CEW Dorris on Cled Wallace’s War Baby

This from CEW Dorris, Nashville, TN to Cled Wallace, Austin TX, September 9, 1942:

Dear Brother Wallace:

I have viewed your war baby which was displayed in the June issue of the Bible Banner and I must say that its one of the ugliest looking youngsters that I ever saw to have such a good looking papa.  It is a monster.  A very dangerous baby indeed.  It has its head and tail both up and shoots from both ends.  It looks to be as dangerous, if not more so, that its daddy thinks that Bollism is.  If the baby is generally accepted, I fear that it will do the cause of Christ far more harm than Bollism ever did, or can do.  It has been fed so much Texas goat milk that it has a bad complexion and needs some baby oil.  I am sending it a dose and if taken according to directions its complexion ought to clear up in three or four days.  But if it don’t let me know and I will send it a dose that will do the work.

Strike throughs represents Dorris’ own editing, which occurrred likely sometime in late 1945 or 1946 (my best estimate) as this letter (the first of several) was prepared for publication in booklet form, to be issued by BC Goodpasture and/or the Gospel Advocate Company. 

Follow the link above to two articles in the June 1942 Bible Banner.  They set Dorris, an ardent pacifist, off in a years long (1942-1945) correspondence with Wallace.  Actually, Wallace replied once that I know of by letter, and he reprinted an excerpt from one of Dorris’ letters later in the Banner.  Otherwise it seems that he (Wallace) did not answer Dorris.  He evidently shared the letters he received from CEWD with OC Lambert and perhaps others.  What I have are Dorris’ letters…There is much here I haven’t even read yet.   And then I have to unpack it and contextualize it.

So, this set of letters in particular and the general thrust of my research thus far, has brought me here: there is much, much more to CEWD that we ever knew.  For my paper at Stone-Campbell Journal Conference I will of necessity have to be brief and sketch the parameters of his life and ministry.  Skeleton-type stuff, pegs on which to hang things, rough outline, prelimiary findings, hypotheses.  I have another conference paper pending for later in the fall.  Looks as if I may then take up this correspondence for an in-depth look at Dorris’ ecclesiology vis-a-vis (Cled) Wallace-Lambert-(Foy) Wallace’s renunciation of David Lipscomb’s Civil Government.   Whew.  How’s that?

The state of my Dorris research is good news/bad news.  Good news is I have found some wonderful things; the bad news is it will take more time than I initially thought to process it all and begin to unpack it.  On second thought…that’s good news after all.

6 thoughts on “CEW Dorris on Cled Wallace’s War Baby

  1. “Bollism” was premillenialism, right? What was the gist of Dorris’ argument disagreement of Wallace’s work?

    Ah, but perhaps that’s part of what you are trying to work out.

    Was this part of the larger Tennessee vs. Texas schools of thought debate?

    Interesting stuff.

  2. “Bollism/Bollite” is big enough to include premill eschatology, but isn’t limited to that. As it is used in the Bible Banner it encompasses as well those who would fellowship RH Boll and his close associates but who themselves may not hold premill views. Central Church in Nashville, of which Dorris is an elder in 1942 (actually from its inception in 1925 until his death in 1964), was already marked as a congregation at least sympathetic to Boll; there were some among the leadership who were not willing to draw lines of fellowship even if they disagreed with the eschatology. Depending on who you read there may have been some in the leadership who held PM views. I don’t think Dorris agreed with the eschatology, and this quote raises questions about how far he was willing to go in his fellowship. According to the Bible Banner, it is enough to brand you a Bollite if your congregation used Great Songs of the Church, published by EL Jorgenson. Central used GSOC from at least as early as the 30’s until the 1970’s.

    You are right, a good deal of this needs fleshing out. Dorris feels that Wallace has surrendered the teaching of Jesus on peace and nonresistance. It seems to be symptomatic of the larger TN/TX divide.

  3. Thanks for the thorough answer. Fascinating. I’ve realized lately there may be a similar approach by some in labeling everyone who fellowships “progressives” as “progressives.” At issue here seems to be male-only leadership in the church, no use of instrumental music in worship and avoiding contact with “denominational” people. Even those who have no problem with any of these points can be labeled “progressive” if they fellowship anyone who does vary.

  4. Thanks for posting, Mac. You got after it quickly. 🙂

    I believe it is reflective of the TN/TX divide. In the next few days, I will link your article with my blog and offer some comments.


    John Mark

  5. Pingback: New Items « John Mark Hicks Ministries

  6. C.E.W. Dorris wrote Cled E. Wallace at least 12 letters on “pacifism” … apparently each uglier than the pervious letter. In letter #12 (which was 12 typed pages) is this quotation, “I would be ashamed to leave such a dirty, nasty, stinking a job for the grace of God to perform. I shall do it myself. You need not worry my dear Brother about my cleaning up. I always ‘clean up,’ and down all over immediately after completing as dirty, nasty, stinking a job as threshing a bunch of war preachers who once knew and preached the truth but departed from it. Heretofore I have managed to get myself farely clean by using only Ivory Soap, but this time the job is so nasty and dirty and stinks so bad that I shall have to use lye soap and old Dutch Cleanser mixed with consentrated lye and then fumigate to get the dirt and stink all off. It out stinks anything that I ever had to deal with. Its enough to make your great grandfather turn over in his grave and chew on his night shirt.” (Misspelled words by Dorris). Is this the spirit of Christ? Is this representative of Tennessee attitude?

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