Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 10, 1964
NUMBER 18, PAGE 1,8-11a

Brother Foy E. Wallace - Then And Now

Luther Blackmon

Under the above caption appears an article by Bryan Vinson, Sr., in the March 19th and 26th issues of THE GOSPEL GUARDIAN. Brother Vinson compares the writings of Foy E. Wallace during the early 1950's with his actions of more recent date. Of this article brother Wallace says, "not being a subscriber to nor a reader of their papers, all I know is what is heard and observed; so it comes to me through others that the chief party paper has currently castigated me..."

If he would read more and listen less to his "uninformed" informers, he could have saved that blast. No one ever wrote in a kinder and more brotherly spirit than is shown in brother Vinson's article. Much of it is an eulogy, and none of it a "castigation" in any true sense of that word. It was an expression of sorrow and disappointment rather than invective. But brother Wallace is so filled with whatever a man can be filled with that makes him act like he is acting that he would not read the article and hence does not know this.

In this article Vinson reports that in the November 1963 issue of Childhaven News is an article with reference to a conversation Wallace had with Tom Warren and Roy Deaver in Ft. Worth, Texas some time ago. He says that, according to Warren's report of the conversation, brother Wallace does not "oppose" the principle involved in churches' cooperating together in such work as the Herald of Truth program conducted by the Highland church in Abilene. He does express an awareness, says brother Warren, of one church becoming recognized as 'the voice of the churches', but he recognizes this simply as a danger." Vinson quotes at length from Wallace showing his attitude towards such cooperative programs in years past. I shall not give all his quotations, but they are found in the 1930-51 copies of "Torch" published and edited by Foy E. Wallace. In August 1950 he said:

..Still another application. The state of Texas needs evangelizing. There are scores of churches that cannot support a full time evangelist. So the elders of one church in Dallas or Ft. Worth propose to all the churches to concentrate their funds in the one eldership which in turn will oversee a state evangelist! This is another example of what is being done in principle by those sponsoring missionary churches with their centralized elderships.

"The deductions set forth in the foregoing examples are the exact arguments used by the digressives years ago to justify their 'state evangelists.' The only difference is they appointed a board of missions out of several churches, and we have a self appointed board of missions in the eldership of one church. In either case it destroys the autonomy of the local church in doing its work, and develops elders of a local church into diocesan bishops. When we criticize these deviations from New Testament principles in the organization and work of the church it does not mean we oppose the work. All of the effort to foment feelings and plant prejudice against men who plead for adherence to the 'stipulated conditions of the new testament' by charges that we are anti-foreign missionary, anti-christian education and anti-cooperation will not prevail in the end. Many sober minded brethren are already seeing the light on these issues, and many others will as we continue to set forth these principles. It is the same battle over the same issues that had to be fought fifty years ago. (Emphasis B V).

"If elders of a local church can function in a general administration of the affairs of many churches in one thing, what bars them from doing so in all things, benevolence, missions, discipline? That being the case, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Catholics can all justify their ecclesiastical forms of government, and we will have surrendered the whole ground on the organization of the church of Christ."

Again he said;

"There has always been a question about the operation of an institutional orphan home. If the church can do its benevolent work through a board of directors---a benevolent board; why not its 'missionary work' or preaching work through a missionary board." (Bible Banner, July 1947, page 14.)

From 1931 to 1947 he repeatedly said that the church has as much scriptural authority for doing Its missionary work through a missionary board as it has for doing its benevolent work through a benevolent board. Now he refers to church support of benevolent organizations as "operational and functional procedures" which "should not become grounds for alienation and division!"

I don't like "alienation and division" in the church any more than brother Wallace does, and I am willing to do anything I can honorably and conscientiously do to avoid it. But if a "benevolent board" is just as unscriptural as a "missionary board,' I confess that I am unable to see how we can scripturally oppose one and support the other. And if brother Wallace can show us how to oppose these benevolent boards now, without causing "alienation and division," he can do the church of the Lord a great service. I'm sure he does not think we should hold our peace? He didn't think so in 1950. Hear him:

"There are always things that need to be said regardless of who likes it or who does not like it. And there are always good people who will not like it, because they lack discernment and do not sense the seriousness of the issues. Preachers need to be situated to say the things that ought to be said and still be able to eat; but whether they do or do not eat---they should say them. Discussion of the means and methods of doing the work of the church is necessary to keep the church sensitive to deviation and alert to ever present threats to the virtue of the church. A general review of these issues will not be amiss". (Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Torch, August 1950, page 4.)

He immediately, then, launches into a discussion of secular institutions. The "alienation and division" brother Wallace speaks of has come about because elders and preachers with whom he now finds a common ground have marked and quarantined those of us who still teach what he taught from 1931 to 1950." They will not allow us to preach where they have any influence. Then when we get out and go where we can preach the truth on such things we are accused of causing "alienation and division." Preaching that the church cannot scripturally do its work through human boards is now called "anti-ism", and brother Wallace has joined in the chant.

But if we are "antis," he had more to do with making us antis than any living man. If we constitute a "party," he was the leader in creating the party. If we have a "creed," he had more to do with writing that creed than any other man. And those who read his writings and heard him preach as far back as 1950 know this is true. His cry that we are misappropriating his writings and misquoting him may deceive the younger set, but the others know better. "Misunderstood" and "misrepresented" has always been the shiboleth of modernists, false teachers and fence straddlers, but I never expected it of brother Wallace. Such a mantle does not become him.

Orphan Homes And Colleges Then And Now

It so happens that in the years between 1931 and 1950, when brother Wallace was doing his writing quoted above, the "college-in-budget" crowd was not probing for a hole in the church treasuries to poke the schools through, except in rare cases. Men could write or preach against church support of benevolent institutions then without creating much of a fuss. But with the dawn of the 1950's there was a push to get church support for schools. The effort was halted, and that very largely by the work and influence of brother Wallace and his paper. Then certain influential men with powerful mediums of expression shifted the battle to another ground, the orphan homes. This is an emotional subject. The grassroots membership of the churches wouldn't get worked up too much about a school not getting support, but it is easy to stir up strong feelings where children are concerned. Brother Lemmons, editor of the Firm Foundation, predicted years ago, and reminded us of his prediction more recently, that the college-in-the-budget question would be "fought out on the orphan home level" because of its emotional appeal. This is one of the times he has been right.

Men like N. B. Hardeman, A. C. Pullias, and B. C. Goodpasture have insisted that the orphan home and the college must stand or fall together, because they are both human organizations doing the work of the church. In this they are right, although many of us have been slow to accept this stubborn fact. The spotlight was focused on the benevolent organizations as never before, and many brethren began studying the question with closer scrutiny. The more they studied the more they became convinced that "the church has as much right to do its mission work through a board as it has to do its benevolent work through a board."

It was then that pressure began to be exerted by certain preachers and schools and by the Gospel Advocate. It became increasingly unpopular to say anything against benevolent organizations, especially orphan homes. Meetings were cancelled, preachers were warned that they would "greatly impair their usefulness' and some "incorrigibles" were fired outright. In some instances meetings were promptly closed when the preacher mentioned the subject.

Some preachers who "would rather switch than fight" began to champion the cause of institutionalism in general. Others were a bit slower, but they too finally "saw the light" and made their confession. Still others retreated from the scene of conflict entirely and cannot be persuaded to say anything one way or the other. They are like the fellow who would express no preference for either heaven or hell because he was in politics and had friends in both places. Last of all, "as one born out of due time" brother Wallace, who in 1938 said, "... The church cannot transfer the work of benevolence to any agency or institution that takes the work out of the hands of the elders and deacons of the church — the local church. Such organizations would supplant the church in benevolent work exactly as the society does the missionary work." (Gospel Advocate, 1931; Bible Banner, 1938), now refers to these things as:

'Operational And Functional Procedures"

He said, "Through the years, brethren of recognized ability and equal piety have differed over functional and operational procedures such as the conduct of benevolent institutions, and unanimity of sentiment has not ever been attained...wherever deviations exist, let the principles involved be considered with the objective of harmony in all matters of congregational endeavor without permitting the deliberations to become the cause of cleavages..." (Firm Foundation, April 28, 1964.) FINE! But just how do we "consider the principles involved" when the majority of churches refuse to allow it discussed, and fire the preacher if he tries it?

Now listen to this same Foy E. Wallace just 26 years ago:

"Whatever the church, as such, is commanded to do can be done only through the church. And the only way to do anything through the church is to do it through the local church, which is the only organization known in the New Testament." ...if it were 'permissible to have a Bible college as an adjunct to the church in the work of education and an orphans home in the work of benevolence' we quiet [quite] agree that is would also be 'permissible to have the missionary society in the work of evangelization.' But the question assumes the point to be proved. Nothing is permissible as an auxiliary of the church which is not scriptural. And it is not scriptural for the church to delegate its work, either missionary or benevolent, to boards and organizations other than the church." (emp. L. B.) (Bible Banner, Sept. 1938) ...

This is a quotation taken from the Gospel Advocate of 1931, to show that he (Wallace) had not created a new issue. It would be hard indeed for a man to be more "anti" than he was then, or to make two statements more contradictory than his statements of 1938 and 1964 on the subject of benevolent institutions.


I come now to that which, to me, is the most distasteful part of this review — Brother Wallace's misrepresentations. There is irony in this fact; for of all men among us who have suffered from misrepresentations, and who could be expected to avoid them like the plague, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., surely heads the list. We all remember how he was misquoted, maligned, and viciously misrepresented for so many years in his great battles against premillennialism and against the "college-in-the-church-budgets" promoters. And now, lo! Brother Wallace joins the "misrepresenters" and resorts to the same unfair tactics the premillennialists and promoters of institutionalism in the past used against him.

He says the preaching of these men he maligns and ridicules "has degenerated into diatribes and denunciations of everything from the collective care and support of the orphaned, aged and destitute to provisions for eating on the premises of the church after the age-long and universal practice of 'preaching all day and dinner on the ground'!

Brother Wallace does not know a preacher who is opposed to the "collective care of the orphaned, aged and destitute." If so, let him point him out and I will apologize. He knows that many of us recognize that scriptural limitations are placed on the church in benevolence, such as I Tim. 5:16 and II Thess. 3:10, but his blanket charge is false and unworthy of him. Moreover, every case of church benevolence in the New Testament was among saints, the church as such has no obligation to the world in benevolence, and I can quote him on that. And he didn't do any better job getting general benevolence into Gal. 6:10 than his associates have done. Could this be one of the reasons for his statement that he "wouldn't be caught dead at one of these dog-fights the brethren call debates on the issues?"

I have heard that a few preachers think it is a sin to eat on the premises of the church, but I have not talked with one who does. I do know a great many who think it is not expedient to have picnics and such on the premises in these times, because of the extremes that are being practiced by liberal churches. And I know a lot more who are opposed to church supported parties, banquets and luncheons. It might be interesting to know just what brother Wallace means by "provisions" for eating on the church premises. Does he endorse the kitchen and banquet rooms provided by the church? "Provisions" is a broad word and brother Wallace is a "careful" writer.

I would also remind him that "age-long and universal practice" and "older preachers" can't make a thing scriptural. The Methodists have sprinkled babies for two hundred years, but it is still unscriptural.

A. C. Grider's Proposition He says, "one preacher with much declamatory animation pronounced the anathema that all elders who take a dime out of the church treasury for a starving child will go to hell' and further declaimed that 'anyone who remains a member of a church that does so will also go to hell!' "

For a fellow who is "not a subscriber nor a reader of "their papers," he knows a lot about "them" and what "they" say. This sounds pretty much like Grider's proposition that Totty will not debate him on. Brother Wallace didn't tell all. Totty demanded this proposition and Grider signed it to prove to the brethren that Totty would not debate him again under any circumstances. And he proved it. Perhaps brother Grider did not use good judgment in signing such a proposition, I don't know. It gave Totty the kind of weapon he uses best, and he and others are making the most of it. But let them. Thinking people will recognize this as the same kind of prejudicial propaganda the sectarians have always used because they didn't have scriptures. If Totty and Wallace could find scriptural authority for the church to go into the child rearing business or to provide for orphans simply because they are needy orphans, they wouldn't have to resort to such tactics.

Paul said "that if any would not work, neither let him eat." (II Thess. 3:10). I believe, therefore, that the church has no obligation to feed a man who will not work. I think Totty and Wallace would agree with this. But if some fellow wanted to affirm that the church may scripturally feed bums and leeches, would Totty demand that the proposition read, "all elders who take a dime out of the church treasury to feed a starving bum will go to hell?" I doubt it. You see he wouldn't need to stir up emotions and create prejudice on this one. In all the debates I have heard and read I don't remember a sectarian preacher who demanded such a proposition as Totty demanded of Wider, I am not surprised at Totty but I am surprised at Wallace for employing such "assistance."


Four things stand out in this article by brother Wallace.

(1) The spectacle of a man of his age trying to let everyone know that he does not read a certain paper, while at the same time he is anxious to know what the paper contains and can quote from it at length, is unique to say the least. Someone either reads it to him or memorizes parts of it and repeats it to him.

(2) He ridicules and belittles, with every uncomplimentary adjective at his command, the men who are trying to hold back the wave of liberalism bids fair to make the church of the Lord into another denomination, while he lightly slaps the wrists of the men who are leading this movement that undermines everything he has stood for in forty years of preaching. And he does this without committing himself positively to a definite position one way or another. He deals with generalities and talks like a politician speaking on segregation. He is for the good and against the bad. This is as unlike the Foy Wallace of years past as though it had been written by someone else.

(3) His attack is based chiefly on alleged violations of the "traditional practices" of "all the great and godly defenders of the faith before them," and a "misuse of their writings." But I would remind him that "traditional practices" are not our standard, and "great and godly men" have sometimes made mistakes. I agree with brother Wallace when he said, It is time to quit talking about who did this or said that, and start giving scriptural precedent for the practices that are being promoted." Torch, Sept. 1950, page 27.)

(4) His charge of hobbyism. I suspect that there are some of us who have over-emphasized these issues. But I doubt that there is one who has preached on anything more than he preached on premillennialism a decade or so past. He even debated it with a brother. Was this a dog fight? Was he a hobbyist?

And as for his charge that there are differences among the "antis," may I say that as long as men remain free to speak, and as long as the churches of Christ are bound together only by a common faith, we will have differences. Catholics don't differ. They have a pope who claims the right to exercise the "living voice of the living church." We don't have a pope, and when somebody tries to be one, we will have more trouble, I hope. Neither preachers nor papers nor big churches nor schools will tell us what we can believe and preach. But the amusing thing about this is that when brother Wallace made the charge that the "antis" are split into little groups, he must have forgotten that he had said earlier that "when the party bosses take snuff they all sneeze." This kind of inconsistency and vulnerability characterizes his whole article, a thing unheard of before Foy Wallace.

That overwhelming majority that lies between the "extreme liberals" and the "revived Sommerites" exists only in the mind of brother Wallace. He gets around a lot but his vision is clouded on these matters. It is true that a lot of good people still don't know just what is going on because their elders and leaders won't allow them to hear about it, but wait awhile. The pressure that sent a crowd of preachers running to the Gospel Advocate to confess their mistake in opposing institutionalism and brotherhood programs under one eldership, and stilled the tongues of many more, is still on, and will stay on with ever increasing intensity, And if anyone thinks this same pressure can't make these same preachers "swallow" church support of the colleges, church supported hospitals, church operated homes for unwed mothers (as Ira North advocated in his speech at the Los Angeles sports arena, and as now being promoted by one of the Lubbock congregations), church supported youth camps, baseball teams, boy scout clubs, recreation centers, snack bars, banquet facilities, and such like, he either has his head in the sand or he can't read the signs. At the pace things are going now, is it conceivable that Brother Wallace's own "confession" may yet appear on the pages of the Gospel Advocate, endorsing and supporting all these things---and declaring that he never had really been against them? The only "great body of the church" that "anti-party" which is "everywhere spoken against" and which Brother Wallace wants everybody to know he is "not of"!

I wish Brother Wallace had not "gone out from us" and I'm very grateful that he taught and grounded in the faith so many younger men before his going. But no man is indispensible. Not even Foy E. Wallace. Long after his pen is stilled, and the echo of his last words has died away; long after he and I and the editor of the Firm Foundation (who thinks Wallace's article will "lay to rest this issue") have ceased our efforts; long after the ashes of Cogdill and Tant and Adams and Cope and Bailey and Clark and Miller and some two-thousand other faithful preachers now living lie mingled with the insensible clod; long after the last issues of the Gospel Guardian, the Firm Foundation, Truth Magazine, the Gospel Advocate, The Preceptor and too numerous to mention are dusty and yellowed with the corroding influence of time, the church of the Lord will forge triumphantly ahead until its mission is accomplished and its destiny sealed. La Porte, Texas