Editorial - Continuing an Unpleasant Task

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

In Truth Magazine (April 26, 1973), I wrote an article entitled "Tell Us It Is Not So." This article was not summarily written, nor was it precipitously published. It was written only after several years of deliberation. It was not published until several other brethren of great knowledge and experience, and to whose wisdom I often resort for editorial advice, had read the article and unanimously recommended it be immediately published.

What was so momentous about the article? Simply the fact that I publicly asked brethren William Wallace, Gordon Wilson, and Edward Fudge to state unequivocally where they stand on the "Fellowship" question. I was not so naive as to think the article was going to be everywhere enthusiastically received, or universally appreciated. Reactions, understandably, have been varied, but by far the response, which I have received toward these efforts, has been favorable. Brother William Wallace wrote that he wondered if I was "playing politics . . . or if perhaps the issue was raised "for business reasons." One California brother wrote me and said that some brethren out there thought we were raising the "Fellowship" issue in an effort to steal away some of the subscribers to the Gospel Guardian.

For several weeks, Brother James W. Adams has been handling the discussion of the "Fellowship" issue in his usual outstanding and thorough way. I might add, however, that Brother Adams is going to have to undergo 6urgery and there will be an interruption of about six weeks in the continuation of his series of articles. Presently a very revealing series of articles by Brother Ron Halbrook is being carried. Brother Halbrook and Brother Fudge have been bosom friends, since their college days. It certainly has required tremendous courage and moral fortitude for Brother Halbrook to write what he has written, and in the manner which he has handled the articles before submitting them to us for publication. This article will relate only to the Halbrook series, and will serve as an introduction to some things I want to say in response to what brethren Wallace and Fudge have said.

Next week's issue largely will be consumed by an Index to Volume XVII of Truth Magazine. Perhaps the first issue of the enlarged paper will contain some information regarding our intentions in the usage of an enlarged paper.

Perhaps I also should explain why I have written so little of late. It is an editor's duty, in my judgment, to keep up with what is going on, and to keep his reader's informed. In keeping our readers informed regarding recent occurrences among the liberals over the Herald of Truth, I have not done what I would like to have done. But to put it bluntly: I accepted too many time-consuming assignments, and have been having to "pound the books" in preparation for some speaking engagements on special subjects, and in preparation for a debate, which was held here in Marion last week. Even though I already had a rather full schedule, I agreed to go to Florida College and to teach a twelve-day class. This assignment entailed considerable preparation. Then a good bit of time was spent in preparing for a debate with a Pentecostal preacher. Hence, my time for writing recently has been almost nil. But I hope that circumstance is behind me, and that I can get on to the discussion of some important issues.

Early Reaction

When my April 26th article appeared, The Guardian staff appeared to intend to deal with my request for information by a lofty silence, somewhat like that of Editor Reuel Ummons. Lemmons has the policy of not making any reference to anything said about him or what he teaches. Such a policy can be the part of a certain kind of wisdom, especially when the corners are apt to become rather tight. One can avoid such impingements just by saying nothing. The Guardian brethren at first appeared to intend to react only with a dignified silence.

Then, as the heat began to be felt by them a little more, they decided to say just a little. So Editor William Wallace wrote his little "It isnt so " article, and his denial was about all there was to it. In exactly seven lines, he simply said that he was being misrepresented. Artfully, you will notice by consulting your May 24th Guardian, Bill did not say be had been if misquoted. By June 7th, the editors of the Guardian had decided they were too nice to reply to such inquiries. Keep in mind that I only bad asked them to tell us where they stand on the "Fellowship" question. If you doubt my word, go back and read again my April 26th article.

In the June 7th issue of the Guardian, Brother Wallace said: "We will not be needled or goaded into reactionary journalism, nor into abusive contention, nor into excessive and divisive responses to detraction. But we will stop and fight when we must fight.' We feel keenly the need of avoiding recklessness, irresponsibility, injustice, bitterness, indiscretion, and presumption." Some not-so-nice labels are implied for one who merely asked the Editor and Associate Editors to state unequivocally where they stand on the "Fellowship" question.

It was my opinion that Edward Fudge had revealed only the "tip of the iceberg" concerning the error that he really believed. Brother Ron Halbrook stated in his September 20th article that he knew personally that Brother Edward Fudge had a "9 year history of unsoundness." And Brother Halbrook is exactly right. I have known of some of Brother Edward Fudge's unsoundness since his Florida College days, while he was exuberantly distributing Mission Messenger. Through the years I have had occasion to write him regarding some of his loose statements contained in articles. Like so many others, I thought that given time, Brother Fudge would study his way out of his error. But when a gospel preacher is still befuddled after ten years of study, I must confess that my hope for his being salvaged for truth has waned.

Later Reaction

Finally, the Guardian editors came down off their journalistic ethereal high horse, and began to grapple with the issues we raised. Brother Fudge used his typical double-talk, so that one knows little more about where he stands now than he did before he wrote. Brother Fudge affected not to know what Brother Ketcherside stood for. In substance, Fudge said, "If Brother Ketcherside means that," then I am 100% opposed to it. But "if he means this, " then I am 100% for it. But he conveniently neglected to tell us what Brother Ketcherside has taught. Edward Fudge is no dummy. He can read, and he can understand. He knows what Brother Ketcherside teaches, and he knows whether he agrees with it or not. Frankly, I have told several people it might take five years to "smoke out" Edward Fudge so that all the brethren may know what he believes and where he stands.

Meanwhile, Brother Bill Wallace has been assuring everybody that everything is "shipshape," and would have us all to believe that if anyone thinks anything is amiss regarding the doctrinal soundness of Brother Fudge, it is only in the eye of the beholder. In one article, he writes of "Neo-McCarthyism." He did not tell us who this modern-day McCarthy is. It seems the Guardian has gotten too nice to call names, and let us know whom they are talking about. They seem to think we would be given some undeserved dignification, if the Guardian were to call our names. Once or twice they have mentioned Brother Adams and me. My mother gave me a name, and it is by that name I prefer to be called. I would much prefer a fellow call my name, if he is talking about me, than to use some cowardly word-picture, the application of which he can deny if someone calls his hand. I much prefer my own name to that of McCarthy, Caesar, or some of the opprobrious labels used to describe me, Brother Adams, or Truth Magazine. Truth Magazine was accused of a "Neo-Quarantine-ism," and a good many other uncomplimentary epithets were applied. What great crime had we committed? We had asked, pled, and begged the Guardian Editor and two of the Associate Editors to tell us where they stood on the "Fellowship" question.

Truth Coming Out

Sooner than I had expected, the truth about what Brother Fudge believes has begun to come out. From the time Brother Fudge wrote his series of articles in the 1969-1970 volume of the Guardian, there no longer was any doubt in my mind where he stood. By the time he got done with his "Unity in Diversity," "Faith or Opinion... Is Restoration Over?" "Truth, Error, and the Grace of God" articles, there was no doubt in my mind about what he believed and where he stood. The problem then became: "How do you go about making him get specific and spell out in detail what he believes?" But Brother Wallace is assuring us all the time that we are, "barking up the wrong tree," and like Joe McCarthy, sighting Communists when none is around. If my history remembrance were accurate, I think Joe McCarthy did locate a few full-fledged Communists. Brother Wallace stated it was his opinion that this issue was another "Watergate" incident, and that the public was tired hearing about it. And I might add, there were some valid comparisons to the criminal "Watergate" incident.

The Big "Cover up"

In Brother Halbrook's September 20th article, he says: "all through these years since school, Ed has believed that whereas it is better not to use the instrument in worship, it is not a sin to use it. He told me himself that all through the summer of 1965, brother Leonard Tyler tried to get him to say that the instrument was sinful, but Ed told me be never would say that. Ed feels, and has felt during this time period since school, the same way about institutionalism. He thinks we do not have the right to label institutionalism 'sin,' and that if we do, we are guilty of creating our own little sect."

Brother Fudge seemed to be pleased with the fact that he could weasel here and there for an entire summer, and never tell Leonard Tyler whether be thinks instrumental music is sinful or not. You see now why I said I thought it might take as long as five years to "smoke him out"???

Brother Halbrook relates how he took the series of articles now in process of being printed to Brother Fudge, and asked his comments regarding these articles. In private discussion, several different ways Brother Halbrook asked Brother Edward Fudge if he believed the practice of mechanical instrumental music in worship was sinful or not- in private discussion, Brother Fudge answered. Brother Halbrook stated: "I asked Ed if he believes the instrument is sinful. He answered plainly. 'No.' "

In the Sept. 27th article Brother Halbrook said he asked Brother Fudge, "could our brother in good conscience preach that the instrument is wrong' and sinful in the absence of authority?" Brother Fudge answered, "No, I could not." Brother Halbrook then asked Brother Fudge if he scripturally could show that "the other brother's" use of it was forbidden. Again, Brother Fudge answered, "No." Do you think that its use will "interfere with ... salvation"? Again, Fudge says "No." Could you preach "repentance and reformation" to those who use it? Again Fudge says, "No."

"How much evidence does it take to convince some brethren that a very dangerous man is Associate Editor of the Guardian? Brother Edward Fudge's family now owns the Gospel

Guardian. A great tragedy occurred when Edward Fudge came into an editorial and perhaps a managerial relationship to the Gospel Guardian.

Brother William Wallace and I have been very close friends for many years. Until Bill began his "pulse of the brotherhood" articles a few years ago, I think he enjoyed the unanimous respect of brethren as a man sound in the faith. Bill and I have spent many hundreds of hours in travel, preaching, and journalistic work together. We have always had a very cordial relationship, and still do, as far as I am concerned.

What I am about to say, I regret immensely having to say. I do not like a brother to double deal with me, and Bill Wallace has been double-dealing in his effort to "cover-up" (shades of Watergate!) for the false teaching of Edward Fudge. In the Guardian, Bill would have you believe that those of us who had expressed concern about Edward's soundness, and publicly had asked some questions, were on a witch-hunt of some kind. We were barking up the wrong tree, and like Joe McCarthy, saw a Communist behind every tree.

Privately, what was Brother Wallace saying? He was as upset and as concerned about Brother Fudge's unsoundness as we were. You never would have known that from Brother Wallace's "cover-up" articles. The most revealing information to appear publicly yet regarding Edward Fudge's unsoundness is to be found in Ron Halbrook's series of articles. Brother Bill Wallace saw and read these articles twice before I ever even knew they existed, or were being contemplated. Though I knew Brother Halbrook, Yater Tant, Irvin Lee, and some others had appeared to be putting in strong articles to try to off-set the articles of Brother Fudge, I did not know when this effort was initiated last Spring that Brother Halbrook had any question about Edward's soundness. I can recollect no communication in previous years with Brother Halbrook about Brother Fudge's unsoundness.

Brother Wallace said something a few weeks ago that indicated he thought it was unethical to publish personal correspondence. I do not like the practice. But neither do I like to be called a liar, and especially by a man who knows I am not lying! I do not like to be publicly labeled as misrepresenting, when the person who so labels me uses virtually the same terminology to describe Edward Fudge's unsoundness, as I have used.

When Brother Halbrook last spring finished his first-draft of the articles now being published, he sent them to Editor Wallace for consideration for publication in the Gospel Guardian. Before me at this moment is a photocopy of William Wallace's handwritten letter to Brother Halbrook about these articles. Brother Halbrook, with whose permission I publish this letter, penned in this note: "Spring of 1973 note from brother Wallace after he read 1st typed draft.-RH." Here is the letter:

"Ron-This presentation might have the effect of 'smoking him out' in the open, and perhaps that is what is needed. However, you leave him plenty of room to move about in ambiguity because you lack sufficient documentation. I would suggest you use direct quotations to substantiate your assertions and conclusions. His reaction to this paper, and to your efforts for clarification may reveal something interesting! Perhaps this effort on your part will help him. I'll be anxious to hear of his reaction. Good luck, or rather God be with you. I made some notations in your text. WEW."

What Now, Brethren?

If Brother Fudge believes that mechanical instrumental music in worship and institutionalism are not sinful, let him begin the presentation of his proof in the Gospel Guardian. Some of us connected with Truth Magazine, I promise, will reply.

Mission magazine, published now out of Dallas, Texas and edited by Victor Hunter, has some men upon its Board of Trustees who are thought not to be in agreement with the rank modernism taught in that journal. Such men as J. W. Roberts (now deceased), Tom Olbricht, Everett Ferguson (of the Abilene Christian College Bible faculty) and others on other liberal college faculties have been pressured through the Firm Foundation by Roy H. Lanier, Sr., and through the Gospel Advocate by James D. Bales either to affirm or disavow the editorial position and the overall thrust of Mission.

Is not a similar impetus now in order in regard to the Gospel Guardian? It now is out in the open (indeed, he has been "smoked out," as Editor Wallace expressed it) and we now all know what Associate Editor Edward Fudge really believes. It will be interesting now to see whether Editor Bill Wallace forthrightly repudiates the position and teachings of Associate Editor Fudge, or if the Fudge family who now own the Gospel Guardian depose Brother Wallace as Editor. Or, if they both shall try to sleep in the same bed? It must make for real editorial fun when the Editor (but not the owner) is trying to "smoke out" an Associate Editor (but in the family that owns the paper).

It certainly gives me no pleasure to continue to expose this unhealthy situation, but it either needs to be corrected immediately, or brethren everywhere need to be apprised of just what the true stance of Associate Editor (and perhaps part-owner) Edward Fudge really believes and covertly teaches. It is my fervent desire that Edward Fudge might repudiate the error heretofore taught by him, or that the Gospel Guardian somehow might be rescued from the hands of such a doctrinally dangerous man.

When this issue was brought up last Spring, I expected it to take at least several years to extract as much information from Brother Fudge as is now before the public. Let him now either defend it, or repudiate it. And it certainly is in order for hard-hitting preachers who write for the Gospel Guardian either to blast this error into oblivion, or to disassociate their good names from a paper, which either is going to avow such palpable error, or at least to "cover up" for one who teaches it. Which shall it be, good brethren?

October 18, 1973