Brother Lemmons On Easter
We were amazed that in an editorial by Brother Reuel Lemmons which appeared in the February 1, 1955 issue of the Firm Foundation, he took the position that instruments of music in worship are to be rejected because they are inexpedient. He contended that since God is silent on their use, they are therefore inexpedient. The scriptures do not authorize instruments of music in worship so that makes them unlawful. Since expediency does not operate in the realm of the unlawful, instruments of music cannot be rejected on the ground that they are inexpedient. They are sinful because they are unlawful (I John 3:4), not because they are inexpedient. We supposed that every gospel preacher understood this and that is why we were amazed by the position taken by the Firm Foundation editor. Brother Roy Cogdill aptly reviewed his position in the March 3. 1955, issue of the Gospel Guardian but we wish to remind our readers of the position held by Brother Lemmons on the music question because it ties in with what is to follow.
Some time ago, it was brought to our attention that a congregation in Texas had been using some literature which is printed by the Standard Publishing Company and which is sold by the Firm Foundation. Numerous references were discovered in the material which set forth the idea that Christmas and Easter should be observed religiously. Some examples of these are here cited, all quotations taken from the Primary Bible Story:
Next Sunday is an extra special day for many people. We call it Easter Sunday. A better name for it is Resurrection Day. Do you know why? It is because we have the day as a special time to remember that Jesus arose from the grave, and that he lives today. (Mar. 18, 1951.)
On Easter morning .... who was it rose up from the grave That He all men from death might save? (April 5, 1953.)
That first glad Christmas night. I saw the baby Jesus come from heaven down to earth. (Dec. 20, 1953.)
On Easter. What is your news, Glad ringing bell? Singing children, What do you tell? Blooming daffodil, What do you say ? Jesus is risen On Easter Day! (April 18, 1954.)
Why are you glad at Christmas time ? I'm glad that long ago, God sent dear baby Jesus, Because He loved us so. (Dee. 19, 1954.)
These flowers help me to remember Jesus lived again on Easter, smiled Jane. (April 1, 1956.)
He is risen. On Easter we remember that Jesus arose from the dead. We remember that He is now in His heavenly home with His Father, God. Some day we will go to be with Him if we do his will here on earth. (April 1, 1956.)
Jesus lives, He lives, they say, 0 happy, happy Easter day. (April 1, 1956.)
When these errors were made known to the elders of the church that had been using the literature, they wisely decided to discontinue it. One of the brethren was authorized by the elders to write to Brother Lemmons, editor of the Firm Foundation, informing him of their decision. Under the date of April 27, 1956, Brother Lemmons wrote the following:
Dear Brother ________
Your letter of April 18th concerning your Primary Bible Story has been turned to my desk. In as much as I try to be responsible for things that appear in our Bible School Literature, I would like to write you concerning it.
I note your enclosed copy of the lesson with the indication in three places of the word "Easter" and your notation of the sentence, "These flowers help me to remember Jesus lived again on Easter." Also, the sentence, "On Easter we remember that Jesus arose from the dead." I suppose that these are indications of the things that you feel are unscriptural in the Primary quarterlies.
You evidently object to the word "Easter" upon the same basis as you would object to the word "Christmas." Yet, you will find the word "Easter" in the Bible. In Acts 12:4 is one mention of it. Also, this is one of the very few dates in the Bible that can be definitely established and set. It is true that Jesus did arise on the first day of the week following the passover. So you see it is you rather than the author of the story in this case who is in error. The authors of our literature are as fallible as the teacher who teaches it, but the teacher who teaches it should not insist that "They are not in harmony with what the scripture teaches" when they most definitely are.
Please understand me. Brother________ I am not finding fault with your cancelling the literature at all. I am finding fault with your charge that it is unscriptural. At the same time, I think you would do well to go ahead and use it. I believe it is fair to point these things out to you in an effort to show that sometimes even Bible teachers set up their opinions as the basis of judgment rather than the scriptures. I hope I have been of some help to you and to the teacher who questioned this material by these requirements.
If ever I or the Firm Foundation can be of service to you, feel free to call on me. If I have missed your point in my letter, I will retain the copy of the Primary Bible Story you sent me and would be glad to have your views on this matter. I certainly do not want anything to go out from the Firm Foundation office that is unscriptural.
Your in the Faith, Reuel Lemmons
The above letter, written by the editor of the Firm Foundation speaks for itself. It is signed by him, and this writer has a photostat copy of the letter in his files. We could well imagine that such a letter would have been written by almost any denominational preacher, but it is hardly conceivable that the above is the product of one who claims to be a gospel preacher and who occupies the responsible seat of editor of the Firm Foundation.
Brother Lemmons can find no fault with the literature. He defends it and he encourages its further use. The only fault that the Firm Foundation editor could find is in the brother's charge that the literature is unscriptural. We never thought that we would see the day when this attitude would be expressed by one who is supposed to be a gospel preacher. If the church of our Lord should have to be placed in the hands of Brother Lemmons for guidance, we dread to think of what its destiny would be. We are not quite so shocked by this attitude of Brother Lemmons, however, because when a man is weak on one position as he has proved himself to be on the music question, he will usually show his weakness on other points.
The Firm Foundation editor refers the brother to the word "Easter" that is found in the King James Version of Acts 12:4. We just assumed that any man who has been preaching as long as Brother Lemmons has and who occupies the position that he does would know that "Easter" is not the original word that is used in Acts 12:4. Is Brother Lemmons ignorant of that fact? It is hard for us to believe that he is. If Brother Lemmons did know it, then why did he refer the brother to the King James Version word?
The Greek phrase to paska which is literally "the passover" is so translated in the American Standard Version. Thayer gives the meaning of the phrase "the passover festival, the feast of Passover." (Greek-English Lexicon, p. 494.) If Brother Lemmons was not attempting to prove that Easter is of Bible origin, then why did he refer to the word "Easter" which is not the proper translation? What was his point?
Brethren who look to such men as Brother Reuel Lemmons for guidance in the present controversy over issues that are facing the church should reconsider and realize that it is time that they turn to God's word and find out what it teaches. A loose attitude upon one matter will usually show itself elsewhere in time. When we observe the untenable positions that are being occupied by certain brethren, we are aware that they are reflections of the same liberal attitude that has paved the way for every innovation that has corrupted the purity of the church since the glorious day of its establishment on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ.
We have been free to use the letter of Brother Lemmons because it contains no material of a confidential nature. It sets forth his attitude and it should be a matter of great concern to all. The name of the brother to whom Brother Lemmons wrote and the name of the church referred to in this article have been withheld by request.