Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Shall Not Pass (II)
Wm. E. Wallace
Under the heading "The Truth Between Extremes -- The Middle of the Road," on
p. 24 of the booklet The Current Issues, Foy E. Wallace says, "I have never preached a sermon or have I ever written an article against orphan homes, or against joint efforts of churches, but rather have defended the former and participated in the latter." There is a great deal of mental reservation involved, no doubt, in this statement. Look at it carefully. He does not say that he has never preached a sermon nor written an article against church support of orphan homes, or against the Herald of Truth. He could not say such and get away with it. His former writings are too clearly and precisely worded and phrased. But with a little mental reservation he can leave a loop and assert that his former writings were not against orphan homes or joint-efforts of churches per se, you see. He does not use per se but I suspect this is what he means. Many of us who are classified as "antis" can say the same things, if we were prone to use a little mental reservation. As for his sermons, a host of Christians from the east to the west coast rise to say, "We've heard Foy E. Wallace, Jr. condemn church support of orphan homes, and condemn the Herald of Truth set-up." There are more witnesses to this, by far, than the "above 500" to whom Paul referred as proof of the resurrection of Christ!
Middle of the Road
He cleverly defends the middle-of-the-road complex, and claims to be right there, in the middle. In this he has gone to bed with compromise. And, for Foy E. Wallace, Jr. that's worse than what he calls "raping the writings of revered men!" It is difficult to believe Foy E. Wallace, Jr. is comfortable straddling a fence or driving in the middle of the road. He is like the philosopher who stuck his head through a picket fence and wondered, with his head on one side and his heart on the other, if he were really on either side.
Examples of Extremism
Much is said about certain by-products of the various major issues. He builds the proverbial straw-man as to the sacramental idea about the church buildings, relative to "eating on the premises or the using of the property for any other purpose than the worship, or for any gathering other than the services of the church." On this point against us, he is guilty of doing what he elsewhere accuses us: of doing - ballooning an issue. This he does regarding the "saints only" issue also. He balloons these secondary issues in an apparent attempt to make the "movement" to appear like he would have it appear, for his vengeful purposes. He creates a monster and then fights it. It would be interesting to press him for an answer to the questions, "Do you Foy E. Wallace, Jr. believe, or have you ever believed it is wrong for the church to contribute money to an orphanage like Boles Home?" "Do you believe Foy E. Wallace, Jr., or have you ever believed that it is wrong for churches to contribute to the Herald of Truth?"
Dangers and Deviations
Under the above heading he refers meekly and softly to the dangers involved in "The liaison between the colleges and the churches," "The committee system of congregational and imparting images to the church." He speaks meekly and treads softly in this section, except when he gets off on "The interference of extremisms" - then the bitter gland is activated again: "radical smart-aleckies," says he, of those he hates so much (pages 29-31).
The Fabrication of Spurious Issues in Four Points of Stupidity
First point of stupidity, says he, is "The belated outbursts against orphan homes in the effort to revive the dead issues of the anti college and anti orphan home Sommer movement . . ." (pages 33-34). He says further, "Making an issue of them is a senseless, stupid thing to do" (page 34). Here again note his evasiveness. What of this making an issue of church support of or church financial grants to the orphan home? He cannot make a forthright statement for church support of orphan homes because he does not want to admit to a change, and he knows better than anyone else what he has written and what he has said in the past. He cannot make a forthright statement for church support of the orphan homes because to do so he would have to admit to changing. And this is exactly what he does not want to have to do! Among other things it would classify him as once being among those of whom he speaks when he says, "Making an issue of them is a senseless, stupid thing to do." It should be pointed out here that Batsell Barrett Baxter is brought within this category, for he is on record as saying, "Some who are agreed that the church can contribute to an orphans' home are not convinced that the church can contribute to a Christian School. It is difficult to see a significant difference so far as principle is concerned. The orphans' home and the Christian school must stand or fall together." (Questions and Issues of the Day, page 29).
Dad's second point of "stupidity" is with regard to "The cynical attitude toward the joint efforts of churches in metropolitan gospel meetings." (Page 34) But have you noticed that what he would justify on a local basis, he has not precisely defended on a larger basis? Has anyone seen an endorsement by him of the "Herald of Truth" operation? We remember what he wrote in TORCH, September 1950, page 25: "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." He cannot deny that he has written and spoken against the Herald of Truth type cooperation, and he apparently does not want to go on record as endorsing it, so he has spoken evasively - and it is out of character for him to be evasive. All this shows the purposes behind the booklet, The Current Issues. He is out for blood and revenge on the one hand, while seeking the respect of his new-love, the liberals, on the other.
The third point of "stupidity" he charges to the "movement," is "The ludicrous incongruity of the sacramentarian sentiment toward church buildings . . ." (page 35). But he builds the proverbial straw-man and then attacks it. It is not a sacramentarian sentiment toward the church building that is involved; it is respect for the sanctified purposes of the work and worship of the church that is involved. It is not eating in or around the church building that is an issue, but the purpose and the nature of the meal or occasion. He recognizes such a distinction when he condemns a church banquet. It would be interesting to see or hear his description of a church banquet. There would be some things which he would approve of in places other than the church building, but not in the church building. Does this mean he has a sacramentarian sentiment toward the church building?
The fourth point of "stupidity" he charges to us brings us again to the point that he has not precisely approved church support of orphan home boards. Says he, "The creedism is that no money can come from the treasury of the church to help the orphans in an orphan home" (p. 37). But he does not speak precisely of church financial grants to orphan home boards or institutions. He cannot precisely or expressly concern or approve of church financial grants to orphan home boards or institutions and still claim he has not changed - without magnifying dishonesty - his "intellectual dishonesty." Foy E. Wallace did more than any other man in making the orphanages a major issue. He has embittered himself into an unenviable situation.
Indeed, he sounds quite dishonest in charging, "Now, the new reformers will split churches over whether to take 'the Lord's money' out of its bed - the budget - to feed and clothe a child, insisting with much animation that to remove the Lord's money from its treasury to help a home for orphans is digression; . . ." (page 38). What he charges here is an attempt to evade the board and institutional problem. But notice he almost associated himself with the idea that it is scriptural to take the Lord's money from its treasury to help a benevolent board or institution. But he did not quite say it. He knows how to get close to saying it, without saying it. He cannot afford to say so without exposing his claim that he has not changed. He knows a "home for orphans" is not necessarily an institutional public orphanage, and that helping orphans in a home may be distinguished from church support of institutional boards. He is adept at leaving loop holes through which to escape.
Exegesis and Scriptures
Beginning on page 39 of The Current Issues he presents an exposition and exegesis, a commentary, on 2 Corinthians 8:1215, Galatians 6:1-10 and James 1:27. Stripped of the "severity of strictures" interwoven in the commentary, we can consider this material a valuable aid to study along with other commentaries on the passages involved. We can accept or reject his commentary at any given point as it appears to us in our study, along with other commentaries, to be either true or erroneous. It is certain he does a great deal of ballooning in his comments about these passages, as to their relation to the institutional problem. He has a bad habit of judging the whole by isolated events or by a minority of personnel in the so-called "movement." With emphasis again on his claim that he has not made a change, we note that in all this material he neither precisely condemns church support of orphan home boards or institutions such as Boles home. He sees the necessity to exercise caution in his statements. He knows we can set his present day statements over against his former statements on the printed page just like he used to do those of N. B. Hardeman and others. We are led to wonder if he is not employing some of the "intellectual dishonesty" he charges to personnel in what he bitterly labels the "pseudo-reform agitation."
Note further that he says, "The existence and operation of orphanages for this reason cannot in themselves comprise a valid issue and have never been and should never become a cause of cleavage in the one body of the church." (Page 64) And of congregational cooperation he observes, "As remotely as the nineteen-thirties, and later, I personally published in the Gospel Advocate, and other mediums, articles of previous mention, in which reference was made to the permission of one church making financial contribution to another church where this other church existed and where the elders had the right to oversee it." (p. 57). He then accuses other mediums and other editors of changing other articles. Of course, he does not document this charge, nor cite instances - merely makes the charge and we are naturally led to wonder if he confuses printing errors with editorial misdemeanor. We know of an instance or two where his writings were editorially changed by one who thought he had Dad's permission. But his Gospel Advocate, Bible Banner, and Torch writings on institutional and cooperative issues from 1930-1952 have been reproduced photographically from their original pages and are available to those who want to see exactly what he did write. The reading of these writings convinces one that Foy E. Wallace, Jr. has "ballooned" this bit about his writings being changed, and that he once thought the existence and operation of orphanages and sponsoring churches were valid issues.
On page 65 at the end of the commentary section, he almost becomes apologetic about "The apparent severity of these strictures" the bitter strictures against personnel in the so-called movement. But he catches his momentum again and closes the section with this choice bit of arbitrary and arrogant judgment: "There dissenters appear to be dissatisfied that the one body of the church has grown greater in its proportions than the group within the circles of -their own prominence and to forestall the loss of prestige and escape obscurity in the jealousy for position they have formed a faction proportional to their leadership and commeasurable with their command, and their whims rule the roost." (p.65). Sounds just like what folks were saying about him in the days he edited the Bible Banner. It does, not become him, this role in a "campaign of calumny." He can write things well, like Celsus and Lucian of the second century who wrote against Christians, and literary geniuses of the Bertrand Russell kind who write against Christians in this 20th century. But the Foy E. Wallace genius will not distract us from the geniuses of inspiration who direct our thoughts from the pages of the Holy Writ. Foy E. Wallace, Jr. shall not pass, in this his campaign of calumny.
Concerning Previous Publications
Under this heading Dad labors hard to make us believe he did not mean what he said he meant, when he did say what he meant, especially in the article "Compendium of Issues," appearing in Torch in 1950. He said, "I have never in the Gospel Advocate or earlier years or the Bible Banner of later years classed an orphan home with the Missionary Society, and no one can successfully do so." (Page 67) (He omitted mention of his Torch article in this statement!) He can make this. claim you see, because he reserves the right "to apply them" - that is, he reserves the right now to say he did not mean what he said back then, that he meant then what he would mean now if he had said it now! This is Foy E. Wallace's mental reservation.
But note this from a Foy E. Wallace, Jr. sermon in The Certified Gospel, first edition, page 155: "If the church can do its benevolent work through a board of directors, why not its missionary work through a board of directors? If one is a society, why not the other?" Here in The Certified Gospel he did what he said he had not done in the Gospel Advocate or Bible Banner. But he did it in the Gospel Advocate too: "But the church as suck 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 does in mission work" (August 6, 1931 editorial). He said this in the Bible Banner also when he reproduced the editorial in the September, 1938 issue.
But you see, he reserves "the right to apply" what he said, and he attempts to apply in a far-fetched manner. Says he, "My references to comparing a benevolent board with a Missionary board as has been explained herein, applied to the Christian Church Board of Benevolence a general organization to which churches contribute the funds of which the board apportions to the various institutions of their denomination" (p. 67). And he speaks of "intellectual dishonesty!" We have his Gospel Advocate and Bible Banner articles reproduced photographically for distribution and we invite the reader to see for himself how far-fetched his claim is. After all these years he suddenly decides to reserve "the right to apply" what he wrote.
A former comrade of Foy E. Wallace, one who has not been a subject of Dad's ill feeling, wrote to me of this matter as follows: "It is difficult for me to understand how the man can make such statements, for anyone who has ever read the articles knows he was not discussing 'The United Christian Missionary Society or the Board of Benevolence as operated by the Christian Church,' but was dealing with problems and departures found among churches of Christ. I doubt not that he held meetings where these homes existed, but that he saw the danger of such institutions and questioned their right to become church adjuncts is evident to anyone who has studied his writings. He is now trying to cover up the fact that he did thus write lest he be found classified with and give comfort to his personal enemies. I pray God that he may be forgiven."
On page 68 of The Current Issues Dad once again almost endorses church contributions to orphan homes - gets right close to doing so -- but not quite there: "I have never opposed an orphan home or their public or private support." Would he include grants to boards in "their public" support?
Restoration Movement and Party Factions Principles versus Whimsies
In the last section of the booklet, the modernists are racked and raked a little. His terminology is softened and his approach is more civil and formal in his attacks on the modernists. He can speak forcefully and sternly, yet without rancor when dealing with the modernists because he feels no bitterness here.
But when he concludes with another slap at the so-called anti-movement or 'agitation,' he removes his gloves and apparently feels no compunction about misrepresenting, exaggerating and ballooning in attempts to build a dirty image of those who stand now where he formerly stood. It should be evident to all that Foy E. Wallace's attacks on those who occupy the positions he once occupied are motivated from a deep contempt, a mean disposition and a bitter spirit.
It should be further evident that he merely disassociates himself from negative positions on such side issues involving "saints only" benevolence and "dinner on the ground" occasions. What he has said to endorse orphan homes and congregational cooperation has not touched the basic issues of church support of benevolent boards or institutions, nor has he declared in favor of the Herald of Truth function. He must tread carefully in his statements, because he has boldly claimed he has made no change. He has written too much, and preached too often against church support of benevolent institutions and the Herald of Truth set-up. He must tread carefully in an attempt to maintain an image of honesty in this matter. He is evasive, and good at it.
On the other hand, he cannot admit to change, for to do so would verify the use we make of his former writings. He cannot accept the idea that anything he ever wrote or said encourages and aids the present fight against institutionalism and centralization. So he will not admit change. Yet, he cannot declare himself precisely or expressly on the church support of orphan home institutions and the Herald of Truth set-up. He has gotten himself in a mess. His bitterness has ruined him. But it will not ruin us. His fight against the truth and righteousness he once embraced will not be ignored. He shall not pass.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 6, pp. 6-10