Anent The Gospel Guardian and Edward Fudge
Connie W Adams
For the past several years there has been a growing concern as to the future course the GOSPEL GUARDIAN might take. This writer has been asked the question in many places in the last few years: "What has happened to the GOSPEL GUARDIAN?" This unrest has surfaced in recent months in controversy carried in the GUARDIAN and TRUTH MAGAZINE. Pointed questions have been raised in TRUTH MAGAZINE concerning what is felt to be a compromising stance in relation to the new unity movement and the fellowship controversy both of which have been linked in the minds of brethren with the name and views of W. Carl Ketcherside. Penetrating questions have been raised particularly concerning published statements of Edward Fudge, an associate editor, as well as his private influence on these questions. I have refrained from writing anything directly about these matters in Searching The Scriptures until I could see the bulk of what was going to be said and could thus be in a position to evaluate them more fully before offering comment.
During the last year of my work as an associate editor of TRUTH MAGAZINE I wrote some articles which were aimed at some of the views which had been expressed both editorially and by Edward Fudge in the GUARDIAN. In the last few years some very serious problems have developed with some young men who have attempted to remain among conservative-minded brethren but whose minds have become saturated with the views of Carl Ketcherside. Some of these young men, to my knowledge, have regarded Edward Fudge either as their mentor, or at least a voice in conservative circles advocating what they believe. I have personally encountered this problem in several locations over the country. This is not a figment of someone's imagination. Brother Fudge has espoused views since his college days which have raised question as to his general soundness. He has written some things on fellowship, unity, grace and the imputed righteousness of Christ which have raised many eyebrows among brethren who want to walk in the old paths. Many brethren, of whom I am one, hold that some, of these views are Calvinistic in tendency. The notion that at the judgment our imperfections will be covered by the imputed perfect righteousness of Christ is a cardinal tenent of Calvinism.
The exchanges between the two papers named above have become rather intense. Some have erroneously concluded that it is all a power struggle to see which editor or paper could control the loyalty of brethren. I do not believe either editor or paper has such aspirations, though William Wallace, editor of the GOSPEL GUARDIAN does not share this view. My comments here are surely not inspired by such motives. The conflict reached a low plane and the principal issue was obscured when editor Wallace wrote an article on November 22, 1973 entitled "The Political Mr. Willis" in which he charged that Cecil Willis aspires to be the "titular head of his own church of Christ." For shame! It is one thing to ask pointed questions as to where people stand and another to impute sinister motives. Editor Wallace has had much to say about fairness, kindness and brotherly love and how the absence of these "turn off" younger preachers. Do such allegations as he has made reflect the virtues he has so ardently recommended in others? Even if he believes fully in his heart that they are true, does it contribute to fellowship, unity and love to say these things out loud? Either his recommendation is wrong or else his practice is.
On December 3, 1973 William Wallace spoke to a fair sized audience in Louisville, Kentucky on "The Past, Present and Future of the Gospel Guardian." A lengthy question and answer period followed his speech. The many questions raised reflected a great apprehension as to the future of that paper and its influence and especially the views of Edward Fudge. Time and again editor Wallace found himself trying to defend Brother Fudge. Surely it would be much better if Brother Fudge would defend himself and his views in such gatherings. It would be a lot less embarrassing to William Wallace. If nothing else has before, he should now see clearly that the attempts by Edward Fudge to answer in writing the charges made against his views, have failed to get across to at least a goodly number of brethren and that editorial protests tha~ Edward Fudge is not guilty of these charges have not settled the minds of many brethren. At best, there is yet room for considerable doubt as to where all of this will lead. For what it is worth, I would not hesitate to ask any writer for this paper to terminate his services if as much question existed as to his soundness as does exist with Brother Fudge.
I urged Brother Wallace during the question period to offer his apology for the severe impugning of motives which he has done. He refused to do so. I told him after the session that I was going to appeal to him in this paper to do so. He owes it to Brother Willis and to a brotherhood embarrassed to see such a spirit injected into what should be a controversy over Bible teaching, and especially from one who has deplored "ugly journalism." Personal reflections would best be left out by all parties concerned. A book business is not the issue. The size of the circulation of a paper is not the issue. The aspirations, or lack of them, of editors is not the issue. There are real, spiritual issues at stake which may only be settled by an appeal to what the Bible says. While there is room for discussion as to the best judgment with which to pursue these problems, it is one thing to deal with doctrine and its tendencies and another to malign the motives of those who ask questions about where one stands and about what one has written.
While I bear no malice toward Brother Fudge (I counted his late father a good friend and benefactor) or Brother Wallace, it is this editor's settled persuasion that Edward Fudge is a bruised reed which will pierce the editor's hand and the very heart of his paper unless he comes forth with much greater clarity than he has thus far touching the serious doctrinal import of what he has written. I would love to see the GUARDIAN live to do good. At present its influence for good is seriously in doubt. This writer came away from the December 3 gathering in Louisville with a very heavy heart. It is not my intention to turn this paper over to a running battle on this or any other one subject, but conscience required that something be said at this juncture. We have some araticles in hand touching these and related subjects which will be forthcoming in the next few issues. Consider them carefully. Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that editor Wallace has the necessary credentials to raed the Apulse of the brethren@ which he is once again taking.
(Searching the Scriptures, January 1974)
Truth Magazine, XVIII:12, p. 9-10