Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 5, 1957
NUMBER 18, PAGE 4-5b

Commending The Brethren


The editor of the Gospel Guardian lately finds himself in the somewhat novel but truly pleasant position of being able to commend wholeheartedly some editorials and teachings set forth in both the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation. We have found ourselves fully in agreement with the fine efforts Brother Reuel Lemmons has been making, also Brother Roy Lanier, to expose the modernism and liberal trend of those brethren who implicitly deny the all-sufficiency of God's church, and contend for additional organizations to implement the benevolence obligations which God has laid upon the church. Likewise we have been able to agree completely with Brother Guy N. Woods and the Gospel Advocate in their vigorous contention that elders cannot have presbyterial oversight of two organizations, the church and present-day orphanages such as Lubbock Children's Home and Tipton Orphan Home. The brethren who manage these benevolence establishments, as presently operated, do NOT act as elders of a congregation, but are in effect directors of an organization other than the church.

In the July 25 issue of the Gospel Advocate the editor of that journal gives a brief editorial with which we find ourselves in happy agreement, and which we earnestly commend to the careful study of all. Writing under the imaginative and original caption of "Here and There," he sets forth the following:

"If you can't answer him, smear him," seems to be the watchword of hobby riders and false teachers. The Jews of the first century, who were specialists in paying tithes of mint, anise and cummin, and made a hobby of their traditions, said that Jesus was a Samaritan and had a devil. (John 8:48.) They said that Paul was a pestilent fellow, a mover of insurrection among the Jews throughout the world, and one who sought to profane the temple. These words were voiced by Tertullus but the Jews prompted him and endorsed what he said. (Acts 24:1,5.) The more desperate a cause becomes, the more bitter, caustic, and unscrupulous do its advocates write and speak. A good modern example is seen in the champions of "Sommerism" and those who would attempt to infuse new life into that cadaverous body of that divisive hobby at a time when the death rattle was in its throat. An aroused and informed brotherhood will be able to appraise such attempts to smear and deal with those who are responsible for them.

While our brother editor's anger is perhaps a hit in evidence, we nevertheless understand his feelings, and sympathize fully in his indignation against evil men who attempt to win by "smear," quarantine and ostracism that which they cannot win on the polemic platform by an open appeal to the scriptures. Being unable to meet the truth of Bible teaching, these unscrupulous men hope to gain their point by "smearing" the faithful gospel preachers who present that truth! It is almost impossible to pick up some "gospel" journals without finding reference after malicious reference to faithful gospel preachers, screaming insults and epithets, charging them with "hobbyism," "factionalism," etc.

We share our brother's indignation at such tactics. And we think such vicious and unbrotherly conduct will surely carry the seeds of its own destruction. An aroused and informed brotherhood will sooner or later reject men who are so hate-filled and venomous in their attitudes and feelings toward their brethren in Christ. We particularly appreciate the editor's strictures against "those who would attempt to infuse new life into that cadaverous body of that divisive hobby (Sommerism) at a time when the death rattle was in its throat."

Not many brethren in our day know what "Sommerism" was or is. But the word was a tag or title detached to the peculiar teachings and practices of the late Brother Daniel Sommer. Brother Sommer, some fifty years ago, effected a deep "split" among the disciples by his teachings on the "college" question, and by his adamant refusal to open his paper to a free and open discussion of the question. Had he allowed open discussion, it is perfectly obvious that the truth would have prevailed (as it always does under such circumstances), and that the "split" could never have developed as it did. But Brother Sommer closed his paper to all except those who agreed with his position, and vigorously set out to "quarantine," isolate and obstracize all preachers who did not agree with him. The late and beloved A. J. Rhodes told this writer that in one year he had fourteen meetings cancelled in Kansas and Missouri due to the influence of Brother Sommer!

There are some misguided brethren in the land who are trying to revive this "Sommerism" in our day, pleading with brethren to quarantine faithful gospel preachers, seeking to "smear" those who do not go along with their institutional hobbies, and pleading with elders not to use any man who will not support and promote their pet projects! And sadly enough a few gospel journals are trying to imitate Brother Sommer in closing their pages to an open discussion of current questions, and refusing to present any material not favorable to their hobbies. Some have even become so iron-clad in this evil policy that their own staff writers have been compelled by conscience to sever connection with such a journal, and break away from its wicked course. This policy of "Sommerism" produced a heart-breaking division in the body of Christ once; it will certainly do so again if continued and pursued.

We share Brother Goodpasture's deep resentment of such a course; and we call upon all faithful Christians everywhere to heed his implied admonition to "deal with" those promoting it. Let the traditional and time-tested formula for settling differences between brethren be applied to current questions, and it will solve them as it has solved even more difficult questions in the past. And what is that formula? Why, it is the fair and brotherly practice of letting both sides be heard. This was the policy of Campbell in the Millennial Harbinger; of Lipscomb and Sewell in the Gospel Advocate; of Austin McGary in the Firm Foundation. Opposed to it was the policy and practice of Brother Sommer, who refused to let both sides be heard, but resorted instead to a closed door policy in his paper, seeking to win by "smear and quarantine" what he could not win by open discussion of Bible teaching. We believe Brother Good-pasture's condemnation of such a policy is worthy and commendable — and long overdue.

— F. Y. T.