Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 25, 1983
NUMBER 50, PAGE 1,12a

Campaigns - Denominational Style

Hoyt H. Houchen

The denominations have always employed spectacular methods of advertising to propagate their cause. Through the media of the press, the radio, and bill boards, they have capitalized on slogans, catchy sayings and eye-appealing art which will in any way focus the attention of the public upon their promotions. Their emphasis in advertising has always been upon some speaker, his name and his achievements. Such claptrap is repulsive to many in the world and much more offensive to "those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil." (Heb. 5:14)

Efforts upon the part of the liberal brethren to "ape" the denominations is seen in the extravagant publicity given to their speakers. They now have campaigns (no longer are they referred to as gospel meetings) and they are centered around a Herald of Truth "Star," a world-traveler, lecturer, head or affiliate of some college or other human institution, or author. The name of the man stands out in bold letters, headlining their advertisements. Christ and His gospel are conspicuously absent. Such displays that glorify men for worldly appeal are nothing short of gross insult to those who regard Jesus the Christ as "the man of sorrows" and the lowly Nazarene.

We have a repertoire of advertising material used by the liberals here in Abilene, most of it having appeared in the Abilene Reporter News. In these clippings the bold faced name of a featured speaker, a sensational subject, or a fantastic drawing are given the prominence, and our file continues to expand. A display of such artifice is the newspaper ad by the Highland church in Abilene which appeared in the Reporter News in March of 1962. Over one half of the space was consumed by a sketch of Ira North's face and then under it was the caption: NORTH TO ABILENE. In another ad which appeared in the Reporter News and also featuring the Madison, Tennessee, "Star," over one half of it was occupied by a cartoon which depicted three little men in a space ship and above it the explosive words: 20TH CENTURY INVASION. Highland featured Alonzo Welch in another campaign and ran a newspaper ad with the name of Alonzo Welch used eleven times in succession down the left hand column, not a word about Christ or the gospel. In the February 24, 1962, issue of the Reporter News appeared a display ad with the bold headlines: "IS BIRTH CONTROL FROM MEN OR GOD?" In small print beneath it was the announcement that this and other important questions will be answered from the Bible by Mid McKnight. It would be shocking to faithful brethren in other places to see our files of what is going on here in Abilene among the liberal churches.

Illustrative again of the style of advertising as employed by the denominations was that of the four day campaign conducted by the Highland church here in Abilene, March 17-20, and this time "Starring" Batsell Barrett Baxter. Bumper stickers, yard signs, and newspaper ads magnified the name of Batsell Barrett Baxter, the speaker. It was BAXTER, BAXTER, BAXTER! We could well imagine that many not members of the church of Christ and unfamiliar with the name of Baxter were asking, "Who is Baxter?" We are certain that most, if not all of them, had heard of Jesus Christ, but how many of them had ever heard of Baxter? Totally unacquainted with the name Baxter and having observed several of the yard signs emphasizing his name led one man to inquire why so many houses were up for sale!

It is pathetic indeed that brethren can drift so far from the truth. Brethren today are practicing things which twenty-five years ago would only be found in the denominations. Only a few years ago, the Highland church was a synonym of soundness — a church in Abilene that stood for the truth and exposed any and all error. How sad it is now as we look at her. She is the promoter of the Herald of Truth, pet project of two preachers, James Walter Nichols and James D. Willeford, both young men at the time of its inception. She is no longer known as a pillar of strength but tragically she is regarded by sound brethren as a sand dune of softness. Her chorus is featured, her big budget involving thousands of dollars in the support of secretaries, building engineers, the Herald of Truth, human institutions, and an educational director, is extolled, and on and on she leads in the march of digression. Where is the Highland that many of us knew twenty-five years ago? It has been a most obvious observation among faithful brethren that Highland today is a far cry from the sound and loyal church that she was back in the days when Homer Hailey was preaching there. Her drift from the truth has come about by degrees. As we have often stated, one departure from the truth will lead to another.

The recent Baxter extravaganza and others like it do not characterize the humble. But in the rat race with the denominations, and not to be outdone, the Highland church also featured a "Prayer-a-thon" in connection with or in preparation for the Baxter appearance. We have heard of walkathons, danceathons, but now the brethren at Highland have come up with the PRAYER-A-THON! Times were set aside during a twenty-four hour period for people to come to the building and pray. Someone was to be present at all times to be in charge. Why were the prayers to be at the building? Was there something about the Highland building that made the prayers more effective than if they were offered somewhere else? Is there something sacred about the Highland building? Shades of Catholicism! Then too, we observe that Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." We never did understand before that this was some kind of a prayer-a-thon where brethren pray in "shifts " We had always believed that a Christian should pray at all times, be in the attitude of prayer wherever he is and the recent Highland spectacle has not changed our conviction.

How far will brethren go in glorifying a man? They will go so far as to take a letter out of his name and insert a cross in its place. This was actually done in the Highland crusade of Baxter. In a newspaper ad, the letter "t" was substituted by a cross in the name BAXTER. We have long ago ceased to be amazed by what brethren will do when they are injected by, worldly pride.

We have been saying for a long time that worldly pride is the basic cause for the problems that are confronting the church today. Many of our brethren want to be "like the nations" around them. Man cannot improve upon the wisdom of God. All of the clever appeals that man can instigate will not take the place of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16), and it is the only appeal that faithful children of God are to make to the world. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 1:21, "For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Worldly pride will cause men to glory in themselves and in others; humility will lead men to glory in the cross of Christ. Paul wrote, "But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14)

Glorification of men, missionary societies, church support of human institutions, sponsoring church arrangements, and the social gospel all stem from worldly pride and it is the attitude that causes men to have no regard for the authority of God's word. Herein lies the trouble that we are having today.

— 2941 Grape, Abilene, Texas