Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 19, 1967
NUMBER 24, PAGE 4-5a


Crossing Over

With a degree of sadness we note the death in recent months of a number of gospel preachers whose names were widely known to a past (and passing) generation. Two of the latest to make the transition were Rue Porter and W. Claude Hall, the former a homespun country sort of preacher from the Ozarks, the latter best known for his forty years' teaching career in Cordell Christian College and Freed-Hardeman College. We publish elsewhere in this issue an article from Brother Porter which is his valedictory article, and which sounds some warnings that should be heeded — and in all probability will NOT be heeded by the very ones who need them most.

It has always been puzzling to us to understand how men who preached the gospel so clearly and with such force and fervor could at the same time blind themselves to the most flagrant violations of the principles they preached. This was certainly the case with Brother Porter and perhaps to a lesser extent with Brother Hall also. They were both men who had dedicated their lives to the gospel of Christ; they endured great hardships, of one sort or another, in propagation of that gospel. To charge them with insincerity or hypocrisy would be absurd. Yet it seems to us that there must be some explanation (beyond anything we can see or understand) for their willingness to condone, accept, and even promote the very practices their preaching condemned!

We had the same feeling of frustration and depression at the death of C. C. Brewer and R. H. Boll. What ever happened to the brilliant Bible student of the early 1900's to turn him into the premillennial propagandist who brought such grief to God's church a quarter century later? And how was it possible for a man as gifted and intellectually acute as G. C. Brewer to be so utterly unaware of the contradictions between his preaching and his promotions? Probably our feeling of bewilderment and despondency was very much the same as that felt by faithful brethren of seventy years ago when J.W. McGarvey opposed instrumental music as unscriptural, yet continued his association, fellowship, and encouragement right to the end with the brethren who were splitting the churches over the organ! How to explain it? There is no explanation. At least, none that makes sense to us.

All of which leads to a further question: If these able men, good Bible students, and men who sincerely loved the Lord, could be so blinded by whatever it was that clouded their vision as to cause them to negate their preaching by their practice, how can any of us be sure and certain we are not doing the same thing? One ray of hope shines through. There were many faithful Christians in J. W. McGarvey's day who were not confused for one single moment by the issues then current. They knew what the Bible taught, and were determined to follow it REGARDLESS OF COST. Is it possible that in this very phrase we have an inkling as to a clue that might help understand the thing we are talking about? Is it not possible that often good men, men who want to please the Lord; can be so situated as to become the victims of tremendous spiritual and psychological pressure which robs them of their sense of discernment? They may not even be aware that this is happening. Indeed, usually they are NOT aware of it. There was an emotional involvement, for instance, with J. W. McGarvey which well may have influenced him far more powerfully than he ever would have realized. When the vast majority of his friends and associates, his co-workers of a lifetime, were going in one direction, he would have been less than human had he not felt the urge and the pull to go with them. Perhaps the same may have been present with Rue Porter, W. Claude Hall, N. B. Hardeman and many others--who preached it straight, and practiced something in violation of their preaching.

We publish also in this issue an article from Glenn L. Wallace, a preacher whom we have known and loved for a third of a century. He seems almost to us like a "voice crying in the wilderness." We never cease to be amazed when we see one of his articles in the Firm Foundation, and, frankly, we cannot understand why Brother Lemmons publishes them. They are so diametrically OPPOSITE to the news reports, promotional projects, and liberalistic developments which usually fill the pages of that journal. If the Firm Foundation brethren were inclined to heed what Wallace says, we might well see a significant change in the direction of the churches where these brethren are laboring. But generally speaking there is no change, and there will be none. While some congregations and some Christians and a few preachers will read the handwriting on the wall, the handwriting that says "weighed in the balances and found wanting," we are convinced that the majority will continue in the course they have been following this last score of years.

Farewell, then, to Porter, to Hall, and to all these older men whom we have known for so long and so favorably. Their eternal destiny rests in the hands of an infinitely wise and merciful judge. May they find mercy, and may we all find mercy in the day of judgment. For it is only by the infinite mercy and compassion of God that any man can hope to stand approved before him.

F. Y. T.