Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 1, 1951

What Ernest Beam's New "Fellowship" Affords

James R. Cope

Ernest Beam, Editor of The Christian Forum, has recently issued a challenge to various "editors" and "school men" to discuss the "fellowship issue" with him. He has circulated thousands of copies of his paper far and wide, So far, as I know, not a single other school man has written a line or opened his mouth concerning any of the charges Beam has made. Again and again he has alleged that the disfellowshipping of premillennialists, instrumental music users, and society advocates is blameable to the editors of various papers and school men who will have no reply to make to him and who hide "behind editorial walls and the protection of the campus." Beam contends that these are lines of disfellowship which some editor has arbitrarily established and in which the school men have, through fear, acquiesced.

At first, I felt it my solemn duty to answer for myself in view of the widespread circulation given Beam's paper; hence, I sent a reply to his "basis for fellowship" to Editor Beam and also to the Gospel Guardian, Gospel Advocate, and Firm Foundation. Beam published my reply as did the Firm Foundation and Gospel Guardian: When Editor Beam saw my article in the Guardian he became terribly upset because I replied to him through some channel other than his own. He tried to get me to reply to him only in his own paper or assure him equal space in any other paper carrying my writing. If I refused to make such a commitment, said he, "I (Beam) will be forced to conclude the begun study with you in the Open Forum of this paper because of your failure to follow the second greatest of all Bible commandments." Of course I entered no compact and made no contract to confine my replies to Ernest Beam or to any other man to The Christian Forum. I had no such agreement before I replied the first time and have no intention of entering such now.

If Beam's revelation of his own sectarian spirit about my confining my writing to his paper when replying to him were not so serious it would be ridiculous. Above all things he wants the fellowship of all brethren, but the very moment he cannot make my concept of writing conform to his own, he accuses me of violating the Golden Rule and proceeds to disfellowship my feeble efforts from the pages of The Christian Forum. Editor Beam deplores sectarianism among the brethren and decries the thought of disfellowship but his own action toward me speaks louder than any argument he can make. And speaking of "editorial walls" and "protection of the campus," the wall behind which Editor Beam hides is his refusal to discuss the only issues that would give any light, i.e., whether premillennialism, instrumental music, and missionary societies, are "peripheral" matters—and this is what he calls them. He refuses to discuss the issues which have divided brethren and forced the breaking of fellowship all the while "accusing brethren of "labeling" without love and declaring that "fellowship" is the only issue which he is disposed to discuss.

The appeal Ernest Beam is making is calculated to attract the interest and support of many who are disgruntled in one way or another. It will appeal to many who have been critical of brethren who have defended the truth of God against innovators, innovations, compromises, compromisers, appeasers, and appeasement. Not a small number of thoughtful brethren feel that Editor Beam's attitude and channel of expression afford an unexcelled opportunity for "liberals" among us and those colored with modernism to find in his plea for "fellowship," It is to be expected that those who dislike straight-from-the-shoulder preaching and teaching and who cringe at warnings about trends and dangers confronting the church will rally behind Beam's plea for "fellowship." He disavows sectarianism and a party spirit, yet the unscriptural basis upon which he pleads for "taking in everybody" baptized for remission of sins brands him and his disciples as sectarians and partisans evermore. The scriptures he presents as the basis for his new found "fellowship" are twisted, perverted and misapplied, and therefore, do not and cannot teach that which he contends for them. But more later on particular passages.