Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 25, 1959

Is It A Church, Or Churches, Or A School?

Robert C. Welch, Birmingham, Alabama

Who said that Herald of Truth is the work of Fifth and Highland church in Abilene? Who said that the church is not to contribute to the school? Who said that the school and the orphan home are not parallel? Who said that the church, even Fifth and Highland, is her own missionary society? These and more claims have been made by the advocates of Herald of Truth organization. Some advocates of church endowed orphan home institutions make these same claims. Advocates of church endowed schools make the same claims with the exception of numbers two and three. But all of them are so mixed up in their compromise with human institutionalism and their craving for denominational bigness that they do not know whether they are coming or going.

The dean of Freed-Hardeman has the following interesting item in the May 7, 1959, Gospel Advocate:

"We were pleased that the Freed-Hardeman College television film had its premier during this lectureship. We are happy to know that millions will be able to see a 'demonstration' of Christian education when it appears on the Herald of Truth. We have purchased extra prints for our use. Already we are booking these for showing to churches, youth groups and schools."

This school and others have been asked to produce some of the films for the television division of Herald of Truth. The UCMS (United Christian Missionary Society) has many branches of operation. The HOT already has at least two branches of operation, different programming for radio and TV. Perhaps another could be described as an advertising agency for schools.

Some claim that Herald of Truth is Fifth and Highland church's own work; that this is a part of her mission work. Some claim that the church is her own missionary society. Is Fifth and Highland church her own missionary society? Herald of Truth denies it by her actions. She has employed Freed-Hardeman College to produce one of her mission programs, along with other schools. If Herald of Truth is Fifth and Highland's own work, as claimed, then Highland has ceased to be her own missionary society and has enlisted the aid of an educational society to do her missionary work. But if she can do this and still be her own missionary society, then she can employ the UCMS and still be her own missionary society. The fact or actual practice, is that Herald of Truth as a distinct group has secured the services of another society for producing a part of her work, and churches all over the land are contributing to such a missionary body.

Many churches who do not believe it is right to contribute to a school are perhaps contributing to Herald of Truth, thus are inadvertently contributing to the schools; for these school programs on Herald of Truth are designed to propagandize on behalf of the schools, according to the dean's announcement. Furthermore, these same schools propose to use the Herald of Truth film to show to churches. This puts the schools in the business of evangelizing the churches, for this Herald of Truth is supposed to be a method of evangelism.

Is Freed-Hardeman an evangelistic society as well as an educational society? This is precisely what she makes of herself as she joins Herald of Truth in her missionary work. At the same time both Herald of Truth and Freed-Hardeman College will condemn the present missionary societies on the grounds that they have many different subsidiary functions. That has been the argument in recent debates. Freed-Hardeman has at least two functions: evangelism and education. Herald of Truth has two functions: Evangelism and 'Christian education." The only question is: Which organization is the subsidiary of the other? It all boils down to a simple matter of rivalry between Church of Christ societies.

If Herald of Truth is the work of Fifth and Highland church then Freed-Hardeman is also her work, because they are co-operating in the production of their mission. Will brother Harper agree that the school can produce his church program, but that the church cannot produce the school program or contribute to the school? He had just as well admit that he has sold out on all his former convictions and teachings on the subject; and, since he has gone this far, try to place Herald of Truth over all other branches of denominational work of Churches of Christ. They now have the churches "co-operating" together and with Fifth and Highland in support of Herald of Truth; and they have Fifth and Highland co-operating with the schools in Herald of Truth; and the schools are seeking to "co-operate" with the churches in Herald of Truth. Thus they have one grand "co-operative" denominational machine in operation.

Is the description of the complicated machinery confusing to you? It is not nearly so confusing to the observer as to those who are involved in the complicated maze. In contrast with this, how magnificent and beautiful is the plain teaching of the New Testament and the simplicity of work, worship, and organization of the congregation as outlined in the New Testament! Each congregation doing its own work, fulfilling its responsibility to the Lord by doing what it is capable of doing, is God's plan. But God's plan is thought to be foolishness by men.