Bro. Hardeman on the College and Orphan Home

Bryan Vinson, Sr.
Longview, Texas

Brother Hardeman has been a member of the Lord's Church for seventy years, he tells us, and has seen many troubles arise which have caused much grief and heartache to the children of God. This is unquestionably true, and I am wondering if, in all those disturbing situations which he has in mind, he ever either advocated or approved the rupturing of fellowship between the children of God over those matters. In both the music controversy and later the millenial issue I feel quite sure that Brother Hardeman would plead not guilty to any responsibility for the breach, but rather would quickly ascribe all blame to those of a contrary persuasion from his on those questions. He would say those things, being unmentioned in the scriptures and thus not taught, should not be pressed to the rupturing of the body of Christ. In this he was and would be right-eminently so.

Today, however, we note his alignment with those who have openly advocated a "marking", a "quarantining" of those who refuse to accept these things which he admits are not taught in the scriptures. Oh, he believes in them despite the fact they aren't in the scriptures, notwithstanding the fact the scriptures say that faith comes by hearing the word of God! I just wonder where his faith came from on the orphan home, inasmuch as he concedes the scriptures do not teach on it by either direct command, apostolic example or necessary inference. Of course he consoles himself with the thought that a number of things we have today fall in that classification. If this be true, rather than being a competent defense of the orphan home, such but indicates we need to really beat a rapid march back to the "old paths", for which he pleads: All my life I have heard the statement that "two wrongs never made a right." Brother Hardeman reasons that the doing of one or more things for which we find no authority in the scriptures makes some other thing, such as an orphan home and the sponsoring church arrangement (as Highland and the Herald of Truth) acceptable and thus to become a ground for fellowship, with those not favoring such to be disfellowshipped.

His mention of the baptistry and meeting house in this connection ill-fits one of his ability. He would make Boswell look ridiculous, if he made such a defense of his instrument and society-or would he? He knows that the command to do a thing authorizes that which is necessary to its being done. He knows we are commanded to assemble, and thus some place to assemble. He knows the command to baptize authorizes some body of water in which to baptize, and that is all a baptistry is. On this let us digress for a moment from the main line and interpose this observation: If Brother Hardeman should, along with his liberal brethren, demand that everyone baptized be baptized in a "baptistry" ; such as he has in mind, or else he will not be fellowshipped, then he would be bringing the point of a baptistry into alignment and thus make it parallel in this particular with the orphan home. Note, he regards them as equals as touching authority for them, but he makes no demand as conditional to fellowship of one, but those with whom he is traveling do on the other. But the orphan home, the benevolent society-which Brother Curtis defined so clearly in his debate with Woods (and surely Brother Hardeman has not lost his esteem for the learning of Brother Porter, whom he had so much confidence in when he (Porter) was much younger) is no part of the command to visit the fatherless and widows. The institutional orphan home is wholly a stranger to every utterance in Holy Writ-and no one knows this better than Brother Hardeman.

Back in 1947 Brother Hardeman was not defending the orphan home-then he had another human institution much nearer and dearer to his heart than any orphan home was or is. He tells us in this latest piece by him that he isn't "married to any home of that kind." But in 1947 he was "Married" to a college, and he was defending the "right" of a church to contribute to a college. He said, under the heading of "The Banner Boys Become Enraged"-Firm Foundation, October 28, 1947: "I did not endorse his (G. C. Brewer) idea, as reported in the paper, of putting schools in the church budget and thus binding them on the church. These Banner brethren have done their best to make me say that I favored this idea. They have absolutely failed. I have always believed that a church had the right to contribute to a school or an orphanage if it so desired. In all that I have written, there is no conflict on this matter. The right to contribute to the one is the right to contribute to the other. (Emphasis mine-B. V.) Note the parallel: 1. The school is a human institution; it has a board of directors, it teaches secular branches in connection with the Bible. 2. An orphan home is a human institution; it has a board of directors; it teaches secular branches in connection with the Bible. The same principle that permits one, must also permit the other. They must stand or fall together. (Emphasis mine-B. V.) Assuming that the school does the work of the church (which is subject to discussion-then may I ask: If the church can do part of its work-caring for orphans-through a human institution, why can it not do another part of its work -teaching the Bible-through a human institution? These brethren have failed to show the why. According to the `Ace Writer,' the church sins in contributing to either. Brother Otey is wrong but he is consistant in opposing both. The Banner brethren are both wrong and inconsistent. Why will these brethren support an orphanage and fight the schools? The possible answer is that there are too many of our best churches that support the orphan home, and these brethren are afraid to attack them. Let them open up and oppose the right of the church to contribute to either. Such must be their real position. Brother Cled sawed off the limb between himself and the tree when he said: `The church cannot contribute to or support any work that the church is not commanded to do.' They must condemn both the contributing to schools and to orphanages and go all the way with the Sommerites. They are but little removed from fellowship with them."

When we take a good look at this statement written thirteen years ago, and notice some of its points in relation to this piece in the Gospel Advocate of October 27, 1960, we note much of interest, and have some questions raised in our minds as touching the thinking of Brother Hardeman. First,

let us note his quotation from Brother Cled Wallace, to which he takes exception, and the advice he gives as based thereon. Brother Wallace asserted that the church could not contribute to or support a work which the church is not commanded to do. Brother Hardeman thought it could, obviously, and concluded that should the statement by Wallace be accepted as true, then the church could not contribute to either the college or the orphan home. This is equal to conceding that neither are doing a work the church is commanded to do; if this isn't what he meant, than why the exception to what Wallace said as being equal to forbidding the church contributing to either? Passing, then, for the moment, the college aspect of the question, we are confronted with Brother Hardeman writing today in strong advocacy of the church supporting a work which it has no commandment from the Lord to do!! ! Now back when he wrote that other piece he refused to advocate putting the college in the budget of the church, because such would bind the church to such support, and now we have him ridiculing all who are unwilling to put the orphan home in the budget of the churches. If, as he says, the college and the orphan home stand or fall together, how could he then disavow all intent of urging churches to put the college in the budget and now be castigating brethren who do not put the orphan home in the budget? Too, is he ready to take the position respecting the college in the budget that he is taking in regard to the orphan home? If the right to contribute to the one is the right to contribute to the other, and that each is doing a work that isn't commanded of the church to do, then it certainly must be a case of them standing or falling together. Or, as he suggested regarding the Banner Boys, is it a case of where the churches-the best among us have the orphanages in the budget, whereas they do not yet have the colleges there that Brother Hardeman is bold in his defense of the former, but presently silent regarding the latter? He urged the "Banner Boys" to go all the way and oppose the church supporting both the college and the home; now it is apropo that he take his own medicine and get on the line urging the churches to put the colleges in their budgets. This will require him to denounce every brother who opposes the college in the budget, and disfellowship every church that doesn't respond to such an appeal for the support of the schools. He will have to disfellowship Reuel Lemmons and warn brethren against the Firm Foundation-unless Goodpasture, Dixon, et al bring Reuel around to their position on this question. They had quite a strong influence on him over at Henderson on the orphan homes under a board position, and silenced his opposition theretoit may be they can bring him into line on the college issue.

I recall very distinctly Brother Hardeman remarking to me once that he believed it would be alright for a congregation to make a contribution to a college, and I replied that I did not so believe. Did he denounce me for taking a contrary position to the one he voiced? He did not. Neither did I take affront toward him for so expressing himself. What is the explanation? Simply this: he did not urge and insist on congregations supporting Freed-Hardeman from their treasuries. He did not take the position with respect thereto that he and those with him are taking regarding the orphan home issue. He refused to bind the churches to the colleges; he is binding the churches to the orphan homes. Since he views them as both standing or falling together, he must either bind both on the churches, or he must "loose" the churches from both. Finally, note that Brother Hardeman made a distinction between the right to do a thing, and the obligation to do it; that is, while he clearly defended the right of a church to contribute to either a college or an orphan home, if it so desired, yet he opposed the position of putting them in the budgets and thereby binding them on the church. This is a reasonable distinction, especially where it is "subject to discussion" as to whether the things they are doing are works of the church. But his advice to Guy Woods now indicates that it has about ceased being a "subject of discussion;" it is becoming closed topic-those who are doing these things in dispute are going to continue doing them despite every remonstrance earnest and godly men may utter, and appeal they may voice. Does he now maintain that it is just a right as distinguished from an obligation? If so, he should advocate a foregoing of a right that in its exercise more harm is resulting than any possible good which can accrue therefrom.

Brother Hardeman has been known to say that he had rather be right than to be consistent, which is ridiculous for no one can be right and be inconsistent. One may be consistently wrong, but he cannot be inconsistently right, inasmuch as truth is ever harmonious and consistent. But Brother

Hardeman is inconsistent in these two pieces -1947 and 1960, unless he has changed his views (a thing Brother Guy N. Woods never does, you know). Being inconsistent he is, therefore, wrong. Why? Because of a lack of ability to think? Certainly not, for he is a very able man. I have great respect for his intellectual ability, and refuse to ascribe the responsibility for such to any lack of thinking power. He reasoned correctly when he put the college and orphan home in the same category in 1947. If he doesn't do so now, there has been a slip in his thinking, and I am disposed to attribute it to the same cause he did the conflicts and contradictions of Ben M. Bogard in his debate with him twenty-two years ago in Little Rock. Then Brother Hardeman was but sixty-four, and Bogard several years older. It may be that Brother Hardeman, like he said of Bogard concerning his quotations from his former utterances, has forgotten this 1947 statement, and that such forgetfulness is attributable to his age. Listen: "Now I am going to excuse Dr. Bogard, if I can, on the ground of his years, as being short of memory: I know that forgetfulness is characteristic of senility, and that is the best apology I can offer." (Hardeman-Bogard Debate, page 281.) Again: "He misses the entire point about my reflecting upon his number of years. God knows to the contrary. These things come in despite of all we can do, and with them there are extremities, both of body and mind. My sympathy goes out to all such because I am beating a rapid march on down to the same period." (Ibid. page 301) He has reached an advanced age and the lord has been exceedingly gracious in giving him such length of days on earth.

The real criticism is not against Brother Hardeman for this interview and subsequent piece he wrote, but rather against those who have sought to capitalize on his reputation. While by no means considering Brother Hardeman as being comparable to Alexander Campbell (even though a far greater correspondence between them could be established than between B. C. Goodpasture and Campbell) yet there is a similarity between the capitalizing done on each of them by the advocates of digression. One of the severest castigations written against anyone which I ever read was Moses E. Lard's indictment against the theft of Campbell's Hymn Book by the Missionary Society folks, when they wrought a deception on Campbell that Lard said no one could have done fifteen years earlier. By the same token these "reporters" sought to utilize whatever remaining influence Brother Hardeman had in behalf of their promotional programs and endeavors. Such is despicable. A final article will deal with Brother Hardeman's reasoning on the orphan home question as set forth in his article in October 1960.

Truth Magazine, V:7; pp. 15-18
April 1961