Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1959

Those Lemmons Editorials


We call your attention to an article in this issue, "Making Christian Education A Test of Fellowship." This article by Brother Reuel Lemmons appeared as an editorial in the Firm Foundation, October 13, 1959. It is an excellent editorial, well written, and setting forth a warning that is certainly needed in this day of pressure promotions. As a matter of fact, Brother Lemmons has had some splendid editorials in recent months, covering a wide range of subjects, and presenting what we consider to be sound Bible teaching on them. We have seen these editorials reprinted, or referred to, in church bulletins in many parts of the nation.

But there is a strange and curious anomalism about these fine editorials, arising, no doubt, from our brother's deep-seated conviction that he is "in the middle of the road" as to current problems and issues troubling the church. For on alternate weeks, or at alternate intervals, the Firm Foundation carries strong editorials ON THE OTHER SIDE of the very items in question! These editorials, too, are written by Brother Lemmons. Brethren all over the nation have been first incredulous, then puzzled, then amused, and finally complacent about these mental gymnastics. James had something to say about, "out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing," and the Firm Foundation editorials constitute a twentieth-century case in point. But gradually an explanation of the weird and contradictory course has begun to emerge. There is a pattern of sorts in the fantastic inconsistencies — Brother Lemmons' idea of being "in the middle of the road" is to write strong editorials first on one side, then on the other! One week he will give an excellent presentation (such as the article we re-print this week); then shortly thereafter will come forth with a scathing denunciation of brethren who took his editorial seriously and sought to implement, or put into practice, some of the fine suggestions he gave. It is all very simple. This is our brother's idea of what it means to be "in the middle of the road". He considers himself sort of half-way between the Gospel Guardian conservatism and the Gospel Advocate liberalism; so one week he presents the sort of article one would expect to find in the Guardian (such as the one we re-print), then the next week comes forth with a bitter, acrimonious editorial against "anti-ism" and "non-cooperators" and "legalists", such as one might expect to find on the editorial pages of the Advocate. The conservative brethren hail his conservative editorials with joy and appreciation, quote them, commend them, and think that perhaps "at long last brother Lemmons is going to take a stand" — then are dismayed and disconcerted a week or so later when one of the liberal abjurations appears on the same page. The liberal brethren are confident Brother Lemmons is "with" them, and are no doubt puzzled and uncomfortable to have him come forth with such an article as the one we republish this week.

We think it will help both groups if they can once get a clear conception of the course our brother editor is seeking to follow. It makes considerable sense to him, and from his point of view is wholly logical and reasonable. Occasionally the pressure will become so great that he will be forced to back up and swallow some of his words (as for example his condemnation, reversing to acceptance, of the orphan home under a Board of Directors), but this doesn't happen very often. And if he can pull a large segment of the conservative brethren along with him, the liberal brethren will no doubt be willing to accept a few verbal brickbats from him from time to time. They know that basically he is amenable to their pressures; and if he gets too obstreperous, all they have to do is to increase the pressure. The surrender on the orphan home issue has shown them that.

Those of us who are deeply concerned as to the future of the cause of truth will not be too much shaken by the Lemmons gyrations. As a matter of fact, we've about come to the conclusion that the Gospel Guardian will make a more or less regular practice of re-printing the conservative editorials that appear in the Firm Foundation — always explaining that the positions set forth in these editorials will no doubt be attacked and opposed in later Firm Foundation editorials. Perhaps the Gospel Advocate will re-print these later diatribes and damnatory sneers against the "antis".

It could be that we are prejudiced on this point, but we must say it seems to us there is a considerable difference in the merit of the arguments used in the antipodean articles. When our brother writes one of his conservative editorials it appears to us as sane, sensible, logical, and entirely in accord with Bible teaching. But when he dips his pen in vitriol and writes one of his Gospel Advocate editorials it appears to us almost devoid of either sanity, sense, logic, or scripture, but is rather a putrid array of epithets and effervescent nonsense.

But of course, as we say, that may be just prejudice on our part. And probably the liberal brethren would agree completely with this observation except they would reverse the order of it. We doubt not that the article "Making Christian Education a Test of Fellowship" is to many of the "parochial promoters" the sheerest kind of gibberish, nauseating and negative. And one of our brother's "anti-anti-ism" blasts would appear to them as the voice of an oracle!

Oh, well, let us be not bitter. There is a long drawn out battle before us. It will not be settled in the lifetime of either Brother Lemmons or this writer. Each of us must do his level best before God to stand for the truth, and not be either dismayed or despairing when some fellow-worker goes wild. It happened in the first century, and it will still be happening when the last trump sounds.

— F. Y. T.