A Missionary Rally
On Tuesday night, November 7, 1950, in company with some others, I attended what had been advertised as a "Missionary Rally." It was announced as a "great" missionary rally. To quote from a bulletin advertising one of these rallies, "The real purpose for this great meeting is to congregate as many christians as possible to hear a first-hand report from the Germany mission field." I doubt seriously if that statement is correct for the real purpose of the whole effort seemed to be to raise money—a lot of money—to promote the plans of certain brethren for this work in Germany. To quote again from the bulletin, "Many by-products will result from this mass effort, chief of which is enthusiastic support for more and greater mission work." I think there should be no doubt of the "by-products" that will come from such meetings. They are sure to come and without exceptions they will be bad if the matter is to be viewed from a scriptural viewpoint.
Before a crowd which possibly filled the lower floor of the Music Hall in Houston about two thirds full, perhaps a thousand people, brother Otis Gatewood, advertised by some of "our" brethren in the Firm Foundation as the "head of the Church of Christ Mission in Germany" spoke for considerably more than an hour. If the speech had been delivered by some returned any from the Christian Churches of this country, it would not have been so remarkable but coming from a man prominent among the churches of Christ all over this country because of the projects which he has helped to promote, it was astonishing, the of the sidelights of the speech was the comment made on the success of the Marshall plan. It seems in the opinion of the speaker to be working wonderfully well from a political viewpoint. So well does he regard its success that he suggested that instead of re-arming to meet the aggressive horde of communistic invaders throughout the world, we should convince and convert them to our way of life with more and more of the charity and benevolence of the Marshall Plan. That may be good sentiment and it might be even good political philosophy in Europe but a little hard headed reality needs to go along with it. Throwing a biscuit to a hungry or angry hound might divert his attention and even win him for a friend but you need some kind of defense different to that to turn away a mad dog from doing you harm.
The most outstanding feature of the speech from my angle was the effort made by brother Gatewood to establish that the methods that have been and are being used to evangelize Germany are Scriptural. It seemed to be pretty largely a defensive speech and I wondered why. It is a little peculiar that those who are mixed up in this medley of modern day "missions" seem to alternate between denying what they are actually doing and trying to defend it.
Brother Gatewood and his promoters at Lubbock will have to excuse me for saying that his efforts at defense are weak indeed. Scarcely a passage of scripture among several that he used were correctly applied. It made me wonder how spiritual strength could be built into a work in Germany or anywhere else with such obvious disregard or lack of knowledge for what the Bible really teaches on some very vital points. The following quotations will suggest only a few of the instances of such mis-application of scripture as were made.
Acts 8: "The church sent Phillip out." Brother Gatewood gave quite a bit of emphasis to the fact that the preacher must be sent. But where did he learn that the church sent Phillip out? The Bible does not say it. Nothing it does say justifies such an inference. Like a lot of other statements made in the speech that night, it is wholly "without foundation.
Romans 10: "How can they preach except they be sent?" From this passage it was argued that the preacher has to be sent by some church before he can go and preach. Such an application is a perversion of the passage. It is a weak effort to justify sending contributions to the church that has sent the preacher out rather than to the preacher. Paul is here speaking of the original proclamation of the gospel. Men were then sent in the sense of being qualified and equipped and sent by divine power to speak for the Lord and make known through divine revelation the message of life. This work was impossible without the Lord sending them but it is in no wise impossible for a man to go and preach the gospel and do so in many instances without anybody else sending them in the sense of supporting them.
Just a few moments before the introduction of this passage brother Gatewood had reminded his audience of the fact that in the early days in this country preachers had to go out to preach on their own responsibility because the churches had not learned as much then as they know now. Did these men go unscripturally when they were not sent? Surely not. It is true the congregations should support the preaching of the gospel but this truth does not give license to misuse and pervert Bible passages.
Acts 11: "The Church at Jerusalem sent forth Barnabas." But Barnabas was not the first to reach Antioch. The church had been planted there by others. "Men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus." \Who sent these men?
I presume no one will deny that it is right scripturally so for a church to send forth a preacher to any place where the gospel should be preached. But what brother Gatewood needs to find is the passage that tells us of a church in the New Testament that sent forth Barnabas or anyone else and called upon all the churches to help support him by contributing to them. Where is the passage that tells us how Antioch elders sent Paul out among the churches on a six months money raising tour so they could receive and disburse the funds raised in the great work they were doing? That is what Lubbock and multitudes of others are doing today and it cannot be successfully defended.
Acts 5: "The church at Jerusalem sold their lands and houses in order to raise the money to send out these evangelists."
Surely brother Gatewood is slightly mixed up here but he had to have something to base such an appeal for funds upon. He recited that his estimate of the families represented would be 500 and each owned a $10,000 home. The estimate was plenty high in both instances but higher in the last estimate. That amounted to $5,000,000 dollars worth of real estate and add to that $750,000 worth of automobiles owned by the crowd present and you will see what could be done by Lubbock if all were to sell what they owned of both and lay it at the feet of the Lubbock elders. Why they could build at least a half dozen houses in Germany as fine as the cathedral in which they worship at home. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Think about what an impression that would make on Europe and the whole world.
These are his figures and they show the application he made from the reference to Acts 5: where the early disciples sold their houses and lands and laid the money the feet of the apostles to be used in meeting an emergency created by need for food for those who had obeyed the gospel and remained in Jerusalem.
Acts 15: "The church at Jerusalem called these evangelists in to give an account of their teaching because they had sent them out."
This was one of the wildest applications made of scripture in the whole speech. Where did brother Gatewood learn that the Jerusalem church sent Paul out? Judaizing teachers had come down from Judea (Acts 15:1) and had taught false doctrine. Dissension arose in the church and the brethren "appointed that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question". Paul went up by "revelation" and laid before them "that were of repute" the gospel which he preached and states "they imparted nothing unto me but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship."
"Antioch chose certain men and sent them out. These men reported back and this shows that these men were accountable to the church", brother Gatewood declared.
He didn't offer any scripture on that one. He could have done as well on it as on the others, I am sure if he had. The Book says, "The Holy Spirit said, 'Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.' Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit went down to Seleucia." Is this the way "missionaries" are selected today? Surely not. Then what is the point? But brother Gatewood said that Paul and Barnabas came back and reported to the church and this shows that they were accountable to the church at Antioch. I wonder in what sense he thinks Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, was accountable to anyone but the Lord for what he preached. I would be interested in learning. If reporting denotes accountability, then brother Gatewood must be accountable to a hit of churches for ever so often he comes back to report to the churches all over this country.
It is nothing short of ridiculous to think that because Paul told the brethren when he came back what had been accomplished he therefore recognized his accountability to them.
But hear him again, "A number of different churches went together to support an evangelist to send him into a new field."
This caps the climax for bald faced assertions without one ounce of truth to support it. Where is the passage? Chapter and verse, please brother Gatewood! I deny that it is so. I dispute the truth of the statement. I want the scripture that says so. Where did the churches of the New Testament "go together" in any sense of the word?
More than one church supported Paul during a given period to be sure. II Cor. 11:8. In what sense did they "go together" to do this? Philippi "sent once and again unto my need", Paul said. Phil. 4:16. With whom did they "go together" and how?
But brother Gatewood argued, "did not some of the churches, several of them, contribute to one church to help it when in need?" To be sure but there is a heap of difference in contributing "to" a church in time of emergency and contributing "through" a church to a regular program of work. The need was in Jerusalem. I Cor. 16:1-2. Corinth and other churches contributed "to" the Jerusalem church to help them meet the emergency which had arisen. But there isn't any emergency in Lubbock or at least it hasn't been disclosed and the contributions are not being made "to" Lubbock but "through" them to Germany. Then where does Lubbock come into the scriptural picture at all? It isn't there.
But another modern exegete in a recent article in the Firm Foundation in a weak effort to defend what brother Showalter says is wrong if it is being done, said that these funds or contributions were united because they were sent through messengers That is remarkable. They had no postal system throughout the world then as we have now. This; the use of messengers was the only means at their command to get the contributions to their destination. These messengers served exactly the same purpose that the postal carriers do today and the combining of funds is in no way even suggested. The contribution of the Corinthian church to Jerusalem did not lose its identity and become pooled with other funds from other churches until it reached its destination—Jerusalem. The churches did not all even use the same messenger. They "chose" one in whom they had confidence and trust. The mail service throughout the world today obviated the slightest need for anything of this sort and we had as well contend that if a dozen churches mail their contribution to a given work and the same postman delivers it such would be a "combining of funds" or a "going together". Those who seek to justify their practices are hard pressed when "they can think no straighter than that.
Brother Gatewood tells us that the thirty "missionaries" who are in Germany are supported and directed by churches at home. He is acting then under the direction of the Broadway Church in Lubbock. They are directing him to travel among the churches for six months and raise $200,000 to finish the building in Frankfurt and construct buildings in other places. This money is being put into the hands of the Broadway Church in Lubbock. It will be spent under their oversight and direction and at their will. If they want to spend it all in one fine cathedral as they have done in their own work, with social and recreational facilities, et cetera, they are at liberty to do so and who can say them nay? To whom will they give an accounting, of these contributions? To whom have they accounted in the past? Is this centralized oversight and control? If not how would you go about establishing it? If brother Showalter does not know that this is going on, he can find out by going to one of these "missionary rallies". It becomes apparent when you listen to Otis Gatewood that the report carried in brother Showalter's paper that Otis Gatewood is the "head of the Church of Christ mission in Germany" is true. He directs the work and has admitted to others- according to reports that keeping everyone busy is one of the most difficult tasks he has. In turn he is "overseen and controlled" by his own admission by the Broadway Church in Lubbock. This puts them in charge of the "director" and into this set-up is being drawn every congregation and every Christian individual who will make a contribution thereto. If you want to, send your contribution direct to Germany. If you prefer to send it through your local church, you are allowed to do that. But if you don't mind, just send it to the Broadway church in Lubbock and they make it very convenient for you to do so. Brother Showalter could find all of this out if he would just read his own paper. It is actually going on and moreover in brother Showalter's paper as well as in the dear old Gospel Advocate, a multitude of articles from brethren who should know better have appeared trying to defend it.
With this gigantic work being supported primarily by individuals and churches who contribute direct to the Broadway Church to be spent under their direction, will they have the brass and effrontery to deny that they are acting beyond their own right and jurisdiction? What right do they have to solicit contributions to be made to them by members of other congregations? Brother Gatewood asked men who were earning as much as $500 per month to pledge $100 per month to the Broadway Church for the ensuing ten month period. How much would be left out of such earnings to contribute to the work at home. When all of the other institutional projects get their cut out of a Christian's earnings, the church at home would have to fold up and go out of business. We cry out again for the New Testament authority for such a scheme. We affirm again that there is none absolutely none. The elders of the Lubbock church are without right, scriptural or otherwise, to promote such a program.
Here is a reproduction of an envelope being handed out by brother Gatewood. He gets all the cash he can, and then takes pledges from individual Christians to the Broadway Church in Lubbock.
This envelope tells the story for itself. If this is right, then any church ambitious enough can promote its projects of any kind or nature, among the members of any other congregation anywhere and the way is wide open to propagandists, promoters, high pressure sentimentalists who are good at raising money, and every other kind of racketeer imaginable. It means the perversion of the strength of the local church too weak and small to compete on such a scale. It means the prostitution of the sacrifice and interest of the individual from the work of the congregation of which he is a part to some other work mare spectacular and glamorous. It means the exaltation to a place of power, control, and oversight, of a group of elders in whose hands the Lard never intended for such to be concentrated. It is unscriptural and wrong. The Broadway Church in Lubbock and Otis Gatewood are experienced hands at this sort of thing: It bears not the imprint of scriptural authority or divine sanction. It spearheads the invasion of modern depression and leads to inevitable apostasy.