By Cecil Willis
Immediately before the recent Florida College lectures (January 28-31), there was mailed out a new paper called Falth Magazine, which was printed almost exactly like the format of Truth Magazine. Ordinarily I would not reply to anonymous literature, but I have learned that this paper was mailed all over the nation. It pretended to be a satirical parody of Truth Magazine. It constitutes the lowest smear attack I have ever seen in twenty years of following religious journalism. The paper consists of eight pages, printed in two-color, as we print Truth Magazine. Not only does Falth Magazine solicit contributions, but it also advertises that additional copies may be ordered at the price of $1.00 per copy. Should you doubt anything I am about to say about it, let me suggest that you order a copy of it, should it be the case that you have not seen it already. Checks are to be made payable to Falth Magazine, and sent to Ms. Paula Murray, 4438 Nichols Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64111.
For the benefit of those of you who may not already have seen a copy of this sinister document, let me quote from it. Brother James W. Adams and I get most of the attention in this journal. Caricatures are presented of James W. Adams and me, and ridicule is made of what we have said on the grace-fellowship-heresy. The paper pretends to have been edited by someone named “Caesar Willsit.” They even have a picture drawn in the paper that is supposed to look like me. James W. Adams is referred to as “J.A.W.”, which constitutes but a re-ordering of the initials of his name. A number of brethren whose names have been used in the course of this discussion on grace and fellowship are given new, but very similar appellatives. Brother Carl Ketcherside is referred to as “Coil Datcherside,” Brother Edward Fudge as “Egghead Budge,” Brother Randall Trainer as “`Camel Strainer,” and Brother Homer Hailey as “Hosea Holy.”
In addition to changing Truth Magazine’s name to Falth Magazine, they refer to Carl Ketcherside’s paper, Mission Messenger, as Missing Messages, and Florida College is labeled “Flatter College.” On the Masthead of the paper, after listing Caesar Willsit as Editor, the Associate Editors are listed with one-letter or two-letter abbreviations. But if you will merely read through the list, you will discover that these abbreviations match the names of the apostles of Christ, except that “J.A.W.” (James W. Adams) is listed in the place of Judas Iscariot.
Also in the Masthead it is stated, “To insure the anonymity of the satirists, refuse to deny your own possible participation in the creation of Falth Magazine. Whoever asks you will already suspect you anyway! Reply that satirists, whether friend or foe, have aright to remain anonymous, and then point to the request you are now reading to give justification for not committing yourself.” The Falth Magazine is filled with lies and character assassinations from beginning to end. I never have read the rule which said that God gave satirists he right to lie, with impunity.
In the section devoted to me, there are several lies told. These anonymous writers have me saying, “we know the hearts of everyone else. . . ” Another lie told on me is that I make a claim to divine inspiration, and therefore can give divine revelation. They put words in my mouth as though I were God Almighty.. I am quoted as saying, “We make no claim for direct revelation in some of the things which we write. We desire to write only the faith. Thus saith the Lord.” Not only does this statement constitute a blatant lie, for which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, but if anyone were to believe what they say in regard to this matter, my reputation as gospel preacher would have been defamed and damaged. I suggest that the writers of Falth Magazine might profitably read a definition: of “libel.” Webster’s Third Unabridged Dictionary defines”libel” like this: “handbill or circular esp. attacking or defaming someone . . . a written or oral defamatory statement or a representation or suggestion that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression . . . a statement or representation published without just cause or excuse, expressed either in print or in writings or by pictures, effigies, or by other signs intending to expose another to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule: defamation of a person by means of written statement, pictures, or other visible signs.”
Brother James W. Adams is treated even more shamefully. They quote him as saying, “I have decided, without apology, to (1) prate against them with malicious words, (2) refuse to receive them, (3) forbid others to receive them and (4) cast them out of the church.” It would be very interesting to hear the purveyors of that lie try to prove what they charge in a court of law. Brother Adams also is quoted as saying: “I have never changed on anything, and I never will.” That is but another lie told by our “satirists.” Furthermore, they put these words in the mouth of James Adams: “A passage is better interpreted by going from place to place in the scripture than by remaining with the context (emphasis mine, JAW).” No man on earth ever heard James Adams say anything that is even remotely akin to such a stupid rule. If deeds like this do not hold up a man, unjustly, to criticism and ridicule, would someone tell me what one would have to do to be guilty of libel? Of course, one is not guilty until proven to be such in a court of law.
Furthermore, these “satirists” run a full-page ad on the back cover entitled, “Special Offer.” The ad states, “Now available for the first time!!! … photostatic copies of J.A.W.’s secret files. Clear, un-retouched copies of past bulletins, personal letters, tape transcripts, diaries, discarded memos, health records, birth certificates, baptismal papers, and love letters! … Best collection of evil accounts in the conservative brotherhood! … You send us the name of any brother in your congregation and we will send you all the damaging evidence we have on him!!!”
I am not a lawyer, but I certainly would hate to have written the above ad, and have to face it in court. I would be fearful that it might be a costly little bit of fun. The writers of Falth Magazine write as though they are just having fun. But the issues we are being forced to discuss are not one bit funny to me. Brethren have taken some loose positions in order to try to broaden our fellowship, so as to permit us to fellowship some of the liberal brethren, and perhaps a few from the Christian Church. As these discussions continue, do not let anyone confuse you about why the discussions are occurring. Some brethren, unscripturally, are trying to devise some means of justifying a broadened fellowship. All the theological contortions we are witnessing, and we shall witness yet more, are but necessary efforts to try to maintain some semblance of consistency while also trying to broaden our fellowship.
Those with whom we are in controversy will have to do as they see fit in regard to Falth Magazine. One of those with whom we have been in controversy was overheard to say, “I have mixed emotions about it.” One thing is for sure, if I were in their shoes and had nothing to do with preparing and mailing out Falth Magazine, I would immediately denounce it and disavow it in the sharpest possible terms. This would be a good time for those who are so opposed to “journalistic abuse” to get on their high-horse and really fire away. Lets just watch and see how much the creators of Falth Magazine are scored for what is the foulest blow I have seen struck in about twenty years of following writings among brethren.
The only person’s name appearing in Falth Magazine is that of Ms. Paula Murray. She is not a Christian. She operates a mail forwarding service. She stated she had nothing to do with the publication or with its mailing. Yet she is acting as the agent of Falth Magazine. So she is implicated. Let it just be said now that the Cogdill Foundation intends to use every righteous and legal means at our disposal in order to try to find out who the publishers of Faith Magazine really are. Once their names are made known to the brotherhood, the reprehension of the brotherhood for such a vile deed will constitute severe punishment for its perpetrators.
In view of the indication given in the Masthead that each has been instructed “to deny your own possible participation in the creation of Faith Magazine,” one is made to wonder if indeed its real creators will do so under oath, and thus perjure themselves. Or will these bold heroes permit Ms. Paula Murray to bear the whole burden of defending the creators of Faith Magazine. Only two reasons come to my mind as to why anyone would write any piece of material such as Faith Magazine anonymously. Those two, reasons are: (1) the writer is ashamed of what he has to say; or (2) The writer is afraid for others to know he said it. These reasons are the cause for my selection of the title of this article, “Yellow Journalism.” I think the writers of Falth Magazine are ashamed and perhaps now also afraid to reveal themselves.
The bold writers of Faith Magazine may leave Ms. Paula Murray in the position where Brother Edward Fudge has left Brother William Wallace. Brother Wallace has been running around the country like a chicken with its head cut off trying to defend Brother Fudge. A man of candor and integrity would be ashamed to put his friend in the position in which Brother Fudge has placed Brother Wallace. Brother Wallace has written to churches all over the country asking permission to come to speak on “The Gospel Guardian, Past, Present, and Future.” Brethren would hang me to the nearest tree if I were to write for permission to speak in church meeting houses on “Truth Magazine, Past, Present; and Future.” And if I did that, I should be sharply criticized. The Cogdill Foundation (like the C.E.I. Company) is a human organization, and has no more right to use the church’s facilities to discuss its business activities than a college or a service station would have. Remember that Brother Wallace is the one who has been speaking of “power structures” and “organizational combines,” etc. But now he has asked churches all over the land to permit him to come to speak on “The Gospel Guardian, Past, Present, and Future.”
I attended one of those meetings (the Louisville one), and heard a tape recording of one of the others. It did not take very long to discuss “The Gospel Guardian, Past, Present, and Future.” The issue rather quickly became, “Edward Fudge, Past, Present, and Future,” Brother Wallace seems unable to understand why brethren are so concerned about Brother Edward Fudge. It is because they see some things Brother Wallace refuses to see. Brethren pretty generally know about Brother Fudge’s past and present false teaching. Since his family now owns the Gospel Guardian, and Brother Fudge is an Associate Editor and heir-apparent, is it any wonder that brethren would become concerned about the future of the Gospel Guardian?
Brethren in several of these meetings have asked, “Why is not Brother Fudge out defending his own teaching, since it is very evident that it was primarily his teaching that caused apprehensions about the future of the Gospel Guardian?” Brother Wallace can, at that point, only force a little smile, shrug his shoulders, hold up his hands and say something like this, “I do not know why Brother Fudge is not out defending his own teaching. I have tried to get him to come out and defend his teaching. But it would take a lot of smoking out to get him in a meeting like this.” If one of my friends were to force me repeatedly into such an awkward position as Brother Wallace is in, we would not be friends very long.
All of that regarding Fudge and Wallace was said to preface this remark: I wonder if those bold writers of Falth Magazine are going to permit Ms. Paula Murray to bear the cost of defending them from their dastardly deed. Or, are they willing to step forth, acknowledge themselves as the authors and promoters of Falth Magazine or not? I stated we intend to use available legal means to try to ascertain who the backers of Falth Magazine are. Brethren have the right to know who these grand and bold heroes are. It may be necessary to take appropriate legal action, which is costly both to those who initiate the action as well as to those who are named as defendants, in order to learn the identity of the producers of Faith Magazine. In view of their Masthead statement, they may think that protection of their anonymity is sufficient reason to lie under oath, or they could take the “Fifth Amendment.” On the other hand, if the producers of Falth Magazine will identify themselves, we will proceed no further with legal action. Even if legal action were taken against Ms. Paula Murray and her mail forwarding firm (which serves as agent for Falth Magazine), it may be impossible yet to learn who is back of Falth Magazine. But brethren have the right to know, and those who wrote Falth Magazine also need to learn that when one writes, he has obligations not only before God, but also before the laws of the Land.
The perpetrators of Falth Magazine may have been just jesting, but it is difficult for me to conceive of persons enjoying a little fun enough to pay several hundreds of dollars just to have a little fun. If that is all they were doing, they ought to apologize to the brotherhood for making a mockery of serious discussion of Bible themes. If they were not jesting, then their attack was of the most vicious and lawless sort. The producers of Falth Magazine, whether one or many and whether young or old, ought publicly to apologize for their mocking production, and we would let the matter stop right there. But until someone either identifies himself or themselves, we can only proceed with step by step legal action against a non-Christian and her business firm and seek to learn who really is back of this mischievous deed.
I suggest to the producers of Falth Magazine that God already knows who you are, and it is just slightly possible that brethren eventually will know who you are. It would be much the more honorable thing to identify yourself than for us to have to try to smoke you out. Is it that you are afraid of what you have written; or that; you are so ashamed of it, that you insist upon protecting your anonymity? A deed like this, if never corrected, had better be kept quiet throughout your lifetimes. I think it would take brethren a good while to cease to associate you in their minds with Faith Magazine, and that association will not do either your reputation or character any good in the minds of thinking brethren.
This is probably all we shall have to say about Falth Magazine. I hope now we can be done with game playing and character assassination, and get on with the discussion of issues that are disturbing some brethren and destroying others. I had hoped this discussion soon could be brought to a close, but brethren are now using. other denominational error in order to try to justify their loose position on the grace-fellowship question. So we now must go into a discussion of some other denominational doctrines that were refuted on a thousand rostrums in years gone by as brethren contested truth with error in their debates with sectarians. But some of our brethren evidently have not heard of those conflicts of yesteryear, and the outcome of those truth-error confrontations. The sectarians learned from those confrontations that it would be best if they not debate anymore. Like Brother Fudge, they removed themselves from the arena of debate, as though debate was beneath their dignity.
But some naive brethren are now laying out once again those thread-worn arguments made by sectarians. Evidently, they are doing so sincerely. Thus, we must fight again in this generation some battles which were fought and won in generations past and gone. But the victories of yesteryear do not suffice for today, The Christian today must also “fight the good fight of faith.” Tricksters, like those. who produced Falth Magazine, are not going to laugh us out of the arena of debate.
Evidently they think their ridicule is more potent than their argument. But others are sincere, and for the sake of these, we must once again discuss matters that at least border on the “once-in-grace, always-in-grace” Baptist position and the question, of whether .the Christian is now in possession of eternal life. These are some of the latest elements being injected into this overall conflict. But I repeat: All of this theological maneuvering is simply an effort to augment and then to defend a broadening of our fellowship so as to take it some liberal brethren, and others whose “hearts are right with God,” in spite of their moral sins, or doctrinal defections.
Truth Magazine, XX:5, p. 3-7
February 5, 1976