Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 26, 1959
NUMBER 42, PAGE 6-7b

It Has Already Happened

Hoyt H. Houchen, Lufkin, Texas

Together with the editor and the staff of the Gospel Guardian, we who contribute articles to the paper and who have any interest whatsoever in it as a medium of teaching the truth, rejoice that a host of new readers have been added to the list of those who already read its columns. It is the purpose of those of us who are writers to present as clearly as possible what is involved in the issues that are before the church, to plainly point out the divine arrangement of God in the scriptures as to the purpose of the church, the all-sufficiency of the church to perform the work that God has given it to do, and to illustrate from time to time examples of how these scriptural principles are being violated.

There is no organization larger than the local church. The church of Christ at any given place that is composed of elders, deacons, and its other saints, is the complete organization. (Phil. 1:1). There is no other organization within that organization and there is no organization of the church that is larger than that organization. It is not supposed that these scriptural principles here stated would be denied by anyone who understands the teaching of God in the New Testament upon the organization of the church. A clear statement of these principles was made by Brother David Lipscomb many years ago when he wrote:

The New Testament clearly recognizes each separate congregation as the body of Christ. So that God through his Spirit dwells in each distinct and separate church. The church is the body of Christ in the community in which it is situated. It is not a foot in Corinth, an arm in Ephesus, an eye in Philippi, an ear in Antioch. But each was a complete integral body of Christ composed of all the different members needed to make up his body. Take the church at Jerusalem. It was in existence before any other church. Was it not the body of Christ when it was the only church on earth? Did the planting of another church take away from it any of its parts, any of its functions, despoil it of its intregralism and completeness as a body of Christ? Certainly not." (A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles by David Lipscomb, Vol. 4, page 54).

This scribe can remember that as a "boy preacher" he was preaching that there is no organization larger than the local church and while most of us, at least, have preached this Bible principle, we have not always made the proper application of it in the past. Only in recent years when brethren began to work through a federation of churches and these churches through a centralized oversight have many of us awakened to the fact that the same action, a combination of churches acting through a sponsoring head, was responsible for the system of Roman Catholicism that developed in the early centuries after the New Testament was written, and that it was responsible for the formation of the Missionary Society a little over one hundred years ago.

In previous issues of this journal, various contributors have warned of the dangers in youth rallies that are being sponsored by churches in different areas. All the saints, both young and old, make up the organization of the church. Youth societies, old people's societies and any other kind of societies were unknown in the church that is revealed in the New Testament Although many well meaning brethren agree with this principle, they cannot accept the idea that the area-wide young people's meetings will result in any digression from the truth, much less tend toward it, and they suppose that those of us who cry out against these practices are only opposed to everything.

Statewide Youth Meeting As an example of what these ventures have already become is seen in the following that appears in "The Friendly Caller," bulletin published by the Palm Avenue church of Christ, Fresno, California, dated August 11, 1957:



Then under the above caption is the following:

EACH YEAR (as is the procedure during the time of the ANNUAL 3-Day STATEWIDE YOUNG PEOPLE'S MEETING AT PALM AVENUE), we "honor" the GENERAL CHAIRMAN in the printing of his biography; thus, "we salute" Brother Dick Clark (who is working in this capacity for August 9, 10, and 11), in OUR YOUTH FORUM which concludes following the singing THIS AFTERNOON."

After this there appears the biography of the "General Chairman." Now, brethren, do you see what we mean?

The above is not something that could happen. It has already happened!

"Operation Pittsburg"

Prior to the Civil War Brother Carroll Kendrick instigated "State Meetings" in Texas. These meetings were held annually, representatives of different congregations coming together to discuss mission work along with other phases of work. Brethren could not imagine that such an arrangement could ever result in a missionary society, but it did. By the year 1886, the "progressive" brethren of Texas had established the Texas Christian Missionary Society.

That the same arrangement in essence that led to the formation of the Missionary Society in Texas in 1886 is in operation within our ranks today is seen in the following that appears on the front page of the Christian Chronicle, January 13, 1959:

Pittsburg, Pa. (Special) — When the Fifth and Beechwood church in Pittsburg was studying "Operation Pittsburg," the plan of evangelism which calls for the establishment of one new congregation each year in the area for ten years, the elders felt it imperative to secure the complete cooperation of district churches.

To this end a fellowship meeting of various congregations was called in which the plan was set out. It brought much encouragement to learn that these sister congregations were strongly behind the project.

Brethren, truly we should be able to see that history is repeating itself and it is later than some think.

Boone's Book

Twenty five years ago it would have been difficult for a member of the body of Christ to once entertain: the thought that this generation would see the day when a thriving young movie gar Would be heeded with more regard than the gospel of the blessed Son of God. In the same issue of the Chronicle as quoted above, on page seven a "leader of the church" makes the following comment on young Pat Boone's book Twixt Twelve and Twenty:

I have just finished reading this book from cover to cover and I am absolutely convinced that it will do more towards enabling teen-agers to express Christian principles in their lives than all the sermons that have been addressed to them during the past 10 years.

Pat has been able to advise them to follow Christian principles in a manner which does not result in resentment and I believe that Pat is the only person in the United States who could accomplish this with thousands upon thousands in the teen-age group.

These examples should awaken us to what has already happened. Any and all digression stems from an attitude — a disregard for the authority of God's word and when once the wheels of digression start turning, there is no stopping place.