Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1961

The Hunton - Hardeman Interview --- (III.)

Herbert E. Winkler, Nashville, Tennessee

I hesitated for some time to make any reply to brother Hardeman's answers to brother Hunton's questions. But they were leading questions and designed to strengthen the position in religion to which I stand opposed. But my age (beyond the three score and ten) does not make it appear as a boy arguing against a man. And as the interview was published in the Gospel Advocate which regarded as a brotherhood paper, but from the page of which I am barred unless I write what the Editor wants me to write, I must resort to another outlet for my answer. In the work of the church anyone, old or young, should oppose what he believes to be error in whomsoever it is seen. Brother Hardeman will, of course, accord me this right and I hope our friendship will not be marred by this review of his answers.

Those who favor and promote the "Boards and conclaves unknown to the New Testament" (Guy N. Woods' expression) designingly maneuvered themselves into key positions in the large congregations over the country and almost simultaneously began the drive to get the orphan homes, the Gospel Press, the Herald of Truth, with other paraphernalia into the budgets of the churches on a nation-wide scale. And when we of the "Old Guard" voiced opposition, the cry "antis," "hobby-riders," "church splitters" etc., was heard and a campaign was, be to keep us out of the pulpits and to see did not have a place to preach. They even warned the people not to read our writings in opposition to their teaching. So they are determined that the people shall not know both sides of the issues and thus be able to make their own responsible decision. This certainly reveals the fact that they are aware of the weakness of their position and teaching.

The Lord's Christ came, suffered, died, rose again, and ascended into glory that he might establish, upon earth, a heavenly, Spiritual and glorious church for our redemption. (Acts 20:28) Now, that the leech of human wisdom is sucking the spiritual blood from the body of the Lord, may not this be a time comparable to that of Luke 19:39 when the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples that if we should hold our peace "The stones will cry out." (v. 40) Our consciences will not suffer us to ever have peace.

Now, what occasioned this upheaval in the body of Christ? Let us note brother Hardeman's answer to brother Hunton's 15th question:

"In your judgment what are the four greatest dangers facing the church today?" Answer: "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."

The statisticians reported in 1936 that the morals of the American people had decreased from the level of 1918 by sixty per cent. This could hardly have happened without, in a measure, affecting or lowering the spiritual status among the members of the church. Women began smoking cigarettes about 1918 and increased, until 1938 they smoked 68 per cent of the annual consumption. Divorces and unscriptural remarriages have increased to an alarming degree. The scissors have been constantly applied to the wearing apparel until the sisters have seemingly lost all the "shamefacedness and sobriety" they ever had and social drinking has become popular. Also, the radio and television have been riding at speedy gait on the underworld tracks, all of which have stifled Bible reading which has resulted in brother Hardeman's first answer. See above.

What a change from 1904 when I obeyed the gospel! In those days even the boys and girls could hold quite an embarrassing lead with the average denominational preacher. The mighty Baptist preacher, John R. Graves, in debate with one of our brethren is said to have stepped into the pulpit and remarked: "I want to pay the Campbellites a compliment: You may travel from the Lakes to the Gulf and from Maine to California and wherever you come across a Campbellite, be it man, woman, boy or girl you meet a walking Bible." In those days, boys and girls were often seen to have a New Testament on their person. In such cases it would not do to start an argument with them. What do they know now, with all the stupendous increase in class-room and pulpit palaver? The preachers who have been ground out in machine-like precision for the past several years, as one of them expressed it to his audience in my presence "Have been taught to talk." And when one can take the word "peanut and talk on it for hours like the filibustering in Washington, and handle the word of God in like manner, those who have been fed on a light, scriptural ration, go away and brag on "What a wonderful sermon!" What has brought about this condition? I think the most obvious contributing element is the fact that we have essentially established a practice concerning which we used to chide the denominational preachers — the "pastor system."

How many — I grant there are some, and may their tribe increase — located preachers on a stipulated salary, with no other way of earning a livelihood, are going, to preach against social drinking, semi-nudity, unscriptural divorces and remarriages and such like when their very living is at stake? One young preacher boasted, not long ago, that the brethren owed him a living because he could preach — and that he was not going to dirty his hands with work. God cannot successfully use a man of such attitude toward such a laudable enterprise. It is pathetic that the elders (shepherds of the flock) approve of the light diet of the day. God will someday, keep his appointment with the elders and settle his controversy with them. Yes, anyone blind in one eye and unable to see out of the other can see that brother Hardeman hit the nail on the head in his first charge: "A lack of Bible knowledge and a light regard for what it says." This is the contributing cause of the other three dangers he mentions. "The tendency to make the church a social club for entertainment." The social gospel had its origin with the denominations shortly after the Civil war and has during the past few years filtered into "The Church." Entertainment is one of the main church attractions. And entertainment comes in, spirituality and true worship are out the window. And then his third danger is automatic, "Compromise the truth and to discourage its preaching." Thus, one is now ready to gladly embrace his fourth danger facing the church: "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." See John 12:42, 43.

I may be called a legalist for demanding a "thus saith the Lord" for all I practice. If you have any proof that God will condemn one for holding strictly to the letter of the law, I want it. "The secret things belong, unto the Lord our God: but the things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29) "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it." (Dent. 4:2) "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Prov. 30:6) "Not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words." (1 Cor. 2:13) "But though we, or an angel from heaven, (or, "any man" v. 9) should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." (Gal. 1:8, 9) 'Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God." (2 John 9) I marvel that elders in the churches today claim that anything which they decide to be a good work, can be supported with funds from the church treasury.

Here are quotations from two of my former fellow-elders: "There is NO good work which may be done by an individual Christian, which may not be done by the church as a whole." "There is no scripture which will restrain the elders from using church funds to support any work which in their judgment is a good work." So the preachers have prevailed upon the elders to open the floodgates to all "good works." And so, of giving the church funds to all kinds of human institutions to carry on all kinds of projects there seems to be no end. These things have disturbed me no little. And have provoked many prayers for my brethren. And I am constrained to say with Samuel: "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." (1 Sam. 12:23)

Cain in the early dawn gave us a frightening example of invading the silence of God's word; and was rejected for it. You know the story. Moses did likewise in striking the rock, at the water of Meribah, for-which he was rejected entrance into the promised land. Afterward he said: "I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, the goodly mountain, and Lebanon.... and the Lord said unto me, 'Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.' " (Deut. 3:25, 26) Balaam said to Balak while yet in good grace with God: "Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, If Balak would give me this house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak." (Num. 24:12, 13) A noble thought indeed! But Balaam finally weakened, lost favor with God, caused Israel to sin, was killed in battle and his doctrine is in the New Testament warned against.

After brother Hardeman had made all the arguments he knew regarding what man should do to be saved, he kept right on preaching the same things in meeting after meeting and debate after debate trying to get people to see the truthfulness of his teaching and persuade them to see their error and obey the gospel. So, what if we have made all the arguments we know against the institutions and organizations of man's wisdom in trying to accomplish the purpose of the church of the Lord? Your institutions with human "boards and conclaves" are not, in the most remote way, taught in the New Testament and therefore cannot be used by faith. "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him." (Heb. 11:6) And not being taught, no one can exercise himself therein by faith for faith cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) Neither, as they are not taught, can they come under the head of expediency for a thing must first be lawful, to be expedient. And if a thing is not included in the law, it is, by all counts unlawful.

We need the "rock ribbed faith" which brother C. M. Pullias used to preach around Nashville in his prime, when he would plead "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20)

Granting for arguments sake, that we have made all the arguments we know, our task now is: try to make people see and believe they are in error on these issues and persuade them to turn from man's wisdom unto God's and "To the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the beloved." (Eph. 1:6)

On page 182 of the Boswell-Hardeman Discussion, in paragraph two, brother Hardeman accused brother Boswell of wanting to get the organ in church houses he or they had not built and get possession of them and drive off-the opposers "or make them stultify their consciences by adopting it." And then he said (and let this be our plea to him and all who hold to the present human aids among us): "Brethren, remove your barrier, and we will all have fellowship, as in the days of old. Brother Boswell (Hardeman), the responsibility is yours, Take it out, and the fellowship will be restored. Put it in, and you make the test unless you ask me to stultify my conscience." There, you have it! The institutional brethren are now driving out those who oppose them and making them forfeit the hard earned dollars they put into the erection of the buildings, and go out without a place to go. Need I give examples? Yes, history is repeating itself.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:20, 21)