Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 6, 1955
NUMBER 34, PAGE 12-14a

My Tulsa Lecture

E. R. Harper, Abilene, Texas

(Editor's Note: As of now, this is the final article we have from Brother Harper. Within the last six months we have published fourteen articles from his pen, most of them two or three times the length of our ordinary articles. In spite of this, however, we have received several letters from preachers and others who have informed us that Brother Harper had written them objecting to our "unfairness" and complaining that we were refusing to publish his articles. While these fourteen articles by Brother Harper have been published in the Gospel Guardian can anybody hazard a guess as to how many articles on the opposite side of the question have been published in the Gospel Advocate — the journal which opened its pages to Harper for his sluice of slander against us? This present article, like most of those which have preceded it, is void of any argument from the Bible, but tries to defend Herald of Truth by abuse of those who question it. Let it now be understood by all that we have not one line from Brother Harper which we have failed to publish. (We have a personal letter or two which he requested not be published.)

Brother Wallace and the Guardian Writers: I notice in your "papers" you have an article concerning what I said in the Tulsa Lecture, January 1938. Brother Wallace you and the Guardian have published correctly my "statement" and what I today believe and preach in principle. Against the published statement I have no criticism. The "misapplication" of it I feel I have the right to answer.

The Statement

"A congregation has no right to build anything larger than it is able to support. It has no right whatever to BIND ANY OTHER CONGREGATION TO ANY PROGRAM OF WORK OF ITS OWN SELECTION. Each congregation must. RETAIN ITS AUTONOMY etc." This I believe today, even more than then if it is possible. I do not nor have I ever believed that any man, institution, or church, has any right to build that which it is not able to meet. We are in the process of a long range program at Highland which calls for a new auditorium. We have absolutely NO RIGHT to erect a building here greater than we can pay for THEN go out to the rest of the churches and say "THIS IS YOUR OBLIGATION. WE CAN'T MEET IT." You are not obligated one dollar. We have no tight to begin a "national radio program; go sign a contract obligating ourselves for one half million dollars," then find ourselves unable to meet this obligation and "palm that obligation off on a brotherhood" that had nothing to do with making the obligation. If we were to do that we have gone beyond our rights as a congregation.

BUT, that is quite different from saying that "no congregation may voluntarily help us build" our auditorium if they so choose. Brother Wallace we helped you and the College Church do just that! Outside contributions I understand have helped the Guardian live also. From the argument that a congregation has "no right to bind on others a debt," does not follow that others can't of "their own free will" promise you the help you need. Such a position will kill all our mission and building programs. Brother Tant, such an argument would have long killed the Guardian wouldn't it? Just so in our radio program. It is one thing to say, "Highland has no right to sign for this program," binding it on the churches "without their consent" and saying congregations can't of their own free will, exercising their own "local autonomy" help us meet this obligation. Your "use of my statement" was misapplied.

My Explanation Of How We Can Help

Now in this same lecture I gave the "plan by which congregations may cooperate in doing that which one congregation cannot do."


"If the state university should open her doors and invite the church to come in and teach the Bible would it be possible for us to COOPERATE and DO THIS WORK ACCEPTABLY? It IS being done in many places. "This kind of set-up will INCLUDE EVERYTHING necessary for the maintenance of such work. All the BUILDINGS (YOU DID NOT SEE THAT DID YOU BROTHER GLENN?) and EQUIPMENT necessary for this work may be included."


"This raises the question of COOPERATION among the CHURCHES for DOING THIS SPECIAL WORK. Can this be done? Surely it can. May we COOPERATE in an EVANGELISTIC CAMPAIGN? We ALL AGREE that we can do this. But the question may be asked, Who will distribute the funds? — We have an account of a collection being taken to care for the poor saints in Palestine. This collection was sent by a group or committee of brethren TO THE CHURCH in Jerusalem where distribution was made — They did not need any SORT OF SOCIETY other than the church itself to distribute this. One congregation was selected by several others to handle the funds. WHY MAY WE NOT FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE TODAY IN ANY EMERGENCY OR NECESSITY?" —

Can you, brethren now honestly, take the statement YOU published and prove that I am against "congregational cooperation"? Can you show I was then against what I am now doing? It is always good to give a man's "full argument" and then you will escape the embarrassment that is to follow in the event you have used his statements out of their setting.


Now the "principles" of this lecture I still feel to be sound. I am sure the "church" should be kept "separate from the schools." I am sure no church has the right to "undertake ANYTHING it is not able to do and then BIND it on the rest of the congregations." I am still of the same conviction that each church must remain "free" from all other congregations in its "autonomous" rights. But this is far from saying that we "can't cooperate with each other" in "helping one another accomplish" that which by ourselves we not only "could NOT do" but which by ourselves we would have "NO RIGHT TO UNDERTAKE."

There is being built up in the minds of people a false conclusion from this argument you brethren are making on "a church has no right to do more than it is able to do"; that "God does not expect a congregation to undertake a work greater than it can of itself support." While this is true yet your conclusion does not follow. Men who understand the laws of reasoning and the force of logic should understand the fallacy in your argument. Your conclusion that since this is true "Two churches can't cooperate" in making it possible for one to accomplish that which by itself it could not do, is not included in your premise. The Highland congregation has a perfect right to help any preacher or church in any work that, that church has a right to do. This all of you admit by your appeals for help. Brother Wm. Wallace is begging for help for a congregation where he has been working. It is urgent. Brother Tant in the Guardian was begging for churches to send help to Brother Worgan of England. He says "We know Brother Worgan and we know he needs the help. And we know CHARLES REINHARDT (one of the most faithful and zealous workers in the whole San Francisco Bay area), and we know he will HANDLE ALL DETAILS SATISFACTORILY. If any reader of this page desires to have a part in this WORTHY ENDEAVOR, you may send YOUR REMITTANCE to CHARLES L. REINHARDT, 172 West McArthur, Blvd., Oakland 11, California. Each contribution will be duly acknowledged and by the help of MANY, THE JOB can shortly be done. The EDITOR'S OWN CHECK IS ALREADY IN THE MAIL, and we HOPE IT WILL BE FOLLOWED by MANY OTHERS from our readers. We can't think of a much MORE PRACTICAL WAY OF DOING MISSION WORK THAN BY HELPING TO INCREASE the effectiveness of these faithful men in Britain who are unselfishly giving their lives to the preaching of the word." (Gospel Guardian, April 24, 1952, page 4.)

Here is the editor of the Guardian begging people to help a Brother in Britain do that which by himself he could not do. God does not require of Brother Worgan to do that which he is not able to do, BUT it does not follow by that argument that others can't help him to become able to do that which otherwise he could not do. Another thing, Brother Tant; You asked for a "check" sent by you to Don Carlos Janes, which I suppose you would accept as proof that you indorsed sending money "through one man" to do mission work. Well here is a similar example. You are asking people, (not to send money direct to the man on the field) but to send it to Brother Reinhardt, a preacher who in turn will "handle all details satisfactorily." What is the difference in this and the "Don Carlos Janes" affair? Here "one man," not the local church, is to "receive, send, and handle all details" for this great mission effort in Britain. Suppose all the congregations had read this and had sent it to "Brother Reinhardt" for him to "handle all details satisfactorily" and then for "him" to send it on to Brother Worgan; Would this have been a "one man missionary society"?

Another thing; Would this have been the "Church Universal" operating through "one man" to do and handle the mission work in "another nation"? Tell us Brother Tant, you and Brother Glenn Wallace, since when can Brother Reinhardt collect all the money for this mission work, and send it to another nation, IF the church in Britain can't do a work greater than they are able to finance? If Brother Reinhardt can collect the money for "one" missionary in Britain, is it not true that. he could collect for two? If for two could he not for "more than two"? This being true then the "church universal" through "your plan" of doing mission work, as given THROUGH Brother Reinhardt, could function in the mission fields of this earth. Remember THIS was not sending it direct to the "man on the field" as is beingtaught today. YOU, Brother Tant are teaching us that we can have a "one man missionary society" through which to do our work in other countries. Fix this up for your group. They do not agree with you. YOU sent YOUR CHECK, not to Brother Worgan, BUT to another man and YOU Brother Tant are urging OTHERS, (not mind you to send it to Brother Worgan) but to Brother Reinhardt FOR this mission effort. One of these days Brother Roy is going to see just what YOU are getting them INTO and his eyes will come open to the fact his "editor" seems not to know from one day to the next "just what to do and say."

No I do not have the right to obligate myself beyond that which I am able to meet, BUT others may help me to BECOME ABLE to meet such an obligation. In the same way, a church may receive help from others to make it able to accomplish a greater work.

Our Obligations

Here is where you brethren have missed the point entirely in your argument. While elders or brethren do not have the right to obligate themselves beyond their ability to meet, this does not mean they cannot use their leadership to encourage others to come to their rescue. If a group of elders and the church where they are do not have the "financial ability" to do what needs to be done, but they do have the "leadership" to direct such a work, and they do have the ability to get the help needed, they are obligated to get this help, else they have failed in their stewardship in the church of the Lord. Financial ability and mental responsibility are two entirely different things. If Paul couldn't have gotten any help to relieve him of his "tent making" and had to preach only as he had time off from making a living the Lord would have blessed him just the same. BUT since Paul possessed the ability to secure enough relief to enable him at times to give up his tent making and devote all his time to preaching, would Paul have failed in measuring up to his full responsibility if he had used "your argument" and refused this help he needed to enable him to do a greater work for the Lord? Here is the issue. Answer it!

Again, If a church, in a remote section, was not financially able to reach the people in its area, but possessed the "mental ability" to do a greater work of this kind, would they be measuring up to their responsibility if they just sat there arguing that because we do not have the right to do a work greater than we are able to support, we have no right to call upon other churches for help to make it possible for the people of this section to hear the gospel? If a congregation has no right to ask for help to make it possible for them to do a greater work, then is the church that sends such help also sinning? If a church has no right beyond its own limitations financially, then what scriptural argument do we have for another church to impose upon this church in making her able to do that which she, of her own financial ability, could not do? Again if a group of elders possessed the ability to get help; if they possessed the ability to scripturally handle such work, and refused to try to get help so they could do a greater work, would these brethren have used their stewardship acceptably in God's sight? Do you men really know what you are saying and to what extremes you are going? Never have the Anti-college group; the anti-class group; the anti-located preacher group; the Ketcherside-group; been forced to such absurd extremes as you otherwise good men, are now being forced to champion. Now based upon your own premises, tell us how congregations may help each other, IF neither men nor congregations have the right to ask for help to enable them to do a work that by themselves they would neither have the financial ability to accomplish nor would they have the moral right to undertake? Let us not confuse "financial ability" to do a thing with our "moral responsibility" to get a thing done, so long as we do not violate the sacred writings. Will one of you brethren just sit down and give us, free from any abuse or from answering any one, the scriptural plan for doing all things expected of us? Then will you write for us an article eliminating all the things we cannot do and give us scriptural references and examples? Will you give us all the ways in which we may cooperate in gospel meetings like in cities where a number of churches wish to share in the meetings; in the ways and means by which we may raise money for all the various activities of the church; the only scriptural way or ways we may preach over the radio, local or national, giving us the chapter and verse for your contentions? I am serious about it. Tell us if more than one congregation can go together to have a radio program when one is not able to do it: can one or more of us help in any way to have a national radio program, local radio program, or state-wide program? If so how should it be managed? Who is to have control of such work? Who will decide the affairs or details etc.? Is it your conviction that we can't cooperate in having any kind of "cooperative endeavors"? If we can, give us all the details of the scriptural ways and means of doing such?

When I say to you the brotherhood is becoming confused over your stand I tell you that which you must know. They do not know when or how to cooperate. Two congregations in the same city will not go together to help have a meeting, a thing we have always done. Why? They say it is "Cooperation." They can't go together to have a radio program for they have become confused over its being a form of "cooperation" and the loss of "local autonomy."

May I say this to you, If brethren can work out a plan by which we can preach over our national networks and reach the millions that are lost, and can do it where there is unity among the churches, I assure you I shall be the first to take the pulpit and begin to work for it and I believe I can promise you that the Highland congregation will work just as hard for it as any congregation in the world. We do not wish glory and power as you seem to imply. We just want the world to know of our Saviour and we believe we are not violating a single principle that we have not used for all these generations back. Let us have your articles on the above things and that without answering any one so issues will not become confused. I do not mean by this that you are to cease writing and answering me or anyone else. Just keep that up so long as you please, but lead us into the ways that are "right and cannot be wrong."