Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 27, 1958
NUMBER 30, PAGE 1,3c

Letter From A Fort Worth Elder

(Editor's note: Last spring we wrote three articles entitled "Present Issues — And A Suggested Solution," which were printed in the Firm Foundation and later in the Gospel Guardian. We print herewith a letter received from an elder in Fort Worth in response to those articles. Please read his letter, then turn to the editorial page for our comment on it.)

Fort Worth, Texas March 31, 1958

Dear Brother Tant:

Having been sixty-two years in the Kingdom of Christ, and an elder in three different congregations, over a period of forty years, I have lived and wrestled with many vexing questions fostered by the opinions of men. The present questions of homes and co-operative evangelization has produced more personal animosity, venom, and the display of the spirit of Satan than any I have witnessed in the past.

I have read with a great deal of interest your three recent articles in the Firm Foundation, and I am gratified to note that you are seeing a great deal more light on this subject matter than you did before.

Your father is the first man that I can remember definitely hearing preach. He was a power for Christ in his day, though I now know by his own admission just a few years ago, that he did not learn all the truth in his early life. I doubt that any of us have all the truth at this time, but this much I have learned: any thing that is important enough that the brethren should contend for even to the point of dividing the body of Christ, is so plainly written that any differences there are our own fault, in that we have not searched the scripture to see if these things be so.

My conscience is no criterion by which to set up rules for performing those commands that we all admit are as imperative as that of Acts 2:38. I am sure that you will admit your conscience is no better than mine as a rule maker. All your good suggestions are simply the stating of your opinion of efficient methods of performing that which is commanded, and for which you have not been able to read a specific pattern for their performance. Therefore, the only rule we can follow is that which we each believe to be the most efficient that each knows to get the job done. The thing that has disturbed me more than any other in all this controversy, so many brethren have insisted that it could only be done in their way, and contended so sharply for the matters of their untrained "conscience" that they have influenced so many good people to refrain from doing anything, especially in the matter of benevolence. For the fear that they might perhaps do the right thing in the wrong way, they do nothing, and thus fall under the condemnation of those that "say and do not."

Brother Tant, I believe if you will just look squarely at the matter, you are now in position to admit, just as a number of good brethren have done recently, that the matters over which you have contended as "conscience" were pure opinion, and are not based on any scripture on which you can place your finger.

Now for one opinion of my own. There were many "local" congregations in Jerusalem and Judea in Paul's time, there were also numerous elders. Just how Paul fulfilled his ministry through them we cannot know, and that for the reason the Spirit did not expect that in all ages that it could or should be done in the same manner as was done on that occasion; therefore the Spirit refrained from revealing the pattern. In my opinion we have come too near to setting up a diocese around our meeting place and have too jealously guarded the bailiwick of our "local" congregations, and the "autonomy" (neither expression in the New Testament) of the "local" elders, instead of allowing the Saints to work in unity and peace, as they did in apostolic days, all striving together in the unity of the Faith.

An efficient method (not the only way) to control our orphan homes, since the home is not the church nor the church the home: Let each of several "local" congregations select one of their elders to represent them on a Board of Trustees, (Directors), this complying with the laws of the State, each responsible to his own congregation for overseeing their part in that particular work; thus the church within reach of those facilities, (not churches as denominational), which is all sufficient to do all that the Lord has commanded, would be doing through the agency that the Lord had provided pure and undefiled religion, keeping themselves unspotted from the world.

In this method with all Christians supporting the effort as they should we could take care of ten times the orphans we are now doing, and our works would speak louder than words. If we did more religion, and less arguing and back-biting, more people would believe what we preach.

If the preachers and the papers will give themselves to proclaiming the word, and leave the elders to tend the flock, and oversee the dispensing of benevolence as the Lord directed, and stop disturbing the membership with their "vain questions" the peoples' consciences would soon be so educated that these troubles would cease.

Yours For The Sake Of The Unity Of The Faith X-X-X