Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 19, 1954
NUMBER 15, PAGE 6,10b

Now The Sommers Are Astir

Jack L. Holt, Indianapolis, Indiana

In the May 6, issue of the GOSPEL GUARDIAN I had an article entitled "The Seat of Sommerism Astir." In the article I set forth the facts concerning the proposed debate that is to take place here in Indianapolis, between Brother Charles Holt and Brother W. L. Totty. The article recorded the events that took place before and slightly after the signing of the propositions. It especially mentioned the events that took place at the Belmont Church the Sunday afternoon when Charles spoke on "Institutionalism."

In the article I referred to Indianapolis, as the "Seat of Sommerism." I wrote of the "mischievous doctrines" of the Sommers and related that these doctrines had brought death and decay to many congregations in this and other sections. The article not only recorded the stirrings that had taken place in Indianapolis, but it did a little stirring of its own. It especially caused a stir in the lair of the Sommers, and Allan Sommer, Editor of the American Christian Review, was prodded by it so much that in the last issue of his paper he comes out of his den and snarls at me for a page or two. He also sharpens his claws on some old bait, Brother G. C. Brewer, whom he affectionately calls "Grovie." In his article Allan charges me with loose reporting, prejudice, and just plain bungling of facts. He then attempts to give his readers a factual report of what happened that Sunday afternoon. He takes time out in his statement of facts (?) to take a few side swipes at one and all who have incurred his wrath and who rest under the Sommer anathema. He vainly tries to convince his readers that Brother Charles and I are a little on the stupid side and that we don't even agree with each other. He then states that the Guardian is a half-baked Sommerite sheet, a Johnny-come-lately paper, which in spite of its claims to the contrary refuses to publish both sides of an issue.

In his factual report (?) Allan says that after Brother Charles' speech I arose and "bravely offered Brother Totty three propositions for him to affirm and just as bravely offered nothing that the Belmont Church and associates cared to affirm . . . an hour and a half's negative, but nothing constructive to offer." It seems that Allan is as illogical as some of the chief progressives among us. They all are obsessed with the idea that it is wrong to call any teaching or practice in question unless we are willing to affirm its wrong. They further demand that we should not be heard until we present a better plan for doing the thing called in question. This is not the negative obligation. It is the obligation of the affirmative to show that he is right. If he can prove by the scriptures that his practice is right he will by that act quell all opposition from sincere souls. But if he cannot give the scriptures that authorize his practice then it stands condemned, and should be opposed by all who hate every false way. Those whose practice is called in question often have a twofold obligation. They must first prove that what they are doing is right, then they must prove that they are doing right in the right way. There is such a thing as doing a righteous work in the wrong way. I am not interested in giving a better way to do anything until it can be proven that the present way of doing it is right. Those who favor churches working through human institutions should show that it is right to do so, then together we may work for the better way. Until they do so I must continue to oppose such. I do not believe it wrong to ask, "By what authority doest thou these things."

Allan says, "Holt offered nothing to affirm." I wonder if Allan thinks it wise to affirm a negative? If Allan were acquainted with the facts he would know that it was not the practice of the Belmont Church that was called in question. Moreover the Belmont Church issued no challenges for a debate. She was challenged, and as the challenged it was her right to frame the propositions for the debate, which she did. Allan Sommer really doesn't care whether we affirm anything or not. He believes that the Belmont Church and Brother Totty are both wrong. His cry that the Belmont Church offered nothing to affirm was merely an attempt to prejudice his readers against us. The old whimpering cry, "you offer nothing to affirm," is the theme song of the institutional advocates. They well know their practice cannot be defended. Hence, being tormented before the time they began their maudlin wail for sympathy. The verses for this sob story were first written as a prelude to transgression and digression by the advocates of instrumental music. It has now been taken over by the advocates of human institutions, and they sing it loud and strong whenever they are asked for authority for their practice. Now the Sommers have joined their chorus.

Allan says we "offered nothing constructive." This statement from the chief of the Sommers is to be taken lightly. Imagine a Sommer speaking about offering something constructive! It is well known to one and all, familiar with their teachings and their paper The American Christian Review, that they are conspicuous for their failure to offer something constructive.

In the same article in which Allan berates me and the Belmont Church he blows kisses and pitches a little woo in the direction of Brother W. L. Totty. He boasts of Brother Totty's accomplishments that Sunday afternoon saying, "Totty made monkeys of the Holts." He then predicted that Totty will give us a hot time in the debate. The Sadducees and the Pharisees, two enemy factions in the time of Christ, combined forces in an attempt to trap Jesus, so it comes as no surprise to see Allan Sommer singing in Brother Totty's choir.

Allan then states, "The Sommers (against whom Jackie Holt maliciously makes false charges) hold that so long as we have our public schools and the church we do not need to withhold money from Gospel preachers in order to establish sporty, theatrical, Negro-hating but tax free Christian school for teaching either secular or sacred subjects. Totty holds that such so-called Bible colleges and homes should be supported by the church — he consistently goes all the way for his 'religious' programs. But the Guardian group says, 'Wrong for church support,' but 'right for individuals' who make up the church! The Sommers say, 'Wrong for either church or individuals.' Showing up the Guardian crowd as just a bunch of halfway, half-baked `Sommerites'."

The tirade continues as Allan pours out his soul. "Jackie Holt wailed that Totty makes 'those who oppose human institutions' ... 'worse' ... than 'the Sommerites' Well, the Sommers go all the way, they are 'baked' all over when it comes really to opposing humanisms in church work. The Guardian crowd is but half-baked (endorsing individual support but opposing church support of humanisms in church work). So isn't Totty's estimate of them absolutely correct? The Guardian crowd is neither 'cold nor hot' — just `lukewarm' (Rev. 3:16-16) — when it's a question of the sufficiency of the church for teaching the gospel and these modern Laodiceans surely face a dismal future."

I have often heard that hobbyists love extremes and extremists. If Allan continues his courtship of Brother Totty it might not be too many years until one or the other leaves his extremes and holds hands with the other. I look for this budding romance to someday blossom and knowing both Brother Totty and Allan I am made to wonder who will melt who's cold, cold heart.

If anyone has stood in doubt as to the Sommers position on colleges the foregoing paragraph should dispel it. The Sommerites, ONE OF WHOM I AM NOT THE WHICH (Emphasis mine, J.L.H.), say, "Colleges are wrong for either church or individuals." Hence their existence is proof to the Sommers that somebody bad has stolen the Lord's money and built a sinful institution.

Allan tries to make what he calls "The Guardian group," a bunch of half-baked Sommerites. Allan should quit kicking against the pricks and recognize that the truth lies between the two extremes. As one of the "Two hundred brethren" present that Sunday afternoon when Charles spoke on Institutionalism he had the opportunity to hear the truth. He has, however, followed his extreme so long that the truth presented that afternoon left him in a state of shock. This will perhaps account for his misrepresentation of facts and confusion. The doctors say that those suffering from shock should cover up and keep warm. I suggest that Allan renounce his hobby, and wrap himself up and bed down in a few gospel facts, and keep a close watch on his blood pressure and temperature.

In the closing paragraph Allan licks his paws, grins slyly and offers what he considers some good advice. "And here's some free advice to 'Brother Charles' if he Tangles with Totty. You'll be-e-e sor-r-ree! 'cause Totty really knows what to do with a half-baked Sommerite." Now I don't know any sound gospel preacher that is a "Sommerite" in any shape form or fashion; one could not be sound and preach anything peculiar to the Sommers. But whether we fit Allan's classification or not I have some advice for him. You had better not be grabbing things half-baked lest you want your fingers burned. You may pass this information along to your bosom friend W. L. Totty, and if you have any asbestos gloves I advise you to loan them to him. Remember the story of the "Cat and the Chestnuts"? Come October 18-22 there will be a hot time in the "seat of Sommerism."