Pepperdine University Bible Lectures May 4, 2013 – 2:30 p.m. Appleby Center, 270 Presenter: Victor Knowles

“FROM A DISTANCE, THERE IS HARMONY” 12 MEN FROM CHURCHES OF CHRIST WHO HAVE INSPIRED AND INFLUENCED MY LIFE. THE TITLE OF THIS CLASS is taken from the Grammy-award winning song “From a Distance,” written by Julie Gold. At the age of 22, Julie went to NYC in pursuit of her dream of being a songwriter. As she later said, “While dreams are essential, they don’t pay the rent.” She ended up working various temp jobs like proofreading, demonstrating vacuum cleaners, Mr. Coffees, and toaster ovens. Life was a struggle to make ends meet. In 1985, just before her 30th birthday, her parents sent her the piano she had grown up playing. At this point in time, she was questioning her life, wondering what her future could possibly hold. The cherished piano fit into her one room apartment, just as she hoped it would. The movers told her it needed a chance to settle, so she polished it and watched it all night long from her high loft bed. The next day she sat down and composed “From a Distance.” She said, “It just poured out of me. On one hand, it took me two hours to write. On the other hand, it took me 30 years. Pick whichever hand makes you happy. I love them both.” From a distance, there is harmony And it echoes through the land It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace It's the voice of every man From a distance we are instruments Marching in a common band Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace They're the songs of every man And God is watching us, God is watching us God is watching us from a distance Oh, God is watching us, God is watching God is watching us from a distance I grew up watching the Churches of Christ “from a distance.” When I went to college in 1964, I began noticing them a little more closely – especially a young girl from the Finley & Adella Church of Christ on the south side of Ottumwa! I married her in 1967. “From a distance, there is harmony.” I should say so!


The first three men from Churches of Christ who inspired and influenced my life were all still living during my college years at Midwestern (1964-1968). This is not to discount the influence of Evelyn’s father, Robert K. Saylor, who manifested a gentle and gracious spirit wherever he preached or whenever we visited. N. B. Hardeman (1875-1965) died my sophomore year. I became acquainted with his writings in The Voice of Evangelism. The editor of that journal, Donald G. Hunt, was the co-founder of my alma mater and was a big admirer of Hardeman. He published a series of Hardeman’s sermons in The Voice of Evangelism from the 5-volume Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons, messages that he had preached in the 20s, 30s and 40s at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Since I was paying down on my tuition by proofreading VOE, I read those sermons too. Hardeman was called “The Prince of Preachers” among Churches of Christ. I learned respect for the Word of God from Brother Hardeman. Marshall Keeble (1878-1968) was born to former slaves and became one of the most successful evangelists among Churches of Christ, baptizing about 40,000 people. He began preaching when he was 19 and established 200 churches. He was the first preacher to successfully cross the color line in Churches of Christ, though not without difficulty. One day I found an LP record album of his sermons in our college bookstore. I bought it and listened to in on my record player in the dorm. One sermon I remember was “The Doctor Who Never Lost a Case.” Keeble’s hero was Booker T. Washington, whose autobiography Up from Slavery I had also read. Keeble would often say, “The Bible is right” and I liked that. He died my senior year of college. William S. “Bill” Banowsky (b. 1936) was a hero of mine when I was in college. He debated Anson Mount, religion editor of Playboy, and in 1967 wrote It’s a Playboy World. He also wrote The Now Generation in 1969. I liked the way he understood and took on the new wave of thinking and behavior in the 60s. Banowsky’s roots run deep with Pepperdine, serving as assistant to the president, president, chancellor, and president emeritus. His memoir The Malibu Miracle is one of the most exciting and thrilling books I have ever read. I reviewed it in One Body, sent it to him, and received back a personal note that I will treasure forever. The next four men I will mention were powerful influences on my thinking, writing, and speaking career during my formative years of ministry (1969-1983). W. Carl Ketcherside (1908-1989) probably influenced the way I think and write more than anyone else. Somehow I got on his mailing list for Mission Messenger when we were living in Eugene, Oregon (1972-1975). The book that had the most influence on me was The Twisted Scriptures (1965), although I did not read it until 10 years after it was published. No one could write like Brother Ketcherside. I did not meet him personally until 1977. All he wanted to do was talk about Evelyn and me, our lives and our ministry. What a humble and gracious man. What a misunderstood and maligned man. He rounded out his life by ministering to the marginalized in the inner city of St. Louis. We gave him


a 4-page tribute in One Body when he died. He was “the voice of hope, the voice of peace, the voice of every man” to borrow again from Julie Gold. Monroe E. Hawley (b. 1923) “is unquestionably one of the finest thinkers and writers among us” said Ron Carlson in 1992. “His plea for a nonsectarian faith is one that must be heeded by all who are seeking authentic Christianity.” His book Redigging the Wells: Seeking Undenominational Christianty (1976) was a powerful influence on my life. I got to meet Brother Hawley at our first Restoration Forum in 1984. What a scholar and a gentleman all rolled into one. Evelyn and I stayed in the home of Monroe and his wife Julia when we were in Milwaukee for a Restoration Forum. He has served as an elder of the Southside Church of Christ since 1958. Twenty-three million lessons of his Bible Correspondence courses have been published! I recommend his other books too: Searching for a Better Way (1981), The Focus of our Faith (1985), and Is Christ Divided? (1992). I learned from Brother Hawley to love our Restoration heritage. Bill J. Humble is one of those men who certainly lives up to his name! Rarely have I met a man in the Churches of Christ who has such a humble spirit. In 1977 a man in Kentucky sent me Bill Humble’s book The Story of the Restoration (1969). I was impressed with his generous and gracious treatment of those in the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in his book. “Doctrinally they are very conservative and just as committed to the restoration principle as churches of Christ” (p. 78). He held out hope that some day the Independents and the Churches of Christ might some day unite (this was in 1969!). When I met Brother Humble at one of our Restoration Forums, I understood why the late Don DeWelt thought so highly of him. I do too! Leroy Garrett (b. 1918) is yet another brother from the Churches of Christ who has impacted my life through his prolific pen. He published Bible Talk and Restoration Review for more than 40 years. I have always been enlightened and challenged by his periodical, newsletters and even now his Internet ministry. His autobiography A Lover’s Quarrel: My Pilgrimage of Freedom in Churches of Christ (2003) made me cry in several places. Brother Garrett can and has moved among scholars at Harvard and Princeton, but you would never know it when you visit with him in his humble home, as I have been privileged to do. Like Ketcherside, all he wanted to do was talk about me and my ministry and not himself. I think that is a sign of greatness. The next four men whom I will mention have all inspired and influenced me in my season of life that I have devoted to answering the prayer of Jesus for unity (1984 – present day). George Orwell did not have a market on 1984! It was in 1984 that One Body and the Restoration Forum began. I’ve been blessed to be a part of both ministries since their inception. Through them I have been blessed by the lives of the following. Reuel Lemmons (1912-1989) was the closing speaker of the very first Restoration Forum in 1984. He flew all night from France to Joplin, Missouri, just to be a part of the historic occasion. Maybe he always closed his eyes when he talked, I don’t know, but as one man said, “Reuel closed his eyes and opened our eyes.” Brother Lemmons edited Firm Foundation for many years, but I remember him most for his thoughtful and 3

powerful editorials in Image magazine. He was also a strong advocate for missions with World Bible School and Action magazine. I learned from Brother Lemmons that the goal of unity is not unity for sweet unity’s sake; the goal of unity is so that the world may believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God! Thomas A. Langford (1930-2008) was one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He wrote 55 excellent columns for One Body magazine. Dr. Langford was Professor of English Literature and Dean of the Graduate School at Texas Tech University, so I never had to edit him! He had such a kind and gentle way of making us all think and act more like Jesus wanted us to think and act. One of my greatest spiritual experiences was when Evelyn and I, along with Leroy and Ouida Garrett, stayed with Tom and Nellie Langford in their lovely home in Lubbock during Restoration Forum XX. It was like a foretaste of heaven to come. Although Brother Langford had many academic accomplishments, his passion was serving as an elder at the Quaker Avenue Church of Christ for 30 years and promoting the unity for which Christ prayed and died wherever he went. I felt both humbled and honored to be one of several men to speak at his funeral at the Quaker Avenue church on May 6, 2008. I learned to be a kinder, gentler and more thoughtful person from the life and ministry of Thomas Langford. Jerry Rushford (b. 1941) has done more to promote unity between the Churches of Christ and the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ through his tireless efforts with the Pepperdine University Bible Lectures than any man I know. He gave new meaning to the term Director of Church Relations when he operated in that role for 30 years. I shall be forever indebted to Brother Jerry for inviting me to speak at this great lectureship back in 1997. He has brought many others from the Independent fellowship to Pepperdine, thus introducing some great men of God to Churches of Christ whom they had previously only known “from a distance.” I consider Jerry a dear personal friend as well as a dedicated peacemaker in the kingdom of God. I admire so much this “incurable optimist,” his winsome ways, irenic spirit, and boundless energy for Christian unity. George Pepperdine (1886-1962) has come to mean so much to me through my 16-year relationship with Pepperdine University and the Annual Bible Lectures. Mr. Pepperdine, the founder of Western Auto Supply Company, and a lifelong member of Churches of Christ, donated the funds to start Pepperdine in 1937. On one of my first visits to Pepperdine, I saw his desk on display. I laid my hand on his well-worn desk and thanked God for the faith and vision this good and honest man had for “a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values.” Every time I see his statue (seated, not standing) in the plaza, I am reminded that some day we will sit down with him in the kingdom of God and visit about the things of God. [You will notice that three of the men I have mentioned thus far (Banowsky, Rushford, Pepperdine) all have Pepperdine roots! The influence and inspiration I have received from Churches of Christ has come from men connected with this Christian university. I love Pepperdine and am thankful and grateful for it’s positive influence in my life.]


But we are not finished yet. Who is the 12th man from Churches of Christ that has inspired and influenced my life for good? The 12th Man is a standing feature at all home football games of the Texas A & M Aggies. The student body stands as one and cheers for their team throughout the game. The game of football is played with 11 men, but the fans in the stands become the 12th man. I will let the 12th man stand for seven men (seven standing for “completion”) from the Churches of Christ who have also impacted my life – all of them through the Restoration Forum and other unity efforts. It was my joy to work shoulder to shoulder with seven men from 1984-2007: Dennis Randall, co-founder of the Restoration Forum, Marvin Phillips, Denny Boultinghouse, Calvin Warpula, Rubel Shelly, Mike Armour and Doug Foster. Denny was editing Image during those years, Marvin was preaching in Oklahoma, Calvin and Mike were preaching in Texas, Rubel was preaching in Tennessee, and Doug was teaching at Abilene Christian University. I came to appreciate each of these seven men so very much. They stand as one, my 12th man as it were. They indeed have made (and are still making) every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). And God is watching us, God is watching us God is watching us from a distance Oh, God is watching us, God is watching God is watching us from a distance Presented May 4, 2013 at the 70th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA. Victor Knowles is founder and president of Peace on Earth Ministries and editor of One Body magazine. POEM, P. O. Box 275, Joplin, MO 64802. Tel: (417) 627.0325.