EDITORIAL -- One Issue of the Firm Foundation

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Some of the older religious journals published by our brethren have noble names, such as the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate, though they sometimes fail to live up to all that their commendable names connote. The Firm Foundation has vacillated on so many issues, and been silent on so many other important subjects, that in some circles it has earned the opprobrium, the Flimsy Foundation. One recent issue shows how it can be on several different sides of an issue at one time.

Reuel Lemmons

Editor Reuel Lemmons has shown himself to be a chameleon without parallel. He can be on every side of every issue. One time he is strong against liberalism, until he might be called a carping critic of liberalism. At other times, he seeks to galvanize liberalism into respectability.

In the February 29, 1972 issue, he editorialized under the caption, "Handwriting on the Wall." In this article he wrote about "Power blocks" which "jockey for control of brotherhood thought, by attending meetings as a group, by going on missionary journeys to split the missionary work done by good brethren, by underground work in a local congregation, and by other tactics." That is about as specific as he gets. He covers nearly everything, but touches nothing specifically.

And then he states, "And when people quit studying they suddenly become suspicious of anyone who does. He is bound to be a liberal who is the least unorthodox! It can be noted with assurance that the most critical study the least." Interestingly, these remarks of Lemmons are "most critical." I wonder if we can "with the assurance" conclude that he has quit studying. Furthermore, his half-hearted defense of liberalism comes at the very time when Tom Warren, G. K. Wallace, Gus Nichols, Roy Deaver, Glenn Wallace, B. C. Goodpasture, etc., are having conniption fits about it. In fact, some of the lecture programs being conducted now by the middle-of-the-road liberals sound more like an old-time anti-lectureship than anything else. It goes without saying that the middle-aged and older liberals are running plenty scared just now. Yet editor Lemmons tries to give the liberal some appearance of respectability by saying he is only "the least unorthodox?" One is made to wonder if editor Lemmons would recognize a liberal if he met him on the pages of the Firm Foundation.

Glenn L. Wallace

In the same issue of the Firm Foundation Glenn L. Wallace is beside himself as he writes under the heading, "Thinking in Terms of the Whole Man." He is concerned about the brethren who have adapted the social-gospel "whole man" concept, and who therefore seek to emphasize mans social ills above his spiritual ills. Keep in mind that Brother Lemmons says that some of the brethren who have ceased to study see a liberal behind every unorthodox bush!

Brother Wallace bemoans, "To speak out against rat programs, housing projects, inner-city slum clearance and programs to give the pill to teenage girls, is to many, like speaking out against mother, home, and apple pie. We are accused of having no compassion for the poor and down trodden. Such is not true and we believe that those who advocate such programs of social out-reach have not found their inspiration in the Scriptures and are guilty of letting their emotions dictate their criticisms of a brotherhood that has and is marching effectively in a crusade against sin in the soul, whether in the slums or in the sheep and grass country." Brother Wallace rings true, doesnt he? But perhaps he has just quit studying, or is seeing a liberal behind every unorthodox bush.

The fact is Brother Wallace is just now beginning to feel the smirking sting of the liberals about whom many other brethren have been effectively speaking for more than twenty years. Talk about a Johnny-Come-Lately! Some of these middle-age liberals fit the label precisely. Wallace even says that some of the social gospelers have let their emotions outrun their scripture study. For more than twenty years, the faithful brethren have been arraying scripture against do-gooder emotionalism, and I might add, have not come off too well in the conflict. To some of our social do-gooders, emotionalism is all it takes to make a thing a good work. And certainly no one among us would oppose a good work!

Brother Wallace states: "What is so amazing is that some of us have not kept ourselves conversant with the failures of the denominational Churches, now with their empty pews while they have sought to administer to the whole man from gymnasium, the swimming pool to funding for the plight of the farm worker." He mentions the Presbyterians, Episcopals, Methodists, and even Catholics who now have to admit their social gospel programs have failed.

Wonder why Brother Wallace, with the gymnasium and swimming pool, did not also mention the homes for unwed mothers, homes for the aged, and social welfare homes for the orphaned and neglected? He knew that would probably get "blue penciled" in the Firm Foundation. And he would certainly encounter the emotional argument which makes opposition to such social gospel programs as unpopular as opposition to "mother, home and apple pie."

We could mention that Presbyterians, Episcopals, Methodists and even Catholics have learned that their social welfare programs simply have not worked, and even are not for the betterment of the unfortunates so interned in these institutions of incarceration.

Even Readers Digest reported: "... children brought up in homes where they are played with and exposed to a wide variety of sights and sounds develop more fully than children brought up in institutions where they are deprived of these advantages. For instance, almost all family-reared infants sit up by ten months of age and walk before two years. But in an understaffed Teheran Orphanage recently studied by Dr. Wayne Dennis, of Brooklyn College, 60 percent of the infants in their second year were not yet sitting up alone, and 84 percent in their fourth year were not yet walking. Probably the effects on intellectual development were just as stunning. In this country, children reared in orphanages have generally tested lower in I.Q. than orphans reared in foster homes; Even in adolescence, such children lag behind in ability to pay attention, persist in tasks or grasp abstract ideas" (Readers Digest, May, 1966, p. 78).

In Compensatory Education for Cultural Deprivation by Bloom, Davis and Hess, we find the following statement: "Emotional, physical and intellectual malfunctioning is known to occur with frequency among children in many institutions" (p. 91). A Social Work Year Book, as early as 1954, reported: "A substantial amount of research has shown beyond doubt that institutional care for young children seriously handicaps the development of a normal and healthy personality." This latter book was published by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Social Security Administration, Childrens Bureau.

Another study showed, "Among the old-fashioned methods of raising children, the least likely ever to be revived is the orphan asylum. Even the modern orphanage which uses a cottage plan that simulates family living, is not adequate for normal youngsters," said Mrs. Mary Paul, Home Planning Supervisor of the New York Childrens Aid Society.

An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said: "A childrens psychoanalyst has termed the rearing of babies in orphanages an immoral act that must be eradicated completely. Dr. Selma Frailberg cited surveys and case histories to show that children are mentally damaged if they are cared for from infancy in institutions. Dr. Frailberg, supervisor of child analysis at the Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute, said in a speech: Under ideal circumstances in outstandingly good institutions, the achievement and development of babies lags far behind babies reared by ordinary, bungling mothers in their own homes, especially in speech, social response and self control." (May 31, 1964)

Wonder why Brother Wallace did not mention this socialistic failure along with church sponsored gymnasiums and swimming pools? He knew he would encounter the emotionalism that declared he had "no compassion for the poor and down trodden," and that he was opposed to "mother, home and apple pie." And in addition, his article could not have been published in the Firm Foundation, since they consider the Tipton Orphan Home of Tipton, Oklahoma to be the darling of their eye. The Tipton Home Messenger even said, "The people of Tipton and community are constantly showing how they appreciate the greatest institution in their midst-Tipton Orphans Home." And I might add there is a church of Christ in Tipton too!

Dudley Ave. in Texarkana

Now with all of this information before us, consider the article entitled "For General Information" prepared by the Elders of the Dudley Avenue church in Texarkana, Texas, and which appeared in the same issue of the Firm Foundation as that from which we have been quoting. "For general information we, the elders of the Dudley Avenue Church of Christ, desire to state that the anti-orphan home element, which for several years constituted a problem in this congregation, has gone out from us, and the church has been purged of these divisive dogmas. Through the effective work of former ministers, Richard E. Black (a relative of Glenn L. Wallace-CW) and Glen Bishop, the majority of the members refused to accept these false teachings, although a vocal minority, no longer with us, held to them. To confirm generally what is now understood locally, we wish to publicly repudiate any connection with that defection and to disavow any sympathy with it. We have engaged Wilson Wallace (Another relative of Glenn L. Wallace -- CW) to serve as our preacher, and relieved of this source of discord, we anticipate the future in the blessings of unity and growth." Signed by the Elders.

Apparently these brethren have not heard of the failure of the social gospel among denominations, about which Brother Glenn L. Wallace wrote. They have split the church, in order to take the Dudley Avenue church down the dead-end street of social gospelism.

Now all of this is in one issue of the Firm Foundation! Is it any wonder that Reuel Lemmons is considered the strangest chameleon of the age? He is strong on every side of nearly every issue, and some still want to call the paper he edits the Firm Foundation. It may be that, but its in name only. Friends Lemmons and Glenn L. Wallace are going to die unhappy old men, if they live long enough to see the monster they have begotten grow into manhood. They will spend their last years in the misery of a Moses E. Lard, a J. A. Lord, a J. B. Briney, or . .. a B. C. Goodpasture, a G. K. Wallace, a Tom Warren, a Roy Deaver, a Gus Nichols and a host of others who as aspiring young men helped to foist the spirit of liberalism upon churches, but who then lived long enough to see that they did not like what they had spoon fed, after it became full-grown. Now watch their frankensteinian creation turn around and consume or destroy these worn out and now useless old men while they feebly resist. It is not going to be a pleasant sight to behold. But behold it you will!

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 27, pp. 3-6
May 11, 1972