By R. L. (Bob) Craig
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article by Robert Craig appeared first in THE BIBLE STANDARD, November 5, 1973. It shows that others have been worried about some of the things appearing in the GOSPEL GUARDIAN. Robert Craig and Kent Ellis co-edit THE BIBLE STANDARD, a sixteen page paper which is printed twice each month. Subscription price to THE BIBLE STANDARD is $3.00 per year, and may be ordered from P.O. Box 3284, Austin, Texas 78764.-Cecil Willis.)
Some time ago I wrote an article questioning the associate editor of the Gospel Guardian, Edward Fudge, on his explanation of 2 John 9. He had taken the same position as had Carl Ketcherside and Cleon Lyles in times past. Their idea is that this verse has to do altogether with the divinity of Christ and has nothing to do with overstepping the boundaries of the gospel. Some were critical of my efforts but most were of the notion that more needed to be said-and, seemingly, that little article got the ball rolling. Truth Magazine has really jumped into that battle on Ketchersidism and the turn the Gospel Guardian has taken.
A little later, the editor himself, William Wallace, my friend and contemporary, flung himself into the battle by defending those he referred to as “second generation” preachers. I then dealt with his “second generation” junk in another article. Evidently Wallace, Fudge, and the G. G., consider Bob Craig and the Bible Standard too insignificant to call by name and to consider what we say, hence, Fudge has given no explanation as yet on 2 John 9 and Wallace just takes side-swipes at us; kinda like brushing off a little dog that might be nipping at your heels. (If he will check our ownership statement and compare it with his, he will see that, even though we are little right now, we are growing every day while the Gospel Guardian has dropped considerably from the 5000 plus when I was printing it for Roy Cogdill.)
We have a good article by Ron Holbrook in this issue dealing with Ed Fudge so I need say little along that line except to concur with Ron and add that Ed’s position for a good while is that mentioned. While preaching for the little church in. Sweetwater, Texas, he collaborated with Jerry Phillips (who was holding them a meeting at that time) and Larry Fluett, liberal preacher in Sweetwater, to move the conservative brethren back with the liberals with the concept that “there is not enough difference between the two groups to warrant separation.” Fortunately, Robert Hargrove, faithful man of God in Sweetwater, would not allow this to happen.
Very recently, Fudge has written an article in the G. G. explaining his position on fellowship. Rather than just plainly stating forthrightly what his position is, he quoted from a speech made by James Adams in the Arlington meeting, and said, “I believe precisely, exactly and fully what the following paragraphs state . . .” Now James Adams doesn’t need me nor anyone else to defend him. He is well able and willing to do that himself and is doing it right now in Truth Magazine, but for the benefit of our Bible Standard readers, I give this explanation which further shows the character of the young G. G. editorial writer. The main point Edward is using from brother Adams is the statement “I have never made these matters a test of fellowship.” If you will carefully examine the speech made by brother Adams (you can read it in the book, The Arlington Meeting) you will find that he was answering a question posed by a liberal preacher in regard to people like James having made cooperation, etc., a test of fellowship, hence causing division among God’s people. James was showing that this was not so–that the liberals were the ones who had hung out the quarantine sign to begin with. And, if Edward had read all the article, which I think he did, he would have heard James say, “I just cannot have fellowship with you when I am placed in the position of having to participate in things I believe to be wrong. When such is demanded of me, I must withdraw myself even if it requires me to start a new congregation.” Now-Big Question: could Ed Fudge have fellowship with them? Would Ed Fudge withdraw himself? If so, then his position is not the same as James Adams. If he could not, then what does he mean by saying “I do not make this a test of fellowship?”
So much for Fudge. Let’s get back to William Wallace and the title of this article. I’m afraid that William is too much like his daddy; when someone tries to tell him something, he bows his neck and becomes obstinate. I wrote him a letter a good while ago pointing out how the G. G. was no longer the militant journal it once was and even offered to buy him out. (This was before the Fudge alliance.) He would not sell (i.e., not to me) and observed that some (probably me) mistake obnoxiousness for militancy. Perhaps. But his dad and uncle Cled and uncle W. E. Brightwell surely used to be obnoxious-and got the job done.
So, William has been warned about such as Fudge, Phillips, Trainer, et al., and, true to family tradition, he bows his neck. He not only defends these “second-generation” writers but accuses all of us who would be critical of either he, them, or the Guardian, of practicing what he calls NeoMcCarthyism. Well, if some people had listened to McCarthy back in the 40s and 50s we would not be in such a mess, nationally, as we now are. And if people will listen to the “Neo-McCarthyites,” we might still preserve a portion of the Cause we all love and cherish. But if we hearken to the likes of Fudge, Phillips, and Trainer, we are in for much more destitute times, spiritually speaking. And if brother Bill doesn’t open his eyes or soften his neck, the Gospel Guardian will be a second Mission Messenger.
Specifically, brother Wallace defends young Randall Trainer. Randy wrote an article concerning “Theological Liberalism at A.C.C.,” in which he said there was none. Several took exception to that article and that conclusion. A.C.C. liked it and reprinted it as did the Firm (?) Foundation. Brother Wallace says: “Some do indeed turn off second-generation preachers and then maul and maim them. This is what was done in the case of young Randall Trainer.
Frankly, I am more inclined to accept the conclusions of a novice who was on the scene two years at Abilene Christian College, concerning theological liberalism, than the reports of someone who seems to have an axe to grind. The mauling of young Trainer was wrong and did not at all disprove what Trainer actually and precisely concluded.”
Since I have had personal contact with young brother Trainer, I believe that he is completely un-qualified to write on the subject as he seemingly doesn’t know what liberalism, either theological or otherwise, is. One who had been on the A.C.C. scene for years said there was such-Eugene Clevenger. Randy (Bill says he is a novice) was on the scene two years and says there is none. Randy is steeped in the sentiment of Carl Ketcherside to such an extent that he is blinded. While here in Austin, he refused to meet with a sound church and chose rather one of the most liberal and excused himself by use of the Ketchersidian concept of “Well, after all, no congregation is perfect. It is just a matter of degree.” He was so blind that he even made the observation that John Allen Chalk, then preacher at Southside, was as conservative as I, Bob Craig. I leave to all readers who even slightly know of me or Chalk, to draw their own conclusion concerning whether young brother Trainer is to be considered as a competent observer of “Theological liberalism” at A.C.C. or of anything else.
This Ketcherside looseness is catching on with lots of people, whether we call it by that label or not. It is past time for William Wallace to quit pussy-footing around and cut these fellows off from writing or else take them to, task when they get off the trolley. If he will not, then he must bear the consequences, and the guilt of what is inevitable.
In closing, Bill says that anyone whose writings have been used to make them appear dangerous should have the same opportunity to be heard in the same journal. He, or they, have my personal invitation to appear in our pages in defense of their loose attitude.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:9; p. 3-4
January 2, 1974