Has Arnold Hardin Left Us?
I honestly do not know the proper manner in which to answer the editorial. When much younger, I would have torn into the Editor befitting the role of a "wolf." Being older (pushing sixty) I am more conscious of human frailties and ignorance. Therefore, I pray that I may be as charitable with the frailties of my young brother as I know my heavenly Father must be with me. The Editor says that "I am calling on faithful Christians to drive the wolves out from us." He has turned "wolf hunter" and I seem to be the old wolf that is huffing and blowing on his door and, bless his heart, he is not too certain whether that house is made of straw or brick. He just knows the old wolf is out there howling! It is disconcerting! He chided me in a letter for not feeling that sending our bulletin to him would be profitable. He remarked, "It seems to me that every time you fellows decide to redraw your circle of fellowship so that it can include .more brethren, that I am somehow left out." I say to my brother that he is in my fellowship and I will love him as a brother, even though some of his ways could use a little refinement. But after complaining that he was left out of someone's fellowship (including me), he now wants all to know that he wants no part of fellowship with me and is taking the lead in driving me out. It would be helpful if he would make up his mind! I seek only God's fellowship and whether he succeeds in driving me out or not will in no way affect that fellowship. If he wants mine -- he has it! If he does not -- so be it!
He says, "many have been fighting some kind of phantom which they think might possibly exist known as 'political brethren trying to control the Churches of Christ.'" Indeed many are concerned about the "party spirit" and control among "us." His Editorial is just another reason why! He calls on other brethren that write to help out in this culling out process. One much respected preacher recently wrote me saying, "I must observe that I see the party spirit much in decline. The last few years have created a marked trend among brethren toward more independent thinking and activity-churches and individuals are turned off by what appears to be attempts of paper and organizational interests to direct the affairs of the brotherhood, and I think the personnel of such interest have received the message." Some have and some have not as evidenced by this purge that is being carried on through Truth Magazine. Willis says, "I know how much it means to have another brother `amen' what one has said; the absence of 'amens' certainly hurt Truth Magazine several years ago when we were having to expose Edward Fudge, Jerry Phillips, Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett. Consequently, I want to rather thoroughly examine some of the work which Brother Arnold Hardin has written in the past few years that our brethren might see where he stands." Truth Magazine should not only have been hurt -- it should have been put out of business for the manner in which brethren (such as Fudge and McDaniel) were treated! The Editor in our exchanges refuses to allow me to respond to his attacks upon the truth I have written. He wants to drive out the old bad wolf but, he is too frightened at the sight of the old critter to walk up and examine his fangs. Brother Willis those fangs may be completely artificial --take a chance!
He captioned his Editorial "Has Arnold Hardin Left Us?" Most of you were asking-Who's Arnold Hardin? Most of you have never heard me nor read what I have written. But who is the "us" in his question? I did not know (forgive me this oversight brethren) that one had to be of "us" in order to be a child of God -- a free man or woman in Christ. I am considered by the "us" as a wolf because I have dared let it be known that I do not intend to wear some one's brand and be put in a pen marked "us." And legalism cannot permit that! So these Editors hide behind their editorial "us" and shoot at me with their "pea-shooters." Since Willis considers me a wolf why is he unwilling to discuss these differences. He accuses me of teaching Calvinism. I categorically deny it! He refuses to discuss these charges -- other than this answer to this Editorial. In his last letter to me he wrote, "Frankly, I have no intentions for the paper to have a long drawn out exchange over this matter." Beloved readers this is the standard policy it seems with any number of the "us." I shall set forth factual proof of that as I notice some of his erroneous "facts" in just a moment. Since he feels I am worthy of being driven out then why is he reluctant to take unto himself the task of proving his outrageous charges? I suggest that you the readers let the Editor know of your wishes in this matter. After all, you pay the bill! The excerpts he gives of what I have written, I stand behind the truths in each. I have written much on these themes and I welcome the Editor, yea invite, him to review what I have written and then give me equal space to reply and expose what I consider to be error on his part. This is fair! This "head hunting" business is devilish!
Willis says, "It is because I want to lend my support to my brethren who are exposing the forces of evil in every high place that I want to consider the place in which Arnold Hardin stands." Too much honor is done me. I have never walked in "high places." But I am ready to defend truth down in the "lower places" where I dwell. Willis mentions the attack made upon me and God's truth by J.T. Smith in Searching The Scriptures. He says Smith presented evidence to show I teach Baptist doctrine. Sheer nonsense! He mentioned Connie Adams having something then to say about it. He concluded, "The March, 1977 issue of Searching The Scriptures contained another article pertaining to Arnold Hardin in which Brother Adams asked him to respond to a series of eleven questions. Since that issue, I have not seen anything in Searching The Scriptures regarding the apostasy of Arnold Hardin."
Charity demands that I recognize our brother's warped understanding just here to be because he is evidently honestly unaware of the facts in the case. But he should be more factual in other matters as well -- as we shall show in a moment. He would have you to believe that this old wolf got, not just two feet, but four feet caught in Adam's trap! That somehow this old wolf managed to free himself but, with a bleeding and mangled body for the experience. That in such a wretched condition the old wolf dragged his broken body into the woods-never to be heard from again. And yet here is the same old wolf threatening the sheepfold, and this time, it is Willis that must teach that old scared critter a lesson that surely this time will scare the wits out of him! He asks for help though!
The facts are these! I replied to Smith's attack and then Adams felt he should take up the battle. He sent me eleven questions challenging me to answer with a yes or no, or, very briefly. I replied that I would be happy to comply though most of them needed examination so that the readers could know what was involved. I also conditioned answering upon the condition he would also answer questions I would put to him. He agreed! I worked long on the manuscript and sent it to him. He returned it refusing to print it! I then printed it and sent it to those whose names were listed in Searching The Scriptures. Is it any wonder so many are fed up with such "party politics"?
He condemns me for a letter written to an Editor that is associated with brethren on the institutional questions. The Editor has done some good writing concerning grace and related themes. For this he has been under attack from the legalists among those brethren. I commended him for writing as he was doing. He requested permission to print some material that appeared in our bulletin. He knows I am an "anti" but in our exchanges he has never been ugly about it. I can only wish some of "us" could learn such manners. All my life I have never felt it a mark of apostasy to commend others on points of truth with which I was in agreement. It is shameful that other preachers have been called on the carpet for daring to do the same thing. This is the terrible malady of legalism that I have been documenting among us. Disagree with some brother on any subject and they will seek to drive you out! This is the legalism of the first century. Even dare to commend some one's writings, with whom you may have disagreements in other areas of truth and you are tagged as an apostate. If such legalism was not so tragic it would be laughable! Yater Tant has printed articles from me in Vanguard. Bless his heart he is contaminated and did not know it. He even published a letter recently from Leroy Garrett. Willis you should write up our Brother Tant, for indeed, there is some "big game" for you to blast!
When because of conscience (conviction) I took my stand against those things involved in institutionalism it cost me dearly. I had to go in another direction from the one man that I would have followed almost anywhere-Reuel Lemmons. He and I have exchanged letters over these many years relative to the problems. He respects and loves me and so are my feelings toward him. I did not know there was a "headquarters" to which I had to report before commending him or anyone for truth I believe to be taught. But this legalism is affecting all segments of "a many-splintered church." Recently in the Firm Foundation a preacher wrote, "But now a couple of other features of Christianity are being challenged as to whether or not they are essential. No, not by denominational people, by preachers and members of churches of Christ. Just this week one such preacher told me he had pretty much 'written off (Reuel Lemmons) because he had 'become a preacher of love and grace' ". Beloved nothing on earth scares legalists as does God's grace! Should I get the chance to explore these themes I will prove it.
Willis can see no difference between gospel and doctrinal instructions. So he condemns unity-in-diversity. I challenge him to prove there to be any other kind among God's people! With such misunderstanding he then makes false charges and reaches erroneous conclusions against those that would oppose him. He mentions others as believing that such things as instrumental music; premillennialism, etc. are of no consequence and we should not divide over them. He then remarked, "Arnold Hardin has accepted this position as well." That is pure slander! And everyone that knows me can testify to such slander! I challenge you to prove it or retract it!
The editorial contains so many twisted "facts" one may overlook some. Brother Willis this is the policy that caused the magazine to suffer and its sufferings may not be over. He charges me with denying the binding force of examples and necessary inferences. I would be happy to discuss this with you as well. He wrote, "As evidence of this, I cite the following quotation from Arnold's review of Foy Vinson." He then quoted from the Sept., 1977 issue of The Persuader. Well, it so happens that it was in no manner a review of Foy Vinson, but rather, a review of another brother. In view of judgment, unfounded charges based on such "facts" is serious.
Brother Willis tells me that he will be examining some of these matters later and will in conjunction with them mention my name again. Since I fully expect not to be given the right of fair rebuttal, then, let me suggest that if any of you readers of Truth Magazine desire to examine the other side we invite you to request our bulletin. We send it only to those requesting it. You will at least have an opportunity to read some things you are not reading about too much elsewhere.
Truth Magazine XXII: 2, pp. 38-39