Inside Groups With Outside Loyalty
Frequently I run across something in my reading that I want to pass on to others who may not have had the opportunity of reading the same. Recently, while doing some research reading, I came across an article in a religious paper bearing the above title. The major part of this article is here copied and passed on to the reader.
"It was a group of preachers loitering in the shade between sessions of . . ." a certain gathering. "In the course of desultory talk one asked this question: 'What do you fellows do when asked to supply the names of congregational leaders to outside agencies?'
"First to answer, and final, was one who said with emphasis: 'I never give out such information; that is a local church affair and to broadcast your set-up is to invite a raid on church finances and maybe to encourage an inside group with outside loyalties.
"Such is a case of 'boring from within.' It is not an invidious comparison to assert that the technique is precisely that of the methods of communists in taking over a free country and subjecting its people to the domination of outside forces.
"It is true that local churches are often lame and dilatory in the administration of the Lord's business. True that a church may become stingy and self-centered. This is bad. But worse still is it when capable ministers are bludgeoned and misrepresented to their own people by an invading outside influence. Worse still is it when agencies professing to respect the autonomy of the local church deliberately allow their hired solicitors to disturb and distress by unwarranted disturbances among local factors working peacefully at their assigned task.
"Wise old Benjamin Franklin once wrote this: 'He who would exchange any measure of freedom for temporary personal security is worthy of neither freedom nor security.'
"This sentence was quoted in the leading editorial of a newspaper of wide circulation recently, and applied to the action of certain nationals in countries taken over by Russia.
"The principle applies as well to free churches of Christ beset on every side by the insistent appeals of those who would make them collecting stations for certain legal corporations claiming some sort of right to their funds. The church may feel sure of help when a preacher is to be called in case elders have abdicated. The preacher may be assured that, having served the 'brotherhood interests' well he will be 'taken care of when seeking a new field.
"The preacher recommended in such a case may or may not be the kind required; he is certain to be one who is 'cooperative' with the agency commending him. The preacher seeking a new field after doing the bidding of outside interests may or may not get the good church he expects; it does not always work that way. But in such case both preacher and church have made a bad bargain in that they have traded a measure of freedom for a promised security.
"No harm may be meant by this sort of thing, but harm comes from it. The men responsible, either those in the local church or those trying to direct from outside, may mean well. But the defect is in the system. We ought not to have had to learn this. It is illustrated in practically every Protestant denomination. It is the way of all denominations. It is a form of 'Simony,' the middle-age practice of buying ecclesiastical favors. It is not the way of an undenominational movement like ours. Both church and preacher must be free ....
"In revolutionary times some sage patriot coined the phrase, 'Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.' The freedoms enjoyed by the American people resulted from that policy. It is true that our government fumbles along most provokingly, hindered by multitudinous and seemingly unnecessary obstructions. But, meantime, effete civilizations have gone into the discard, haughty monarchies have declined and died, pompous dictators have been deposed, banished, or slain.
"A comparable slogan for churches of Christ might be 'Millions for cooperation. but not one cent for dictation.' As has been said, be it said again, 'All we have as a characteristic possession is the local church, free of all hindering and entangling connections. And be it said again, and most emphatically, that all else we have is duplicated abundantly in the denominational enterprises built by men. Our problem is to preserve the treasure that is characteristically ours and improve it, taking care that the inventions of men be not allowed to defile or disrupt it."
Perhaps some 'brethren are saying, "I wonder what ignorant, jealous, vociferous, blatherskiting, loquacious know -it-all wrote such an article." Well, it was not written by one of the "Guardian Boys." This article was signed by Quartus, The Brother and appeared in the May 29, 1948 issue of the Christian Standard, a First Christian Church paper. I wonder! Have some of our brethren today gone even beyond the conservative wing of the First Christian Church in their thinking? The writer of this article, copied from the Christian Standard, sees the evil abuses of the "Agencies," but does not see that the agency itself is evil. Is the Missionary Society (or any other agency) evil of itself, or is it just the abuses that make them evil? I notice that some who endorse "agencies" are soon to write on "what is wrong with the missionary societies." I am one of the many who anxiously await the appearance of such an article.