Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 10, 1957
NUMBER 35, PAGE 2-3a

An Open Letter To Brother Yater Tant (II.)

John F. Reese, Abilene, Texas

Right now I would like to call your attention to a certified copy of the court recording that took place in Bakersfield, California, July 2-10, 1956. Will you please confirm or deny that you stated on the witness stand concerning the METHOD by which elders might arrive at a decision to withdraw from another elder . . . "that is entirely within their authority if they want to decide the case by a FLIP OF THE COIN (caps mine, JFR) they can do it." Is this the new pattern? A group of elders may decide whether to withdraw from a fellow by the FLIP OF A COIN. That's what the official certified court record says. Now we have heard preachers say that Christians should not FLIP COINS to determine which one will pay for drinks or other trivial, material articles. They say this is gambling. Now you say on the witness stand in a court of law as an expert witness that elders may at their pleasure GAMBLE with the SOULS OF MEN only one of which Jesus said is worth more than the WHOLE WORLD. Is this the NEW LOOK in church administration? Do you recommend this method of selecting a preacher? Which size coins should elders use for the various questions that arise? Is this your latest METHOD of settling the question of cooperation between churches? We will be looking forward to your explanation of GAMBLING among elders to determine whether or not to withdraw from another elder. Of course, with your command of the English language, you should have no difficulty whatever in making your position CRYSTAL CLEAR. On the other hand, you can always REPUDIATE what you say or do. Please don't forget, however, that it is still on the court record in California.

If you brethren and especially Brother Douthitt are still contending that one church cannot help another church to do a work "to which they both are equally related," I would like to ask you some questions about Acts 11:27 through verse 30. The more I read this passage, the more mixed up I could get if you brethren are correct in your interpretation. Now about this time there came down from Jerusalem to Antioch some prophets among whom was Agabus who prophesied "that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." Now I don't wish to misrepresent anyone, but I believe that on page 7 of your booklet, "Why Herald of Truth Is Wrong," you said in section 4, "The Scriptures authorize a pattern for congregational cooperation" and cited Acts 11:27-30 as the first example. On page 15 of this same book you proposed to prove that Scriptural cooperation consisted of a church with abundance giving to a church in want, "that there may be equality." Now somewhere else I read where Brother Douthitt and I believe you also, wrote or said that "One church cannot Scripturally help another church to do a work to which they were equally related or to which they sustained the "same relationship." Of course, this didn't have any Scripture to sustain the argument but that isn't the point I have in mind here. What I am puzzled about is, "Whose famine is it"? Maybe you can and will answer this question for me. The reason I could get mixed up, I guess, is because I read in Mark 16:15 where Jesus told his disciples "Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, and preach the gospel to every creature." That is exactly the same phraseology used by Agabus when he was foretelling the famine. Now did "ALL THE WORLD" in Mark 16 mean ALL THE WORLD or JUST JUDEA? OR on the other hand did ALL THE WORLD in Acts 11 mean ALL THE WORLD? Now if "ALL THE WORLD" in Mark 16 didn't mean ALL THE WORLD but JUST JUDEA then I can understand Acts 8:1 better as to why the apostles were left in Jerusalem when the church was scattered abroad. If your argument be correct, they understood properly that Jesus meant ONLY for them to go into ALL JUDEA and consequently they just took up headquarters in Jerusalem. But when I go to make the application of the Great Commission to the whole world and not just Judea, as we have taught for generations (and I am not yet ready to repudiate the teaching) I come face to face with this question. If the famine was in all the world as Agabus said, and as the Scriptures say came to pass, then why was it not Antioch's famine the same as that of Judea or Jerusalem and why did they NOT sustain the same relationship to it, and how could Antioch help Jerusalem if you brethren be correct. To put it plain and simply 'Whose famine was it, EXCLUSIVELY, PECULIARLY AND PARTICULARLY AND WHAT IS MEANT BY ALL THE WORLD? Or was Antioch not in the world?

I could say some things about the letter from Brother Lyell, but I will let him rest. I can understand how easy it is for a man to fail to say exactly what he means, and especially by mail. I'm sure he didn't mean to say that he would NOT ENDORSE this work even if he knew it to be Scriptural. I'm sure he meant that we would not SUPPORT it. To not endorse something known to be Scriptural would be unthinkable. I can always endorse that which the Holy Spirit saw fit to have inscribed in the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever.

I wonder if you will be so kind as to put a check mark after each of the following statements in what you consider the proper places:

1. The Highland Church of Christ will be eternally lost for producing and presenting with the help of sister congregations a radio program known as Herald of Truth.

Yes_____ No___ I don't know _____

2. All congregations assisting financially the Highland Church of Christ in producing and presenting a radio program known as Herald of Truth will be eternally lost.

Yes____ No___ I don't know _____

Brother W. W. Otey didn't know. Brother Derrel Starling said YES to both. What do you say?

Quite a few people have asked me about the statements you made about the debate books. You know the "garbled edition." The deleted portions of your speeches. Will you be so kind as to give us in print, so all will know, the EXACT STATEMENTS and on WHAT NIGHT and SPEECH that we may CHECK copies and SEE FOR SURE that you have been MISTREATED! Then too we can verify your statements by our tapes and also by the manuscripts which YOU okayed and get this matter corrected before a brotherhood that is somewhat concerned over WHICH of OUR BRETHREN has been mistreated. Just point out the deletions as you would identify a quotation from a book from which you were quoting and it will be sufficient. Now while we are on the subject of the debate book I would like to ask you this question. What did you intend to do with the books when you called me on the phone and requested me to have Brother Harper's secretary send you 250 "more" of the debate book published by the Chronicle Publishing Co.? Do you mean to say that you had not only sent out 250 of these "garbled editions" but wanted 250 more copies? Are you adding the "deleted" portions of your speeches? Brother Cawyer one of our elders ordered one of "your" books and when it came we went over it and the only difference we could find, was the addition of the "revised" edition of your Lufkin Debate Notes known commonly as "How New Testament Churches Can, and Can Not Cooperate: or, What Is Wrong With Herald of Truth." It was printed by the Chronicle Publishing Company. I am simply naive enough to ask What is wrong with your booklet "What Is Wrong With Herald of Truth" as it was originally published and used at Lufkin? Why did you not want it published in the debate book as originally planned? Did you discover some mistakes in it? Well you just list the remarks you made at the debate in Abilene that were deleted from the book when published and that will help a lot.

The only thing I believe I can think of now that I can't work out and maybe you can help me on is what Brother Charles Holt meant at Lufkin when at the close of the debate he stated that he wouldn't say that he would not accept the Missionary Society as it was set up in the beginning.

Thanks for printing this in your paper. Be sure to answer all my questions as I have tried my best to be as frank and courteous as I know how. If you are still "studying the question" we should make real progress in resolving our differences if you will give me the answers requested, and also print my answer to your letter. It won't be necessary for you to wait until you get some articles written by others on your staff as I have directed my letter EXCLUSIVELY, SPECIFICALLY, PARTICULARLY, AND PECULIARLY to you.


Yours for Truth, John F. Reese

bh Enc.