Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1955
NUMBER 33, PAGE 1,3b

No Word From Brother Lanier And Not Much Courage Left In Brother Harper

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

In answer to many inquiries concerning the where-a-bouts of Brother Roy Lanier, and in hope that Yater Tant has left enough courage in Brother Harper for me to persuade him to engage me in a public discussion of sponsoring church co-operation, I am writing this article.

Brother Lanier wrote recently five articles in the Gospel Advocate on "Congregational Co-operation". I wrote seven articles in the Gospel Guardian in review of his arguments.

We both stated that we are praying that through "sincere study and frank discussion" we may find common and scriptural ground on which to do every good work the Lord expects his people to do. Several good brethren down in San Antonio thought we meant it. I did mean it, and I still mean it.

Upon the instruction of the elders of the Highland church in San Antonio, Brother Hoyt Houchen called me by telephone on Saturday night, November 5, to tell me that they wanted Brother Lanier and me to discuss the sponsoring church question in their city. They offered us the use of their new auditorium with a seating capacity of more than seven hundred.

They did not request that we use their building; they would be just as happy, if we used some other building; they proffered us the use of their building in order to make the debate possible.

On November 7, I mailed a letter to Brother Lanier, in which I challenged him to accept the invitation of the San Antonio brethren and meet me there in the proposed debate. My letter was published in the Gospel Guardian of November 24.

This is December 6, and I have had no word from Brother Lanier since my letter was mailed to him one month ago.

His failure to answer my letter is no surprise at all to me. To answer would only add to his embarrassment. Socialism and Modernism stand out like a sore thumb in his articles. He now is totally impotent in debate, and will remain impotent for the rest of his natural life, if he does not renounce unequivocally the error which he advocated in his articles. He cannot afford to let an opponent in debate stand before an audience and read his erroneous doctrines. His "new hat" which he said in his first article he was throwing "in the ring" now lies in the far corner of "the ring", as limp as an old wet towel.

Brother Lanier need not go through life as timid as a rabbit; there is yet a way out for him: he can renounce his Socialism, Modernism and sponsoring church hobby, and thereby regain his self-respect and restore his usefulness as a courageous gospel preacher. Of course, if he did that, his name would be removed from the Advocate list of staff writers, he would lose his job as an Advocate literature writer, he would suffer for the name of Christ, he would be quarantined by the paper that once deserved the title, "Old Reliable", he would be called an "anti-cooperation brother", "trouble maker", "Guardian boy" and many other prejudicial names; but personally I'd rather have my self-respect and retain my courage and usefulness as a faithful gospel preacher than to have all the money and worldly honor that the. Advocate can bestow on any man, When I reported to the San Antonio brethren that Brother Lanier had committed forensic suicide, and evidently now is out of the picture, they told me that they had not meant to restrict their invitation to Brother Lanier as the only man to represent the sponsoring church side of the question; they are extending their invitation to any representative man with whom I may be willing to discuss the issue.

Winning a personal victory over a man has never been my purpose in any debate. If I know my own heart, I want a victory for truth — not a victory over man. Therefore, I always prefer to discuss any question with the strongest man the opposition can corral. This is not a new policy of mine; in every debate in which I have participated I have expressed my willingness to discuss the proposition with any man that the opposition may select.

If I wanted to injure some particular man, or if I were a coward, I would name that one man as my opponent, and I would say, "I will meet this man and no one else in debate; he must be my opponent or there will be no debate". When a man says that, he thereby convinces me that he is either a cringing coward or a malicious person who wants to harm his opponent more than he wants to win a victory for truth and righteousness. On what other ground can his conduct be explained?

I have tried to persuade Brother Ernest Harper to accept the invitation of the San Antonio brethren, and meet me there in discussion of the sponsoring church method of co-operation. He gave me to understand that he had no intention of doing such a thing. Brother Harper was once a courageous defender of the things he taught: hut in two debates Yater Tant reduced E. R, Harper's courage to a minus one. I don't think I have ever seen a man with more symptoms of cowardice.

When I approached Brother Harper on the proposed debate in San Antonio, he launched out in an oration on his favorite theme, "My Health". He has one of the most peculiar maladies in the records of medical science: he can travel anywhere in the United States and hold meetings; he can carry on his work with the Highland church in Abilene, and it is not a "little church down in the pine woods of Southeast Texas," it is a BIG church; he can write column after column for the papers; he can go anywhere he wants to go and do anything he wants to do, except to go with me down to San Antonio for a discussion of the sponsoring church question.

In the past, the doctors never have been able properly to diagnose Brother Harper's case. But now in the light of recent developments, even a pre-med student can name his trouble: he has an allergy; he is allergic to San Antonio.

Brother Harper, are James Nichols, James Willeford and all the recent speakers on the Herald of Truth radio program sick? Are they also allergic to San Antonio?

If an epidemic of "allergy-to-San Antonio" is pervading the Herald of Truth Federation, I think the State Board of Health should be notified at once.