not endorse me. Furthermore, there has been no effort made to violate the autonomy of their local church. I am certain that I have made no demands of that sort, and I do not believe anyone else has done so. They elected of themselves to inject the personal attacks into the correspondence, when they released their pent-up feelings and revealed their real reasons—at least, their real attitude, if not worthy to be named reasons—for their actions. In so doing they chose their own ground.

Second, the statement of one of their elders that a man would not publish a defense of his honesty if he were not dishonest is an assertion which would work more than one way. Did they not write a letter defending themselves against charges that they are premillennial in sympathy? Read the letter in which they attempt to convince other churches that they are not premillennialists. So according to their own dictum they are premillennialists! They would not publish a defense of themselves if they were not guilty, and they would not deny it if it were not true!

Of course, everyone knows that I did not publish a "seventy-six page" magazine to defend my honesty. The Special Issue of the Bible Banner was published to refute the propaganda of J. Frank Norris against the church, to correct his falsehoods, to put the correct information in reference to the Fort Worth debate in the hands of all, to show to all the world that the recent Norris challenges for another debate had been accepted, and to expose J. Frank Norris in the character that he really is. The issue accomplished its purpose. It was in connection with this exposure that a few pages were devoted to the "campaign of calumny" which he had waged, aided and abetted by certain members of the church, of whom some were preachers. And herein lies the real trouble with Brother Burton Coffman and his elders. A sore spot was touched; they felt it, and winced. It is regrettable, indeed, that a gospel preacher and elders of a church of Christ will stoop to "tactics" of J. Frank Norris and thus descend to his level. It is my opinion that when loyal members of the church over the country learn the facts, it will require more than "seventy-six pages" to clear them of this self-imposed stigma.

I believe that all fair-minded people can see that it is the conduct of such men as J. Frank Norris, Clinton Davidson, and now Burton Coffman, that makes it necessary for me to defend, for the sake of the cause I strive to serve, my name and character against their attacks.

Third, it is significant, and should not be overlooked, that this "Central" church in Houston has linked itself with a "Central" church in Nashville which opposed a meeting thirty Churches of Christ were holding to expose premillennialism. True to form, the opposition of this "Central" Church in Houston was to a meeting twenty Churches of Christ were holding to expose

premillennialism. Of course, they are not premillennialists— O no! They do not even "sympathize" with the "sympathizers!"

Fourth, concerning endorsements, a letter from Brother Burton Coffman to me some months ago might be interesting reading here, especially to the elders of the church for which he preaches, under the circumstances.

"Your stand on the Christian's attitude during the present crisis is one hundred percent correct. The drivel that is being passed out in some quarters these days, in my judgment, is pure nonsense. Power to you in your stand on these troublesome questions."-Burton Coffman, Houston, Texas.

It is known that Burton Coffman agrees with the position of the Bible Banner on the civil government issue and the "war question." He was not concerned about my "general reputation and tactics" on that question. He appeared to have no objection to my reputation and he really endorsed my "tactics" in that discussion. It was "one hundred per cent," which is quite a good grade, and he would impart "more power" to me. When it was announced without my knowledge or permission some months ago that I would lecture on the "War Question" in Houston, Brother Burton Coffman expressed to me a keen disappointment that I declined to do so. He was eager for me to expose the conscientious objectors. Behold the difference! When it was announced that twenty churches of Christ were bringing me to Houston to expose modern millennial errors, all at once Brother Burton Coffman objected to my "general reputation and tactics," and joined the elders of his congregation in opposing it! Still, they are not premillennial sympathizers—O no! Well, it will take more than a seventy-six page edition and an article in the Firm Foundation on ancient "Chiliasts" (copied from an encyclopedia, the name of which I could call) to convince a lot of people in Houston and elsewhere that they are not. I am told by some who are in a position to know that the family of one of the elders was reared in a strong "Boll" community in North Texas and have been strong admirers of R. H. Boll always. Shall we call names?

Fifth, as for endorsements, I enjoyed the fellowship and confidence of twenty churches of Christ in Houston, composed of people who have known me from my boyhood, and who have known and loved my father before me. Their expressions of confidence in me were unbounded, their fellowship unrestricted, and their generosity unlimited. With the fellowship of twenty to one, I would really rather be in my place than in Burton Coffman's position—even with the "salary" that he appears to be boastfully waving over some of the other preachers in Houston.

Furthermore, I feel a humble pride in the fact that I hold the confidence of the elders of the church in Oklahoma City, where I have lived and labored many years. They, too, have known me from my youth, and they know my affairs even in detail. They have "endorsed" me so many times through the years that endorsements from them have become a mere formality to meet these periodical attacks and stereotyped outbreaks and onslaughts. The whole nation knows the relations that exist between me and the church where I live, and that I have always had their endorsement and support. Examples of this fact are too numerous to relate.

When Doctor Harry Rimmer came to the University of Oklahoma and injected premillennialism and certain other theologies into his campus discussions, Brother Weldon Bennett challenged his teaching; whereupon Doctor Rimmer wrote out the propositions with his own hand for debate. These propositions were wired to me, and I accepted them by return wire as written by Doctor Rimmer himself. But when the knowledge of a debate with Doctor Rimmer reached the ears of certain brethren they immediately advised the Doctor that because of my "general reputation and tactics" he should not engage me in debate. We have a letter from Doctor Rimmer stating that some of "Mr. Wallace's own brethren" had warned him of "disturbing things," so he withdrew the propositions drafted in his own writing, and cancelled the debate. It was then that the elders of the Tenth and Francis church in Oklahoma City, my home congregation, addressed a letter to Doctor Rimmer informing him of the source of such reports, assuring him of their endorsement of me, and asking that the debate be held in Oklahoma City. The elders of the Culbertson Heights and Capital Hill churches joined in these endorsements and expressed their willingness in written statements to back the discussion in Oklahoma City. Later, during the California debate, in Los Angeles, without my previous knowledge, even to the extent of a hint, Brother Yater Tant, the present proficient minister of Tenth and Francis church, communicated to me a telegram of encouragement signed by all of the churches in Oklahoma City, expressing their personal interest in me and their confidence in the triumph of the truth. Still more recently, when J. Frank Norris renewed his challenges to the churches of Christ for another debate, the Oklahoma City churches joined the churches of Fort Worth and Dallas in the required endorsements for that showdown. When it comes to endorsements, I am about the most endorsed man anyone has ever read about. But these endorsements from the church where I have lived for years, and where I now live, are not enough for the men who oppose me. They are determined that I shall be a bad man regardless; too bad, indeed, to be fellowshipped by them.

After all is said, my membership is in the Tenth and Francis church, Oklahoma City. Its elders to a man have known me practically all of my preaching life. Their names are A. W. Lee, L. E. Diamond, L. L. Estes, C. R. Todd and Paul Broadus. If I am a dishonest man, and have proved myself unworthy the fellowship of Christian people away from Oklahoma City, where I live with my family, then I am not worthy of the fellowship of Christian people at home. It thereby becomes the duty of those who have charged me with such unworthiness to submit the evidence for such charges to the elders of the church under whose oversight my life for years has been placed, and where most of the preaching part of it has been spent. Upon numerous occasions I have suggested that they do so. I invited Clinton Davidson to Oklahoma City, and offered him a reception on whatever ground he might choose, legal or religious. And whenever any of these brethren who now charge me with dishonesty desire to bring the evidence of their charges to the elders of the church where I live, I again assure them that I shall not leave town when they come.

Knowing my own heart and habits I have no fear of their impeachment. Though misfortune has been my lot in the past, there was never a debt disowned nor an obligation unacknowledged. By the providence of God, through the loyalty of His friends and mine, I have been able to discharge obligations when otherwise I might not have been able to do so. This has apparently been much to the disappointment and dissatisfaction of some who were avowedly bent on my personal destruction.

There are references in the correspondence inserted, and in other letters not made public, that indicate the intention of Brother Burton Coffman and the elders of his congregation to recede from their public charges without retraction, and wage a private campaign. I have it in writing that when Brother Coffman attempted to relate the "inside" to a certain brother, the brother asked him why he did not take it to the elders who had demanded that he do so. His reply was that he preferred to select certain individuals in various churches and "convince" them "privately." The size of a man who will stoop to such a thing is microscopic—too diminutive to be seen with the naked eye. His stature is further evidenced by the boast that certain "calls" for meetings have come to him because of his "stand" on this issue in Houston. And he is said to have named the Tenth and Austin church in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Sears & Summitt church, in Dallas, as examples. That he would receive calls and encouragement from a certain element in the brotherhood, no one doubts and I believe I could name the places and call the signatures on the letters he may receive, without seeing them, but I do not believe the two churches mentioned are among them. I know the people in both of them and I do not believe they want to be so catalogued. The Sears and Summitt church in Dallas joined all the other churches in the recent endorsements for the Norris-Wallace debate to come to Dallas, and it would be quite inconsistent in them to lend such encouragement to Burton Coffman in what he is doing now in Houston. When these churches, and other churches, learn that Burton regards an invitation from them for a meeting as an endorsement of his actions in this matter, I wonder if they shall be willing for the thing to stand on that basis before the public. It should be noted that Brother Burton Coffman regards an invitation from a church for a meeting as a vote of approval of his stand against the twenty churches of Christ in Houston, Texas, in a city-wide effort to expose modern millennial errors. When the facts are fully known it will be revealed that the Central Church of Christ in Houston, Texas, is shot through and through with softness, including weakness in attitude toward premillennialism and its advocates. Brother Burton Coffman has placed himself in a most unenviable position as a gospel preacher.

It is further revealed in the correspondence that Burton Coffman has been boasting of being the highest paid preacher in Houston (which very probably is not a fact). Gloating over his asserted "top salary," he revels in the thoughts that his fellow preachers have been provoked to jealousy. His imagination appears to have run riot and his vanity apparently knows no bounds. But I feel absolutely certain that there is not a faithful gospel preacher in Houston who would take his place if it were offered him. They do not covet his salary—small and paltry, no matter what it is. As for me, I could not envy his little life, and certainly do not covet his present position.

When men begin to think and talk in terms of salary they need to suffer some of the hardships that fidelity to the gospel, and a faithful defense of its purity, will necessarily and invariably entail. Nevertheless I would not want even Brother Burton Coffman to pass through some of the experiences that I have suffered; and if any of my boys devote their lives to the preaching of the great gospel of Christ, I pray that a kind providence may spare them the heartaches and sorrows that have entered into my life. But if "the best wine comes from grapes that have been crushed"; and if "the nightingale sings sweetest when her breast's against the thorn," it may be that out of the depths men render unto God their highest service.

Toward Brother Burton Coffman I hold no malice, not even ill-will; nor do I harbor hatreds toward any man on this earth. All such has long since been cast from me, and I can truly say that my heart heaves no such sentiments, whether I am in the company of men or alone with myself and God.

To the faithful preachers of the gospel and the elders and members of the twenty churches who "endorsed" me to preach Christ in a great meeting, and who have again done so for another such meeting in the near future—the confidence thus reposed in me is a solemn trust, as sacred to me as the good confession itself. My appreciation of it is as high as heaven but as humble as a hovel. My emotions with regard to it run too deep for utterance. Rather than violate that trust, I would surrender title to my life, give up the world and my right to dwell in it. Before I break faith with them let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; let my arms be palsied and rendered impossible of another gesture; let my limbs become limp with impotency, and let the grave receive my mortal frame.

Finally, I am set not for the defense of myself but for the defense of the gospel. Friends may forsake me, foes may beset me, but knowing that our Cause is Christ's, I shall not be deterred. Whatever abuse may be heaped upon me by some who hate me, I shall accept the results for His sake, whom I serve and whose I am. Personal attacks upon me are not important, if only personal effects are involved, for my person is nothing. But when loyalty to the church and the defense of the gospel are involved in the fight, as in the present case, it is important. I shall not surrender to them—and they shall not pass! -F. E. W. Jr.