James Alexander Harding (1848-1922) was a Christian educator and gospel preacher. He was a man of unusual talent as a debater, teacher, and writer. Although never directly associated as an administrator or faculty member of the Arkansas university which is named after him, his son in law, J. N. Armstrong, did serve as President of Harding College (now University) 1924-1936.
James A. Harding was the first president of Nashville Bible School, which today is Lipscomb University. In 1899 the school was in great need of additional buildings. Two years prior, a campaign had begun for a new building which would cost ten thousand dollars. Today, this figure would be equivalent to nearly $300,000. Harding said he knew ten men in Nashville, each of whom could give the amount and never know the difference. However, gifts of five cents, ten cents, and twenty-five cents came from children, but the men who could give the ten thousand did not respond. In the Gospel Advocate, Harding wrote the following: “We lay the matter before you, and trust the Lord to stir you up.”
L. C. Sears, long time academic dean and professor at Harding and son in law of J. N. Armstrong, wrote a definitive biography of James A. Harding entitled The Eyes of Jehovah. Sears states, “Harding believed every Christian should be conscientious about giving all he could, and his own giving toward the end of his life rose to sixty percent of his income. [Harding] said it should never be necessary . . .
to beg Christians to give; to show them an opportunity ought to be enough” (159, emp. added).
“To show an opportunity ought to be enough.” What a powerful insight from this giant leader of men, women, young people, and good works. In his poem, Opportunity, written more than a century ago, Edward R. Sill says:
This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:—
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “had I sword of keener steel—
That blue blade that the king’s son bears—but this
Blunt thing!”—he snapped and flung it from his hand.
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.
The above poem is about opportunity in a great battle. It is about the opportunity held in one’s hand to do something so great that it can result in victory in that great battle.
Today, a battle is being waged in our culture. Christian theism (belief in the God of the Bible) is under the most severe attack that most of us have ever seen during the time that we have lived on Earth. These relentless attacks against Christian theism are from atheism, agnosticism, Darwinian naturalism, secular humanism, evolution, the rising tide of Islam, and various other false philosophies and religions. There is an unraveling of the belief in absolute values in the minds of people, because God, the only absolute and truly objective reference point for values, is being denied by an ever growing anti-Christian agenda in American culture and throughout the world.
It likely is the case that everyone reading this article has something in his hand that is an opportunity to contribute toward achieving victory in the battle against unbelief and skepticism. This battle is not some little skirmish in an intramural sense. This is the main war, and it takes great resources to fight atheism, agnosticism, and the sophisticated forms in which unbelief today challenges Christian theism.
Some of you have great gifts in your hand and in your bank accounts. Concerning these gifts that you have received from God, you need to give deep thought and prayer about using what is in your hand to help Warren Apologetics Center fight this battle. Some of you are like those ten men who James A. Harding knew in Nashville, and of whom he said each could have done the whole amount for those needed buildings and “never know the difference.” There are individuals, families, churches, foundations, etc., who are like this. Then there are others like those little children who give gifts much smaller in amount, but gifts just as great because they did what they could (Mark 14:3-9).
As J. A. Harding said, “We lay the matter before you, and trust the Lord to stir you up.”
Charles C. Pugh III