The Herald Of Truth Broadcast
February 10, 1952, the ABC network began to carry a broadcast introduced by, "The churches of Christ salute you with the Herald of Truth." God willing, the DuMont Television Network will likewise begin to carry the program of February 12, 1954, so that ten million people each week may see and hear the gospel of the Master.
This program is identified as follows: "This program has come to you under the direction of the Highland Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, and is supported by churches of Christ." Its elders inspect the program before it is transcribed, and give it final approval before it is put on the air. I was tremendously impressed by their willingness to accept suggestions during their inspection of one of the programs.
Funds are sent to the Highland church, especially earmarked for the Herald of Truth broadcast, to a special post office box set up by the elders "providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Cor. 8:21) P. S. Kendrick of College church has acted in the past as treasurer, and Phil Ken-thick is the able announcer.
Office Work Is Tremendous Hundreds of personal letters go out each day, answering questions, helping people locate congregations, answering requests for sermons, etc. Three secretaries and eight typists and bookkeepers are required, and they are swamped with work. These are paid $45.00 and $42.50 per week, respectively.
James Willeford and James W. Nichols have done most of the preaching, and have been paid $100.00 per week, until recently, when they were increased to $150.00. John F. Reese, elder at Highland, gave up his business to manage the office, answer questions, and generally supervise this work at a salary of $150.00.
The two preachers spend many hours per week preparing the sermons, making transcriptions, piecing the program together, and following the continuity written by Brother Reese. Phil Kendrick, the able announcer, is paid $25.00 weekly.
Since Highland church had no space, offices had to be rented and furnished by the congregation. About one-sixth of the funds expended have been spent on transcriptions, printing and mailing copies of the sermons, paying the salaries and office expense, keeping the records, acknowledging the contributions, and for utilities, telephone and supplies.
History Of The Broadcast
The two evangelists selected to do the work were preaching on a small six or seven station network in the northern states, when they were given an opportunity to enlarge their work and place it on a network.
College church in Abilene was the first sponsor for the program, and since Brother Nichols' salary was guaranteed, this church agreed to serve as sponsor for four months, while the matter was put before the brethren. On September 16, 1951, The Minute Monitor, weekly bulletin of the College church in Abilene said:
"Brother James Walter Nichols has been working with the College church for the past four months in a special radio project. The College church agreed to sponsor this work for four months, This work is of the highest type and is commendable . . . . We do offer a prayer for God's blessing on this and any other good work."
After releasing the work, College church continued to support it, and carries an item in its 1964 budget:
Radio, Highland church ... 83.00 (month) ... 1,000 (year)."
The Missions Program division of the Annual Report from College church says:
"We are also making a sizable contribution regularly to the Herald of Truth radio program. It is expected that as our budget grows we can do far more of this type of work." Their interest in this program shows almost one-tenth of their mission budget is spent here.
From September 16, 1951, the Highland church in Abilene has been overseeing this work. Their 1953 directory says:
"Many conversions and restorations have been reported. This work is being supported by a great number of congregations and individuals."
How Is The Money Raised?
Highland church has appealed to the churches through the mail, by telephone, and personal contact, for funds to do this magnificent work, as one sister congregation asking others for help and cooperation. Pledges are made by the churches to Highland church in Abilene, which pledges are paid by the local churches at their convenience.
Some individuals also make contributions, although no campaign for individual contributions has ever been made. It has never been said that it is sinful and wrong for individuals to contribute to a worthy cause.
Why Is This Called "Herald Of Truth"?
The Highland elders could not officially speak for the churches of Christ in any capacity. They therefore do not say, "The church of Christ claims and teaches so-and-so ..."
This broadcast is not the church, and cannot advertise itself as such. It is the work of the church, or an activity of the church, even as a church bulletin. Other radio programs conducted by our people are called by such titles, to help build an audience: "The Gospel in Sermon and Song"; "The Bible Hour"; "Bible Questions and Answers"; "What Does Your Bible Say?
Churches print bulletins with similar titles: "The Minute Monitor"; "Stop and Think"; "The Visitor"; "The Truth"; "The Caller."
Such a title is no more unscriptural than to call a mid-week service a "prayer meeting"; or to call a protracted revival a "gospel meeting"; or to call a number of classes meeting simultaneously a "Bible school" These names simply describe what the church is doing, and none need misunderstand.
Why Carry "Herald Of Truth" On Letterheads?
To plant firmly in the minds of people that Highland church, with the help of sister congregations, does HERALD the TRUTH, it advertises this fact — just as we have always advertised the slogan — "Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent."
This does no discredit to the church. All the advertising, programs, letterheads, films and brochures sent out by Highland church make known clearly and without subterfuge, that this work is under the immediate and direct oversight of the Highland elders, to whom any criticism, suggestion, or question may be addressed, either from Abilene, or from any other quarter.
The first monthly report sent out said:
"If at any time there should arise in your mind a question about any of the phases of this work, we would appreciate your writing. We believe that you should know how the program is being handled, and by whom .... We look forward to hearing from you . . .." (pages 5,6)
But the church is honored in every program. We sincerely believe that none can hear, or see, one of the broadcasts or telecasts without learning what the program says repeatedly: "This program has come to you under the direction of the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, and is supported by churches of Christ.' None need misunderstand.
Is It Right To Preach On Radio Or Tv?
Such mass media as radio, television, and printing tracts reach beyond any local church in communicating the gospel. Surely no one is naive enough to think that such mass media for heralding the truth as newspapers, TV, etc., can be used without reaching into territory that the elders of a local church cannot supervise and oversee.
But the churches of Christ, operating under the Great Commission of our Lord, are engaged in a world-wide operation, since Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature . . . ." (Mark 16:15) Every Christian is a part of this world-wide operation, and every congregation has some obligation to carry it on. The local elders must plan ways and means to push this worldwide operation along, and help it succeed.
Some elders have greater vision than others, just as some preachers have greater vision. Some can see the possibilities of good in the work of the church, and some can see only the dangers of something bad.
If, as some would have us think, it is sinful and wrong for a local church to engage in any operation that reaches beyond the support and/or beyond the supervision of any one local church, it becomes sinful and wrong (according to that reasoning), to put ONE sermon on ANY radio station.
The sermon would be heard by someone not under the supervision of a local eldership, and its results would be felt in territory beyond their oversight. Does this not condemn ALL radio preaching?
Are we going to be driven into accepting the Catholic "Diocese" idea, or shall we follow the New Testament?
If it is right to preach the gospel on ONE radio station, it is right to preach the same sermon on a thousand stations, with or without the use of a network. If elders do not overstep their bounds when they supervise a radio program heard 20 miles beyond their immediate neighborhood, they do not overstep their bounds when they supervise a program that reaches 2,000 miles beyond their own neighborhood.
Distributing Tracts Is Likewise
To prohibit a local church from conducting any operation that reaches beyond the supervision and/or beyond the support of the local church, would condemn ALL use of the printed page, including tracts, newspapers, etc. Somebody just might get their hands on a gospel tract who was not under the supervision of the local elders, and who never attended the local congregation.
If it is scriptural and right for a local church to send tracts and letters to people in its own country, it is scriptural and right for a local church to print and mail sermons and letters all over the world, in spite of the fact that it is thereby conducting an operation that reaches beyond the supervision and the support of the local church.
What About Public Contributions?
If indeed the local church must not permit anyone who is not under the supervision of the local elders to help in the support of its work, we are forever prohibited from passing the contribution platter to an open assembly.
Somebody just might put a contribution in the platter who is not a member of the local congregation. If it is wrong for a church to do what it cannot support without outside help, it would be wrong to accept this money. This legislation would force us to "closed box," and make us refuse non-members the right to worship by giving. Then we would have to decide whether a member is in good standing before he could give, etc. Is this what the New Testament teaches?
Can "The Churches" Unite To Act?
Prayer is an action that cannot be limited by congregational lines. Paul tells us to pray "everywhere." (1 Tim. 2:1-8) What is there about which we may unite in prayer that we cannot scripturally unite to help?
Fellowship between churches is not only proper and right, it is scriptural and divinely commanded, whether it consists in sending money to a missionary, relieving human distress, or helping one another.
Let us not be naive enough to think that our own local church has done ALL that has been done, when we baptize a man into Christ. Other congregations may have helped.
We all depend on one another to a great extent, and we shall always need the help of other congregations, in holding gospel meetings, building buildings, or preaching the truth on radio or elsewhere. Let us not be naive enough to think that the progress of the church at ANY locality is due solely to what that particular church itself has done. The training of its leaders, preachers, and its teachers, has probably been given elsewhere, by other churches.
One congregation, working by itself, can accomplish little. By joining hands together, we can do much more. There is a cumulative effect on the world, when the church works together. (John 17:20,21) God help us to grow more willing to "hold hands across the world" for the salvation of souls.
The Herald Of Truth Is Such A Work
Although it is under the supervision of Highland church, this broadcast is a worthy enterprise, in which we can all help. One hundred and seventy souls die per hour in our nation without God. Those who care about these souls MUST be interested in reaching as many as possible with the gospel. The very thought of preaching to ten million people per week thrills the souls of those who believe in the power of the gospel.
Is This Program Too Big To Be Right?
Unless we have lost sight of the principal work of the church, to "preach the gospel to every creature," we will not say this work is too big. It is really too small. While we fiddle, souls die without hope.
Is it scriptural and right for several churches to work together on a given project, and to see it through as partners in a worthy enterprise? Or is anything too big for one local church, too big to be scriptural? And is it possible for several churches to work together and to act in concert without losing their independence, autonomy, and identity as local churches?
Our Great Danger Is Doing Too Little
There is not very much likelihood that "our" people will do too much, or get very far ahead of what the New Testament specifically authorizes. We have too many people who are always "agin" everything, for anything unscriptural to get very far.
Let us seek a Bible answer to our question.
A New Testament Example Note the methods Paul commanded to be used in raising money for such a worthy project in New Testament times in 2 Corinthians 8. Note:
1. There were saints in Jerusalem who needed relief. (This was AFTER the story of the sending of money to Judea in Acts 11:27-30.)
2. Paul gave apostolic "orders" to the "churches of Galatia" (1 Cor. 16:1,2), to give to their relief. Corinth was LIKEWISE ordered to join in this cooperative enterprise.
3. The "churches of Macedonia," verse 1, joined in this cooperation of churches, to have part in "ministering to the saints."
4. The church at Corinth had made a pledge to the work, a year before, 2 Corinthians 8:10,12, and Paul commanded them to KEEP their pledge.
5. The money was sent to Jerusalem by the hands of Titus, another unnamed brother, who had been selected as a cooperative action, "chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord..." (2 Cor. 8:19) (This word for "chosen" is XEIROTONETHEIS, an aorist passive participle from XIEROTONEO — defined by Thayer's Lexicon, page 668.) It is the same word translated "appoint" in Acts 14:23. In 2 Corinthians 8:19, the preposition 'GPO — which with the genitive case here shows the agents by whom the choosing or appointing was done — this brother was chosen "by the churches" (plural).
6. These brethren circulated among "the churches" to gather the cash and carry it to Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 16:3)
Shall We Deny God?
Here is a New Testament example of cooperative action, in which more than one church chose a man to go out to more than one other church and promote a scriptural work, requiring the raising of funds from more than one congregation. This was a scriptural operation, in spite of the fact that it was too big for the oversight and the support of one single local congregation.
Paul commended these churches who took part in this cooperative enterprise, and commended the men who raised the money as "the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ." (vs. 23)
We believe, then, that the principle of congregational cooperation is a scriptural principle, and that no man has the right to remove it from New Testament Christianity, nor to ridicule those who were called by God "the glory of Christ." If this be heresy, rescue me from it — I cannot deny God.
Let Us Follow God, Always
If it was right for the church at Corinth to pledge their giving a year ahead for the relief of the poor saints as in 2 Corinthians 8:10-12, and if it was right to send money to elders of another congregation as in Acts 11:27-30. It is still scriptural and right for a local church to pledge to help Herald of Truth and send money to the Highland elders. If not, why not?
Let us not fear to follow the Bible, and do what these churches did, just because some person imagines and fears "it might someday lead to something big and bad." Such timid failure to obey God is unworthy of those who have placed their faith in Christ Jesus.