Editor's Memory Is Fallible!

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Evidently I have been more lenient on myself than others are with me. For example, I like to proceed in my writing upon the presupposition that I am writing from an honest heart. I therefore have written my articles without much thought as to what I have said in years past. I have always hoped I would never be given to much editorial "track covering." If and when I change my mind on a subject, I hope I will evidence the candor simply to state that I have changed my mind, and then to proceed to cite the reasons why I have done so.

It probably is going to come with earth-shattering consequences to some of you to learn that my memory is not infallible! Perhaps at least a half dozen times in my editorial life I have had to admit that I got a fact wrong, and to correct a statement. If such a procedure upsets you, I am sorry. I know of no other honorable way to proceed.

Last Spring an attempt was made to find out where certain ones who were writing uncertainly in the Gospel Guardian really stood. It was my opinion that the best way to find out 'was to ask some direct questions publicly. As a result of that effort, an exchange of controversial articles has occurred between some of us who write for Truth Magazine and the Editor and two Associate Editors of the Gospel Guardian.

Brother William E. Wallace, Editor of the Gospel Guardian, has undertaken the herculean job of defending Brother Edward Fudge from the charge of having taken a liberal position on the fellowship question, and of having taught a Calvinistic position on grace, and the imputation of the perfect life of Christ to Christians. Recently, I sought to show some historical parallels between what was happening to our Brother Fudge and what happened to Karl Barth, a Neo-Orthodox denominational theologian, now deceased. One writer said that from the day that Barth published his commentary on Romans, he spent the remainder of his life trying to avoid the consequent universalism inherent in his teaching. Brethren Ketcherside, Garrett, Fudge and his younger cohorts, are now engaged in that desperate effort to avoid universalism. One young brother wants to "draw the line" at the point of faith, and therefore open the door to the pious unimmersed. Brother Fudge becomes very "legalistic" and he "draws his line" at immersion for the remission of .sins. Brother Ketcherside refuses to be quite so "legalistic," and thus he "draws his line" at immersion, whether "for the remission of sins" be the purpose of the immersion or not. As one becomes more and more liberal, what in his mind is necessary to salvation becomes less and less. One cannot get much less than "one fact" and "one act," unless he wants to remove the fact or the act. Some therefore have begun to teach that anyone who believes the "one fact" is going to be saved, whether he submits to the "one act" (baptism) or not. Watch Ketcherside, Garrett and Fudge struggle, like Barth, for the balance of their lives to avoid a near-universalistic position. It would be much easier to renounce the error from which this near-universalism proceeds. Since Brother Fudge no longer has any taste for controversy, Brother Wallace has proceeded to traverse the country, get the pulse of the brotherhood, and see whether brotherhood sentiment will permit him to retain Edward Fudge on the Gospel Guardian staff. Time will tell what the most recent pulse-feeling travels portend regarding Edward Fudge's journalistic position as Associate Editor. It may turn out that brotherhood sentiment will permit him to be in the family that owns controlling interest in the corporation that publishes the Gospel Guardian, and thereby be a potential actual owner of the Gospel Guardian, but that brotherhood sentiment will not permit him now to remain on the staff. Now that would be a revolting development, wouldn't it? To own a paper you could not write in?

After a good many months of journalistic sparing, Brother Wallace finally has proceeded to tell the brethren what this campaign against Edward Fudge is all about. First he said that I had aspirations to be the titular head of my own "Church of Christ," an utterly repugnant thought for me even to contemplate. Later on he said that this effort is the consequence of a long-planned effort to destroy the Gospel Guardian. In his effort to throw you off the trail of "pernicious error" teacher, Edward Fudge, Brother Wallace has undertaken to destroy my credibility.

But I can nearly hear some of you say, "Come on now. Let's get down to `brass tacks' about this editorial fallibility bit." My, I had hoped you had forgotten by now. All right, I will just "fess-up." In my April 26th article, I stated that Bill Wallace, in his "pulse-feeling" travels "spent a night at my house. He and I spent most of the night in discussion." The truth of the matter, as best I can determine from those present and participating in these discussions, is that William did not spend the night at my house. Our conversation seems to have ended one night somewhere between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M., and another morning it resumed at about 5 A.M. Our discussion time also embraced driving time to and from Berne, Indiana, and loading time of a truck-load of books. Among those present for some part of these discussions were Larry Devore, Steve Wolfgang, and my wife. But I want to make it perfectly clear: Bill Wallace did not (I repeat: did not) spend the entire night at my house during this time.

Now what earthly difference can that make in regard to what has been under discussion? If that error in my memory helps in any way to exonerate Brother Edward Fudge of the charge of false-teaching, and Brother William Wallace of covering up for this false teacher, they will have to make the most of it. The truth of the matter is, I was surprised when I went back and read my April 26th article to find that I had indeed said "spent a night" at my house. After reflecting on the matter, I did not remember that he had spent the night at my house at all, since I moved to Marion. I sincerely apologize to Brother Wallace and to the readers of this paper for having made such an atrocious mistake. Were I to put together the hours of his two visits made on the same trip, I believe it would lack 2 or 2'/2 hours making a whole night. But we did discuss this matter at length, didn't we Brother Wallace? I believe he referred to the time we spent together as one of the "highlights" of his trip, when he wrote his Gospel Guardian report of his pulse-taking tour.

And while we are working on getting my fallible memory corrected up-to-date (and then perhaps we can proceed with our discussion of issues), it seems that Brother Fudge wrote me a note in hand-writing, which he said I promised to print but never did print. My only plea, once again, is AI forgot it, " and thus hasten to publish this very important letter. I had to return the hand-written note to Edward and ask that he please translate it into "typewriter" for me. He did so and here is that letter:

"Dear Cecil,

I regret that you misrepresented the facts twice in your 6-21-73 article's remarks about me.

(1) You quoted only part of my remarks about the purported use of my name, omitting the statement I made regarding having dealt with the matter privately.

(2) You implied that the article by Bros. Compton & Kight cited my works with reference to examples; it did not. I am cited regarding man's sinfulness and need of mercy. That other business you insinuated.

The honorable thing to do would be for you to apologize in print and correct your misrepresentations. Thank you, brother.

Edward Fudge


Sorry for the bad handwriting! Hope typing is at least readable!"

So there's the letter I forgot to publish. Those of you brethren who have sought to get some straight answers out of Ed know how difficult that is to do, so if you have any questions to ask regarding the letter, please pass them on to him. Ed's usual answer is "read what I have written." That's just the trouble, we have read what you have written. And when we re-read it, and read it three or four more times, it still comes out as the "pernicious error" which we understood it at first to be. And the more "explaining" Brother Wallace tries to do for you, the deeper he sinks your boat. Better keep him home, and busy in the office.

Truth Magazine, XVIII:12, pp. 3-4
January 24, 1974