Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 9, 1961

Double Image

Robert C. Welch, Nacogdoches, Texas

(My two natures had memory in common, but all other faculties were most unequally shared between them.)

The brilliant editor of the Firm Foundation has drugged himself into serious trouble in his experimentation with a policy instead of trying to deal with principles. He is trying to develop a system of neutrality with respect to issues which are swiftly bringing the brotherhood into a divided state. He calls it the "middle of the Road" policy. Instead of its being such an insipid stand for nothing, as the title implies, he finds himself, like most people who attempt active neutrality, reaching out in all directions. He takes all sides of the road. He has an aversion to both sides of any question, he says. Yet, in his aversion, he alternately takes each side in the present controversy, and in turn hates himself for so doing. Such a Jekyll and Hyde personality is indeed very tormenting.

(And it fell out with me, as it falls with so vast a majority of my fellows, that I chose the better part and was found wanting in the strength to keep to it.)

Early in his career as editor, brother Lemmons tried hard to keep the church free of the claims of outside institutions on the contributions and funds of churches. He rightly claimed that the church is all sufficient to do its work. He was aware, however, that this could cut him off from a great segment of the brotherhood, as they were supporting benevolent institutions from the church treasuries. So, he was very careful in his expressions, so as to be specific only in opposition to the Woods' theory that the church cannot do its own work in benevolence. As late as February 4, 1958, he said:

"We have always believed in the all-sufficiency of the church to do what God commanded the church to do. We do not believe that it is forced to hire outside facilities of any institution to accomplish what God commanded it to accomplish

"If the actual caretaking must be done by an institution outside the church, and outside the oversight of the elders of the church, then it must be done outside of Christ, for the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 5:20). If it cannot be done within the framework of the church, then is cannot be done in the kingdom of God."

That editorial has placed him at variance with all those who seek church support of outside institutions. Yet they see in him a man whom they can sway if they can but get him out to the plains of Ono. They invite him to such a meeting at the Freed-Hardeman Lectures with the promise that they will help him to increase the circulation of his paper. The pressure is too great, He attends. They put the pointed question to him: "Do you believe it is scriptural for churches to contribute to the support of Tennessee Orphan Home which is under a board of directors?" He replies: "Certainly I do. I prefer that a home be under an eldership, but I do not believe one under a board is unscriptural." (F. F., April 28, 1959) Where is the old self, the former Lemmons, who believed that the church is all-sufficient? Gone, transformed by the chemical of additional subscriptions.

In the January 20, 1959, issue, he speaks in glowing terms of gratitude for the pledges of H. A. Dixon and Gus Nichols to get 350 subscriptions. Then in the March 3, 1959, issue, he has the effrontery to say: "However we have never offered objection to the scriptural right of 'board homes' to exist." That just is not a direct answer to the question they put to him in the Freed-Hardeman College conference. They did not ask him if it is right for the "board homes" to exist. They asked him if it is right for the church to contribute to such organizations. Once — twice — three times — and SOLD — for 350 subscriptions!

Did they come through with their pledges? It is hard to tell by the actions of the editor; for by February 16, 1960, he was again saying, contrary to the doctrine of Dixon and Nichols:

"Likewise the very nature of the word 'church' signifies that whatever is done in the name of the Lord toward the alleviation of human misery must be done by the church and under the supervision of the church."

Thus he has repudiated the other Lemmons who told them at the convention that he believed it scriptural for churches to contribute to an institution under a board of directors for the alleviation of human misery.

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(Thus it came about that, where Jekyll perhaps might have succumbed, Hyde rose to the importance of the occasion.)

Our erudite editor is well aware of his abilities and attainments. If you do not believe it, just ask him. He knows what is wrong with the arguments of his critics. And he has analyzed his own works and knows their value: "Our first thought was to go after our critics, and drive a few log wagons through the holes in his arguments ....Our third thought was: Shucks, we can do a much better job criticizing our own efforts than he can!" (August 18, 1959) He tells us in the same editorial that he has written his own diagnosis. We wonder if it will ever be published as was the confession of Stevenson's Doctor Jekyll.

* * *

(Should the throes of change take me in the act of writing it, Hyde will tear it in pieces.)

Brother Lemmons did not know what to do with his self analysis. Of course, he should have sent it to the Advocate! They are the accepted publishers of the "confessions!" He said, however, that this one would probably never see the light of print. It is no wonder. It would be embarrassing, I am sure, for a man to expose his own changes in so many ways, and for so many paltry reasons, when all the while he claims to be in "the middle of the road."

We are anxious to know, brother Lemmons, if it was Doctor Jekyll or Mr. Hyde who said that "line drawing on either side of any question is repulsive" to him.