Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1961
NUMBER 15, PAGE 9,13b-15a

Be Not Deceived --- Galatians 6:7

John D. Barnes, Coffeeville, Alabama

(Editor's note: Brother Barnes accompanied this article with a note to the editor explaining that he attended those "three great days" in Portland last winter in sympathy with brother Harper's position, and hoping to find good scriptural material which he might use in winning others to what he felt was the side of truth. But brother Harper converted him — to the truth! This has happened no doubt with many honest people who go to such meetings sincerely believing in the Herald of Truth Society and the benevolent societies, but who are sickened and nauseated by the absence of scriptural teaching and the evil appeals to emotionalism and prejudice.)

Paul said, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6:7)

Someone has said, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive." Indeed, what a tangled web we do weave whenever we practice deception. There is no stopping place, and we are made to wonder just where it will end. Parents often deceive their children; children deceive their parents; husbands deceive their wives; wives deceive their own husbands, and we deceive ourselves.

But before continuing this article, let us be sure we understand our subject. The word "deceive" has several meanings, none of which are good. But the one that I wish to notice in particular is "hoodwink." In Roget's International Thesaurus, on page 289, section 442.3, hoodwink means "throw dust in one's eyes;" "put one's eyes out;" "gouge;" "screen from sight." And if we try to deceive ourselves, we hoodwink ourselves and throw dust in our own eyes. And "there is none so blind as they who will not see." (Swift) So in this article I am speaking to those self-deceived folk who will not see.

Oftentimes we hear people say, "Well, I know the Bible says that baptism is necessary, but I don't believe it means that," or "that is not the way I see it." These poor, deluded souls are only deceiving themselves, and throwing dust in their eyes.

But even in our own number, we hear preachers and members say, and have even been guilty of saying, when speaking of the man-made institutions that are troubling the church of our Lord today, "That's only a method of doing what God has commanded us to do." When we know that it is not a method any more than the instrument is a method in our singing.

Concerning the work of the church, brother E. R. Harper said in his first lecture of his "three great days" in Portland, Oregon, last December 7-9:

"Now, there's another thing that I believe in. That is the all-sufficiency of the church of our Lord to carry out, and execute the demands of God, all the things enjoined on us by our Lord. I believe that fully. I believe that completely, as much as any man who hasn't any more mental ability to understand it than do I. I believe it as much as any man could. I might differ to some of you as to maybe what the all-sufficiency of the church is, or just what it means. I might differ with you as regards some things we are doing, that it might reflect on the all-sufficiency of the church. But as I understand the meaning of the all-sufficiency of the church, I think that when God built it, when He set it in order, and put it on this earth, that He had an institution that could carry out His commands, and execute His commands, and carry the gospel to the ends of the worlds, and He didn't need a missionary society."

This is exactly the same plea that was made by the organizers of the missionary society in 1849. Alexander Campbell, in his reply to Mr. James Inglis, a noted Baptist minister of Detroit, Mich., said in 1850:

"In my first essay in the first volume of the Christian Baptist, I took the ground that the church, in her own capacity, was the only scriptural missionary institution known to the primitive church and to Christianity, as propounded by "its Founder and His prime ministers," and that no separate or distinct associations, composed of other persons than its members, could be regarded as of divine authority, or in harmony with the genius and spirit of the gospel and the church. To this view I am as much devoted today as I then was; and while consenting to a missionary society as a distinct object of contemplation, and as a means of diffusing the gospel, I now regard it as I then regarded it, as the church of any given district, in council assembled by her messengers, to devise ways and means for accomplishing this object with more concentrated power and efficiency." Voice of Pioneers on Instrumental Music and Societies, by John T. Lewis, pp. 3233.

Mr. Inglis had just said to Mr. Campbell:

"But, amidst these anticipations, the movement excites apprehensions, too. The body of Disciples is now influential in point of numbers and resources. They have advanced, through a severe conflict, to their present prosperity, and now is the time when a denominational spirit will be apt to spring up. The selfish cant of "our denomination" may steal in under a mere change of phraseology. The critical period, in this respect, is in the outset of your associated efforts and organization. My apprehensions on this score are quickened by some features of the constitutions of the several societies formed by the convention at Cincinnati, and by some corresponding features in the proceedings of the convention itself." The Voice of Pioneers, p. 32.

Just a few short years after Mr. Inglis wrote this to A. Campbell, "the body of Disciples" had become so "influential in point of numbers and resources" that indeed "a denominational spirit" did "spring up" and "the body of Disciples" that had fought so hard and so long for the unity of the faith, had become two bodies, fighting each other. "The body of Disciples" had deceived itself, or allowed itself to be deceived, by throwing dust in its eyes, or screening its eyes from the truth.

"This" as brother John T. Lewis, on page 32 of The Voice of Pioneers, said, "is a prophetic statement made by Mr. Inglis, and it has come true."

This fine book was published in 1931, The Herald of Truth Radio Society, raised its big head in 1952. On page 1 of Radio Sermons, published by the H. of T., October, 1959, under the heading, A Look At Herald of Truth, we read: "The first nation-wide Herald of Truth program was a radio broadcast over 85 American Broadcasting Company stations on February 10, 1952." Mr. Inglis, in his letter to A. Campbell, in 1850 said, "....and now is the time when a denominational spirit will be apt to spring up. The selfish cant of 'our denomination' may steal in under a mere change of phraseology. The critical period, in this respect, is in the outset of your associated efforts and organization."

In his "three great days" in Portland, Ore., Dec. 7-9, 1960, brother E. R. Harper said in his second "great" speech:

"I'd like to say to 'my brethren' tonight, this one thing. Last night when the services were over, I was advised by one of my good friends, he was going to answer, Sunday night, my lesson. I don't know where it will be, but if 'my brethren' happen to go and hear it, may I make one request of you." .... "So, brethren, let me ask of you as Christian gentlemen, when you go and hear 'these men' talk, if it's a preaching sermon, if it is a program where they are preaching the gospel, and you know what it is when you go, then as Christian gentlemen respect that, will you? I'm asking 'my brethren' to do that. I believe you will do that."

Mr Inglis said, "The selfish cant of 'our denomination' may steal in under a different phraseology." Now brother Harper has brought that "prophetic statement" to pass with his "my brethren" and "these men" under a different phraseology, but it is the same "denominational spirit" spoken of by Mr. Inglis in 1850.

Jesus Christ, to His disciples said: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) From these words we learn that carrying the gospel to the world is the work of the church. In Ephesians 3:10-11, Paul said:

"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

From these words, we learn that it was God's "eternal purpose" that His manifold wisdom should be known through the church. Even brother E. R. Harper himself, knows this. He said in his first "great" speech on his first "great" day, Dec. 7, 1960, in Portland, Ore.:

"Jesus said, 'And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' Now the Lord built that church, and when He built it, when He defied the gates of hell to give it to us, He did not bring into existence an institution that is a worthless institution, that is a powerless institution, but He brought it into the world to be an institution of strength, and an institution able to do what God would have it do. In 1 Tim. 3:15, the apostle Paul in writing to Timothy, after having given the qualifications of elders and that of deacons, he said, 'But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.' In this we find the behaviour of the church simply means that you may know how to execute the commands of God and to carry out the work of the church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now, He did not organize a missionary society to evangelize the world. He organized the church, and as we used to say when I was younger, the church is the Lord's only missionary society, and it's the duty, it's the obligation of the church of the living God to send the gospel of our Lord to the lost of the earth."

That is exactly right, and what brother Harper used to say when he was younger — the church is the Lord's ONLY missionary society — he should say now. But what he pleads for and what he contends for now, when he is older — but we fear not as wise — is to "send us your money and we will let the Herald of Truth radio society send the gospel of our Lord to the lost of the earth." When will brother Harper stop deceiving himself into thinking that the H. of T. radio society is a "ways and means" of doing the work of the church, which the Lord says is to be done by the church? When will he return to the wisdom of his youth, when he knew, and preached, that any device of man, such as the missionary society, woman's aid society, or the H. of T. radio society, and all such clap-trap methods, now sapping the life blood from the church of our Lord, are an intrusion on God's "eternal purpose?"

Brother Harper quoted Paul in 1 Tim. 3:15 and said the church is to support the truth. Now since that is true, and since we never have read in the New Testament, and since we never will read in the New Testament, where a missionary society, H. of T. radio society, or any other society, is or was the pillar and ground of the truth, we must not support any such man-made organizations. If we walk by faith and not by sight, we will do what God says, and not be deceived, or even deceive ourselves, into thinking that these man-made institutions are "distinct objects of contemplation, and a means of diffusing the gospel" of our Lord to the lost of the earth.

In his last "great day" brother Harper, whose subject was The Humanity of Christ, left his subject, and spent his entire time, bypassing the church, to build up such human institutions as orphan homes, to do the work of the church. Then he took an excursion to the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and made a personal attack on brother John T. Lewis. I don't know just why brother Harper did that, except maybe he was deceived into thinking that since his argument (?) was weak, he would go to a strong city and attack a strong man some 3,000 miles away, who neither knew nor cared whether brother E. R. Harper was in, or even had been in the city of Portland, and could not reply to him, and thus "give out that he himself was some great one," to go along with his "three great days" in Portland.

In his sermon that night, he said: "Things blind our minds until honestly we can't see them." And I am sure that was so in his case because his mind had become so blinded that he could not see that while he said it was the obligation of the church to care for the orphans and widows, yet all he could see was the institutions that he loves so — and all of his time was spent in shaming all who did not agree with him. He kept talking about "an exclusive bound pattern" and seemed to think that because he found none, just anything at all is all right. Has brother Harper gone to preaching a negative gospel, telling people that since the Bible does not give "an exclusive bound pattern" you can use any thing you want to use, just as long as people are baptized and orphans are cared for?

He said that there were over 30 churches in Birmingham, Alabama, that were against every orphan home he had ever heard of. I don't know just why he went out of his way to go to Birmingham, Alabama, unless he wanted to present brother John T. Lewis to the good people of Portland as some kind of a crack-pot, with a warped, mind, and not interested in widows or orphans, but brother Harper, the truth will out!

And this is the truth. There is not one single orphan home in the entire city of Birmingham, and I might add, neither is there a single widowage in the entire city. But there is one thing that brother Harper forgot to mention, neither is there one single widow or orphan in the entire city, known to me, who is being neglected! That does not mean that the churches in Birmingham, Alabama, are not doing their work, and that they, along with brother Lewis, ought to hide their heads in the sand, but rather it proves that the churches in the city are doing their work and are doing it without the aid (?) of any human institution! I think maybe brother Harper is ranting and raving about Birmingham, Alabama, because Birmingham, Alabama, and John T. Lewis, believe and teach that the church and NOT the Herald of Truth, is the pillar and ground of the truth.

I am not saying these things merely because I love brother Lewis, but I say these things because they are the truth, and the truth should be said at all times; even in Portland, Ore. I also say these things for the benefit of those honest, but poor deluded souls, who are being deceived by such ranting and raving of some who have pets, who would like to know that brother Lewis is not a crackpot, and is interested in the welfare of widows and orphans, but knows the truth and preaches it as a life and death proposition. Let brother Harper remove the dust he has thrown into his own eyes and he can see also, that all human-institutions are an encroachment of God's "eternal purpose."

Brother Harper made a strong appeal to the emotions by creating a situation all his own for the city of Birmingham. He created six little uncared for orphans in Birmingham, and brought them to brother Lewis and the 30 faithful churches to care for. They were asked, if they were members of the church, if their parents were members, or if they were staying with members of the church, and after receiving a negative answer to all of these questions, they were told with a thunderous NO! you can not come in. And the Catholics in Birmingham won a victory. When it comes to a moving speech and building up straw men, brother Harper has no peer. But when it comes to the scriptures, he throws dust in his eyes and screens the truth from his eyes.

He said in his "last Great" speech, on the last "great day" of his "three great days" that he stands where he stood over 35 years ago, and put out an appeal for "those boys" to come back home. Well, let us see. He said, "we used to say when I was younger, the church was the Lord's ONLY missionary society, and its duty, its obligation of the church of the living God is to send the gospel of our Lord to the lost of the earth."

But he told brother Lewis, "who is old enough to be my daddy" that there was not a single human-institution in Birmingham, and that the church is neglecting its duty there. But the truth of the matter is that, when brother Harper was "younger" he did not wear his "promotional eyeglasses" and could see from the New Testament, that the church was the only missionary society the Lord had. But today, he has on his "promotional eyeglasses" that he picked up in 1952, and is not as young as he used to be, and his eyes are full of dust, that he sees at least two missionary societies — the Lord's church, and the H. of T. radio society.

May I make a final suggestion to brother Harper as "a Christian gentleman" who is also "old enough to be my daddy." Take off your "promotional eyeglasses" and go back to Birmingham, Alabama, and especially to brother John T. Lewis, "who is old enough to be your daddy," and glean from the truths that have long since fallen from his vast storehouse of Bible knowledge, who can stroll down the corridors of Bible themes and reap from the clusters of gems at will, and you will see only one missionary society today as you saw when you were much younger.

Brother Lewis, whom you sneeringly referred to as "one of those boys" has been preaching the gospel of God establishing churches in hard places, strengthening weak members, and defending the gospel, as long, or longer than either you or I have been in the land of the living; and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for thus speaking of him and his work. Brother Harper, you need to come home, come back to the place you left over 10 years ago, come back to where you stood over 35 years ago, and plead now as you did then, that the church is to make known God's manifold wisdom. For "God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." And let us "Be not deceived" about it.