By Dean Bullock
1946 was a year of relocation and adjustment for many young men. World War Il ended in the fall of 1945. Some young men were returning to jobs, others were looking for jobs, still “others of us” were going back to school. It was in 1946 (as a Navy veteran back in school), or soon thereafter, that I first heard of James W. Adams.
W.F. Showers and Foy E. Wallace, Sr. were urging me to preach the gospel of Christ. Also, brother Wallace was encouraging me to get acquainted with brother Adams. I remember him saying, “He’s a young man but very studious and very well informed, a good preacher. He can be of help to you.” It was a year or two later before I met him. Our paths have crossed many times since. I have heard him preach quite a bit, read scores of his articles, sat in some of his classes, and spent a lot of time with him – especially during the last twelve or fifteen years. When I think of him, his work and my association with him, several things come to mind:
He has strong intellectual powers, good study habits and studies the Word objectively. He recognizes that many people approach the Bible with a bias, including a lot of our own brethren. They are prejudiced and read to justify what they are doing rather than to find the truth. He is a “layer” above this. He studies in an effort to ascertain the will of God, and respects genuine scholarship.
He’s a person of dignity and bearing. He’s always neatly and appropriately dressed and good mannered. An untidy and unkempt preacher, shabbily clad, before a class or in the pulpit is very distasteful to him. He, like some of the rest of us, is from “the old school” and does not go before the people to preach dressed for golf, a picnic, a ball game or a tacky party.
He’s prepared. He had done his “homework” well and is at his best when speaking or writing on difficult and involved themes. His lessons and articles always evidence careful research and preparation. They are well-arranged and well-organized. Also, I have been present on more than one occasion when he was called on to defend the faith. He did so, and demonstrated a real grasp of the matters at issue. The cause of truth and right was upheld and well served.
He’s an outstanding writer and, one of balance. Some who have only read his material in papers making a fight against the social gospel, unscriptural church combines and the encroachment of institutionalism may question this statement. However, all who have read his writing through the years in bulletins, newspapers, magazines, tracts, etc. realize that he deals with a wide range of subject matter decisively. Even leading men who disagree with him on church organization, function and work, recognize his skills as a writer. It is with the pen that he excels. This is really his “strong suit.” Foy E. Wallace, Jr. told me that he considered James W. Adams one of the most able writers among conservative brethren. Others, qualified to judge, have expressed the same sentiment.
He seeks to avoid extremes. He’s cognizant of the fact that people with strong convictions must ever be on guard lest they go off on a tangent or diverge from “a sane and sound” course. He knows that well-meaning brethren sometimes lack perception and fail to distinguish between matters of faith and matters supported only by human emotion and tradition. He’s determined to stand for the truth, and just as determined not to take a radical, extreme or indefensible position on anything.
He has learned “the fine art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. ” One doesn’t have to draw the same conclusion he does on every mooted question in order to be his friend. He recognizes that many of the issues that divide brethren are of individual application and should not be pressed to the point of disrupting local churches. They should be examined candidly and honestly in the light of the Scriptures, but when good men differ on these matters the cause should not be affected adversely. Moreover, one can be Adams’ friend without having to always agree with him on matters of judgment, choice and preference.
Don’t get the idea that I think that James W. Adams is sinlessly perfect. He, in common with human-kind, has some “faults and foibles.” He would be the first to admit this and to acknowledge that he has made some mistakes along the way. However, he is a mature Christian and a gospel preacher in everything that the expression implies. He is well equipped and proclaims Christ first, last and foremost. He is not a philosopher, an entertainer or a politician. He is a preacher of truth and righteousness. His work speaks for itself. He is loved and respected in various cities across the country where he has lived and labored. My prayer is that “the good Lord will look in on him and his” and grant him more good years of service in the kingdom.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 23, p. 723
December 3, 1987