Reviewing Brother Roy H. Lanier On Congregational Cooperation - (IV.)
Brother Lanier deserves a sharp rebuke for his ugly criticism of the Apostle Paul, for his flattery of the sectarian commentator Albert Barnes, and for his inexcusable misrepresentation of "my preaching brethren" (Gospel Advocate, Sept. 29, 1955).
In my reply to his third article I stated that I would have more to say about these things in a later article. I could not deal sufficiently with them in my article last week, without making it too long.
His Criticism Of Paul
In 2 Cor. 8:13-15 Paul uses these words: "For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; but by equality: your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality: as it is written, He that gathered much had nothing over; and he that gathered little had no lack".
No where in all his floundering exegesis of Paul's use of the word "equality", did Brother Lanier quote the verse that contains the word. But he raved on and on in his silly claim that "equality", as Paul used the term, does not and cannot mean freedom from want. He goes so far as to say that Paul was wrong in his use of the word, if he did not mean that the receiving church must be brought up to exactly the same degree of financial strength as the giving churches. Here are his own words:
"If Paul did not mean for the giving churches to bring the receiving churches up to exactly the same degree of financial strength which they possessed, he should not have used the word equality'."
Please notice that Brother Lanier says that Paul should not have used the word "equality", if he did not mean equal financial strength. Then in the same chapter my anti-Bible brother says this:
"Paul's doctrine of equality certainly did not mean that churches with abundance should contribute to churches in want that all churches might maintain financial equality."
Therefore, according to Lanier, Paul should not have used the word "equality", because in this latter statement Lanier says that Paul's doctrine of equality does not mean "financial equality".
If that is not an accusation that Paul used the wrong word, how is it possible to accuse him of using the wrong word? If Brother Lanier has not earned the title of "anti-Bible brother", how is it possible for a man to earn it?
His Flattery Of A Sectarian Commentator
Though he has not found one verse of scripture that he wanted to quote in any of his three long articles on "Congregational Co-operation", Brother Lanier does quote copiously from a sectarian commentator.
It is a known fact that Premillennialism, infant sprinkling, sponsoring church cooperation, and all other hurtful hobbies can be proved more easily by sectarian commentators than by the Bible. Therefore I am not surprised at all at Brother Lanier's omission of Bible quotations from his articles, and his long quotations from uninspired men who try to tell us what Paul "probably" meant, or should have said.
A seventeen line quotation which Brother Lanier gives us from his "deeply respected commentator" starts off with the word "probably". People who love the truth want what the inspired writers actually say, and not a "probably" from some sectarian commentator who never did in all his life learn the difference between the church of the Lord and a denomination.
But please consider this flattering statement from Brother Lanier:
"Albert Barnes, the most widely read and deeply respected commentator among my preaching brethren, makes this comment on these passages:"
There is not one word of truth in that statement. Albert Barnes is not the most widely read commentator "among my preaching brethren", unless Brother Lanier includes all denominational preachers "among my preaching brethren". If he would only take a look at the libraries of the brethren, or visit a few Bible classes, he would find several sets of B. W. Johnson's commentaries to every set of Barnes' commentaries.
Barnes is not a "deeply respected commentator among my preaching brethren". Does Brother Lanier know of one gospel preacher (outside of Nashville) that would call on Albert Barnes to lead a group of Christians in prayer, if he should appear in our midst today? Let him name one preacher (not even excluding Lanier) that will say that Albert Barnes was qualified on any day of his life to lead a prayer.
Does my anti-Bible brother know of one gospel preacher who would recommend Barnes to preach for any church of Christ on earth, if he should appear today and apply for the job? Is there a single Bible college operated by "my preaching brethren" that would employ Barnes as teacher, if he should appear today and apply for the job? Brother Lanier's flattery is a misrepresentation of "my preaching brethren".
There is not a religious error in existence that does not have the support of some commentator. But what is it worth? I would rather have one line of God's word than to have every "probably" of every uninspired commentator that ever lived.
If Brother Lanier could establish the fact that Barnes did teach that the churches in Macedonia were the churches in "want and not the church in Judea, what would it amount to? Precisely nothing. For I can come right back with a list of commentators who taught that it was the church in Judea that was in "want". Here are only a few who so teach:
Macknight — Apostolical Epistles
Vincent — Word Studies
David Lipscomb — Commentary on II Corinthians
J. W. McGarvey — Commentary on II Corinthians
B. W. Johnson — Johnson's Notes On The New Testament
Adam Clarke — Commentary
The Pulpit Commentary
Doddridge — Commentary
Jamieson, Fausett and Brown — Commentary
Burkitts — Commentary
The Bible Commentary — Cook
H. A. W. Meyer — Commentary On The New Testament
Conybeare and Howson — Life and Epistles of St. Paul
The silly contention that the churches in Macedonia were the churches "in want" when we all know that Paul taught that the relief should go to Judea, is about the last word in absurdity.
Though Barnes wrote many statements that are dangerously erroneous in his commentaries, he never in all his life said anything more foolishly ridiculous than this statement from Brother Lanier:
"If Paul did not mean for the giving churches to bring the receiving church up to exactly the same degree of financial strength which they possessed. he should not have used the word "equality."
No mustang can throw a man as hard as a hobby horse can throw him. I am sorry for Brother Lanier — sorry that he did not know when he mounted his sponsoring church hobby horse that he was heading for a fall.