By Cecil Willis
Reuel Lemmons apparently could not write two months without contradicting himself, if his life depended on it. Even his fellow-liberal editor, Jimmie Lovell, recognizes that Lemmons has the great ability (?) to be “equally strong on both sides of a question.” Less than one month before Lemmons “Butcher Shop” article, he editorialized under the title “Benevolence and Education.” I wish all his liberal brethren in the Philippines and elsewhere could read what Lemmons had to say in that article.
Let me quote somewhat at length from this article. Lemmons said: “Recent months have seen a revival of the effort to seek church support of our colleges and to put the college in the budget of every church.” Lemmons is referring to the effort recently made by Batsell Barrett Baxter, noted speaker on the Herald of Truth. You see, Lemmons thinks Herald of Truth keynoter Baxter is a dangerous false teacher on the church support of the college, for Baxter is for it, while Lemmons is against it. Incidentally Brother Lemmons, the church support of the college is one of the real hot issues among brethren in the Philippine Islands. The Philippine Bible College at Baguio City is church supported, and faithful brethren are as strongly opposed to this unscriptural practice as is Brother Lemmons himself.
When the Philippine brethren read what Brother Lemmons said in his March 21, 1972 editorial, they are going to think Lemmons is one of those dangerous jungle flaying “hobbyists.” They may even think he belongs to the “anti-orphan faction.” Lemmons is opposed to every institutional orphan home that is under a board of directors, which puts him in opposition to about twenty-five of the institutions subsidized by liberal American churches.
Lemmons said in his March 21st article, “Now, a college board, or an orphan home board for that matter, is larger than the local church and it is smaller than the church universal.” This statement will certainly ring a familiar bell with faithful Filipino preachers. Lemmons continued, “We have never met anyone who would seriously attempt to justify the existence of these boards by the scriptures. . . . Unless a church can support a work that is not its own, through a board which is larger than the local congregation and smaller than the church universal, then colleges are not eligible for church treasury funds.. . . This is the reason why we have opposed the operation of childrens homes under boards rather than elderships…. If it can be done under a board with church support, then let us apologize to the Christian church for opposition to boards. . . . Just address yourself to the task of proving by the Scriptures that boards are a scriptural arrangement through which the church can do its work. If this can be proven, all opposition to the arrangement will cease, and, as an added serendipity, we will, after we have apologized to the Christian church for a century of opposition to them, find ourselves much nearer union with them. These boards are either, scriptural or unscriptural; right or wrong. We ought to be able to decide which. It is not right to ignore the issue because it is the basis of much contention.”
Now Brother Lemmons, your “jungle flaying” Philippine brethren are going to have an awfully hard time telling whose side you are on. Furthermore, they are going to think you have struck very hard at Herald of Truth speaker, Batsell Barrett Baxter, who defends the church support of colleges, and at that noted terror of “Anti-ism,” Guy N. Woods, who defends nearly any kind of liberalism, including church supported human institutions of a benevolent nature (though be opposes church supported colleges). You said: “We have never met anyone who would seriously attempt to justify the existence of these boards by the scriptures.” Brethren Woods and Baxter, why dont you get “serious” about this matter?
Lemmons opposes about half of the childrens homes-the ones under boards. But he says he will not be swayed by opprobrious labels. Lemmons says, “By now, we are used to the old bromide, He is opposed to orphan homes. That is an untruth. We are opposed to boards. . . .” Wonder why Brother Lemmons would want to use an “old bromide” on Brother Cogdill and me? He said in his “Butcher Shop” article that we are “anti-orphan home. . . .” May I borrow your remark, Brother Lemmons? “That is an untruth.” Maybe I ought to make it just a little stronger. That is an outright lie! We also are opposed to “boards,” and to sponsoring churches.
Lemmons pleads, “If brethren cannot come to agreement on these issues they can at least desist from the practice of making raids on each others camps. . . .” (April 11, 1972). Wonder why it is wrong for me to write in Truth Magazine against “boards interposed between the church and its work,” but right for Brother Lemmons to write against them in the Firm Foundation? Wonder why I am a “factionist” and a “hobbyist” when I write against church supported colleges in Truth Magazine, but it is all right for Lemmons to write against church supported colleges in the Firm Foundation? And I wonder why it is sinful for Churches of Christ to support colleges in America but all right for the churches to support the Philippine Bible College.
The truth is Reuel Lemmons has made himself the laughing stock of the whole brotherhood. Guy Woods and Batsell Barrett Baxter know be is inconsistent, and those of us whom he so lovingly labels “factionists” and “hobbyists” also know be is inconsistent. Reuel Lemmons seems to be about the only fellow in the brotherhood who does not know he is inconsistent! A fellow with a mind like his would be a splendid subject for a doctoral study on weird minds.
To show you what other liberals think about Lemmons, let me quote from the bulletin published by W. L. Totty of Indianapolis, Indiana (April 23, 1972 issue). Totty defends both orphan homes under boards and church supported colleges. He is a consistent liberal, though he is consistently wrong. Totty said: “In the April 11 issue of the Firm Foundation, the editor, referring to a trip made by Cecil Willis and Roy Cogdill who are extreme anti-orphan home men, said, What these men actually did was just about stop all the gospel preachers in the Philippines from preaching the gospel and set them to fighting each other. And they called this a missionary journey. Further, in his editorial, Brother Lemmons said, About the most ridiculous thing we can imagine is to go into a foreign, even heathen, land, and preach to natives that they should not support orphan homes and Herald of Truth! Later, in this same article, in reference to Philippine preachers, the editor said, What a tragedy to see these men in later years fall under the influence of hobbyists who turn them from preaching the blessed gospel of Christ to flaying the jungle with denunciations of orphan homes, Herald of Truth, and each other. “
“I can give a hearty amen to those statements by Brother Lemmons, but I cannot commend him for his inconsistency and being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. One time he teaches the truth relative to orphan homes and another time he teaches exactly the opposite and condemns the orphan homes. For example, in the March 24 issue of the Firm Foundation, Brother Lemmons, in his editorial, severely attacked the support of orphan homes under boards of trustees. He said, This is the reason why we have opposed the operation of childrens homes under boards rather than elderships.”
“If he believes it is right to denounce the c orphan homes under a board, then why should he criticize Cogdill and Willis for preaching it in other countries? If it is wrong in the United States, it is wrong in the Philippine Islands and should be condemned. And if it is wrong to denounce orphan homes in the Philippine Islands, it would be wrong to denounce them in the United States. Therefore, either way 4rother Lemmons goes, he finds himself in a dilemma. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt. (Matt. 12:33) If the tree is evil in the United States, it will be evil in any other country… And I repeat: Anything that is wrong in the United States is wrong anywhere else in the world, and anything that is right anywhere else in the world is right in America. “
Brother Lemmons is afraid that Brother Cogdill and I would confuse the native Philippine preachers. Brother Lemmons himself does considerable world travel. I guess he also would call his trips “missionary journeys.” If be preaches elsewhere the jumbled up mess that he writes here, reckon what kind of a confused state he leaves native preacher in? Nobody here understands him. Do you suppose those “Jungle flaying” foreign preachers understand him?
Brother Lemmons is a dignified editor. In fact, he is so dignified that he refuses to make any comments about anything anyone says about him, or so he states. Of course, he is not hesitant to tell “untruths” about Brother Cogdill and me, but to reply to an article like this would certainly be beneath his editorial dignity. I would just be happy (!!!) to have him to publish this article in the Firm Foundation, and I will gladly give him equal space for his reply in Truth Magazine. If ever there was a double-minded man, it is our friend and brother, Reuel Lemmons. And James says a double-minded man “is unstable in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:8).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 36, pp. 3-5
July 20, 1972