Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 19, 1959
NUMBER 41, PAGE 1,12-13

Roberts And Miller On Modernism

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

According to their own definitions of the word "modernism", some of our brethren have qualified as obviously, completely and thoroughly for the title, "modernists", as the Christian Church has qualified for the title, "digressive". In their efforts to pin "anti" and the yellow tag of quarantine on all who oppose their departures from the faith they unwittingly have stamped the red tag of modernism on their own foreheads. They now are wincing, whimpering and wailing under the unsavory name which they have so deservedly earned, but they must wear it anyway; they have tattooed it on themselves.

When they began to hurl the appellation "anti" at all who opposed their liberalism nobody winced, but they were told clearly if opposition to their unscriptural projects makes one an "anti", then they were free to make the most of it. When they were asked if they opposed or were against anything at all, they knew if they answered, they must admit that they are not against anything or they, too, are "anti". They chose not to answer.

In his vain search for a definition that would extricate himself and others from the name "modernist", Brother Waymon D. Miller, in the Firm Foundation of January 13, 1959, mentions six or seven different kinds or "versions" of modernism. But failing miserably to find one that would remove the tattoo from his own forehead, came up with the conclusion that nothing should be called "modernism"; that "modernism" is a misnomer and therefore should never be applied to anything. Here are his words: "The term 'modernism' is itself a misnomer, and is but a euphemistic designation for infidelity." If Brother Miller thinks that a "misnomer" and a "euphemistic designation for infidelity" should ever be applied to anything, let him state what that thing is.

Brother Miller admits the difficulty of finding a definition of modernism that would help his case. He said, "The position and claims of modernism are so varied as to render a precise definition of it very difficult". Therefore he gave a definition of his own. Here it is: "Modernism is a system which denies the very basic tenets of Christianity".

He does not know it yet, but Brother Miller's definition is as bad for his case as any of the other definitions to which he referred in his article, he and others who are being charged with modernism do indeed deny some of "the very basic tenets of Christianity". Does he think that some of "the tenets of Christianity" are not "basic"? Does he accept the old denominational concept of "essential" and "nonessential" requirements of the Lord? I wish he would name a "non-basic" tenet of Christianity. Will he say the New Testament examples are not "basic"? Does he think the "tenet of Christianity" which declares that the church is complete in Christ for all the work which the Lord has assigned to it is "non-basic"? When a person denies that the Bible is an all-sufficient guide in how to do the work assigned to the church, is he not denying a "very basic tenet of Christianity"? When a man says that he knows that Philippi sent directly to Paul and then declares that is not the wise way to do it today, is he not denying a "basic tenet of Christianity"? Wasn't he thereby showing that he does not have faith in the wisdom and system of God? Isn't that modernism? Isn't that infidelity? Proving that Brother Miller and those he is trying to defend are modernists is not difficult.

In the Gospel Advocate of January 1, 1959, Brother J. W. Roberts kneels at the wailing wall, and in his heartrending protest at being called a "modernist" he spits bitter venom. He accuses James Cope, President of Florida Christian College, of ignorance, and he accuses Yater Tant of hypocrisy. But why does he thus accuse Jim Cope and Yater Tant? He says that "Prof. Andrew K. Rule of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary" gave a definition of "liberalism", and that "a pope of the Roman Catholic Church (Pius X)" made the term modernism popular by the way he used it, and neither Cope nor Tant is using the term in harmony with Andrew K. Rule's definition or according to the way that Pius X made it popular; therefore, Jim Cope and Yater Tant are both wrong in their usage of the term modernism.

Roberts says, "The president of FCC may not know any better", but he states that "the editor of the Gospel Guardian, however, is one of those who does". Then he adds, "The reader can draw his own conclusions". Only one conclusion can be drawn according to J. W. Roberts: Yater Tant is a hypocrite while pretending his preaching is true when he knows that it is not, and James. Cope is ignorant because he does not know that his usage of the term "modernism" is wrong.

The people down in Florida with whom I am acquainted think Brother Tant is of more than average intelligence, but they also think that Brother Cope is every whit as bright as Yater. Of course, Brother Roberts thinks they are wrong in their evaluation of Cope and Tant, and therefore he states his reason why he thinks Yater is a hypocrite and Jim Cope is ignorant of the correct meaning and usage of the word "modernism". Ira says 'Yater knows better than he is "writing and speaking" because "he has a background of theological training in the Louisville Seminary"; but the president of Florida Christian College never did sit at the feet of Prof. Andrew K. Rule in that Presbyterian preacher-factory and therefore never did learn the right definition of the word "modernism", and the poor boy just does not know "what the score is". Roberts continues "But some on his staff have had the training and know what the score is" and Brother Roberts says "it is too bad that they stand by on the other side for the sake of party" and leave poor Jim Cope in ignorance. Roberts says that the men on Brother Cope's staff ought to teach him better or get out and quit. Here is the way he puts it: "Why do they not teach their own colleagues better or disassociate themselves from such tactics and from the obscurantism being practiced? It is too bad that they stand by on the other side for the sake of party".

Now, gentle reader, I know that you never want to be guilty of "obscurantism"; it might ruin you. Our brilliant logician, Brother J. W. Roberts, tells you clearly how you may never catch it or be guilty of it: If Presbyterian Prof. Andrew K. Rule and Catholic Pius X define a religious term and then make that term popular by their usage of it, you must always use that word just as they defined and used it, or else you will be a hypocrite or ignoramus or a hindrance to all progress and guilty of "obscurantism", just like Yater Tant and James Cope! Now which do you want to be like? J. W. Roberts, or Cope and Tant?

If Presbyterian Prof. Andrew K. Rule and Catholic Pius X define the terms "Father" and "Baptism" and then make the words popular by their usage of them, in order to be like Brother Roberts you must be gullible enough to swallow their definitions and their usages of the two words. If you want to be like Cope and Tant, just pay no attention to the doctrines of Andrew K. Rule and Pius X. That is Brother Robert's logic, not mine.

Brother Roberts ought to be ashamed of himself — well, if not ashamed of himself, he ought to be ashamed of his logic (?). Has he written anything in the last five years in defense of his and Miller's particular brand of liberalism in which he did not rest his case upon the testimony of denominational scholars, Catholics, skeptics or some other type of unbelievers?

The faculties of too many of "our" so-called Bible colleges are composed largely of devoted disciples of the wrong kind of professors. They have learned about all they know from seminary doctors, Catholics and infidels of every brand. And as a result, modernism is written all over them. Too many young people are getting their so-called "Christian education" either directly or indirectly from polluted fountains of learning, and the liberalism of some of the colleges is manifesting itself a hundred ways in the churches.

It does not require the brains of a Solomon to see that the articles of both Miller and Roberts are a defense of liberalism. They want to practice the theories of modernism, but they do not want to be called either "modernist" or "liberal". The only way they can rid themselves of the title is to "disassociate themselves from such tactics and from the obscurantism being practiced".