Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 17, 1955

What Would You Have Done?

Floyd Embree, Ontario, California

In a letter addressed to the elders of the church in Ontario by the elders of the Broadway and Walnut congregation in Santa Ana, California, in regard to the part Ontario had to do in helping establish the work in Upland, Corona and Fontana, California, the idea is implied that either the elders at Ontario had to be over those works, or else it might put the church in a dilemma. They ask:

"If the elders did completely divest themselves of all oversight, what would they have done if (a) premillennialism had been preached, (b) an organ or piano had been introduced into the evangelistic services, or (c) what would they have done if the money the church contributed had been used for purposes other than the Lord's work? Would they have seen false doctrine preached or innovations introduced into the work they were supporting and have made no effort to correct the situation?"

As I have pointed out to them, the elders at any place cannot divest (to dispossess; as, to divest one of his rights — Webster) themselves of authority which they never possessed. I have repeatedly asked the elders at Santa Ana to give one passage of scripture which gives elders authority OUTSIDE their congregation. So far, they have given none.

But, let us give attention to the question propounded above by the Santa Ana elders. If in a work Ontario was helping support, premillennialism had been preached, or an instrument of music introduced into the worship, or if the money contributed had been used for purposes other than the Lord's work, the elders would (1) have tried to correct the error by teaching those in error. If that failed, (2) support would have been withdrawn and they would no longer have fellowshipped the guilty. (Rom. 16:17; 2 John 9-11.)

Now, the elders at Broadway and Walnut claim to be over Ontario Children's Home. It must, therefore, be a work of the Santa Ana Church. If elders of a contributing church have to be over the thing to which they contribute, then this question: Are the elders of the churches which contribute to Ontario Children's Home over the home? If not, what could the contributing churches do if in the home there is (a) mismanagement, (b) misconduct on the part of the personnel, or (c) religious error is taught to the children in the home? If the contributing churches do have oversight, just how much does each one have, and who gave it to them?

Also, if in some evangelistic work the Santa Ana Church is supporting, they find that the preacher and the congregation advocate using the missionary society through which to do the church's evangelistic work, what would they do about the matter if they could not correct it by teaching? Why would they do it? What do they think is wrong with the missionary society?

The elders at Santa Ana state, "the home is a corporation and a corporation is an institution." (Letter, Dec. 15, 1953.) Also, "the home is not and cannot be a part of the church." (Letter, May 21, 1954.) They believe the church can scripturally use another institution which "is not the church and can be no part of the church," to do its benevolent work. Then why can the church not just as scripturally use another institution, namely, the missionary society, which "is not the church and can be no part of the church" to do its evangelistic work? I asked the elders at Santa Ana this question in a letter to them August 6, 1954, and so far (January 18, 1955) I have received no answer. I predict I will receive no reply to this question, for when they answer it, they will either condemn the Ontario Children's Home set-up as it now is, or else they will endorse the missionary society.