That Pepperdine Problem -- No. 4
We want you to read the lengthy article in this issue "George Pepperdine College" written by brother Pepperdine himself. In a personal letter accompanying the article, brother Pepperdine suggested that because of its unusual length the article might be run in two installments, but if at all feasible for us to publish all of it in one issue, he would much prefer it that way. We are glad to oblige, of course. And we want all of our readers to read the entire article.
To several thousand people in California and the western states it will be impossible to read brother Pepperdine's article without a feeling of deep sadness and regret. For they will realize how completely this good man has been used, and how grossly his high and worthy purposes in establishing a college have been perverted and polluted. Not the least element in that sorrow will be the regret of brother Pepperdine's inability to realize himself how far astray his noble venture has been steered. For in his article he defends and praises the very men who have made shipwreck of his great project. It will be useless, apparently, to point out to him the particulars in which the school has been changed from his original intent; for that very thing has been done over and over again through the last dozen years by men whom brother Pepperdine respects and who have his confidence — such men as John Allen Hudson, James Sewell, A. Hugh Clark, Frank Pack, and Reuel Lemmons, to mention only a few. But so dreadful and heart-breaking is such a thought, so cruel the agony of seeing one's very life work lie in ruins, that seemingly brother Pepperdine closes his eyes and ears to all warnings of those who love him, and continue to hug to his breast the very men who have been the architects of his ruin and the betrayers of his school. There is a pathos here that ought to touch the heart of even the most cynical. A man of conscience could weep at such an irony of fate.
But however deeply we sympathize with brother Pepperdine, and however deep may be the righteous resentment honest brethren feel against those who have led his school to the very brink of disaster, there are other issues far, far more important to us, and far more worthy of our time and attention. We mean the very serious danger which Pepperdine College presents to the church of our Lord. As long as the liberalistic, modernistic attitude prevailing in that school continues to contaminate the minds of Christian young people attending there, just that long will it be necessary to warn Christian people against the school and plead with them not to subject their children to such atmosphere and association.
Brother Pepperdine's article is more remarkable for what it omitted than for what it contained. We call a few omissions to you attention:
1. Ralph Wilburn. Did you notice that the entire article contains not one single reference to Ralph Wilburn? And why not? Only a year ago the whole Pepperdine College coterie were hotly defending Wilburn, branding as liars and trouble-makers those who were warning that Wilburn was unsound in the faith. Indeed, President Tiner went so far as to declare that "when all the shouting and excitement have died down, we will recognize Ralph Wilburn as the Alexander Campbell of our day!" Brother Pullias, brother Pepperdine, brother Jimmie Lovell, and a number of others in the Pepperdine group were saying about brother Wilburn exactly the very things brother Pepperdine now says about Pullias and Tiner, defending him with the same urgency, branding his accusers with the same epithets they are now employing for Pullias.
And what happened to brother Wilburn? Why, he is now preaching for the liberal wing of the digressive church! We are convinced that Ralph Wilburn has changed his convictions not at all. He has not suddenly been converted to the Christian church; his convictions a year ago, or five years ago, were the same, we believe, as they are now. Indeed, he was preaching for the Christian Church five years ago, affiliating with them in all kinds of union services, speaking where instrumental music was used, etc., etc., EXACTLY AS PULLIAS AND TINER ARE THIS VERY DAY.
2. Denominational affiliations. Brother Pepperdine's article made only a passing reference to Pullias' affiliation with denominational groups, saying Pullias himself would soon answer "such slanderous charges." But the charges just happen to be true. And scarcely a week passes that we do not get a clipping from some California paper announcing Dr. Pullias or Dr. Tiner as the featured speaker in some denominational meeting — not a meeting for civic or school purposes, but a meeting planned by these denominational groups to build their particular denomination.
3. Boycott of lectureship. Perhaps brother Pepperdine honestly believes the California churches are favorable to his school. If so, he ought to read brother Jimmie Lovell's paper, and he ought to talk to Dr. Hugh Tiner. These brethren could quickly enlighten him as to the attitude of the California Christians in general, and California gospel preachers - in particular. While Abilene Christian College with a student enrollment of about 1200 was having 4,000 people in attendance at the lectureships, with about 3,000 in attendance at the day services, Pepperdine College, with roughly the same number of students had perhaps as many as 300 (one careful observer said 250 would be a high estimate) in attendance at the night lectures and not over 40 or 50 in attendance at the day lectures. And it certainly is not because of any decline in the population in California, neither is it because there are not Christians in California — as witnessed by the lectures at Pepperdine a few years ago when as many as an estimated thousand people were sometimes in attendance. If the monthly dinners are regarded by the college as any endorsement of Pepperdine College, we predict a quick and significant decline in attendance at those affairs. For several of the brethren who have attended these dinners have made it very clear, both publicly and privately, that they are opposed to the influence of Pepperdine College and to the work she is doing in undermining New Testament Christianity in the west.
4. Barrage of criticism. We call attention once again to the fact that the overwhelming barrage of criticism leveled against the school comes from hundreds of sincere and loyal Christians who are in position to know the facts. Brother Pepperdine's article omitted reference to this vast area of criticism, and left the impression that only a few had voiced objections. The contrary is true. And that this criticism is wide-spread is shown by the fact that through the past years scores of Christian families in California have sent their boys and girls thousands of miles from home (some of them clear across the continent to Florida Christian College!), spending hundreds of dollars extra in order to have their young people under Christian influence in their college life!
Conclusion Our heart goes out to George Pepperdine in this matter. In spite of his mistakes in judgment, we believe his motives to be noble and worthy. He is loyal to his faculty, and turns a deaf ear to criticism of them. But we believe the criticism is justified. And we could not be true to Him whom we serve and not cry out against the compromising attitude of Pepperdine teachers, and warn the brethren against their ever present threat to the purity of the gospel. All of us will look forward to brother Pullias' further articles with keenest interest. Let the subject be kept "open" until the problem is solved — one way or the other.