Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 27, 1952
NUMBER 46, PAGE 4-5a

That Pepperdine Problem — No. 3


On the front page again we publish an article from brother E. V. Pullias, "Second Reply to Brother Tant's Accusations." Please read the article carefully. Brother Pullias is under heavy attack, not from the Guardian nor yet from the Guardian's editor, but from many thousands of sincere and honest brethren who have been outraged and humiliated by the damage they feel he has done the cause of Christ in California. It just happens that the Guardian has provided one medium through which the fears and feelings and warnings of these brethren are finding expression. All over California, from pulpits, through church bulletins, in private conversations and correspondences, in church lectureships, and various other mediums, the same things appearing in the Guardian have been and are being discussed. The brethren are aroused and alarmed. They see in the Pullias-Pepperdine teaching and influence a threat to the church which they will not accept without opposition.

But, meanwhile, let brother Pullias be heard. Despite his long and notorious record of compromises with denominationalism, he is a brother in Christ. He deserves a fair and open hearing. Let him not be condemned without the fullest and most sympathetic reading of what he has to say. If any doubt at all exists as to his position and practice, let our brother have the full benefit of that doubt. If the reports concerning him these last fifteen years have been "totally and maliciously false," if, as brother Jimmie Lovell wrote us, the Guardian has "lied" about Pullias, Tiner, and Wilburn, then surely such "lies" ought to he corrected and stopped. And brother Pullias deserves, and, so far as the Guardian is concerned, shall receive every opportunity to present what he considers to be the truth in all these matters.


Brother Pullias declares that he did NOT extend the invitation when he preached in Bakersfield, and further adds, "I gave no such invitation there or anywhere else." He asks us to check with the two elders of the church there who heard him as to whether this is true or not. We don't need to do that at all. We are perfectly willing to take our brother's word for it. And we are surprised and delighted to find we were mistaken in thinking otherwise. For a number of years brother Ralph Wilburn has made no bones about extending invitations when he preached for apostate churches; he has done so openly and repeatedly. Brother Wilburn has been stoutly defended by brother Pullias, and was for several years the preacher in Vermont Avenue Church where Pullias serves as elder. So when the Bakersfield elders declared, "After he (Pullias) preached, the invitation was extended for men to unite with the Christian Church," we mistakenly supposed they meant that Pullias had extended that invitation.

But we were wrong. We acknowledge it freely, and offer full apology. And brother Pullias' refusal to offer such invitations in his affiliations with these denominational and apostate groups is the most heartening development we have yet seen in this dark picture. For it shows that our brother DOES have some conviction that these churches are wrong and sinful; he goes along with them in preaching for them, encouraging them, and seeking to build them up — but he balks at the overt act of asking men to join them! He isn't quite THAT far gone yet. The teaching of the noble men he has named (Elam, Srygley, Boles, etc.) has not been completely obliterated from his heart.

Of course an invitation was offered; but Pullias refused to extend it himself: He participates freely in these sectarian meetings, which are designed, promoted, and conducted solely for the purpose of building up these various denominational bodies (will anyone contend that these sectarian programs are designed for the purpose of making CHRISTIANS out of the people who attend them? are these denominational leaders trying to destroy their denominations in conducting such meetings? of course not!) — brother Pullias participates freely in meetings designed to build up and strengthen the denominational bodies, but can not quite bring himself to the final, complete, overt act of betrayal which he knows an invitation to join such groups would imply. We congratulate him! And we would to God that that tiny speck of conscience and conviction could be nurtured and cherished until it would finally force him to take his place among those thousands of valiant gospel preachers who are striving mightily to destroy and tear down all denominationalism in the world. We cannot escape the feeling that our brother's "weaseling" out on the sectarian preachers, forcing them to extend their own invitations at the conclusions of his sermons, is a clear indication that in his own heart he is not convinced that it is right for him to participate in these sectarian rallies. And that, to us, is a most hopeful portent. For in this he parts company with brother Wilburn, who told us at least ten years ago of the invitations he had extended for people to become members of an apostate church in Kentucky.

Where To Speak

The article on "Where To Speak' 'is wholly gratuitous. The question, dear brother, is not WHERE one speaks but WHAT he speaks. We presume there is no gospel preacher in the land who would not be delighted to preach the gospel in a Jewish synagogue, a Catholic cathedral, a digressive church building, or even a dance hall. But could he speak WHAT HE OUGHT TO SPEAK in such places and be invited back again, and again, and again, and again — with absolutely no change at all in the belief or action of his auditors? That is the question. God's word is powerful. When it is truly preached, it will cause the auditor either to heed it, or to refuse to listen to it further. Paul and the early disciples spoke often in the synagogues, in the market places, and in any other place where they could get a hearing; they used Christian diplomacy and tact (will brother Pullias say they did not?), and the people to whom they preached were either converted to their teaching OR ELSE REFUSED TO HEAR THEM FURTHER.

So far as we have been able to learn NEITHER of these results has attended brother Pullias' preaching in the denominational churches. "By their fruits ye shall known them," therefore our brother does NOT preach the same gospel Paul preached. That seems so perfectly clear to us (and to thousands of others) as to amount to a demonstration. No amount of apology or excuse or explanation can change it or erase its implications. Paul preached: his auditors were either converted, or else they refused to hear him further. Pullias preaches: his auditors are not converted, neither do they refuse to hear him further, but invite him back again, and again, and again, (every Sunday for six years in one denominational church!). Does Pullias preach what Paul preached?

Further Articles

Brother Pullias promises shortly to reply in full detail to the other things charged against him. We will await his article, or articles, with the keenest of anticipation. And the Guardian, of course, will publish every word he may send us. Meanwhile, may we remind him of the questions we previously asked, and ask his particular attention to them:

1. Do you think you sinned in your six years "affiliation" with a Christian Church in North Carolina?

2. If again so situated, would you worship with an apostate church, or would you try to start a faithful congregation in that town?

3. If you sinned in that North Carolina matter, have you ever made public acknowledgement of it and asked to be forgiven?

4. Since you offended your brethren in Bakersfield, have you publicly confessed your sin there and sought forgiveness?

5. If not, do you contemplate doing so?

6. Knowing your participation in such denominational services is offensive to thousands of your brethren; do you purpose never again to be guilty of such conduct?

7. What advice do you give Pepperdine students who are going into towns where there is no faithful church of the Lord, but where there is a conservative Christian Church of the Bakersfield kind? Do you urge them to start a faithful church, or to worship with the Christian Church?

— F. Y. T.