Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 28, 1960

Concerning "The Story Of Harding College" -- (II.)

Myer Phillips, Prineville, Oregon

In our first article we pointed out that Harding is slowly committing herself to spiritual decay and to digression. Politics have taken the place of spirituality, and the study of God's Word has been given over to the study of other materials. As was shown, some of the digressive tendencies of the school are: The use of denominational phraseology such as "Church of Christ homes" and "Christian civilization", the use of titles such as "Father" when addressing a Catholic priest, the acceptance of Masonry, and the acceptance of Christmas and Easter pageants. But our attention is now drawn to additional matters:

Open Denial Of The Church Being All Sufficient

In his article, "The Crisis Ahead", which appeared in the Sept. 15, 1959 issue of the Firm Foundation, Dr. George Benson declared the following:

Increasing the laws of the land will have little effect on the increasing crime wave. It takes a new birth to stop criminals, to curb divorce, to handle juvenile delinquency, and to curb alcoholism and the use of narcotics. A revival of real religious convictions in the hearts of our people constitutes our one and only hope.

A religious revival, however, never comes as an accident. There must be trained, dedicated, efficient religious leadership. From whence shall this dynamic, well-trained leadership come?

There are three sources from which it may come: the home, the church and the Christian college.

The home and the church, however, are not prepared to give the total and final training that men need for religious leadership (Emp. mine, M.P.) Hence, our Christian colleges, where young people can receive an education of standard quality in a Christian environment, with emphasis upon the spiritual values.

If the home, the church, and the Christian college all dedicate their energies to the training of real Christian leadership for tomorrow, there is hope that we can stem the tide of lawlessness and irresponsibility's and there is hope that we can have sufficient Godliness that in the providence of God our nation will be preserved from the Communists.

Brethren, if such is not a denial of the all-sufficiency of the church then what would be? According to brother Benson, the church is not prepared to give the training that men need in order to preach the gospel of Christ and/or to shepherd some local flock of God. And brother Benson cannot say that he meant the church was unable to give this training due to a lack of finances or material means, for he says in this same article when talking about our material prosperity: "God has abundantly prepared us for this emergency. The American people are earning and producing as no people in the world ever did." Hence, the fault must lie elsewhere. Could it be that Dr. Benson believes that the fault must lie with the Lord in organizing the church? If not, then maybe he would care to tell us just why the church is "not prepared". And remember, we're talking about training for religious leadership, not how to build bird-houses or fly air-planes or secular training. Just what type of religious training does a person need that the church is unable to give? Suppose you tell us what the church cannot do toward this training that Harding College can do, and why the church cannot do it. According to Dr. Benson, a person is not adequately prepared for religious leadership unless he has a degree or some official stamp of approval from some such college as Harding. I wonder what the church did during the first century when there was no Harding College! Those poor, unprepared, ignorant fishermen who didn't get to attend a Christian college! The Lord just didn't know what he was doing when he established the church rather than the Christian college!

But let's go a little further and carefully analyze the statements made by our brother. In so doing we notice his assertion that the home and the church are unprepared to give the necessary training needed for religious leadership. In addition to that, he says that this religious leadership is necessary to bring about a religious revival, which in turn constitutes our one and only hope and is absolutely necessary for bringing about the cessation of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness. Actually, brother Benson's statements, whether he was aware of it or not, constitute a number of "if and only if" (for the benefit of our "trained thinkers") propositions which we prefer to arrange into the following chain argument so that we might see more clearly the position which our brother occupies:

Our young people will become well-trained, efficient religious leaders if and only if they attend a Christian college.

There can be a religious revival if and only if there is a well-trained efficient leadership.

There is hope for the curbing of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness if and only if there is a religious revival.

Therefore: There is hope for the curbing of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness if and only if our young people attend a Christian college!

Or to put it another way, when there is no Christian college there will be no well-trained, efficient religious leadership; when there is no well-trained, efficient religious leadership; there can be no religious revival; and when there is no religious revival there is no hope for the curbing of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness. Therefore, when there is no Christian college there is no hope for the curbing of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness! Thus according to Dr. Benson the Christian colleges are absolutely essential in accomplishing the Lord's work.

But someone might question my representations of brother Benson in the preceding propositions so I think it needful to examine more closely each proposition. As far as the first proposition is concerned let it be remembered that Dr. Benson himself said that there are only three sources from whence may come a well-trained leadership, namely, the home, the church and the Christian college. Then he goes on to say that the home and the church are unprepared to give the necessary training for religious leadership, therefore that only leaves one source, namely, the Christian college.

The second proposition is established by brother Benson when he says: "A religious revival, however, never comes as an accident. There must be trained, dedicated, efficient religious leadership."

The third proposition is established by these words: "A revival of real religious convictions in the hearts of our people constitutes our one and only hope." "For the curbing of lawlessness and the establishment of Godliness" is clearly implied in Dr. Benson's first paragraph and is stated in his last paragraph as quoted in this article.

And finally, the last proposition which is the conclusion, logically follows from the premises and cannot be denied once the premises are proven to be true, unless one wants to involve himself in a self-contradiction. Therefore I have correctly represented Dr. Benson and have proven from his own words that he does not believe in the all sufficiency of the church. The only possible way he can escape this conclusion is either show that I have misrepresented him or else plainly state that he didn't mean what he said.

Since, according to his own reasoning, Dr. Benson denies the all-sufficiency of the church, one is not amazed when he learns that Dr. Benson believes that the church can scripturally support such colleges as Harding and that the only reason why Harding does not now solicit funds from churches is because it would be a bad policy at the present. But wait until the majority of the "big wheels" in the brotherhood accept the positions which are advocated in J. D. Thomas' book, We Be Brethren. Then we'll see a change in policy, and Harding will try everything within her power to get churches to support her and will label them as being "unfaithful" if they don't. Brethren, what need we say more to convince anyone who is intellectually honest that Harding College is on the march to digression and that she is also influencing many precious souls to join hands with her in that march?

But before leaving this section, I think it good that we notice one other thing in connection with the last paragraph quoted from Dr. Benson. It seems fairly evident from his statements that brother Benson puts more stress upon the social betterment of this nation than the saving of lost souls. He seems to be more worried about the Communists destroying this nation than the hell of fire. This is even more evident to one who has attended Harding. Brethren, the social gospel is indeed creeping upon us and Harding College has become a victim to her subtle voice.

Our Side Or No Side

It has been my observation that at Harding the college itself is almost deified whereas the church has become a secondary thing. One can say almost any derogatory thing he wants to about the church, but let him make one derogatory remark about Harding College and "off comes his head". One is not allowed to criticize the school in any public way, although he can criticize the church that the Lord died for all he wants to this situation is so bad that even the school paper is at times censored to make sure that no criticism of the school is printed. This past year one very fine article which offered some good constructive criticism to the school appeared in the school paper, The Bison, and as a result the editor of the paper was "called on the carpet" and warned not to let such happen again. Harding, then, has almost set herself up as a god, defying anyone who raises an objections' voice to any of her actions.

Harding's attitude toward things of a controversial nature, whether in the field of religion or out of it, is that only one side is to be presented. In controversies over whether the Tennessee Valley Authority should exist or not, only one side is allowed voiced; in controversies between labor and management, only one side is permitted to be given; in controversies regarding integration and segregation, only one side is allowed to be heard; and on we go. The students there are protected by an "iron curtain" against anything contrary to Dr. Benson's ideas — whether political, social, economic, or religious.

This attitude is demonstrated regarding current problems facing the church. When asked why both sides of these issues were not allowed to be presented on last year's lecture program, brother Benson replied that he would not allow error to be taught from the college platform. Thus he has set himself up as being one who defines for the church (since this issue concerns what the church can and cannot do rather than what the college has a right to do) what is truth and what is error, what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. What right has any college to set itself up so as to define doctrines for the church?

I have received announcements of this year's lecture program which is supposed to deal with current problems facing the church, and I notice that again only one side is to be presented, namely, that side which agrees with the "top brass". These men claim not to have drawn lines of fellowship, but I can't hear what they say for seeing what they do! If these men have not, as they claim, drawn the lines of fellowship, then when discussing problems facing the church, they would allow an open brotherly discussion of these issues with both sides being fairly represented. But this they will not do; only those who will not oppose the "official school position" are allowed to speak.

Maybe brother Benson shares the sentiments of brother Conard Hays who has said that all who think it contrary to the scriptures for churches to support benevolent institutions such as Boles Home are nothing but heretics. How a man can consistently refer to a person as being his brother, claiming not to have drawn the line of fellowship, and then at the same time call him a heretic is beyond my comprehension. Yet this is the position that Harding College occupies.

Brethren, regarding those current problems facing the church, one of the saddest things is that there is seemingly very little understanding at Harding as to what the real issues are. I have sat in classes during which the teacher would inform the students that this "anti" group consisted of nothing more than a few ungodly men who don't believe in caring for orphans and widows! God knows that these teachers are either grossly ignorant of what the issues are or else they are outright liars Yet as a result of such teaching the students are misinformed and are blindly led into error; and there seems to be little hope for them to know what the real issues are as long as this "one-sided" policy exists at the school. However, I'm thankful to say that through the private teaching done by a few students who are sound in the faith, the truth is gradually being made known to some of the students at least to a limited extent.

Line Up Or Else

As stated in the foregoing paragraphs, Harding's attitude toward truth is that only one side of every controversial issue is to be given, namely, Dr. Benson's side. In addition to this it is evident that the "big wheels" are bent on crushing anyone who gets in their way and who will not bow down to their dictates.

In the Dec. 18, 1958 issue of the Gospel Guardian, there appeared an article written by brother Lloyd Barker which dealt with the school as well as other matters. In this article brother Barker exposed some of the digressive tendencies of the school. Upon doing so his wife was I immediately fired from her job and he was forced to leave the school. Brother Barker was accused of lying, and the administration made it appear as if his lying was because of his having to leave school. Yet I, as well as others who were there at the time, can truthfully testify to the fact that brother Barker did not lie. When three of us tried to talk to brother Benson and show him that Lloyd didn't lie, he impugned our motives and ignored the evidence that was presented to him. No, brother Barker wasn't forced to leave Harding because he lied; he was forced to leave because he dared to speak out against the school, and the administration knows it too, regardless of what they might say about the matter.

"--- It is apparent to more than a few in Arkansas who know the facts, that Harding is pressuring churches and preachers to line up with her policies. This is done through her lectureships, through scholarships given to preachers' children, and through her subtle voice which in essence says, "You play ball with us and we'll see that you're well taken care of as far as a place to preach is concerned; but if you don't, we'll ruin you as a gospel preacher." Sometimes the scholarships amount to as much as $2,000 in an attempt to "buy-off" certain influential preachers. For example, in the early part of 1954, brother Cleon Lyles looked with disfavor on the school even to the point of making plans to send his daughter to A.C.C. rather than Harding. Yet when the $2,000 scholarship was offered and he was invited to be one of the main speakers on the lecture program things really began to change! Now Harding has him right where they want him — raising money for the school. I have no personal enmity in my heart against brother Lyles; we have been the best of friends and I have immensely enjoyed every happy moment that I have spent in his home with his wonderful family. But I cannot help but believe, in view of undeniable evidence, that brother Lyles has become the victim of Harding's subtle voice to the extent that now he sings the same song that she sings. And, brethren, he is not the only preacher who

has been pressured into doing the very same thing. Would to God that we had more men today like Joshua and Caleb of old, who were not afraid to stand against the "giants" of their day!

An Appeal To Harding Students

To you, the students of Harding College, I write these closing words. Probably some of you will make unkind remarks about my writing these articles; yet I want you to know that I have done it because I have your best interest at heart. I know that I lack wisdom and probably I could have expressed myself better in saying what I have said. But I want you to be aware of the conditions that exist at the school so that you might not be swayed from sound doctrine. You might take issue with some of the things that I have said and that is your privilege, but I want you to know that I have written only that which I believe to be the truth. I only ask that you be honest with yourselves in your consideration of the things presented. Do not let personalities obstruct you in your search for the truth.

Students, I also want you to consider very carefully the following words from the pen of brother L. B. Clayton:

As the various Christian colleges began to expand and to seek (and get) help from thousands of Christians throughout the land, they began to expand their annual lectureships to attract even larger and larger crowds. These vast throngs of people became more and more enthused with the possibilities of the institutions, and soon began to look on the schools as the right arm of the church instead of merely being an educational institution. Those who came out of the schools and loved them, as most students do their Alma Mater, could see them doing no wrong. They reasoned: How could such godly men as I received instruction from be responsible for any "seeds of digression"? These loyal students did not realize that a lifetime teaching profession has inherent within it a tremendous pressure to bring about submission. The teachers whom they love are not free, but are part of a system. If failure to "submit" would cost them their job, it would be a great temptation to submit — or else simply to keep silent about one's true convictions — to the designs of those who write their checks. Many students also fail to take into account that there is a great turnover in the teaching staff of a school, and that as new teachers are employed many secret understandings are entered into, either openly or tacitly, which bring about support for the designs and ambitions of the superiors. It is also true that the boards of directors of these schools can be changed to include men who have like ambitions for the schools as those who are charged with the responsibility of directing its internal affairs, such as the presidents, deans, and other administrators. We are dealing with human institutions whose laws and purposes can be changed with the will of men.

You would be doing yourself a favor if you read brother Clayton's entire article which appeared in the May 7, 1959 issue of the Gospel Guardian; it is a masterpiece. It's my prayer that you will take heed to what he says and that you will not gullibly swallow everything that you are taught while at Harding.

"Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:8-10.)