"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.I Pg.15-14c
August 1942

The Objections To Harding College

E. R. Harper

Since it is a matter of general knowledge that I have been in disagreement with Harding College, now located at Searcy, Arkansas, the public has a right to know why. I am asking this opportunity therefore to state my reasons. In a recent bulletin issued by the College against me, and circulated throughout the entire brotherhood, a belabored effort was made to show that I had an ambition to "run" the school. I was charged with being a "politician," a "Hitler," a "dictator." I shall not attempt to refute such platitudes and absurdities. I have too much confidence in the wisdom and integrity of my brethren to think they can be duped by such fantastic accusations. In order that all may know this is not a personal grievance—and in order to keep the record straight—let me recount here some facts in which you will be interested.

A short time before moving to Little Rock, nine years ago, I was asked to become a member of the Board of Trustees at Freed-Hardeman College. I declined this invitation on the ground it would reflect upon Harding College, then located at Morrilton. I definitely stated that I planned to support the Arkansas school in every way that I possibly could. I had not been preaching a great many years, and up till that time I did not know anything about the criticisms which had been offered against the school. As soon as I was located in Little Rock I got behind the school with all my power. When I learned that Brother Armstrong had never been asked to speak at the Fourth and State Streets congregation I thought that he should be asked to come and speak for us and he came. By this time I had begun to hear some of the reports concerning the College, and particularly concerning Brother Armstrong's attitude toward premillennialism. I discounted these reports in the belief they were biased and prejudiced. When I secured time on the radio and began my regular broadcasts I announced all the Harding College programs on the air, and gave the school all the favorable publicity that I could. When Brother Benson became President of the school I arranged for him to speak at 4th and State on the radio and urging every one to receive him cordially. In short, I gave him all the support that I could.

My support of the school went further than this. I borrowed money from the bank—money that I repaid from my own pocket—to help send three young men to Harding College. This help was continued even after the school refused to allow me to speak in the building. Furthermore, when the school asked some outstanding men to speak for them I called Brother Benson at the expense of the congregation I serve and asked if he would like for me to arrange to have the speeches broadcast which were made to the student body. He eagerly accepted, yet he would not so much as permit me to offer a prayer in the school building. Despite all this I continued to befriend the College and sought every way that I could to show that I wanted to do the right thing. When Brother Benson delivered an address over KLRA on pre-millennialism, at his request I made announcement of it over KARK. This was against the rules and policy of the station—as one station never announces a program over another station. All this time the school never did anything to show its appreciation for what I was doing. Instead, the Administration sought all the time to destroy my influence. At our lecture program in 1938 I asked eight men from Harding College to appear on it, including Brethren Benson, Armstrong, and Sears. When Brother Hardeman met Dr. Bogard in debate here I asked all who were from Harding College to stand and introduced them, as I did those from Freed-Hardeman College. I made no distinction between the two schools whatever. I arranged places for all to stay without any partiality. On another occasion we even bought one young man a suit to wear when he graduated at Harding. These are but a few of the things I have done to show my attitude toward the College, now headed by Brother Benson. I could go on enumerating incidents. But these should be enough to convince the most obstinate that I had no intention of either "running" or "ruining" the school.

Briefly let me now state my objections to Harding College. The trouble first started when I refused to give the school my unqualified endorsement for soundness. A committee came to see me and asked that I give them time on my radio broadcast to advertise the "Harding Rally Meeting." Furthermore, they asked that I get out and speak in the interest of this meeting. Because this seemed to be asking quite a bit of me I felt it only fair and right that every teacher on the faculty should write a brief article showing clearly his attitude toward premillennialism—and particularly toward "Bollism." This proved to be the spark that set off the fireworks. Not only was my request refused but I was placed on the "must go" list.

It was some five or six years after moving to Little Rock before I publicly voiced any criticism of Harding College. I did not want to believe the school was in sympathy with Boll and premillennialism. And, although there had been differences between us, I kept working, hoping these differences could be worked out satisfactorily. Long after some of my best friends despaired of improving the situation I still sought for a better understanding and a sounder policy. I was severely criticized because of my tolerance of the promises and policies of the school. Not until I was thoroughly convinced that it was impossible to get the Administration to take a definite stand for "the old paths" and definitely renounce "Bollism," did I give up the effort. Overlooking all personal differences between the school and myself, here are the objections that I have.

1. Brother Armstrong is a premillennialist. He teaches that Christ is coming back to earth again to "conquer his enemies, re-establish his divine authority over all the earth and have nothing but the reign of Christ with his saints on this earth" (this is his language). How long will this earthly reign continue? Oh, here is the catch. He says he does not know about this, but it may be "two thousand years." Does this not sound like "Bollism ?" Well, if it is not, there is one thing sure, it would never cause any disturbance in the "Boll camp."

2. Brother Benson in a signed statement says, at the time he became president of Harding College—and for some time thereafter—he did not believe the devil was bound, or would be bound until the millennium, sometime in the future. If he has changed I do not know it.

3. Brother Armstrong and his "crowd" has run with the "Boll crowd" so long that one must conclude they are in general agreement on their peculiarities. There is an old saying that "birds of a feather flock together." For a long period of years R. H. Boll and his satellites have been frequent visitors and lecturers at the schools which Brothers Armstrong has run—all the way from Odessa, Missouri to Searcy, Arkansas. And even now Brother Armstrong goes to Louisville, Kentucky and he worships with and speaks for the Boll and Jorgenson congregations.

5. Clinton V. Davidson is a member of the Board of Harding College, and his son is now professor of Business and Economics. Moreover Benson's publicity man, I understand, is one of Davidsons right-hand men and has been for some time. He is definitely in sympathy with Bollism and premillenialism, or that group at least, according to those who know him intimately. The truth is, Clinton Davidson is now directing the policy of the school.

6. Brother Allen, another member of the Harding College Board, is a premillennialist, and his son is a premillennial preacher, and has scattered Boll's paper all over the state of Arkansas where he has gone.

7. Those who oppose R. H. Boll and premillennialism have never been welcome at Harding College, while Boll and his crowd have been treated royally on every occasion.

8. After the Hardeman-Bogard debate in Little Rock brethren Armstrong and Sherrill told Bogard and some other Baptists that he (Bogard) defeated Hardeman, because Hardeman is a "legalist." They further said they wanted Bogard to know that there were some preachers in Arkansas who did not believe like Hardeman, Harper, Wallace, et al. Brother Sherrill asked Bogard not to tell that he made such a remark lest it should hurt him with his brethren in Arkansas.

9. Every year some of the young preachers from Harding come to town for help on the "kingdom question." The School either leads them to believe it is in sympathy with premillennialism or else confuses them. In not one instance have they clearly set forth the New Testament teaching on this subject. On the other hand I have numerous letter from different students stating definitely that the School teaches premillenialism.

10. Some who are connected with the school have admitted that the bulletin issued against me should never have been published. Without recounting the charges lodged against me I simply want to deny every one of them, and am ready to face each and every one before any fair tribunal and show that they are false. This includes my action in the more recent agreement of three years past. I did not repudiate it but can prove that Harding did. None of them will meet me publicly before the brotherhood on these things.

If I have misstated any fact I am ready to withdraw it, when pointed out. On the other hand, I cannot support Harding College unless and until these defections be removed.