FOY E. WALLACE, JR.
From time to time, I have written about some of the ordinary, everyday Christians I have known through the years who have made a deep impression on me by their exemplary lives. I will continue to write about such people at intervals. At the same time, I also want to write about some very extra-ordinary people I have known (primarily great preachers of the gospel) and why I consider them to be great.
A few years ago, I gave a speech at the Friends of the Restoration luncheon at Freed-Hardeman University on “Great Preachers I Have Known.” One of those of whom I spoke was Foy E. Wallace, Jr. He is the subject of this week’s edition of my “News & Views.”
Brother Wallace was born on September 30, 1896 in Montague County, Texas in a house surrounded by cotton fields a few miles south of the little town of Belcherville. He passed from this life on December 18, 1979 in Hereford, Texas and is buried in West Park Cemetery in Hereford. His grave-stone bears the simple inscription, “Soldier of the Cross.”
Strictly speaking, brother Wallace was not a “Junior.” His father’s name was Foy Edwin Wallace. His name was Foy Esco Wallace. But his father was also a well-known gospel preacher who went by the name of Foy E. Wallace, and when the younger Wallace began preaching (at about the age of 15), because his middle initial also was “E,” he became known as Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
I first heard brother Wallace when my wife and I and our less-than-one-year-old son attended a meeting brother Wallace was conducting at the South End Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky in the spring or early summer of 1959. After brother Wallace had spoken for about thirty minutes on “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” I concluded that he was starting a series that evening on The Beatitudes. He was but he preached the whole series that evening! Before the sermon ended he had discussed every one of the beatitudes with which Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount. This was one of brother Wallace’s favorite sermons, one that he often preached, and one that he described as “kingdom principles and Pentecost pointers.”
In the fall of 1974, brother Wallace came to Mobile, Alabama where I was preaching for the Pleasant Valley church and conducted a four day meeting. Large crowds came from throughout the greater Mobile area to hear this well-known gospel preacher. His sermon on Sunday morning lasted for about 45 minutes, but each sermon of the meeting grew progressively longer, until on the last night (Wednesday) he preached for almost two hours. When I closed that final service, among other things, I said, “We are deeply appreciative of the week long meeting brother Wallace has held for us these past four days!” (On one occasion at the old Airways church in Memphis, Tennessee, brother Wallace had been requested to preach on the work of the Holy Spirit. He entered the pulpit at 7:45 p.m. and at 10:45 p.m. he closed his sermon and extended the invitation of Christ!) In all of the preaching I ever heard brother Wallace do, he never opened his Bible or consulted a note. He quoted extensively from the Scriptures and his sermons were masterpieces, but their content was all stored in his massive mind and amazing memory and delivered extemporaneously.
Not everyone agreed with brother Wallace on some of his views. He was not afraid to be independent in his thinking. At the same time, he was human and obviously capable of being wrong about some things. But it came as a shock to read from a young progressive preacher such a reckless charge as “Foy E. Wallace, that famed false teacher.” Not that brother Wallace held some views with which the young preacher disagreed. Not that brother Wallace was a “product” of the social and racial milieu in which he grew up. Not that brother Wallace later moderated some of his social views. No! None of these! But rather, “Foy E. Wallace, that famed false teacher”!
Liberals claim to be so tolerant, accepting, and inclusive of a wide variety of views. But when it comes to one they utterly despise because of his determination to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” and to be uncompromising in his stand for New Testament Christianity, their tolerance, acceptance, and inclusiveness vanish, and they show their true colors by labeling such a stalwart soldier of the cross as a “famed false teacher”! Yet compared to Foy E. Wallace, Jr., the young progressive preacher is an intellectual and spiritual pigmy!
When I retired from full-time preaching fifteen years ago, I disposed of a good portion of my library. However, there were certain books that I did not want to part with, including several by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. These included God’s Prophetic Word (a series of addresses delivered in the Music Hall in Houston, Texas, January 1945, exposing modern millennial theories), Bulwarks of the Faith (a series of addresses delivered in the Music Hall in Houston, Texas, January 1946, refuting the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the doctrines of Protestant Denominationalism), the Neal-Wallace Discussion on The Thousand Years Reign of Christ (a debate conducted in Winchester, Kentucky, January 2-6, 1933, in which brother Wallace annihilated the theory of a literal 1000 years reign of Christ here on earth before the beginning of the eternal state), Number One Gospel Sermons (a series of sermons preached at the Nashville Road Church of Christ in the Number One community of Gallatin, Tennessee, February 1967), and The One Book Analyzed and Outlined. These should be in the libraries of gospel preachers and elders of the church and thoroughly read and digested.
Much, much more could be written about this marvelous man. I would love to tell about the tender care he gave his invalid wife for so many of the years of their life together and how that after getting her down for the night he often would sit up all night studying and writing. I would love to tell you about his financial assistance to a later well known gospel preacher in need of surgery and the follow-up care he and sister Wallace provided him in their home, as well as many other things about this grand old “Soldier of the Cross.” Space forbids saying more at this time. I cherish his memory and honor his life’s work. I do not have to agree with everything he said or did in order to do so.
July 21, 2015