Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 24, 1970

E.R. Harper On Cooperation

O. B. Proctor

An Evaluation

Dear ______________

I want to thank you for your request that I "evaluate" brother E. R. Harper's book, "Lectures on Cooperation." Lectures delivered at Eastside Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon and David Lipscomb College, Nashville, Tenn.) I have known brother Harper for many years and consider him my friend and brother in Christ.

On page two, under Introduction, brother Harper quotes Hoyt Houchen as saying, "There is a difference between what an individual may do with his money and what may be done by money in the Lord's treasury, the local church." — "We have carefully turned to the scriptures and we have clearly seen that in the New Testament, the church helped needy saints. That was the work of the church. The matter of our obligations to individuals extends to all needy and worthy persons, Christians or non-Christians. This is seen in such passages as Galatians 6:10 and James 1:27."

Speaking of this activity, brother Harper said, "such will kill the church." It is hard for me to believe that brother Harper would make such a statement. Think about it. Here is a congregation that extends its benevolent work to not only their own needy saints but also assist other congregations in caring for their own when they are unable to meet the need alone. And at the same time members of the congregation are busy visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. They become the "light of the world, the salt of the earth" by manifesting an active interest in those who need help and yet brother Harper says that this kind of work "will kill the church!" Who can believe it? According to brother Harper, if all the members followed the example of Dorcas (Acts 9:36) such activity "would kill the church."

On page three, in the "Preface" by brother Claude Guild, mention is made of "anti-cooperational" leaving the impression that we do not believe in "cooperation." This is a falsehood that is being repeated all over the country. We believe every thing the Bible teaches on "cooperation" both in benevolence and evangelism. Brother Harper tries to justify the Herald of Truth by the Houston Music Hall Meeting and the Montana Radio program. We can't justify our practice by our practice. If we cannot justify the Herald of Truth set-up by a "thus saith the Lord," we ought to discontinue it. It seems that Brother Harper can't get his mind off of Brother Tant, Brother Cogdill, the Houston Music Hall Meeting and the Montana Radio program long enough to even try to justify the Herald of Truth by the Scriptures.

Brother Harper prints a letter from a Mrs. Alice Lesley. I have had lots of experience with people who go around over the country asking churches for help and I have learned that many of these people will lie to you. You ask if they have received help from another church and most of them will say "no."

That drinking fountain illustration on page 63 (I have a copy of the second printing of the book) is ridiculous. A man must be hard pressed indeed when he has to resort to such. Would Brother Harper be in favor of sending contributions to a Baptist Orphan Home?

On page 67 he calls our attention to the Carmelity Order of the Catholic Priesthood Orphan Home and their need for bread. Brother Harper says, "our hobby boys" could not have helped these dying children. Question: Would Brother Harper be in favor of sending them a contribution out of the treasury of the church? He leaves that impression with me.

Brother Harper's "emotional" illustrations remind me of the denominational tactics used in efforts to win us to their way of thinking. They don't have scripture to back up their arguments so they resort to emotional appeals.

On page 68 Brother Harper tells about a widow lady with six children and how they were helped and says that the "anti-brethren" would have said to her, "get out, you're not our charge." I challenge Brother Harper to name members of any congregation in the world that would say such a thing. This is just another one of his emotional appeals. I have been "numbered" with these so-called "anti" brethren since 1960 and I have never heard of any such thing being said to a needy person.

On page 70 Brother Harper calls our attention to James 1:27 and said, "they say, Brother Harper, this is individual action only." Brother Harper's reply, "Now is it? Is the church denied the practice of "pure religion"? Of "undefiled religion"? Brother Harper should know that the church was practicing "pure and undefiled religion" according to Acts 4:34, 35; Acts 6:1-3; Acts 11:27-30. It seems that it has never dawned on Brother Harper that widows and orphans can be cared for by both the church and individuals.

Brother Harper leaves the impression, with me at least, that we would let the poor little orphan children starve to death. Brother Harper is strong when it comes to emotional appeals in efforts to sustain his positions. It seems to me that Brother Harper doesn't know the difference between an "organization" and an "arrangement."

It seems to me that it is poor taste indeed for Brother Harper to have so much to say about imagined division between Cogdill and Tant while there is so much division existing among those who profess to stand with Brother Harper. Brother Harper leaves the impression with me that if you find a hungry family you couldn't help them out of your own pocket. I find no encouragement at all in his lectures for individual activity in the kingdom of our Lord. The sum of our duty seems to be "attend and give" and let the church do it.

On page 64 Brother Harper calls our attention to Galatians 6:6 and asks, "Is that individual action? If so, you preachers can't receive the money from the church treasury." Brother Harper has been preaching long enough to know that preachers may be supported by churches (2 Corinthians 11:8) and also by individuals (Galatians 6:6).

One of the most misleading statements in the entire book is found on page 17 in which Brother Harper says, "I think you have your own right and freedom of will to help us or choose not to help." We have exercised our "freedom of will" under extreme "pressure."

Several years ago we had some trouble at North Park (over the Herald of Truth). The trouble was so severe that a group of men (who were in favor of the Herald of Truth) circulated a petition "against" the elders of the church in an effort to remove them. One of them told me that they were encouraged by some of the A. C. C. professors and scholars in their activities. One professor told us (the men at North Park) "If we would send the Herald of Truth five or ten dollars a month we wouldn't have any more trouble." And he added, "If you brethren don't have the money to send "we" will send it to you and you can send it to the Herald of Truth." We are "branded" as being "anti-cooperation" which is not so. I do not believe we can properly call the Herald of Truth a "mission" program for at least 75 per cent of the preaching is done where the church is already established. Why should Lubbock, Dallas, and hundreds of others send money to the Herald of Truth so that the Herald of Truth can turn right around and preach in Lubbock, Dallas and other places where the church is already established?

Several years ago, my wife and I were watching a Herald of Truth TV film. At the end of the program a man came forward confessed faith in Christ and was baptized. I asked one of the elders of the Highland church if we had failed to live the Christian life and had the gospel lost its saving power so far and to the extent that a Christian had to "respond" to the invitation "pretending" to be an alien sinner and submit to a "fake" baptism in an effort to win souls to Christ? His answer was: "Where does the Bible say anything against it?" I have not been able to find authority in the Bible for congregations to "pool" or "send" their funds to one congregation to enable that congregation to carry on a work that all are related to.

Several years ago I had complete confidence in brother Harper's ability to defend the Herald of Truth by a "thus saith the Lord" but when he began trying to defend it by the Houston Music Hall meeting, the Montana Radio program, by the practice of the brethren, I lost confidence in the Herald of Truth set-up.

Why should Abilene (5th and Highland) send money to Lubbock to enable Lubbock to do "their" work and Lubbock turn right around and send Abilene money to help carry on "their" work? It boils down to "who is spending whose money and who is doing whose work?"

You would think from looking at Highland's proposed program for 1970 that the Herald of Truth was a separate organization altogether from 5th and Highland. Highland makes contributions to the Herald of Truth just as they send contributions to Italy, Switzerland and various other places. You would never think by reading their program that the Herald of Truth was a part of Highland.

I can find no authority or justification in the Scriptures for a congregation to send their own money all over the U. S. A., Canada, foreign countries, also support various brotherhood projects and at the same time call on other congregations to support what they call "their own work."

What one congregation has a right to do all congregations have the same right. Suppose we (1410 Oak) should start sending our own contributions all over the country and at the same time begin begging other congregations to send to us to enable us to carry on our own work?

Question: When instrumental music was introduced into the worship and the church divided who was responsible for the division: (1) Those who introduced the instrument? or (2) Those who opposed it?

When the missionary society was organized and divided the church who was responsible for the division: (1) Those who introduced the society? or (2) Those who opposed it?

I can find no authority in the Bible for hundreds of congregations to send their money to one congregation in order for that one church to do a work that all are related to.

Brother Guy N. Woods uses Acts 11:27-30 in an effort to justify the Herald of Truth. For Acts 11:27-30 to be parallel the brethren in Judea would have to send back to Antioch, part of the money they received, for benevolent work in Antioch.

Too many are afflicted with what we might call an "iffie religion." "If' a Baptist cow can graze on the lawn where the meeting house is, during the summer, the church can buy hay for the cow during the winter months. "If" not, why not? "IF' a Catholic can drink out of the water fountain the church can send a contribution to a Catholic Orphan Home. If not, why not?

This is not a personal attack on Brother Harper, he is my brother in Christ and I love him as such but I don't go along for what he stands for in reference to the Herald of Truth.

May the Lord continue His mercies upon us as we strive to know and do His will. May we love the Lord and one another as the Bible teaches. May we strive to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3)

Sincerely your brother in Christ O. B. Proctor ,1810 Marshall, Abilene, Texas 79605