Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 16, 1967

The "Middle-Of-The-Road' Strategem

William E. Wallace

Reuel Lemmons has become a major issue The editor of the Firm Foundation is a brotherhood enigma. By virtue of the importance of the editorial chair which he occupies, Brother Lemmons is an important influential figure. He has maneuvered himself into the limelight as champion of the middle-of-the-road. The middle-of-the-road has taken on a quality which it has never known before. Brethren are turning more and more to a discussion of just what is this middle-of-the-road so subtlety advanced by the Austin, Texas editor?

The middle-of-the-road is enticing and everyone wants to be in or on whatever it is. There are a lot of preachers, a lot of people, and a lot of churches who are taking their stand with Reuel Lemmon's middle-of-the-road, but they cannot define what the middle-of-the-road is! But it sounds good to say, "We are in the middle-of-the-road." We ask what it is, and folks turn away with tongues in cheeks. But whatever it is, they are supposed to be in it!

Reuel Lemmons writes frequently of the extremes on both sides of his middle-of-the-road. But he has not given a clear, candid definition of what he calls the left wing and the right wing. Neither has he clarified his own middle-of-the-road position. He has at times injected specific thrusts in his articles toward both conservative and liberal positions, but these thrusts have been concealed in muddled language. It is quite difficult, without challenging his motives, to tell just what he is condemning.

It is evident that he does not like the liberal idea that elders cannot oversee an orphan institution as elders, and it appears that he cannot swallow liberal theories which deny the all-sufficiency of the local church. Yet we wonder if there will be some diversion on these things when necessary in order to keep the middle-of-the-road appearance shining before the brotherhood. We cannot forget how the Gospel Advocate backed him down some years ago.

Many of the liberal brethren are classifying themselves in Lemmon's middle-of-the-road. One liberal preacher who has been a champion for the college-in-the-budget movement, told me that he was right in Lemmon's middle-of -the-road. But I do not believe the Firm Foundation editor would have him!

While editor Lemmons contends he is a fair middle-of-the-roader, he has been wooed by the liberal elements, and he has done more than just flutter his eye lashes. He has embraced the liberal contentions while ridiculing the conservative views. When the middle-of-the-road approach seems to waver he tenderly loosens the embrace and passes a glancing or indirect slap toward various liberal contentions.

His vehemence is turned on conservative positions, his love-pats are directed toward the liberal contentions. This makes his middle-of-the-road appear quite off center. Reuel Lemmons is a strategist. It may be that he is sincerely attempting to pull the brotherhood together, but does he want unity based upon a deceived brotherhood?

The Firm Foundation editor appears ready to use every opportunity to enhance his personal lot in this middle-of-the-road movement. Where unfortunate circumstances involving abuse of his name and character exist, he has opportunity to exploit the matter for his own good. When there are obvious misrepresentations of his writings, Brother Lemmons has opportunity to turn things in his favor. Yes, he is a strategist, and he is playing his hand boldly.

Brother Lemmons can do much to help clarify the issue which he has raised, which he has become, by stating his position as to what the middle-of-the-road is, and by defining and describing what he 'classifies as the left-wing and the right-wing. In an editorial some years ago he says; "We are happy to state our position: We are opposed to both of them." But who knows what position he means?

If the editor will state his position clearly, contrast it with a clear statement of what he considers the left and right wing to be, we would be in a better position to evaluate his middle-of-the-road.

Brother Lemmons talks about the main body of which he claims to be a part, and the wings which have cut off sharply to the right and to the left. He sounds like a Disciples of Christ writer who claims that the Disciples of Christ is the main body and that the churches of Christ represent an extremist wing. It is a lot easier to say things like this than it is to get right down to what the New Testament teaches a:id defend a well defined position.

This middle-of-the-road thing is certainly a peculiar looking critter!

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