EDITORIAL — Two Decades of Digression, Dissension, and Division

By Cecil Willis

The “Herald of Truth” just had its 20th birthday. The liberal brethren would have one to believe that evangelistic work always has been done through the sponsoring church arrangement. But such is mere historical wishful thinking on the part of our digressive brethren of the 20th Century.

From time to time, brethren who may not see all the promotional literature need to be brought up to date on the latest information on this twenty year old digressive monster among us. Future historians are going to have a sordid chapter in church history to write when they come to write of the digression, dissension, and division perpetrated by the fledgling Herald of Truth. This money-eating monster has split hundreds of churches, caused untold heart-ache, caused buckets of tears to be shed, caused preachers to be fired, been the occasion of the stealing of scores of meeting houses, and has become the label by which one identifies himself as liberal, yet it is barely older than my teenage son. But it has made for itself an ignoble record in its mere score of years.

The Highland church in Abilene just published a “Special 20th Anniversary Report” in its publication entitled Between Broadcasts. They feature on the cover the lifespan of the Herald of Truth — 1952-1972! It might be a little eye-opening to some brethren to think a little regarding the statistics cited by the mother-church of the liberal churches. The liberal brethren gave up a good many years ago on finding anything in the New Testament that even remotely parallels the Herald of Truth operation. If someone has found an instance of brotherhood elders overseeing brotherhood funds to do brotherhood work, the citation has missed my notice.

Highland elder, Art Haddox, is featured as “Traveling Emissary of Expansion.” It is related that during 1970 and 1971 Brother Haddox traveled over 85,000 miles promoting further digression and division by his expansive efforts for the Herald of Truth. Yet just this morning I read a copy of a letter from this “Traveling Emissary” written to a brother in Ohio who wanted to see a discussion between the Highland brethren and some of those of us who oppose the Herald of Truth. Brother Haddox said, “We simply do not have the personnel or the finances to drive or fly to all sections of the country continually talking to brethren about cooperation when we have already spent so many, many hours doing this.” Yet they have plenty of time, personnel, and finances to fly or drive all over the country if they think a few more bucks can be raised for their pet project.

The “Special 20th Anniversary Report” details that the Highland church has raised over $15,000,000.00 for the brotherhoods national broadcast and telecast program in the past 20 years. Of course, they did not total up the actual money spent. I had to do that for them, but their figures show that they have begged about 95 percent or more of the $15,000,000.00 they have spent in the past score of years.

They did not give a detailed breakdown of expenses for the entire 20 year period. However, they did tell us “How Each Dollar was Divided in 197 1,” and I will have something more to say about that hereafter. The Herald of Truth has raised an average Of $750,000.00 a year for the past 20 years. I had for years thought the 35 year begging program of the Manhattan church was the Grand Champion Beggar. But Highland has laid them in the shade in just 20 years.

The brotherhood now spends, through the Highland Avenue church, more money annually than the American Christian Missionary Society handled in the first 50 years of its existence (The Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, p. 347). Talk about imitating the Christian Church. Our Highland brethren have outdone them, measuring eachs first 20 years.

The Highland brethren, and their cohorts, have through the years argued that the sponsoring church arrangement is an expedient way to preach the gospel. Of course, nothing can be expedient that is unscriptural, and the sponsoring church is unscriptural. However, even if it were scriptural, would it be expedient? Let us see.

Highland tells us that in 1971 their “Administrative” costs were 6 percent of the $1,567,118.00 which they collected and spent. Apply that 6 percent “Administrative” cost to their 20 year operation, and see what kind of an astronomical figure you come up with for “Administrative” costs. Six percent of $15,000,000.00 is $900,000.00 spent for “Administrative” costs. That simply means that the brotherhood has paid Highland church nearly a million dollars to “administer” the brotherhoods work. Administrative costs only have averaged about $1000.00 a week for the entire 20 years period! And yet they want to talk about expediency. Did you ever stop to think about how many churches contributions would be consumed by these exorbitant “Administrative” expenses? It would take contributions of $100.00 a month from nearly fifty churches just to pay the “Administrative” costs, and think of that over a 20 year period.

A sizable portion of the money sent to Highland has always been spent to beg more money. They never get enough. Whether they receive $232,000.00 as they did in 1957 (while they were willing to debate the issue), or $1,567,118.00 as they did in 1971 (and while they will not debate the issue), Highland has never had enough. They also have learned debating the issue has not helped their cause, so they have about quit debating. Have you ever heard of one of these perpetually begging sponsoring churches that ever got enough money? I have never heard of one that was ever content with its annual begging. There was a time in this country when begging was shameful, but the welfare state has fixed that. The largest and wealthiest churches in the brotherhood unabashedly beg year after year after year. They have an insatiable appetite for other peoples money.

How much do they spend on begging money? Well, in 1971 they only spent 12 cents out of every dollar to beg more money. They are quite proud of their “Support Solicitation” (a nicer term than begging, hence they prefer it) percentage. How much did they spend begging money in 1971? Just a little over $180,000.00! Highland does not even contribute enough money to pay for the money begging. Other churches have to subsidize poor Highland Avenue so she can beg more money. Highland only has about 1700 members, and their contributions only average about $8000.00 per week. Yet they do not even pay the money begging bill. Talk about audacity! Brother, they have it. They will beg churches to contribute money to preach the gospel, and then turn around and spend the contributed money to beg more money. And our gullible brethren continue to supply them nearly $200,000.00 a year for money begging.

How much has been spent on money begging in their 20 years? Hold your seat now! About $1,800,000-00, if their 1971 “Support Solicitation” figure is representative. Around $2,500,000.00 have been spent by Highland for “Administrative” and “Support Solicitation” costs in the 2 0 years of their babys life. Wonder what it will take to support this money-eating creature when it becomes full-grown? And some of the liberal brethren still use the old threadbare digressive argument, “Expediency!” It would take the audacity of the proverbial government mule to spend $2,500,000.00 of the Lords money for administrative costs and support solicitation, and then still argue “Expediency.” But audacity our Highland brethren have, in abundant supply. And gullibility our other brethren have, also in abundant supply, or they would have shut off this perpetual begging pipeline in a whole lot less than 20 years.

The lack of scripture for a sponsoring church seemingly has never bothered our liberal brethren very much. Why should one expect the exposure of their sinful waste of the Lords money now to upset them? They will continue to beg, as long as gullible brethren continue to feed the pipeline to Abilene. And the flow rate in recent years has increased, rather than subsiding. Some view their continued existence and evident prosperity as proof of the Lords approval, but they have not surpassed the United Christian Missionary Society in current annual income, so far as I know. But they are running the UCMS a close second. Rome had better watch out. Abilene will be taking sight on them next.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 26, pp. 3-5
May 4, 1972