Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 6, 1958
NUMBER 27, PAGE 6-7b

Briefing The Battle

Vaughn D. Shofner, Camden, Arkansas

When brethren began to correctly apply the principles of the New Testament relative to the organizations among us today, it became crystal clear that Bible authority had been overthrown and the wisdom of man, clad in the armor of so-called 'expediency", was the only authority for many of our actions.

Consequently, the battle line was drawn at this very place. In the debates between Yater Tant and Ernest Harper, the crux of the difference was shown to be centered in what was accepted as authority for the organizations used in our work. Tant's position stood on Bible authority for all we do and say, and when Harper found no such authority for the organizations he espoused, he hurriedly accepted the authority countless apostates had used in by gone years — namely, a Bible example cannot bind and therefore "expediency" enters with any organization man chooses; and "principle eternal" supplies scriptural authority separate and apart from direct commands, approved example, and necessary inference. You know, after the fashion the Holy Spirit works separate and apart from the Word of God.

Since then the labyrinthic lanes of human logic have been followed by the exponents of extra-organization through many maneuvers, but they all end in the same fundamental failure — failure to give Bible authority for the organizations among us today. The Holt-Totty debate, Porter-Woods, Cogdill-Woods ,and many more debates in the central and western parts of the country, proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Bible authority has been relegated to the background by the ideas of man. This fact pointedly pressed upon them by these debates and weekly writings embarrasses them no end, but in spite of their shameful circumstances they unflinchingly flounder while the effervescence of their pride foams out more disrespect for the Bible in their sermons and papers.

Since the Cogdill-Woods debate, the greatest tirade of blasphemy ever to flood the earth has poured from prejudiced papers, some produced for the sole purpose of denying Bible authority, and at least one is named to agree with its purpose. The most infernal appeals to "the pride of life" ever witnessed have filled the pages of so-called gospel papers, as "Confessionals" have been opened and the sickle of boycott has cut its swath across the brotherhood of the Lord. All because they were unable to keep the truth from showing and were too proud to admit it. Thinking people will read the debates calmly, see the diabolical devices, and marvel that such intelligence can become a slave to satan. Thousands of words have been spoken and written in vain efforts to keep Bible authority from gracing the lives of God's people. Gentle reader, I submit just one of their many Bible-dishonoring arguments for your consideration.

This argument was used in an attempt to destroy Acts 11:27-30 as a binding pattern of churches cooperating in the work of benevolence. They blatantly declare that it is assumption to contend that the relief sent to the "elders" could not have been sent to one eldership, giving that one eldership the work of overseeing the distribution of the relief to all the churches of Judea. They thus show a complete disrespect for Bible authority regarding "elders".

The Bible declares that there is no respect of persons in Christ's church. (Gal. 3:26-29.) Therefore, "elder" has always been known to mean a work, not a title of distinction! Just as "servant" pictures the work and is not a title. The title-conscious brotherhood of today thinks "elder", in the sense of Acts 11:30, is just a title, and that "elders" are spoken of in the Bible with no respect for the meaning of the word.

Bible authority declares "elders" to exist only in churches. (Acts 14:23.) Bible authority declares that a plurality of "elders" exist in every church not "an" elder over one or many churches, or "elders" over more than one church. (Acts 14:23.) Bible authority declares "elders" are overseers (Acts 20:28) and being overseers they are overseers every time the term is used. I challenge any man to find Bible authority for "elders", in the sense of Acts 11:30, being used when it does not describe oversight! It requires a denial of and disbelief in Bible authority to take such a position. "Elders" are overseers every time they are "elders" and wherever they are "elders", the "great" Guy N. Woods' unfounded statements to the contrary notwithstanding!

But, gentle reader, Bible authority prescribes the bounds of the oversight of "elders" — "the flock of God which is among you." (I Pet. 5:2.) Common respect for Bible authority will submit to the truth that "elders" are overseers, but "elders" are overseers only of the flock of God among them. Therefore, nothing less than utter disrespect for God's Word would say that a Bible believer could not possibly know whether the "elders" of Acts 11:27-30 means just one eldership by which the "elders" work was done for all Judea, or means "elders" in all churches wherever relief was received. Just keep Bible authority before you, good neighbor, and the problem is solved. Wherever relief was sent there were "elders"! The Bible says it was sent to the "elders". The Bible says "elders" are overseers! But the Bible says "elders" are overseers only of the church among them! Consequently, Bible believers know that wherever relief was sent there were churches!

Such blasphemy sounds forth with the idea that "elders" can be "elders" of a benevolent organization doing the work of the church without having biblical oversight of it. That just maliciously denies what "elders" are and what "elders" do, and is another graphic picture of the fact that the promoters of the institutions among us today do not believe the Bible, and will not therefore submit to Bible authority. All the other arguments they make for the extra-organizations of the day follow the same pattern — disrespect for Bible authority.

As has been shown in the past, no departure ever led to complete apostasy until the canker of disrespect for Bible authority had destroyed faith in a part of God's word. The departure of today is no exception! Mark it indelibly! the drifting brotherhood cannot stop at the place to which it has already drifted, remaining at that point. The disrespect for Bible authority which moved then) this far compels them to go back or accept other things for which no scripture can be found. The speed of the drift is gaining momentum at an alarming rate. That's why the gospel is being socialized; the church made to fit only the desires of a canalized crowd; and the years of the future will not mark many periods of time before hospitals, colleges, and all the tinsel of the denominational world of religion will find supply in the treasury of the church. Then complete and devastating apostasy will have been entered.

Better take inventory, good people! Separate yourselves from those departures of the day before the maelstrom of worldly influences renders you helpless and locks you in its vault of impending doom!