Brother Harper Continues To "Harp"
On Sunday afternoon, April 26, it fell the lot of this writer to be at the West Seventh Street church of Christ in this city, and to hear brother E. R. Harper spend an hour or more trying to defend his idol, the Herald of Truth radio and television program put on by the elders of the Highland church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. This program is "sponsored" by the Highland church, but is paid for by hundreds of churches all over the country. Many of us deny the scriptural right of any church to receive, oversee, and expend any part of the money of any other congregation. Our brother could have settled the whole matter here (just as he could have at Lufkin and Abilene in two debates) by giving us just one passage that justifies such a practice; but, of course, the passage was not given for none was available.
I counted three scriptures that were used. Mk. 16:15 was quoted to show our responsibility to go and preach. All agree that this is necessary, but has no bearing on the thing that was under consideration. I Tim. 3:15 was used to show that the church is the pillar and support of the truth. While this certainly would not be denied by those who have studied their Bibles, it still has nothing whatever to do with Herald of Truth. The third passage used was completely misapplied. I am sure that brother Harper knew he was misusing this scripture; but this just goes to show what a man will do when laboring under the task of defending an unscriptural practice. The scripture here referred to was Eph. 4:16 "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Now I feel sure that brother Harper knows that Paul here was speaking of individual members being joined together, but he applied it to congregations, thus attempting to justify the pooling of resources of many congregations in one treasury as is done in Herald of Truth. Such a careless handling of God's word is but a demonstration of the direction many are traveling.
About half the time was spent reading letters of testimony from people in different parts of the country telling about hearing the gospel by means of the program. This reminded me of the arguments (?) made by J. B. Briney in defense of the U. C. M. S. The same arguments (?) made by Harper to justify Herald of Truth, will also justify the Missionary Society.
Another interesting part of the speech was his comparison between the Herald of Truth and the Catholic Hour, the Lutheran Hour, and the Baptist Hour. I wondered when he would say something about the "Church of Christ Hour". The very comparison he made and his attempt to show that we must compete with them showed that he recognizes the striking resemblance between them. This is one of the things wrong in the church today. The desire on the part of many to "keep up with the sects" and "if we don't do it, the Catholics will". This very resemblance between these denominational programs and the Herald of Truth is one thing that is wrong with it.
The latter part of the speech was a "Hate the Antis" campaign. I wondered as brother Harper was using the word "Anti" to build up prejudice, if he is anti-anything, the word was used by him, as it is by many of his associates, as a dirty word that means something bad, to those who don't know the meaning of the word. Since the word means to be opposed to or against something, I would like to know if our brother is "anti-instrumental music in worship," or "anti-sin". If so, he is an "anti" too!
Many wild charges were made against Cogdill, Tant, Holt, and others whose refutations of his position he has felt so keenly. If all these charges were true they would not prove his position to be right. Such tactics always show the weakness of a man's position.
Another ridiculous and false statement that he made was that every church which opposes him is "dying by degrees." Of course this is not true, but if it were, it would not prove who is right. (Mt. 7:13,14.)
In another burst of charges and accusations our brother advocated the ousting of all elders who dared have the audacity to question his practice (which is the brain-storm of two young preachers)! He compared those who oppose to cancer that must be cut out and destroyed, and to the Communist party.
When invited to defend these things in public here in Columbia, he said his health would not permit it. It is remarkable how a man's health can change when faced with meeting these things in the open. We are not questioning the state of our brother's health, but only noticing that it is good enough to go all over the country speaking in behalf of this program — when no one is given the opportunity to answer him.
It is very regrettable to me to see a man of E. R. Harper's ability so embittered toward his brethren who question him, and so steeped in Institutionalism. I think it was strengthening to all informed brethren who heard him, in seeing just how far a man will go into an unscriptural position. I wish more of the brethren from this congregation had gone.