Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 17, 1954

Tant's Apology -- As Written By Harper

E. R. Harper, Abilene, Texas

(Editor's Note: The following article has been received from Brother Harper, with the note appended "The Apology that should have been made by Yater Tant, editor, Gospel Guardian." See editorial page.)

May 19, 1954 Dear Brethren:

On March 17, 1954, I wrote an ugly article of ridicule, branding my brethren and the church of which they are members as a Digressive Church. I wrote slurringly and sarcastically about them, making fun of their sermons, which I have already admitted were scriptural sermons in every respect. Yet, I branded these sermons as "canned sermons," endeavoring as best I could to kill the good effect they may have on some poor lost soul.

In this act I fell a victim to Satan's plan to injure or to kill a congregation that has been known for a quarter of a century as one of the most loyal and faithful congregations in the brotherhood, and whose preachers have been among the number of those, from the beginning, who have fought hardest against digression, denominationalism, and worldliness in the church. I sought to injure those who continue this fight for truth.

I Am Ashamed Of My Lack Of Christianity

I am sorry I stooped to such un-Christian tactics as to refer to their preacher as "Mr. John J. Brainstorm" and their elders and deacons as "Foresight, Hindsight, FANATICS, Greatneed, Puttinoff, and CHARLEY HORSE."

I realize that I have lowered myself in the estimation of many good brethren who have been my friends from the beginning, by referring to the regular speakers for this church in such slurring manner as to call them, "Willie James and Nicklas Jim." I now realize that though I feel they are wrong and that this good church has made a mistake in trying to preach to millions over the ABC network, that my attitude and language have caused many of my sincere friends to doubt my motive.

I am well aware that my editorial conduct is absolutely contrary to my own editorial pleadings in my own paper, when I said the "If all of us will exercise patience, tolerance, and GOOD WILL, we can meet these problems, overcome them and all be stronger for so doing. But we will NOT conquer them by an attitude of suspicion, mistrust, ARROGANT charge and counter-charge, attack and counter-attack."

My Lack Of Dignity Is Inconsistent

After re-reading my article in which I showed "ill-will" instead of "good-will"; "intolerance" instead of "tolerance"; "suspicion" instead of "respect"; "arrogant charge" of Digression instead of "patience" — I can now see that in my paper, the Gospel Guardian, I have taught one thing and practiced the opposite.

Even though I still feel these brethren to be wrong, I am ashamed of the childish letter I wrote or allowed to be published in the paper of which I am editor.

I now realize that such attitude and conduct is beneath the dignity of even "worldly-minded men" — and certainly is unbecoming to men who claim to be brethren and pretend to be Christians. In this, brethren, please forgive me.

The Gospel Guardian Is To Blame

Another thing I am now being made to realize more and more is the glaring fact that these brethren in Abilene did not start this terrible fight by making an attack on my paper, or on any of us connected with this paper. I realize that they have not written to defend themselves until I had undertaken to ruin them by branding them with castigating titles, such as "Digressives."

Even after they had suffered my attempt to brand them for life as "unsound" and after I had undertaken to destroy their influence built up through many years of defending the truth and pleading for the "Old Paths," they did not retaliate in kind, but have merely sought to maintain their reputation by answering the unfounded charges I made.

I Encouraged This Church To Do This Work

Another thing that is bothering me is the fact that the man whom I so unkindly called "John J. Brainstorm," E. R. Harper, came to me and to another of the men who started this unholy fight against this church and its preacher, asking to know what we thought about the program before it was launched.

Brother Harper then stated that he did not want to enter into the project, nor did the church desire to initiate it, if the brethren thought it not right. He told me then that the Highland congregation did not want a fight to develop over methods and means of trying to reach the people with the Gospel and cause trouble and division in the church.

We thought it to be all right, and I, Yater Tant, am one of those who told him that the work of preaching the Gospel over the network was all right, and I further promised to announce it in my paper, the Gospel Guardian.

I Cannot Explain My Contradictions

For nearly "two years," without "protest on my part," the Highland Church followed the advice given by many and "myself and another brother," which brother also has written condemning the Highland Church.

I can now see that if they are "Digressives" because they preach the Gospel on the ABC network, that "our" advice and counsel, as aforementioned, have been contributing factors to this affair.

I further understand that one of "our group" got up at a barbecue given by Brother Kendrick at his home and spoke FOR the broadcast, saying that it was a GOOD THING, and that he published a prayer for the success of the program in his church bulletin.

Thus, I have no explanation for my actions. I can only be sorry for the terrible manner in which I have falsely accused these brethren as being "Digressive," when I recall their program met the approval of the editor of the Gospel Guardian. In this, may God forgive me.

I Will Now Try To Practice What I Preach

During nearly two years I have remained silent, except to ask the brethren how the program was getting along, without protest. When I was told that the program was being well received, but that some thought the preaching could be improved upon, I did not brand the program as "Digressive," but commended it.

When I reflect that the Abilene brethren respected my judgment enough to ask my counsel about it, along with scores of other brethren, before they put the program on the air, I can only view with shame the hard things I have said about the work of this church, branding its defense as the "Abilene Ambush," when I had actually endorsed the program from the beginning, and when my friend who opened the fight against it had actually spoken for it, and prayed for it in his church bulletin.

Please Forgive Me

I am ashamed that I ever referred to this preaching as "canned preaching" and that "my group" of people have made fun of the prayers as "canned prayers."

Yes, brethren, since we are guilty of recommending that the work be done, I now see that the manner in which we have tried to kill this program and to injure the men connected with it at Highland Church, is not in keeping with the way I have been pleading for "patience, good-will, tolerance, etc."

I pledge to all that from now on I shall correct my "arrogant charge" against these brethren who, acting upon the advice and counsel of me and scores of others, have entered upon this "national radio program."

My Promise

I promise to all concerned, ESPECIALLY to the brethren in Abilene, that I shall undertake any opposition to their preaching in the Christian manner that my paper has advised. I shall be the first to begin to "practice what I preach."

Most respectfully your brother, E. L. HARPER

(The APOLOGY that should have been made by Yater Tant, editor, Gospel Guardian.)