By Mike Willis
Printed elsewhere in this issue is Arnold Hardin’s reply to my December 1, 1977 editorial, “Has Arnold Hardin Left Us?” In order to better understand this editorial, I would encourage you to re-read my December 1, 1977 editorial and then read Brother Hardin’s reply before advancing any further in reading this editorial. In the December 1st editorial, I charged that Brother Hardin was a false teacher among us who need to be exposed. I made my charges on the basis of lengthy quotations taken from Brother Hardin’s writings. Here are the charges which I made against Brother Hardin as evidence that he is a false teacher:
1. He accepts the doctrine of the imputation of Jesus’ perfect obedience to the believer’s account.
2. He makes the same gospel doctrine distinction as does Carl Ketcherside, Leroy Garrett and Edward Fudge. He also draws the same conclusion as to the bearing of the gospel doctrine distinction on the fellowship of the saints as do these men.
3. He is guilty of aiding and abetting a false teacher through his public commendation of the editor of Ensign Fair.
4. He denies the binding force of examples and necessary inference.
Regarding these charges, Brother Hardin said, in his reply published in this issue, “The excerpts he gives of what I have written, I stand behind the truth in each.” Notice that Brother Hardin did not state that I had misrepresented him. Indeed, he even wrote in his reply, “He charges me with denying the binding force of examples and inferences. I would be happy to discuss this with you as well.” Notice again that he did not charge that I had misrepresented him. My charges which I initially made are accurate representations of Brother Hardin’s convictions. Brethren, you must decide whether a man who holds these convictions is a false teacher or not based on your own personal study of God’s word. I have called attention to Brother Hardin’s beliefs in these areas.
Brother Hardin does charge me with misrepresentation in two points. I want to examine both of these points with you.
1. “He wrote, ‘As evidence of this (that Brother Hardin denied the binding force of examples and inferences-mw), I cite the following quotation from Arnold’s review of Foy Vinson.’ He then quoted from the Sept., 1977 issue of The Persuader. Well it so happens that it was in no manner a review of Foy Vinson, but rather, a review of another brother. In view of judgment, unfounded charges based on such `facts’ is serious.”
Let me, first of all, plead guilty of misrepresentation; the man reviewed was not Foy Vinson. Brother Hardin is, indeed, correct; the man whom he was reviewing was some unnamed brother who had commented on Brother Vinson’s article. However, I want you to see just how important this part of my misrepresentation was to the charges which I made against Brother Hardin. Here is the entire section as it originally appeared in Truth Magazine
“4. Arnold Hardin denies the binding force of examples and necessary inferences. As evidence of this, I cite the following quotation from Arnold’s review of Foy cite-the (appears in bold print to call attention to the fact that this is the controverted point-mw):
He then remarked, “These passages will not carry conviction to those who reject Implication and approved examples as having binding force or as ways by which the scriptures teach the will of God. But for those who are willing to accept necessary inference and approved apostolic examples as having binding force, the first day of the week collection for paying preachers, and certain elders and caring for needy saints It Is a matter of faith and is in no way a mere opinion: There it is! Necessary inferences and approved examples express the authority of Christ. The rest of the article is a prime example as to why some of us are unwilling to risk our eternal destiny upon some brother inferring that certain things are binding while others are not. Such brethren will not accept all approved apostolic examples as binding! They pick and choose. Thomas Campbell well said, “That although inferences and deductions from Scripture premises, when fairly inferred, may be truly called the doctrine of God’s holy word, yet are they not formally binding upon the consciences of Christians further than they perceive the connection, and evidently see that they are so, for their faith must not stand In the wisdom of men, but in the power and veracity of God.’ That is why such inferences as these we examine are so dangerous when such is declared without equivocation to be the authority of Christ” (“Faith and Opinion,” The Persuader, Vol. XII, No. 3, September 11, 1977).
“There can be no doubt that Arnold Hardin has rejected apostolic examples and necessary inferences as a method used by God to give binding revelation to men. Anything that is given biblical authority on the basis of approved example or necessary inference cannot be a matter of faith, according to this brother.”
Now let me ask this question: what is so important about the fact that I mentioned the wrong man’s name so far as the point which I was seeking to prove is concerned? Does that fact negate Brother Hardin’s quotation? Not in the least! Rather, this is Brother Hardin’s attempt to focus the issue on something other than the fact that he denies that examples and inferences are binding. It is an attempt to discredit me as an accurate reporter of facts in order that you might think that what I quoted Brother Hardin to have said about examples and necessary inferences might be dismissed. Yet, Brother Hardin had already said, “He charges me with denying the binding force of examples and inferences. I would be happy to discuss this with you as well.” He did not charge that I misrepresented him; instead he stated that he was prepared to discuss this issue. Brother Hardin, the fact that I mentioned the wrong man’s name in this quotation does not negate the fact that you are a false teacher because you deny that things revealed to us through examples and necessary inferences are binding!
2. “He mentions others as believing that such things as instrumental music, premillennialism, etc. are of no consequence and we should not divide over them. He then remarked, ‘Arnold Hardin has accepted this position as well.’ This is pure slander! And everyone that knows me can testify to such slander! I challenge you to prove it or retract it!”
Brother Hardin, I prefer to prove it. As confirmation that what I have said about you is true, I offer the following evidences:
a. Your public endorsement of Ensign Fair. You endorsed a paper (a human institution) which receives support from churches by telling them to keep up the good work. If you truly believe that matters such as church support of human institutions can break the fellowship of brethren, I wish that you would explain how you can bid godspeed those who are violating these scriptures.
b. Your acceptance of unity-in-diversity. You wrote, “Willis can see no difference between gospel and doctrinal instructions. So he condemns unity-in-diversity. I challenge him to prove there to be any other kind among God’s people.” Brother Hardin has accepted the premises and, apparently, the logical conclusions derived from an acceptance of those premises. Read these quotations and see if you agree that Brother Hardin believes that instrumental music in worship, church support of human institutions, church involvement in recreation, premillennialism, etc. are part of the “doctrine” rather than the “gospel” and that, being a part of the “doctrine,” they should not have divided us. Here are his quotations:
Those who are acquainted with affairs within God’s family well know of the divisions and heartaches brought about by these multiplied divisions. They don’t go away by closing our eyes–they only get worse. I in no way claim to be an authority on the ultimate cure, but, I do believe, with all my heart, that I recognize one of the most prolific reasons for this division–and that is–an almost universal failure to distinguish between the gospel and doctrinal instructions of the Bible …. We have stretched the gospel as a blanket to cover every bit of Instruction given In the New Testament. Therefore when disagreements arise as to points of that instruction someone is accused of perverting the gospel. And when brethren cannot reconcile the difference, due to differing understandings, they part company each calming, that the other is perverting the gospel. My brethren-in searching for the cause and cure of such divisions why have we not stated the root cause-our misunderstandings of the meaning and scope of gospel in contrast with doctrinal instructions? . . . .Disagreements, therefore over truth, may or may not be the result of some one having perverted the gospel. Having said that something else cries out to be clothed with words; and that is, we are not divided from one another over perversions of the gospel (“What Is The Gospel?”, The Persuader, Vol. XII, No. 4, September 25, 1977).
The Galatians were falling from grace In that they were Mowing themselves to be carried away from the sacrifice of Christ to that of bondage under the law. Following such a course they would be accursed of God. Now it is said dust such brethren as those that do not believe in but “one cup” are in the same accursed condition as the Galatians, in that, these brethren do not believe they cannot worship with those of us who believe that many cups may be used in the Supper. Do you feel you can make such a judgment upon such people? I believe such brethren are wrong in understanding but to make the judgment that they are accursed of God is a little much for me to swallow. I do not find they have rejected Christ as the Galatians were in the process of dong. Many among “us” do not believe that it Is a sin to use the “Lord’s money” in assisting non-saints. What if those believing such is true are really in fact the unenlightened ones? Does such constitute being “accursed of God”? It would seem that surely our Lord died for higher concepts than such as these that plague so many! The world Is lost in sin and few show any concern over these while fighting over such matters that will never be settled and yet should not keep us from our “assigned rounds” (“Accursed of God,” The Persuader, Vol. XI, No. 5, November, 1976).
The world is steeped in sin and ignorance. There are four billion Inhabitants of this earth and two billion (we are told) have never once even heard the name of Christ — while we fuss about cups and any number of “sacred issues” that have fragmented the Lord’s church. You just name it and we win fuss about it! (“A Sectarian Image Couched In A Nonsectarian Pit,” The Persuader, Vol. XI, No. 16, July 10, 1977).
I am personally persuaded that much of the talk about “the social gospel” is extremely silly. Out Lord says we are to be the salt of the earth, and yet, how on earth is that putrefying man to be purified while we put it into a theological salt shaker on an ecclesiastical shelf’? Is it not a sin to put the light under a bushel? Do we not compound the sin when the bushel is the church? (The Persuader, July 31, 1977).
If I have reached inaccurate conclusions, they come from these evidences. Brethren, read these materials for yourself and form your own conclusions. Frankly, I am still convinced that Brother Hardin is guilty of what I said he was, namely, that he does not believe that the fellowship of the church should be broken over such things as instrumental music in worship, church support of human institutions (whether they be Ensign Fair or benevolent homes or colleges), church involvement in recreation, premillennialisn, etc. I do not withdraw my charge until these contradictory statements from the pen of Brother Hardin be clarified.
Truth Magazine’s Editorial Policy
Brother Hardin had a considerable amount to say shout the editorial policies of Truth Magazine, as if the editorial policy of the paper was the issue between us. Whether Truth Magazine manifests a fair or unfair editorial policy has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Arnold Hardin is teaching false doctrine! This is but another attempt to divert brethren’s attention from the real issue; namely, the doctrines which he is circulating. Frankly, in light of the different positions propagated by the two papers, I thought it rather significant that Brother Hardin desired the death of Truth Magazine but commended the good work which Ensign Fair was doing! This reveals a good bit more about Brother Hardin’s doctrinal convictions than he is willing to admit.
If Brother Hardin wants to discuss editorial policies, let us get down to discussing these policies. Let me begin by reminding Brother Hardin of this fact: I did allow him to reply to my editorial in Truth Magazine. That is something he refused to allow me to do in The Persuader! Earlier, I wrote to him,
You criticized the editorial policy of Truth Magazine. Therefore, I want to give you the opportunity to show me how to be a good editor. I want you to tell me what I must do to be permitted to write a reply to your false doctrines in the pages of The Persuader. I know that you will want to treat me fairly, so just tell me what I must do to be able to have a reply printed to some of your teachings through The Persuader. 1 am looking forward to hearing from you about this (personal letter, October 17, 1977).
Later, Brother Hardin replied,
I am sorry, genuinely, that you do not recognize the difference between the work of a church through the bulletin and that of a Business Publication as the voice of some Business or Foundation. You have in no way been involved in the teachings done through the bulletin (Hardln’s letter to me of October 1977).
Although Brother Hardin has already denied me an opportunity to reply to what he has published in The Persuader, he complains about our editorial policy! Indeed, the legs of the lame are not equal. Brother Hardin, if you are as anxious to have the issues publicly discussed as you say you are, why not open the pages of The Persuader to those who want to reply to you? The truth of the matter is this: a man who is willing to publicly 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.
Proposal for a Fair and Honorable Discussion
As to a willingness to discuss our differences, let we issue this public offer for a discussion: Brother Hardin, I am willing to agree to a public discussion of our differences through the pages of Truth Magasine when you find a publication among those propagating diversity (such as Ensign Fair, Restoration Review, or Integrity) which will also carry this discussion. When you find one which is willing to publish this exchange, contact me and we will prepare a list of areas of disagreement and begin the discussion. Or, we can make arrangements for public oral discussions of some of these issues if none of those papers who propagate the unity-in-diversity heresy is willing to carry the discussion. We will see who is willing to have these issues discussed!
Brother Hardin’s response to the December 1, 1977 editorial is typical of the harangue which was begun when Brother James Arms began to question some of the doctrinal beliefs of Edward Fudge. William Walls” and Edward Fudge began to write about “party spirit” and “brotherhood politics” through the pages of the Gospel Guardian in an effort to divert brethren’s attention away from the false doctrines being propd by Brother Fudge. Though brethren were disgusted with the exchange that took place, it appears to me that they were even more disgusted with Brother Fudge’s false doctrines! He does not seem to be used too much anymore by those who are taking a stand for truth against the innovations of our brethren. Now, Brother Hardin has begun to shout “party spirit,” and “brotherhood politics” for the same reason. One is guilty of “party spirit,” according to Brother Hardin, when he publicly exposes the false teachings of a man. These brethren want to spread their damning dogmas without anyone exposing them. If a man steps forward to expose them, he is called a “brotherhood watchdog” or the “CIA of the church.” Personally, I refuse to be intimidated by these labels; I refuse to sit back quietly and let these brethren continue unopposed. If opposing these men makes me guilty of party spirit, I plead guilty.
How will an exchange such as this end? As far as I am concerned, it is over unless Brother Hardin accepts our proposal for a fair and honorable discussion. (I have previously announced a series of articles on “Imputed Righteousness” in which Brother Hardin’s name will appear.) Brethren across this nation will have to decide for themselves whether or not the evidence which I have presented is convincing. If so, Brother Hardin is a false teacher who deserves to be exposed as such. You will just have to make your own decision based on the presented evidence.
Truth Magazine XXII: 2, pp. 35-38
January 12, 1978