About L. Wesley Jones
Wm. E. Wallace
"TRUTH MAGAZINE is somewhat like the 'Whited Sepulchre.' It has an attractive Format, and is appealing to the eye. One might say it is outwardly beautiful. But within it is full of many forms of error." This is the ipse dixit of L. Wesley Jones in a tract entitled "They Spy Out Our Liberty." Brother Jones apparently seeks to establish himself as champion and protector of Canadian "liberty." It is not my intention to judge brother Jones' character, but when a man poisons the wells with such prejudicial statements it is difficult to withstand suspicions about him. I am trying to give brother Jones the benefit of charity regarding his inaccurate evaluations. I think we can feel better about him if we agree to do what he has formerly advocated regarding "our differences." Hear him: "In your speaker's mind no one cause of division referred to up to this point is so serious as the fact to which we now point: Disputation has ceased to be a means of settling our differences. Debate is shunned by man as though it were a kind of religious measles." (The Preceptor, November 1958, page 13)
Brother Jones is not very nice in representing the teaching in TRUTH MAGAZINE with the figure Jesus used for hypocrisy ("Whited Sepulchre"). A man who so associates the work and teaching of his brethren ought to be willing to have his charges and assertions tested in the light of fair and equitable investigation. Will brother Jones face up to a public airing of his accusations and evaluations or will he shun it "as though it were a kind of religious measles?" Brother Jones has "prated against us with malicious words" (II John 10) and we hereby call on him to meet us under equitable circumstances in a public hearing for an open airing of his assertions.
L. Wesley Jones spearheaded an effort to stop TRUTH MAGAZINE from going into the homes of Canadian brethren. He proposed to protect Canadians from what he says is "a theory which deprives Christians of some of their liberties." This he would do by taking from Canadians the liberty of observing both sides and perhaps he would shelter them from the kind of discussion, which he formerly considered "a means of settling our differences." The "liberty" of which he says we are spies, appears to be the restriction under which he would put the good brethren of Ontario. Does brother Jones hold the fear that Canadian Christians are unable to distinguish between truth and error? Does he mean to set himself up as a regulator of reading material for Ontario brethren? He said his tract "is not offered as one skirmish in a running battle." Does he mean it to be a hit and run attack?
Denominational writers refer to churches of Christ as being on the extreme radical fringe of Protestantism and L. Wesley Jones sounds like them when he refers to TRUTH MAGAZINE as an "organ of very radical thought." The following paragraph is an example of brother Jones' unfair representations: "It is made to appear by those who publish, write for, and circulate this magazine that they are the only brethren who believe in following God's plan, upholding His word, Keeping His church pure. Charges are made that the church is going liberal and institutional. Demands are made that the work of the church be done in certain ways which conform to the creed of these brethren." (They Spy Out Our Liberty, page 4)
Those who publish, write for, and circulate TRUTH MAGAZINE do not contend, and have not contended, that they are the only brethren who believe in following God's plan et cetera, nor do they demand that the work of the church be done according to any creed. Will brother Jones meet us in a public consideration and airing of these charges he has made? Will he give up his divisive and hurtful charges "that will cause brethren to 'bite and devour' one another?"
In the tract, brother Jones does not reflect mature understanding of the issues involved in current controversies. He borrowed an outline idea from the Humble-Garrett Debate entitled "Which One Is the Issue,' and adapted it to his purposes in misrepresenting us. We would be glad to meet him in discussion on any one, or on all of the positions he lists on the chart. The point he makes from the chart is nonsense. He appears to repudiate the sacred principles that have distinguished the church of Christ from denominations. In view of his depreciation of sacred principles a few questions are in order: As to the mission of the church, does he deny that the New Testament outlines the work of the church? As to the individual, does he contend everything the individual does the church can do? Does he believe in the "all-sufficiency" of the church? If so, what does he consider the "all-sufficiency" of the church to be? Would he, or can he, define what the autonomy of the church is, and how or when it begins to lose it, or at what point the principle of autonomy is violated? Does brother Jones believe the New Testament offers patterns to be followed? While contending that we bind where the Bible does not bind, does brother Jones consider that he may be loosing where the Bible does not loose? These questions should be answered, and these matters can be fairly considered in an equitable discussion. What about it brother Jones? In the words of L. Wesley Jones, "Let us restore here and now the practice of public, honest investigation." (The Preceptor, January 1959, page 15).
We should have made recognition of brother Jones' tract before now. But by waiting we have been able to see what effect his efforts would have on the circulation of TRUTH MAGAZINE in Canada. The overwhelming majority of Canadians receiving TRUTH MAGAZINE refused to yield to brother Jones' campaign to stop the magazine from going into Canadian homes.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 6, pp.12-13 March 1966