Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 16, 1964
NUMBER 10, PAGE 7,13b

What Are "Leftist Liberals" And "Rightist Radicals"

Walton Weaver

Lacking the experience, knowledge, and unquestioned skill and ability of my beloved and respected brother in Christ, Foy E. Wallace, it is with a great deal of hesitancy that I pen these words concerning his article, "The Party Spirit and the Pseudo-Issues," which appeared in the April 28, 1964 issue of the Firm Foundation. It is not that I feel capable of reviewing his article, but, rather, I feel obligated to make known my impression and reaction to it since there are probably many other young preachers who feel the same way. Therefore, this article is not a "review" but an impression.

Bro. Wallace seems to be very concerned about the fact that many "young preachers" are being overtaken by extremism. He speaks of "a considerable number of victimized and misguided young preachers who have fallen prey to the radicalism of party leaders"; of "a legion of young men who could become consecrated emissaries of the gospel are becoming predatory merchants of mischief"; "to every young preacher of the gospel who through misplaced confidence or by specious arguments have been drawn toward the center of this vortex of hobbyism"; and to "many of the otherwise good young preachers" (Emphasis mine, WW). It is because of his concern for the young preachers that I write this article. I am a young preacher myself (25 yrs. old) and for the past five or six years, at least, I have studied my Bible, along with books, pamphlets and religious magazine articles dealing with the cooperation questions in both evangelism and benevolence, in an effort to learn the truth regarding these matters. It has been my sincere desire to study these things from all sides in order that I might draw logical and scriptural conclusions. I attended three of our fine institutions of learning operated by our brethren, concluding with two semesters at Florida College, and can truthfully say that I have at no time regretted having spent any of that time in any of those colleges.

During the course of my studies I have written different men who hold different positions with regard to these problems in an effort to get some difficult questions answered — at least, they were difficult for me. I have not to this day received a reply from any of them. Neither, as a "young preacher," have I received any help from Bro. Wallace. It is true that I have not written him for help. But since he does not write on these matters in the religious magazines, I felt he would not care to answer any questions I might like to ask him. Then, there is another little incident that made me feel this way. During my last year at Harding (1960-61) I was privileged to hear him one night at Bald Knob, Arkansas. A friend and I took a tape recorder to get a copy of the message, but Bro. Wallace refused to allow us to tape his lesson.

Why has Bro. Wallace refused to write about these problems if he knows where the truth between extremes really is? I am not in favor of "partyism," "extremism," "party movements," "factional missions," "hobbyism," etc. anymore than he is. But I would ask this one thing: Where does "extremism" begin? What does it take to make one a "leftist liberalist" or a "rightist radical"? Bro. Wallace does not answer this by simply stating that there are two such groups and that the truth lies between them. It takes no logician to see that his primary purpose in the article is not to show where the truth is but to warn against the extremes of both "liberals" and "conservatives." It is an easy task to cry loud and hard that brethren are going to the extreme when they refuse to allow others to eat on the church premises, but it is another thing to face the "real" questions that are dividing brethren.

The "real" questions that are dividing brethren concern the proper place of human institutions and whether or not it is scriptural for churches to do a general work through a "sponsoring church." With reference to these brethren are divided into at least three groups: 1) Those who believe that the Orphan Homes among us are scripturally organized only if they are under a board of directors and maintain that the gospel may be preached through the sponsoring church arrangement. 2) Those who believe these Homes are scripturally organized only if they are under elders of a local congregation (same as the sponsoring church arrangement) and believe the gospel may be preached in the same manner. 3) Those who believe that the church has no authority to work through a human institution under a board of directors and believe it is just as unscriptural for it to do a general work through a sponsoring church.

Now, since Bro. Wallace says he is where the church has always been (between the two extremes), I wondering — just where that is. What do you mean, Bro. Wallace, by the "leftist liberalists" and "rightist radicals"? It seems to me that if Bro. Wallace really wants to encourage us "otherwise good young preachers" to "draw back before they (we) find themselves (ourselves) in isolation from the church," he will do more than just warn us of taking the extremist avenue — he will point out to us what is extreme and what is not concerning the church support of human institutions and church cooperation in evangelism and benevolence. Bro. Wallace, is the maintaining that churches may contribute to Orphan Homes under a board of directors the "leftist liberalist" position, and are such men who advocate this is the only way the homes may be scripturally organized 'in isolation from the church'? On the other hand, do you believe that those who maintain that churches have no scriptural right to do their work through human institutions or the sponsoring church are the "rightist radicals" to which you refer, and are these men "in isolation from the church"?

I, as a "young preacher," have hoped and prayed that someday Bro. Wallace would take up his pen and very carefully point out the truth in these matters, as he did in the college controversy of the past. I have never had a desire to be an extremist, either liberal or radical, but if either extreme is where the truth lies, it is, of course, the prayer of all faithful brethren everywhere that we might all be able to see it and have the courage to stand up and defend it. But, at the same time, if the truth lies between these extremes, we "young preachers" need to know where and not that just out there somewhere the truth lies in the "middle of the road" between two extremes, It is not possible for us to learn what the truth is unless it is pointed out to us where truth ends and extremism begins. Bro. Wallace, if you are as concerned about the "young preachers" as you indicate in your article, won't you please take the time to deal with the "real" problems and point out to us what the Bible teaches? In so doing, I would appreciate your dealing with such things as the following:

1) Is there Bible authority for the existence of any institution whose sole purpose is to do a work that God gave the church to do?

2) May the church (collectively) scripturally contribute out of its treasury to a human institution of any kind, whether that institution is doing a work that is not a work of the church or whether it is doing a work that is a work of the church?

3) Are the Orphan Homes under a board of directors, a college operated by brethren, and publishing companies such as the Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate, Gospel Guardian, etc. all parallel institutions?

4) Is it right for churches to cooperate through a sponsoring church arrangement? If the Bible so teaches, can there be an extreme in this matter also?

There are, undoubtedly, many other questions that most "young preachers' would love to see you answer, but these are sufficient to show that if you are to be of any real assistance in slowing down the tide of extremism, you must show WHAT the truth is between extremes and WHY you believe it to be so. I know one thing, if you stand today where some say you stand, you do not stand where you stood some years ago. If you have changed now and no longer believe what you believed then, I fail to see why you say in your article, "And when these antipodal extremes have marched on and moved out, the church will be where it has been always." Where has it been always, Bro. Wallace? Where you have been in the past? or where you are now? As "young preachers" who desire to evade the extremism to which you refer (if that extremism is wrong and sinful), we desire and have a right, I feel, to know,

— Box 112, Quitman, Arkansas