An Open Letter to the Gospel Guardian
(Written by four Florida College Students)
One of the rich benefits which a Florida College student may share in is access to the Chatlos Memorial Library on campus. The shelves are stocked with hundreds of useful volumes of Biblical and religious studies that delight the conscientious student. Of particular value are the bound volumes of religious journals, which brethren have edited throughout the past decades. Even a quick perusal of such volumes yields the fact that in a very real sense these journals chronicle the history of the Lord's people in this nation with the entire attendant issues, trends, and personalities involved. Thus, there is no escaping the fact that these journals have wielded considerable influence in the thinking of brethren. One of the journals that come to our mind at this time is The Gospel Guardian.
The Gospel Guardian, originated in 1935 by Foy Wallace, Jr., and then discontinued for a time, was reborn on May 5, 1949 under the editorship of Fanning Yater Tant. Amid the flurry of battle in the institutional question, The Guardian stood at the forefront defending the truth against all comers. The Guardian did not mince words nor worry about whose feelings would he hurt; listen to the words of Brother Tant in the first issue of the "reborn" Guardian as he sets forth its policy:
"As the threatening clouds of an approaching apostasy have grown blacker and blacker, the alarm of Christians has grown apace. Their alarm has been justified. Unless valiant endeavor and resolute action are forthcoming, the church almost certainly faces another tragic digression...
"We shall seek to guard against ill constructed sentences which can honestly be mistaken to mean the opposite of what we intend. When such mistakes occur (as they probably will) we will not hesitate to withdraw and apologize for whatever blame may attach to us for any lack of clarity in expression...
"But for the doctrinal teachings which may give offense to innovators and errorists we shall make neither apology nor excuse. It is our intention and our desire to wage an unrelenting offensive warfare against all such perverters of truth. The teachings of God's Word are 'most surely believed' by us. For these teachings we will never apologize. .
"We recognize the principle, amply demonstrated in the late war, that 'the best defense is offense.' With that in mind we shall be vigilant and careful in our 'guarding' against what many may consider as small and insignificant departures from the truth. And once an error, or tendency toward error, is detected, we shall oppose it with all the strength we can muster. The best defense against error always is to wage an all-out offensive against it before it gains a foothold. Let those who will call this 'heresy-hunting;' we call it guarding the Gospel of Christ."
What noble ambitions The Guardian held! An uncompromising stand for the truth! And surely through more than two decades The Guardian "propagated and defended New Testament Christianity." Such men as W. Curtis Porter, R. L. Whiteside, Roy Cogdill, and a host of others time and time again wrote vital, to-the-point defenses of the revealed Truth. Yet in observing the present status of The Guardian we have become somewhat disturbed. There seems to be a definite "pattern of influence" established within her pages. Beginning with the so-called "peace-offensive" of the late 60's, there appears to be a decided propensity of The Guardian to evolve from "militant defender" to "passive spectator." It seems between Lufkin and Athens, The Guardian has lost a lot of steam!
Despite token appearances of militant articles by such men as Ron Halbrook, there is an observable drift toward softer, more compromising themes. We have been fed a steady diet of pabulum, and not enough spiritual meat. Even when The Guardian sees fit to publish material, which may be termed militant, it seems to apologize for having done so. In this time of digression we do not need "funny preacher stories," "teachings in tune," or discussions upon the "ecumenical beat." What we need is an uncompromising, all -out battle against the fellowship heresy now among us. "Let those who will call it 'heresy-hunting;' we call it guarding the gospel of Christ."
The current editor, William Wallace, saw fit to ignore the discharge of his editorial duty with the appearance of Randall Trainer's article, "Theological Liberalism at ACC," void of rebuttal. Brother Wallace. was Trainer's article absolutely true? Is there any theological liberalism at ACC? Or was your silence part of The Guardian's policy to "wage an unrelenting warfare against all such perversions of truth"? In the current issue of The Guardian (April 12, 1973), the editor pats John R. Rice, a Baptist preacher, on the back for his article in the publication, The Sword of the Lord, "Be a Fundamentalist, Not a Nut." He suggests we heed the advice of Rice who reprimands the "shocking fact that everywhere there is a tendency to downgrade among Christians and they emphasize incidentals instead of fundamentals, they tend to follow after false teachers and make arguments and divisions and strife about vain or incidental things." Rice concludes, "If you do not want to be an irresponsible nut and extremist, then seek to have a peaceful, compassionate and happy mind." Pray tell, Brother Wallace, who are the "nuts and extremists" among us who should heed Rice's advice? Perhaps it is those of us who oppose the blurring of the lines of fellowship to accommodate the "Neo-Calvinist" cult among us, or perhaps those of us who oppose, in militant terms, "the umbrella of grace" which some of your "staff writers" seem to embrace, though contending the Guardian stance has not changed.
Yes, there is concern about the status of The Guardian in view of the coming battle against the Ketchersidian forces. But let The Guardian re-establish the noble goals which it set for itself at its inception (which apply to our times as well) and not acquiesce to the times of digression. We need the Truth, the Truth more than "love" or "compassion" or "understanding."
Yours in Christ,
Bruce Edwards, Jr.
Patrick A. Jones
Florida College students
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 32, pp. 7-8