Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1956

Brother Lyles And The "Special Issue"

Luther Blackmon, Houston, Texas

Brother Cleon Lyles does not like the Special Issue of the Gospel Guardian. In the June 26th issue of the Firm Foundation he writes under the title, "Division the Road to Unity." In this article he makes the absurd and false charge that the writers of the Special Issue repeatedly affirm that they are divided among themselves, and that they send forth this paper of "disagreement" as a means of bringing about unity! Hear it in his own words: "I read a Special Issue of a paper recently that was written for the express purpose of bringing about unity among God's people . . . . In the very beginning the editor stated that the writers for that paper did not all agree. I read the paper and learned that he was right. They did not all agree. In fact the line-up presented one of the best disagreed groups I have ever seen. Not only in the editorial, but in a number of other places, attention was called to the fact that they did not agree." A little further down he puts these words into the mouths of the writers, "We are disagreed. We present here proof of our disagreement. Read these articles and you will see that we do not agree. Now we present this paper of disagreement as the solution to your troubles, in order to bring about unity." Then he remarks, "Somehow that does not quite make sense to me." That is the understatement of the week, I dare say.

Brother Lyles must have known when he made these statements that he was falsifying. The only reference made in that paper to any disagreement among the writers was the statement from Brother Tant in the editorial that "not all the men who write agree on every problem and question before the brotherhood .. .." Yet, Brother Lyles says, "not only in the editorial but in a number of other places, attention was called to the fact that they did not agree." Where, Brother Lyles? What writer called attention to the fact that they did not agree? Certainly these writers called attention to the fact that there is division in the church over these issues, but that is not what Brother Lyles meant. If it is what he meant, his statement is too childish to deserve attention. It puts him in the role of one who scorns men for discussing unity among brethren because they recognize that there is division among brethren! Let us suppose there is an epidemic of polio in Little Rock. Brother Lyles is a doctor. The other doctors meet to discuss measures for fighting the disease. Brother Lyles says, "How ridiculous! Discussing measures to fight polio when they all admit that somebody has polio!"

He is not that simple-minded. That is not what he meant. He was trying to weaken the influence of this paper and these writers by charging that they were writing on unity while fighting among themselves. Being unable to answer the argument set forth in the articles, he resorted to the only weapon he had left, I presume, deceit and misrepresentation.

Brother Lyles knows, of course, that he is protected from exposure by the iron curtain policy of the Firm Foundation's editor. No one will be allowed to answer his charges (in that paper) however misleading and untrue. He can strut and swagger in perfect safety. If he and the editor of the Firm Foundation find any satisfaction in a victory thus won, they are welcome to it. But there comesto my mind just here something that I read, or heard, and which I like: "The brave do not live long enough — the fearful do not live at all." And I am of the opinion that in their moments a reflection these brethren must surely sense the unspoken words of contempt and resentment chat intelligent men and women feel for such unfairness.

Our brother tried to make some observations on the article by Charles Holt and missed the point completely. Holt was suggesting some "methods" that might be used by a congregation in caring for its needy within the framework of the congregation. Brother Lyles wants to know where Holt gets his command, example, or necessary inference for these suggested methods. I don't suppose anyone thinks that we have to have a command, example, or necessary inference for every METHOD employed by a congregation in doing its work. We are all agreed, I presume, that when the Lord tells us to do a thing, and does not tell us how to do it, the "how" is left up to our discretion. But the trouble with Brother Lyles is that he does not distinguish between methods and organizations. In speaking of the benevolent work of the church he says, "Of course all of us recognize that the Bible says do it, but I have not yet found the method for doing it." Brother Lyles, have you found the organization for doing it? You say, "God says do it; but I have not found the method of doing it." Question: Did God tell us what organization? Is an organization like Boles Home a method, Brother Lyles? If so, would a similar organization for preaching the gospel be a method?

If the elders of a church can bundle up the orphans and old folks and send them off to the elders of some other church to look after for them, is that a method by which this church does its work? If this same congregation sent its ungodly members to another church, assuming they would go, to be disciplined, would that be a method by which the sending church is doing its work ?

I await your silence.