Recent Happenings

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

It often is interesting just to know what all is, going on. In this article, I would like to call three incidents to your attention. You may or may not already know of these matters.

"Fellowship, Incorporated"

In recent months, much has been said among us about the subject of fellowship. The denominational world steadfastly has been building a world engulfed by ecumenicity. Ecumenism is certainly a part of the 20th century mind. Some brethren wonder where so many of our young people get affected with these liberal views on fellowship. They are a part of the manufactured 20th century mind, and young people are affected by these mistaken ideas as readily as they are contaminated by the impure air they breathe. Tragically, neither parents nor these young people seem to know where the "pernicious error" came from.

Some of our bright young men are simply mouthing now what protestantism has been trying to inculcate into the modern mind for at least half a century. Some even among us have already begun to say they virtually intend to withdraw from controversy. There is only one alternative to controversy, and that is capitulation. Is that what you want? If so, you also have been drinking at the wells of ecumenism.

People have become so institutionalized that they want to incorporate nearly everything. Some have even formed incorporations to fight incorporation. But now we have in existence an organization named "Fellowship, Incorporated." It held a session in downtown Cincinnati October 28th, 1973. It consists of those "who think that brotherhood resides in obedient faith to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than in organizational structures." This membership requisite would be perfectly acceptable to many among us . . . I mean to many among us who have been labeled opprobriously as "Antis."

"Fellowship, Incorporated" has a committee named "Committee for Inclusive Fellowship." There are quite a few young brethren among us who are qualified, at least so far as beliefs are concerned, to become members of "Fellowship, Incorporated" and to serve on the "Committee for Inclusive Fellowship." At their Cincinnati "Open Informational Meeting," statements were made by members from various groups from the Christian Church, and one brother spoke also in behalf of some called "Concerned Ones of Churches of Christ."

It is not the purpose of this article to present arguments against formation of institutions like "Fellowship, Incorporated," but merely to acquaint you with the fact that such an institution now exists. Brethren in the past have indicated an inclination to want the church financially to support nearly every promotion or organization some brother can manufacture. Liberal Brother Glenn Wallace said a few years ago that there are now more than one hundred brotherhood promotions and institutions catering to churches of Christ for financial support. But lets watch and see which church can get "Fellowship, Incorporated" into its budget first. Some other brethren act like they think that because they oppose congregational support of human institutions, they should register this position every three or four months, and there is thereafter little or no necessity for them to join in the various truth-error conflicts of our day.

"Herald of Truth No. 2"???

Ever since the brotherhood program called "Herald of Truth" was spawned off on the brotherhood in 1952, endless controversy has swirled about this program. Controversy regarding it would have ended more than a score of years ago if even one brother had been able to cite Scriptural authority for 3,000 churches of Christ to seek to function through the elders of the Highland church in Abilene, Texas. More recent developments, unless some connected with the program have misrepresented it, indicate that these 3,000 churches have not been operating under the supervision of the Highland elders so much as they have been operating under the direction of a "Committee" called the "Radio and Television Committee." At some times, this committee did not even have one Highland elder who was a member.

Considerable interest, and controversy, have been engendered recently by the fact that this "committee" summarily fired E. R. Harper, long-time Herald of Truth promoter, defender, and employee. Harper was associated with the Herald of Truth and the Highland church for more than twenty years. The "committee" summarily threw him out on his ear. W. F. Cawyer, an elder at Highland Avenue in Abilene, for many years was brotherhood front man for the eldership at Highland. He spent most of his time begging money for this poor church that had only 1700 members and a $5,000 to $8,000 congregational weekly contribution.

Harper and Cawyer, as well as other liberal defenders of Herald of Truth, could become quite caustic regarding anyone who criticized their project. I have personally been subjected to their criticisms more than once in such public promotional meetings, and so have scores of other brethren been abused. Years ago they, or their side-kicks, used to say that those who objected to Herald of Truth never would have done so if they had been invited to speak on the program. Numerous times I personally have heard the remark that "Roy Cogdill only opposed the Herald of Truth because they did not invite him to be the national speaker." Had Cogdill been disposed to accept such an invitation, had it been tendered, he would have been a wonderful improvement to what has been funneled to the world by radio and television via the Herald of 'Truth. The preaching would have been much different than the socialistic pabulum fed to this nation by the likes of James Walter Nichols, James D.Williford, E. R. Harper, John Allen Chalk, Batsell Barret Baxter, Harold Hazelip, etc.

These liberal brethren know that Roy Cogdill objected to the Herald of Truth because it violated Scriptural teaching. It made brotherhood elders out of the Highland elders. However, we now are treated to the anomaly of E. R. Harper and W. F. Cawyer campaigning over the country to try to destroy the Herald of Truth. They are making the preposterous charge that the Highland church is in the hands of the liberals. Has there ever been a time in the past quarter of a century when it was not? But now I wonder if brethren Harper and Cawyer, and the few hundreds others who are now going to be fed to the Herald of Truth grist mill, will tell us if the reason why they now object to the Herald of Truth is only because they cannot preach on it any longer. Harper and Cawyer likely highly would resent such a charge, and quite frankly, I would not even level it against them. But I do not mind taunting them with their own indictment of other men's motives.

Some of our youngsters may not know that the Highland church did not start the Herald of Truth. Two young preachers started it, and Highland is the third church to oversee the Herald of Truth program. Of course, Highland has told the public that they had complete control over the program. It now turns out that the Herald of Truth program has gotten complete control of the Highland church!

The question often has been asked, "What makes the Herald of Truth Highland's work?" Highland did not start it, Highland did not pay for it, and Highland could not stop it. The point correctly has been made that the young preachers who had moved the program twice before could just move it again, and that Highland therefore could not stop "its" (?) program. Some of us have really wondered what would happen in a showdown. Well, it now has come. The outcome has been that the Herald of Truth now is the tail that wags the dog! The Herald of Truth has published a budget of more than $2,000,000.00 a year, predicated of course upon the success of a $300,000.00 a year fund raising and administrative budget. The brotherhood has even been paying Highland to beg the brotherhood for more money. Highland has sometimes had 30 or 35 high-powered promotional and operational employees.

Then the charge begins to filter throughout the brotherhood that modernism and pentecostalism have begun to make serious inroads into the Highland church. So what happens? Cawyer says he resigned in protest. Later four or five other Highland elders joined him in resignation. E. R. Harper was given his immediate release. So the Highland church now is in complete control of Herald of Truth personnel. Hence, a concerted campaign now is being carried on to destroy Highland and its Herald of Truth.

Now a new church has been started in Abilene. The December 20, 1973 Gospel Advocate carries two reports about the establishment of this new church in Abilene. After being out of Abilene for five or so years, former Highland elder W. F. Cawyer has now moved back to help this new church gain members . . . probably from Highland. Former Highland and Herald of Truth employee, E. R. Harper, also happily reports the starting of another church, and he also is implicated in this effort. They report a contribution of $2700 at their first service. Attendance was 321 for the morning service. Though you would have thought they would have learned better by now after their bitter experience, they report that "One of the joyous occasions of the day was a fellowship dinner in our spacious fellowship room ....

No doubt about it, this new church is an "Anti-Herald of Truth" church! One is made to wonder if Harper and Cawyer are going to resume their brotherhood travels to raise money for a new national radio and television program. It just might possibly be that one soon will have to ask, "Will the real Herald of Truth promoter please stand up?" Right at this point it is difficult to tell whether we are going to see "Highland Avenue church (II)," or "Herald of Truth (II)." And interestingly, Reuel Lemmons and the Firm Foundation still are commending "Herald of Truth (I)" while the Gospel Advocate will not even carry a paid ad for them, and apparently joyfully announce the starting of a new Abilene church. Whether this new Abilene church is going to start its own version of "Herald of Truth" remains to be seen. Poor Brother Batsell Baxter is really in a bind now. He is the Herald of Truth radio and television speaker, and is vainly trying to salvage the tarnished reputation of Highland and "Herald of Truth (I)." But Baxter lives in Gospel Advocate-land, where he heads the David Lipscomb College Bible Department. He must really be feeling the power crunch about now. Do not be surprised if his schedule soon becomes so demanding that he no longer has the time to speak for "Herald of Truth (I)." He might, however, after a sufficient cooling period, somehow be able to work in a little time to speak on "Herald of Truth (II)," as soon as Harper, Cawyer, and the Gospel Advocate can get it off the ground and gain for it brotherhood and network stature.

Free Advertising

You would think that a fellow who publishes a paper would be happy to get just nearly any kind of free publicity. But not always. For example, one "open-minded" (?) group of brethren in Marietta, Georgia published the following announcement in their September 9, 1973 church bulletin:

"Warning! A Magazine known as Truth Magazine published in Marion, Indiana is being sent to churches of Christ and many individual members. It is cleverly written with good eye appeal to many who do not know the various writers and their teachings. We do not recommend Truth Magazine as a reliable guide in matters of christianity, neither do we recommend their Bookstore as a desirable source for obtaining books, for class work or doctrinal aids."

The same brother who wrote this "Warning" article probably would strongly urge someone with whom he may be studying in his home that he be open-minded. How could one who refuses to even read what we have to say ask anyone else to be open-minded? Several years ago the Roman Catholic church had its own published list of prohibited books, but Catholicism dropped her list. The brethren at Marietta still have theirs. I try to read about 30 or 35 religious periodicals in order to keep abreast of what is going on. But some of our brethren would foster religious prejudice.

It is nice to learn that we have some clever writers, and that out paper does have eye appeal. We do not cite Truth Magazine as an authority in religious matters. Instead, we recommend you study your Bible and let it alone be your authority. The Pope used to tell the Catholics what they could and could not read. Apparently the preacher serves that purpose for the Olive Street church in Marietta, Georgia.

Frankly, I do not even know who has been paying to send Truth Magazine either to the Olive Street church, or to some members there. Nor have I sought to see how many copies are being sent there. However, if the Olive Street, members are willing to let a preacher lead them around by the nose and tell them what they can and cannot read, it is not likely much purpose would be served in continuing to send Truth Magazine. On the other hand, if there are truth seekers at Olive Street, and if truth is taught in Truth Magazine, we invite the Olive Street preacher to refute in Truth Magazine, and thus before his members, any error he finds taught on the pages of this journal.

Truth Magazine, XVIII:14, pp. 3-5
February 7, 1974