Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Then and Now or "How the Mighty Have Fallen"
For at least a twenty-year period (from 1930-1950) perhaps no preacher in the brotherhood was better known or more universally loved and respected by faithful brethren than Foy E. Wallace, Jr. For about four years, early in the 1930's, he was the editor of the Gospel Advocate. Afterward, he founded and edited the Gospel Guardian and Bible Banner, both of which were determinedly set against the wedding of the Lord's church to human institutions of every sort.
Probably more than any other brother, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. stimulated the thinking of brethren by his forceful scriptural preaching and pungent writing to oppose the contributions by churches to human organizations and to oppose participation in the sponsoring church type of congregational cooperation. His name came to be equated with opposition to these errors. Therefore, if the conservative churches are a "factional party" as he recently said, he helped form the party!
In about 1949 or 1950 some personal differences arose between Wallace and two brethren connected with the Gospel Guardian, which caused Wallace to disassociate himself from the Guardian. There was at the time of this separation, no known doctrinal differences between Wallace and the publisher and editor of the Guardian (Roy E. Cogdill and Yater Tant, respectively). After severing his relation with the Guardian, Wallace privately published the monthly Torch for one year (1950-1951).
Since 1950 Foy E. Wallace, Jr. has gone into virtual brotherhood oblivion. He has written only two major articles for publication since 1951, so far as I know. Both of these were printed in the Firm Foundation, one in 1959 and the other in 1964. For the last fifteen years Brother Wallace has continued to hold meetings, circulating indiscriminately between liberal and conservative churches, though because of his identification with the anti-institutional position conservative churches used him more. Prior to the publication of these two articles in the Firm Foundation, Wallace for many years has had little use for the Foundation.
His last article appeared in the April 28, 1964 issue of the Firm Foundation. In this article he, for all practical purposes, identified himself with the Firm Foundation position on institutionalism and attempted to defend a compromising "middle-of-the-roadism." In the main, his last article merely "vented his spleen" against the Guardian, Cogdill and Tant (though he did not name them) and others who opposed prostituting the divine Body with human organizations. The Gospel Advocate, which for a quarter of a century has had no use for Wallace, now has seen in his article an opportunity to slam faithful brethren. The Advocate, therefore, has reprinted the Wallace article with great satisfaction. They are trying to use Wallace to give their cause respectability and, unfortunately, Brother Wallace is so embittered he is willing to be so "used." He is now but a "pawn" in the hands of his former enemies, and I should think that he could see that.
For the last fifteen years conservative brethren virtually have revered Foy E. Wallace, Jr. During this time he has, for the more part, preached like an "Anti" while he also kept company with the liberals. Many have been willing to overlook, because of a tremendous respect for his previous efforts in behalf of truth, his willingness to permit some personal differences with two or three individuals to remove him from public conflict with errorists within the church. Faithful brethren have continued to hope against hope that somehow, sometime, his bitterness and animosity would abate. His compromises and fellowship with liberal churches have not been publicly assailed, thinking that he might finally again align himself publicly with the cause he once espoused.
While we have also recognized the soundness of nearly all of Wallace's earlier positions, we have deplored the fact that a man of his capability, intelligence and reputation would permit such trivialities as those involved with two or three brethren to remove him from such an important battle as has been going on the past fifteen years. During his nearly fifteen year pouting moratorium, I must confess that a good bit of the luster and glitter from Foy E. Wallace, Jr. has disappeared so far as I am concerned. I can have but little respect for any gospel preacher who will permit truth to be abused and error go unopposed by him, thereby lending encouragement to modern digressions, while he sulks with miffed feelings. And this precisely, as I see it, is what Wallace has done now for nearly fifteen years.
He has become a veritable demigod, an "untouchable," so far as sound brethren have been concerned. He has closed meetings early and in several other ways made it impossible for brethren who wanted to discuss these personal differences with him (even brethren who merely wanted to apologize to him) even to contact him. The Bible enjoins forgiveness (Lk. 17:3; Eph. 4:32). He refuses to answer a letter, and even returns some brethren's letters unopened. Again I must confess that my knowledge of such reprehensible action has destroyed some of my respect for him. Such actions have been tolerated in him, but would have been soundly denounced in lesser men.
Some may criticize me, a fairly young man, for writing critically of one of Foy Wallace's stature. But this is but more of his "untouchable image" about which we have spoken. We respect Wallace when he does right, and we shall criticize him when we feel he does wrong. He should be given credit for all the good he has done and held responsible for all the harm he has done and is now doing. I am now about the age Wallace was when he edited the Gospel Advocate (though I would not even insinuate my ability now or later in any way is comparable to his then or now). When he was my age, he wrote strongly and plainly daring to differ with any he believed to be in error, whether young or old, whether well-known or a nobody. Whether I shall be criticized for doing so or not, I feel something should be said in reply to Wallace's approximately 12,000 word April 28, 1964 Firm Foundation article, which occupied seven pages of three column small print. Editor Lemmons said it was the longest article ever to be run in the Firm Foundation. About 50,000 copies of his article have now been distributed throughout the brotherhood. The Foundation already has it in tract form.
The article really said very little more than how bitter Wallace is with Cogdill, Tant, and the Guardian, though Lemmons added peremptorily, that the whole conservative movement in the church "can be laid to rest with this article." Jesus said "That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matt. 5:22).
Invectives and Epithets
Foy E. Wallace, all must admit, has been and yet could be an excellent writer. It seems that in this article he exhausted his great vocabulary as he sought for ever new ways to inveigh his brethren. Wallace admits that all he knows about us has been gotten second handedly. He says, "Not being a subscriber to nor a reader of their papers, all I know is what is heard and observed." With such an incomplete and generally unreliable secondhand source, one would have thought Wallace would have spoken guardedly. Brotherly love "thinketh no evil" (I Cor. 13:5). But he castigated his brethren immeasurably. Yet the gamut of uncomplimentary terms he applied to us was almost without exception applied to him fifteen and more years ago when he too was fighting for the purity of the Lord's church. Surely he has not forgotten so quickly.
To repeat every scurrilous thing he had to say about us would necessitate the reprinting of nearly his whole article, for this was its content almost entirely.
Of Preachers and Leaders
Just a few of the malignant epithets applied by him to the preachers and leaders of conservative churches are these: "ambitionists," "second-fiddler leaders," "hatchet men for the party," "small personalities," "predatory merchants of mischief," "egocentric men" with "diabolical designs," "irrational leadership," "malicious," "party originators and commanders," "party bosses," "unscrupulous," "guilty of premeditated and deliberate misrepresentation" and of "professional improbity, the definition of which is plain dishonesty," "dividers of the churches," "popish men," "self opinionated egotism of the novices of this new reformation," "self-convicted modernists" and "traditionalists," ''immature aspirants'' who ''divide the churches in order to be the heads and leaders of a party," "group of bully boys," "a set of radical smart-alecks" whose "whole effort is party control." Paul said brethren should be taught "to speak evil of no man" (Titus 3:2). After that tirade it would come with mighty poor grace from such a brother to complain that someone was treating him a little too roughly.
Our brother would have you believe that conservative preachers are only a "few immature," "novice," "smart-alecks." Quite frankly, we think men like Homer Hailey. Roy Cogdill, Hugh Clark, Frank Puckett, and James Adams, and a good many others can compare rather favorably even with Wallace, whether the comparison be knowledge, experience, age, ability, reputation or any other comparison except ability to harbor a grudge. We can even name many capable preachers among us who are older than Wallace, if that would prove anything. Fully two thousand faithful gospel preachers who contend only for the truth, Wallace would call a "group of bully boys." Such vociferousness does not behoove a man of Wallace's caliber. If one with his present disposition will help the liberal cause, they are welcome to him. Such bitterness certainly cannot be an asset to any righteous cause.
Reflects on Mentality
Brother Wallace is not done casting aspersions yet. He further reflects on the intelligence and motives of those who oppose what he formerly opposed, and who stand today where he once stood. Note these choice morsels of unbrotherliness from his article: "religious psychosis of fested minds with the pathological cause and effect of disordered thinking," "deranged and disordered thinking of minds" tormented with the "fever of unbalanced reason," "cynical complex of negativism," "disposition of dictatorship," "spiritual neurosis, "psychotic political leaders" who "add crass stupidity to gross iniquity." James says, "speak not one against another, brethren" (Jas. 4:11).
It is difficult to imagine how one could say things much worse without using downright profanity, but Wallace lowers his tone when he comes to speak of the faithful churches. He calls them a "factional party," "insurgent extremists," "form of the Sommer-Ketcherside-ism," "rightists radicals," "contentious combination," "current defection," "morbid movement," "imitation movement," "current agitation," "factional missions," "unrestrained hobbyism," "a clique of cranks," "opprobrious cause," "misconceived current agitation," "breed of crankyism," "bedlam of extremes," "a sort of Birch society within the church, with apologies to the Birchers in politics," "malodorous movement." Faithful brethren before us had their honorable name blasphemed too (Jas. 2:7). Nearly all his vituperation is aimed at us while, with the exception of two or three veiled and hedged mild expressions, he tosses the olive branch to the Advocate crowd, who gladly has received it and has now virtually re-embraced Wallace after a long alienation. "And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day: for before they were at enmity between themselves" (Luke 23:7).
Such prolific malevolent meanderings of slander probably explain why Wallace has written only two articles in nearly fifteen years. Apparently he has been busy thinking up all the vicious, uncomplimentary, unchristian and inaccurate terms with which lie could malign his brethren. His repeated use of some prejudicial terms proves his vocabulary of venom was depleted. I doubt that his record in this field can be topped very soon by anyone in a single article!
In spite of pronounced bitterness towards those so stigmatized, Brother Wallace still has felt at liberty through the years to accept the generosity of such "cranks," and has even in some instances relatively recently, requested and received donations from some of these ''morbid'' "Birchers.''
Objects to Label of "Liberal"
Brother Wallace becomes quite incensed because the institutional churches have been denominated as "liberal" churches. He objects to claiming, "a congregation that includes in its budget certain benevolent and missionary programs is a liberal church." I wonder if even the inclusion of a missionary society in a church's budget would now cause that church to be called a liberal church by Brother Wallace. After all, the Missionary Society is a certain kind of "missionary program" similar organizationally to the benevolent programs under question. He bemoans the fact that "of late the dividers of the churches have arbitrarily imparted unusual and unmeaning significance to the words modernism and liberalism."
A liberal, whether in politics, economics or religion, is simply one that liberally interprets and elastically applies the prescribed authority. Our "liberal" brethren are very lenient and flexible in their use of God's Word, fearing lest someone should think them to be a "legalist," a binder of the letter of the divine law. But the gospel is "law" which must be kept (Jas. 1:25, Rom. 8:1-2; 2 Jno. 9). Thus the liberals among us deny the essentiality of following Bible patterns and the binding power of Bible examples. These definitions of the liberal surely fit our digressive brethren.
It is interesting to note that Brother Wallace, in the very article in which he is so riled up about the use of the term "liberal," himself speaks of the "leftist liberals" who are "on the march." Of course, Wallace is not now about to identify whom he is talking about, but it surely sounds to me like he means the Gospel Advocate brethren. "On the march" has become the Advocate watchword. Foy E. Wallace of a few years back would not have left people guessing about whom he was speaking. Even Brother Lemmons has something to say about the "Liberal minds among us" (Firm Foundation, May 19, 1964). Lemmons is also concerned about the fact that "the trend has bounced to the liberal extreme among us today" (Dec. 10, 1963). While both Wallace and Lemmons use the term "liberal" to describe the Advocate position, they become highly incensed if someone just as properly applies it to their semi-pro-institutional position.
Has Not Changed
Brother Wallace avers that his position now is the same as his position has always been. Such a pronunciation is amusing, and I think can and will be shown to be so by an unlimited number of quotations from his earlier writings. Wallace asserts: "There has been no change in my own position since holding the editorial post of the Gospel Advocate." Earlier he said, "What I wrote as editor of the Gospel Advocate in 1930 to 1934 period, and in all the years since, is what I believe and teach now." (Firm Foundation, May 26, 1959). If these statements by him are true, the quotations from his pen which follow show that he stands with those whom he labels as "Antis" now. If he still believes what he then believed, we will just feed him on his earlier statements until his heart is content.
Yet Brother Wallace protests alignment with those prejudicially stigmatized as "Antis." He declares "endorsement of the doctrine and doings of this party's law-makers has been unequivocally disclaimed" and "…I do not belong to their party …I do not believe and have never believed what these men are now teaching and practicing…" "I would have a lot more respect for any brother who changes if he would simply say he has changed his mind. Guy N. Woods of Gospel Advocate "fame" has been through all sorts of contortions to try to prove he has not changed, and his gyrations are not yet done either. He is going to have to "eat his words" on the church support of colleges, and at the necessary time, he will do it too! Yet, he probably will have the audacity to continue saying he has not changed. Woods does not surprise me too much, since I could hardly be surprised by anything he would do, but it is disgusting to observe Wallace on both sides of these issues and for him yet to maintain he has not changed.
The Issues Involved
At the risk of prolonging this article unduly and of approaching the length of Wallace's article, I want to quote Wallace extensively to show you that we stand now where he once stood. I am perfectly willing to leave it to the readers to decide where he once stood. The repeated and elongated quotations from him are to attempt to squelch the "You misquoted me" bit. Brother Wallace has used this line often in recent years. I intend to quote so extensively from him to make such a plea impossible for him now.
The primary issues that now divide us are institutionalism, orphan homes, church supported colleges, and sponsoring churches, though all these controverted specifics hinge on disrespected divine authority. If these are not the particular issues dividing us, then I confess I do not know what the issues are, and call upon brother Wallace or anyone else to state to me what the specific points at issue are. No man has spoken clearer, more frequently, or stronger on these issues than
Foy E. Wallace, Jr. The reason why the conservative brethren so often have quoted him is because he stated our position precisely and in a more potent way than most of us could. We can still state our position in the very language of Foy E. Wallace. Most of these quotations are from Torch, which contain the very last writing Wallace has done, excepting his two Firm Foundation articles. Note the issues, and Wallace's position on them. His position is our position too!
Human Institutions in General
"The only way the church of Christ can be hurt by the affairs of a human institution is for them to be linked and tied together in the public eye. And that should never be done. Let the secular institution stand on its own feet, stay in its place, and succeed or fail on its own merit, sustaining no more connection with the church than any other business enterprise, and the church will not be hurt by anything that happens to it.
"Can the church scripturally work through such boards? If so, and that part of its work can be done through that board, why not do all of its other work through other boards?… No human board can stand between the church and the work of the church. So even if operating a college for secular education were the work of the church (which it is not), the organization would bar the church from working through it . . .." (Torch July 1950, pp. 24)
Church Support of Colleges
"Periodically defeated in the deliberate plans to get in the budgets of the churches, as in 1935-38 and again in 1945-48, already we are hearing post mortem gasps with threats to try again . . . and in less than a decade it will be necessary to fight the battle all over again, for some are saying already that they will win it in the next campaign." (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. 7).
"It appears certain that the fight against organizations and digression made in Texas and Tennessee fifty years ago must be fought all over again. If this sounds like an over-statement of the situation, just take a look at the picture: A central eldership in the United States overseeing institutional boards in foreign countries through which to do the work of the church, with all other churches working through this central eldership of one church, which in turn works through the man-made boards of human organizations somewhere else!" (Torch, August 1950, p. 20).
"But I want to repeat with emphasis, brethren, that we are in a fight 'against spiritual wickedness in high places!' It is no longer a tendency, a trend, or a threat. It is here. The church is being made a mere subsidy of men s organizations. We are fighting organized efforts to subsidize the churches of Christ to human institutions and private enterprises, and to keep it free of institutional domination. A few of us alone cannot continue to win this fight. It has been won again, but only for a time. Before 1958, if history is repeated, it will come again. It calls for the unified and consistent opposition of all faithful elders in the churches as well as preachers of the gospel, now and all the time, in order that members of the church may know the issues and be ready to stand against this spiritual wickedness in the high places, whenever and wherever it appears." (Bible Banner, January 1948, p. 7)
Brother Wallace's warnings in 1948 and 1950 on the church support of colleges were much needed and did not go unheeded. He predicted almost the exact year when the liberals would make another push to ease the colleges into the church budget. (See J. D. Thomas' book, We Be Brethren.) Suppose none had done more to prevent the success of these colleges in misappropriating church funds than has Wallace in the past fifteen years. Suppose all the rest of the brethren had also gone into hibernation in a pouting fit. The colleges would have made their regrouped advance much sooner, and with better prospect of success. Who knows but if Wallace had continued to lead in the fight against this nefarious practice that the digressives would not have even yet made another public bid for church support of their institutions. Brother Wallace, I fear, before God and in the annals of history, largely shall bear the ignominious responsibility of the success that our liberal brethren now think they can taste. His mighty efforts, along with those of still faithful brethren, much more easily could have stemmed the new threatening tide.
Church Support of Orphan Homes
Another issue which both then and even now threatens the peace of churches is the church support of orphan homes. Wallace, in his recent Firm Foundation article, deplored making this an issue. But he has done so, at least as much as any other brother has. He now speaks of the "new creed in opposition to orphanages, collective benevolence and the joint efforts of churches in the preaching of the gospel." If our position is a "new creed," Wallace must have written it! He was among the first to oppose the newly started practice. He says today that "There is no source for the corruption of the church in an orphanage," but in the past he said there was the same corruption in supporting an institutional orphan home that there was in supporting a missionary society. But of course, he has not changed! Listen to Brother Wallace:
Homes Under a Board
"Whatever the church, as such, is commanded to do can be done only through the church. And the only way to do anything through the church is to do it through the local church, which is the only organization known in the New Testament."
If it were 'permissible to have a Bible college as an adjunct to the church in the work of education and an orphans' home in the work of benevolence,' we quite agree that it would also be 'permissible' to have the 'missionary society in the work of evangelization.' But the question assumes the point to be proved. Nothing is 'permissible' as an auxiliary of the church that is not Scriptural. And it is not Scriptural for the church to delegate its work, either missionary or benevolent to boards and organizations other than the church. Bible colleges, and institutional orphans' homes cannot be made adjuncts of the church Scripturally …"
"Institutionalism has been a menace to congregational independence as taught in the New Testament. It has wrought havoc to the church in the past, and growing tendencies present hazards for the future." (Bible Banner, Sept. 1938)
This 1931 Gospel Advocate article by Wallace was quoted in the September 1938 Bible Banner, "as proof upon proof that the position maintained by THE BIBLE BANNER is not a late creation of an issue by the editor." It was again quoted in the May 1947 Bible Banner. If the issue was not a new one in 1931, 1938, or 1947, how could one taking the same position in 1964 belong to a "late party" as Wallace alleged? But read further from our erstwhile "Anti" brother:
"But the church as such is also commanded to do benevolent work. It is, therefore, on a par with missionary work, and for the same reason the church cannot Scripturally transfer the work of benevolence to any agency or institution that takes the work Out of the hands of the elders and deacons of the church -- the local church. Such organizations would supplant the church in benevolent work exactly as the society doss in mission work." (Gospel Advocate, 1931; Bible Banner, Sept. 1938, p. 4)
"There has always been a question about the operation of an institutional orphan home. If the church can do its benevolent work through a 'board of directors' --a benevolent board; why not its preaching work, or 'missionary work,' through a missionary board?
"…The institutional home should be a private thing like operating a boarding house or a hospital. If the church did anything about it, on the same basis as paying a sick person's expense at the hospital (if and when proper), it would not justify putting the hospital in the budget of the church, nor would the church be contributing to the hospital." (Bible Banner, July 1947, p. 14)
Speaking of Boles Home at Quinlan, Texas:
"The plans seem to be taking shape of something over at Quinlan that will develop into the proportions of a Boys Town, and of 'Father Flanagan.' Their traveling entourage is appearing before governors of the state, great business executives, putting on entertainments and calling for much expense. Of course, all of this is the work of the church, according to some among us, and to make it scriptural the Board of Trustees for this now secular institution have been placed under the oversight of a Board of Elders of a local church. But members of the Board of Trustees are elders in different local churches. So elders of one church as board members are under the oversight of elders of another church, overseeing the board! Where do we go from here? When an institution expands into such a general thing that it becomes a public institution, with an organization board to run it, the time has come to cut it completely loose from the church, and let it stand on its own secular institutional legs. For it to claim to be a church orphanage, but operating as a secular institution, with all of the secularism that belongs to any of the eleemosynary institutions, of either private or government or government ownership, is simply to play the role of 11) -'-tor Jekyl and Mister Hyde. We have had too much of that sort of thing." (Torch, Sept. 1950, p. 31, 32).
"Another miss in the logic of those seeking sanction for unlawful practices is the assumption that orphan homes furnish a premise without fault or criticism from which to draw the conclusion that any and all other institutions may be included in the budgets of the churches." (My emphasis--CW). (Torch, August 1950, p. 11).
Today any man or group of men can start any institution they may please, put it in a benevolent basket, label it "your baby," and place it on the doorstep of the church with the appeal: "Please take care of it!" That is taxation without representation. Again, I say the delegate system of the digressives is better than that, for in that case there would be a voice in what is started. The church is about to become the unwitting and unwilling victim of Institutionalism. And Institutionalism is about to become a racket. Where is there scriptural precedent or precept for scouring the country for orphans, transporting them from sections far and wide to an institution that was not created by orphans in a particular community, but which a promoter created by searching for orphans. Is this editor against taking care of orphans? He is not! But he is against the institutionalism racket. It is the duty of the church to care for their dependents and they should provide means for doing so under their own supervision. If individuals wish to operate hospitals, inns, homes or schools, it is their right to do so. But the church cannot operate institutions. If the church can do its benevolent work through a board of directors, why not its mission work through a board of directors? If one is a society, why not the other? There is no such thing as "our" institutions, if by "our" you mean the church.
Institutionalism was the taproot of digression. It has always been the fatal blow to congregational independence. It destroys individuality of both the congregation and the Christian, as Nazism and Fascism destroy individuality of their citizens in Germany and Italy.
Back of institutionalism is party pride. People say, "Your church does not have any great institutions. It is not missionary and benevolent." We would say, "Oh yes, it does!" and "Yes, we are." And we have come to love the institutions more than the church. (Bible Banner, July 1939, p. 3.)
Now maybe Brother Wallace left you with the impression that he was in favor of church supported benevolent institutions, but he did no leave me with such an impression. He now says that his early efforts were only at "restraining tendencies and correcting deviations" of eleemosynary institutions. He argues in his Firm Foundation article that there always have been differences between brethren over "functional and operational procedures" of benevolent institutions. But Wallace was at one time opposed to churches donating to such institutions, and where he stood then is where we now stand! He has not changed he says, but he now says he opposes both the "doctrine and the doings" of the "Antis." Figure all of that out if you can. It sounds to me like Wallace has companied with "middle-of-the-road" Reuel Lemmons long enough to learn to do the now famous Lemmons "double-talk."
Homes Under Elders
The Firm Foundation "middle-of-the-road" position is that elders must oversee orphan homes, while the Gospel Advocate declares they must be under a board. Yet they get along quite well, just as do the sectarians, one of whom declares sprinkling is alright, while the other insists one must be immersed. Wallace would have you to believe, as he accepts the Firm Foundation position that he is standing where he has always stood on this issue. But is he? Listen to him again:
"The astute editor of the Firm Foundation is on record that even a home for orphans must be under the elders of the local church to be scripturally supported by the church . . . A new fallacy has become prevalent, that the only thing necessary to make a thing scriptural is to put whatever it is under the eldership of some church no matter where the church is. So institutions and organizations with their boards, wholly outside the church are being put under the eldership of some sponsorial church, board and all. According to that idea all that is necessary to make a missionary society scriptural is to put the society under the sponsorship of some eldership!" (Torch, August 1950, p. 12, 13).
"On what principle can the eldership of the church in America take the oversight of an institution in Europe or Asia, whether that organization be a school or an orphanage? When the eldership of the church becomes a centralized board of benevolence or a general board of foreign missions, it is just as unscriptural as any other board, and the authority for it may be found on the to know better are defending it." (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. p. 14).
"This centralization of authority and concentration of funds in boards have been the main points of difference between the human and divine plan, and now the brethren are practicing it and prominent preachers who ought to know better are defending." (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. 14).
"To justify the establishment of institutional orphanages for the churches to sponsor as a means of doing their 'pure and undefiled religion,' reference is frequently made to Jas. 1:27 -- 'visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction.' Now, if Jas.1: 27 is a command for an institutional orphanage, it is no less a demand for an institutional widowage. Why is the latter part of the command never emphasized, much less obeyed, by those who insist that the first part of it is the precept for an institutional organization? The institutional idea is not in the language of James. " . . . There is no passage in the New Testament that incorporates the institutional idea as an obligation of the church." (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. 15-17).
"Acts 11:29, 30 is not a case in point for what some brethren are promoting in the way of a general eldership as a board of benevolence and missions for all the churches." (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. 27).
Opposed Homes Under a Board or an Eldership
Way back in 1936, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. published two articles from 0. C. Lambert (now ardent opposer of Catholicism and author of Catholicism Against Itself). Wallace called both of the articles "good articles, but one of which especially is worth rereading …We would like for those readers who preserve their magazines to refer to these articles and correct Brother Lambert's name (His name had been erroneously listed--CW), and while doing that to re-read especially his article on 'The Problem of Organized Cooperation.' " Lambert's article bore this heading:
"Does a Congregation Have the Right to Assume More than it Can Do? Since Brethren Have Begun to Establish Institutions They Have Vacillated Between One Plan and Another of Operation Neither of Which the Scriptures Give Hint. If the Lord had Intended that His Work Be Done on a Bigger Scale than Can Be Handled by the Local Church He Would Have Designated a Bigger Organization." Brother Lambert, also then an "Anti," opposed church contributions to a home operated either under a board or under an eldership.
"Since the brethren have begun to follow the nations around us in establishing institutions of this character (i. e. orphan homes--CW), they have vacillated between two plans of operation. One plan has a board of regents residing at different points. The other plan is to put it nominally under the eldership of some congregation. Neither plan is satisfactory. If there had been any need for either plan surely the Scripture would give us some hint of it.
The first mentioned plan creates an organization that does not even profess to be a congregation through which to do the work that should be done either as individuals or as congregations. It is 'taxation without representation.' This board decides to spend several hundred thousand dollars for buildings. The congregations that are expected to support this have no voice in the matter. The local congregation is no more than a filling station for this unauthorized organization. If a congregation should fail to be ready when they drive up, it would be considered lacking in spirituality. The longer such institutions are borne with the more demanding they will become.
When these homes have been operated nominally by the eldership of some congregation, it looked more like an arrangement made for the purpose of avoiding criticism than anything else. The management under either plan is about the same. The superintendent receives and disburses the money. He receives and disposes of the thousands of dollars worth of supplies. It is possible for things to be mismanaged with the result that the elders of the congregation who are dumb enough to be rubber stamps for this sort of thing are liable to wake up and find themselves ruined financially and the brotherhood disgraced in the eyes of the world.
These homes train the children and get out 'on the road.' They expect to put on a show in the church building. They sometimes become incensed if the regular program of the church is not sidetracked to give way for it. They have grown young ladies performing so that if a Holiness should be present and ask the difference in that and woman preachers, the brethren would be speechless. If we stifle our misgivings, our children will have none." (Gospel Guardian, March-April 1936, p. 32, 33)
Wallace, in his most recent article, still objects "to subsidizing the general work of the church through one eldership." What is he referring to? His statement certainly is applicable to the brotherhood orphan homes under an eldership. The Foy Wallace we all knew 15 years ago would have left no doubt what he was talking about. He would have named it. "How are the mighty fallen!"
Probably the position that we take which most liberals consider to be most absurd is that on "limited benevolence." However, one should remember that congregational benevolence is either "limited" or it is "unlimited," and the Bible limits it (I Tim. 5:16; 2 Thess. 3:10). But even this "limited benevolence" position can be documented from Wallace's writings and publications. In his April 28, 1964 article he objects "to making the care of the world an immediate obligation of the church," though he professes to deny the "saints only" position. But we also deny it is scriptural to "make the care of the world an immediate obligation of the church." Wallace apparently still holds the "limited benevolence" position, though he would rather not have it called that.
Previously Wallace had said:
Commenting on Acts 11:29, 30: "Besides all of this, the passage says that relief was sent to the 'brethren' ~n Judea; and Paul's itinerary was for the 'saints' in Jerusalem. There is no precept for nor example of the church undertaking to feed the world." (My emphasis-- CW) (Torch, Aug. 1950, p. 29).
Wallace also printed in 1936 an article from C. A. Norred containing this pertinent statement:
But what is the church to do in the field of benevolences? When we not only encounter the ever-present call of the needy but fall under the influence of epidemics, and general calamities -- what shall we do? Is the church to have no part in general benevolence? We should do well just here to take notice of the truth that the church is not divinely pledged to public material benevolence. To say the very least that could be said, the church of the New Testament period lived in the midst of catastrophes and general calamities as numerous and pressing as we experience today. Yet if the church ever undertook to function in the field of public benevolence the fact is not stated in the inspired record. Also, it must be admitted that we are without the general machinery necessary to such a general function. The individual therefore who would employ the church in the field of public benevolences undertakes a work for which there is no inspired example and for which there exists no divinely approved machinery." (My emphasis--CW) (Gospel Guardian, April 1936, p. 39).
Today we also are opposing sponsoring churches; the Firm Foundation unequivocally endorses them, and Wallace would have you believe he stands in the Firm Foundation's "middle-of-the-road" position. In order to do so, he would have to repudiate much that he has said in the past, which he refuses to do, and says he has not done.
Wallace still generalizes and says that some want to "broaden the organizational structure of the church to accommodate certain projects" and to "substitute plans and programs for scriptural principles." That is still rather nebulous to come from the pen of Foy E. Wallace, Jr., wouldn't you "old-timers" say? I have an idea that if Wallace were to have said what he was talking about, the liberals would still call him an "Anti."
He also in his recent article objects to pressure groups: "Some of them are represented by traveling elders or paid agents, demanding participation in various projects, calumniating the churches, labeling the congregations, with implied intimidation in veiled threats to both preachers and elders of ostracism if at least token contributions are not made to their promotions."
Again I ask, "Why didn't Brother Wallace say what he was talking about?" My guess is that he was referring to the "Herald of Truth," but he refused to say so. Everything he said certainly fits the "Herald of Truth" operation. The liberals can now interpret his remarks and claim him (which they are doing and which he is willing for them to do), and yet he has said enough to pacify his own conscience. I again say that such ambiguity did not characterize the Foy E. Wallace that once did write prolifically on this important theme. Let's hear the earlier Brother Wallace; you'll find no ambiguity there!
"So it is with this centralization of eldership, a big eldership of a big church takes over the work of the elders of many churches, with the concentration of authority, overseeing workers by the scores who are not even members of the congregation where these elders are supposed to elder, sending unsafe and unsound teachers and preachers by swarms into foreign fields -- with all of this, what will the harvest be? And what will be left of the autonomous organization of the New Testament church? It has already happened in Texas and in Tennessee, whether you are among those who have believed it could not happen here or not." (Torch, August 1950, pp. 23,24)
"What the advocates of brotherhood elderships need, but cannot show, is one or both of two things: First, where the church in Antioch solicited the churches over the world to send money for Judea to the elders at Antioch -- so they in turn could sponsor the relief work in far-away Judea. That would be a solid example. Second, where the churches at Antioch, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Galatia and Corinth contributed their funds to the eldership of one church, a concentration of funds in a centralized eldership, to be used in distant places where they were not elders. That also would be a solid example." (Torch, ug. 1950, pp. p8, 29)
"The deductions set forth in the foregoing examples are the exact arguments used by the digressives years ago to justify their 'state evangelists.' The only difference is that they appointed a board of missions out of several churches, and we have a self-appointed board of missions in the elderships of one church. In either case it destroys the autonomy of the local church in doing its work, and develops elders of a local church into diocesan bishops." (Torch, August 1950, p. 31).
"EXTREMES. It is to be admitted that these extremes in this so-called cooperation have slipped up on us all. Most of us in the past have acquiesced in cooperation plans, one way or another, and have said things that may be taken as a past endorsement of what is presently being done. But it has developed into something that was not expected. Even the brethren who have assayed to come to the defense of the central sponsors are now conceding that this cooperation thing may be carried to extremes. This being true, it really becomes their duty to point out when and how these churches may practice the extremes they concede to be a possibility. If they are not already doing so, I confess a loss to know how they could do so. If it has not already gone to an extreme when would it, and how could it? When the conceded extreme is named, and an attempt made at an argument on it, the conclusions will contradict the premises." (Torch, Sept. 1950, pp. 25, 26).
C. R. Nichol
Brother Wallace enhanced his position then by quoting these commendable words from the pen of the then aged and now deceased C. R. Nichol:
"So far as I know there has been no controversy over doing missionary work. There has been an adverse criticism over a congregation 'sponsoring' work, when it knew it was not in position, financially, to do the work sponsored,' nor was it in their program to attempt the work within and of themselves. They had planned to send men to congregations throughout the land, asking them to send them money to assist them in doing a work for which they proposed to be surety, and that they distribute the money as seemed to them good.
There is a marked difference in an emergency arising in a congregation, and a congregation deliberately creating an emergency, and then soliciting other congregations to send them money to be disbursed as they see proper, in mission work, or erecting buildings.
Do the elders of the 'sponsoring' church sustain the same relationship to the congregation that they try to induce to send them money that they do to the congregation in which they are elders? If 'No' what relationships do they sustain to the congregations (churches) from whom they seek to raise money. What relationship do the congregations over which the elders of the 'sponsoring' congregations are not elders sustain to the elders of the 'sponsoring' church?" (Torch, April-May 1951, p. 11)
Brother Wallace, like so many great men before him, has now lived long enough to negate by later action much of the good accomplished in his long, glorious and useful life. It is disheartening to see a man nullify nearly all that he contended for earlier by two ill-advised articles published late in life and in a journal that otherwise would have scorned anything he wrote, except he now was serving their purpose and that willingly.
The name "Wallace" has seldom been connected with any doctrine or practice that was even questionable. This is the first time that Foy E. Wallace, Jr., so far as I know, has publicly committed himself in print to defend organizational innovation or digression. His weak and palsied defense of indefensible humanisms and institutional idols does not wear well upon the battle scarred brow of such an one whose entire life until recently has been wrapped up in keeping the church pure by unqualified opposition to every form of digression. We repeat, "How are the mighty fallen!"
Wallace, in 1950 contrasted the fight he then was making for the purity of the church with that waged a generation before at the time of the Christian Church digression. What he said then is pertinent now, and well expresses my feelings regarding his late efforts to defend perversions of the organization and work of the church. With these remarks from his pen we bring our review of Foy E. Wallace, Jr., past contrasted with present, to a close:
"Inside the church the controversies were the same in principle as now: unscriptural innovations, human organizations, secular institutions, local autonomy, pseudo-unity, false fellowship, denominational baptism, and worldly activities within the church. Brethren who had the audacity to dispute the right to invade the church with such secularism, and who possessed the courage to challenge those who do so, were stigmatized with ugly epithets. They were accused of being fossilized, a word I well remember, but it was slung by digressive preachers at the faithful preachers who stood in the way of their invasions. Strange, indeed, that we should now be similarly accused of having 'petrified brains' because we are still insisting on sticking to the 'stipulated conditions of the New Testament.' Men who talked that way then went over to the digressive side, as all of the apologists and neutrals (middle-of-the-roaders? --CW) eventually did; and those among us today who are speaking that shibboleth, while they ridicule the 'stipulated conditions' of God's Word, had as well go on over to the digressive now, for they contribute nothing to the defense of the truth nor the strength of the church." (Torch, July 1950, pp. 3,4)
Where They Are Heading
"And when churches of Christ arrive at where all this centralized cooperation propaganda is leading, they will have become carbon copies of the Christian Church. Who in the name of reason or religion, or even popularity, wants to be that?" (Torch, Sept. 1950, p. 30).
And it grieves me to add that the gallant and powerful Foy E. Wallace, Jr., has made that ignoble march to the other side now to oppose that honorable cause he once espoused and valiantly led. Many brave and undaunted hearts are nevertheless in mourning at his demise as a warrior in behalf of divine truth.
Truth Magazine VIII: 11, p. 3 August 1964