By Leo Rogol
It is certain now that the Nixon administration is not the only group in trouble over violation of law and guilty of unethical behavior. Now the Highland church and its elders in Abilene, Texas, have committed an illegal act. And it may get them in serious trouble with the federal government. Who would ever believe that such an “infallible” institution as Herald of Truth would get into so much trouble? Why, don’t you know that to question-and above all, to criticize-the Herald of Truth was the same as to blaspheme against heaven? Especially with such an “infallible” guide as Batsell B. Baxter, who also is head of the Bible department at David Lipscomb College, as featured speaker on H.O.T.?
Fraudulent Use of U.S. Postal Service
In Contending For The Faith, March 1974, pg. 4, Ira Rice, Jr. reports this illegal action taken by the Highland elders:
“I have it upon reliable evidence (and if you doubt this, you may write to E.R. Harper for verification) that this large white folder (or some of them may have been on brown paper), enclosing Baxter’s letter, together with the letter from the Highland elders, was sent out to you with David Lipscomb College imprint WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE, CONSENT OR PERMISSION FROM THE COLLEGE AT NASHVILLE! “. . David Lipscomb College DID NOT FURNISH HIGHLAND WITH THOSE ENVELOPES. They either bought them-and then stamped the return address of the college in the upper-left-hand corner, or they made them up themselves and stamped the college’s return address upon the folder.” (Emph. his-LR)
Notice the two-fold deception practiced by the Highland elders. First they use the address of David Lipscomb College without their knowledge, apparently to make it appear that DLC lends their approval and support to the whole matter at Highland. Next we see that they use deception with regard to U.S. Postal authorities. In case some of you do not know what this means, I’ll let Ira Rice inform you:
“According to Federal Postal Law, the permit on the folder must agree with the address of the sending party on the folder. The permit on the folder you received had only the permit of the Highland Church of Christ. This is in violation of the Federal Postal Laws and if pressed could cause the Highland elders serious trouble.”
That this was an obvious form of deception against DLC and churches is further proven by Rice:
“Upon reliable authority, I now understand that DLC President Athens Clay Pullias has written to the elders of the Highland Church of Christ requesting an explanation as well as a retraction of this unlawful act which has embarrassed the college and could cause the Post Office at Abiline to receive severe reprimands for allowing this folder to pass.”
A Real Mix-up
Now all this really puts all those involved in a real hard bind. The implications of all this are far more reaching than we may realize.
Batsell B. Baxter plays a dual role. He is head of the Bible department at DLC and is speaker for the H.O.T. TV program. And since his letter was sent along with that of the Highland elders, it is preposterous to think he had no knowledge of what was going on. On the other hand, if the Highland elders tricked him that badly, which further indicts them of mis-conduct, how can he stand working with them any longer? Hence, he is implicated in this illegal act. This casts grave reflections upon the Bible department of that school, as well as upon the school itself.
Besides this incident, how could it be that a man in such a key position as speaker on the TV program would be so ignorant of, or blind to, the happenings at the Highland church? Pentecostalism, infidelity, and many other rank sins exist in that church; and yet he goes on as if nothing is wrong! Doesn’t he know or doesn’t he care what is written in 2 John 11: “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”? By his fellowship with that church in their project he is directly involved. This indicts him as the most flagrant violator of the scriptural principle of fellowship and at the same time casts serious reflection upon the Bible department at DLC.
Considering this matter from his viewpoint, we know he thinks there is nothing wrong with such an arrangement as sponsoring churches. But I am certain that even from his viewpoint he can not scripturally defend these evils that are happening at Highland. And he can’t say that he just fellowships them in the area of evangelism while he has nothing to do with the sins in the church. My friends, you take it all in a package deal, or you have none of it.
But then, this indicts that school as being “partakers of his evil deeds,” They keep a man on their faculty who is directly connected with the sins at Highland. So DLC must equally share the guilt with Baxter of being party to the sins at the Highland and share in the guilt of illegal use of a postal permit-which they simultaneously condemn. They are going to have completely to sever any relationship with Baxter, dismiss him from the school, or share in the blame in this incident of an illegal act. Is Lipscomb College going to demand that Baxter withdraws himself from all connections with Highland? And if not, are they going to dismiss him from the school? If they do neither, they will have to sweep all this “under the rug,” or shut up, and by this failure in taking action, let their brotherhood know they neither object to the fraudulent use of their letter-head, nor to the sins at Highland. I am a bit curious to know just what they will do about all this mess.
What a dilemma! Pullias sent a letter to Highland, denouncing their actions in which Baxter was implicated–and yet they retain him on the faculty and Head of the Bible department. This is a hard pill for DLC to swallow. By the way, I just wonder if they sent Baxter a similar letter? Did they reprimand him???
What further complicates this entire situation is that Baxter had long been a champion for Lipscomb’s unscriptural scheme of getting churches to support that school out of their treasuries. What a further dilemma! Brethren: churches sent contributions to the college upon the basis of the “infallible” claims Baxter made that it was scriptural; upon their confidence in him as a learned Bible scholar. And now a church, along with Baxter, played this foul trick on that very school Baxter was so effective and instrumental in getting brethren and churches to support! But the school is under obligation to him, or as it is said in some places, “beholdin’ to him.” What an embarrassing situation!
Baxter worked long and hard to raise money (unscripturally) for the school. But now he is a partaker in an illegal act against the very school he had so long helped to nurture and develop. The school is indebted to him for his services and yet the President must send a letter to Highland protesting against illegal actions and unfair dealings against the school; actions in which Baxter took part.
But there are still further serious implications. Some years ago Lipscomb College solicited and received money from the federal government upon the basis that it was a secular school with no connection with the church. Certainly, these advocates of “Separation of Church and State” would not dream of asking money for an educational institution if it had any connection with the church! But then, one forgets certain unimportant incidentals. They turned right around and asked churches to support the school because it was doing service for the church! I suppose they already forgot all about the money they received from Uncle Sam. After all, could churches support a secular institution that asked for and received money from the government? They had either to forget that Lipscomb was a church-related school to get federal aid, or they had to forget it was a secular school to get money from churches. It appears they forgot both at the exact time that it was convenient to do so, or they were dishonest on either count.
Now you have a church using a college as a tool for furthering its project. But of course, Baxter said it was right for the college to be supported by the church because it was doing it a service, so why can’t the college use the church if the church helps to support it? And of course, upon this same basis Highland had the right to use the college to help promote its project (And yet it was right for the government to support the college because it was in no way connected with the church.) Then they abused the federal government by an illegal use of mailing permit to deceive churches into thinking that the college endorsed and sanctioned the dealings of the Highland church. And they deceived the school by doing something illegally which the college knew nothing about. Just think! The government helped them with money, and they turn around and trick the government. Baxter tells churches it is right to send money to the college and he deceives both churches and the college, by taking part in this illegal act.
It will be interesting to observe further actions in this matter. ‘What will the school do about Baxter? What will the Highland elders do about their illegal use of Lipscomb’s name? And what will DLC do about Highland’s disgraceful act? We shall see what we shall see. Perhaps nothing?
In all this I am reminded of what Paul wrote: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Talk about an energy crisis! It is so critical at Highland that the “light” cannot “shine” anymore. “Crooked and perverse nation”-what has Highland on the world? It is keeping right up with the “crooked” and “perverse.”
We are all aware of the digression of the past century. But that digression was not as embarrassing as this present one. These elders at Highland really out-did anything I ever heard of among the former digression. By the way, I wonder if “Herald of Truth No. 2” will be any different? How long will it be before it too will turn out like it’s “daddy,” No. I? After all, “Like father, like son.” Herald of-Truth-what a misnomer!
Truth Magazine, XVIII:39, p. 8-10
August 8, 1974