Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 24, 1952
NUMBER 37, PAGE 2-3c

History Of "A Job Well Done"

Judson Woodbridge, Malvane, Kansas

On August 21, 1950, brother L. C. Sears, Dean of Harding College, visited me, asking for names of parents who might have children of college age. After he had received certain names, I asked, "What kind of a job are you doing now in fighting against the premillennial error?" I am sure he could have expected me to ask such a question, for in the past this school has been much in question by me and by others on this particular subject. Brother Sears replied that they were doing a good job, and had always done so.

The last part of his reply engaged our conversation during the remainder of his stay with me. I could not speak as to what was being done now, but as to the past I was, and am, acquainted. In order to keep the record straight, and to protect the names of many godly men who have made a fight for the truth, I am giving this history of the work that many of the brethren connected with Harding College have (or maybe I should say have not) done in their stand against this false, divisive and deceitful teaching. Much of what I write now was discussed with brother Sears. He suggested that we should forget the past, and go on from the present. That would be well enough to do if Harding College would recognize some failures and errors of the past. But any effort now to justify and defend her past record on this question is a slap at all those men of the past and present who have pointed out weaknesses in her doctrinal teaching on premillennialism. As the situation now exists, I often heard it said that Judson Woodbridge and others have presented false, misleading information concerning Harding College. Well, I, for one, am not in the "false, misleading information" business. I give this review to set forth the facts, and to let the readers know just how good a "job" was done in Harding College during the years I was a student there.

The Past

I first became acquainted with Harding College, then Harper College, in the fall of 1920. I entered the school as a freshman in high school that year, and for four years was a student there. The brethren connected with the school know as well as I do the kind of "job" they did in fighting the premillennial error during this time. Such men as R. H. Boll, Don Carlos Janes, E. L. Jorgenson, C. C. Merritt, Earl Smith, and others of the same belief were our most frequent visitors and chapel speakers. We were impressed with the fact that these were the great preachers in the church. Brother Cooper came one year as a teacher, and taught a Bible class in the different homes on the book of Revelation. I attended a number of these classes, and as I faintly recall some of the things taught, I am certain they were premillennial. The only reason the doctrine didn't "take" with me, I suppose, is because I was a dumb high school boy from the country and the teaching was too fanciful to soak in. That inability to recognize false teaching, along with the school spirit of "being loyal to alma mater" explains why I upheld Harding College a number of years, and declared that premillennialism was not taught there. I am sure that this same school spirit has blinded others.

Some may say that it is unfair to charge premillennial sympathies to Harding College back in the 1920's because that was before the question had become an issue in the church. Then why didn't the brethren at Harper make it an issue? They say they knew it was false doctrine. Why did they put false teachers before innocent and untaught boys and girls? Why did they not protect these young people from that which they knew was false? Why wait until somebody else saw the danger and made it an issue? As a result of the environment in Harper College I was sympathetic toward the premillennial preachers. Because of this sympathy I still wonder how I missed assimilating some of their false teachings. I guess they did not appeal much to a high school boy.

When I told brother Sears of my early sympathy for the premillennial preachers and of my close call, he replied, "I am glad you did not become a premillennialist." I am glad, too—but it wasn't his fault that I didn't! I was exposed to it, and that under the most favorable kind of circumstances. Now this was the "good job" that was done in 1920-24 in fighting premillennialism. Of course there were other teachers and preachers who taught and preached the truth on the kingdom of God and on Christ's second coming. But the danger of premillennial error was not pointed out.

1925 — And After

In 1926 the school moved to Morrilton, Arkansas. That year brother Geo. S. Benson was a teacher in the school. One day, in an Ancient History class, brother Benson said, "R. H. Boll has the only explanation of Revelation." Apparently the premillennial question had become an issue by now, for a discussion of it brought forth this statement from brother Benson. I do not think it is fair to criticize brother Benson too severely for this statement, for he had been under the same teaching and influence as I had been under. Eleven years later, when brother Benson came home from China to become president of Harding College, some of the preachers remembered the statement he had made, and began to question his soundness on the premillennial error. Whereupon brother Benson stated that he wasn't a premillennialist and never had been one. This was hard for the brethren to harmonize with what he had said in the classroom eleven years previous. A few years later I personally questioned brother Benson about the statement. He admitted having made it, but said that the reason he had done so was because he was under the influence of Earl Smith, and that Smith had told him that R. H. Boll had the only explanation of Revelation. He further said that he had never read what Boll taught on Revelation. I guess he must have done as I did—bought Boll's book and then never read it. That is what happened to me. I bought the book at Harper College, and then did not read it till years later. That was the "good job" done in the fight in those years.

The years that immediately followed brother Benson's return to Harding College as president were marked with doubts and criticisms from many sources concerning premillennialism in the school. Brother J. N. Armstrong wrote some articles in the gospel papers as to his belief. These were along the line of the establishment of the kingdom, and presented the truth that the kingdom was set up on the day of Pentecost, that Christ was now reigning and ruling on David's throne. But in the very same articles brother Armstrong criticized the brethren for making any issue out of what Boll taught.

I for a while was among those who did not believe that brother Armstrong had any premillennial tendencies, and I carried on a correspondence with him on the subject. Brother Armstrong is dead now and gone to his reward; and if I ever had any inclination to misrepresent anyone, it certainly would not be this former teacher of mine. He was always frank and honest with me in his writings. I appreciated him for it. In another article I am going to give some of the quotations from brother Armstrong's letters to me so that readers can form their own ideas and decide for themselves concerning the "job well done" in the fight against the premillennial heresy as taught by R. H. Boll.