Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1951
NUMBER 35, PAGE 6,11b

An Open Letter To Ernest Beam

James R. Cope

Mr. Ernest Beam, Editor The Christian Forum P. 0. Box 91

Long Beach, California

Dear Sir:

Your letter of November 28 is in hand. You set a deadline for me to meet if I expect to answer you in The Christian Forum. I am not concerned about meeting deadlines for my articles to appear in The Christian Forum since I am not a staff writer on this paper.

You charged me with violating the Golden Rule in sending my reply to your "Open Letter" to journals other than The Christian Forum, but I did as I would have you do to me. You are at perfect liberty to say anything, anytime, anywhere, to anybody about me or the principles for which I stand.

Your unusual concern about having everything that I write on the "fellowship" issue, as it relates to your writing, appear only in The Christian Forum is not only puerile—it is absurd and illogical. And the height of all presumption is your suggestion that I promise for other "school men" and "editors" the right for Ernest Beam to be heard through their channels of communication, over which I have no control. Your alarm over my sending "An Open Reply To An Open Letter" to any publication other than The Christian Forum, and your strictures on other papers and brethren convict you of the very "sectarianism" you claim to abhor.

My understanding of an "open letter" is that it is purposely written for the information of others as well as to whom it is addressed. I never before knew an "open reply" meant anything else, but in your rebuke of me for sending my "open reply" through other channels is but another indication of your own "sectarian" spirit while condemning it in others. In other words, to you "open" does not mean "open."

For your information I sent "An Open Reply To An Open Letter" to the Firm Foundation, The Gospel Advocate, and the Gospel Guardian. It is my right to send articles to any paper I choose; it is the editor's right to accept or reject them. It was your right to address "An Open Letter" to editors and "the brethren of our Christian colleges;" it is their right to answer (or refuse to answer) through any medium they choose. Because of critical conditions in the church I chose to answer as I did. So far as I know, neither of these papers, except the Guardian, has seen fit to carry my article. Such, whatever the reason, is their right. It also is your right to keep me from being heard in the Forum, "which you have indicated you will do if I fail to comply with your conditions, viz., that I confine my articles only to the Forum or that I guarantee you equal space in papers over which I have no control but which may carry my articles. For your further information this letter is also going to the Firm Foundation, The Gospel Advocate, and the Gospel Guardian.

There have been others prior to your endeavor who have sought "to demonstrate before the whole brotherhood" its general in competency and its sectarian spirit in opposing human innovations, but God has ever had watchmen on the walls to detect the innovations and "mark" the innovators. You seem to feel that the brotherhood has an obligation to subscribe to The Christian Forum and meet the conditions you wish to stipulate in discussing any issue you wish to raise. Such an obligation does not exist. I was under no obligation to write anything exclusively for the Forum nor did I recognize any restrictions on my writing when I sent it to you; however, I allowed you to print "An Open Reply To An Open Letter" and also sent it to other papers believing that such would serve as a warning to brethren everywhere. The logic of the restrictions which you would impose on my writing would obligate me never to oppose a Methodist's sprinkling, a Baptist's errors on apostasy, a Catholic's glorification of Mary, Mohammed's conception of heaven, or a heathen's polytheism unless there are representatives of each present at every service where I expose their error, or assure them of access to every channel I employ to expose their error. Did you never read "Them that sin, rebuke before all that others also may fear?" When I replied to your attack in which you branded all the school men and editors as being responsible for divisions, I did so for the benefit of others as well as thinking it might possibly bring you to your senses. If my letter had never gone to the Forum the very fact that you read it elsewhere is proof positive that I had no desire to deprive you of its contents. There are other "e;forums" in the brotherhood but the editor of each has the perfect right to direct the discussion therein and exclude that which he considers unprofitable. This is the identical right of which you obviously are so jealous as indicated by the restrictions you impose on me. Your restrictions are "forthright, a little caustic perhaps" but you have a perfect right to impose them.

I believe that the Golden Rule does not permit any man to be judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney for the brotherhood at the same time. Therefore, as I see fit to write on any issue I shall do so all the while seeking such channels of expression as may be available at the time. Before any of the current religious journals were born there were those who liked to blame the early Restoration editors with the same evils you now attribute to them. Somehow the church prevailed in spite of the appeasers and methinks that the truth will again triumph notwithstanding obvious trends away from the New Testament pattern in some quarters.

You say that you are anxious to show the brotherhood one of two things: (1) that no man can "defend the disfellowshipping loyalty tests" imposed by brethren against "good brethren;" (2) but if you fail to get such a discussion to be directed by you in The Christian Forum you intend to "demonstrate before the whole brotherhood that no man with the Gospel Advocate or the Firm Foundation, or any of the schools, can and will appear, and proceed in ways we all have counted open, free; full, fair with reference to other such studies where believers differ."

Suppose that you succeed in either or both of your objectives, what do you then propose to do? Will you then be in position to "disfellowship" the Advocate, Foundation, and school men? And what about the other editors? Are Goodpasture and Showalter the only "sectarians?" Where do Yater Tant, Foy Wallace, E. C. Fuqua, James A. Allen, and several others stand on your list ? Did you intend to include Hugh Tiner, E. V. Pullias, Ralph Wilburn, and all the Pepperdine Faculty among the "school men?" And Jimmie Lovell—is he in or out of your classifications?

These are some questions that have occurred to me. Some of the editors and other school men may want to know whether they will still be in the "brotherhood" when the "Great Change" has transpired.

Still yours for truth and right, JAMES R. COPE, President Florida Christian College

P. S. I may write further on the "fellowship" issue as I think proper.