Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 15, 1951
NUMBER 28, PAGE 4-5a

We Saw It Coming


On another page in this issue we publish a short article from brother Murray Marshall who preaches for the South-side church in Frederick, Oklahoma. From brother Marshall's article we quote the following:

"Prof. R. G. Wilburn of the College of the Bible at Phillips University in Enid is to be the guest speaker at morning and evening services of the FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH Sunday, October 14, it has been announced by F. E. Cameron, chairman of the board.

"Prof. Wilburn will speak at the morning service on "The Pattern of Good In An Evil World," and in the evening on "The Sermon On the Mount and What To Do About It."

"The guest speaker is in supply after recent departure of Rev. Ralph Bureman for Alva to take over the pastorate of the First Christian Church there."

That is a quotation from the Frederick newspaper, and it will come as no surprise to many who for some years have been aware of the "trend" of brother Wilburn's thinking. It will come as a confirmation of the things that have been said, the warnings that have been urged against the use of brother Wilburn as a teacher of young people. During the years brother Wilburn was on the faculty at Pepperdine College, he was warned against by a number of faithful gospel preachers who were aware of his lack of conviction of many vital and fundamental issues. The administration of the school vigorously defended their fellow faculty member. They enlisted the aid of others in their defense of him. Brother Showalter made a personal "tour of inspection" of the Pepperdine campus and gave them a clean bill of health. By implication (and in a few instances by more direct means) he had some caustic criticism of the Gospel Guardian (then Bible Banner) for daring to find fault with good men who were humbly trying to serve God!

Other brethren were rather exercised over this paper's efforts to warn against brother Wilburn. It was described as "heresy-hunting," and in other terms equally uncomplimentary. But suppose the Guardian and the number of faithful brethren who knew of brother Wilburn's doctrinal unsoundness had not offered any criticism? Does anybody think for one moment that he would have been asked to leave Pepperdine College? Is anyone so naive as to suppose that brother Tiner and brother Pullias would have dismissed him as on their own initiative, because they thought him unsound? Don't be silly?

It was the administration (meaning brethren Tiner and Pullias) who defended brother Wilburn year after year, when undeniable instances of his modernism were being pointed out to them. And it was the criticism against Wilburn, not the convictions of the administration, which led to his eventual dismissal. It became evident that the school was suffering because of brother Wilburn's connection with it; and as a matter of policy and expediency he was cut loose. Brethren who are familiar with the attitude of the administration, and with the modernism of brother Pullias particularly, have no hesitancy at all in declaring this to be the case.

But removing one hog from a pig-pen will not destroy the malodorous smell. And removing one modernistic teacher from an institution whose administration is modernistic will hardly suffice to regain the confidence of good brethren which has been forfeited. As a matter of fact, it is the general feeling of those students who have had close personal contact with both men that brother Pullias is even more liberal in his views than brother Wilburn. But he is somewhat more careful in the public expression of them! The rank modernism which has been seen in the published statements of brother Wilburn will never be detected in the writings of brother Pullias. He has better sense than that!

And so the matter goes. George Pepperdine College, with perhaps ninety percent of her student body non-Christians, with several of her faculty denominationalists, and with her administration modernistic still is advertised as offering "The Best In Modern Education In A Wholesome Christian Environment," and with "Genuine Spiritual Emphasis!" Just how "wholesome" and "Christian" is the environment of such a place? And how long will the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate continue to carry such advertisements to a long-suffering brotherhood? And how gullible can people get that they continue to send their children to be exposed to such an influence?

The Guardian offers no apology for the part she has had in bringing about brother Wilburn's removal from a place where he could influence the lives and damage the faith of young people. We believe his connection with a digressive school and his preaching for a digressive church will show to all right thinking people that our warnings were not amiss. Our only regret is that they were not uttered sooner and more emphatically. Perhaps if such had been done brother Wilburn might never have gone to Pepperdine College; and scores of young people whose faith has been weakened by him through these past few years might have been saved for the church. We can name no less than a dozen young gospel preachers who went to Pepperdine College with strong and ardent faith, with high promise and every expectation of becoming useful ministers of Christ, who are now either not preaching, or are preaching a halting, uncertain, crippled, emasculated gospel.

Meanwhile, will our readers think we are out of place if we pause long enough to shed a tear of regret for Ralph G. Wilburn? The editor of the Guardian knew him well during the years when we worked together in the same city (Chicago, 1940-43). We believed then, and believe now, in his complete sincerity. His years in Chicago University weakened his faith, and left him confused, bewildered, and spiritually at sea. Perhaps he was "more to be pitied than censured." It was a tragic and inexcusable blunder to put such a man in a place where he could communicate his own uncertainty and doubts to the minds of the young. For that action, of course, the administration of Pepperdine College, rather than brother Wilburn, is responsible.

Brother Wilburn has now made his choice; he has crossed his Rubicon. He will henceforth work and teach and preach in the Christian Church—an unhappy apostate from the truth of the gospel. We sorrow at his leaving the truth; but since he had forsaken the truth some years back in his own thinking, it is right and helpful that he now make the break open and such that all can recognize. That is the only honorable thing to do. When will brother Pullias follow suit?

— F.Y.T.