Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 15, 1955
NUMBER 19, PAGE 4,5b

That Unanswered Booklet

F. Y. T.

In the Tant-Harper discussion in Lufkin last spring, this writer distributed a 45-page booklet entitled, "How New Testament Churches Can, And Can Not, Cooperate; Or, What Is Wrong With Herald of Truth?". This little tract contained the "brief" or outline of arguments we planned to use in the discussion. In it we set forth the basic objections to the kind of cooperative arrangement involved in the Herald of Truth, and showed by chart and diagram how this arrangement was contrary to the simple pattern of congregational cooperation set forth by example in New Testament teaching.

It was generally agreed by those present that no satisfactory answer was given by Brother Harper to the things presented in the booklet. Some of the Highland elders who accompanied Brother Harper to Lufkin acknowledged to friends there that the booklet had not been answered. Even Brother Harper himself seemed to realize that he had not given an adequate answer, for he promised publicly that an answer would be forthcoming when the debate was repeated in Abilene. He declared that the booklet had come as a surprise; but vowed that a satisfactory answer would be given in Abilene to every argument in it.

Of course, there was no reason why the booklet should have been a surprise to Brother Harper. In fact, we offered far in advance of the discussion to send him every argument we intended to make at Lufkin, and let him have several months to study them, to get all the help he could from every source available to him, and try to bring forth a satisfactory answer. After all, our only interest is truth. And if the arguments we are making are not in harmony with God's Word, then we most earnestly and sincerely desire that their falsity be revealed. We do honestly believe that the kind of cooperation involved in Herald of Truth is not authorized by the Lord; and we think the little booklet clearly demonstrates that it is contrary to that which is authorized by him. If we are in error, we want Brother Harper and others to point it out.

The Equality Argument

Apparently Brother Harper considered "the equality argument" the most difficult to meet. We personally thought other arguments were more telling; but Brother Harper both in the Lufkin debate and in his subsequent writings devoted more time and space in trying to respond to this than to any other. Briefly, the argument is based on Paul's statement in II Corinthians 8:15 that the design of the contribution to Jerusalem, the reason for its being made, was "that there may be equality." We pointed out that the Biblical expression "that there may be equality" seems the ONLY reason ever assigned in scripture for a gift from one congregation to another. That equality, of course, is, as Macknight renders it, "equality of burden" and not a leveling off of the total wealth or resources of the congregations.

Several "Herald of Truth" advocates have wrestled with that argument; none has met it. Brother Harper tried to meet it in Lufkin by contending that the contribution Paul desired was primarily for the Macedonian churches, and not for Jerusalem; that the "equality" to be brought about by this contribution was equality as between Corinth and Macedonia, and not equality as between the contributing churches and Jerusalem.

Others have tried to meet the argument by pointing out what they consider another design (other than "that there may be equality") for a gift going from one church to another. They have argued from Paul's statement in Romans 15:27 that the gift from Corinth and Macedonia to Jerusalem was in effect "the payment of a debt" — that since the Gentiles had "been made partakers of their (Jerusalem's) spiritual things, they owe(d) it to them also to minister unto them in carnal things."

This is a confusing of motive for giving with the design of the gift. Certainly the Gentiles would feel a deep sense of gratitude and obligation to their Jewish brethren; all other considerations aside, they would want to relieve them because of that fact alone. That was one MOTIVE (and a powerful one) among many that undoubtedly existed. But that was not the DESIGN of the gift; the design of such giving is set forth by Paul in words too clear to misunderstand "that there may be equality."

Just as there were many motives for making the gift, so were there many results accruing from the gift. Paul mentions one such result in II Corinthians 9:13, when he reveals that their gift would result in the Jewish Christians' "glorify(ing) God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ." The glorifying of God was a result which came from the gift; but the contribution was not sent "in order that" the Jews might be led to glorify God. It was sent "that there may be equality."

We can all be very sure that in the booklet which Brother Harper has promised to prepare for the Abilene debate he will devote much space to this "equality argument." We will be keenly interested in seeing what he produces. By close, careful study, analyzing and evaluating of arguments and statements, we can all hope eventually to understand clearly the truth of God's Word on this subject of how churches can, and can not, cooperate. The Lufkin debate made a tremendous contribution toward a clarification of the issue, and a proper understanding of exactly what is involved in the entire controversy. We believe the forthcoming Abilene debate will add considerably to the general understanding of the problem. Already far too much heat has developed over "Herald of Truth." Churches have been rent asunder over it; preachers have been fired elders have been forced to resign; meetings have been cancelled; harsh and bitter words have been spoken and written. No question in fifty years has been so "explosive" and so fraught with danger to God's church as has this one. Within three short years already more churches have been split over this issue than were split over premillennialism in forty years. Potentially the "Herald of Truth" is infinitely more dangerous than premillennialism to the future of the church.

It is a time for calm and prayerful study. Brother Harper and this writer are determined to contribute the very best we have toward a proper scriptural solution of this grievous problem. We will enter the discussion "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." We should have the fervent heartfelt prayer of every Christian in the nation. With such determination on our part, and with such prayers in our behalf, there is every reason to believe that we will come forth with a scriptural answer to the question, "How New Testament Churches Can, And Can Not, Cooperate; Or, What Is Wrong With the Herald of Truth?