Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 28, 1955

The Threat Of Modernism


On the front page this week we carry an article entitled "Modernism In Gospel Advocate Literature." This is the first in a series of six articles on the subject which are to appear in this journal. We have been under frequent urgings for more than five years to publish some articles of this nature. Material in these articles has been carefully checked and re-checked not only by Brother Welch, but by other men who are thoroughly qualified to know modernism when they see it, and to recognize even the hidden and subtle suggestions of it which seem innocent enough to the casual and uninformed student.

Frankly, we have been reluctant to publish this series. And even now we do so only from a sense of duty and because of the increasing evidences being called to our attention of the deadly virus of modernism at work among Gospel Advocate staff writers. Brother Goodpasture is a man of extended financial and business holdings and responsibilities. We hardly conceive it to be physically possible for any one man to manage the huge business he has built up, edit a gospel paper, and still manage to devote sufficient time even to read (much less study and critically examine) the entire series of Sunday School literature which he publishes. It is far more likely that he delegates the task of writing the literature to men in whose soundness he has confidence, and then gives only a cursory reading to the work they submit. If such is the case, he has been betrayed. His confidence is not justified. For the evidence of modernism in his literature is conclusive and compelling. It is there. It cannot be denied.

More than five years have passed since this was first called to our attention. We dismissed the matter as just one of those mistakes of "careless scholarship" which even the best of men will make at times. We judged that the writer of the quarterly had simply not been aware of the modernistic implications of his quotations and comments. But as the years have passed, and as we have traveled over the nation, over and over again we have had these subtle statements and hidden tenets of modernism pointed out to us. A number of faithful churches have quit using the literature because they felt it could not be trusted to teach the truth.

We are still inclined personally to believe that the modernism apparent in the literature is the result more of careless scholarship than of a deliberate and studied effort to lead the churches into the liberal camp. But intentional or unintentional, the end results will be the same. The students who use this literature cannot know the heart and intent of the man who writes it. All they have by which to judge is the written commentary he has produced. And it matters little whether the modernism in that commentary is the result of studied and deliberate purpose, or comes simply from careless and superficial scholarship. The danger to the faith of the student is the same.

It is certainly true that the Gospel Advocate has carried many articles opposing modernism. Even in current issues such can be found. But mostly that which is opposed is modernism in its most aggravated, extreme, and atheistic form. Here is a statement from a front page article of March 17:

"The attitude of the modernist toward the Bible is expressed by Dr. J. P. Pratt of Williams College, 'The Bible has lost all hold on the leaders of thought and certainly is destined before many years to become one of the curiosities of the past. The inspiration of those who spake a 'thus saith the Lord' is of only little higher type than that of the whirling dervishes and heathen medicine men'."

When the Gospel Advocate opposes "modernism" that is the kind of modernism in view. Certainly nothing of that extreme and ultimate nature has ever appeared in any Gospel Advocate quarterly. But let us all remember that modernism is like a disease — it is a disease! — which starts slowly, with only the tiniest deviation possible to imagine from the truth, and then little by little goes on to the final and atheistical rejection of God and His word. When we speak of modernism in Gospel Advocate literature, we speak of the beginning stages of it, not the rotting, cadaverous thing which it become when fully developed.

We solicit from all our readers a very careful study of Brother Welch's articles. They are objective, unbiased and analytical. Brother Welch does not know (nor do we) precisely who is the author of the material being reviewed. Some have told us it is Brother Guy N. Woods others have said Brother Roy Lanier. Both of these men write Gospel Advocate literature, but we do not know which (if either) is responsible for the material under consideration. The ultimate responsibility rests o course on Brother Goodpasture. Some years ago when Brother Roy Cogdill warned of the modernism in this literature, Brother Goodpasture challenged him to produce a single instance of it, with the statement that he would make correction of such. He now has the opportunity. Let us hope he will do the necessary things t remedy the situation.

— F. Y. T.