Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 22, 1959
NUMBER 37, PAGE 2-3a

Examining Human Thinking

H. Edward McCaskill, West Columbia, Texas

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." (Isa. 55:8.) These words of inspiration never change. Whether at the time given to the prophet of God, or, lo, these many years afterward, the truth is yet applicable. Thoughts are embedded in the heart, but will eventually seep out and be declared. From a declaration, either by voice or action, of what is in the heart, men are known, "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he ..." (Prov. 23:7.) Some men's hearts produce good, some evil; some cause bitterness, strife and division, others peace and unity.

Many brethren today, some highly esteemed among brethren, have uttered thoughts which have helped set the course of thinking of other brethren, and such has often resulted in programs foreign to God's thoughts and God's ways. The examination of the human thinking below, does not merely reflect however the attitudes of these brethren alone, but to an extent the prevalent thinking of a number of brethren who seem destined to destroy the peace of the Lord's body in their insistence on doing things through human schemes and institutions. In this they have failed to heed the warning of "not going beyond the things which are written," (II Cor. 4:6 ASV) and have failed apparently in not thinking more highly than they ought to think. (Rom. 12:3.)

In the examination of the thoughts presented by these brethren let it be understood that I hold nothing against them personally. My desire is that they and all, will heed Paul's instruction, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (II Cor. 10:6.)

In presenting an article defending the use of church owned premises for purely social purposes, Brother Walter J. Calvert writes in the Firm Foundation, November 25, 1958, "Brother Objector, before you rise up and gird yourself for battle, consider the many things we do as Christians for which we have no specific command, precept, or example." No doubt he means by "precept" the authority established by necessary inference. The brother confuses what he says in the statement, however, with what he is trying to defend in his article. He states here what Christians do not do and is attempting to defend in his article what the church can do. But, be that as it may, more alarming is his thinking, which might be expressed, "we do many things for which we have no authority.") Is not this what his statement actually amounts to? If not, I do not understand the tenor of his article. The Lord's thoughts on this matter are simple and plain, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all (emph. mine) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." (Col. 3:17.) No flexibility is allowed in carrying out God's will, all things must be done by divine sanction. Brother Calvert, just what is it that you do as a Christian or the church where you preach does outside the realm of generic or specific authority? Could it possibly be "church" supported recreation activities or sending funds to some human institution? Is it any more right for you or any of us to practice "many things" without authority than it is for the Catholic to count beads, the Methodist to sprinkle, or the Baptist to play his instrument in worship? Since you are practicing "many things" for which you have no command, precept, or example then by all means, "be zealous therefore, and repent."

Speaking of Camp Wyldewood in an article, "That The Deaf May Hear," Brother Ben F. Holland states, "Perhaps more good things were accomplished in the two weeks of camping than could have been accomplished in a whole year through the regular program of church work." (Firm Foundation, Dec. 2, 1958.) Such is the general concept of those who are promoting the camp craze. If elders of each congregation were to follow this thinking, then every budget would include a two-weeks camp per year, or better yet, with 6 weeks of camping each year's more could be accomplished than a congregation could do in 3 years of regular work of evangelism, benevolence, and edification! It surprises me that God, in his infinite wisdom and planning did not include "camping" as a part of the work of the Lord's church. Let no one mistake the idea that "camps" are being set up and operated through the endeavors of individuals only. More and more churches are incorporating these "youth camps", "fellowship halls", and recreation activities into their plans and budgets.

The late L. P. Bennett, a west Texas preacher said, (quoted by Brother Don H. Morris in Horizons, October 1958), "My wife and I have made investments in ranches, cattle, and oil, but the biggest returns we have received have come from money and property we invested in Abilene Christian College." I wonder if in Brother Bennett's zeal for A.C.C. he had forgotten the investment that one makes as a Christian in "laying up treasures in heaven", which treasures shall never be taken away? I wonder if Brother Bennett really thought that the returns he was receiving from donating to A.C.C. gave "bigger returns" than "laying by in store upon the first day of the week"? Again, I am not offering objection to Brother Bennett's donations as such, but the thinking while making them and reflecting upon them. This type of thinking has become the pattern of thinking in regard to colleges and other human institutions. It is becoming stronger and stronger each day. More colleges are being built and more appeals for money for existing ones from brethren who would do better to seek His kingdom first. Even certain brethren are insisting that where no college exists the church will not advance. Such emotional thinking, if not corrected, will wrongfully revive the church support of colleges. Such is a wrong appeal and reflects upon the wisdom of God and the all-sufficiency of the Lord's body. While a few more than 100 gospel preachers try to reach 937. of the world's population outside the United States, what do certain brethren insist upon here? — build more colleges, orphanages, Old Folk's Homes, Youth Camps and support even more those that presently exist. The New Testament plan is for the church to preach the gospel and build churches; and for every nickel that one puts into it, the multiplied returns cannot be counted.

"There are doubtless occasions when the church, for good and sufficient local reasons, might make a contribution to most any private enterprise," Such is the teaching that comes from the pen of Brother Reuel Lemmons, (Editorial, Firm Foundation, September 9, 1958.) This is the same brother who has tried to impress the brotherhood that he is opposed to church support (contributions) to board operated benevolent homes. Read the statement again and see if you believe this is so. He "shudders" when he thinks of the time when the colleges will seek support from church treasuries. Does Brother Lemmons believe that a church in Abilene could make a donation to A.C.C. (private enterprise) "for good and sufficient local reasons" one time and be right, but twice and be wrong? Does he believe that a church in Abilene could scripturally do it in the realm of expediency and a congregation in Austin could not? Is his "shuddering" the result of the opposition that will come, or just what? Does Brother Lemmons believe that for "good and local reasons" a church could donate to the local Red Cross, Community Chest, A private Hospital, A Milk Fund, A Crippled Children's Home, (all private enterprises?) Such a suggestion that even hints such which comes from the thinking of a man in Brother Lemmons' position does truly make me and others "shudder". Perhaps, though, as in times past, Brother Lemmons is misunderstood.

"I further stated, and by the statement I stand, that an example never logically carries the force of exclusion — it carries only the force of inclusion, a specification carries the force of exclusion, and an exemplification carries the force of inclusion. There is no law of logic that would permit otherwise." (Statement in letter from Brothel Gayle Oler to Brother Ward Hogland, reproduced in 'The Discerner", September, 1958.) In an effort to dismiss the example of Phil. 4:15-18 in supporting the gospel preacher directly, Brethren Oler and others have likewise had to dismiss Acts 20:7 as an example that binds the "day" upon which we observe the Supper. Their "logic" carries them to the conclusion that to reject one is to reject the other. If the example of Acts 20:7 was not only inclusive but exclusive as well by what right could any person be denied the privilege to observe the Supper on Thursday? It would be interesting to hear Brother Oler in a sermon tell why it would be "unscriptural" for brethren to begin to observe the supper on a day other than the first. It is difficult to imagine that brethren, in their zeal, for human planning and organizations would turn their faith from the one passage that restricts the observance of the Supper to the first day of the week.

Such is a picture of much thinking in the church today. Brethren need to think on how they think. "... How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" (Jer. 4:14.)