Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 3, 1955
NUMBER 38, PAGE 4-5a

Will You Help Us?


As of this writing, January 17, the Tant-Harper debate on the Herald of Truth is definitely "on." It will be held in Lufkin, Texas, April 11-14, and in Abilene, Texas, June 20-23. The propositions we have signed are as follows:

"The church of Christ, South 5th and Highland, Abilene, Texas, is scriptural in organization, and in her teaching and practice of Congregational, Church, Cooperation."

E. R. Harper affirms Yater Tant denies

"The Gospel Guardian, with her associate organizations, or companies, is scriptural in Design (Purpose), Teaching, and Practice."

Yater Tant affirms E. R. Harper denies

Both of these propositions were worded (and punctuated) by Brother Harper. I asked that the cause "relative to the Herald of Truth" be added to each proposition, but Harper refused to sign on that basis, and insisted that I had to accept the propositions exactly as he had written them (punctuation too), or he would not debate. For the sake of having a discussion on the issue, I signed. I think any brother of much experience in debating realizes that as long as two men are willing to discuss the issues that divide them the exact wording of a proposition is relatively unimportant. Indeed, if Brother Harper is willing to discuss the matters that divide us (and he has written that he will discuss them), I would be quite willing to meet him with no stated proposition at all.

I make this brief explanation so as to avoid any confusion that some might feel over the propositions. They are not to be taken by any means as requiring me to deny the scripturalness of every phase and feature of the good congregation at Fifth and Highland. Neither will Brother Harper deny, or be expected to deny ALL the teaching that has appeared in the Gospel Guardian. For some years it has been our policy (from which we have departed only rarely) to carry at least ten articles each month on the first principles — faith, repentance, baptism, the identity of the church, the divinity of Christ, etc. Brother Harper's signing to deny that the Gospel Guardian is scriptural in her "teaching" does not mean that he denies ALL her teaching; he denies only the teaching which has been given on the point at issue — the Herald of Truth.

In like manner my denial of the first proposition will not obligate me to deny ALL of Highland Church's organization, teaching, and practice of "congregational, church, cooperation" (whatever that is), but I WILL deny that Highland's elders are functioning as a scriptural organization in their oversight of the Herald of Truth. This is the issue between us. I believe that Herald of Truth is the issue; Brother Harper writes that so far as he and the elders at Highland are concerned the Gospel Guardian is the issue. But it is the Guardian's opposition to Herald of Truth which has produced this feeling with them; so we wind up finally with the same point of discussion — Herald of Truth.

How You Can Help

With these things clearly in mind, I come to the readers of this paper asking for help both for myself and for Brother Harper. Both of us recognize that this discussion is a significant and momentous one. It may well turn out to be the most important event in the lives of either of us so far as its effect on the future of the Lord's church is concerned. It is pregnant with great possibilities both for good and for evil. We two shall enter into it with humble and fervent prayer that God may use our discussion to his glory, to the overthrowing of error and the establishment of truth — wherever that truth may be. We need and should have the earnest prayer of every faithful Christian that God will use our discussion, or if need be over-rule it, to his own glory and to the promotion of unity in His cause.

Brother Harper and I want the help of all who may read these lines. I have already solicited by personal letter the assistance of a number of able gospel preachers (men whom I respect and in whose Christian character and devotion to the cause of Christ I have great confidence) to help me in the following manner: I have asked them to:

1. Prepare a brief setting forth what they consider the strongest arguments that can be made for Herald of Truth.

2. Outline the answer they would give to each of these arguments if fully convinced Herald of Truth was wrong.

3. Prepare a brief setting forth what they consider the strongest arguments that can be made against Herald of Truth.

4. Outline the answer they would give to each of these arguments if fully convinced that Herald of Truth is right.

Among the men I have solicited are able and Godly preachers on both sides of the question. I now come to the readers of this paper with the same plea. I would like to have at least one thousand letters from you, each of you giving what you consider the strongest single argument FOR and the strongest single argument AGAINST Herald of Truth. Will you do it? If you are willing to do it, I would also like for you to outline what you consider the strongest answer to be made to each argument — both for and against.

Brother Harper both by personal letter and in several of the articles he has published (both in the Gospel Guardian and the Gospel Advocate) has indicated that his purpose in entering into the discussion will be "expose" the Gospel Guardian, her editor, associate editors, sympathizers, and friends as being trouble-makers, hobby-riders, and factionists. He has publicly appealed for all who have personal letters from me which might be useful to him in his effort, to send such letters to him. I add my own solicitation to his, and ask that the readers of this journal give him whatever assistance you can. Help each of us to accomplish the objectives we have in view: I am interested in a careful study of Bible teaching on the question of how churches may cooperate; Brother Harper is interested in promoting a brotherhood "quarantine" of the Gospel Guardian editors, contributors, and sympathizers. It promises to be an interesting discussion! We already have letters from California, Florida, Ohio, and Canada (as well as many other states) indicating the writers' intention of being present.

— F. Y. T.