Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 1, 1971
NUMBER 37, PAGE 5-6a

Questions And Answers

Send All Questions To: Eugene Britnell, P. O. Box 3012, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203

From Harrodsburg, Kentucky:

"I would like your comments on the following:

"God says to assemble on the first day of the week to worship in song, prayer, giving, teaching and breaking bread. We are to care for the orphans and widows, and support gospel preachers that they might devote their time to preaching the gospel. We are to help the saints in need and help other congregations. In order to carry out what God says, it is necessary to have the funds to do with.

"In the first century, there were none that lacked. (Acts 4:34, 35; I Cor. 16:1, 2.) It would seem to me that these passages are sufficient to carry out what God says. He says that we should hold all our possessions in common, and when the need arises, be ready to give them. All funds used to assemble, preach the gospel, and meet the needs of the saints, were gathered together from the possessions of the saints who were blessed materially. This is a Bible fact. Are we to go beyond the Bible?

"Is Bible giving really loaning — expecting to be repaid? God says to be content with what we have and to do all we can with what we have. Maybe my thinking is wrong, and maybe Christians did borrow money from Pilate or Felix — and maybe later from Nero — to build nice buildings to assemble and nice homes for preachers. God says that Christians should give for these purposes.

"Is not Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? Are we not supposed to be content with what we have?

"God, being no respecter of persons, requires the same of us. Don't you think that we should examine ourselves to see if we have denied ourselves to follow Christ?

"By borrowing money from people of this world, with a promise to repay, have we not the possibility of bringing reproach upon the church and Christ our Lord?

"Some brethren, attempting to follow the pattern, are concerned about how to obtain money for buildings and preacher's dwellings and I would like your comments concerning this subject."

We agree with the writer's comment concerning the command to assemble and the work of the church. We also know that the Lord's work requires funds just as it did in the first century.

We agree that the Lord's work is to be supported by the contribution of Christians as they prosper. That's the way the church is to obtain its funds or treasury.

Scriptural giving is not lending with the thought of being repaid (Matt. 5:46; Luke 14:13, 14), but the Lord has promised to bless the giver (Luke 6:38;2 Cor. 9:8-11).

We also know that Jesus is the same today and always (although he doesn't always do things in the same way); God is no respecter of persons; we are to be content with what we have — at least with a sufficiency.

The real question and issue in the letter is whether or not the church may borrow money for its work.

We read where the people borrowed money to pay the King's tribute (Neh. 5:4). Christ endorsed the practice of borrowing (Matt. 5:42). He also endorsed the paying of interest (Matt. 25:27).

We realize that if all Christians gave as they should there would not be such a need to borrow for the Lord's work. We also realize that money is often wasted on extravagant and impractical buildings which become monuments to pride rather than tools for serving the Lord. We do not defend any abuse.

But is it wrong for the church to borrow money? I mean the funds with which to erect or obtain that which is necessary for assembling and doing the Lord's work in a successful manner, and which is within its ability to repay — depending upon God's providence and will (James 4:13-15) just as all are commanded. I know of no principle of truth which such would violate, and that's the basis upon which some things must be decided. It is not a matter of whether buildings, loans, banks, contractors, etc., are mentioned in the Bible. Does the practice violate any truth?

All of this about trust, contentment, self-denial, etc., is just as applicable to the Christian as the church, yet I know of no one who denies that the Christian may borrow (or buy on credit) according to his needs and ability to repay.

There are certain dangers associated with indebtedness. Some churches become indebted so deeply that they can't afford to preach the truth lest they offend some contributor. Individuals and families often become so involved that they sin, neglect other duties, and even break up their homes.

When a church borrows from the world and meets its obligations as promised, I do not see that such brings reproach upon it or Jesus Christ. To the contrary, all parties involved in the transaction come to respect the church.

In answer to the last paragraph of the letter, it is not a question of how to obtain money for buildings or dwellings, for that which is borrowed, when repaid by the church, is obtained from Christians in harmony with First Corinthians 16:2.