Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 1, 1956
NUMBER 26, PAGE 4-5b

The Richmond - Highland Correspondence

F. Y. T.

Elsewhere in this issue we carry copies of some letters which were exchanged a few months ago between elders of the Forest Hill Church in Richmond, Virginia, and elders of the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. The correspondence grew out of an effort on the part of Highland's elders to put on a "Herald of Truth" series of programs over one of the Richmond stations.

We publish this correspondence for two reasons: (1) to show that there are many godly elders throughout the nation who recognize what is involved in "Herald of Truth" and who are firmly set to avoid any entanglement in such centralized cooperatives, and (2) to show in their own words that Highland's elders conceive such an arrangement to be "not authorized in the Scriptures."

The first of these matters will clearly stand forth in any careful reading of the correspondence. Richmond, Virginia, is an area where the digressive church is strong and powerful. She is aggressive. Our faithful brethren there are in daily and unending conflict with the perversions and false claims of the "Christian Church." Both the liberal and the conservative wings of the digressives are active in Virginia. In many areas of Virginia and North Carolina the Christian Church has become so liberal and modernistic that she is completely adrift on the sea of religious humanism, with neither chart, compass, nor anchor. In other communities a strong conservative element is in control, and the Christian Church is (with the exception of instrumental music and the Societies) much, much more conservative than many of our big, worldly congregations in Texas and Tennessee.

The faithful Christians in Virginia have had to do battle with these exponents of error. Necessity has forced them (as it has never forced our brethren at Highland Church in Abilene) to study carefully through all the ramifications of argument, rationalization, and subterfuge by which the digressives have tried to defend their practices. They know what is wrong with the Missionary Society; they have learned it from first hand contact with those who defend it. They see the dangers in even the first timid step toward such a set-up. They have grown weary of the old, old, thread-bare arguments of "look how much good we are doing; how many souls we are saving; how many churches we are starting!" They had been tired of these emotional appeals many years before Herald of Truth was ever conceived in the perfervid imaginations of James Walter Nichols and James D. Willeford in the corn-lands of Iowa. Their letters to the Highland elders, therefore, are letters that come right out of experience. They know!

"Not Authorized In The Scriptures"

One of the most interesting things to us in the whole exchange, however, is the involuntary lapse into objectivity on the part of Brother Reese by which he virtually acknowledges that the Herald of Truth arrangement is "not authorized by the Scriptures." You will find this toward the end of his letter: He is arguing that Herald of Truth is similar to the Bible School, and says,

"Are you willing to drop the Bible School because you have never read where it is advocated or practiced in the New Testament, or are you Non-Sunday School yourself? Are you ready for the sake of unity with these anti-Bible School brethren to drop all your classes and as you have suggested to us, return to the word of God and do the Lord's work in the Lord's way?' Your arrangement is not authorized in the Scriptures. (That is if you have Bible School.)"

Will the reader carefully study that statement again! Brother Reese is defending Herald of Truth, claiming it is parallel to the Bible School of the average congregation, and then goes right ahead to affirm that the Bible School arrangement "IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE SCRIPTURES"!

Have we reached the place where brethren are deliberately, wilfully, and ruthlessly going to go ahead with their projects and promotions regardless of Bible authority? And do the other Highland elders truly share Brother Reese's settled conviction that there is no authority for having a Sunday School? Remember, Bible authority is established in one of three ways (i) command; (ii) approved example, (iii) necessary inference. Informed Christians have always insisted that we must have Bible authority for EVERYTHING we do in religion — be it baptistry, Sunday 'School, a meetinghouse, individual cups, or anything else. The practice must be authorized, else it is sinful!

Herald of Truth exists on a different basis. It is freely acknowledged by 'its advocates that such an arrangement is NOT authorized; but it is contended by them that we do many things which are not authorized, and Herald of Truth is just as scriptural as are these other things we all accept: meetinghouses, baptistries, Sunday Schools, song books, etc. We have been astounded to see such arguments even from men like G. K. Wallace and Guy N. Woods. That is the point in Brother Reese's letter. Herald of Truth is not authorized, he is conceding, but, then, neither is the Sunday School! And, "Are you willing to drop the Sunday School because you have never read where it is advocated or practiced in the New Testament?"

This is the old, old digressive position that "whatever is not specifically prohibited or excluded is permissible." This is the kind of thinking behind such modern arrangements. It even extends over into other areas. For example, when the "Harper-Tant Debate" was published about sixty pages of new and additional material was incorporated in the book by Brother Harper. When taken to task about it, his defense and explanation was that the contract signed between the Chronicle Publishing Company and this writer did not specifically "EXCLUDE" his additional material!! And, as in the church, that which is not specifically excluded is permitted ...the old, old digressive plea which they wore out defending the organ.

We think it high time that our brethren go back and study the meaning of AUTHORITY. And understand that everything — and we do mean everything! — the Christian does must be done by divine authority. That authority may be either general or specific. If the authority is general, then the Christian is to determine any one of several ways or methods by which the thing authorized may be carried out. This is the realm of expediency. It is to be determined by the Christian which one of several ways is the best and most "expedient" way to accomplish the thing authorized. If the authority is specific, then there is no room for choice or expediency.

But to declare that a thing — anything — practiced by a church or a Christian "is not authorized in the Scriptures," and then to go right ahead and do that thing, well, that is rebellion against God; that is defiance of God's authority; that is clear, open contempt for things divine. It led the Christian Church into the dark swamp of apostasy and hopeless digression; it will lead anybody with such an attitude into the same eternal ruin and loss. We pray that the good brethren at Highland Church, and the thousands led astray by them, may awaken before it is everlastingly too late.