Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1961
NUMBER 17, PAGE 5,14b

Headway In Abilene

Hoyt H. Houchen, Abilene, Texas

For some time before and shortly after moving to Abilene Texas, in June of 1960, reports came to me about the conditions that prevail generally among the churches in Abilene. Many of these reports had come from brethren who live here, disgusted with the liberalism and digression and the fact that so many of the churches here are influenced and dominated by Abilene Christian College. The tragedy is that these reports are true and it is only when one can see first hand the liberalism that generally exists and the tactics and maneuvers of those who espouse it can he fully realize the corrupt condition that is predominant in Abilene. The wheels of digression have turned rapidly here as they have in so many places and it is heart rending to see churches that once had the reputation for soundness becoming more and more like the denominations. Sad too is the fact that there are brethren here who are attending these weak, soft, liberal churches who know the truth on the present day issues, they know and admit that these churches where they attend have digressed from the truth and that they should identify themselves with us, but because of the fear of pressure that would be exerted upon their businesses by boycott on the part of liberal brethren, they will remain in those churches and lend their encouragement to them. What a pity it is that some will sell out their souls for their businesses!

On the brighter side, I am glad to report that there is a sound congregation in Abilene, a congregation that is striving to adhere only to what is revealed in the New Testament and is opposing any and all digressive trends and movements. It is the North Park congregation that meets on 2958 Grape. I am happy to be preaching for this church and it is an encouragement to be able to preach the truth in Abilene and have the support of brethren who are interested in its proclamation and who want anything exposed and refuted that stands in opposition to it. Four sound and faithful brethren serve as elders at North Park. They are C. C. Broyles, E. A. Key, Jesse Ferguson, and George Richardson. These men have been unwavering and uncompromising in backing me in dealing with the current issues that are confronting the church. North Park presents a radio broadcast each Sunday morning over a local radio station (KRBC) 7:30-7:45. For four months this writer dealt with the brotherhood problems, something new for radio broadcasts in Abilene, and much to the chagrin of the liberals. We have pulled no punches from the pulpit and during the month of February, I preached a series of five sermons on the issues, using some twenty charts. Brother Harvey Porter, who was formerly a member at Highland, along with his good wife, have taken their stand with us and he preaches here while I am away in meetings. He is a local business man, a sound and faithful teacher and preacher of the word of God. He with some others did not allow his business to come between him and his obligation to the truth. It is a pleasure to be working with such brethren.

We believe that North Park is growing spiritually as well as numerically. Now after a little over a year with the North Park church, we rejoice that the Lord has abundantly blessed our labors together and there have been a total of 105 additions from all sources — baptisms, restorations, and transfers of membership. Many of those who have taken their stand with us have come from the liberal churches here in Abilene, fed up with what is going on within them.

During the fall and winter terms at A.C.C., we had some 30 students who identified themselves as members at North Park, strong in conviction and unashamed, in spite of ridicule from those who oppose us. North Park now has 232 members, and even during the summer months with so many students away, our Bible class attendance is holding up well and our contributions are averaging considerably more than $400 per week.

A Forum at A. C. C.

It will be of interest to the readers to know that last February, shortly before the A. C. C. lectures, this author was invited to participate in a men's forum on the campus of A. C. C. The public was invited to attend and it was held in the Roberson chapel of the Bible department building and it was between this writer and Brother John P. Lewis, Associate Professor of Bible at the college. Current brotherhood problems was the topic for discussion. Each speaker was allowed ten minutes, followed by questions from the floor.

In my opening speech I emphasized the point that the word of God is our authority and that we must have that authority in all that we do. In my opening remarks I endeavored to clarify the issues and to refute some of the false charges that are made against us. I set forth the principle that God has a pattern for the organization and work of the church. In reply, Brother Lewis resorted to ridicule, personal reference to the Gospel Guardian and Brother Tant. I informed him that we are interested in what the Bible teaches. He then attempted to show that there is no exclusive pattern for benevolence and this after I had cited the examples in the New Testament of churches aiding needy saints. He was then pressed to tell the audience if Acts 20:7 is an exclusive example for the observance of the Lord's supper upon the first day of the week. At first he could not see that Acts 20:7 had any bearing whatsoever upon the church and benevolence but before the discussion was over we feel sure that he felt the force of it.

During the question period from the floor, I had two inquisitors, Brother Weldon B. Bennett, Associate Professor of Bible, and Brother Neil Lightfoot, Assistant Professor of Bible and Religious Education, the latter a Ph. D., and both men on the faculty at A. C. C. They focused their attention upon Gal. 6:10 in an effort to prove that the passage is teaching collective action. They attempted to sustain the idea that there is no difference between the work of the individual and the congregation in spiritual matters. Such passages as Matt. 18:15-17 and 1 Tim. 5:16 were presented that do make a distinction.

When making an effort to prove that Gal. 6:10 is collective action, Brother Neil Lightfoot pointed out that since the pronouns "we" and "us" in the verse are plural, would this not mean the church? This was one of the highlights of the discussion. I referred him to verse 12 of the passage where Paul wrote, "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised." I called attention to the fact that if the plural pronouns in Gal. 6:10 mean the church, then the plural pronoun "you" in verse 12 would also mean the church. He stood up and said that he is one of the few who takes the position that the church is to be circumcised and not the individuals! That came from a Ph. D. at A. C. C. Upon hearing about this one preacher brother wrote me and suggested that maybe Brother Lightfoot can sell the brotherhood on supporting a certified circumcision for the saints! Anyway, the statement from the man is only a sample of the teaching that is being done at A. C. C. It is obvious to all, too, that he contradicted himself when he expressed his belief that the church is to be circumcised and not the individuals because he had been contending that there is no difference between the church and the individual;. We hope we can have future public discussion upon the issues but that is probably wishful thinking upon our part.

The discussion is transcribed on tape. It was held before some 200 people as that is the seating capacity of Roberson chapel and some were standing up in the adjacent hall. This proves again that brethren are interested in such discussions. We believe that much good was accomplished. Several students from the college began attending North Park after the discussion.

Should any of you faithful brethren be planning to send your children to A.C.C., you know that there is a sound church in Abilene where they can attend. The elders, I, and other members here at North Park will do what we can to strengthen, encourage, and help them in whatever way is possible while they are in Abilene. We shall be happy for you to visit us at North Park anytime.

We are making headway in Abilene.