Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 17, 1952
NUMBER 36, PAGE 4-5a

Letters Between Friends


The following exchange of letters deals with matters that are of concern to all of us. James L Lovell and the editor of the Guardian are friends of many years' standing; we shall remain friends no matter how widely we differ in our judgment as to matters discussed in these letters.

San Francisco, California Dear Old Tater:

Tell me, son, are you happy in your work with the Guardian? I seem to feel that you are not writing what you down deep in your heart feel and believe. I may be wrong but that is what I have told Tiner and Pullias. I do not believe you felt as you wrote about Pullias, Tiner and the college; that is why I begged Pullias to send you a reply. I do not know whether he will do so or not, but I have asked him to. Your harm goes far beyond him—you have misrepresented those of us at the church where Pullias is a member, those of us as Trustees at the College where he is dean.

Yater, our people are hard. I seem to suffer greatly any more from unkind words written and said about me. I hope that you will not be too hard on me any more. As you wrote me, I can truthfully say to you that I love you. I know I am your friend. I somehow wish you were out here away from trouble. It will eventually kill you as it does all of us. Use me if I can ever serve you.

Jimmie January 5, 1950 Mr. Jas. L. Lovell 5640 Valley Glen Way Los Angeles 43, Calif.

Dear Jimmie:

Need I tell you I appreciated your letter? It was good to hear from you again, and to know that you are, as always, deeply concerned for the cause which we both love. No, brother Pullias did not write me; nor did Hugh. I should have been happy to have heard from either of them.

You ask if I am happy in the work I am doing for the Guardian. Is a soldier happy when he is in a trench and being shot at? Is a man happy when he is battling with all his strength against deadly forces that would ruin and destroy all he holds precious? Am I not a man? Do not I have eyes that weep like other men? Have I not organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? Am I not fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as other men? Do you think it actually gives me pleasure to have to oppose those whom I love (yourself included)? Surely, you know better than that. I would much prefer to wash my hands of all controversial issues (as so many are doing), and go along with the crowd, being applauded rather than lambasted, praised rather than vilified.

But, Jimmie, there is something greater and more precious to me than the good-will and approbation of those around me. There is One whom I try to serve whose cause I would betray by silence. The influence of Pepperdine College is destructive beyond measure to the church for which our Savior died. That is not my judgment alone; that is the judgment of some of the best and godliest men in the church, men who have anxiously and prayerfully observed the trend of the school for a decade. In my preaching trips I have found more than one fine young man whose faith has been weakened and whose life blighted by the influence of your school. It is the common talk of preachers and elders over the west that the Pepperdine students who come back after four years under that influence are of very, very little value to the church any more. Some things happens to them in your school—something tragic and terrible. There are some notable exceptions, of course; and all of us rejoice in that. But they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

You are a director of Pepperdine College, and no one who knows you can doubt for one moment that you want to do what is right. But whether you can help the school now seems highly doubtful. And it is certain that you cannot help so long as you remain hypnotized by brother Pullias; indeed, you will not even try while that mesmeric influence continues. But, Jimmie, can't you wake up to what is happening? Can't you see how Pepperdine College is compromising the truth—selling the church of our Lord down the river? Do you completely set at naught the judgment and the humble, measured statements of all that host of godly men who can see and who do know what brother Pullias is doing to the school? Did you talk with brother Otis Gatewood concerning his classes under Wilburn? Have you talked with Floyd Thompson of Santa Ana? With John Wolfe of Brownsville Texas? With W. B. West, Jr., of Searcy, Arkansas? With James Sewell, an elder in the Broadway and Walnut Streets church in Santa Ana? With Frank Pack, former Bible teacher in Pepperdine? With Herman Campbell, who was with the school for so many years? Have you talked with E. W. McMillan concerning his visit to some of brother Wilburn's classes? He told me he was "shocked" at the things he heard taught there. Every one of these men has told me from first hand knowledge far worse things about Pepperdine College than has ever been printed!

I have never for one moment doubted your love for the cause of Christ. I would that we had ten thousand others with your zeal and your willingness to sacrifice. But, Jimmie, in the name of God, what is it going to take to open your eyes? Ralph Wilburn, whom you defended so valiantly (and still defend) has forsaken the Lord's church, and is now preaching for the Christian Church; Earl Pullias, whom you describe in terms of praise that almost approach blasphemy, was the featured speaker in a lectureship which the Christian Church in Bakersfield put on in opposition to a gospel meeting by G. K. Wallace with the loyal brethren there. Brother Pullias preached when they used instrumental music in the service, with not one word of condemnation for it; and at the conclusion of his sermon he invited people to unite with that apostate church! Indeed, I get newspaper clippings every few weeks from California showing where brother Pullias has been a participant in various denominational services—Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, as well as digressive.

Nor are brother Wilburn and brother Pullias the only ones who have compromised the truth. Just a few days ago I had a clipping from a California paper describing how Alan D. Mendenhall, professor of music in Pepperdine College, is also soloist and minister of music in the Florence Avenue United Presbyterian Church. Is this man a member of the Lord's church? If so, how under heaven can he be soloist and minister of music in a Presbyterian church? And if he is not a Christian, then how can anybody be stupid enough to think he will teach the Pepperdine students the truth concerning instrumental music in the worship? The same clipping stated that Dr. Russell Squire, head of Pepperdine College Music department (isn't he an elder in Vermont Church of Christ?), was going to direct a combined chorus and orchestra in a program of religious music under the sponsorship of the Church Federation of Los Angeles and the Southern California Council of Protestant Churches. Will Dr. Squire's students believe him now when he tells them it is wrong to worship God with an orchestra? They'll laugh at him —if he ever mentions the subject!

I trust this will answer your letter. Be assured of my continued good will toward you, and my continuing prayer that God may in his good providence open your eyes to the awful abyss into which Pepperdine College influence will lead the church of our Lord. I could weep (and have done so) at the tragic perversion these men have made of the noble and worthy plans brother Pepperdine had for a school. They have betrayed him, as well as the church. But I know that you personally have not wittingly done so. And I will always hold in grateful remembrance the help you gave in those trying days in Denver when we were getting Park Hill Church under way. The loyal backing you gave me both while you were living there and after you left can never be forgotten. And because I know how deeply you love the church, I can truthfully say that you are often in my thoughts—and always in my heart.

Your friend and brother, Yater