"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.VI Pg.12-14
June 1948

Spoiling For A Fight

Cled E. Wallace

It will be recalled that some time ago Brother Carl Etter "left the church of Christ" and went to the Congregationalists. His idea seemed to be that he needed to break out of the straitjacket of traditionalism and find peace and freedom in an atmosphere more in keeping with his advanced attainments in mental and spiritual graces. He now appears to feel that he has won his wings in the high and mighty loftiness of modernism, and is in the grip of an overweening pity for us poor clods who have not yet learned to fly. He was once a missionary who felt a mighty call to carry the gospel of Christ to the heathen. The heathen won the fight and he is now back in America using what missionary spirit remains in him trying to save the church by snaking infidels of its members. It is a sad anti-climax. Since he was unable to win the Japanese to Christ, he has addressed himself to the task of winning the church to the anti-Christ of modernism.

Brother Etter has written a book entitled "Ainu Folk Tales From Japan". His interest in them is their resemblance to "Biblical Traditions." The Japanese have traditions of creation, magic, incarnation, "virgin-born gods", miracles, Jonah and the whale stories and the like "resembling Biblical Traditions". Ergo, the Bible is no more factually reliable than "Ainu Folk Tales From Japan". This is the modern gospel the missionary-minded brother wants space in the Bible Banner to propagate. He writes: "I am a modernist and have at no time tried to hide behind false colors." He suggests that we publish the "table of contents of this book", review the book when it is off the press and give him a chance to review the review. He suggests "a friendly debate between me and one of you" and shows some evidence that he is really spoiling for a fight. "If you have the courage I think you have, you will review my book in your paper and give me a chance to review your review." I wonder where our newly born modernist got the idea that "courage" demands that we turn the Bible Banner over to him, furnish him an audience to "do" his "stuff", when he does not even suggest a medium through which we may "do" our "stuff" before whomsoever he may represent. He evidently has very little respect for our judgment. He is childishly proud of his swaddling-clothes. Really, we do not take either him or his book very seriously. When our readers show a disposition to discard the Bible and take up the "Ainu Folk Tales of Japan" as their rule of faith and practice, we may decide that a debate with him is expedient. We do not furnish audiences to atheists and modernists just for the sake of debates.

Brother Etter is likely to find more of that sort of "courage" if he will contact Brother Brewer or Brother Bales of Harding College. They need the practice. We don't.

Brother Etter's obvious anxiety for some attention from us makes me wonder if he is getting all the attention he thinks he deserves where he is. He thought so little of us, he left us in rather lofty disdain. He reminds me of the man who divorced his wife, but could not get her off his mind and could not leave her alone. He may be satisfied with his new-found liberty and his liberal views but I doubt it. If his antics were submitted to a psychiatrist, the findings might prove interesting. I know enough about human nature to draw some conclusions of my own. He can write as many letters as Brother Beam and seems to think we ought to publish every thing he wants to say, if we even mention his name. By now it ought to be pretty well known that we handle things our own way and that we do not allow our critics to dictate the policy of the Bible Banner. Dares and taunts and insinuating charges of cowardice are wasted on us. We are not swapping compliments with, either digressives or modernists. As far as we are concerned Carl Etter has renounced the faith and there is no scriptural basis of fellowship whatever between him and us. We stick to the scriptures which to him are comparable to "Ainu Folk Tales From Japan". We are under no obligation to furnish space for the sordid story of how the Japanese made a modern heathen out of a gospel missionary. It is bad enough to state the facts without going into all the gruesome details. We see no reason why we should let him turn the Bible Banner into a personal experience meeting. His personal experience in unbelief could not light anybody's way to heaven, besides I am not sure that he even believes in heaven or wants to go there.

Brother Etter is professedly in a frame of mind to stir up something on what he calls "a real live issue and I anticipate some rather lively times in the days to come if the Modernists in the Church of Christ have the courage to fight and, of course, are given a chance to defend themselves." Who are these "Modernists in the Church of Christ" whose courage and will to fight are questionable enough to deserve an "if"? For some strange reason Brother Etter thinks they are "teachers at Pepperdine". How do you suppose he got such an impression? We have in our possession a sheaf of letters he wrote to Foy, Roy, Brother Pepperdine and Dean Pullias. We did not steal them, and even have permission to publish them. I wonder why they were not sent to the Firm Foundation "A National Weekly, World-Wide in Mission, Definite in Policy"; or to the Gospel Advocate. These papers have shown a willingness almost tantamount to anxiety to publish most anything that reflects on us or discredits us. Anyhow the letters were sent to us. We are beginning to think we amount to something even if it is short of being "World-Wide" and "Definite".

These letters are revealing and very, very interesting. In a letter to Brother Pepperdine dated April 29, 1948, Brother Etter with characteristic modesty says:

"For several years Bill Reedy and I have stood alone for fundamental religious truths which we knew to be right. You know the story and I need not relate it here."

He has one advantage over the Biblical Elijah. There are two of them. I won't blame you if you think he is standing on his head to imagine such a thing. Modernism and "fundamental religious truths" are identical? Ugh'

His impression of "certain men on the faculty of George Pepperdine College" is interesting, revealing, slanderous-or what?

"From recently printed accounts, it is obvious that certain men on the faculty of George Pepperdine College have come to see the light and are being persecuted for honest and true convictions. You know these men more intimately than I and recognize, as I do, their true worth. Will the church and the college repeat the same old error and drive out these young men because they have dared to stand for irrefutable truth?

"I have pled with you both personally and in public meetings in the past to take your stand for modern scholarship and truth ... I ask you in the name of common decency, to stand by these younger men and give them a free hand in teaching what they know to be right. Their true characters will be revealed by the courage they manifest under the pressure of the hour."

Brother Etter thinks that he and Bill Reedy no longer stand "alone for fundamental religious truths". He has able confederates in George Pepperdine College, he thinks. Is he mistaken, dishonest, or telling the truth? It is the sixty-four dollar question and don't think it is not stirring things up. Brother Showalter may have to fly out again for material for another editorial. I don't think Brother Mayo will go back. He has already decided that his limitations as a saviour are too pronounced for a job of that magnitude.

Brother Etter sent copies of his letters to Brother Pepperdine, Foy and Roy, to Dean Pullias. The good Dean reacted about like he had sat down on a hornet. Hornets are sometimes useful in their way. Anything that can stir Brother Pullias up has its points. He wrote Brother Etter a pretty hot letter—for him. As horrifying as it may appear there are even indications of irritation and righteous indignation. Says Brother Pullias to our modernistic Elijah who thought he had discovered some others who had not bowed the knee to Jesus:

"It is difficult to understand why or how you could feel that you are either capable or responsible to say what the men here at Pepperdine College believe. You have had almost no contact with the College or the men on its faculty during the past ten years, and particularly since you made your decision to cast your lot with the Congregational Church."

Now, Brother Pullias ought not to be too hard on Brother Etter, even though he appears to have a point. You know Dean Pullias "cast his lot" with the Christian Church at Durham for six, years. Christian churches and Congregational churches seem to think they have a lot in common judging from the way some of them are amalgamating. Brother Etter has been with the Congregationalists only about two years. Maybe he will at least change as much as Brother Pullias did if you give him four more years to run with the goats. A Professorship in Pepperdine might help. Besides Brother Showalter a n d Brother Mayo "had almost no contact with the College or the men on its faculty during the past ten years" or ever, and showed it by what they wrote, and Brother Pullias seemed willing enough for them "to say what the men here at George Pepperdine believe". However, some very intelligent men at the time wondered just how "capable or responsible" Brother Showalter and Brother Mayo were. Brother Mayo has broken down and confessed that he wasn't, and Brother Showalter is lately pedalling- on editorial "ifs". It is getting to be somewhat of a mixedup situation.

Brother Pullias informs Brother titer that "it is vita=lly important that everyone understand that you are in no position to speak for the men here." Then he up and speaks for them himself. What some very good people would like to hear is for the men under suspicion to up and speak for themselves and be even more "Definite" in answering some auestions than even the "Policy" of the Firm Foundation. Breth-en are gaining the impresion that somebody is trying to whitewash somebody out at Pepperdine. "If", as Brother Showalter would say, suspicions and charges are unfounded such a course is doing George Pepperdine College no good. Understand, I have not been out there "during the past ten years" and all I know is what I read in the papers and from various and sundry letters that fly about and light on me. I suppose I could be regarded as a sort of moderator in this fracas.

Brother Pullias tells Brother Etter that he does not

"believe in or has any respect for the sophisticated, unsubstantiated, now generally outdated viewpoints of so-called Modernism. This point of view was much in vogue in many circles ten to fifty years ago, but the best in recent thought and scholarship have completely discredited that view. All over the world there is a definite swing back toward orthodoxy."

He further says that "there is no person on this faculty who believes" otherwise, that sounds very good as far as it goes. Brother Pullias sounds like he wants to be sound and is bending over backward to sound that way. Far be it from me to hinder or discourage any improvements in that direction. However, there is too much Ashdodish speech employed when anybody in George Pepperdine publishes or writes about what he or "this faculty" believes. "The Christian Gospel", "the Christian beliefs", "the Christian doctrines", "the Christian thought", "the Christian theology", "orthodoxy" and the like. It sounds like men who have soaked up some modernism they have not fully digested. Maybe they just don't know any better. When men are "contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" they should use "sound speech that cannot be condemned". Brother Wilburn, who admits that he is a scholar, and wants to debunk all "traditional beliefs" and start from ignorance when he teaches, believes the Bible, but distrusts his "interpretation" of what he finds in it. I suppose when he preaches Christ, he preaches his "interpretation" and doesn't have much confidence in that. The time appears to have arrived in the mind of some young scholars when it is no longer proper to preach "the faith" specifically and precisely. All we can do is to give "our interpretation" of it and those who accept "our interpretation" will be saved, unless "our interpretation" is wrong and we can't be too sure about that. Going to school doesn't seem to do some folks much good.

According to Dean Pullias "there is no person on this faculty" who is not thoroughly devoted, "wholly devoted to these great truths":

"The existence of God, the inspiration of Scripture the divinity and power of Jesus Christ (the Word that became flesh), the saving power of the ancient Christian doctrines of faith. Repentance, confession and baptism, the meaning and mission of the Kingdom of God—that is, the Church of Christ, which is the spiritual body of Christ. These are the heart and core of our faith and practice."

I have no disposition whatever to say that any of these brethren do not believe anything they say they do, if they can state it in terms that a common sort of a Christian like me can understand. It would help some, maybe a lot, if Brother Pullias or Brother Wilburn, preferably both would write some articles on "the inspiration of Scripture" and "the divinity of Christ" with particular reference to a definition of inspiration and the Virgin Birth. An article from Brother Wilburn on Miracles might also help. Remember that the readers of the Bible Banner do not all have post-graduate degrees. Some of them milk cows and hoe- cotton for a living. You can insert a big-word occasionally for the benefit of Brother Etter. He also reads the Bible Banner: I can remember though when he spelled corn and cabbage with a "e;kand God with a little "g" like common folks, as Brother Srygley used to say. 'He has gotten back to spelling God with a little "g".

Now about that debate that Brother Etter wants so badly. The difficulty is in finding somebody with enough education to meet him. He said to Brother Pepperdine:

"Those who are attacking the teachers at Pepperdine are, for the most part, men whose educational attainments were arrested on the high school or undergraduate levels. I have contended for years that the person who has had a high school course in physiology is hardly qualified to judge what should be taught in a modern medical college. The same is true in religion. You and your college board should ponder this fact carefully before being stampeded by modern crucifiers of truth."

That just about leaves us out in spite of the fact that Brother Pullias thinks that Brother Etter is "sophisticated" and "unsubstantiated". Likely we'll have to wait for Brother West to finish his post-doctorate in Oxford before we can furnish a worthy opponent for Brother Etter. I'm surprised that he even lifted an eye-brow at the Bible Banner. Maybe Brother Pullias and Brother Wilburn can take him on for some preliminary rounds and warm things up for the big fight to come. Personally, I would like to see it. I think I could learn some things from it, I have been curious to find out.