AWhy?" Again, Brother Bill

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

It is not my intention to spend much time rehearsing every minute incident of the past in reply to Brother William E. Wallace's "Why?" article in the Gospel Guardian. There are. scores of brethren who know that there was never any "conspiracy" to destroy the Gospel Guardian, as Bill Wallace charged as early as 1969.

Long before there was any thought of merging Truth Magazine with the Gospel Guardian Foundation (later renamed the Cogdill Foundation), an agreement was made for Truth Magazine to purchase the remaining books owned by the Gospel Guardian Foundation, if Brother Yater Tant did not exercise an option earlier made to purchase these books at 50% discount. When Brother Tant sought to purchase these books at 65% discount, the books were offered to us, and we bought them as originally offered at 50%.

When Brother Roy Cogdill and I went to Lufkin to arrange for the delivery of these books, Brother Wallace apparently had been instructed to permit us to take Walking By Faith, The Posture of Faith, and Indestructible Foundations, but not to permit us to take The New Testament Church. I may be rather dumb business-wise, but I am not that dumb! They wanted us to take the slow-moving books, and permit them to retain the fast selling New Testament Church book. We were not there to negotiate a deal on the books. That already had been done. We were there to pick up about 12,000 books which Truth Magazine had agreed to purchase.

Brother Wallace stated on that occasion it appeared that there was a "conspiracy" to destroy the Gospel Guardian. In view of the many years Brother Cogdill had been financially responsible for the publication of the Gospel Guardian and in view of the donation over the years of several thousands of dollars to maintain the Gospel Guardian, such a charge was preposterous and highly resented by Brother Cogdill. It came with poor grace from an employee of a few months. But before we left, Bill asked Roy if he would consider "buying back" the Gospel Guardian, and Brother Cogdill readily agreed that he would do so. This discussion occurred in early January, and Brother Wallace asked that he be given until the Florida College Lectures (last week of January) to try to persuade Brother Tant to sell the Gospel Guardian back to Brother Cogdill. So far as I know, the matter was not mentioned during the Lectures. Later it was learned that Brother Wallace made some inquiries regarding financing for the purchasing the Gospel Guardian himself during these lectures.

Such matters are far removed from the issues we have been discussing. If Brother Wallace wants to believe that we have manufactured an issue in order to try to hurt the Gospel Guardian, it may be impossible to change his mind. Brethren all over this country know that the Gospel Guardian's worst enemy has been the Gospel Guardian itself. We shall continue to press issues that exist and shall continue to oppose error which is taught, but we shall spend little time discussing matters of this kind. I am perfectly willing to stand before God, and let Him declare what my real motives in this discussion have been. And I have not the slightest fear of judgment on this point.

Some of the things Brother Wallace said in his December 13, 1973 "Why?" article amazed me. He occupied five pages telling "Why?" this controversy, and he implied it was an effort to destroy the Gospel Guardian, for it is a competitor in our way. He then must imply that every brother who has spoken a word about this fellowship question is either a deliberate partner with us in a nefarious effort, or is an unwitting ploy who is being used by us in an evil way. Either alternative is an insult to every brother who has courageously stepped forth to uphold the truth, and to oppose the error being taught on these questions.

Brother Wallace and I worked compatibly together I thought throughout the time that we jointly worked in the publication of Truth Magazine. Brother Wallace and I were associated together as co-workers in the preparation of and publication of Truth Magazine from August, 1962 until May, 1968. Brother Wallace now declares of this period, "We had a good working arrangement for a couple of years and enjoyed working together. I tried to discourage our entry into the book and literature business, contending the paper could make it without such business. Brother Willis insisted on building a competitive business. He displayed a strong competitive spirit which was especially pronounced in his attitude toward the Gospel Guardian. I had some concern about the possibility of his aggressive disposition leading him to go beyond principles of discretion and propriety in seeking to get brethren to do like he thought they ought to do." (December 13, 1973 article).

Now that is the first time I ever heard that! If he was worried about me from 1964-1968, you would have thought that somewhere along the way he would have found time to talk to me about this bad disposition and intent. Now the truth of the matter is, Bill Wallace was the operator of Truth Magazine Bookstore. I never have operated the store, and think everyone who has operated it will verify that I had a virtual "hands off" policy, and they ran the bookstore as they saw fit. Even after moving to Indianapolis, Brother Wallace continued to operate the Bookstore. Now he says that he was afraid of me four of the six years we worked together. Brother Bill, I find that quite hard to believe!

When Brother Wallace decided to begin work with the Gospel Guardian, he made a trip to Marion to assure me that no ill-feelings existed. If I forget not, it was also at this very meeting at my home that Brother Wallace asked that if ever there should be any possibility of him owning the Gospel Guardian, would I consider coming to work with him, and for him, and to edit the Gospel Guardian. Both of us probably considered such a possibility so remote that neither of us dwelt long upon it.

On March 8, 1968 Bill wrote me a letter which he and I had decided he should write, and which we also had decided should be published to let everyone know we were not parting company with any hard feelings. Bill's letter read:

"Dear Cecil,

Inasmuch as I will soon enter an employment relationship with The Gospel Guardian Company;,I do not feel I can do justice to the responsibilities and honors inherent in my ties with Truth Magazine. I tender my resignation from the associate editorship and relinquish my position as co-owner of Truth Magazine. This is to be also taken as a resignation from Truth Magazine, Incorporated.

"It has been most pleasant, gratifying and rewarding to work with you in the publication of Truth Magazine the past six years. You will recall that it was in the spring of 1962 that we agreed to accept the responsibilities of publishing Truth Magazine. It was a pleasant experience to see Truth Magazine mushroom in circulation and expand in influence under your leadership. I am proud to have been part of the team serving with you to make of Truth Magazine a major influence in the brotherhood. The accomplishments of the paper have gone beyond my original expectations and I am confident Truth Magazine is here to stay and will continue to excel in influence and noble results.

"I will be happy to contribute articles occasionally for. publication in Truth Magazine, but I feel that my responsibilities to The Gospel Guardian will not enable me to give to Truth Magazine the time, service and support due from every associate editor.

"Thank you very much, Cecil, for the encouragement, understanding, good-will and fellowship you have extended to me in our work together the past six years. I'll be looking forward to more such fellowship as our paths meet here and there in common causes.

"May I request mention of the fact that readers of Truth Magazine may follow my work in the pages of The Gospel Guardian? Thank you . . . And God bless you my friend, Wm. E. Wallace." (Quoted from the Inside Cover of May, 1968 Truth Magazine).

If Brother Wallace felt in 1968 the way he now says he felt about me, and had so felt for four years, it certainly makes his letter published in 1968 hypocritical. I prefer to believe Bill was sincere in the remarks he made then. I do not find it difficult at all to state that my work with Bill Wallace was pleasant, without reservation. He and I probably had a little disagreement now and then. But I think I know Bill Wallace well enough to know when he is playing "square" with me, and when he is not. I much prefer my impressions of 1968 than those he tells me now he had.

The remarks which I made regarding Brother Wallace's exodus from our pages may be found on page 1 of the same May, 1968 issue. Though it makes a lengthy quote, I meant every word of it, and think it best to quote the entire article.

Wm. E. Wallace Resigns

"On another page in this issue you will find a letter from William Wallace in which he resigns his positions with Truth Magazine in order that he might become a full-time employee of the Gospel Guardian Company. It is with sincerest regret that his resignations are accepted.

"About six years ago William Wallace and I joined hands to continue the publication of Truth Magazine, after its former publishers had stated their desire for someone else to operate it. Had it not been for the courage and the prodding of William Wallace, I would not have had the initiative to have undertaken such an endeavor. Wallace suggested that in the beginning he attend to the mechanics of publishing the paper and that I work on editorial projects. Actually, we both ended up working in both areas.

"One could not ask for a more pleasant co-laborer than Bill Wallace. Some of my most pleasant days were spent as he and I traveled together or worked on various matters that pertained to the activities of Truth Magazine. I have the very highest regard for him. My only problem with Bill Wallace has been that I have had great difficulty keeping from being envious of his tremendous intellectual and writing ability. He often would complete a project while I was trying to figure out just how to go about it. Several times when we were short an article for an issue, he would write one while I was trying to decide upon a topic.

"Those of us connected with Truth Magazine wish both Bill and the Gospel Guardian every success. The Guardian is a good paper and has tremendous potential as a weekly. William will be a substantial contribution to its effort. There will still be opportunities to collaborate with William on some projects. For example, he has agreed to write an article for our October 'Special Issue.' We will appreciate receiving other articles from him on a contributorial basis.

"As badly as I hate to lose Bill as one of our Associate Editors, I still think that he has done the proper thing in resigning. It is obvious that he now will have but little time to devote to the promotion of Truth Magazine. Yater Tant probably would fire him if he spent much time promoting it!

"Our staff is not a large one. We need every person who is a part of the Truth Magazine staff to be active. When a man become inactive or sees that he will have to become inactive, he ought to resign his position. Too many papers become loaded down with Staff Writers and Associate Editors who do nothing. I suppose if such people do not resign, Editors ought to have enough backbone to ask them to do so, but Editors seldom ask for a resignation.

"So I appreciate the fact that Bill had the candor to resign his position on our staff, since he can no longer be very active. Bill will be moving to Lufkin, Texas, from which he will work, in June. You may follow his writings in the Gospel Guardian, and in his own paper called Torch. Occasionally, as he has extra time, you will see pieces from him in Truth Magazine. I shall ever be grateful to him for what he has done to help in publishing Truth Magazine, and shall remember with fondness the days and nights we have worked together. As Wallace departs, Truth Magazine loses and the Gospel Guardian gains a top-notch man.-Cecil Willis."

Brother Bill, as I have re-typed my article, I did not find a single statement made then that did not exactly represent my sentiments. Can you say as much about the remarks quoted from you? If so, what do you mean about the great apprehensions you now tell us you had as a result of working with me?

Do you brethren get the idea that I was trying to kill the Gospel Guardian? If so, I must have been attempting to smother it to death with love! If the Gospel Guardian were today what it was back then, I would commend it now as I did back then.

I hope this is about all that I need to say in regard to incidents that occurred many years ago, and which not only now are being distorted and misrepresented, but which could not possibly have one thing on earth to do with the subject matter now under discussion. If my fried, Bill Wallace, were opposing error now as he was then, he would not be forced to confront me as an opponent. Instead, we would be standing side-by-side, and that's the way I would have it to be! Ten thousand times over!

Truth Magazine, XVIII:13, pp. 3-5
January 31, 1974