Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 24, 1970
NUMBER 20, PAGE 6b,7b

Where There Can Be No Debate

John W. Hedge

"Liberals" will not deny that it is scriptural for each local church to plan its own work according to its ability and do that work at the congregational level.

Debate comes when they say that one local church may plan a work which is greater than it can do alone and then solicit and supervise funds from other local churches to do that work.

While the "liberals" say it is scriptural — in harmony with the scriptures — for one local church to plan a work which requires the help of many local churches to do, yet they will not affirm the scriptural right of the cooperating churches to help draw up such plan. The meeting of many heads or leaders of many churches to draw up such plan would look too much like a Baptist Convention or a Methodist Conference. Could it be wrong for a group of churches to help draw up a plan of work which requires their help, and yet right for one local church to draw up such plan for them? How long will it be till some will be advocating "cooperative meetings" of churches to plan "cooperative action" of the churches?

There can be no debate over the right of homes and other institutions to promote recreation and entertainment for our young people. Debate comes from those who affirm that churches may also engage in such.

There can be no debate over the right of individuals to establish, own, and operate any and all institutions to take care of human needs, such as orphan homes, Christian colleges, hospitals, clinics, old folks homes — nay, even homes for "unwed mothers." Debate comes when it is affirmed that the churches may engage in these things.

There can be no debate over the question of the churches enrolling those who are "widows indeed" as being entitled to church support. Neither will it be denied that many churches may send help to needy saints in times of distress such as occurred in Jerusalem and Judea. Debate comes when they affirm the right of churches in engaging in general benevolence — helping all needy people.

There can be no debate over the right of individuals to "do good unto all men" and in all righteous ways. Debate comes when it is asserted that whatever the individual may do the churches may do also, even in the use of its money. This opens wide the gate for the churches to engage in all lines of human endeavor. It completely erases the line of demarcation between individual action and church action. The "social gospel" preachers are rejoiced to know that this doctrine is being widely accepted by many churches.

There can be no debate over the right of elders of local churches to have the oversight or rule over such. In view of this some have said, "When you disobey the elders you disobey God," without qualification. One liberal brother was heard to say, "It is my duty to contribute money into the treasury of the church, and the business of the elders to see that it is used as they see fit." I suppose he would put his money at the disposal of the elders even if he knew they would use it in an unscriptural way. The "voice" of the elders of a local church is not the voice of God unless they, like all who teach God's word, "speak as the oracles of God." Elders of a local church are to be governed solely by what God has said in his word as much so as any other members of the church. Only when elders of a local church abide by what the Bible teaches are we under obligation to obey them.

— 304 N. Glover Dr., Longview, Texas 75601