A Childish Point?
James O. Lovell, Jr.
In January of 1970 1 received a bundle of the Bible Herald which is edited and published by Brother Clifton Inman. The form letter inside asked that we help to increase the circulation of the Bible Herald. I guess I would have tossed the bundle and letter in file thirteen had it not been for the ad on the back of that issue.
A Letter To Clifton Inman
The ad that prompted my letter was as follows:
Two reasons motivated me to write Brother Inman. (1) To us who live in this region of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, known as the Ohio Valley, this ad offers danger to the souls of many. When I moved to Salem, Ohio in 1966 I soon found that the problems over the support of human institutions or the sponsoring church arrangement were not as settled as they are in the South. By settled, I am referring to the fact that the lines are not drawn as tightly between brethren. Up and down the Ohio Valley there are people who have never heard both sides presented. Some do not know a problem exists. Now, you say, that just cannot be, but it is! In my letter I said: "This (the ad) is the poorest description of the contents of the book and the debate that I have ever heard . . . just to state Orphan Homes by itself is misrepresenting, but to say Radio Work is a gross misrepresentation. This type of statement is what has prejudiced many brethrens' minds... Some might think bro. Willis is against Radio Work in General. If they think this then they will be wrong. Who will be the blame?"
To this Brother Inman responded: "Does it not seem to you that one has to be pretty childish to make a point of this and to write over a page to condemn one for such an advertisement?" Why, everyone will know what I mean, was the attitude Brother Inman took. Right? Wrong!! Let me clearly illustrate this point. A brother from Newcomerstown, Ohio wrote Brother Ronald Chaffin, of Uhrichsville, Ohio, to voice his disapproval of the things Brother Chaffin had said in his bulletin. This brother thinks we are opposed to the Herald of Truth type of cooperation simply because we are opposed to modern means of getting the gospel to the world. A childish point? I do not think so, Brother Inman, for this man is a living example of many who live in this area.
(2) This ad is a misrepresentation of the debate and the position held by Brother Willis. Throughout the Debate Brother Inman would say, "Now, Come on, Brother Willis; let's get down to the real issue." Brother Inman, himself, missed the real issue at the debate at Parkersburg in 1966. He, also, missed the purpose of my letter as he missed the mark in the debate.
Let's Get To The Real Issue
In the Bible Herald, dated November 15, 1970, there appears an article entitled "Two Years after Parkersburg." (I would hope this to be a lapse of memory, for we all know that it has been over four years.) Brother Inman wrote this in an attempt to answer Brother Larry Devore's article, "Four Years After Parkersburg," which appeared in Volume 15, Number 4 issue of Truth Magazine. Brother Inman said, ". . . I read the article with interest trying to learn what the situation is two years after Parkersburg." I had not read Brother Devore's article (Sorry, Larry), so I went back and read it. Brother Devore's evaluation of the situation four years later was so clear that it stuck out like a sore thumb. "These issues are still very much alive in the brotherhood. Churches are still being disrupted and torn asunder, and peace and unity and fellowship are being swept by the board by digressive teaching and practice! And this will continue as long as brethren prefer their wisdom and human innovations to the simplicity and sound doctrine of Christ." There it is Brother Inman. Or, have you become like Pharaoh of old? Now you might not agree with his evaluation, but he did tell you. To state that he did not, as you did in the article, is to misrepresent the truth.
Further in the article Brother Inman said, "We have seen those who argued the positions he (Cecil Willis, insert mine-jol) now argues (the old group spawned and kept alive by the old American Christian Review) become apologists for liberalism. We have seen several from their ranks in recent years become strong proponents for liberalism and leaders of those who try to ridicule the church." By liberalism I take him to mean those who are claiming to be able to speak in tongues, and others who are denying the inspiration of the Bible. Yes, that is right. Brother Willis would be the first to admit it. In one article Brother Inman wrote as though we would deny that any have gone out from US. No, not I, nor anyone that I know would deny such. Brother Inman was referring to the fact that Brother Willis had written how some editors who have pushed their "no pattern doctrine" now are yelling for help. The issue to be examined is not that a few have gone out from among us, Brother Inman, but "What are the arguments being used by these to justify their position?" Is it, "you must have a thus saith the Lord for everything you do in word or deed"? Or, is it, "where there is no law there is no sin"?
Still further he writes, " 'Two years after Parkersburg' the editor of Bible Herald is criticized for advertising The Willis-Inman Debate as a discussion about radio and television programs and about care of orphans." Well, I guess, I finally made the pages of the Bible Herald. But that was not the issue at Parkersburg. Let me quote the propositions, and we will see if his ad clearly represents the positions taken. "Resolved: That it is in harmony with New Testament teaching for one or more congregations to take money from their treasuries and send it to another congregation for the purpose of supporting a nation wide radio broadcast or telecast." This sounds like they were debating centralized control of a certain radio broadcast or work. "Resolved: That it is unscriptural for a congregation or congregations to take money from their treasuries to give to a corporate home, such as Midwestern, Potter, Shultz-Lewis, Maude Carpenter, Lubbock, etc., which is organized for the purpose of providing a home for orphan or forsaken children." Now, you be the judge. Does "A Study of Orphan Homes" properly represent this proposition?
In the next sentence, after the above quote from his article, Brother Inman said, "Yet their own publications advertise in very similar terms. Do they think they are the only ones who should advertise and sell the book?" Who, Brother Inman? I went back through issues of Truth and the Gospel Guardian, but I found no such ad, and certainly not in similar words. This statement sounds like the arguments my children make: Well, they did it too, so why can't I? Because someone else did it, Brother Inman--does that make it right? Now who is being childish? Brother Inman missed the point of my initial letter. He still does not understand, or does not want to understand what the real issue is.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 33, pp. 10-11