Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1955
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2-3b

Maybe Brother Hardeman Will Tell Us

Luther Blackmon, Houston, Texas

In January of 1937 and also the following year, I attended the special courses at Freed-Hardeman College. From my very first efforts to preach I had relied strongly upon "Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons." I never went quite as strong as the young man who invited those "in the balcony" of the brush arbor, but I must confess I was somewhat of a hero worshipper. I am still grateful for the good I received from the lessons of brethren Hardeman, Boles, Brigance, Roland, and others; but so far as I was concerned, Brother Hardeman was the star of the cast.

That was nearly twenty years ago, and I have forgotten much that I saw and heard during those twenty days; but one statement made by Brother Hardeman has remained with me. He had been out of town for a day or two and had had occasion to observe for himself some of the problems of one of the other schools among us. He had not been favorably impressed by what he saw and heard. On the day after his return to Henderson, he spoke briefly of his experience in the chapel. Among other things, he said, "Brethren, there are some things about that school that don't look good." And then in his characteristic fashion he said, "I can write my position on any matter affecting the truth on a postal card and still have space left to say, 'this leaves us all well and hope it finds you the same'."

If I had entertained any doubts about Brother Hardeman's courage and strength, they would have been dispelled. To me, he had no peer, and but one or two equals. He was a champion of the faith I had set my course to preach and defend. And as I left Henderson on the closing night after the banquet, it was with a firm conviction that as long as we had such men among us the Old Ship of Zion had little to fear save an occasional setback from some contrary wind.

Now that I see in the list of those who are guest speakers on the "Herald of Truth" program the name of N. B. Hardeman, I cannot help thinking of the statement he made that day eighteen years ago. I cannot help wondering if the sentiment that moved him to make that statement is still with him. I am wondering if Brother Hardeman will write in some journal where the public can read it why he believes

"It is scripturally right for a plurality of congregations to combine their funds into the treasury of one church, and under the supervision and oversight of its elders perform a work to which all of them are equally related, such as a national radio broadcast."

Until now the defense of such programs has been based upon what someone else has taught, or said, or done, as for example, the Houston Music Hall meetings, the Blytheville, Arkansas, radio programs, etc. If it should be proved that "Herald of Truth" is exactly equal to all of these, it still must be proven that such cooperation as is involved here is according to the New Testament pattern.

A young gospel preacher in Houston told me recently of conversations he had had with two very prominent preachers among us, and of his efforts to persuade them to discuss these matters with him from a scriptural point of view. He was honestly and sincerely interested in learning what argument could be set forth in defense of Herald of Truth, as well as Institutional Orphan Homes. One of the prominent preachers with whom he talked has written a lengthy series of articles in the Gospel Advocate in defense of "our orphan homes." The young Houston preacher told me he asked this brother, "What scriptural principle is violated when a group of men are chosen to form a board through which congregations may preach the gospel in new fields which is not violated when a similar board is chosen through which congregations may do benevolent work?"

He said that each time he asked the question, the prominent preacher would answer by saying, "Now here is where those fellows are missing the mark . . . ." But he was not interested in "those fellows," nor did he particularly crave information as to what was wrong with them. He was deeply interested in finding Bible truth; he had enquired of a man who ought to have been able to give it to him. But instead he got a long dissertation on the evils of "those fellows" and the inconsistencies of some preachers.

I know that many of the men connected with "Herald of Truth" would not hesitate to answer a digressive on the question "what is the difference in principle between a pitch pipe and an organ"; or an anti-class brother on the difference between our system of class teaching and a denominational "Sunday School." But so far I have not seen any attempt by any of them (maybe I have overlooked it) to show what scriptural principle is violated by the Missionary Society as Campbell envisioned it (stripped of its abuses) and which is not violated by "Herald of Truth." Why?

Now Brother Hardeman was, or is to be, guest speaker on "Herald of Truth." Surely he believes it is in harmony with Bible teaching on the autonomy of the local church or he would not lend his influence to it. If he can still "write his position on any matter concerning the truth on a postal card," I, for one, would like to read what he has to say. I feel certain that most any paper would print what he would write about it.

Brother Hardeman, there are hundreds of faithful gospel preachers who love the truth and the church as much as any man who indorses "Herald of Truth" who honestly and sincerely question the scripturalness of such centralized efforts. These men are not cranks; they are not hobbyists; they are not Sommerites. They are not even "Guardian boys," for I have talked to many of them over the nation who held these convictions long before they ever heard of the Guardian's teaching on this subject. Many of them do not take the Gospel Guardian. But they are deeply rooted in Bible teaching; and they are disturbed and apprehensive over present trends.

From where I sit it is far past time for some man to step forth and give them some Bible proof for such universal church action — if there is any Bible for it. If anyone can prove it by the Bible, I think you can. And when you do, I will be among the first to change my attitude towards such. It affords me no pleasure to be on the unpopular side of things, and certainly I do not enjoy being labeled by some of my brethren as a hobbyist or a crank. But, "I had rather be right than to be popular." You can do me and others a great service, and contribute much towards the unity of the cause in which we all try to serve by offering scriptural proof for such programs. I will be eagerly watching for whatever you have to say on the subject.