Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 29, 1954
NUMBER 12, PAGE 1,11b-12

Harper's Hodgepodge

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

Three months after the articles on "The Herald of Truth" by this writer appeared in the Gospel Guardian, some sort of bee suddenly stung Brother E. R. Harper galvanizing him into an almost unheard of flurry of journalistic activity. Out of this agitated splurge has come a hodgepodge of literary nonsense which our brother calls, "Adams Answered On the Society." This article has appeared in a recent issue of the Gospel Advocate and may be found elsewhere in this issue of the Gospel Guardian. But for the fact that I should not like to offend Brother Harper, the article might well be ignored. No person with any degree of perception whatsoever who read my series of articles on "The Herald of Truth" is likely to be misled into believing that Brother Harper has actually "answered Adams." My answer, therefore, shall be as brief as it is possible for me to make it and at the same time cover our brother's aimless meanderings.

Honor In Controversy

The least one has a right to expect from brethren in controversy is honor. I am grieved that Brother Harper continues to pursue a course that reflects unfavorably upon his honor as a Christian gentleman. (1) Brother Harper did not answer my articles at the time they were written when they were fresh on the minds of the brotherhood. Instead, he waits three months. By this time, much that was written has been forgotten and many have not preserved their papers. Now he comes attempting to put into my articles a position which I never assumed, an argument which I never made, and upon such bases his entire answer (?) to me. Brother Harper quotes me as saying that "such arrangements as 'The Herald of Truth' are predicated on the assumption that the only way the churches can fulfill their mission is by pooling their evangelism." This is exactly what I did say, and had Brother Harper made his answer on that basis of what I said all would have been well. Instead he argues as though I had said that such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" are predicated on the assumption that this is the "only" way that evangelizing can be done. This I did not say. The very fact that such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" exist proves conclusively the assumption on the part of those who institute them that without such the churches could not "FULFILL" their mission. My statement in no sense implied what Brother Harper charges. This he knows if he has the ability to understand simple English. His effort to evade the force of my reasoning by thus shifting ground three months late is not honorable.

(2) Brother Harper submits his answer (?) to Adams to the Gospel Advocate as well as the Gospel Guardian. He does this knowing that none of my articles appeared in that journal and that the Gospel Advocate will not print my reply to him. What his motives were in doing this I cannot say, but whatever his motives were, it is impossible for them to have been honorable. The good elders at Highland Church in Abilene, Texas who have displayed such interest in seeking to make falsifiers out of every person who has opposed their budding Missionary Society might do well to consider the lack of honor thus manifested by their own preacher.

An Abnormal Appetite

Brother Harper has an abnormal, completely unnatural, appetite for the role of a martyr. He likes to picture those who oppose "The Herald of Truth" as being a horde of ravening wolves intent upon the destruction of E. R. Harper and Highland Church. Nothing would please our brother more than for us to feed this unusual appetite by carrying on a personal war of words with him. As far as I am concerned, Brother Harper is completely incidental, and extremely unimportant, in this controversy. Had I the ability to "ruin" him (which I do not), or had I the evil disposition of heart that would make me want to hurt him personally, I cannot possibly imagine what advantage would be gained by doing so. It just would not be worth the effort. I am interested only in the scripturalness of such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth."

Logician Extraordinary

Brother Harper resents my appeals to logic. Yes, Brother Harper, I try to study logic and apply its principles to my writing and preaching. I find it quite helpful especially in controversy. Brother Harper informs me that he "studied logic in college." The readers of his article will doubtless be grateful for this information, for by no other means could they have guessed it. His articles are so devoid of even a semblance of logic that one would not suppose that he had completed a college course in the subject. Brother Harper should not feel too bad about it though for all of us have forgotten things we learned that long ago.

"There's A Long, Long Trail, A Winding" Or "Literary Hodgepodge"

Brother Harper spends most of his article wandering from one thing to another: "Van Bonneau; Yater Tant; Anti-Sunday School; Music Hall Meeting; Lufkin Plan; Central Church, Houston. He speaks of "your Music Hall Cooperation Plan." I am at loss to know what he means by this. I had nothing to do with that meeting either from the standpoint of planning, paying, or attending. The men who know the facts about that meeting and who were involved in it are perfectly capable of either defending it (if that is their pleasure) or repudiating their participation in it as they see fit. If Brother Harper desires to check into my record with reference to such matters, he will find that I have since 1940 been reasonably consistent concerning "cooperation" and in my opposition to the pooling of the resources of many churches in the eldership of one church for united action in general evangelism and benevolence. It is not denied that for the sake of peace I may not have opposed technical violations of the principle here and there. May the Lord forgive me! On December 1, 1940, I preached the very views of church cooperation which I now espouse over radio station KGFT, Brownsville, Texas. I have the sermon in manuscript form. In about 1946 while serving the 7th and Avenue "G" Church in Temple, Texas, a meeting was planned in which the two churches of Temple were to be involved. Brother Harper was to be the speaker in this meeting. In the preliminary meeting between elders and preachers of the two churches, I made it clear that I would not favor a pooling of resources in the treasury of one church. Each church was to be responsible for certain parts of the arrangements and to pay for them. I moved before the meeting was to be conducted and the churches decided that because of building programs the meeting would not be had. It is not important that I establish my consistency but Brother Harper will find my record reasonably so. It is more important for Brother Harper to prove that such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" are scriptural and while doing so, since he opposes the Missionary Society, he might try establishing "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY?"

Van Bonneau and Anti-Sunday School. Brother Harper wants me to prove something to Brother Bonneau. I can understand why Brother Harper might need help with Brother Bonneau after reading his recent articles. I will join Brother Bonneau in condemning the organized Sunday Schools of some of the churches. On the other hand, I stand ready to show that the teaching of the Bible in classes by the local church is scriptural, that it is the work of the local church to teach the word of God, and that such teaching as is done in the Bible classes is legitimately, logically, and scripturally under the oversight of the elders of the local church. Does Brother Harper mean to imply that the Bible classes on the Lord's day are parallel to "The Herald of Truth"? If he does not, his introduction of the matter is nonsensical. If he does, he but makes himself ridiculous. Does Highland Church appeal to thousands of churches to support her Bible classes? Does she maintain separate offices, separate treasury, money raising agents, etc., etc., for them? Does she operate "Sunday Schools" for 1,080 churches as she preaches for them by means of radio in their communities? Tell us oh, thou brother, "who darkens counsel with words without knowledge!" Give us the rule of logic which they taught you in college upon which you base this argument. At the same time, give us the rule of logic that justifies a page and one-half "P.S." to a conclusion.

The Logic Of The Present Cooperation Controversy

The thing the brethren of "The Herald of Truth" and others need to prove is that such "cooperation" as they defend is taught in the scriptures. The trouble is they begin their reasoning by assuming the point at issue. They say, "churches can cooperate." This they assume. It cannot be assumed. It must be proved. By "cooperate," they mean "pool resources and act through a single eldership in general evangelism." This is the very point that is the basis of the whole controversy.

If it can be proved that such cooperation is not only permissible but mandatory as they have contended, it can also be proved that a missionary society is scriptural. If the Lord requires or permits churches to pool their resources and act as a unit through a single agency in genera evangelism, the authority for an organization through which to act is implicit in the command or permission of the Lord thus to function. It would follow, therefore, since the Lord has given no organization through which churches are to function as a unit in general evangelism, the churches themselves are free to form such an organization as is necessary to expedite the work. So long as the organization does not violate any scriptural principle or usurp authority unlawful for it to exercise, it is justified. This is the basis on which Lard, McGarvey and A. Campbell accepted the missionary society. They were logicians of the first order. Like Brother Harper, they had probably studied it in college, only their logic was flawless. The trouble was not in their logic but rather in that they had accepted as scriptural the unscriptural principle of "cooperation" for which our brethren of 'The Herald of Truth" stand.

Unthinking brethren suppose they have circumvented the objectionable features of the missionary society by making the elders of the local church the board of a missionary cooperation. There is not a man on earth who can show that the New Testament authorizes the elders of the local church to become such. Elders are selected by the members of the local church, their work and authority has to do with the local body. They have no authority to arrogate to themselves the prerogatives of the official board of a missionary cooperation of many churches. Actually the missionary society is a more equitable arrangement. The work is general involving general responsibility and necessitating the resources of the churches generally, hence managerial responsibility should not be local. For too long brethren have opposed the missionary society on superficial grounds. The abuses that have characterized the society among our "Digressive" brethren have been the target for our guns rather than the fundamental principle involved. A missionary society is wrong because it antagonizes the principle of congregational equality, autonomy, and independence. Churches cannot scripturally "cooperate" in the sense of pooling their resources and acting as one through a single authoritative board of men whether it be the eldership of one congregation or a board chosen from the cooperating churches. God did not intend for the universal church as such to act or he would have given her an organization through which to function.

A Challenge

I am not much given to making challenges, but I want to issue one in the conclusion of this article. I direct it specifically to Brother Harper. Brother Harper, I challenge you to write an article on "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY?" I have stated my objections to it, now state yours!