Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1961
NUMBER 17, PAGE 6,11

The Firm Foundation Reviews "An Appeal To The Middle-Of-The-Road Brethren"

R. L. (Bob) Craig, Bridge City, Texas

(Author's note: This article was written in February of this year and a copy of it was sent to Reuel Lemmons, editor of the Firm Foundation. Until this time it has not been published. The reason for "Firm Foundation" being included in my title is because I have personal correspondence from brother Lemmons in which he states that he will not publish just anything in the F. F., in particular any things which he considers error. So we take it that the article under review merits editorial approval, just as everything else you will find in the F.F.)

In the February 28, 1961, issue of the Firm Foundation, brother John H. Beebe comes forth with a partial review of an article of mine, as titled above, which appeared in this paper (Texas Bible Banner) in November. I am always happy for a brother to review what I have said and reveal any error he thinks he might see. In this way I can be benefitted in a further study of the controversies disturbing the Lord's people today. But I do not appreciate a partial quotation of my article in an obvious effort of trying to make those who have not seen the article, believe that I said something I did not say. In all fairness brother Lemmons should print my article in its fulness so that his readers might have the benefit of knowing what was actually said. You who have my paper (Texas Bible Banner) would do well to go back and get it and then compare brother Beebe's review with what I wrote. However, let it be known that the Firm Foundation is not now especially noted for fairness in controversy. Brother Showalter, who for many years edited the F. F., never failed to print whatever I sent him even though he did not always agree with my sentiments. Brothers Lemmons has NEVER published anything I have sent him and I don't suppose he will publish this article which I will also submit to him.

In my original article I said "Brethren, the time has come to 'stand up and be counted.' You have piddled around in the middle of the road long enough. Tell us plainly, 'Where do you stand?' and 'Are you going to do anything about it?' "Brother Beebe says that this statement was evidently directed toward preachers and he is right, in that it is primarily directed to preachers and secondarily to every teacher of God's word who is in like manner "straddling the fence." But he thinks that since I have appealed to my preaching brethren, I have indicated a "clergy" in the church. I certainly do think that there is a "clergy" in the church, but not because of the appeal I have made. The "clergy" comes from the preacher hatcheries that turn out their rubber-stamp images of their institution. The same ones who are placed in churches and then fed the propaganda to advertise that particular college which put him there. What do you think of such, brother Beebe? Perhaps he will just shrug that off like brother Lemmons does with the decree that "I know of no such taking place." Well, I, and others, can tell him about it if he doesn't know what we mean.

Yes, brother Beebe, I appealed to preachers and teachers, because the public teachers of God's word do lead the church by their instruction. The preachers preach under the direction of elders, you know, and whatever they preach is endorsed by the elders. They "feed" under the supervision of the elders, do they not? Now perhaps you can tell me who is to "lead" and "feed" if the elders are not responsible for such. It would do well for brother Beebe to go back and read an article of mine which was published in the F. F. in 1954 entitled, "I don't want to be a pastor."

Brother Beebe asked the question, "By whom are we to be counted?" and indicates that I advocate a centralized marshalling place or a mass meeting of some sort. No, brother Beebe, I don't believe that we have to report to the convention at Abilene and let them know where we stand like so many of these "middle-of-the-roaders" do. If brother Beebe will read even the portion of my article he quoted, he will find where the stand is to be taken. Read it friends and then do it. I said, and he quoted but couldn't, or wouldn't, understand; "Many of you work with churches that support such and are afraid to lift your voices in protest to any of it, aren't you?" That's where you need to take a stand: in your own pulpit. If you won't take a stand in your own pulpit, don't try to make people somewhere else think you are opposed to anything, because you are simply playing the hypocrite. And brother Beebe very conveniently failed to quote a big portion just before the statement concerning what to cry out against. One thing was the "college in the church budget;" another was the Gospel Press missionary society; another was corporate bodies, separate and apart from the church, formed for the purpose of doing the alleged work of the church. I pointed out all those things and then I made the statement quoted just above concerning where you ought to "take a stand." Of course, we must take a stand wherever we have the opportunity; in articles like brother Beebe wrote (we still have no idea where he stands — because he is a typical middle-of-the-roader); in gospel meetings; wherever we are found — that's the place to take a stand, brethren, if you have to have it outlined for you.

Brother Beebe also suggested that I had not stated exactly what position it is that we are to "stand up and be counted" for. Yes, brother, had you quoted all my article instead of just the part you thought might be of some advantage to you, the people (whether you could or not) would have been able to see what I was talking about. Don't you remember? college in the budget — Gospel Press — board-controlled homes — money raising schemes other than that in the New Testament — now you remember, don't you? Here's the idea: the middle-of-the-roader is supposed to be opposed to these things, but you can't tell from hearing him or seeing him what he believes. He is playing both sides against the middle. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

He talks about "Christ-centered," with the idea that neither the Lord nor his true disciples were to "stand up and be counted." He needs to look over the Book again. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever therefore will confess me before men him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven." And he wasn't talking about confession of an alien sinner, he was talking to his disciples just before sending them among the enemy. The idea was that wherever they went they were to "stand up and be counted" for Christ. Yes, brother, the Bible very definitely exhorts us to "take a stand."

Brother Beebe has a lot to say about three groups of people. One is in the right lane of a road, the other in a left lane, and the other in the middle lane. The middle lane leads to heaven, according to him. All who are contending for a "thus saith the Lord" in what they preach and practice are headed for hell, according to him. If this brother would simply point out what it is we are teaching that is contrary to the Bible, I, for one, would deeply appreciate it, and would try to do otherwise. Is it wrong to be opposed to the college-in-the-budget? Or is the wrong in 'saying something about it? Middle of the roaders are supposed to be opposed to such but they say nothing about it. They're "sleeping in the same bed with the extreme liberals." Is it wrong to oppose board controlled missionary efforts and benevolent efforts? Or is it just wrong to voice your opposition? The middle of the roader is supposed to be opposed to them. On and on we could go, but enough.

I wish I could attribute to brother Beebe the same motive he attributed to me, i.e., "I would not attribute other than a sincere motive to the brother who wrote it....", but he acted in exactly the way a sectarian does. He quoted correctly, but he left out pertinent information that would hurt his cause. And then he makes a play on what he evidently thinks is my illiteracy, and there he could be right. He points out a misspelled word — "whims." It would be wasted effort for me to assure the brother that I can spell correctly what that word was meant to be. If I were found to be the most ignorant person on the face of the earth, it would not be sufficient reason for brethren to continue to play the hypocrite, nor would it be 'sufficient reason for brethren to practice all the devices of the devil that they are today practicing. Besides that, the Showalter brothers (who own the Firm Foundation and whom I consider as friends) will testify that I have enough sense to correct misspelled words. Ask them.

Yes, brethren, I am not ashamed to appeal to you once again to "come ye out from among them and be ye separate....touch not the unclean thing." I have no hesitancy to ask even as Moses did, "Who is on the Lord's side?" And I wonder what the middle of the roader will say? Will he continue to say by his actions, "I am not going to get on any side, Lord, it's wrong to be on a side — I'll stay in the middle."

(Addenda: Since writing the above article, brother Lemmons has written an editorial in which he tries to vindicate the "middle of the roader." He points out that the middle position is a position between two extreme positions. I will agree that on many occasions the truth is found between extremes, but what brother Lemmons needs to do (and these other middle of the roaders) is to point out what is wrong with the so-called right-hand and left-hand positions. He emphatically denies that their position is one of compromise and a playing to both sides. This I deny and brother Beebe, in his article, denies. The whole tenor of Beebe's article is that we need NOT take a stand or position — all we need to do is preach what he calls "Christ-centered" sermons — we do not have to take a stand, and Lemmons, by publishing Beebe's "truthful" article, agrees to it. And that's what the middle of the roader does — he plays at least two sides. Of course, he doesn't try to pacify what he calls the "anti" but he is found regularly in the pulpits of what he calls the "extreme liberal" and says nothing about their "extreme" position leading them to hell. And middle of the road congregations will not have an "anti" preacher in their pulpit but they welcome with open arms the "extreme liberal." See what I mean? You will find the middle of the road position described in Rev. 3:16.)