By Walter Pigg
With regard to spiritual problems, Harding had some quite a number of years ago, which resulted in a teacher firing. Though that was a step in the right direction, the school would be plagued by a number of false teachers in the years ahead who would be allowed to teach their error to young men and women who were students of the school. We have had a son, a daughter and daughter-in-law who received degrees from Harding in the 1970s. There were danger signals appearing then, which would become more pronounced in more recent years.
A school’s convictions can be easily seen by the teachers it employs and the speakers invited to the campus. Therefore, our primary discussion of Harding University will deal primarily with these two groups of individuals.
Teachers of Error Used at Harding
James D. Bales
The late brother Bales did much writing while he was at Harding. Much of his material was excellent, though this cannot be said of everything he wrote and/or taught. He created and propagated a doctrine on the subject of marriage and divorce, which became known as the “Bales Doctrine.” This doctrine caused many problems within the church, and sadly its influence is still being felt in many places today.
James Woodroof, a teacher at Harding for a number of years, wrote a book which teaches what we might call a form of the Bales Doctrine. Later he published a book, The Church in Transition, which was clearly designed to change the church, doing away with much of its distinctiveness. Woodruff is not now at Harding. Several of us wrote the President to voice our opposition to him; whether this had anything to do with his leaving Harding I do not know. Woodruff’s book is full of error.
Jerry Jones, some time head of the Bible department at Harding, became involved in the Crossroads Movement while at Harding. He is no longer at Harding.
When Mike was preaching for the College church in Searcy, where many of the people from Harding worshipped, he mentioned in the church bulletin, “…some things which have encouraged me lately.” Listed were: Rubel Shelly’s book, I Just Want To Be A Christian, Monroe Hawley’s book, The Focus of Faith, IMAGE and the Christian Chronicle. He declared these “have provided edification for many Christian homes.” Those acquainted with these books know what a gross misrepresentation Mike Cope made. In 1968 Mike wrote in the church bulletin: “Diversity is one of the blessings of the College church…. We hold doctrinal views representing the whole gamut of brotherhood thinking…. We are ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal.’” With the apparent acceptance of Cope’s liberal leanings that long ago, it is no surprise that Harding would be using him now.
For “Insight ’92” at Harding, Make Cope was billed as the featured speaker, giving him the opportunity to influence hundreds of impressionable young people with his liberal philosophy. Just in case anyone has any doubts as to the liberalism of Mike Cope, let him explain the action which transpired the year before when the ungodly publication, Wineskins, was commenced, with Rubel Shelly, Mike Cope, and Phillip Morrison as editors. The most outrageous and degrading article to appear in that paper of apostasy was an article by Andre Resner, entitled “Christmas at Matthew’s House,” in the November issue. The virgin birth is called in question, as it is implied that Mary gave birth to a child fathered by some man and fooled Joseph with her cover-up story. Mike Cope and the other editors are not without guilt in this scandalous piece of writing. A school which would uphold a preacher who is party to such ungodliness and liberalism, has fallen far short of its founders’ intentions, and is not worthy of support by faithful brethren.
This young man from Mission Viejo, CA, has gained great popularity in some circles, including Harding University. Yet his very liberal stance is a matter of fact. Though there is extensive information as to the teaching and practice of Jeff Walling, the quotations in the following paragraph will be from brother Goebel Music’s book, Behold the Pattern:
We now go back to Feb. 1987 and a convention of the Ozark Christian College (Christian Church school) at which Jeff Walling participated as a speaker. The far-out group of singers known as Acapella were also participants, and Walling spoke highly of them. In Walling’s speech he spoke of the Christian Church people as “My family” and “brothers,” saying he loved being there. In the course of his speech he also said, “…doing all the right things,…punching all the right buttons,…following the rules,…is a miserable way to live. And, besides, following all the rules is not why you’re going to heaven.” While relegating instrumental music to the area of things which “aren’t really very important” in the Ozark speech, he did later attempt to say that he did not believe it should be used in worship. But his true feeling with regard to instrumental music is seen in the following statement from his pen, December 1, 1988:
Finally, if one believes that instrumental music in worship is wrong, and yet does it anyway, he is committing sin. If one substitutes God’s command to sing with a command to play, he is committing sin. But in my opinion, I must not judge the state of a fellow Christian who, in good conscience, approves singing with an instrument. To do so would place myself in jeopardy of grievous sin indeed: Judging a brother by my opinion.
He is simply saying that the use of instrumental music in worship is largely a subjective question. If one believes it is all right to use the instrument, and it isn’t counter to explicit Bible teaching, it is right for one to do so. This explains why he can with a good conscience worship and fellowship with the Christian Church, and others who are not New Testament Christians. So, his statements relative to the sin of instrumental music, when carefully weighed, mean absolutely nothing.
IMAGE magazine is a very liberal publication. Of it Walling says:
If choosing to read is the best choice a person an make…then choosing to read IMAGE is one of the wisest. How desperately we all need something positive and spiritually nourishing to read and enjoy! IMAGE provides me with refreshing thinking and a Christian approach to everyday challenges. This is a magazine for Christians who are looking for good things in life. In short: Read IMAGE, your soul will thank you for it” (Vol. 5, No. 9, Sept. 1989, p. 30). [It can destroy one’s soul. – Editor].
At the Soul Winning Workshop in Tulsa, March 30, 1990, Walling spoke on the subject, “That They All May Be One.” Readers, you be the judge as to whether he sets forth the “oneness” for which our Savior prayed in John 17, or the current liberal idea that unity means including all those who merely claim to believe in Christ, regardless of their doctrinal positions. …in spite of what some of my brothers think, I think there’s going to be a ton of folks that God’s going to give grace and mercy to…I don’t think…a small crowd. “…Jesus doesn’t say…the obedient might be one…that the church of Christer’s might beone…the text says “believers”…Jesus asked that we throw a calf rope around all of those who just believe in Him, and pray and work for the unity of all believers…True commitment to Jesus will cause me to be out there rubbing shoulders with all believers…but brethren and sisters, we’ve got to reach outside our doors…the hand of every true believer in Jesus to seek some kind of oneness.
Harding seems to have a close relationship with brother Walling. He spoke on the 1985 Harding Bible Lectureship, was a speaker at the 1986 and 1993 Harding Youth Forums, and a speaker at the 1993 “Harding Uplift” (featured once again alongside Acappella).
A further note about Harding involves the stand of the administration. Gary Colley writes: “Harding University sponsors a ‘Bible Bowl’ for a large area of young people from several states, and insists in their advertising that all young people are to use the NIV.
Attribution: From Banner of Truth 2005