Reply To An Harding College Ultimatium
TED W. McELR0Y, (Del Rio, Texas)
I was very busy when your ultimatum reached me, I had moved from Colorado, and the ultimatum was forwarded around after me, it finally reached me at Gore, Okla. where I was in a gospel meeting. Your threats did not scare me, I did not lose any sleep nor have any bad dreams; I sent the ultimatum to a good friend of mine, George B. Curtis, and asked him to "stave off the blitz" if he could, until I could find time and disposition to take care of the matter. He obliged in a fine way, characteristic of Curtis, and I imagine the sting of his letter will be remembered by the Harding faculty a long time.
Enclosed is a small check as part payment on my note held by the college, and let it serve as an earnest of future payment in full. Unfortunately I can't catch a fish with coin in its mouth, so you will have to wait until I can (conveniently) get the rest of the money.
In paying you I am paying you for something I did not get; in other words I got "gypped" in the deal when I went to Harding. I went there under the illusion that I would get an education that would better equip me to preach the gospel, but this proved a false hope and I was sorely disappointed. The elders of the congregation for which I preached the year before I went to Harding college, concur with me in this; in fact it was they who bluntly made me conscious of the fact, when they heard me preach right after I came back from school, their comment was, "Ted, you were a better preacher before you went to Harding college than you are now." I am not the personification of success by any means, but what I am is due to my many preacher friends, and especially those Godly elders of the church in Bentonville, Ark., with whom I worked the first two years after my one year at Harding college, their wise counsel, encouragement, and constructive criticism, did more to help me as a preacher, per year, than did all the instructors at Harding college.
Yes Bursar, I have considered buying some of the bankrupt debts of Harding College and paying the college with its own debts. That would be satisfactory to you, if you intended to be honest and pay your debts. But it is not satisfactory to you, why? Is it that you have no intention of paying your old obligations at Morrilton? I have heard it rumored that there was a similar situation in Harper, Kan. You seem to have a hankering for some "form of legal procedure," and say your old debt would not serve as payment to the present Harding College. Maybe you are right, you may have gotten through a legal loop-hole. So far as being legal is concerned; I seriously doubt the note you hold against me holding legal water, since it was signed before I was of age. It was a blank note when I signed it (I know more about the ways of the world than to sign one like that now), and it was signed with the understanding that no date of expiration be put in it, for I told you then that I did not know how soon I would pay it. However I am not looking for a legal loop-hole, I am going to pay my obligation to you.
Bursar, you threaten to write the elders of the church for which I preach, unless I come across in a manner satisfactory to you, and tell them "how mean I am." In other words I get an "ornery" degree instead of the "honorary degree" some preachers have received. Come to think of it, Bursar, I believe I prefer the "ornery" degree to the "honorary degree," and feel that coming from you there is less stigma to the former. So just proceed in any activity you want to stoop to, I have invited different members of your clique, a number of times when they threatened me, to do their best, and the invitation is extended to you. But before you proceed with anything rash, let us do a little reminiscing. Just to stir up your mind, I will remind you of the last time you turned your "blitz" forces loose against me; I was preaching for the church in Bentonville, Ark.
During the first year I preached there, you asked several times for an appointment to advertise the school to the church; such permission was not forth coming. You were not satisfied with the elders' flat no; and you sent your college boosters anyway, and that over the protest a telegram, saying plainly that they were not wanted. They came but they did not conquer, your boosters did not even get to boost; for not one cheer went up for Harding college in the church at Bentonville.
In the fall of the same year, you tried another device, this was an effort to put the "skids" to me. You coerced a number of your friends to write the officers of the Bentonville church, and tell them how mean I was, (each officer received from 3 to 6 letters, about 30 letters were sent in all). Those letters were so much alike in context, arrangement, and phraseology, that they were obviously from the same source; the elders thought, and I thought, they came from the Harding masterminds. And still under all this pressure (?), the elders did not fire me. I continued to preach in Bentonville until I was ready to move elsewhere, since moving I have gone back and assisted in a protracted meeting, have preached there on a number of occasions, and furthermore I hope to go back to Bentonville, make my home there some of these days, and give full time to meeting work. You see your "blitz" is not very effective; this one back-fired, because it revealed to the Bentonville elders that you were just a set of meddling potential church-splitters, and that you would outrage the autonomy of the local church in an effort to get the church in your college corral.
Soon after I moved from Ark., you must have thought Bentonville would be a "cinch," and you sent your ace diplomat (L. C. Sears), to rope the Bentonville church into the Harding College camp. Brother Sears marched boldly into the preachers' study, and introduced himself; the preacher was rather unconcerned. To create interest Bro. Sears rather confidentially said, "I'll tell you what kind of a fellow Ted McElroy is." But before Bro. Sears could even start to "run me down," the preacher literally "run him off." Bursar, ask Bro. Sears if his face was red, when he "got run off" before he could peddle his scandal, wasn't he just a little bit ashamed?
Now, Bursar, about your feigned desire to reach a "reasonable understanding" with me, I am not interested in courting a reasonable or any other kind of under standing with a crowd of heresy exponents and sympathizers. Rom. 16:17, is still in the Bible, and it applies to you at Harding College until you change your course. Yes sir, it is in the latest translation, one by the Catholics; they translated it; "Now I exhort you, brethren, that you watch those who cause dissensions and scandals contrary to the doctrine you have learned and avoid them." Personally I shall continue to apply that scripture to you as long as you hold the course "contrary to the doctrine." I will list some Harding College offenses.
(1) The crocodile tears and lip service you pay to honesty cannot be considered genuine, when you are at the same time renouncing your honest obligations. You prevaricated (begged money under false pretenses) trying to raise $17,000 for the Morrilton school; you got some from Morrilton merchants, then you "flew the coop" and went to Searcy, leaving about $300,000 debts behind. Sure, you got a lawyer and took bankruptcy and changed the charter, and changed the name of the school slightly; but in the main it is composed of the same people who left Morrilton, and is in reality a continuation of the same institution, the name and charter were changed for the purpose of shaking loose from honest obligations. Bursar, you disown these debts with the words, "indebtedness of a former institution," "under a different charter," and contend they couldn't "serve as payment to the present Harding College under any form of legal procedure." The facts are that a group of people through an institution made some debts at Morrilton, and in the sight of God's justice, those people still owe their honest obligations, even if they did jump through a legal loop hole and form another institution. So in preaching honesty, begin at home, "cast the beam out of your own eye, then take the mote out, of thy brother's eye;" "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." There is a difference between owing a debt which one is unable to pay at a given time; and arrogantly disowning honest obligations as you have yours.