Compendium Of Issues - (V)
"The Standard For Measuring Men"
There are some issues that are defined by positive precept and specific command, and are therefore automatically resolved and immediately opposed. There are others that find definition in development and application of principles. Extremes grow out of some things less dangerous in themselves, and seemingly innocent, in the work and activities of the church. In this category some things have mistakenly been taken for granted in their start which had to be abandoned and repudiated in course of development. Any man who would say that he has never sanctioned, approved or participated in some activities of churches that he did not later find necessary to reverse would be an egotist and could not be trusted for honesty.
In connection with the discussion on lately centralized elderships, the following statement was made in TORCH:
It is to be admitted that these extremes in this so called cooperation have slipped up on us all. Most of us in the past have acquiesced in cooperation plans, one way or another, and have said things mat may be taken as a past endorsement of what is presently being done. But it has developed into something that was not expected. Even the brethren who have assayed to come to the defense of the central sponsors are now conceding that this cooperation thing may be carried to extremes. That being true, it really becomes their duty to point out when and how these churches may practice the extremes they concede to be a possibility. If they are not already doing so, I confess a loss to know how they could do so, If it has not already gone to an extreme when would it, and how could it? When the conceded extreme is named, and an attempt made at an argument on it, the conclusions will contradict the premises.
This was a statement of my own attitude toward what has been said and is being said, made in the same article in which the issues were under discussion, and it covers the case so far as I am concerned, in whatever revision of views or alterations in arguments necessary to make to be right.
If the extremes which we are witnessing in organizational functions of some of the churches now had been in evidence at the beginning, the sponsoring that received sanction and encouragement then would have been condemned and opposed. Personally, I would never have concurred in anything that I believed at the time to be what is being done now, or that would lead to what is being done by the central sponsoring churches now. It is a far cry from what churches first set out to do in supporting preachers in various fields of work.
For instance, the elders of one of the large churches whose practices are in question, sent a representative to another church to induce that church to contribute the full amount necessary to support of a preacher, but to enter this entire amount into the budget of this other church, which would take charge of both the salary and the preacher. When this was opposed, the representative insisted and attempted to convince the elders of this church that it was the thing to do. If anything any of us have ever said in the past on the subject of "cooperation" has led to a thing so wrong as that, those of us who realize it, can but regret it and do what we now can to oppose it. I am ever willing and ready to rectify any mistakes of my own and to correct any errors, past or present, on this or any other issue.
It is not the man who learns the truth and alters his views and practices to conform to it who should be condemned; it is rather the man who refuses to accept the truth because it would require him to admit that he was wrong about something; who will not yield when the truth is pointed out, nor admit that he has ever been wrong — who places himself in an attitude that no honest man envies. Such was the attitude of the man who said his horse was "sixteen feet" high, and stuck to it.
It has always been a common weakness, and very human, for men to "measure themselves by themselves." This is evident from the comment of the apostle Paul on this point in the Corinthian epistle:
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are not wise, But we will not boast without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you." (2 Cor. 10:12-13)
This passage applies to the principle so much in evidence now of weighing what one says by what he may have said about some thing, some time or some where in the past. This is the reason why men who get wrong about something stay wrong.
Self measurement is a false standard because it is a human standard. It is beneficial to hear and to read what men say and have said, whether they are alive or dead, for counsel and consideration, for interest and information but never for standards of measurement. What is needed is a plain passage of scripture for what we practice, and if what we do is right we can find the scripture. God has never ordained elders at one church for some other church, nor in one city for some other city.
The churches of the New Testament were local churches and the elders of the New Testament churches were local elders; and when elders become general they cease to be local. But God has never ordained elders at one place for some other place, nor in one church for some other church, Regardless of when who has ever said what, Paul said, "elders in every place." and this is what the inspired scriptures command.
— TORCH. October, 1950