By Dan Rogers
Brother Ron Halbrook has well observed that “false teachers, including the prime movers of the new unity movement, always want the luxury of immunity from public view” (Gospel Guardian, Vol. xxx, No. xvi, Nov., 1978, p. 11). They want to set forth their pernicious doctrines, spreading them throughout the brotherhood, and yet be unopposed as they do so. They demand the “freedom” to “subvert whole houses” (Tit. 1:11), but deny the right (duty) of faithful Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) against them in efforts to stop their mouths from “teaching things which they ought not” (Tit. 1:11).
It is almost axiomatic that he who publically sets forth his views, whether orally or in written form, can expect those who disagree with him to speak out in refutation. If false teachers wish not to be publically exposed and opposed, then let them keep their false teachings to themselves! Needless to say, it is impossible to refute a false teacher, or to even know that an individual is a false teacher, if he remains silent, keeping his false teaching to himself. If a false teacher will not remain silent, and a false teacher will not, then let him take his medicine like a man when faithful brethren courageously oppose him with God’s word, rebuking him and marking him (Rom. 16:17) for what he is, a false teacher!
Of course, we realize that it is asking too much of false teachers to expect them to take their medicine like men. As the rebuttals against them begin to appear, they are quick to whine that they are greatly misunderstood by those in opposition to them. However, that is not the problem. The problem is that they are understood in what they are saying, and they know it!
When it becomes evident to them that their smoke screen of “I’m, misunderstood” is concealing nothing, the false teachers change their tactics and seek to put their opponents on the defensive by making wild charges against them. The actions of Brother Arnold Hardin aptly illustrate this. In the January 12, 1978 issue of Truth Magazine (Vol. xxii, No. 2, pp. 6-7), in which he was provided space to reply to Brother Mike Willis’s earlier editorial, “Has Arnold Hardin Left Us?” (cf. Vol. xxi, No. 47, pp. 3-7), Brother Hardin refers to the actions of those who oppose him and his doctrine as a “purge,” “legalism,” and “devilish.” More recently, in the October 29, 1978 issue of The Persuader (Vol. xiii, No. 7, p. 3), the bulletin published by the Scyene Road church of Christ in Dallas, Texas; and edited by Brother Hardin, he charges that those who write in opposition to him “falsely accuse” him and “know their misrepresentations are just that!” Does Brother Hardin hope that such unfounded assertions as these will help to silence those who oppose his error? He should know better! When the issues over institutionalism arose, its advocates were quick to brand those who opposed their unscriptural schemes as “anti’s,” “orphan haters,” and a host of other things. Those assertions did not deter God’s faithful from resisting that false doctrine, and Brother Hardin’s assertions will not deter God’s faithful from resisting his false doctrine! This, Brother Hardin also knows!
What then is the false teacher to do? Well, he could repent of his false teaching. However, frankly speaking, most will not. Or, he could cease publically setting forth his false doctrine. But, as we have already indicated, such a course of action is not likely. Remember, the false teacher’s problem is that he wants to publically make known his false doctrine, but he does not want those who disagree with him to publically refute what he teaches. The only possible solution to his problem is for the false teacher to continue to publicly set forth his error, while at the same time trying to keep it out of the hands of those who oppose what he teaches. Once again, the actions of Brother Hardin aptly illustrate this. In the previously cited issue of The Persuader, Brother Hardin quotes from an article by Brother Bill Cavender in which Brother Cavender charges that “Arnold Hardin refuses to send his bulletin to many faithful men.” As to this charge, Brother Hardin admits that Brother Cavender is “partially right.” He then continues:
We have had some men bent on controlling the conscience of brethren to write demanding we send the bulletin. The only way such men will ever read it is to scour the country until they find a copy some where! Others who have deliberately violated every code of honesty and fair play have been dropped! These have been few in number. But we will not hesitate to do so again whenever it happens!
Let us closely examine what Brother Hardin here states. First, he charges that “we have had some men bent on controlling the conscience of brethren,” referring to those who oppose what he teaches. The record needs to be set straight! Who is “bent on controlling the conscience of brethren,” those who want to see first-hand what Brother Hardin is writing and who are not afraid to publically refute him, or Brother Hardin, who wants the brethren to see only one side of the issue, his, without refutation of it?
Secondly, Brother Hardin states that some of his opponents have written “demanding we send the bulletin.” Brother Hardin here makes a claim without giving any proof to back it up. And, until he proves differently, this writer goes on record as doubting the validity of Brother Hardin’s claim. It is likely much more correct to say that brethren who oppose what Brother Hardin teaches have written requesting to be placed on the mailing list for his bulletin. However, Brother Hardin, knowing that they will write in opposition to what he teaches, has refused to send it to them, entertaining the hope that even if they “scour the country” looking for copies of it, very few will be successful in their efforts, and thus will not be able to write in refutation of him, therefore cutting down the amount of opposition that he has to face. To say that faithful brethren have written “demanding” that the bulletin be sent to them is simply an emotional appeal to the rebellious nature of man, who reacts against “demands,” and is a statement designed to gain sympathy.
Thirdly, Brother Hardin charges that “others who have deliberately violated every code of honesty and fair play have been dropped!” What he is actually saying here is that those who have written in opposition to his teaching have been dropped from the mailing list, with his idea being, “If they don’t know what I’m saying, they can’t continue their opposition to me.” These brethren whose names have been dropped from the mailing list for his bulletin are not guilty of violating “every code of honesty and fair play.” The only thing they are “guilty” of is earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 3) against his false teaching!
Finally, Brother Hardin, in reference to dropping names from his mailing list and refusing to send them his bulletin, states, “But we will not hesitate to do so again whenever it happens!” Here, he gives all fair warning. He will not tolerate opposition! If you are on his mailing list, and you write in opposition to him, you will be dropped “like a hot potatoe” from it. Just here, a quote from the pen of Brother Mike Willis is appropriate. He states:
The truth of the matter is this: a man who is willing to publically reply to Brother Hardin has trouble even getting on his mailing list, much less having an opportunity to reply to him! According to reports which I have heard, Brother Hardin will purge your name from his mailing list when you begin to reply to him in a public manner” (Truth Magazine, Vol. xxii, No. 2, p. 5).
How does Brother Hardin justify his actions? He states that by their continued opposition “it becomes evident that to send the bulletin to such (i.e., those who oppose his teaching, D.R.) is casting pearls before swine – and our Lord has instructed us not to do so!” (p. 3). This brings us to the little chosen for this article. Up to now, you have no doubt been wondering what the title of this article has to do with the article. Well, Brother Hardin thinks that those who oppose what he teaches are swine! He “justifies” himself in not sending his bulletins to his opponents because that would be like casting “pearls” before “swine,” with “pearls” referring to how he characterizes his teachings. I am writing this article in opposition to what Brother Hardin teaches and am openly calling him a false teacher. Thus, I guess, in his estimation, that makes me a swine. However, let me hasten to add that Brother Hardin is wrong in his description of what he teaches in calling it “pearls.” Since he brought up “swine,” let me point out that perhaps a better description of what he teaches would be “swill” (or as Webster defines it, “garbage”). Since Brother Hardin is wrong about what he calls “pearls,” there is good reason to think that he could be wrong about those he calls “swine!”
Oh yes, one final question and then I’ll put down my pen. Does this article mean that I will not be getting The Persuader any more? I will be sure to let you know!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 9, pp. 154-155
March 1, 1979