Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 7, 1960
NUMBER 34, PAGE 1,10-14

"Certain Expressions And The Fruits" Of Liberalism

Roy E. Cogdill, Nacogdoches, Texas

(This is the twelfth in a series of articles reviewing the book, "We Be Brethren," which was written by J. D. Thomas, Professor of Bible in the Bible Department of Abilene Christian College and Lectureship Director)

In the outset of this series we pointed out that we differed with brother Thomas as to the fundamental cause of our difficulties. He ascribes our difficulties to differences in "methods of interpretation" in our study of the Bible. We ascribe them primarily to a difference in attitude toward the scriptures and divine authority. Brother Thomas evidently recognizes the problem of different attitudes for he spent three chapters and many other references in his book undertaking to deal with this problem. He describes these attitudes as "Legalism and Liberalism". Of course he denied that he belonged to either class but in his zeal to pin the tag of "legalism" on those who differ with him on the problems of how churches of Christ can scripturally cooperate in performing their mission he incriminated himself as we demonstrated fully in the article preceding this one. Every effort he made to describe and define opposition to human societies substituted to accomplish the work of the church as "Legalism" came home to roost over his own door simply by being applied conversely to these same problems.

He was very meticulous and devoted much space and effort in trying to label all of us with "Legalism" but when he wrote the chapter on "Liberalism" he narrowed its definition to a very fine point. Hear him:

"A Liberal, or a Modernist, for our specific point under consideration just now, is one who says that there is no such thing as required, `pattern,' definite, revealed authority. He rejects the inspired Bible and thinks that final authority is within man himself, based upon his experiences and his own reason". (Page 28)

"Theological "Liberalism" is a term that properly applies to one of the major "camps of Modernism' "All Modernists reject the idea of "chapter and verse" authority (in any sense) for the Bible. Authority for the religious Liberal is man's own experience. This means that "revelation" need not have "truth content" or be expressible as words or ideas. The Liberal is under the influence of naturalism and has an almost unbounded reverence for empirical science."

. . . . "The main value of the Bible to him is that it is a kind of help in generating religious experiences, but it is in no wise infallible nor inerrant and no part of it is authority simply because it is the Bible." (page 215)

"No man is a Modernist who accepts the Bible, rightly interpreted, as full and final authority". (page 216)

"There are, however, some of our preaching BRETHREN, who have earned a reputation as Liberals or Modernists that are no doubt under the influence of certain facets of true Modernism even more than they realize. They question the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible and indeed say that is not the letter (or mere words) that are significant anyway but only the spirit (inner, figurative, or allegorical meaning). Yet the most of these brethren probably are not full-fledged Modernists, as they still believe in some sense at least in the authoritativeness of the Bible. They feel that their teachings are in perfect harmony with the Bible when it is rightly understood and they believe that they are perfectly respectful of the New Testament as the revealed will of Christ. In general they have a high regard for their own intellectual grasp of true Christianity and they are prone to look at the rest of us as thoroughgoing Legalists and as extremely naive. Their Liberalism or Modernism is (at least those this author has acquaintance with) a modified form and perhaps is not beyond redemption in some cases. It is a pretty dangerous attitude, however, when any man decides he knows more than everybody else and thus shuts himself off from the opportunity to learn from them. If these BRETHREN could come to have intellectual respect for some of us who hold to pattern authority in the express words of God's will, perhaps that would help them to begin to rethink their position. Further, they could do well to analyze our Standard Authority Diagram and learn what Modernism is " (Page 217)

Some of the above statements are very enlightening. When you put them all together they have you running in a circle as is usually the case if you follow our brother closely in his efforts. According to his first definition of a "Liberalist" and "Modernist" only an out and out infidel could qualify and we are not sure that it would not require complete atheism. But he leaves the limited circle of his definition for "Theological Liberalism" and admits that there are some who are not full-fledged. I suppose that a man "who accepts the Bible, rightly interpreted, as full and final authority" would not be called anything but a Christian by any responsible person. There are, of course, many who profess to do so who actually do not. There are also many religious people in the world who verily think they believe the Bible to be the Word of God who are not willing for what it plainly says to settle the issue unless it is what they want. Many, many times we have come face to face with people who simply would not accept what the word plainly said about something for it was not what they wanted to believe.

In the pulpits of this country there are hundreds and thousands of men who spend their lives preaching some things which they find in the Bible. If you accused them of being unbelievers they would be insulted, but they do not hesitate to deny and dispute what the Bible records about many things. A few years ago a gospel preacher who was attending S. M. U. in Dallas told us that he had heard the head of the Bible department in that school actually deny that Jesus was raised bodily from the grave. Many deny the virgin birth of the Christ, and the genuineness of his miracles, who will not admit that they are "full-fledged Modernists" or outright infidels. They simply deny what they do not want to accept and undertake to explain it away in some manner and accept only what their own intellects approve. These may not be what our brother would call "Theological Liberals" or "full-fledged Modernists" but without the qualifying modifiers, they are in our language — both "Liberals and Modernists".

In the last paragraph quoted (page 217) our brother gives what we regard as a fairly accurate description of himself and the attitude of his book. The "Liberalism" or "Modernism" that characterizes his writings in this book we are reviewing, and that is all that I know about him, except hearsay reports from others, would be described as a modified form. One could certainly find very definite indications of his "high regard for their own intellectual grasp of true Christianity and they are prone to look at the rest of us as thorough going Legalists and as extremely naive". I could not better describe the attitude displayed in his book if I were to try at length. We certainly hope that our brother is not "beyond redemption". We could not however, describe him as he describes himself as one "who holds to pattern authority in the express words of God's will". Of course he does believe that the Word of God must expressly or specifically exclude a thing in order for it to be wrong, but when it specifically sets forth the organization of the New Testament church and the function of that organization he is not willing to recognize that such specific authority excludes anything that he wants to do. He is willing to accept Bible authority only when he can put his "interpretation" on it. That is what he means by "rightly interpreted".

In the town of Lufkin a few years ago we were told by a good woman that she had been present at a certain club meeting at which the "pastor" of the First Christian made a speech. In that speech he told the ladies that they were not to believe that the Old Testament incident of Noah and the flood actually occurred. Neither were they to believe that the story of Jonah and the big fish was an actual happening. These were simply stories by which a lesson was taught. They were to be allegorically understood. I am sure that he would readily deny being a Modernist though — especially a full-fledged one.

About ten years ago in a gathering of preachers in Long Beach, California, several of the preachers and teachers on the faculty of George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles took issue with this writer about some matters which had been preached by him on that occasion. The incident was written up and published in the "Bible Banner" as a correct report over the signature of about a dozen preachers who were "eye-ball" witnesses of the discussion. In that discussion one of the Pepperdine teachers, (Wade Ruby), advocated that men can find and know God, though they could not correctly worship him, who had never directly or indirectly come in contact with a Bible or anything it contains. He and Woodrow Whitten took the position that a man can learn what is right and wrong, therefore know sin, without a Bible or a knowledge of what it taught either directly or indirectly gained from it. Whitten stated that some of the things that Jesus taught came from the human philosophers prior to his day. To this number were added Hubert Derrick and brother named Morgan, who had come out of the Christian Church who joined with the first two in advocating such teaching and also contended that a man can go to heaven in any church provided he is baptized right if Honest and sincere. Ralph WiIburn known to be a modernist was the school at that time also. He is now in the Christian Church. The others mentioned are still in the school as for as we know. James Arthur Warren who advocated similar views has quit the church also. In recent months Pat Hardeman has quit the church and gone into the Unitarian movement where nearly everybody is an infidel. He started in by questioning the binding force of New Testament examples.

A good many years ago Carl Etter and another brother on the West Coast went over to the Congregationalists where you can believe anything or nothing. Prior to that time Carl had appeared on the Abilene lectureship and severely criticized the churches for doing nothing and openly advocated that it is better to do something even though you do it in the wrong way than to do nothing at all. That was the beginning of his defection. Today we are facing a worse situation than simply the defection of preachers — one by one. That is tragic and pitiable. But when hundreds of young preachers have gone out from "our schools" into the pulpits to preach who have sat under such teaching as many of them are hearing in "our schools" and who are better qualified as "promoters" than they are as gospel preachers, it is no wonder, that the "defection" has gone beyond the individual stage and whole churches are rapidly becoming so soft and liberal and modernistic that anything under heaven but the truth is acceptable to them. More tragic still are the older preachers who have known and preached the truth in years past but who find themselves enmeshed in the "liberal" movement among the churches and do not have the strength of character to extricate themselves therefrom and stand firm for the "faith once delivered". To a very great extent we have a generation in the churches who do not know what New Testament teaching is and could not contrast it with denominationalism if their lives depended upon it. They have not studied the Bible for themselves but have listened only to the pleasant and fair speeches of teachers and preachers who have sought only to scratch "itching ears." It is manifest in the worldliness, looseness in moral living, the "social gospel" attitude, emphasis on numbers and size outwardly rather than spiritual stature, glorying in men rather than the Lord (witness the banqueting and feting of prominent men in the church), the youth centered movements among brethren, building human institutions, increasing power and influence of big churches, the mounting domination and dictation by human institutions and their propaganda, the spirit of compromise with error and a general softening of the opposition of churches, preachers and members to anything that is popular. We have watered down our convictions, sweetened up our disposition, and become so sophisticated with worldly wisdom and intoxicated with our "place in the sun" of prominence in the religious world that we are impotent in the face of error and evil. Still our brother Thomas thinks that there is no "liberalism" apparent until one becomes an out and out infidel. Even Pat Hardeman in his complete apostasy from the faith would not admit that he is an atheist or infidel but classifies himself as a "Liberal Religionist".

A man cannot disbelieve what the Bible says about one thing and believe what it says about another. It is either believe it all or reject it all. When the testimony of a witness is impeached, it is discarded. Neither can a man select those commandments of God that he is willing to obey and reject those that he thinks unnecessary or too demanding. He is pleasing himself and is not obeying God in anything when he undertakes it. In exactly the same way, men cannot respect Bible Authority when it proposes and establishes what they want to do and reject it and find a way around when it does not authorize what they want to practice. We must either accept what it teaches as our sole guide in every matter or eventually be driven away from any consistent claim for any respect for Bible authority at all. To override in one point is to reject the whole program of divine guidance in the sufficiency of the scriptures.

Brother Thomas cannot teach the young men and women who sit in his classes at Abilene to be satisfied with what the Bible teaches and respect and do only what is included within its authority for he doesn't believe in doing it. His whole effort, expressions, and the fruit of it will produce either sectarians or unbelievers. We know one young man who after attending Southern Methodist University went to Abilene with the idea of preaching and became disheartened and quit and went into the business world. He is still a faithful Christian and told us when he quit that J. D. Thomas was modernist. Now even he, perhaps, did not mean a "full-fledged" Modernist. Modernism is, for all practical purposes, simply the worship of one's own intellect to the point that one tries to be selective upon the basis of his own wisdom in dealing with things divine whether it be facts, commandments, or authority, or the inspiration of the scriptures. It is in fact an attitude toward things divine. It will lead man to deny the verbal inspiration, hence the inerrancy of the scriptures. It will manifest itself sometimes in denying the miracles recorded in the word of God. It will sometimes result in defying the will of God as expressed in his divine commandments. It sometimes denies the sufficiency of the Bible and its authority. It sometimes denies the sufficiency of the church to do what God has commanded it to accomplish in the world. All of this is the same attitude fundamentally and it is "Liberal" and "Modernistic". One of its manifestations is no worse than any other.

"Certain Expressions Of Liberalism"

1. Brother Thomas' "Liberalism" in his book is evident in his treatment of the organization of the "local church". He talks out of both sides of his mouth on this subject like he does all others. With one breath he professes to recognize the scriptural form of organization and in the next refuses to be confined to it or to recognize the limitations of its proper functioning. We have suggested before that he seems to think that the only prerequisite of scriptural church organization is "local autonomy". This is seen from a study of his charts — see page 35 — where he lists "local autonomy" as a coordinate with the "Missionary Society". But you could have a missionary society with local autonomy. We have seen too that the "Missionary Society" denies that it interferes with "local autonomy". Brother Thomas should have put in the square instead of "local autonomy" the "local church" or "congregation". This is a coordinate of the Missionary Society and it has form or organic existence given by God in the scriptures.

"One of the by-products of failing to curb ourselves in legalistic tendencies is that some of us have come to conceive of the church itself as a sharply defined "institution," with circumscribing legalistic lines drawn about it (or in a figure, a "high board fence" which forces upon it a rigid mechanical sense.

"The church of our Lord is not a human, earthly, rigidly and mechanical circumscribed and legalistically limited institution, obligated to operate within "airtight" congregational or "parish" boundaries and separated units, with a group of men having complete dictatorial powers over each, but whose power and authority and responsibility become absolutely nil when they get to the "parish boundary"!"

"Rather, the church is a spiritual body, where every Christian has experienced a new birth, where all are priests and have direct communion with God without any officiating hierarchical group being needed, where all are "members one of another" — not just "congregational-wise", but including every son and daughter of God, everywhere. The spiritual union and relationship between the Christian and God and between all of God's children is not to be interfered with by congregational "parish boundaries." It should always flow freely without any impediment and there should always be a strong bond of unity and love between all of God's children, and with never any sense of congregational competition or limitation. God did not intend for the existence of congregations to impede the free flow and free action of spirituality — not even to the spiritual obligations of getting money to missionaries or caring for homeless children.

"This tendency to "institutionalize" the church itself is therefore not a Biblical concept. The true organizational set-up for the Lord's church is only functional" (Pages 160-161)

In the above quotation we have given enough of our brother's dictum about the local church to show that he has no true understanding of either the will of the Lord or the present issues disturbing the church or he misrepresents both of them. It is not the obligation of this writer to say which is his difficulty but one or the other is certain.

There is no one — absolutely NO ONE — known to this writer that contends that any congregation should recognize any geographical boundary such as our brother describes and intimates to be our position in the matter. If Brother Thomas doesn't know better than this he did not have any business injecting himself into any discussion about it until he found out what it is all about. Congregational "limitations" are not geographical, circumscribed by "high board fences" literally or imaginary lines prescribing a "geographical boundary". His inference in this direction is ridiculous and silly as well as untrue and completely deceptive. Our brother should rise above this sort of thing but his book is filled with it.

The limitations of a congregation are imposed because of relationship. Part of that relationship is between the Elders of a congregation and its members. They owe duties and obligations toward each other respectively that neither owe to either outside of the congregational relationship. That is the reason that God has prescribed the jurisdiction of an eldership. That jurisdiction is over the members, resources, program of worship, work, and fellowship of the congregation where they are elders. They have no responsibility as elders outside of the relationship they sustain as such to the congregation where they are elders. The very responsibility given them in their functioning as elders is oversight. Surely their responsibility is functional. That function is oversight — not legislative — not dictatorial — but oversight of the congregation in all of its affairs and they are charged not with doing their own will but seeing to it that the will of Christ is done.

But our brother says that the congregational set-up is "only functional". He says further that the elders of the local church only have "functional" power vested in them. Well, who claims that there is anything honorary about it. Those who perform their function well are to receive "double honor" in the sense of being sustained in the work they do. But it is not an honorary office or work. The trouble with our brother Thomas is that he thinks the function of neither the congregation or its elders is limited to that relationship.

On Page 183 of his book he takes the position that the eldership of one congregation can serve as a committee for distributing benevolent funds among other churches and he cites Acts 11:30 as proof. Of course only a casual reading of this passage will show that there is not one word or syllable in it that says anything about one group of elders distributing benevolent funds among many churches. The elders in the passage were among the brethren in Judea. The brethren in Judea were divided into several churches. I Thess. 2:14. Did these brethren in several congregations in Judea have and recognize a common eldership? That is what our brother infers. If they didn't then each church must have had its own eldership as God ordained. Acts 14:23. Brother Thomas could not prove, if his life depended upon it, that the eldership of one congregation in Judea received the funds and distributed them. When he does he will establish the "presiding eldership" idea of the Methodist church. It is not in the Bible. This is just another case of his scriptural perversion. If this is the kind of Bible teaching he does in his classes at Abilene, he handles the word of God too carelessly to teach anybody anything about it.

Suppose our brother enlightens us by showing us the passage that teaches what the elders of one congregation can oversee in the work of another church. That would be his obligation if they can oversee anything. Fellowship is a congregational matter. Paul "assayed to join himself to the disciples" in Jerusalem. Acts 9:26. He was already a child of God, but he was not "joined to the saints" in Jerusalem because that is what he was trying to do. According to our brother there should not be any "impeding" or interfering with our "being members one of another" by congregational boundaries even as to relationship. But there was in the case of Paul and his action was foolish, if he already was a member of the Jerusalem body of disciples. More than that, they were about to refuse to accept him into their fellowship — allow him to become one of them — until Barnabas commended him unto them.

Paul taught the Corinthian Church in I Corinthians; chapter five, to excommunicate a certain ungodly member from their fellowship — turn him over unto Satan. Can the eldership of one congregation exercise the oversight of such an action as this in another congregation? Can one congregation withdraw from discipline in any manner, the members of another congregation? Our brother would have to say yes or swallow much that he has already said.

Do the resources of one congregation, the funds contributed by the members of that congregation on the Lord's Day, belong to every other congregation just as much as to the one where the contributing was done? The elders of such churches as Highland in Abilene, promoters of the Herald of Truth, think so. They would make another eldership think by their propaganda that if they do not "come across" with the part of their resources that Highland needs to pay their bills they will be lost in eternity. But it is not so!

Brother Thomas hoots at the idea of an eldership and membership of a congregation being any more responsible for the members of "their own" congregation who are in need than they are for those of another church. But is it any more unreasonable to recognize that they are more responsible in benevolence for "their own" than to conclude that the scriptures teach that they are more responsible for the spiritual needs of those who are "their own" or would our brother dissolve all congregational obligations and relations and just have the church universal in spiritual obligations as well as in benevolent ? It would be interesting to have Brother Thomas tell us just what the function is that a congregation is designed to perform outside of maintaining the Lord's Day assembly to break bread and even then whose responsibility would it be to do so in any locality if no one is any more responsible for the work of the congregation where he is a member than for the work of any other. With the "liberty" he thinks he has the privilege of exercising, there is no "function" which would depend upon any congregation or the elders of any congregation that could not just as well be performed without such an organization. This would have to be the conclusion to what our brother teaches. But the crossing of congregational lines of "relationship" would destroy the organization of a congregation itself and its function. Our brother is too much of a "liberalist when he relaxes and "looses" anyone from the obligations to be discharged through this divine arrangement which God's plan provides.

On the same point he teaches that the elders of one congregation can "as a group plan and carry out teaching programs in other congregations". (Page 172) This he tries to prove from Acts 15:22-31; 15:4. Again we say that if this is a demonstration of the kind of Bible teaching he does in his work in Abilene College, he is entirely too careless in his teaching to be instructing young Christians, or old for that matter, about the work of the Lord's church. His misuse of the word of God and perversion of it is amazing.

The decision made in the Jerusalem gathering attended by Paul and others from Antioch concerning the matter of circumcision and relationship of Gentiles who had been converted to Christ to the Law of Moses was the decision of the Holy Spirit — revealed by the Holy Spirit as heaven's will. Acts 15:28. In this decision of the Holy Spirit, the apostles of our Lord concurred, of course. Acts 15:23-25. The elders of the Jerusalem church likewise concurred in such a divine decision. But it was not the decision of the elders or else they had legislative authority! It was a divinely revealed matter which had not been made known unto the churches with a Gentile element in them. Hence it became the duty of the apostles, elders, and members of the Lord's church in Jerusalem to carry this divine revelation to the other churches. For this reason the letter was written — evidently by James — Gal. 2:12 — and sent out by messenger to all the churches. From this our brother concludes that elders of a congregation in one locality today have the right to "plan and carry out a teaching program in another congregation". If they have that right, then the congregation in which they plan to do the teaching would not have the right to deny them their right. That means that any local church would have the undeniable privilege of foisting upon the members of another congregation what ever they wanted to teach. Move over, Brother Thomas, several of us would like to come where you preach and teach them the truth that you have not been teaching concerning "congregational cooperation". I don't believe the brother believes it! But this is the best he can do in finding justification in the word of God for what he is trying to teach. If the eldership of one congregation can oversee the distribution of benevolence among the members of another congregation, and if they can likewise plan and carry out a teaching program in another congregation, what is that thing that the elders of one church cannot oversee in another congregation, brother Thomas?

2. The "Liberalism" manifested in brother Thomas' book is seen in the fact that he arbitrarily rejects the force of plain examples of church action in the New Testament day and projects action for the churches for which there is neither precept or example. This is exercising liberty that our brother has no right to exercise.

The only example of churches sending a contribution to any other church in the New Testament scripture is that of sending to a church in need, that is, when the receiving church had more needy and destitute members than it could care for. There is nothing in the New Testament that teaches that a church should send to another church under any other circumstances (no precept authorizing it) and neither is there any example in the scriptures of a church that did. Yet our brother claims the liberty of declaring that what the New Testament has recorded as a fact concerning this is not to be regarded as "binding" when nothing else was practiced or taught but this. This is too much liberty for our brother to exercise. Where is the precept or example (notice Brother Thomas that we are not calling for example only as you represent) but for either precept or example in New Testament scriptures for one church sending to another church a contribution out of its treasury to help it pay for a big work it wants to promote but can't pay for? ? ? ? We can find what we preach exemplified in New Testament history. Do these examples mean anything or teach anything?

Then we have pointed out that there are examples of New Testament churches sending directly to a Gospel preacher to enable him to carry on, his work. There is neither precept or example for a church sending a contribution to another church with which to support a preacher. If so, where is it? Let brother Thomas point out either the precept (notice, brother Thomas, we are not calling for an example only) or example that sets forth such a practice and we will accept it. But we do not think he has the liberty and authority to grant such a privilege. He must find it in the word of God for it to mean anything. Our brother takes too much liberty in his conclusions.

3. Our brother in his book manifests the attitude of a "Liberalist" again when he pays lip service to New Testament authority — professes to be "perfectly respectful of the New Testament as the revealed will of Christ" — but discounts the necessity of teaching and practicing only those things which are taught therein by claiming the "liberty" to teach and practice many things which he can not find in the New Testament either expressly taught, exemplified, or as a reasonable inference.

He concludes that the eldership of one congregation can serve as "a committee to plan for and administer the care of orphans "of other churches". (Page 183) He offers no scripture where such is taught or was done or from which it can be inferred that it should be done. There isn't any! But our brother thinks that if it is not expressly prohibited or excluded — then the silence of the Bible justifies it. In other words it is right, in spite of the fact that God's word says nothing about it, just because God did not say, by any means, "thou shalt not"! This point has been amply covered in the articles already written. It is truly a sample of our brother's "Liberalism".

He concludes that the churches of Christ can build and maintain benevolent societies under a self-perpetuating board as a means of doing their work of benevolence. (Page 182). The only effort he makes to justify such a conclusion from the scriptures is by three instances of recorded action. He relies a lot on "examples" when he wants and needs them. He introduces (Page 153-155) 1) "Paul and his company" Acts 13:13, Acts 13:3, Acts 14:26,27, Acts 14:23; 2) "a group of people who were not the church but who were going to do the work of the church, to do a teaching job" Acts 15:22, 16:4; 3) "a human organization, organized to do the church's work, and who apparently made some decisions" II Cor. 8:18-19. From these incidents he draws the conclusion that an "orphan home as it has been used in the brotherhood, either organized with an eldership, or with a self-perpetuating group as its governing board, is perfectly scriptural in either case". (Page 182) We are amazed at such a conclusion. There is no remote hint of a human organization in either of these three instances cited. The brother has the idol of human organizations in his heart so established that he lets his imagination run riot in his use of the word of God. Think of "Paul and his company" constituting a "human organization" and authorizing such under a "self-perpetuating board".

Here we have, according to our brother, a "human organization," justifying even a "self-perpetuating board", and they were appointing "elders in every church". Acts 14:23. That is a new theory; A human organization under a self perpetuating board to appoint elders in the congregations; SHADES OF LIBERALISM, INDEED!

What then can our brother condemn about the missionary society? This incident would make him swallow it for "Paul and his company" were doing the work of evangelism — they were preaching. To our learned brother, if there is more than one person, there is a human organization and that justifies a "self-perpetuating" board to run the affair. "Thomas and his company" means not those who accompany him but those who with him have formed a "human organization" and Thomas is the president of the Board. Such is the pitiful attempt to justify human organizations formed by the brethren as a substitute for the church doing its own work. Don't blame our brother! That is as good as anyone can do from the scripture.

His conception of those who were sent out by the apostles, elders, and the church at Jerusalem to carry the decision of the Holy Spirit to the churches regarding the matter of circumcision is even more astounding, if possible. This justifies a "human organization — under either elders or a self-perpetuating board". HOW? They were simply chosen to travel together among the churches to deliver the "decrees of the apostles and elders" to the churches. Did they elect a president? Did they have a secretary treasurer? Was there a vice president? Did they have a charter and by laws? How many constituted a quorum? What did they decide that was a part of the work of the church anywhere? How could a man handle the word of God deceitfully if this isn't it?

Then in II Cor. 8:18-19 our brother thinks he finds a "board" elected by the churches as a "messenger organization". (Page 181). This is another perversion of the word of God. These messengers were chosen individually by each congregation. I Cor. 16:1-4. Each church chose its own. Each church raised its own money. Each church entrusted her contribution to the individual messenger she had selected. That is the plain truth. Certainly a messenger could be approved by more than one church and entrusted with the contribution of each church selecting or approving him. But in that case, he was approved by each church separately, and became the messenger of each church separately, and acted as the agent of each church separately. Our brother could not find group action upon the part of churches under any kind of a head in this passage if he had to in order to save his life. When men handle the word of God in any such fashion and then are respected by churches and schools as a faithful teacher and preacher of the gospel, it makes us wonder how far a man would have to go before he would be regarded as a false teacher. We have not witnessed in our life time more wresting of the scripture and a more deceitful use of it to teach error than the book under review contains. Our brother would wrest the passage in II Cor. 8:1819 to make it justify a religious convention of church representatives and the election of a group of delegates clothed with authority given by the churches represented in that assembly. This is what our sectarian friends of the Methodist and Christian Churches and others have been claiming from this passage all these years and according to brother Thomas they have been right and we have been wrong about it. Wouldn't he do a wonderful job of teaching young preachers how to defend the truth on this point against sectarian error? His policy would be to agree with them and join them rather than "contend" with them.