Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 28, 1959

Brother Lemmons Tells Us About Northern California

Edward A. Brouillette, San Jose, California

It has never been my privilege to meet brother Lemmons personally but this has not prevented my becoming acquainted with him. I had the opportunity of hearing brother Lemmons speak on a lecture program in ACC and have read his editorials in the Firm Foundation. I have learned to respect his knowledge of the Scriptures. In spite of this evident knowledge I believe that he has allowed himself to be misled and is, in turn, misleading others.

Some time ago brother Lemmons reported on a gospel meeting he had held in the Bay Area. This report was made in the form of an editorial entitled, "Heartening Outlook In Northern California." (July 15, 1958.) In this editorial he made statements and assertions to the effect that everything was peaceful and harmonious in Northern California. His conclusions were based upon a short stay in Oakland. He further implied that the brethren in that area were in complete agreement. The error and misrepresentation was called to his attention by brother Lloyd Moyer of El Cerrito. He said nothing about this to his readers but allowed them to continue thinking that all had joined hands with the liberal element known to exist in this area.

Then to further confuse his readers he wrote an additional editorial in the April 7th, 1959 issue of the Firm Foundation entitled, "The Outlook Brightens in Northern California." He again failed to present the truth of the matter. He again based his conclusions upon a limited stay in a limited (very much so) area of this section of California. Does he think that he is really qualified to tell his readers about California from this? In spite of the correction of his previous article he still implies that all is harmonious. Does he think that by repeating this statement often enough in the pages of the FF he will make it so?

Did brother Lemmons honestly attempt to investigate the situation? Did he know that a debate had been held in the city of ALAMEDA (just a few miles from San Leandro) on Feb. 12, 13 with the proposition for discussion being, "RESOLVED ... It is scriptural for churches of Christ to build, maintain, and support such benevolent institutions as Ontario Orphan Home (for the homeless), Old Folks Home (for the aging saints), and a hospital (for the sick)?"

His slurring remark that younger preachers were responsible for all of the contention and strife in this area is certainly not appreciated. In an editorial in the January 20th, 1959, issue of the FF brother Lemmons states, "Our only reason for existence is that we might glorify Christ both by believing exactly and implicitly before men the pattern of life He prescribed. Any time Christians reach the place where they are willing to do as they please rather than as the Lord pleases they cease to be Christians." (emp. mine, EAB) This is exactly and implicitly what the gospel preachers, accused of contention and strife, are endeavoring to do in this area.

In another editorial (Feb. 3, 1959) he bemoans the fact that, "In the last few years 'church athletic leagues' have sprung up in nearly every city. In all too many instances well meaning brethren have insisted that the church of Christ have a ball team, so we can play 'the other churches." That very thing is being done in the Bay area by those congregations brother Lemmons commends for having peace and harmony between them. As proof of this we submit one quotation from the bulletin of the Seventeenth Street Church of Christ in San Francisco.

The Ball Game to be played against the Golden Gate church is to be tomorrow evening at 8:30 at the Funston playground." (July 1, 1956)

Many of the young preachers whom brother Lemmons accuses of sowing discord have opposed this practice. He should be reminded of a statement he made in an editorial of Aug. 12th, 1958, "It is a distressing sign indeed when the people of God reach a place where they look with disdain upon anyone who questions a practice." It is indeed, brother Lemmons.

Would it surprise brother Lemmons to know that brother Robert Price, of whom he speaks so highly in his editorial, was the chief source of contention for many years in this area? Brother Lemmons also makes the implication that the younger preachers in this area based their convictions on a "thus saith the older preachers." Did he truly mean this? Perhaps this has been true of the "younger preachers" of brother Lemmons' acquaintance but certainly not so of the "younger preachers" of Northern California who have taken a stand opposing any alteration of God's plan. If he had really investigated, he would have found out that in many instances it was the "older preachers" who were giving way to pressure tactics when they found they were in danger of losing popularity, and, as a result, have proven themselves to be unstable.

He seems to think that numbers mean a great deal. He emphasizes the fact that over thirty gospel preachers attended the meeting. Would it surprise him to know that more than that number in the area never attended the meeting? Would it surprise him to know that some congregations and preachers just a few miles from San Leandro never received an invitation to attend the meeting? In fact, many of us in this area did not even know he had been here until long after he had gone!

Does he think that a man's presence in an audience of necessity gives evidence of complete agreement with the things done and said? Many of us have attended "Holiness" and "Baptist" meetings but were never in accord with the erroneous doctrines and ways of these people.

Why did he not tell his readers that there were still many congregations in Northern California who had not yet submitted to the pressures exerted by our more liberal brethren? The next time brother Lemmons comes to this area he should go beyond the select few he has been allowed to meet and investigate more thoroughly before writing an editorial setting forth the conditions existing in Northern California. He should inquire about the congregations in Alameda, San Bruno, East San Jose, El Cerrito, Sunnyvale, Antioch, Vallejo, Napa, Newark, Novato, Willits, to name some who are still opposing a perversion of God's way, We are determined to continue to be as "conservative" as the Scriptures command us. Editorials no matter how often published, will not change the truth.

These words are not written will ill-feeling or animosity. There is certainly no intention of "setting brother against brother in congregation after congregation" but to present the truth as to the conditions in Northern California.

Let us continue to study God's word and be guided by it alone in all of our decisions.