A Word About the Exchange
James R. Cope
Temple Terrace, Florida
Just as I completed my reply to the rebuttal of the Red Bluff elders through Brother Ralph Williams, a phone conversation with a brother in Texas revealed that he felt I had "overreacted" to the Red Bluff Bulletin of March 7 and should not have used the pages of Truth Magazine to reply. He felt that I should have ignored the attack in the bulletin which was circulated by the Red Bluff church to a large list of readers outside the Red Bluff church, including numerous preachers scattered over the country who were sent this particular issue of that bulletin. He said that because I am using the pages of Truth Magazine to reply that to "some brethren" (he did not specify names or numbers) it "looked like" a "league" or "coalition" between Florida College and Truth Magazine personnel to "crush" a church opposed to the College and that this "combination" intended to "line up" and "control" churches. I suggested to this brother that Florida College, Inc. was not paying for the publication of my part of the discussion. An individual, a Christian, is underwriting the cost of printing and mailing of the material presented by me and it is not being done by any type gift to the College. The same is true of the ad on the back cover of the Special Issue carrying the exchange.
Since the Red Bluff brethren had not seen fit to inform me of their publication until it had gone across the country, I felt that there would be no legitimate objection on their part if I reviewed their criticisms through any channel I chose. When the Red Bluff elders learned that Truth Magazine was going to carry my review, they wanted the whole of their original reproduced also and decided to carry their part of the total publication. (I felt no responsibility for financing of a republication of a 10-page church bulletin, particularly since I had quoted at length from it attempting to set every statement reviewed in context. Having learned that the Red Bluff elders were financing the reprint of their March 7 bulletin, I cut out several pages of lengthy quotations from my reply for economy's sake.) I was party to no communication between Red Bluff personnel and the Truth Magazine editor regarding these matters. He has dealt with no College official except me.
If any brethren are so suspicious that they want to make another issue out of what I considered an economical business arrangement, I cannot stop them for exercising their liberty of "jumping to conclusions." (A brother suggested to me many years ago that such "jumping" is about the only exercise some people get anyway).
The Bible says something about "judging" another's heart or motives. I regret that My actions may "look like" I have some unholy motive when I am trying to mind my own business but have no time or disposition to defend myself against such unfounded suspicions of brethren who make no effort to determine the facts before they pass judgment. (I have enough trouble defending myself for the truth brethren tell about me).
As for a "coalition" to control brethren's thinking, those who know the facts also know that Florida College's refusal to be drawn into this kind of "brotherhood understanding" or "alignment" shortly after I became its president is the very reason many who felt the school should align itself with the church-support-of-human-institution movement cut off their support of the school. Repeatedly we were labeled as the "Gospel Guardian" puppet and the bosom buddy in "anti-ism." The charge of consorting was false then and a similar "suspicion" is false now.
I replied to the Red Bluff bulletin because I believed the time had come for me to defend the right of Florida College to exist as chartered. Any of the publishing or other business organizations operated and promoted by my brethren must stand or fall on their own merits and, I suppose, each is perfectly able to defend itself.
Why not just let the case rest on the merits and demerits of the arguments? I suppose that suits Brother Williams and I know it suits me.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 44, pp. 30-32