Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Shall Not Pass - (1)
Wm. E. Wallace
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, a lion injured, or a genius aroused to hate. Since the beginning of the 1950's, perhaps before, a gnawing resentment and a lingering contempt have grown in the heart of Foy E. Wallace, Jr. The sick heart leaked bitterness across the country until 1959 when it cracked and bled in an article in the Firm Foundation, May 26, 1959. Then in 1964 there was another bursting (Firm Foundation, April 28, 1964). Now comes an erupting, in book form - "The Current Issues."
Anything Foy E. Wallace, Jr. does, he does outstandingly. Beyond the venerable hoary head, the senatorial appearance, and the attractive pulpit deportment there is a capacity for resentment, contempt and bitterness which matches his other characteristics and attributes in productivity and skill. Relatively few have seen this man's ill will displayed in full fury, but those of us who have seen it, and have been objects of it, can see behind the remarkable phraseology of bitterness in The Current Issues to an aging man bent on revenge and vindication.
For a son to write like this about his father may be unprecedented. I feel much as Jonathan must have felt before his erring and irate father, King Saul of Israel. But Dad's attacks continue, and the nature and objects of his attacks force me from the realm of filial respect to the area of the defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. It is time for me to speak, and I can say more, and I have more to reveal, than I will say now. Someday, in defense of the Cause, I may have to write a book too, on the Current Issue, Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
I have been estranged from Dad since 1953. All the sincere approaches, honest confessions, and earnest apologies sent by letters, mutual friends and blood relatives have been rebuffed by him. Every attempt to see him, to apologize to him personally, has ended embarrassingly as a failure.
Through the years since the early 1950's, before Foy E. Wallace, Jr. openly associated himself with the institutional and cooperative forces he once fought, conservative brethren wondered why he would not write, longing for his help, for his genius. I suspected that some day he would disappoint these brethren. I knew that few would believe me, and I suggested this to but a few.
Back in the middle 1950's it was reported to me by mutual acquaintances that Dad had boasted that when he did decide to write he would blow the top off of the institutional and cooperative controversy. They thought they knew what he meant, but I figured he meant something different than they thought.
I am not claiming any clairvoyant insight. I knew Dad's inclination to bitterness. I knew of the first signs of his search to find someway to distinguish himself from the brethren with whom he once stood. I knew of his financial distress after cutting himself loose from conservative brethren and churches with his bitterness. I saw Institutional and cooperative interests began to underwrite him financially. We all have witnessed the courtship and wedding between Foy E. Wallace and the liberals. It has hurt us all it has cut us to the quick, and made us heartsick. This I believe is exactly what Foy E. Wallace, Jr. wanted to do to us. He would destroy us. But he cannot. He will not. He shall not pass.
In my more youthful days I was bent on doing my own thinking and sought to get out from under the direct influence and overwhelming power of my Dad's ability. In this desire my attitude toward him was often wrong and my actions, particularly my letter writing, were sinful. It is for this is that I have sought his forgiveness.
In these early years of my preaching Dad was fearful that I would be taken in by the very liberal forces with which he is now associated. In a letter dated June 6, 1952 he said to me, "I do not know of anything calculated to do you more immediate potential harm than to be drawn into these 'cooperative plans.' I'm not all surprised that .........., , from Central in Nashville would give the plan moral support, for they are associated with the centralization that we have been fighting, and Central in Nashville is the church that started these liberal movements a few years ago - It would be too bad for you to join in with them - and would please those who have fought us on various issues for you to do so - They will give you a pat on the back, then hold a private jubilee that one of my boys had joined the 'Cooperative' movement." Dad's marriage to the 'Cooperative' movement, celebrated in the jubilees given for him at Freed-Hardeman College, at a testimonial dinner in Dallas with George Benson and company, and perhaps in other places and on other occasions, is quite ironic in view of the past warnings to me.
In another letter received about the same time in 1952, but not dated, Dad said, "We are headed the same way digression started when I began preaching. Your grandfather fought it - great Texas and Tennessee preachers fought it - Lipscomb, Srygleys even predicted the practices of Preacher's Meetings which later became conventions McGary, McCarty, Savage, Foy E. Wallace, Sr., Whiteside, F. L. Young, Warlick, E. H. Rogers, F. W. Smith and A. G. Freed stood together in Texas. Many of our preachers then as many are now - couldn't see' the trends." He said further in this letter, "There is a line drawn and I am on the side of the great men I've mentioned who held the original line in Texas, and I shall stand there and stay there till I die." - But he didn't stay there; he doesn't stand there. He is in different company now. The sage has gone sour.
Earlier in a letter dated July 14, 1952 Dad warned, "Since you are obviously confused, I hope you will stay out of all these so-called Cooperative Plans until your thinking has matured better than your letters indicate. You will become aligned in the papers and before the brethren if you do not watch your step, with the wrong side, and it will permanently impair your influence with sound people upon whom the future of the church depends." Foy E. Wallace, Jr. has changed, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding, He is now where he warned me not to go.
The Current Issues - Bitterness Erupted
I will now give consideration to his crowning accomplishment in bitter literature the book, The Current Issues, and to the reasons and circumstances underlying his bitterness. Others like Luther Blackmon, Bill Cavender, Cecil Willis, A. Hugh Clark and Bryon Vinson, Sr. have answered Dad's attacks, and they all did well. But in view of the appearing in book form of the Firm Foundation articles, with additions, it is well to give attention to these attacks again.
The bitterness of Foy E. Wallace, seen in its ripened stage in his 73-page book The Current Issues, has its origin during a prolonged period of despondency in the late 1940's and early 1950's. In those years Foy E. Wallace, Jr. sank into a deep and dark despondency. He was scarred from brotherhood battles, deeply cut by personal attacks from brethren, grieved by the death of his father, burdened by financial distress, and worried over personal, family and health matters. He contemplated retiring from the public scene, planned on "hiding out" in the expanses of southwest Texas, like Elijah in the wilderness under the juniper tree, and in much the same spirit.
In this deep depression his attitudes, plans, and conduct seemed strange to all who were close to him. But what they did in an attempt to help him personally, to keep his publications in the mails, to keep the fight - his fight - going, was misunderstood by him, and unwelcome. Unguarded and ill-advised remarks about him in this condition got back to him, enlarged and exaggerated. He began to suspicion motives, judge actions, and interprets help and criticism as efforts to "get him." A local church disturbance in Texas and disagreements and misunderstandings over business and publication policy figured importantly in his growing resentment. He took on a persecution complex. Men from Nashville to Lufkin to Austin were out to get him. So he assumed. So he honestly believed. So he was sick.
Then it came my involvement. We exchanged letters. Mine were disrespectful. He wanted me to share his attitudes toward those from whom he had turned. I could not. I suggested to him that he was alienating himself from loyal brethren and loyal churches, and that in his present condition he was leading my mother to an early grave. This he resented deeply. My mother did indeed fall ill, nigh unto death. She survived, with some paralysis. But Dad charged that my actions, my letters, and my warnings, supposedly dictated to me by his alleged enemies, were the causes of her illness. However, he wrote in the Gospel Advocate, January 22, 1953; "Since she has never had abnormal blood pressure it appears that a vascular condition produced the hemiplegia."
Since those days Dad has interpreted every report, viewed every division, judged every issue, seen every controversy and responded to every act with embittered eyes. His natural ability to do everything outstandingly enables him to often restrain his contempt behind his most impressive kingly demeanor. But bitterness is there, and is seen so vividly in The Current Issues by those who have known Foy E. Wallace, Jr. intimately.
The initial ten pages of The Current Issues are compounded with arbitrary opinions and loose assertions as to the nature of the so-called movement and its alleged leadership. Review these ten pages and see mean arbitrariness dipped in bitterness and rolled in expert phraseology. "Ambitionists," "unreliable leadership," "unbalanced reason," "Merchants of mischief," "clique of cranks" - these are some of the key words to his mean bitterness. The remarkable thing about his attacks is the similarity of his line with that of N. B. Hardeman and G. C. Brewer who were -on the offensive against Dad and the "Bible Banner boys" in 1947.
The "movement" is pictured as splintering, waning, and disintegrating. If this be true, why use so much paper space in fighting it? If it is dying it would seem that he wants to spit in the face of the suffering rascal, and kick him in the teeth. More likely, he sees its vitality and would wish for its death. At the end of the book he calls it a "major hindrance," indicating a potent influence. While there are some differences in the so-called anti-movement, and some "cranks" of the Sentinel of Truth variety, it is certain that our problems are not as complex, as involved or as serious as those threatening the movement with which Foy E. Wallace, Jr. is now associated. We call to witness his recent publication on the Holy Spirit and other recent writings in which he takes to task the collegians, pietists, and modernists among his new found associates, the liberals. He knows we are not dying. He says we are mad, but the truth is, he is the one who is mad - mad at everyone who stands where he formerly stood, and more than mad at those who resurrect his writings to prove that Foy E. Wallace, Jr. once stood here. We are reminded here of N. B. Hardeman's article against Cled and Foy Wallace entitled "The Banner Boys Become Enraged" (Gospel Advocate, October 23, 1947).
He says "no man past or present has been or is the subject of malice or object of personal opposition" (Page 9). Who can believe it? He is mad, and those who have known him best know what he is mad about and who he is mad at.
On page 10 he denies changing and accuses others of being the champion "switcheroorers of all time." But look at his attitude as expressed in TORCH, October 1950, page 23: "Any man who would say that he has ~ever sanctioned, approved or participated in some activities of churches that he did not later find necessary to reverse would be an egotist and could not be trusted for honesty." Foy E. Wallace is the one who has made the big change. It is regrettable to have to say it, but it looks like N. B. Hardeman was right when he said in the Gospel Advocate, October 23, 1947: "Foy's radical changes on vital issues declare him unstable Being unstable, he cannot be a safe leader. One may follow him today, and tomorrow he will be on the opposite of the issue."
"A Party of Propaganda and Subversion"
In the second section of the booklet, Dad charges that "the writings of revered men have been raped" (Page 11). Who could improve on that phraseology! He did not refer to any certain writing which has been ravaged, but we are quite willing to reproduce the writings of F. B. Srygley, to whom he does refer, and the writings of others of whom he thinks, and show that Srygley and these others who wrote on organization and cooperation were not in accord then and would not now be in accord with what is going on among those with whom Foy E. Wallace is now associated. In the new TORCH we are in the process of reproducing "the writings of revered men" by the photographic process to show conclusively that the "revered men" stood where we now stand.
In his own disclaimers as to believing as we do, the careful reader will note Dad's evasiveness - something quite foreign to his earlier writings. What he does say: "My writings did not apply then and do not apply now to what these men are saying and doing." ". . . I do not believe and have never believed what these men are now teaching and practicing, and that I do not belong to their party." (Pages 12-13). He does not say that he never opposed church support of orphanages or that he never opposed the Herald of Truth set-up. Perhaps his denials must be understood with reference to some sort of mental reservation on his part. Has anyone seen in print anywhere a statement by him where he precisely endorses church support of benevolent institutions and the Herald of Truth? He says he has not changed. Watch his phraseology. More on this later.
It is strange that Dad takes issue with our use of the term liberal to apply to the institutional and cooperative forces in the church, for that is exactly how he used the term in a letter from which I quoted earlier in this paper.
He says, "There is no source for the corruption of the church in an orphanage." But writing under the sub-beading of CARE and JEKYLL AND HYDE, Torch, Vol. 1, No. 3, September 1950, page 32, he takes to task Boles Orphan Home and concludes, "When an institution expands into such a general thing that it becomes a public institution, with an organization board to run it, the time has come to cut it completely loose from the church, and let it stand on its own secular institutional legs. For it to claim to be a church orphanage, but operating as a secular institution, with all of the secularism that belongs to any of the eleemonsynary institutions, of either private or government ownership, is simply to play the role of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. We have had too much of that sort of thing."
Dad's attacks on us recall the kind of unsavory charges made from "Christian Church" circles such as the following from an editorial in the Christian Standard, March 5, 1959: "In 1906, the 'Church of Christ,' or a handful of leaders, made a mockery of a glorious plea by crystallizing a large part of an undenominational movement into a sect with an unscriptural prohibition as its chief tenet." How strange hearing Foy E. Wallace, Jr. sing to this sort of tune!
(To Be Continued)
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 5, pp. 7-10