Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1960
NUMBER 33, PAGE 8-9,12b

The Hunton - Hardeman Interview (I)

Herbert E. Winkler, Nashville, Tennessee

The " 'antis' Have made all the arguments they know." N. B. Hardeman, Gospel Advocate October 6, 1960, p 633.

As I sit in my wife's hospital room October 18, while she is undergoing major surgery my mind shifts to some very important things of life, which, of course, are those that pertain to the future. Concern over the problems in the church of our Lord often takes precedence in my mind because brethren are standing in jeopardy of their souls. During our discussions, over the human wisdom and institutions which have been injected into the work of the church, great persuasion and pressure have been brought to bear upon certain preachers who have been considered as possessing great influence. For example, in my book CONGREGATIONAL COOPERATION I quoted brother C. M. Pullias as follows: "A great apostasy, maybe, is being planned unawares in the various things the local churches are doing under the elderships. Institutionalism is dangerous because it is a departure from the apostolic way, but no more so than some human organization to take care of the orphans or old people or even the young folks. Happy is the man that condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth. Why not take care of all the work of the Lord as in New Testament times? Do you say times have changed? Then the church is not sufficient, eh! Look out for a great fall." (The Life and Works of C. M. Pullias. p. 577)

Not long after my book was circulated (some 1,000 in the Nashville immediate and adjacent areas), the Gospel Advocate printed what was purported to be a recent writing of brother Pullias in denial of the position expressed in the quotation from his book. Being quite well aware of and acquainted with the tactics used in attempting to off-set the influence of one's position it would be interesting indeed to know, just by whom, and the pressure which was brought to bear upon the mind of this 85 year old soldier to get him to reverse himself on a position held at the zenith of his power as a Bible student and a proclaimer of the gospel. The begging, the pleading, the tactics used, pressurizing in such cases would be amusing if it were not serious and sinful.

And now comes another important write-up and I quote: "This interview was conducted by Paul S. Hunton, Vice President of the Gospel Press and Violet DeVaney, Secretary to B. C. Goodpasture, Editor of the Gospel Advocate (and N. B. Hardeman, Winkler) on Saturday, September 10, 1960." And recorded in the Advocate of October 6, 1960.

Now, just for what purpose was this interview, with brother Hardeman, arranged, other than to lend support to the institutional movement away from the all-sufficiency which is of Christ and his church in carrying out all of God's purposes and appointments? And since when has brother Hardeman "Been known throughout the brotherhood as 'The prince of preachers?' "as is stated in the heading of this interview, (prepared by Willard Collins)?

I am the only living one, of the three men, who were directly responsible for brother Hardeman's being the preacher in his first Tabernacle Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, in March, 1922, and have been a close observer of his labors ever since; this is the first time I recall of ever having heard him referred to as "the prince of preachers." I have heard him referred to as "a prince" but I want to know where the "THE" comes in. Jesus denounced such. Just this week in the A BIBLE THOUGHT in the Nashville Banner this quotation was given: "But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever of you will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mk. 10:43-45) Then Elihu had this to say: "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away." (Job 32:21, 22)

Brother Hardeman was selected for the tabernacle meeting largely on the strength of my stating that brother T. B. Larimore had said: "Brother Hardeman is second to none in the brotherhood." But that did not indicate that brother Hardeman did not have a peer; it only meant that he did not have a superior. But "The prince of preachers," places one in the superior case without even a peer or equal. Now, however, some one, or ones, have made, in their estimation, an evaluation of preachers, and one not long ago boasted that he was "seventh" in the list. For shame! The tenor of this interview points up the praise of men and it seems that brother Hardeman fell for it. However, he made what I conceive to be many correct answers to questions. For example, question IC: "In your judgment what are the four greatest dangers facing the church today?" Ans. "First, a lack of Bible knowledge and a light regard for what it says. Second, a tendency to make the church a social club for entertainment. Third, a disposition to compromise the truth and to discourage its preaching. Fourth, a love for the praise of men more than the praise of God, lest they should be put out of the club or some social organization." That sums up the whole problem we have. But now, when some of us speak out against these very things, why are we labeled "antis?" 0, yes, that word "antis." That brings me to some things in brother Hardeman's interview to which I want to reply.

One of brother Hunton's questions was: "Do you believe there will be a division in the church over these issues, (he had mentioned Herald of Truth, the Gospel Press and the orphan homes) and if so, how large do you think this group will be?" Answer. "I'm afraid there will be a division. The Christian Church and the Premillennialists are concrete examples. The division will be relatively small. Those whom we call 'antis' have made all the arguments they know and the only thing left is to go over the ground again. They have no plan or suggestion for carrying out the church obligation." Brother Hardeman stated in his debate with Ira M. Boswell page 141 a rule to which for a long time we adhered; by which to establish scriptural authority, viz: "It is founded upon this: that a thing to be scriptural must come under one of three heads — either direct apostolic precedent (example, Winkler).... or necessary inference."

What I want to know is: under which of these three heads do the human arrangements of the Herald of Truth, the institutional orphan homes and the homes for the aged, etc., come? In his statement above he gives the Christian Church and the Premillennialists as examples of causing division. The churches were at peace until the teaching of those brethren who held to the organ, the missionary society and the speculations regarding the second coming of Christ and the thousand years reign. And brother Hardeman with the rest of us charged them for the division that followed. And there would be no division now had he and those whom he endorses not forced their ideas upon the churches. Yes, we are "antis," or at least I am. Just keep on so labeling me, brethren. It is an honor before God to be so classified by those who follow the god of this world. Those who hold to the human organizations and arrangements have pointed up the wisdom of this world and have not given one single scripture that begins to prove their position on the current issues.

Oh, that my brethren would stop racing from Dan to Beersheba in search for arguments to sustain their human idols of institutionalism! For in every argument they make trying to prove their human agencies come within the limits of the all-sufficiency of the gospel of Christ and His authority, the pen that has been dipped in the ink bowl of human wisdom will not spell out Shibboleth but will instead take the form SlBboleth which is the language of Ashdod.

Stop The Debates

In the Advocate interview brother Hunton asked: "Brother Hardeman, do you think that the debates with 'antis' ought to be stopped? Don't you think Guy N. Woods and others have threshed out all of the arguments?" Ans. "I think so. I told Guy that I wouldn't unless they would affirm some kind of an affirmative proposition."

Q. No. 9. "Do they have anything to affirm?" Ans. "No, that is the reason that they will never do it." And in answer to No. 7, brother Hardeman said: "Those whom we call `antis' have made all the arguments they know." In all his debating I suppose brother Hardeman made about all the arguments he knew and used them in debate after debate. If he knew arguments he did not make, why did he fail or refuse to make them? I endorsed him for the Tabernacle Meeting because I thought he knew all the arguments. But according to his above statement, if he preached all he knew, why did he keep on preaching?

Peter wrote his second epistle to put the brethren in remembrance of what they knew and used the expression four times in the epistle. Brethren, if you have any scriptural arguments in support of what you are doing, let us have them and stop talking about the orphan home being the "child's home restored" and therefore a "divine institution." You know we are not opposed to orphan-care, although by stating that we are, you hope to turn brethren against us and make hay for your own human barns. We have not been so educated in the language of Ashdod.

The truth of the case now is: Not that we have made all the arguments we know, but that the ones we have made are in keeping with Ps. 119:89, "For ever, 0 Jehovah, Thy word is settled in heaven." And the debaters from Memphis to Indianapolis being unable to cope with the onslaught of divine truth have decided, to save face, by saying we have made all the arguments we know, so why continue? Frankly, I do not blame them; for if I had assumed a position I could not support with divine truth I would not want people to see me choked, with the word, in the public arena. When I was a boy and jumped on my superiors, I learned to cry "calf-rope," too. Now that may not sound very dignified; but it states a fact, as I wish it to be seen.

It was the digressives who got tired of the debates on the organ and missionary societies which they had added. Now it is those who add the institutional orphan home, sponsoring church, the centralization of power and control arrangements who are saying "stop the debates." It is just as a Methodist preacher in Nashville answered me when I asked him why they stopped debating with us. Said he: "We have learned that when we go into a debate with a Campbellite, we have a hot-box on our hands." When the Christian Church stopped debating with us we took that as evidence that they knew they were whipped. Have you EVER heard of the winner in any kind of a profitable contest to be the one to cry quits? When a Texas Digressive challenged me in Kentucky for a debate on the organ, he like brother Hardeman, demanded that I affirm. Believe it or not: I affirmed "The use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of God is sinful." And when the debate ended, he went back to Texas, and that congregation has never since heard anything about wanting the organ. But when ANY ONE brings in something of a doubtful and questionable nature he is the one who is logically obligated to affirm the thing to be scriptural. All know it is altogether illogical to affirm a negative.

But whether we affirm or deny, you brethren simply do not want any more debates. If I were supporting error, neither would I want to be bothered with the truth. But the milk in the coconut is: that in all the debates people learn the truth and cease consorting with those in error. And the institutional advocates want to close the gap through which they lose members. Therefore, "Stop the debates, "Hear me only," and "Read me only," is the cry of preachers and the Gospel Advocate. A Nashville preacher a few days past advised his hearers that if the Guardian came to their home, not to read it, nor to put it in the trash can, for the garbage man might get it and read it, but to burn it. Who said, "There are no bigots in the churches?"

Just granting, as brother Hardeman states, that we have made all the arguments we know; yet neither he nor any other, or all together, have answered the arguments we have made. The reason for this is obvious: J. B. Briney did not answer W. W. Otey's arguments because he could not. Ira M. Boswell did not answer N. B. Hardeman's arguments on the music question because he could not. And brother Hardeman and others have not answered our arguments because they cannot.

I have long loved N. B. Hardeman and still do. I have heard him preach on the Ethiopian Nobleman several times and although it was essentially the same each time — yet I enjoyed it and knew it would be NEW to many of his auditors and maybe some sectarian would learn and obey the truth. He has had great influence in Nashville as well as elsewhere.

Had he stood firm for the all-sufficiency of the blood bought church of the Lord as against the current human institutions and wisdom, he could do now what D. Lipscomb did in the other apostasy. And even now, there would be a different story to record.

That mighty talent for founding, building and growing in any one, when ill directed has still an equal potential for destruction.