Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1949
NUMBER 33, PAGE 1,3b

That "Tragic Rebirth Of The Spirit Of Sommerism"

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

In an address at the opening of the fifty-ninth session of David Lipscomb College, October 6, under the ecstasy of the exhilarating sound of "a grandly-rising chorus" and "the ringing hammers of material construction,"

Athens Clay Pullias, President, said some things "which tend to confuse" as to his meaning and "as to the work and place of the Christian college." The following paragraph is a part of his oration:

"In recent years there has been a tragic rebirth of the spirit of Sommerism—an evil faced by David Lipscomb and his associates long ago. Voices have been heard which tend to confuse you as to the work and place of the Christian college. And yet when one surveys the happy surroundings of this hour, it is evident that these voices have been lost in a grandly-rising chorus of faith in the cause of Christian education in general, and David Lipscomb College in particular."

Whom Does He Mean?

He did not say what he meant by the "spirit of Sommerism." The first impression is that he had reference to the teachings of some of the Sommer family in Indianapolis. But in almost the same breath he said that "these voices have been lost," and everybody knows the Sommers have not lost their "voices"; they are more vociferous now than Brother Pullias ever was. Being unwilling to assume that a president of one of "our" colleges does not know this, or that he would state the opposite of what he knows to be true, we abandon the thought that his insinuation was hurled at the Sommer family.

Then we thought perhaps he had reference to the many "voices" who recently have expressed opposition to taking money out of church treasuries and donating it to schools engaged in the business of selling courses of study of many kinds to the public at so much per semester. But how could he say that; "these voices have been lost"? L. R. Wilson, President of Central Christian College; James Cope, President of Florida Christian College; and many of our college brethren in the schools of Alabama recently have spoken out clearly on this issue. Does Brother Pullias think these able men have lost their voices? Scores of others are speaking out on this question. Hulen Jackson spoke out in the same issue of one of the papers in which Brother Pullias' speech was published. It is difficult to think that Brother Pullias would say that these men have "lost" their "voices," or that a college president would resort to name-calling and refer to the publicly stated position of these men as "the spirit of Sommerism" tragically reborn with lost "voices." Therefore, in charity and brotherly generosity we shall not hasten to the conclusion that President Pullias referred to them in his "spirit of Sommerism" insinuation. For who knows what he meant? And why he would accuse others of saying things "which tend to confuse you as to the work and place of the Christian college" is hard to understand. Who is more confusing than he is? We shall wait for a definition of "the tragic rebirth of the spirit of Sommerism," and then we shall know what the "evil faced by David Lipscomb" was.

Of course the possibility remains that he did have reference to these "voices" of opposition to donating money from church treasuries to business or secular institutions. He actually may think "these voices have been lost." It may be that the "ringing hammers of material construction," which he says have not been silent since July, 1945, are whirling his head so high in the clouds of "expansion" that he is oblivious of all sound except "ringing hammers" and "a grandly-rising chorus."

Keep The Church Separate

The proud boast that "Lipscomb is a very wealthy institution indeed" with "material properties" valued at "$3,671,683.63—an increase of 513 per cent in less than seven years," sounds so much like Rev: 3:17, that the Laodicean church, if still in existence, could accuse him of plagiarism.

Yes, money is plentiful, friends are liberal, and Christian colleges can get all the money they need without drawing a dime from church treasuries. The presidents of some of these schools have stated unequivocally that they will neither solicit nor accept funds from church treasuries. We wish all the others would do that. It would help much in keeping the church free. We believe not only in separation of church and state, but also in separation of church and all secular institutions. And if the colleges will instruct the students in the sound doctrine of separation of church and all secular institutions, then the church will not be compelled to re-educate many of these young preachers after they get out of school.

This does not mean that we are against the state or the colleges or some other institutions of like nature, and a great many of our school brethren know it. We try to help these schools in every righteous way we can.

Some have expressed fear that the colleges will cause another departure from the old paths, like the falling away during the latter part of the 19th century. But this is doubtful; for too many good people have learned the lesson of Bethany and Lexington, and they have their feet on solid ground and their ears are open and they can hear "voices" above the "ringing hammers of material construction," which some think are "lost."

The colleges are helping neither themselves nor the church by soliciting and accepting donations from church treasuries. We wish all our school men knew that. But until they do see it, they should discuss this issue in an honorable way with those who differ from them, and refrain always from name-calling insinuations and character assassination. For neither "the spirit of Sommerism" nor any other "evil faced by David Lipscomb" can be "lost" very long in a big campus hulla-baloo which Brother Pullias thinks is "a grandly-rising chorus of faith in the cause of Christian education."

"An evil faced by David Lipscomb" should be met just like an evil faced by other people—with reason and logic and truth. And the truth needs neither a cheering squad nor a campus yell.