Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 1, 1966
NUMBER 30, PAGE 2b-3a

A Sad Day In Athens

Arvid K. McQuire

E. R. Harper was recently in Athens, Alabama promoting the "Herald of Truth". He called it A Great Day in his report in the "Gospel Advocate," September 29, 1966.

Since Athens is my home and I know something of the situation there, I feel compelled to answer his charges. Especially so, since we are now both residents of Abilene. The brethren that he writes about are good brethren that I love and esteem highly. I offer the following for your consideration. Please examine it in the light of the Word of God.

1. The attitude manifested is factious. The party spirit manifested is contrary to everything that is of Christ. When men misrepresent and malign their brethren, they have the wrong attitude. The fruit of this attitude is witnessed in the division of congregations, alienation of brethren, and the driving out of brethren. Since brother Harper was in Athens one congregation announced their support of the Herald of Truth. They asked all those present who could not endorse their practice to get up and leave. If I have read my Bible with any profit at all, I have learned that this party, factious spirit is a work of the flesh and bars one from the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:20). Brother Harper and the brethren associated with him have built up a party spirit around their projects. This condition makes my heart bleed. Is it nothing to you?

2. Brother Harper has made a law where God made none. The "Sponsoring-Church Method" of cooperation is unknown in the Word of God. Their practice cannot, therefore, be a matter revealed in the Bible. Their practice is not an expediency because an expedient must be lawful, must edify and not destroy the faith of Christians. (I Cor. 6:12; 10:23). Brother Harper and the brethren who stand with him have made what they call an "expedient" into a law. He has made his so-called liberty into a law and this has become a test of fellowship!

He stated that brethren in Athens announced the gospel meetings, radio programs and services of what he called the "Anti-faction." He admitted that Hobbs Street does not go that far. (Underlining mine, ARM). It is apparent that Hobbs Street, brother Harper and the brethren who stand with him have made a law where God made none and that law has become a "test" of fellowship.

3. Brother Harper misrepresented brethren he called "Anti". The issue is not feeding starving children or preaching over radio or television. Brother Harper knows better I am confident. Let me state this for him once more. The question involves the right of congregations from their treasuries contributing to orphans homes or businesses. If he knows the scriptures or principles, let him give them. If he does not then let him give up his practice and not make laws for God!

Our opposition to the Herald of Truth is it's organizational structure. Even brother Harper could see this a few years ago. He said in the Tulsa Lectures in 1939:

"A congregation has no right to build anything larger than it is able to support. It has no right whatever to bind any other organization to any program of work of its own selection. Each congregation must retain its autonomy. Any effort that destroys the independence of the local congregation runs straight toward sectarianism, if not Romanism."

We believe that he stated the truth. If he has learned better we would like to have his answer to this. We believe that it will stand!

4. Brother Harper offered to buy time on the radio for the "Antis" to present their case. He is so sure that they have the poison in their bosom that will destroy them that he is willing to make this offer. I hope that he made it in good faith. We would like to accept his offer. Perhaps he would let us preach on the Herald of Truth and tell his audience what is wrong with it! Will he be as good as his word?

5. If defending the Herald of Truth in Athens did good and it was a "great day", then let us do good in Abilene and have a "great day" here. We do hereby request that brother Harper engage in an honorable discussion of these matters in Abilene. This is not the first time that we have made such a request. The North Park congregation issued such a request of the Highland elders on February 22, 1962. Highland refused our offer in a letter dated March 13, 1962. We ask again that they endorse brother Harper or someone they have confidence in to represent them in such a discussion.

Brethren, if you think it did good in Athens, let us be as willing to accomplish the same good in Abilene. We shall be waiting to hear from you.

-2941 Grape St. Abilene, Texas 79601