"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.V Pg.11-13
June 1946

The Evil Of Two Extremes

Chas. M. Campbell

"Be astonished, 0 ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

Thus "the weeping prophet," Jeremiah, summarized the circumstances which precipitated the Babylonian captivity of the ancient people of God, as he sought to rescue the name of God from disrepute and place the responsibility of the evil of their calamities with those to whom it belonged. And, it is apparent to reflecting minds that, while the case has, perhaps, found many parallels in subsequent history; it most assuredly possesses such relative to the controversy regarding the church and college in modern times. Those who have obeyed the gospel, and are therefore children of God, have committed two evils regarding the relation of the church and the schools and, as a result, the crime of division has been perpetrated until in many places the body of Christ lies prostrated before the scornful gaze of an unbelieving world. If any person doubts such, let him but cross the Ohio river and make an investigation for himself. If he is north of it, and has observed conditions, he knows it is a fact.

Now, neither evil consists in the admirable effort of some philanthropists, and a greater number of sincere individuals of lesser financial ability, to provide a literary education in a wholesome environment and under circumstances conducive to the development of Christian character, and in contradistinction to the multiple educational institutions where the one cell theory is glorified, organic evolution is deified, God is dethroned, the teachings of Christ are outlawed, and the Bible is either relegated to oblivion or with the greatest of charity placed on equality with the fables and legends of remote (not too remote) antiquity. And, if this principle had been adhered to inviolably, no logical nor legitimate objections could have been presented against the schools and the present controversy could not have originated.

However, since some who formerly preached and practiced the unassailable doctrine of complete separation of church and school have visualized the school's ascendancy to a utopia challenging the ingenuity of Buddha in his fantastic description of his "trip to heaven," the church has been victimized where brethren have been sufficiently credulous, or uninformed and the defense of this glorious institution has of necessity become the inevitable responsibility of every lover of truth. Brethren who certainly should know better, and who, in the past, declared they did know better, have compromised the school's singular defense of its inalienable right to exist, as an adjunct to the home, and to receive the moral support and financial aid of individual Christians, by attempting to impose such obligations upon the church. In so doing, they have placed a potent weapon in the hands of the arch enemies of the school and the church, namely, the schismatic Sommerites, who, since the incipiency of the issue, which peculiarly enough arose immediately following Brother Potter's refusal to appoint Brother Daniel Sommer president of Potter Bible school, have misrepresented the issue, antagonized the schools, divided the church, and maligned men who have been true to the church and friends to the schools. The latter were possessed of the intelligence to distinguish between an individual's right to support a school for the reason of the advantages specified above, and the church as an organization, being either obligated or privileged to support a human institution. Unfortunately, the former were lacking either in the ability or the desire to make the necessary distinction, and prosecuting their course of opposition with a dogmatic and antagonistic spirit, strife, chaos and confusion have reigned supremely wherever they have had opportunity to inject their inanity, and inestimable evil has been resultant therefrom.

There is no justifiable defense for the evil committed against the church of the living God by the factious followers of Daniel Sommer, for the very sin which they have sought to charge against individuals who contend for the right of the schools to exist as privately owned and operated institutions, and be patronized by Christians, has ever characterized their practice with regard to the papers published by them. They are able to understand the difference between a privately owned and operated paper which is supported by individual subscriptions (and sometimes by congregations), but they cannot conceive of such a distinction where the school is involved. Moreover, the Sommerites have schools, and in which they teach secular subjects (often referred to as "Bible Readings"), and they conduct them in the church houses. They do not charge tuition, but they do charge board, so their practice in the final analysis is the church in the school business.

The method was the issue between J. C. Roady and the church at East Liverpool, Ohio, and which Roady has denied. Nevertheless, good men, the elders of the church (at least two of them) have substantiated their report of the situation by a letter to Roady in which they declare he, and from "twenty to thirty" others, signed a letter, a copy of which they received (and presumably sent to many churches) complaining about "the young inexperienced college preachers, "saying "there will have to be something done about them or we will all be on the shelf." Lately, Roady has printed a letter purporting to be the one sent out on the occasion referred to, but which the elders at East Liverpool deny receiving, or even seeing, and in which he requested a "Bible Reading." The point is the same, however, the Sommerites have schools, and they teach secular subjects, and they conduct them in church houses.

A further and greater evil on the part of the anti-college faction is their contumacious spirit and the manner in which they will inveigle a congregation into a condition of strife and discord where the people have never contributed one cent to the schools, even as individuals, and none has ever attended, or even been on the campus of a "Bible school." To my certain knowledge and within the circle of my acquaintance, they have divided congregations where the above circumstances characterized the congregation relative to the "Bible school." The hobby of the American Christian Review is to contend about the schools, and, undoubtedly, if it did not have the schools to contend about, it would go out of business. The editor is so bitter that he actually engages in vituperation and writes derogatorily and derisively with regard to the speech of the people of the South (because the schools are mostly in the South). Of course, we do say "you all," but with reference to a plurality of persons, and we never say "you-ens" or "we-ens," with reference to any number. Much more could be written, and shall be written, the Lord willing, concerning the evil of Sommerism, which has just as certainly crystallized into a denomination in the north as the premillennialists ever dared to in the south.

Now, I have written at length in my explanation of the Sommer situation (and I write from the section of the country where they once dominated, and where they continue to make every effort to regain their lost prestige), that there need not be any misunderstanding of the issue which is before the church today concerning the church and the colleges, and that all who desire may know exactly where I stand, and have stood, if any have not known, or do not know. Likewise, the editor of the Bible Banner stands, and has stood, as firmly against Sommerism as he stands against the usurpation of the authority of Christ by the colleges in the present controversy.

As was emphasized by Brother Cled Wallace in a recent issue of the Bible Banner, the very position advanced in the recent Advocate editorial of Brother N. B. Hardeman (with the exception of the error of committing the privilege to the church of contributing to the support of the schools) was advanced by the editor of the Bible Banner while he was editor of the Gospel Advocate. And, for the benefit of those who propose to manifest apprehension regarding the editor's attitude toward the anti-college faction, let me inquire, why should such fear exist regarding one who has passed through the crucible of controversy and has challenged (by his preaching and editorials) the very citadels of error and defeated the champions of premillennialism and denominationalism upon the polemical platform, while some who were so recently aroused from their lethargy to champion the Cause against the inroads of Sommerism, were sitting silently by, or else aiding and abetting the enemy in their slander campaigns against his character? Some have suffered like experiences in their opposition to Sommerism, and they also have fought faithfully against premillennialism and Bollism, but some others who are so positive at present in their determination to do battle with the anti-college folk, were little concerned about the church in the matter until very recently.

The Sommers have quoted Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., or rather, misquoted him (for, they isolated his language, and removing it from its context, made it appear to accomplish their desire) often lately, and he made no reply. This is easily understood. For, as he said to the writer, "they were misrepresenting" him, "and they knew it, and everyone knew it, and they knew that everyone knew it." Certainly then, Brother Wallace has not had fellowship for the Sommerites in their errors, and they know it as well as all others. Even the congregation where Allen Sommer worships does not agree with him in his fight against the schools. The elders are the authority for this statement. They said: "we simply inherited him." Of course they could disinherit him, and they should, if he does not cease his divisive operations in defense of a hobby.

Notwithstanding the evil done to the church by the anti-college faction, another and as sinister an evil is being fostered and foisted by some who propose to be defenders of the faith and champions of the college, whereas, in fact, they are reflecting on the church and retarding the progress of the colleges and supplying the anti-college group with a potent weapon with which to oppose those of us who have been meeting and defeating the latter in their course.

It is a well known fact that the presidents of the colleges are on record as opposing the idea of the churches being solicited in behalf of support for the schools, and even last winter when the Brown Street church was laboring to rescue the Barberton congregation from the domination of Sommerism, the major issue of the discussion being the question of the church contributing to the support of the schools, we assured the Barberton brethren that we were just as opposed to such a practice as the Sommerites had ever supposedly been, and then and there, the argument that the schools are on par with the Missionary Society went for nothing. It would not be so, however, were we to take money from the treasury of the church and commit it to the trustees of the colleges, for, such would undeniably parallel similar action regarding the Missionary Society. So, the present attitude is not new with me. I have always been, and shall always be, unalterably opposed to the church contributing to the schools and am fully convinced that such a practice is a compromise of principles for which the real defenders of the faith and the friends of the schools have contended, and a positive violation of the plain teaching of the New Testament. No man can contend that the colleges should be in the budgets of the churches (and that "the Texas church that does not have Abilene Christian College in its budget, needs a new preacher) and successfully defeat the Sommerites. In fact, one does not have to qualify as a Sommerite in order to reject such an innovation and imposition, but would be a very poor Christian if he did not, and vigorously! Some of us who have been battling with the Sommer element for years may sometimes need encouragement, but we do not need that kind, and it will not do the Sommerites much good; for we most certainly will deny that it is representative of the brethren in general and that it is in any sense a part of the category of Christianity. The fact remains, therefore, that some brethren would help more by not helping at all, until they decide to make a distinction, or rather to recognize the distinction that God has made between the divine institution, the church, and a human institution, the college.

Finally, the only alternative for those who refuse to be gathered into the factious folds of the anti-college group or be intimidated, coerced, or misguided by the usurpers among the schools, is to be panoplied in the armour of heaven and with the sword of the Spirit drawn in defense of the church of the Lord, defy all such to trespass the holy ground of her habitation, or to impose their schisms and schemes within her sacred sanctuary. If any such believe that they shall pass, they have only to continue in pursuit of their present ambitions, in order to learn the folly of another digression and the certainty of opposition that cannot be moved. The college is fine in its place, but its place is not in the church, and some brethren had better not try further to put it there. And, if in any sense, this article appears to present a conundrum, it is only because some brethren do not recognize the position of either the church or the college, and it is hoped that this statement of facts, along with other such articles, may serve to identify their respective places, and also to present a perspective of the situation prevailing at present, as well as to clarify the position of those of us who are determined to be faithful to the church while being friends of the college.