Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 28, 1960
NUMBER 50, PAGE 4-5b

A Study In Ecclesiology


H. Osby Weaver, Dallas, Texas

It seems to be common knowledge that editors are "fair game" with never a closed season on them, hence the practice of taking a few pot-shots at them now and then seems to be in keeping with the best form. Bro. Reuel Lemmons, Editor of the Firm Foundation, receives perhaps more than his share of these snippings, but he has no one to blame but himself. Not that he is a prized trophy that one would care to hang on the wall, but he just exposes himself more frequently than others to such extent that it is a real temptation to those whose trigger fingers have been made itchy through a study of the Bible to shoot at him occasionally.

An organ such as the Firm Foundation with its glorious past and uncertain future is a powerful potential for either good or evil, and the present editor seems determined that is shall produce both, judging by the way he writes. One editorial one week will contradict what he wrote the week before, and even in the same editorial he will be found opposing himself apparently never realizing that such is going on. We would not be surprised one of these days to see his endorsement of the Salvation Army and an encouragement to the churches to support it, especially so, if he could get "250 subscriptions for doing it. But if he does, we can be comforted in the assurance that he will "skin" himself the following week for doing it.

In a recent editorial headed "A STUDY IN ECCLESIOLOGY", Brother Lemmons chides the use of such terms as "church as such," "universal church," etc. He said such terms were "invented hundreds of years this side of Pentecost to describe a condition that did not arise until hundreds of years this side of Pentecost," then to put the clincher to his argument and demonstrate his proficiency in the "study of ecclesiology" he said, "Wherever a group of saved people come together it is a congregation of the church of Jesus Christ." Did the editor not learn in his "study of ecclesiology" that the word translated "congregation" (Heb. 2:12-R.V.) is the same word from which we get the word "church"? So he is actually saying that saved people together is the "church of the church of Christ." Just when was that term invented? We do not recall seeing it in the New Testament. We heard one say a few days ago that he was a member of the church of Christ church. Strange language, but no more so than "the church of the church of Christ." Both do a fair job of denominationalizing the church.

In his efforts to destroy any line of separation between the church and the individual as well as any distinction between the local church and the saved in the aggregate, Brother Lemmons condemns the use of such terms as "church universal" and "church as such." Will he deny that such terms express scriptural facts? He just does not like to hear such terms used, that is, he does not like to hear others use them, for in the very editorial in which he condemned the use of the term "church as such", he used it himself! He said, "The church is the expression of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world. As such it is obedient to Him...." (Emp. mine - H.O.W.) "The church . . . as such!" What condition is Brother Lemmons trying to describe here "that did not arise until hundreds of years this side of Pentecost?"

Oh, well, no need to get too excited about his editorial scampers, for he will probably repudiate the whole thing next week himself.

(Editor's note: We share Brother Weaver's sense of frustration in trying to make sense out of the Firm Foundation's editorial policy. At one time we will think we have the editor clearly, positively, and unequivocably pinned down to a position which he has stated with such clarity, conviction and simplicity that we would suppose nobody on earth could misunderstand him. Then the next week, or perhaps the same week, two paragraphs farther down in his article, we find the opposite position expressed with the same force and fervor! It does get bewildering at times.

As a case in point (of a score that might be cited) consider the two following paragraphs from the same editorial (March 1, 1960).

"Brother Howell's review contains numerous errors, most all of which are held by those who advocate that position. For instance: 'The apostles received John's baptism, and no other, in so far as the scriptures teach'. May we ask where the scriptures teach that the apostles ever received ANY baptism? Were they not rather CREATED in the kingdom by Jehovah God in the same way Adam was created? Since then all men have been BORN into the kingdom by water and spirit as men have been born into the world since Adam."

Now, if we understand the meaning of words at all this paragraph affirms (by means of a rhetorical question) that the Lord's apostles were NOT baptized, but entered the kingdom of God by a special act of miraculous creation.

But then look at this paragraph same editorial):

"We pointed out that Apollos came to Ephesus 'knowing only the baptism of John'. Aquila and Priscilla taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly on this point evidently. It is reasonable and logical conclusion that since this point was the one on which he was in error, and upon which they straightened him out, that the result was that he 'Knew', then, the baptism of Jesus, just as the twelve, being himself baptized as they were, into Jesus Christ."

Bear with us please, and excuse our denseness, but does not that paragraph say that Apollos was "himself baptized, AS THEY WERE, into Jesus Christ"? Has the policy of "double-talk" become so deeply ingrained in the editorial pages of our sister journal that it is even impossible to make a simple statement of fact without also stating an opposite "fact" in contradiction to it?

We don't want to appear picayune, but when the issues are so tremendously vital, it is more than a little trying on one's patience to find brethren in positions of great influence dealing in such flimflam, off-again, on-again, back-and-forth, up-and-down, (and upside down) whimsy. Really, it matters little indeed whether one believes the Lord's apostles were set in the church by a special miracle of creation, or were baptized into Christ, like other people; but it matters a great deal when the editor of the venerable Firm Foundation, on the same day, on the same page, and in the same editorial solemnly affirms that they entered the kingdom by BOTH processes! With that caliber of teaching, no wonder the church is in a mess!