Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 12, 1959
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4-5b

A Look At The Lemmons - Wallace Coalition


A. Hugh Clark, Lubbock, Texas

"Politics makes strange bed-fellows". So goes the old addage, and the church is no exception. Those who have known conditions in the church for the last three or four decades and who have been even casually observant of the roles the chief actors have played have been amazed, at times, at the shifting of positions and the regrouping of the forces. As in politics again, this regrouping many times has not been formed around consonance of convictions on the dominant questions of the hour, but for other reasons such as self preservation and party expediency; and hence, the continued recurrence of the shifting of the scenes.

I regret exceedingly to say it, in this instance, but we have not been treated to a greater example of this sort of thing through the years than the recent Wallace-Lemmons episode blandished in the Firm Foundation of the week of May 26.

These two fellows have little in common either personally or doctrinally. And especially is this so where the issues that are presently troubling the churches are concerned. I heard Foy Wallace deliver a series of sermons in the Norhill church in the city of Houston not too long ago, and there was not a night during the entire week when he did not literally devastate the position held by Reuel Lemmons regarding institutional Orphan Homes as they are being operated and supported by churches of Christ, whether under the supervision of the elders of some local church or under a board of directors. And what has been said of Orphan Homes was equally true of Lemmon's position on the sponsoring church cooperative combines. And nobody knows this irreconcilable difference exists regarding these vital issues any better than brother Wallace and brother Lemmons do.

Brother Wallace however, in spite of all this, comes out in the Foundation in a lengthy article admonishing moderation, tolerance, a middle of the road policy which implies, it would seem, even capitulation rather than to divide the church over these matters. One would think from what was said, that brother Wallace had ceased to believe that the issues involved were matters of faith at all, but were mere matters of opinion concerning procedures in the field of expediency; the very thing which Lemmons and those who stand with him have been trying to establish from the beginning of the controversy.

Now, I know that Foy Wallace Jr. does not believe anything of the sort. I have known him and we have been fast friends since the days of boyhood; even roomed together at old Thorp Springs College in about 1910-11. I speak therefore, from the knowledge that comes from almost fifty years of the closest of friendship.

But, Foy writes his article for the Firm Foundation, and Reuel takes about half of his editorial space commending brother Wallace and his most timely article; even doubts that a more important article has been written in this generation! And then, the reason for this exaggerated evaluation comes out in these words, "We are certainly happy to see him disavow any part of, or any connection with, the element that today disturbs the churches". Continuing he says, "LIKE US, (emphasis mine AHC.) he is not conscious of having changed one iota on these issues through the years ... We believe you will find him right in the middle of the road!" Which is of course, to say that he and brother Wallace are hand in hand walking happily together right in the middle of the road where they have always been! Pshaw! Nobody but the most ignorant and uninformed will be fooled by such.

The truth is, whether they realize it or not, that both of these fellows right now, have a very dull ax that needs grinding. And one of them is simply "holding the ax, while the other turns the grindstone", and they hope by teaming up to get them both ground in better fashion.

Reuel Lemmons and the Firm Foundation has really been taken to a "first class cleaning by the Gospel Advocate, its editor, and its chief hatchet man for the present, Guy N. Woods. And brother Lemmons was forced to capitulate, and to tell us all that he did not really mean it when, in that fit of unguarded, momentary courage he wrote that certain editorial that raised the eyebrows of us all and left him no alternative but to carry through and really go to battle with the Advocate, or to do what he did do. So, he took the easy way out and told us that he was just expressing a sort of personal preference in the matter, and that he guessed that Orphan Homes under a board of directors were Scriptural all right after all, but that he personally, just didn't think they ought to be administered that way.

A battle between the leading proponents on the same side of the issues involved would have been most inexpedient for their cause at this juncture, hence the conciliatory move on the part of brother Lemmons was accepted by the editor and chief writer of the Advocate as sufficient sop, under the circumstances, and there was issued both from Nashville and from their politicaster at Henderson a reprieve from the comminatory edict formerly pronounced, and as an insurance of good will for the future there was some mention made of some three hundred paid subscriptions for the Firm Foundation, at that time engaged in a subscription drive to increase its coverage.

Do you say these things look ugly in print? They certainly do; I agree. But simply to sit and pass them by, from my point of view, is uglier and eventually will do the church a great deal more and lasting harm. Such maneuvering is wholly "Unworthy of the gospel of Christ" and that high standard of conduct by which we ought all to be characterized in everything.

And now, what about Foy? He has done the church and the truth for which he has so gallantly stood through the years an irreparable injury; one that, in my judgement, he can never undo no matter how diligently he tries. This matter runs a great deal deeper than "Paper Yokes and Party Labels" and besides that who cares a fig whether he puts in with a paper now existing and writes for it or prints one of his own as he has done several times before, so long as he does not, for reasons which only he, himself, knows throw in with the denizens of error, criticize and disparage those who are doing the best they can fighting the battle of TRUTH against innumerable odds.

"Middle-of-the-road" Foy, indeed! One can hardly say the phrase without feeling as if he had said a "cuss word". The Foy I have known for fifty years has never asked whether he was walking in the middle of the road or on which side of the road; ONLY THAT HE WAS WALKING IN TRUTH. A principle we both learned when we were boys. But, for the present, unless he denies the description given him in Reuel's commendation and which is now being bandied about among the liberals, he would seem to have accepted the appellative. Again I say, it isn't worth it, Foy. No matter what your reason was.