Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 28, 1954
NUMBER 25, PAGE 2-3b

A Trip To Abilene

Jack L. Holt, Indianapolis, Indiana

It is often amazing what a trip can do for one. Doctors know the value of taking trips, and often advise those who suffer from various illnesses to take a trip and get away for awhile. Many and strange things may happen while one is on a trip. Babies may be born, the old sow may root under the fence and eat the yams; the wife may fall and break her neck, and many times ones problems solve themselves or disappear. Brethren, trips are often wonderful indeed.

Brother Paul Matthews was for many months beset and plagued with a weighty problem. Brother Paul was at sea without chart or compass when it came to the Herald of Truth problem. He could not decide whether it was or was net "scriptural and expedient." Brother Matthews was not the only one in such a woeful condition. The "disease" had spread to others. In a recent article in the Gospel Advocate Paul tells about the far reaching influence of this plague saying, "neither he nor a number of other preachers whom he had contacted were able to make a decision." They were all broke out with "undecideitis." Brother Matthews then speaks of the mutual distress of the sufferers and tells the cause thereof, "we were always handicapped because none of us had been on the ground to inquire directly into the operation of the program." Now dear reader, brush the tears from your eyes and survey this pathetic scene. A whole host of undecided preachers suffering immensely. The only tonic they had was the New Testament, which to them did not contain a remedy for their disease. Poor things were under a terrific handicap.

The primary question before the eyes of this host was, "how will we ever decide this problem? How might we overcome this handicap?" Brother Paul comes to the rescue of the perishing and begins to speak words of comfort. "Brethren," says Paul, "be of good cheer, let not your hearts be troubled. I am scheduled to hold a meeting, in August, at the Highland Church. Now this is what I will do. I will go to Abilene and make an 'on the ground' investigation to determine whether or not the Herald of Truth is 'scriptural and expedient.' I will then return and give you some firsthand information." The saying pleased the multitude and they sent Paul away.

Brother Paul arrived in Abilene, got "on the ground" and began his investigation. He received the help and guidance of the Highland elders, and of his uncle E. R. Harper. He made a thorough examination of everything they wanted him to examine. Having been confirmed in the faith, by the brethren "on the ground" at Abilene, Paul returned and wrote an article in the Gospel Advocate, entitled, "A Promise Kept To A Host of Preachers." In this article Brother Paul reveals his findings.

Brother Paul's "On the Ground" Report Brother Matthews found out first of all that the program belongs to the Highland Church. He failed to tell how he discovered why the program belong to Highland anymore than it does to the one thousand and eighty other churches, but he reports from the "ground" that it does. Brother Paul then states, "It is true that it is larger than Highland Church can support by herself, but that has not been the determining feature of one's program in the past, and should not be now." If Brother Paul had kept his ear "to the ground" he may have discovered that such was contrary to a certain person's teaching. Had he listened closely he may have heard his uncle "Ernie" say, "A congregation has no right to build anything larger than it is able to support," unless, of course Brother Harper has changed. Brother Paul in your on the ground survey did you find the scriptural precedent for one church planning a work that requires the funds of one thousand and eighty other churches?

Brother Matthews second finding was: "There is no organization about Herald of Truth except the local congregation." I suppose by this statement he desires to prove that if a work is placed under a local eldership it is scriptural. Will Paul accept the conclusions that naturally follow? Would Brother Matthews approve a local eldership soliciting funds from other churches in order that they might oversee a state evangelist(s)? I would like a little "firsthand information" along this line. Brother Paul continues, "The only scriptural issue is: "Can congregations help a sister congregation do a good work?" The Highland brethren must have convinced Paul that this was the only issue. The issue is: Can one thousand churches unite in the consolidation of their funds and work through a single agency? If so, where is the scriptural precedent?

Brother Paul then concludes that the program is scriptural. He did not present a single scripture to back up his conclusions. Paul just concluded that his conclusions were scriptural. But since Paul said the program was scriptural some one may inquire "Where did he find this out?" Why, brethren, he found the scriptural (?) authority for the program "on the ground" in Abilene. Joe Smith found his revelations "in the ground," Paul found his "on the ground." Neither could find their teachings in God's word. I am amazed at the things one can turn up out on the "sacred soil" in Abilene.

Brother Matthews also found that the program is expedient. Paul classifies himself as a "nickel and dime man" not able to figure in the gigantic terms necessary to the operation of the Herald of Truth. Yet this "nickel and dime man" wrote an article in the Advocate in which he endeavors to prove that these gigantic expenditures are expedient. Now how "a little man" who deals in "small terms" was able to come to that decision I don't know. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that some of the brethren at Abilene took Paul, aside that is, and expounded unto him the law of God on high finance.

Brother Paul asks and answers a question. "Are there dangers involved? All who think will know there are." Paul admits that the program poses dangers. Yet Paul wrote an entire article in which he endeavored to prove the program both scriptural and expedient. Paul do you really mean it's dangerous to follow God's way? I thought gospel preachers had preached for years that the infallibly safe way was to follow God's word; that in so doing there were no dangers involved. Now Paul says that there is; that there are dangers in doing that which is "scriptural and expedient." Paul will you kindly give me some firsthand information about this. Please point out to me one danger in doing that which is both scriptural and expedient? Is this something else you learned while "on the ground" in Abilene?

I suggest to Brother Paul and that "host of preachers" that if they are ever perplexed again about a thing being scriptural or not that they consult the New Testament. It is a good authority concerning what God wants and what he does not want. They could have saved themselves the anxiety of waiting for Paul's return had they done this. Moreover, even though the ground out at Abilene is hallowed by the presence of "far-sighted men" (?) that is not the place to look for scriptural authority. Men who desire God's will "search the scriptures." (Acts 17:11.) Then, if Brother Paul had looked in the Bible for some "firsthand scriptures," rather than running off to Abilene to get some "firsthand information" he would never have written his article.

In conclusion allow me to confess. I am very depressed and need to get away for awhile. I have examined every article I could get to concerning this issue and have never found a one which gave any scripture that justified the set-up in Abilene. If any one knows where they can be found, "firsthand" or otherwise let me know, and I will come and examine them. I need to take a "trip."