Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 2, 1961
NUMBER 38, PAGE 2,14a

Split Personality

Robert C. Welch, Nacogdoches, Texas

With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus draw steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.

Brother Lemmons' neutrality policy, as found in his editorials in the Firm Foundation, shows that his is not a mere in-between condition, taking neither the nature of the one nor the other extreme. People who literally are neutral have little or nothing to say about a position; they have none; they are neither black nor white. Like the drunk trying to keep on the middle line of the road but sweeping both sides, or like the unhappy chemist of Robert Louis Stevenson's story, brother Lemmons is taking both sides of the controversies among brethren and is alternately unhappy with each of his dual natures. The drunk should quit driving, and Stevenson's chemist needed to stop taking his chemicals, before the inevitable ruin; and brother Lemmons needs to stop long enough to find out where he is heading. But, like both the drunk and the chemist, he can hardly get out an issue of his paper without jumping on one side or the other of present issues, all the while firmly averring that he is in the middle of the road.

The scriptures speak of such attitudes and behavior in harshly censorious terms: "For he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord: a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

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"Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty."

The policy of the Firm Foundation is stated annually by its editor. It looks so benign and harmless. This annual policy is on such a high plane. It would seem that he is either too good or too great to notice what his critics have to say. Let us have it in his own words: "We do not use the Firm Foundation as an avenue of answering our critics. Personal criticisms we consider unworthy of answer because, if just, they cannot be answered, and if unjust — time will prove the critics liars and save us the trouble." (October 11, 1960)

Now that just sounds too nice for him to have kept it for very long or for him to keep it long thereafter. Besides that, it is even nicer than the apostolic examples. Paul spoke often in reply to criticism of his apostleship, to criticism of his working, to criticism of his writing in comparison with his presence. When brother Lemmons wrote that editorial on his non-combatant policy he must have just finished taking the chemical which turns him nice; for the October 4, 1960, issue, just one week previously, contained an editorial in response to a charge by Robert Turner that the editor "misunderstood entirely his contentions." How long does this good nature last before he goes back into the other phase of his personality?

"Regardless of how unpleasant the task, it is forced upon us to take notice of an article by one of the brethren entitled, "Religious Hypochondria," which was largely a criticism of this editorial page." (October 25, 1960)

Now in this last mentioned editorial he is right in some of his contention. But the point is that he cannot keep his policy one month. Within a period of one month he changed twice in his editorials. In this last editorial he wants people to pull out their old sermon outlines and preach them again, and prides himself on being able to usi, the same ones he has always used. We are made to wonder if his old outlines are the same as his editorials; if so, then all of us can use our old outlines and preach anything we want to.

"Yes, I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde."

Church action and individual action is one of the questions which frequently confronts brethren today. Some say the church can do anything which the individual does. Some say the individual can do only that which the church can do. The scriptures teach that there are many things which are right for the individual but which are not authorized for the church. And brother Lemmons takes all sides. Observe him in one of his personalities:

"if the actual caretaking must be done by an institution outside the church, and outside the oversight of the elders of the church, then it must be done outside of Christ, for the church is the body of Christ. (Eph. 5:20) If it cannot be done within the framework of the church, then it cannot be done in the kingdom of God." (Feb. 4, 1958)

This is in an editorial concerning the care of orphans, in opposition to the theory that the church is not a sufficient institution to care for its needy. But in his overwhelming desire to get away from the theory which he rightly opposes, he has implied that if it is not church action it is not under the authority of Christ. Now, observe the change into another of his personalities:

"When saved people 'preach' or 'testify,' the church is preaching, and all such work is supervised by the same church that supervises or oversees the people doing the preaching." (Feb. 16, 1960)

In this editorial he has taken the position that the church can do anything which the individual can do, because it is, in substance, the argument of that contention; that is, that whatever the individual does the church is actually doing. Now, how can the individuals of the 1958 editorial do that which is "outside the church," if their individual work is that of the church? Thus we have the split personality, two opposing positions. He might have a quibble on that. He might say, as many of them do, that the church is not its own orphan home, but is its missionary society; for it is true that one quotation concerns the care of orphans and the other concerns the preaching of the gospel. Both editorials, however, discuss the work of the church as opposed to other institutions.

Furthermore, the February 16, 1960 editorial also includes the care of the orphan in its scope:

"Likewise the very nature of the word 'church' signifies that whatever is done in the name of the Lord toward the alleviation of human misery must be done by the church and under the supervision of the church."

In this fashion he has assumed that it is both physically and morally impossible for a Christian to relieve human misery or to evangelize except as the church does it. To his own satisfaction, apparently, he has proved that the church must do it all, and that in reality the church is doing all, even though individuals are doing it. In the 1958 editorial, however, he has shown that a certain type of individual work is outside the church. Lest you think that he has changed for the last time and now has a permanent form, observe yet another:

"Of course there are many things that either the individual or the church can do. This writing should not be construed to indicate that nothing the church can do the individual can do, or that nothing the individual can do the church can do. Preaching the gospel is a church responsibility, and either or both can, and must discharge this obligation." (May 3, 1960)

This is exemplary of the wandering, swaying, changing, multi-phased personality and teaching of a man who has avowed a policy of neutrality. This is the kind of contradictory teaching characteristic of those who have an aversion to "LINE DRAWING ON EITHER SIDE OF ANY QUESTION." (March 3, 1959, editorial)