Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 22, 1951
NUMBER 45, PAGE 10-11b

President Pullias Preaches A Pre-Easter Sermon

Chas. A. Campbell, Akron, Ohio

"This is the second in a series of religious articles being written by laymen to run in the Nashville Tennessean during the pre-Easter season. The articles are to come from all denominations and from all sections of Nashville.

"For each of these articles the Tennessean is sending $25 for the religious or charitable purpose designated by the author."

The above statements appeared in the Nashville Tennessean recently as introductory to the "pre-Easter" article written by Athens Clay Pullias, president of David Lipscomb College. While it is a well-known fact that brother Pullias spends much of his time campaigning for funds for David Lipscomb College and "Christian education," most of us who are acquainted with him and his work were under the impression that he still considered himself a gospel preacher. In fact, we have entertained the idea that he was committed to the New Testament position that all Christians are obligated to preach the word; and, therefore, that "clergy" and "laity" do not exist in the Lord's church and cannot constitute classes among his people. We did not know that it had become necessary for him to accept the denominational designation of a "layman." This might be excused on the grounds that the newspapers often misrepresent the position of the Lord's people in various ways, but brother Pullias undoubtedly knew under what circumstances he was going to write his "pre-Easter" sermon. So, he could have conveniently requested the paper to represent him in a scriptural manner.

However, the apparent permission of brother Pullias to refer to him as a "layman" is not as discouraging, or disgusting, rather, as the fact that he wrote an article "to run in the Nashville Tennessean during the pre-Easter season." For, certainly, if there is a "pre-Easter season," there in an Easter season. One declared in the Scriptures. Brother Pullias will not deny this obvious fact. That is, unless he has thrown the Bible completely over-board and decided to launch Lipscomb's ship upon the sea of theological traditions and denominational dogmas and direct her course altogether toward sectarian shores, in his zeal for "Christian education." If such is the case, he should no longer sail under false colors by pretending to uphold the blood stained banner of the mighty Sovereign whose word stilled the storm nineteen centuries ago, and whose word is still able to silence the winds and waves of opposition by which some are made to forsake the ship of Zion for the more modern vessels of those who have proven traitors to His cause.

That there is an Easter, though, in a Biblical sense, is the very point to be proved. The New Testament is not authority for the idea; and surely brother Pullias is aware of it. If he is not, he most assuredly should be. If he is, why did he allow the thousands of subscribers to the Nashville Tennessean and the hundreds of students in David Lipscomb College to conclude otherwise as a result of his sensational sermon published especially for the "pre-Easter season?" Is such an example in the president of a Christian college conducive to building spiritual strength in the young preachers under his influence, and which is so necessary to denouncing denominational error and contending for the faith? Is this proof that young men and women are not safe in seeking an education in any other place than the schools operated by the brethren? Would the president of a denominational theological seminary have done differently? Could he have done worse? Is such a demonstration of absolute disregard for the principles of New Testament Christianity the guarantee that the young men who are leaving the colleges among us and standing in the pulpits before us are qualified to be trusted with the sacred duty of preaching the word? Can we well expect them to obey the divine commandment to "preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine?" Shall we not, rather, logically expect them to qualify in the category of teachers referred to in the succeeding verse. (I understand fully who is spoken of as having itching ears; and I also understand that some will satisfy them) Surely, if the young men under such influence are bound to be sound in the faith, it is in spite of, and not because of, such influence.

Easter is mentioned one time in the King James version of the Bible, but the pre-judicial error has been corrected in the succeeding translations—even some made by Catholics. Moreover, the context shows conclusively and undeniably that the passover is the feast mentioned in Luke's report of the occasion of Peter's imprisonment; and not the celebration of heathenish Easter, which, has been incorporated in Catholicism, appropriated by Protestantism, and is now being insinuated into churches of Christ by such compromising gestures as those made by brother Pullias.

Why did not brother Pullias decline the invitation to prepare the articles unless he could have a free hand to write the truth specifically applicable to the situation? Had he presented the facts about Easter, he might have caused some who read the article to become doubtful of denominationalism. As it is, he has confirmed such persons in one of denominationalism's most cherished dogmas. And, even the comments he made upon the isolated text which he chose as a basis for his "pre-Easter" sermon were as far from the substance of Christ's admonition to the saints in Ephesus during Rome's persecution of Christians as Easter is from divine origin. There was not one distinctive feature of pure, unadulterated Christianity mentioned. The illustrative material with which the article abounded glorified human privation and perseverance regardless of the motivating principle involved or the objective sought. Christ's cross and Paul's thorn were alluded to, but so were the misfortunes of others who had not the remotest connection with the overcoming suggested in the language of the Lord. The same John who delivered the message to Ephesus wrote: "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." However, faith is the very factor with which brother Pullias seemed not to be concerned. Which fact forces me to submit, that although I do not know which "denomination" brother Pullias was representing in his own mind, he certainly did a superb job of representing all of them in his doctrinal attitude.

No doubt the twenty five dollars paid for the article was contributed to David Lipscomb College to assist some young person in securing a "Christian education." What, though, is Christianity? What is Christian education? Do they consist of no more than ethical training free from all doctrinal standards? If Christian education amounts to no more than proper moral environment, there are denominational schools which are, ordinarily, as strict in that respect as those among us. And, they would teach as much truth and no more error about Easter than brother Pullias is responsible for in his connection with the Tennessean's "pre-Easter" parade of lectures by "laymen."

For the benefit of those who try to persuade themselves to think that they believe any person who dares criticize the capers of the colleges to be opposed to the colleges and practically a Sommerite, let me insist that such conditions in the colleges, together with the campaigning for funds for colleges from church treasuries, are the most powerful and potent weapons ever placed in the hands of the anti-element. And, those who compromise with them, instead of justly and honestly criticizing their errors, are aiding and abetting the schismatics and share in the evil done by them.