Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 1, 1962

Miscellaneous Matters From "Burnett's Budget" ---(IV.)

Bill Cavender

(NOTE: I remind our readers that the excerpts found in these articles are taken from bro. T. R. Burnett's "Budget," a paper that was published in Dallas, Texas, in the early years of this century. The paper reflects problems that existed among brethren then, gives some interesting sidelights of the Lord's work in various places and sets forth the ideas of various brethren on different points of Bible teaching. The readers should also be reminded that the big issue among the brethren at that particular time was the "re-baptism" question, that is, whether or not a person who had been immersed into a denomination (the Baptist church in particular) could be fellowshipped as a Christian and a member of the Lord's church if he renounced the denomination, or must such a one be "re-baptized." Eminent brethren and different papers of that day were divided on the question. Burnett was one of those who believed in accepting such persons as Christians without "re-baptism." Much writing on this issue occurs in his paper during these years. The quotations in this article are found in the September 15, 1907, issue of "The Budget." — B.C.)

1. Meeting at Centralia. The editor held only one meeting in Trinity County, and that was conducted under rather unfavorable circumstances. The preacher was sick, and could not do himself nor the audience justice in his sermons. There was a Baptist revival in operation two miles west of us, and a Baptist revival four miles east of us. This reduced our audience somewhat. Nevertheless, our house was full every night service. And we had a good meeting. There were twenty-eight additions to the congregation — twenty-two by baptism, and some other wise. We captured only one Baptist, because nearly all the Baptists of the community were in attendance upon their own meetings. Had they attended our meetings, we would have done a better work among them. I spoke twice daily for one week, from Sunday to Sunday. Some thought if the work could have gone on another week, as it ought) we would have baptized fifty persons. But the preacher was not able to continue. He had not recovered from his late Arkansas sickness. I mean to go back there some day, when I can do a better job of preaching than I did on this occasion. It is a good community in which to preach the gospel. Good order prevails and the young people manifest an interest in matters religious. They are excellent singers, and in all things they set a good example before their seniors. There are two young preachers at Centralia, (Bros. Kemper and Ponder), and they are helpful in a meeting. They are ready to sing or pray or do anything that is necessary to aid the good work. That is a choice band of disciples at Centralia. They worked me well, paid me well, and treated me well. I lodged at the home of Bro. Womack, near by the church, where I received every kindness. There are a great many Hutsons in this community. A younger brother Hutson met me at Groveton, with a two-horse buggy, and carried me to the place of meeting, (and at the close of the meeting another young brother Hutson (Grover Cleveland Hutson) carried me nineteen miles to Lufkin, where I took a train for Dallas. Centralia was once a Baptist community, but in the early days May Hamilton did some of his good preaching in the town, and established a small congregation. He was followed by Bro. Levi Speer and others. Bro. T. J. Dunn, of Lufkin, has also done a good deal of preaching in that country.

2. The Eunuch a Negro. "Brother T. R. Burnett, in his Budget, offers the following to his readers: The Octographic Review says the eunuch was a negro. It says the word Ethiopian means black man. But the Bible does not say he was an Ethiopian. It says: 'And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace.' He was a Jew, who had been up to Jerusalem to worship, as the law required every son of Abraham to attend the feasts, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. It is not likely that a negro would have been engaged in that kind of work. He was a man `of Ethiopia,' but not a negro. "The complete Standard Dictionary, published 1898, deposes on this subject thus: "Ethiopian, 1. An African, black man; a negro." Then Candace was a black woman, and would "surely" have a black man to be her treasurer. But a black man had the privilege of becoming a Jewish proselyte. Where did Brother Burnett learn that the eunuch was a Jew, except in religion? The Budget editor should try again. He may do better next time." — Octographic Review.

We do not think it needs a second trial. With the aid of the Standard Dictionary you have proved nothing against our position. The dictionary says an Ethiopian is a black man, a negro. That is correct. But the Bible does not say the eunuch was an Ethiopian, but a man "of Ethiopia." Why did you not notice that part of our criticism? We might ask, Where did Brother Sommer learn that the eunuch was an Ethiopian? We might also ask if he ever learned from any source anywhere that a negro at any time in the world's history ever did go up to Jerusalem to worship? It has not been long since a great Jew held a great office in England. Was he therefore necessarily of Anglo-Saxon blood? The Jews were good financiers, and it was not surprising that Candace should put one in charge of her treasury. If the eunuch was a Gentile, the religious world has been generally wrong in supposing that Cornelius was the first Gentile convert, and that Peter used the keys to let the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. Philip was the man, and not Peter. And there will have to be a reorganization of old sermons that have been preached lo, these many years! But we are sure that Brother Sommer is wrong.

3. "Bokchito, I. T., Route 1. Dear Brother Burnett: I write you in regard to one Rev. J. Y. Collins, a Presbyterian minister. He tells his members not to read your paper, as it is an infidel sheet. He says he knows you well personally (used to go to school with you), and that you are an infidel. Said Collins is now holding a meeting in this part. Send me some sample copies, and I will make up a club." — Oliver Billingsley.

Rev. Collins is in error. This editor has not attended school since 1860 (forty-seven years ago), and the minister aforesaid was doubtless too young to go to school at that time. Moreover, we never knew a man named J. Y. Collins. Rev. Collins most likely has his mind on some other Burnett, though we never knew a Burnett who was an infidel. A man who can mistake the Presbyterian church for the church of Christ might mistake some infidel for T. R. Burnett. This Burnett lives within the same territory where he has lived and labored for half a century.

4. "Dear Brother Burnett: Bro. Charlie Reese and I are in a meeting at Dierks, Ark., with thirteen baptized to date. The brethren are making an effort to build a house. The Baptists are in a meeting here also. I had a good meeting at Christian Chapel, in the northern portion of Howard county. Five were baptized, and twelve took membership, making seventeen in all. Bro. Jadie Copeland had a good meeting at the new meeting-house four miles north of Nashville. Thirty-seven baptized. Accept my thanks for the books you sent. They are good — I like them. My regards to Sister B. Hope you have recovered from your sick spell. My folks were well yesterday. Your brother in Christ, W. T. Champion."

5. How to Ordain Elders. "Dear Bro. Trott — You have told us how the ordination of elders and deacons was not done. Now please tell us just how it is done. I do not want you to understand that I hold to fasting, prayer and laying on of hands, but some do, and we need some more elders and deacons in our congregation. I am like old Raccoon John Smith, I have had hands laid on me twice, and I am just as big a fool as ever; so tell us just how to proceed now, and oblige your brother in Christ." — L. Gough.

The Bible instructions are few and simple. The congregation should look out proper members for the work, (Acts 6:3) selecting only those who possess the qualifications described in 1 Tim. 3, and Titus 1. They are not to take the oversight by constraint (1 Pet. 5:3), therefore they should be men acceptable to the congregation. Since the word ordain means to appoint, when the former requirements have all been complied with, it only remains to publicly announce the appointment. — G. A. Trott in Firm Foundation.

Dr. Trott gives a splendid example of "How Not To Do It." Bro. G. asks him to tell how to ordain elders and deacons, and he proceeds to tell how they shall be selected, and refers to their qualifications, but does not say a word as to how they shall be put in the offices. He says when the selecting requirements have been complied with, "it only remains to publicly announce the appointment." But when and how does the appointment take place? Bro. Trott certainly knows that the looking out or selecting of the men is not the ordination. In Acts 6, the case he quotes, the apostles told the multitude of disciples to look out the men, "whom we may appoint (ordain) over this business." The disciples selected the men, the apostles ordained them. What did the apostles do to the men to ordain them? Listen: "Whom they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them." Why will not Dr. Trott follow the case he selects' as a model? In that ease the disciples selected, and the apostles appointed, and the manner of the appointment was by praying and laying on hands. Do you baptize like the apostles? Why then do you not ordain like the apostles? But you say we have no apostles now. Titus was not an apostle, but an evangelist, yet he ordained elders in Crete. Did he do the work as the apostles did in Acts 6? The same Greek word is used to express it. Does baptizo mean to dip in one place, and sprinkle in another? Does ordain mean to elect in Crete, and pray and lay on hands in Acts 6? If selecting men for elders and announcing the fact is ordination, then a church ordains its own elders. Yet there is not a case in the New Testament where a church ordained its own officers. We will raise Dr. Trott a hundred cash subscribers for his paper, if he will find a case of ordination of elders and deacons in the New Testament without the laying on of hands, or where it was done as he tells bro. Gough to do it. Of course, a man who expects to receive miraculous gifts by the laying on of hands of an evangelist in ordination will be "as big a fool as ever," for an evangelist cannot confer such gifts. He confers the gift of the office, but no one except an apostle could confer miraculous powers.

— P.O. Box 5764, Longview, Texas