The "Herald of Truth" Is Unscriptural
Don R. Hastings
(Note: I am indebted to many faithful preachers for the material in this sermon. I hope that this material, in outline form, will be beneficial to others. No originality is claimed as much of the material is taken from the following sources: Articles "When Does It Become Wrong?" by W. R. Jones; "A Cooperative Octopus " by Dale Smelser; "Some Recent 'Herald of Truth' Statistics" by Cecil Willis; Tracts -"Is the 'Herald of Truth' Scriptural?" by E. L. Flannery; "The Herald of Truth" by Jimmy Thomas; "What is The Herald of Truth? " by A. C. Grider. I used extensively "The Sponsoring Church" and "chart of Responsibilities" by Eugene Britnell.)
Introduction: The H.O.T. had it's beginning in 1950 when two men, James W. Nichols and James D. Willeford, began preaching through the medium of radio. Their radio program was introduced with these words churches of Christ salute you with the Herald of Truth" (H.O.T. Pamphlet, p. 29 1952). Sometime later, "they contacted the elders at Highland (Abilene, Texas) who decided to put the program on radio from coast to coast... On Feb. 10, 1952, Nichols' preached the sermon heard on the first national Herald of Truth broadcast.
The Herald of Truth has been on T.V "since 1954" (Christian Chronicle, Dec. 22, 1959).
Those of us who oppose the H.O.T. are not against preaching the gospel on radio or television. We do not question Highland's right to preach the gospel over such mediums if she so chooses. The fact that the H.O.T. is a national, or international, broadcast does not make it wrong. What, then, is wrong with the H.O.T.? The arrangement of the H.O.T. is wrong because:
I. Of it's Unscriptural Congregational Cooperation:
A. The Highland Avenue church of Christ is the sponsoring church for the H.O.T.
1. The word "sponsor" means: "One who binds himself to answer for another's fault; a surety. Hence, one who assumes, or one to whom is delegated, responsibility for some other personal thing. To be or stand sponsor for; to accept responsibility for." (Webster)
2. A sponsoring church is a congregation which assumes the oversight and control of some activity in the general field of evangelism, edification, or benevolence.
B. Where is the Bible authority for many churches sending funds unto one congregation to enable her to carry on the work of evangelism?
C. There is not a command, example or necessary inference in the Bible for it.
D. Brother Guy N. Woods, in his tract, "Cooperation in the Field of Benevolence and Evangelism", stated: "I believe it to be scriptural for two congregations to combine their efforts to preach the gospel over the radio or by T.V."
E. If it is scriptural, where is the scripture?
F. You will never find, in the New Testament, one church sending to another that the receiving church may carry on a program of edification or evangelism.
G. You will never find, in the New Testament, one church sending to another that the receiving church may carry on a relief program outside of its membership.
H. We have examples, in the Bible, of churches sending contributions to churches who had needy saints (Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26; I Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8, 9).
1. Is the Highland church in need? NO!
2. Her contribution averages about $400,000 a year, or about $8,000 per week.
3. She makes contributions to 18 homes for orphans and aged people.
II. The Highland Church Has Unscripturally Assumed A Work Beyond Her Ability:
A. Where is the Bible authority for a church to assume a work which is beyond her ability to perform?
1. Highland contributes 4 per cent of the money she spends (Christian Chronicle, Dec. 23, 1968).
2. In 1966, the budget for the H.O.T. was $1,300,000.00.
3. In 1967, Highland successfully begged for $1,307,119.85.
B. A congregation's responsibility is determined by her ability and opportunity.
III. It Violates The Autonomy of The Local Church:
A. Autonomous means: "Independent in government; self-governing; also, without outside control. Existing independently." (Webster)
B. The New Testament teaches that each church is to be independent in it's work and worship, but that is not true in the sponsoring church arrangement.
1. The contributing churches are de pendent upon Highland to preach the gospel, and they can not preach over that particular program until the sponsor acts. 2. On the other hand, Highland church is dependent upon the contributing churches to furnish the money and it cannot act until the contributing churches act.
C. The New Testament teaches that the responsibility, work, and authority of elders begins and ends with the flock over which they are to serve as shepherds (I Peter 5: 1,2; Acts 20:28; 14:23).
D. The H.O.T. is not the work of one church, but the work of almost 3,000 churches; thus, the Highland elders have departed from the Truth by violating the will of God in overseeing the work of many other congregations.
1. The H.O.T. has 5 "field men" under which are 1,136 "key men" who are members of other churches.
2. The H.O.T. in northern Illinois and Indiana is overseen by the West Chicago church of Christ.
The New Testament churches never met area-wide, state-wide, etc. to jointly conduct an organized program of work.
E. God placed elders over one treasury only -- the common treasury of the congregation over which they serve as elders.
F. The H.O.T. has a separate treasury into which the contributing churches contribute and out of which the assumed work is financed.
IV. It Is Not An Expedient Way To Preach The Gospel:
A. It is claimed that the H.O.T. is an expedient method of proclaiming the gospel, but is it? NO!
1. It cannot be expedient because it is unscriptural.
a. The end does not justify the means (Example: Saul bringing back sheep to sacrifice; Moses striking the rock with his rod). If it did, we could have rummage sales to raise money for the Lord.
2. It cannot be expedient because it has done more damage than it could ever do well (I Cor. 10: 23).
a. Churches and families have been torn asunder, and bitter feelings have arisen among many of God's children (Eph. 4:31).
b. Many will be lost because of the H.O.T.
B. The H.O.T. is not even expedient from a financial standpoint 1. In 1967, the H.O.T. organization spent $106,399.55 of the Lord's money to beg for more money.
2. In 1967, this organization spent $74,767.26 for "overhead." The H.O.T. staff consists of 35 fulltime workers and 4 part-time workers.
3. The total amount for fund-raising and ' "overhead" was $181,166.82, or about $3,500 a week. (The above statistics were taken from a supplement to the Christian Chronicle, Dec. 23, 1968)
4. The above amount could have paid 22 men, $8,000 a year, for preaching the gospel
If the H.O.T. is only an expedient method, then those who push its support to the dividing of the Lord's body are at fault.
Conclusion: God's Plan, which calls for each church working independently and to her full ability, has, is, and will continue, to work. (Col. 1:23). The H.O.T. arrangement is unnecessary, unprofitable, unscriptural and unworthy of any support by faithful brethren.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 6, pp. 11-13