A Decade of Service to the “Christian Standard:” And a Bushel-Basketful for the “Firm Foundation”

By Ron Halbrook

The year 1974 should not be allowed to pass without notice of an important record which was set this year. An industrious, young writer has reached an important milestone in his teaching efforts. A milestone is a marker indicating what road one is traveling, how far he has gone on that road, and where the road leads.

Why should Christians care about noticing such things? Paul publicly dealt with the conduct of his brethren. He warned them publicly when they were on the wrong road, both for their sake and the sake of other brethren. Paul withstood Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed”; and Paul did it “before them all” (Gal. 2:11-14). Because there are false doctrines, gospel preachers must “put the brethren in remembrance” of the things Paul and other inspired men wrote. “For in doing this thou shah both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:1-16).

Thus it is our responsibility not only to notice, but to expose and then rebuke all compromise of the gospel, whether the compromise be in conduct or direct teaching. One young brother rebuked the present writer for noticing, exposing, and rebuking another’s compromises. “If you loved him, you would not have done that to him.” Is love not supposed to criticize, oppose, and rebuke a brother? The example and directions of Paul already noticed are elaborated upon by James A. Harding in The Gospel Advocate of March 23, 1887, page one:

“A spirit of opposition, criticism and controversy is supposed to be unchristian and uncharitable. Though how any Bible reader could so conclude is a mystery to me, seeing that nearly all of the great Bible characters are grand and terrible iconoclasts.

Consider Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the immerser, Jesus and Paul. 1 mention these because they are among the best known of God’s great heroes, and because they were terrible and relentless in their opposition to all shams, to all perversions of the right way of the Lord …. Do you know that Paul lived a life of controversy, that his writings are nearly all controversial, and that these controversies were largely with mistaken, or false brethren . . . . What then is (‘) charity.’ It is love for God and man. What does it do? In the light of these great Bible characters it is not hard to answer this last question: With earnestness and fidelity it contends for God’s truth; with equal earnestness and fidelity it wars against that which is false and perverse of the right ways of the Lord. When a man begins to call for a truce In our war against sectarianism and sin, innovation and error, you may know that he has lost his charity (love) for God, and that he is about ready to act the Judas, and go over to the enemy.” (emphasis added, RH).

Harding’s words bring to mind again the events recounted in Gal. 2:11-14. Only Peter’s conduct was in question; not his teaching, yet Paul saw compromising conduct as extremely dangerous. He told Peter such conduct left a totally wrong impression; he tells us that others were being affected and that all of them were guilty of walking “not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.” Language could hardly be stronger for such a “minor” offense.

All Peter did was temporarily separate himself from certain brethren while in the presence of other brethren whose favor he sought. Apparently after the visitors left, he would have resumed his former conduct. His public teaching had not changed at all. So, why make such a big thing of one small compromise? At least Paul could have whispered his rebuke in Peter’s ear when no one else was around, instead of embarrassing poor Peter “before them all”!

And, could not Paul have gotten the same job done without calling Peter’s name? Would not Paul’s approach offend Peter’s personal sense of self-esteem, causing him to reject the truth? Further, why could Paul not have taught us the truth on compromise without dragging Peter’s name before us, emphasizing “personalities,” even reiterating the poor brother’s name and using personal pronouns pointing directly to his name eleven times in just four verses?

Truth Or Consequences?

Paul is not very “tactful,” not vague at all, about the charge against Peter: dissimulation. “. . the Greek word means merely `playing a part,’ `making an incorrect impression,’ no matter in what particular way or with what particular motive the incorrect impression is made” (John H. Skilton (ed.), Machen’s Notes on Galatians, p. 138). With Peter, Barnabus, others in Antioch, and several from Jerusalem involved, “Surely such a situation demanded the utmost caution- one false move, and the Church would be split.’ No doubt such considerations might have been presented to Paul at Antioch …. But Paul did not think much of them …. He would have nothing whatever to do with the policy of concealment and compromise. What he did do is presented in sharp, clear fashion in his own words. `But when I saw,’ he says, ‘that they were not walking straight according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of them all . . . .” (Ibid., p. 139).

Paul had his eyes first on the Lord and divine truth, not on the consequences of stating the truth. and fighting error. Paul did not lick his finger and test the wind, take a poll of the brethren’s current feelings on the subject, nor simply add Peter’s minor vacillation in conduct to the list of “86 Issues Upon Which Good Brethren Differ.”

“Peter’s conduct was not in accordance with the gospel. That was enough for Paul. Regardless of the consequences, he was obliged to speak out. He withstood Peter to his face; he rebuked him before them all.

(Today) These ostensibly evangelical leaders consider the, consequences; Paul considered truth” (Ibid., p. 139).

Paul charged Peter as guilty of the consequences his compromising conduct led to in others. He charged him with the results of his example and influence. Is this fair? Is a man responsible for the unforeseen consequences of his conduct and teaching?

“. . . Peter was -compelling’ the Gentiles to Judaize. The compulsion referred to was not physical compulsion; and it was not even the compulsion of any definite command or advice. Rather it was the compulsion which Peter was exerting by his example (Ibid., p. 142).

Instead of compromising, Peter himself should have rebuked his visiting brethren. He left one impression while in their presence. He left another impression while in the presence of others. Clearly, “he was to be blamed.” When he failed to do his job as a faithful evangelist and apostle, it fell Paul’s lot to notice, expose, and rebuke.

Decade of Disgraceful Compromise

Therefore we make no apology for pointing out that as of 1974, Brother Edward Fudge has reached a milestone in compromising conduct (not to mention a good deal of direct false teaching). We do feel pain and genuine sorrow; also, we are ashamed that such a thing must be named among us.

On April 30, 1964, Ed’s first article in the Gospel Guardian appeared. All that time, especially of late, he has left the impression that regarding the function of the church he stands opposed to institutionalism of all forms, centralization of every brand, and social gospel practices of all sorts. On September 12, 1964, Ed’s first article in the Christian Standard appeared. The Christian Standard has been published since 1866 by members of the Christian Church denomination promoting and defending institutionalism, centralization, and social gospel practices. Yet not one word of opposition to these things has been written by Brother Fudge in the Christian Standard in all these ten years!!! Thus he leaves the impression with hundreds and thousands of members of the Christian Church denomination that they are not lost in these sins.

The nearest Brother Fudge came to saying what the Christian Standard readers need to hear on instrumental music appeared . . . in the Firm Foundation (“A Case Against Instrumental Music in Christian Worship,” June 15, 1971). An introductory note said, “I have a curious theory that in religious controversies the most good is usually accomplished by speaking as directly as possible to those holding opposing views.” (When it comes to the grace-unity-fellowship controversy, he certainly has a curious way of putting this “curious theory” into practice! He ignores his opponents and takes as little notice of their arguments and questions as is possible.) “With this in mind,” he sent this article to editor E. V. Hayden of the Christian Standard, but said editor “chose not to print it . . . .”

Notice brethren, especially those who think a few little misprints or slips of the pen have been twisted to conduct a personal vendetta against an innocent bystander. The Christian Standard has stood for compromise since its inception over a hundred years ago. “The Standard was established in 1866 by a coalition of moderate and liberal churchmen who were deeply dissatisfied with the policy of the American Christian Review. They aimed to ‘counteract the influence’ of Benjamin Franklin,” who early fought instrumental music in worship and then later came out against the missionary societies, institutionalism, and all forms of centralization among churches. (David Edwin Harrell, Jr., The Social Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ 1865-1900, p. 18.). Editor Isaac Errett “was perfectly fitted to lead the moderate assault on Benjamin Franklin;” he “worked hand in hand” with other compromisers, like James H. Garrison, in shielding “the young liberals of the late nineteenth century” (Ibid., pp. 19-20). Like the Gospel Advocate of today, the Standard later tried to slow down the most radical progress of the most radical liberalism, but compromisers are never the men for such work. Not only did the Standard take a compromising stand on instruments in worship, it, “was the one journal which may fairly be said to have saved the principle of church cooperation through societies for the Disciples of Christ . . . . In March, 1867, Isaac Errett could say of the Standard, ‘It is the only weekly among us that advocates organized effort for missionary purposes.’

. .. . . More than to any other journal and person, it was to the Christian Standard and Isaac Errett that the Disciples were indebted for being saved from becoming a fissiparous sect of jangling legalists” (W. E. Garrison and A. T. DeGrott, The Disciples of Christ, pp. 356-358).

In other words, liberal Disciples’ spokesmen a hundred years later recognize the compromising influence of the Standard as the key which unlocked the door through which ultra-liberalism would come within a couple of generations. Though the Standard did not approve that ultra liberalism when it came, the Standard has continued FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS to represent the entrenched spirit of compromise on the distinctive nature of the church.

Brother Fudge’s decade of writing in the Standard is about like going to preach at a Methodist Church which has an established policy of not allowing the truth on sprinkling to be preached-or to a Baptist Church with such a policy on the purpose of baptism-or to a Catholic Church with the same policy on the Pope. Brother Fudge admits the Standard refuses to let him speak in opposition to the instrument, yet goes on writing for them. Since when did faithful preachers begin to agree to preach in situations where they positively could not speak the truth on the very subject the people needed.

By the way, Brother Fudge claimed in Athens, Alabama, October 7, 1973, that though he could not use 1 Cor. 1:10, Gal. 1:8-9, 2 Jn. 9, or Jude 3 in opposition to instrumental music and other innovations, he could use Romans 12:1-2. Yet his most recent article in the Christian Standard is a discussion of Romans 12:1-2 entitled “Check-points of Our Religion.” He talks about Response, Change, and Confidence. He says “our religion is basically positive,” but does “include negative elements.” We love our wife and leave off some things for her with joy. Etc., etc., etc. But he never mentioned what the Standard audience needs to hear, never applied the passage against innovations, never indicated that one of the negative things we do if we love God is leave off such things as instruments in worship. All of which makes his Athens argument very unconvincing.

While we are at it, we might point out that in recent times the Firm Foundation has come to represent the same spirit of compromise. It is edited by the two tongued, double-talking, champion compromiser Revel Lemmons. Brother Fudge has written a bushel-basketful of articles for the Firm Foundation. Between May 16, 1967, and June 25, 974, he has written about thirty articles for them and in just three more years will mark a decade of service to them. We want to be the first to nominate him for editor when Brother Lemmons retires from the field of literary compromise. Brother Fudge never has told these brethren what they need to hear most; the closest he came was in telling them that publishing houses, papers, and other institutions must be used wisely-and that’s not very close (Sept. 25, 1973, “Human Institutions: A Reminder”).

Atmosphere of Journalistic Compromise Developing

Brother Fudge is contributing to an atmosphere in which more and more journalistic compromise will occur. Gordon Wilson (St. Louis, Mo.), who has been an associate editor of Gospel Guardian, is now trying his hand at it. He had three articles in the Christian Standard in the first five months of this year (Jan. 6, Mar. 24, May 5). “The Gospel Demands Change” by Wilson was the featured “Bible-school lesson for May 12,” but never a word is said about the gospel demanding change in regard to instrumental music, institutionalism, and social-gospel practices. We are saddened to see a young man just out of college moving into this pattern. Wayne McDaniel (Cottonwood, Ariz.), who has written several pieces for Gospel Guardian, has begun writing for both the Standard and Foundation, with not a word on their innovations.

How are these brethren tolerating and fellowshipping. error? By teaching some truth, but omitting the very truth needed most by those in some particular error. A failure to teach the whole counsel of God is compromise. When one allows his name, writings, and influence to serve mediums of error (Christian Standard, Firm Foundation), he contributes to a false sense of confidence among the erring. Such conduct hides under the cover of love, but is not true love. We are ashamed to have to cry out against such conduct, but not ashamed to do it. We offer no apology. We simply plead with brethren to wake up.

Truth Magazine XVIII: 2, pp. 26-28
November 14, 1974