Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 29, 1954
NUMBER 12, PAGE 4-5a

"I Would Cease To Read It"


"I am recognizing in all these things the purest and best of motives to all — Warlick, Sommer, and all — the effort to keep the church free from wrangles and fusses. We kindly tell them that in doing this they are violating the most sacred principles of fairness and right approved by both God and man, and must make themselves appear unfair and unjust to those so treated. I would like to see all of us get along pleasantly and harmoniously in obeying the commands of God.' But if the Gospel Advocate were to adopt this policy of criticizing others and refusing to let them reply, I would cease to read it."

When David Lipscomb wrote those words he was in his eightieth year. For nearly half a century he had guided the policies of the Gospel Advocate, and had stood like a stone wall against the battering attacks of digression and liberalism. He had seen the church go into the dark valley of the shadow when digression swept like a raging prairie fire through the ranks of the faithful, leaving broken churches, broken fellowship, broken homes and broken hearts in its path. With faith unshaken he had taken his stand for the truth, for the simple virtues of honesty, fairness, and forthright dealings with the issues and problems that were vexing the church. He had been the storm center of many a conflict and controversy. But he kept his head. Too great of heart for littleness, petty grudges and animosities, loving the Lord and his church too much for the intrusion of personal feelings, he had taken whatever charges and attacks were hurled at him, had sought always to be fair with his brethren, and had won the respect of multiplied thousands who never knew him personally, but knew him well indeed from his pen and his paper.

On another page of the Gospel Guardian this week we carry the article from which the above quotation from Lipscomb is the closing paragraph. We don't know what the full story of the conflict was, nor are we acquainted with very many of the details other than those given by Lipscomb in this article. But one thing is clear — Lipscomb had ceased to read Warlick's paper. He said, "I do not read Warlick's paper, because he will not publish both sides of a question." In summing up his strong feelings on this point, the grand old man concluded his article with, "But if the Gospel Advocate were to adopt this policy of criticizing others and refusing to let them reply, I would cease to read it."

That the Gospel Advocate of recent years has adopted the very policy Lipscomb abhorred is hardly open to question. In fact, so positive and clear-cut is their espousal of that attitude that instead of denying it or seeking to minimize or explain it, present practice is to defend it, and criticize Lipscomb and others for ever having had an "open" policy for the pages of his paper. How times do change!

If David Lipscomb were alive today, he would not read the paper which each week bears on its editorial page the legend; "Conducted for Half a Century by D. Lipscomb, E. G. Sewell, F. D. Srygley and J. C. McQuiddy." Lipscomb was not the only editor or former editor who would be shocked and chagrined by the present me-sided policy of the Gospel Advocate on controversial questions. Several years ago Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., admittedly one of the greatest editors that journal ever had, told this writer that he not only did not read the Gospel Advocate, but would not even allow it to come to his address free of charge, and had asked that his name be stricken from their mailing list.

All of this makes it more than ever necessary that other papers and other mediums of information in the brotherhood be scrupulously careful to provide opportunity for the discussion of issues, for honorable men of different views to write and speak in support of their understanding of Bible teaching. We can, and should, be profoundly grateful for the magnificent contribution the Gospel Advocate made in past years to the preservation of the purity of the gospel; we can thank God for David Lipscomb and men of like courage, conviction and character. That men of lesser stature and weaker character have perverted and misused Lipscomb's great paper is, we think, undeniable. But perhaps such was inevitable.

The Gospel Guardian has been conducted with the earnest and prayerful desire that it might provide a medium for honorable brethren to discuss the problems and issues that arise within the church. We have sought to maintain an "open" policy such as Lipscomb had for all the years he controlled the Advocate. That does not mean, of course, that we print every article that comes to us. The paper would have to be triple its present size probably to do that even if it were wise to do it. What we mean by an "open" policy is that both sides of controversial questions shall be presented, each side being given whatever amount of space it may think necessary to a proper presentation of its views. And, specifically, whenever any reputable brother's position on any doctrinal question is criticized, that brother himself shall be given space to reply to the criticism. Such was Lipscomb's policy; such is ours.

We realize, of course, that unscrupulous brethren will find many ways to take advantage of us in that. In this very issue Brother Adams points out that Brother Harper has acted without honor and without fairness in sending his articles on the "Herald of Truth" discussion to the Gospel Advocate. Brother Harper was engaged in a controversy with the Gospel Guardian. Every article he had submitted to us had been printed, or was in process of being printed. Brother Harper fully understood this. Yet he has felt he could carry his side of the controversy to several thousand readers whom he knew we'd have no chance at all to reach. So he sent his reply to Adams not only to the Gospel Guardian, but to the Gospel Advocate as well. We suspect that he also sent it to other "brotherhood" papers; but as of the date of this editorial the other journals, if they received his material, have had too much honor to print it.

We are being urged by a number of thoughtful men NOT to give space for those who act as Brother Harper has done. We are giving consideration to their advice. In such event the Gospel Guardian will maintain her "open" policy without any deviation from it, but will let "Herald of Truth" and other such controversial programs and practices be defended by men who will not seek an unchristian and unfair and dishonorable advantage in their writing. We will give full space in the paper to any honorable brother who will respect that courtesy, and will reply to us, and not seek to find an audience in some other journal where he knows the Gospel Guardian writers will be barred and excluded from the discussion. Frankly, we think Brother Harper is due both us and the brotherhood an apology for such conduct.

David Lipscomb said that if the Gospel Advocate should ever adopt the policy of criticizing others and refusing to let them reply, he would cease to read it. In contrast to that Brother Harper seeks a medium for his writings where he knows no reply will be permitted. Does he honestly think his cause is so weak as to need that kind of advantage?

— F.Y.T.