Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 19, 1957

Who Is A "Sommerite"?

Earl Dale, Harlingen, Texas

In the April 16, 1957, issue of the Firm Foundation, Brother Glenn L. Wallace wrote an article under the heading, "Secret Disciples And Secrets," in which he brands all brethren who oppose congregations' turning over their funds and work of benevolence to one congregation, for the elders of that one congregation to plan, oversee, and execute the benevolence to which all the congregations are equally related (or not related at all because of kinsfold responsibilities — I Tim. 5:1-16), as "church-busting Sommerites."

Now, in order to sustain his very serious accusation against his brethren, we humbly challenge Brother Wallace to produce Bible authority (not past practices of the brethren — the only proof he gave) for such an organization between and among congregations as the above. If he can do so, then I, for one, will make public acknowledgement through the pages of the Gospel Guardian, the Firm Foundation, and the Gospel Advocate, for opposing such organizations. If perchance Brother Wallace can NOT produce Bible authority for the thing he defends, then I call upon him to make public confession of error for upholding and defending an unscriptural arrangement between and among congregations. Is that fair enough? Will Brother Wallace do it?

If I am a "Sommerite" for opposing an unscriptural arrangement just because Daniel Sommer opposed such an organization outside the local congregation, then Brother Wallace is a "Sommerite" for opposing the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy and sprinkling for baptism. Sommer opposed both of those doctrines! And we believe Wallace is in full agreement with Sommer in his opposition to theme.

Why did not Brother Wallace offer some scripture to sustain his idea that New Testament churches can "pool their funds" and work into the hands of one eldership? It would have been much better for him to have produced a passage of scripture authorizing an arrangement by which one eldership can plan, oversee, and execute a work of benevolence for which all the churches are equally responsible than for him to have tried to becloud the issue and create prejudice in the minds of his brethren by the old pharisaical labeling weapon: "If you can't answer the question, smear the questioner."

But who is the "Sommerite?" Brother Sommer's followers have contended that one preacher has the right to "oversee" several congregations — until such time as those congregations have elders. This is what is known as "evangelistic authority and control of a plurality of churches." Brother Wallace believes that one eldership can exercise the authority and control the funds and work of a plurality of congregations (even with elders!) if those congregations voluntarily surrender their funds and work to the "overseeing" eldership. This is the position he is seeking to uphold in his defense of the orphan (?) homes and homes for the aged among us. Now. why is one a "Sommerite" if he believes in "evangelistic authority over several churches without elders." but NOT a "Roman Catholic" if he believes in "one eldership authority and control over funds and work of a plurality of congregations with elders?" Let Brother Wallace try to pull HIS Own feet out of his own mud-hole!

His charge that brethren who oppose the unscriptural organization of orphan homes and homes for aged among us have "called for an all-out war against any kind of co-operation between two or more organizations" and have "declared themselves the enemy of any homes for orphans or the aged" is, I believe, a deliberate and malicious falsehood! I think he knows that his wicked charge is not true; and I challenge him to deny that he knew it was a false charge. Where is the brother among us who believes that a local congregation can NOT take care of its own indigent members? Name the brother who teaches that the local congregation can NOT take care of its "widows indeed." (I Tim. 5:16.) Name the brother who teaches that it is wrong for congregations to "cooperate" as in Acts 11; II Corinthians 8 and 9, and I Corinthians 16. These passages do not fit your inter-congregational organizational set-up as are found among us today; but they do teach "co-operation" — and faithful preachers believe in such.

I believe Brother Wallace's entire article was an appeal to prejudice, and was written to becloud the issue. Those who are influenced by it will not want to give an unbiased examination to the innovations now threatening to carry the church into another apostasy. This man is hardly the one to call upon the brotherhood for a quiet, peaceful, loving, unprejudiced, and brotherly study of the issues when, in the same article he is screaming. "Sommerite!" instead of citing scripture!

Surely, discerning brethren will note that Brother Wallace did not offer any Bible proof whatever for that which he is trying to defend. His only attempt at proof for his institutions was the charge: "these brethren have come to reject all plans of work that have been followed by our brethren for many years." Let me ask him: How many years have the Roman Catholics been counting beads? Does the length of time a thing is practiced have anything to do with its scripturalness? Following that line of argument, we would all have to join the Catholics! If Brother Wallace is going to discuss these issues, then we call upon him to grapple with them like a man, and quit using the dishonorable and vicious practice of trying to "smear" those who oppose him by labeling them as "Sommerites." They are no more "Sommerites" than is he!