Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 16, 1956

The Deed That Will Live In Infamy


At long last the "Harper-Tant Debate" is off the press. Only it is NOT the Harper-Tant Debate. The book is a hodge-podge containing the following: A part of Tant's Abilene speeches, plus the "brief" or outline of his Lufkin speeches; Harper's Abilene speeches, plus SIXTY pages of additional material by Harper, some of which was used at Abilene, some of which was used at Lufkin, and a considerable portion of which was used at neither place!

The book physically is of the poorest quality — cheap paper, small print; atrocious proof-reading has left it filled with typographical errors and obviously the work of a third or fourth class print shop. It is quite clear that whoever produced this book has taken rather special care to make it as cheap looking and undesirable as possible. The Gospel Guardian Company certainly has too much professional pride in her name and reputation ever to let such a shoddy and inferior piece of workmanship appear before the public.

But the shoddy low-grade character of the book is quite in harmony with the unprincipled and unscrupulous chicanery by which the Chronicle Publishing Company brought forth this volume. The book as printed is a clear and living example of dishonesty, down-right lying, and hypocrisy. Its publication is a deed that will live in infamy.

Brother Harper was unwilling to let the Gospel Guardian Company publish the book fearing "unfairness" on our part. But look at the "fairness" displayed by his publisher:

1. The contract signed by James Walter Nichols of the Chronicle Publishing Company and Yater Tant demanded that Tant and Harper each should have all page proofs for the entire book for examination and approval. Harper was given these: Tant was not.

2. The contract called for the inclusion of the outline of Tant's speeches, having his charts and diagrams. This outline or "brief" was DELIBERATELY DELETED from the book. This calculated bit of dishonesty was not without reason: the Abilene debate centered around the question of "Bible Authority," which Harper made no attempt to answer. Unable to answer the arguments, he and his publisher decided the next best course for them was to delete those arguments from the book!

3. The contract by definition EXCLUDES any new or additional material not provided for in its stipulations. Yet, in spite of this, SIXTY PAGES OF NEW MATERIAL BY E. R. HARPER is included in the printed volume. This was inserted without Tant's knowledge or consent, and in clear violation of the contract signed by James Walter Nichols.

When it became apparent that Nichols and Harper were trying to pull the same kind of trick on this writer that J. Frank Norris tried to pull on Foy E. Wallace in his efforts at publication of the "Norris-Wallace Debate," we contemplated taking legal action to stop the injustice. We were astounded to discover the Abilene reputation of the firm with whom we were dealing. We talked with a number of Abilene attorneys and business men. Their advice was almost uniformly that we had a clear case of breach of contract, that we could sue the Chronicle Publishing Company and unquestionably get judgment against them — but it was their opinion that the judgment wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on. We learned that the Chronicle Publishing Company has been involved in difficulties since the day it was seized from Olin Hicks and James Walter Nichols became its head. (Hicks uses a stronger word than "seized" to describe what took place.) From attorneys with whom we discussed the Chronicle's violation of the contract signed by Nichols we got the impression that we were dealing with a "bunch of two-timing high-binders," "religious racketeers," and "hi-falutin' promoters," and that no trickery or deceit would be beyond their use if occasion seemed to render it advantageous to them. We were further informed that the Chronicle Publishing Company has been on the verge of bankruptcy for many months, and has only been kept going by sleight of hand maneuvering and manipulations that at least are on the questionable side.

And this was the business reputation of the "brethren" with whom we were dealing!

Rather than enter into court we decided to accept their garbled, unjust, and inaccurate "debate" book, write a supplement supplying a part of our arguments which they had deleted — and let the published volume stand as an undying monument to the trickery, deceit, and dishonesty of the modern "promoters."

The publication of this disjointed, garbled, and infamous volume is a deed that will live in infamy. It will haunt E. R. Harper and James Walter Nichols as long as they live on this earth. Wherever Christians meet together and recount the tricks and frauds and deceits of evil men, this book will occupy a high place on the list of such deeds. They may apologize for it, and let us pray they will repent of it — but the book will be in libraries, on shelves of Christian people; and it will be a perpetual monument to shame and dishonesty.

No! We are not dissatisfied with the debate. We are just ashamed of brethren who will act so dishonestly in their efforts to cover up their complete failure to justify their practices by the word of God. Such unworthy tactics are never Christian and even others need not employ them when they can successfully sustain their proposition by competent evidence. Brother Harper and Nichols could offer no better proof that they are unhappy about their efforts in the debate than the unfair and dishonorable methods they have used to cover up their failure in the printed report of it.

We do not envy that kind of memorial.

— F. Y. T.