Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 10, 1952
NUMBER 35, PAGE 2-3,9c

A Respectful Reply To Roady And Sommer

Chas. M. Campbell, Akron, Ohio

On an occasion when brother James A. Allen had made an unanswerable defense of Christianity against the attacks of infidelity in all of its subtle shapes and shades the lamented A. G. Freed wrote of his laudable labors: "The little fellow just put them all into a bag and then whipped the bag." Such I propose as the proper method to be employed in disposing of the antics and arguments of Roady and Sommer regarding certain of my articles on their anti-college position. Instead of arguments, one might very appropriately say, attacks, for the obvious intention of the pair has been to make a personal rather than a doctrinal issue of our differences. They prefer the slang and the slander of the street to the dignified and decent language of the dictionary; and they greatly prefer an appeal to the prejudice of their misinformed followers to an honorable investigation of the facts and discussion of the issues. They seem to receive a peculiar pleasure from indulging in deliberate efforts to reflect upon the honor and integrity of those who do not accept their illogical and inconsistent plea concerning the papers and the colleges. Or, I should say, the paper. (That is, in Sommer's estimation.) Both Sommer and Roady delight in calling men liars. Yet Sommer complained because I did not call him brother. Well, at least I have not called them any vulgar names. That is what I mean by a respectful reply. I simply shall not engage in the type of "argument" which is characteristic of Roady and Sommer. However, I shall not compromise the truth nor fail to expose their miserable misrepresentations and palpable perversions as exhibited in several articles appearing in the American Christian Review recently. Also, I shall attend to Roady's incautious little tract about which he has constantly boasted and vaunted himself so very much through every possible medium accessible to him and at every opportune time and, as foolish as it may seem to those who have read it, of which he is in his own deluded and darkened imagination so very, very proud. The truth of the matter is, the tract was answered immediately after it appeared in this area, but, upon the advice of competent brethren, the answer was not published, inasmuch as I thought then as they did, that such a self contradictory leaflet was destined to instigate its own destruction. Seeing though that my silence has allowed Roady to engage in such self deception concerning the merits and accomplishments of his little leaflet, I wish to assure him that it shall be answered in this very article. Moreover, the article of several years ago, in which Sommer first called me a liar, was answered, but I decided to preserve it in my files and defer its publication until and unless he persisted in his contemptible attitude. Seeing that he has done so the article shall be given to the brotherhood. As to my reason for replying to Roady and Sommer jointly instead of dealing with their slander sheets separately, it is twofold in its nature. First, they are the Siamese twins of Sommerism and a genuine dose of discipline administered to one immediately and automatically effects the other one. And in the next place, it is to conserve time and space, neither of which should be used to any great extent on such a fruitless and fatal system as that espoused by them and imposed upon those who are not aware of their true position and real attitude.

It is only for the sake of those who are innocently mis- guided by them, and for the truth's sake, that I am willing to give this matter the attention that I shall give to it.

Sommer's Simple Simon Situation

In the June 1951 issue of the Review Sommer wrote an article under the heading "Behold A Campbell-'ite' Full of Guile." It opened with an effort to prejudice Abilene Christian College against the Guardian and to ally Cled Wallace with Sommer in the minds of any persons silly enough to swallow such idiotic ideas. He represented—or, rather misrepresented brother Cled as saying it reveals one's prejudice and weak position to attack Sommerism. In the same connection he made reference to brother Foy E. Wallace; whom, he has continuously, constantly, and incessantly misrepresented in regard to the church-college issue. Later in the article he placed brother James A. Allen in a position which is as far from his conception of the church-college question as it is possible for anything to be. In fact, the article was composed almost exclusively of willful and deliberate misstatements concerning the position of the several men mentioned. Sommer repeatedly quoted brother Foy E. Wallace; and, while he quoted his words correctly, he was altogether aware that his application of them was as foreign to the original use of their author as truth is from falsehood. Yet, in the second paragraph Sommer had a sufficient supply of whatever is required in order to be so indescribably inconsistent as to refer to me as "the shifty character J. C. Roady tagged a willful liar, some years back." So, undoubtedly the logical and propitious place to expose Sommer and his sinuous, sinful, subtle system of placing men before the public in a false position in a vain effort to secure his own defenseless cause has presented itself in a manner brazen enough to demand that the facts be given and without mercy. Remember, brother Sommer, you asked for it.

While brother James A. Allen is most assuredly opposed to the church contributing to the support of the colleges, he uncompromisingly contends for the right of the college to exist and operate in its proper sphere. He appreciated and admired brother Daniel Sommer in his last days when he comprehended and conceded the place of the colleges as individual and independent enterprises without any direct connection with the Lord's church. Such most assuredly is not his attitude toward the position of the incumbent of the editorial office of the Review. He thinks his efforts juvenile and his paper pitiable. Such is the gist of his part of a conversation on the subject which was conducted in his office less than six months ago. Whether or not Sommer has made an honest and honorable use of the language of the editor of the Torch—and the former editor and owner of both the Guardian and the Bible Banner—can be judged by reading the following excerpt from a letter from his hand. Under date of May 31, 1947, brother Wallace wrote: "As for the above quotations the American Christian Review makes so constantly from my pen, anybody who knows enough of what I have said, preached and written on the subject to even quote me, knows that I do not agree with A. R. Sommer and his American Christian Review; that I have repudiated repeatedly by tongue and pen their positions, exposed their errors and answered their arguments. They would not dare to print any complete article or argument of mine, for to do so would destroy the application he attempts to make, but unsuccessfully at that, of my words." Now, who was it wrote of "the shifty character"? Shades of Dillinger! (Incidentally, he is buried in Indianapolis.) Suppose, brother Sommer, you try quoting Foy E. Wallace now?

Next in his diatribe the lovable editor of the American Christian Review wreaks his venom upon Irvington Church and the editor of the present Gospel Guardian. According to Sommer, "Irvington church (the Guardian editor's hangout when he's in Indianapolis) omits North Indianapolis from its 'loyal' list and brands the Review an 'instrument of Satan'." Again we shall see who is "the shifty character" and which is the place of his nativity and residence.

As late as 1950 North Indianapolis was included in a large display advertisement with Irvington and other churches of the city in one of the daily newspapers. In 1951, brother David H. Bobo, who preaches for the Fountain Square church, which was established by Irvington and was being assisted by it at that time, preached for North Indianapolis in the hope of encouraging unity based upon the truth and further cementing the bonds of confidence and mutual trust in the expectation of a brighter day, the possibility of which many have thought to be imminent in the great capitol city of Indiana. Earl West, who preaches for Irvington, was fully aware of brother Bobo's plans and advised and encouraged him in fulfilling them. These are facts with which Sommer has every right to be well acquainted; and, therefore, there is no justifiable reason for his remarks about Irvington church. Could it be that Sommer does not want the fellowship of Irvington inasmuch as it is among the great multitude of churches that refuse to join hands with the factious and fallacious movements of the apple of his eye—The American Christian Review? Surely, in view of these facts, Sommer occupies an unenviable position. And if there were any doubt about him being a "SHIFTY CHARACTER," there could not be any about him being a factious one.

However, he wants "Campbell to come up with the evidence, a statement signed by these elders, that they don't believe the church is sufficient for teaching Christianity, and that the American public schools should not be patronized by Christians." Well, well, how logical can our loquacious friend get? If a set of elders were simple enough to sign such a preposterous proposition, I am absolutely certain that I would not have enough respect for their judgment—or, lack of it—to request an editor to publish it. Nevertheless, since Sommer wants a statement, he shall have one. It was undoubtedly written with the approval of the elders of the North Indianapolis congregation. If so, there is no room left for additional quibbles from Sommer about their position on the proposition. Here is the statement from the pen of brother J. S. Johns, their preacher:

"I am glad to state to you the position I have always held and have stated it time and again publicly and privately, to brother ______ also to the Irvington church in the presence of twenty-five or thirty preachers. I was asked to do so; and did, also the position of the North Indianapolis church which is as follows: That the college should be conducted free from all organic connection with the church.

"Let it be understood that D. A. Sommer has no connection with the North Indianapolis congregation, also that the American Christian Review has no connection whatever with the church. Allen Sommer who publishes it is a member, but he runs it as his private enterprise."

Does that look like the elders of North Indianapolis church accept Sommer's position on the church-college question? If they do, let Sommer produce a statement over their signature that it is so. That should settle the controversy on that point. Alright, brother Sommer, since you have such an urge for having men to make statements, suppose you have the elders of North Indianapolis to make one—the one which you have inferred represents their position. Again, let us see right here who is the "shifty character."

Concerning the patronage of the American schools by Christians and the sufficiency of the church to teach Christianity, who doubts and denies such an obvious privilege and obligation? It is the privilege of every American Christian who has access to the American public schools to attend them, if they so desire. And it is the obligation of the church to teach Christianity. However, it is also the privilege of Christians to attend private schools. Just so, it is the privilege of Christians to teach the Bible in such schools. Yes, just as certainly as it is Sommer's privilege to teach the Bible through the columns of the American Christian Review. The latter right Sommer cherishes but the former right he denies to any and all.

Sommer proceeds in his reasoning that "the Review is not a religo-secular in imitation of the book of Acts and the Epistolary writings, intended to convert sinners and perfect believers, the apostle Paul was chief among New Testament writers, and churches and individuals gave and sent to his support...every just argument favoring support of the gospel when preached may be justly used when supporting the written and printed gospel, for the New Testament is offered in written form."

There you have it! Sommer is comparable to Paul. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Sommer is the editor of the American Christian Review. The Review is on par with the New Testament. The New Testament is inspired. (In some respects the Review may be. Perhaps the charge which Sommer claims the Irvington brethren hurled at his paper is applicable at certain times and on particular points. At any rate, I shall not be the one to take issue with them over the idea. And if they did not say what Sommer claims they said, they have my permission to do so, if they care for it.) But, to continue the comparison between the Review and the New Testament. Churches and individuals supported Paul. Therefore, they have the right to support the Review. Individuals do not, however, have the right to support the colleges. Whew! Double whew!

Just look at Sommer. The church has the right to support a publishing house: then why not a hospital? Why not any human institution that contributes to the improvement of mankind? Why object to the church supporting any of the many human institutions which some among us are striving to impose upon it?

It must be clear to anyone not prevented by prejudice or blinded by bigotry that the one difference between Sommer and those who wish to impose the college upon the church, is the latter usually have many institutions while he has but one, the Review. And if it were not for compromise that some have made regarding the right of the colleges to receive support from the churches, the Review would be as silent on the subject as when brother F. B. Srygley contended with brother Daniel Sommer that the college has the same right to claim the patronage and support of the brotherhood that the Review claims for itself, inasmuch as both are simply and only human institutions.

If the Review is not a religo-secular enterprise, let brother Sommer tell us why it is not. He admits that it teaches religion, and even if he denied it, it would still be true. Why it even teaches the students in the state universities against the evil arguments of some of the-infidel teachers, "smart alecs," according to the Review editor. (Is Sommer reflecting upon the American public school?) And the Review is most assuredly secular. Does brother Sommer want to affirm that it is divine in nature? Especially while it sells Premillennial song books and other such commodities?

Here, though, I must leave my erring brother to puzzle over the perplexing problem of his religo-secular institution. And, while he decides whether it is more secular than religious, whether it sells more papers, pamphlets, and premillennial song books—premillennial in origin and publication as well as doctrine—or teaches more religion, I shall devote a bit of my time to attending to the rumblings and ranting of Roady.

(To be continued)