Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 23, 1964
NUMBER 11, PAGE 8,12b

That Was The Man That Was

M. F. Manchester

I wish to say first of all, that from the first time I heard Bro. Wallace preach the gospel over twenty years ago, and through the years since, I have thought, and still do. that he was one of the greatest preachers I had ever heard proclaim the truth; and furthermore I wish to state (God being my witness) that I am where I am (with the ones he now terms, "radicals, extremists and hobbyists) mainly because of the preaching I have heard him do through the years! As far as I was concerned there was not a man among us that could show in such a clear and powerful way, that human institutions fastened on the churches were unscriptural! I have used my influence a number of times where I was preaching to get the brethren to have him for a meeting, and I was never sorry for the same. Also I can truthfully say that I did not want him with any view to his riding any hobby that I had, because as far as I know I did not have any; and I never thought for one moment that he had any.

However, I can recall that quite often the "odium of Sommerism" was applied to him — that he was against the colleges because he fought the battle to keep them from bedding up in the budgets of the churches. Of course he was not against a group of brethren operating a school, but neither were most of the preachers he now says "follow the Sommer line."

I have heard him called a radical many times, but I did not believe it; because not a single person who called him such, could meet the scriptural arguments he made! I believed he was right then on his stand against institutionalism. I still believe he was right. I have found no scriptural authority offered by those who are contending for the institutions, to cause me to change.

If he can show by the scriptures that he was wrong in his preaching on what he now terms "the so called issues" ten and twenty years ago, I think that not only myself but most all the others whom he calls "radicals," will change. But now, let us take a look at his article in the Firm Foundation of April the 28, entitled "The Party and the Pseudo Issues." He writes under the heading: "Ballooning The So Called Issues", page 273:

"The divisive spirit has become deeply ingrained in party adherents and is deepening. A mass media of inter-church meddling, bulletins, swapped and rotated in printed material, echoes from source, parrots of the same party line. The whole party spirit is wrong, and its atmosphere obnoxious."

I deny belonging to a "party" or having a "party spirit," but after the way he calls "a party" I confess to try to follow the New Testament.

But let us hear him again under the same heading. "The questions that have been pressed into focus to provide party issues do not possess the inherent substance of doctrine." We admit that any question that is pressed into focus just to have a "party issue," does not contain the substance of the doctrine of Christ. But to put forth an effort to call back the brethren from putting colleges in the budgets cf the churches, and from going head-long into the support of human unauthorized institution's, and the endorsement and support of brotherhood elderships. is NOT for the purpose of providing a "party issue"! If so, then no one can be as guilty as is Brother Wallace, because he is among the first that I ever heard bring such questions "into focus." I did not think he then brought them "into focus" in order to provide a "Party issue," and I deny fully that I now bring them into focus for that purpose.

I never thought for a moment that when he was preaching and writing on those questions he had a party spirit; but now he brands all of us who believed his preaching of having a "party spirit," of being radicals and belonging to the "Sommer crowd." We believed then that the questions he brought "into focus" endangered the Lord's church. Institutionalism at that time was going along at a snails pace, compared to its leap-frog actions of today. Then there were very few institutional orphan homes and the pressure on the churches was weak indeed compared to today. There were movements then to get A.C.C. in the budgets of the churches, but Bro. Wallace along with others fought that down. Evidently they just went underground to await a further softening up of the brethren. But today that which was once only a danger has leap-frogged, and now we have "Cows For Korea" and "Campaigns For Christ International" under brotherhood elderships. Yet if we raise our voice against the unscripturalness of such we are "divisive," and have a "party spirit"!

But now let me show you how forcefully Bro Wallace brought those dangers "into focus." In the "Certified Gospel" page 155 in his sermon: "What The Church Must Do To Be Saved," we read as follows:

"In summing up the immediate dangers around the church we should name the following things: 1. The marked tendency toward institutionalism. Today any man or group of men can start any institution they please to start, put it in a benevolence basket, label it your baby, place it on the door step of the church with the appeal please take care of it! That is taxation without representation. Again I say, the delegate system of the digressives is better than that, for in that case there would be a voice in what is started."

I ask: Could anyone have brought "into focus" the dangers confronting the church in any better fashion? Who will say that the dangers of which he spoke are not in conflict with the doctrine of Christ? Idolatry only poses a danger to a Christian, but when one participates in it, it becomes transgression. If brethren are already taking part in the support of institutions through which to do some of their work, am I trying to start a "party" when I point out to them that there is no scriptural authority for such? Now if they will not listen to the pleadings of their brethren but persist in supporting human institutions, what are we to do?

If the elders are supporting a church baseball team out of the Lord's money, and will not stop it, what are faithful brethren to do? I know Christians should not act in haste and anger, but when every effort has been put forth to correct unscriptural things but without effect, sincere brethren should withdraw and start the Lord's church! Such brethren would not be "divisive" or be "a party, or radicals" but the true church of Christ. That is what many brethren had to do when the American Christian Missionary Society was established, and forced on them. They either had to put up with it or get out. They got out, and when they did, they were not a bunch of radicals or a divisive party, but the true church of the Lord!

No doubt they were called "extremists" and "antis," but there was no truth in it. They were not against preaching the gospel to every creature, but against the human institution that many of the brethren proposed to do it through. I remember commenting briefly a few years ago on Jas. 1:27 and one of the sisters who did not agree with me had this to say: "Well, Bro. Manchester can let a little hungry, ragged, orphan child come to his door and turn it away if he wants to, but as for me I believe in taking care of them"! The thought she wanted to leave with her listeners was, that I was against caring for orphan children. Enough said.

But let us hear Bro. Wallace again in "The Certified Gospel" under the same heading and page. He said:

"The church is about to become the unwitting and Unwilling victim of institutionalism, and institutionalism is about to become a racket. Where is the scriptural precept or precedent for scouring the country for orphans, transporting them from sections far and wide to an institution that was not created by reason of orphans in that particular community, but which a promoter created by searching for orphans?" Remember it was Bro Wallace who brought these things "into focus," and with many of us they caught on, and stuck. I have gratefully sat at his feet and learned in the past and would as gratefully do so again if he can show by the scriptures that what he taught then and for a number of years later, is not now in harmony with the word of God.

But let us hear him again on the same page as he continues to point out so forcefully "the dangers around the church." He said:

"Am I against caring for orphans? I am not. But I am against the institutional racket. It is the duty of the church to care for their dependents, and they should provide the means of doing so under their own supervision. If individuals wish to operate hospitals, inns, homes, schools, it is their right to do so, but the church cannot operate institutions. If the church can do its benevolent work through a board of directors, why not its missionary work? If one is a society, why not the other"?

I go along with this completely, and have been preaching it this way for a number of years. I have never thought of myself and my brethren who are preaching the same thing as having a "party spirit" with a view to causing division among the Lord's people. He continues on the subject of institutions and says: "Institutionalism was the tap-root of digression. It has always been the fatal blow to congregational independence." We suggest that if you have "The Certified Gospel," you read this sermon and compare what Bro. Wallace said in it with what he now says in the Firm Foundation,

Middle Of The Road

Brother Wallace has a lot to say about the middle of the road in his article. He says: "We have the wingers to the left and to the right." Now, of course, if we stand and preach like he preached as we have shown in the "Certified Gospel," and later as he wrote in "Torch" in 1950, we know we will be branded as "right wingers, radicals, and extremists." But tnat does not make it so, as it did not make it so when some brethren used to refer to Bro. Wallace as "a radical." If the "middle of the road" simply means the truth between extremes I agree, but can you squeeze in human institutions, brotherhood elderships, colleges in the budget, baseball teams, etc., and still stay in "the middle of the road"? If staying with the word God means "the middle of the road" then by no stretch of the imagination can those things be squeezed in, because when they are, one will leave the road completely!

— Cardwell, Missouri