Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 19, 1958

The Exchange With Brother Lemmons

F. Y. T.

This week we publish the third, and final, in our series of articles, "Present Issues — And A Suggested Solution," along with Brother Reuel Lemmons' comments on it. All these articles were published last spring in the Firm Foundation, and have brought forth a rather interesting reaction in the mail received since their publication. It is quite obvious that a considerable number of brethren have had no adequate understanding at all as to what the "present issues" are, but have labored under the delusion that somebody, somewhere, was trying to oppose homes for orphan children, and objected to preaching the gospel over the radio!

We appreciate Brother Lemmons' willingness to give space to these three articles. That is the kind of fairness that ought always to characterize, brethren in Christ, and is something that contributed much to the strength of both the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate in years of the past. The unwillingness to give fair and impartial hearing to a brother is something that ought to make thoughtful people suspicious of any paper from the start. And a policy of refusing to print anything in a journal save that which the editor agrees with is something that was unknown to Christian journalism until introduced by Daniel Sommer, and tragically re-activated in our day by the Gospel Advocate. There can be little doubt that this policy has contributed more to the present disturbance among the churches than any one thing that has happened in recent years, just as it divided the church when introduced by Sommer.

In our three articles which Brother Lemmons published we tried to set forth the picture as objectively and clearly as we could — and then suggested what appealed to us as a fair, brotherly, and scriptural approach to a solution. Brother Lemmons has responded by pointing out what he considers weaknesses and inconsistencies in the articles: (1) he is convinced that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to activate the church universal as long as each church acts voluntarily; (2) he believes we would have the same objections to a "congregational orphan home" that we have lodged against the "brotherhood home under an eldership" if the congregational orphan home engaged in the activities characteristic of the "brotherhood home under an eldership. In his present article (the one carried in this issue) he adds little to what was said in the two previous, and only insists that we are inconsitent and insisting on binding our own opinion on the churches.

Let us suppose that EVERYTHING Brother Lemmons charges against us is true, still we have given a constructive suggestion by which all the orphan homes now in operation could continue to operate AND PEACE AND GOOD WILL COULD REIGN AMONG THE CHURCHES!

Has Brother Lemmons anything better to offer than that? Has he offered any objection that our proposal is unworkable? or unscriptural? or impossible of achievement? Not at all. His approach to the general question has been to insist that brethren MUST surrender their consciences, and agree to that which is a violation of their conscience. Yet in the three articles we were very careful not to propose anything that would cause ANY brother to violate his conscience and go contrary to that which he honestly believes the Bible to teach.

Now, honestly, who has shown the greater concern for the unity of God's people? What do you think?

Of course, so far as the Gospel Advocate position is concerned they have gone so far astray that it would seem almost hopeless to try for any kind of reapproachment with them. They are committed definitely and totally to the establishment of outside benevolent organizations or agencies through which the churches do their benevolence, just as the digressives of a century ago created outside evangelistic organizations through which the churches did their evangelism. The Advocate has espoused a "two-pattern" approach to the work of the church, advocating and promoting in the field of benevolence that which she denies and opposes in the field of evangelism. This is so hopelessly confused that we feel there must be a fundamental change in her thinking before there is ever even a glimmer of hope for peace.

But with the Firm Foundation, despire what we consider Brother Lemmons' contradictory statements on the issues, the picture is not so dark. Brother Lemmons still believes passionately in the "all-sufficiency" of the church; and with him it is apaprently a true and accurate statement of his convictions to say that — not merely a playing with words. The "blow hot-blow cold" editorial gymnastics of some of the Gospel Advocate staff relative to Lemmons are not too difficult to understand. The Advocate is desperately seeking to "quarantine" and isolate and eventually destroy what it considers a small segment of the church contemptuously referred to by them as "the Guardian boys." But so long as the Firm Foundation opposes exactly what the Guardian opposes in the Gospel Advocate's position, such quarantining is difficult, if not impossible. Whether intentionally or not, Reuel Lemmons has probably saved the church from a wide-open split by his courage in opposing the promotional schemes of the Advocate. What the future holds no one can know. All we can do is to work faithfully and diligently, and pray earnestly that God's good providence will over-rule and control in all our discussions so that peace and unity may once more prevail. If anv reader, or writer, has any constructive suggestion, we'd like to hear from you.