By Frank Thompson
I have just finished reading the April 1972 edition of Contending For The Faith, edited by IraY.Rice, Jr. In it he does a fair job of “taking to task” Pepperdine University for their liberalism. He points out that the President, William S. Banowsky, and the Chairman of tile Bible Department, Frank Pack, had both had connections with Mission Magazine. “Banowsky was one of Mission’s chief architects and founders.” “Frank Pack . . . has been-and may still be-one of Mission’s Trustees and on its Board of Editors. ” Rice said that neither of these had stated his disapproval of Mission. Rice says of Mission, “It is a fact that one of the chief avenues by which erroneous doctrines have infiltrated this brotherhood ever since its inception both has been and is the magazine called Mission.”
He takes the Chancellor of Pepperdine, Norval Young, to task for letting “known false teachers” such as “Roy Osborne, Wesley Reagan, Walter E. Burch, Ray F. Chester, Dwain Evans, Donald H. McGaughey, David Stewart, Roy Bowen Ward, and J. Harold Thomas,” write for 20th Century Christian and Power For Today.
Rice further opposes their using “known false teachers” such as James Attebury and four others who “were forced to resign under pressure for either false teaching or else sympathy for those teaching false doctrine at Harding College.” He also believes Tony Ash may be accepting and teaching “Theistic Evolution.”
He goes ahead to point out a number of other things such as President Banowsky speaking at the dedication of an Episcopalian school building in Ventura, Cal. and that Pepperdine had held some kind of Catholic week and had a regular mass in Chapel. Then they had a program called “We Don’t Give A Damn.” The man reporting this last incident, Shelby C. Smith, was told directly by one who was there that a “young man that came out on the stage said: ‘To explain what I mean by that, is the church of Christ don’t give a damn what we do.’ He said it got so rough he got up and walked out. Sounds like the new President isn’t helping any. I would say Pepperdine is getting kindly rough.
I can sympathize with Ira Rice in his condemnation of the situation at Pepperdine and certainly would not recommend anyone sending their children to such a school. But, what Rice and many others cannot see is that they helped to establish the atmosphere and set the precedents for what is now taking place, not only at Pepperdine, but in many so-called churches of Christ throughout the land. They did this in their upholding of unscriptural practices of centralized control and sponsoring church type cooperation, as found in the support of Orphan’s Homes, Herald of Truth, sponsoring church support for preachers, church support of colleges, hospitals, etc.
I have before me a Newsletter by Ira Rice written while he was in Singapore in which he labored long and hard to justify such things. He took the example of those in Antioch sending funds to Judea for the needy because of the famine (Acts 11:27-30), then very smoothly shifted gears and applied that to his wife and himself in Singapore to preach the gospel.
According to him, Acts 11: 27-30 would justify churches sending a contribution to the church in Dallas for the purpose of helping the church in Dallas support him in Singapore. Preaching the gospel and feeding the hungry is not the same thing, they are not parallel. Such disregard for Bible authority gave birth to the situation that now exists. Once you disregard Bible authority there is no stopping place. It is like the legend of the Camel’s Nose:
“An old legend relates that during a violent thunderstorm, a camel unobtrusively asked an Arab for permission to put ‘just his nose’ under the flaps of the Arab’s tent. Shortly thereafter, as the storm continued unabated, the camel asked permission to put in his neck and the request was granted; then, his shoulders. Soon the camel was entirely in the tent and the Arab was completely outside the tent.”
Ira Rice and others did not “beware the camel’s nose,” so presently, the whole camel is let in and they are being pushed out. They had not planned on this! They had intended for it to stop with just the nose coming in. But once the camel gets his nose in-look out!
Again, I do not like the situation at Pepperdine any better than does Ira Rice, but neither can I appreciate his disregard for Scriptural authority that helped make that situation possible.
I now wonder: Is Rice willing to kick the whole camel out? Or does he just want to back him out to where just his nose is left in? If the latter is what he wants, what is to keep the camel from working his way back in?
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 17, pp. 12-13
March 1, 1973