Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 17, 1952
NUMBER 36, PAGE 6,11b

Great Issues And Brother Pullias

Robert C. Welch, Florence, Alabama

Recent issues of the Firm Foundation (October 8, through December 11, 1951) have carried a series of articles by E. V. Pullias on "Great Issues Facing the Church of Christ." His purpose seems to be to define each of the issues which are being commented on in pulpits and press. He says, "In these articles I propose to outline briefly the main issues which, in my judgment, face the church of Christ in this century ... My purpose is to state the problems clearly in the hope of stimulating further thought and study." In general it makes good reading. But it should be read with caution for; it not only contains a statement of the issues, it is also colored with his own ideas for the solution of the problems. Some of his statements are very much ambiguous. In one sentence the man in favor of finality of authority in the eldership would see his doctrine promulgated. But in another place another reader would infer that the opposite is brother Pullias' position. The articles are well worth reading for the thinking they will provoke, but there are some points that need further consideration.

The Work Of The Church

He is not able to make up his mind about what an organization is. At least, he thinks there is general agreement that the church can work without other organizations, yet he declares that there is objection to church support of some organizations outside the church while he implies at the same time that the church in general is agreed on their support. Notice his statements from the November 6, issue:

"In fact, there would probably be almost no argument about the purpose of the church, nor would there be much disagreement on the principle that the work of the church should be done by the church and not by other organizations . . . However, there are numerous differences as to how these functions are to be carried out. One lady sincerely argued that the church had no right to spend the congregation's money for washrooms since evidently washrooms are not directly necessary to carrying out the purpose of the church. Others draw the line at a kitchen, others at a fellowship hall, or others at a gymnasium or a playground, others at audio-visual Bible study aids, others at a paid located preacher, others at supporting orphans homes, others at helping a Christian boy get a Christian education, others at contributing to Christian education, and so on almost indefinitely."

It is not my purpose to delve into the merits of each of these items brother Pullias names. But it is very much noticeable that he says at the beginning of the quotation that there is general agreement that the work is to be done by the church and not by some other organization, then toward the close he mentions two organizations other than the church about which he says there is disagreement in supporting. He names the orphans homes, and implies schools when he talks about support of Christian education. If his first statement is correct, how can the latter be correct? If the first statement is in accord with the scriptures, how can the church support of these organizations be scriptural? The first principle which he states is according to the scriptures, the organizations which he names have no scriptural right to receive contributions from the churches. Brother Pullias does not specifically state his position on this matter, but he implies that he holds the position of the first statement. If he does he cannot be neutral on the latter items.

Though somewhat ambiguous, the next paragraph indicates that he considers these things already named to be unbound by scriptural legislation, but that each person or church is to form his own conclusion about them, and that each opinion or conclusion would be equally acceptable.

"Does this mean that all of these are necessarily right or necessarily wrong in the light of the scripture? I think not. It means rather that each local congregation and each individual Christian must study this problem of the proper use of church contributions prayerfully and diligently in the light of scripture and then act and teach in terms of their understanding—manifesting conviction, humility, and charity."

That statement reads just like some denominational preacher telling his audience that we cannot understand the Bible alike, therefore each must go by his own understanding, as long as he is conscientious about it God will be pleased with it. It was concisely stated by one such preacher to a graduating class, "Each person must set his own religious standard and live by it to be happy." That is brother Pullias' position with reference to these matters. Such ideology is a growing philosophy among preachers of the gospel. That is one of the issues of great import facing the church which brother Pullias forgot to name. Why should he have overlooked the issue of modernism, when the school in which he teaches has been questioned about the matter?

Criticism Of Lower Level Schools

In another number of the series brother Pullias criticizes the building of schools for lower levels of education. After deploring the fact that the influence of five days a week in the public schools is so much more than all the influence the church can have on the children, he says, "Some churches, seeing this situation, have organized private schools for all levels of education." He does not say whether or not he has reference to denominations in that statement. This writer has not heard of churches of the Lord building schools for all levels of education. If they have brother Pullias should know, since he has school connections. There are schools being established for the lower levels, however. The school in this writer's community (Mars Hill Bible School) does not receive contributions from churches. But to see his criticism of such schools notice the following statement:

"To establish and maintain a system of Christian schools parallel to and equal in quality to the public schools would be a mammoth economic burden upon Christian people—in fact, in my judgment, an impossible task.

"Also such a system of church schools would divide every community especially small communities, in a serious manner. Children would greatly miss the extremely democratic experience of the public schools. Christian parents would tend to withdraw their influence and the public schools would suffer, both in support and in quality of program."

The things he offers in criticism of the school for lower levels will equally apply to the schools of college level. When children from the homes of Christians are brought into the private colleges they too will "miss the extremely democratic experience of the public schools." When such is done the "Christian parents would tend to withdraw their influence from the public" colleges also. It is also a "burden upon Christian people" to support the private college instead of sending their children to the state schools. On the other hand the things that can be said in favor of a school of college level can also be said for those of lower levels. Actually it is generally agreed that the lower levels include more impressionable and formative years than does the college level. Besides that, having lived in a community where there is a school for the lower levels of education, it is noticed that more students have gone from the community to the "Christian colleges" than attended before the establishment of the local school. Again, these schools have teachers in them who have not been exposed to the agnosticism and modernism of the postgraduate universities. Thus they are examples and teachers of unmixed faith in the word of God. Whereas, some of our colleges are becoming tainted with such modernism, as they try to maintain the level of state schools, by bringing their teachers with wrecked faith from the agnostic universities. Furthermore, criticism of these schools of a lower level comes with poor grace from a man who is in one of the same kind, only one of a higher level.

Reputation Of The Church

He seems to be rather concerned about the reputation of the church, as if that meant more than the righteousness involved.

"If the church of Christ can overcome some a its present reputation of having a fine doctrinal position but a very bad attitude or spirit, together with a rather badly balanced emphasis—if these and certain other altogether unnecessary hindrances can be overcome, the church of Christ will probably have a phenomenal growth in the fifty years that lie ahead."

If brother Pullias can have a "fine doctrinal position" without getting the reputation of having a "bad attitude" he can do more than the apostles of Jesus Christ. To have a "fine doctrinal position" without having a "bad reputation" is just about as easy as to have a battle without fighting. If we fight the good fight of the faith, who of the devil's servants is going to say we have a fine spirit? This same idea held by brother Pullias has made a great number members of the church today who do not know the difference between the church of the Lord and the denominations from whence they came. They have not been converted to Christ, they have merely changed societies.

The Lord said, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13) Again he said, "Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matt. 5:11) "In my judgment" the Lord was more nearly correct than brother Pullias. The Lord considered a "fine doctrinal position" to be a factor in bringing about a reputation for a "Bad attitude" on its adherents. When the world ceases to reproach us and speak evil of us, but embraces us, as brother Pullias would have it; we have then ceased holding to the "fine doctrinal position," we have ceased contending for the faith, and have gone with the world. Read his series of articles with care: they contain stimulation to our thinking; they also contain alarming sentiments.