Questioning the Jury’s Verdict

By Lowell Blasingame

I like the American system of trial by jury, yet I recognize that juries do not always render fair and equitable verdicts. In the May-June, 1974 issue of Herald of Truth International Brother, Reuel Lemmons writes under the heading of Broadcast Evangelism in defense of Herald of Truth. Several statements merit comment, but the paragraph that is most striking to me is the one next to the last which reads as follows:

“Highland and Herald of Truth have been through some rough waters recently. The case went to the brotherhood jury for judgment through scores of inflammatory articles and `statements.’ The jury has been out long enough now to signal a verdict. And it has. Receipts for Herald of Truth January 1, 1974, through May 1, have been roughly $100,000 more than for the same period a year ago-up 20 per cent. The brethren have decided that this program should go, on-and by the grace of God it will.”

That Highland and Herald of Truth have gone through some rough waters is not denied. I have received and read some of the articles and statements that Brother Lemmons calls “inflammatory.” Which side; if either, has completely told the truth about the degree in which liberalism has infiltrated the Highland church, and the charges relative to control of Herald of Truth, is a matter which I have not been able to determine. Whether Highland’s elders “watergated” the matter and told us only what they had to, or whether we received the full story, are matters open to question.

Brother Lemmons thinks that the brotherhood has served as jury and decided as reflected in a 20 percent increase in contributions that Herald of Truth should continue. I, for one, am a wee bit leery of allowing the brotherhood to serve as a jury in deciding whether the sponsoring church arrangement for cooperation of churches should continue. I believe that church history will verify that a little. over a century ago a brotherhood jury gave its endorsement to the missionary society and the use of instrumental music in worship. Neither do I consider an increase in financial support a safe rule for determining the Scripturalness of a project. By this same rule, we might build a defense for the “Oral Roberts Show,” “The Hour of Decision” or “The Lutheran Hour.” These, too, have experienced an increase in financial support over that of last year.

There are still some brethren who are more concerned about Bible verdicts than they are about brotherhood verdicts. They are still interested in what the oracles of God say (1 Pet. 4:11) and in refraining from going beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9). For some strange reason, I still like that attitude and do not feel badly about questioning a jury’s verdict when it differs with the oracles of God.

Truth Magazine XIX: 12, p. 189
January 30, 1975