Posted in Instrumental Music, Restoration History, Worship

“Play On, Miss Bertha”

By Roy C. Deaver

[Note: This piece was written by my grandfather, Roy Deaver, many years ago, giving some of the sad history of the school that would in time become Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth–Weylan].

These words are sad words—some of the saddest ever uttered in all Restoration history. The dictionary says that “sad” means “…to be associated with sorrow.” Some words are sad because of their inherent connotations. Some words are sad because of the circumstances out of which they came. Some words are sad because of the consequences which they brought.

On Monday, September 1, 1873, in the pioneer village of Thorp Spring, in Texas, Thorp Spring college came into being. This year—1973—is the centennial year. In celebration, the ex-students of Thorp Spring Christian College held a reunion “on campus” July 21 and 22. At the time, I was in a gospel meeting at nearby Morgan Mill, and was privileged to attend the reunion. Brother Don Morris spoke on Saturday afternoon, and brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. was the speaker on Saturday night. Because of my own preaching engagement I did not get to hear brother Wallace, but I did get to hear brother Morris. Brother Morris spoke on “Add-Ran and Its Heirs.” His lecture was tremendous. It will become an exceedingly valuable document in Restoration literature.

Brother Morris spoke at length about unscriptural organizations in Texas, and the consequent divisions among brethren. He spoke of the steps which led to the formation of the “Texas Christian Missionary Society” in Austin, Texas, 1886.

Brother Morris then discussed the introduction of mechanical instruments into Christian worship. He mentioned that the instrument was introduced “…first in congregations in Dallas, San Marcos, Waco, and Palestine.” He continued as follows:

“But the place at which the introduction of the organ received most attention was, without doubt, Thorp Spring, in Add-Ran College. The occasion was a gospel meeting in February, 1894. The speaker was B. B. Sanders, and the song director, E. M. Douthitt. These two often worked as a team and were known to use the instrument in worship. Before the meeting began, there was much discussion—on and off the campus of Add-Ran—about whether the organ would be used. As the meeting began, a crisis at Add-Ran was developing. It proved to affect the church throughout the state.

On February 20, 1894, the climax was reached. Before the service began, Joseph Addison Clark—the father and pioneer—and his wife took seats at the front of the auditorium. Their son Addison Clark, the president, arose to begin the service. Joseph Addison Clark arose, walked toward the pulpit, took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to his son. It was a petition. The petition was signed by the elder Clark and more than a hundred others, who asked that the organ not be used, on the ground that it was not authorized in the New Testament. Addison read the petition, conferred briefly with his brother Randolph, and then announced that he had promised the students that the organ could be used in the meeting and that he could not go back on his word. He turned to the organist and said, ‘Play on, Miss Bertha.’”

At this point, brother Don Morris was not able to continue for several moments. He wept audibly, and most of the audience wept with him. Brother Morris continued:

“As the organ and singing started, Joseph Addison arose with his wife and led the opposition out of the auditorium. He was a gray bearded man, seventy-eight years old, with a cane. About 140 people, according to Randolph’s son Joseph Lynn, followed the elderly Clark out of the building. Many in the remaining congregation wept. My father, who was a student that year, was present, and he told me many times about Uncle Joe Clark—how he appealed to the audience not to use the organ and how he led the group out of the auditorium.”

Brother Morris closed his great speech as follows:

“…we of Churches of Christ today are the real heirs of the first years of Add-Ran and of the gospel taught in the first Texas churches. This is true because today we continue in the slogan first used by Texas pioneers and the Campbells before them: ‘We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.’ This principle has been followed by the Thorp Spring Church from the beginning in 1873 until now. And we believe that this is the true pattern for church organization, for purity in worship, and for all things religious. To use this pattern is more important than excelling in numbers or affluence. We look to the New Testament as the guide in restoring the Lord’s church, and we pray that He may bless us as we attempt to follow it.”

And RIGHT NOW, more so than ever before in my lifetime—there are IN THE CHURCH those who are saying: “MISS BERTHA, PLAY ON!” May God help us to have the faith, the conviction, the courage of Joseph Addison Clark.

Posted in Restoration History

The Point We Seek to Make

By Roy C. Deaver (1922-2007)

It was in 1938, in his gospel meeting with the 2nd and Whaley Street Church in Longview, Texas, that I first became acquainted with the great, respected, much-loved N. B. Hardeman. It was here that he conducted a great gospel meeting, with C. M. Pullias (our local preacher) leading the singing! Yes, the same team that had conducted the great Nashville, Tennessee, Ryman Auditorium meetings! By the time the Longview meeting was over, I had determined in my own mind that someday, somehow, I would become a student in N. B. Hardeman’s classes.

In September of 1940 Wilma Ruth and I made our trip to Henderson, Tennessee. Within a few days I was a student in classes taught by N. B. Hardeman, L. L. Brigance, W. Claude Hall, and Mary Nell Hardeman Powers—the greatest English grammarian I have ever known!

In my first year one of the required courses was the study of the Scheme of Redemption. The text was the monumental book entitled The Scheme of Redemption, written by Dr. Robert Milligan, who at the time of the writing was President of the College of the Bible in Kentucky University — a great scholar in the Restoration Movement. The “Introduction” to the book has the date: May 19, 1868. So, the book has been around for awhile, and it will continue to be around.

It was a study course for which I personally will be eternally grateful. I was and I am and I will ever be truly grateful to have had that privilege of seeing such a majestic unfolding of the glorious “Scheme of Redemption.” Three of the best years of our lives were spent at Freed-Hardeman College, and we are truly grateful.

What’s the point — the present point? The above article is the material contained in pages 276 through 284 in Milligan’s The Scheme of Redemption. The book is hard to come by, and so, I have typed this material that others may read it for themselves. This is the class, and these are the pages which first began to give me — in some measure — an understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It triggered my determination to continue to study the subject. It was here and why and how I began to grasp the concept of an actual, literal, personal, indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the child of God. Who was the teacher? Professor N. B. Hardeman! I am here to tell the reader that in NO WAY did brother Hardeman ever try to “explain away” what Milligan had written. If you want to know what brother Hardeman taught on this subject — HERE IT IS!

And so, it disturbs me no little to hear somebody on the present scene declare that brother Hardeman did not teach an actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I encourage the reader to read– and/or to read again and again his monumental sermons on “The Vine and the Branches” and “The Spirit of Christ.”

At that time (when I was a student, 1940-43), FHC was a two-year college. But after two years I was not ready to leave. I wanted at least one more year, and did remain another year. I had three things in mind: (1) I wanted to do additional work in my Greek; (2) I wanted to take advantage of that fabulous library; and (3) I wanted to study N. B. Hardeman. I wanted to see (at least to my own satisfaction) what made N. B. Hardeman so great! So exceptional! In case you are interested in my conclusion, here it is: (1) It was not the fact that he was a handsome man, always dressed well and looked well — his shoes were always shined! (2) It was not just the fact that he was so exceptionally brilliant and knowledgeable in so many different subject areas. (3) It was not simply the fact that he was a man “set in authority.” Rather, my own conclusion was (and still is) his tremendous ability (without seeming to be aware of it) to produce a student!

He did not have to give orders or make threats. He simply possessed an indescribable way of causing a person to want to be a better student! If he happened to mention the annual overflow of the Nile River, being translated that meant: tomorrow you had better know the lakes and rivers that were in any way related to the annual overflow of the Nile. God bless you, N. B. Hardeman!

 

[Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in the Jan-Mar 2000 issue of Biblical Notes Quarterly, and references another article which is not reproduced here].