Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 15, 1957
NUMBER 15, PAGE 2-3b

Browsing Through Old Papers

Wm. E. Wallace, Owensboro, Kentucky

T. Q. Martin: "First of all, divine revelation furnishes us with nothing in the way of a religious organization through which to work as Christians, except the congregation. "Gospel Advocate, December 23, 1937.)

R. L. Whiteside: "Classes Helping Orphans. This is an attempt to answer questions concerning the activities of certain classes in making garments for orphans and making and selling such articles as quilts. Such questions will have to be answered in the light of the general principles of New Testament teaching. To do this, reason must be brought into play. Herein is the danger, for human reason is often fallacious, being often influenced by ignorance and personal bias. Perhaps no one will deny that any Christian who is able to do so has a perfect right to take an orphan into his home and care for him. No one would require him to keep an itemized account of his expenses in the way of room, board, and clothing, and report it to the church so that it might appear to be the work of the church. Why, then should it be done when an orphan in an orphan's home is clothed? The contention that everything must be done in the name of the church, so that the church may receive the glory, does not sound like anything I ever read in the New Testament. Unto God is to be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 3:20-21). If a member of the church does a good deed in the name of Christ, God is glorified in the church and in Christ Jesus. A Christian, acting simply as an individual servant of Christ, can do anything that is right. Perhaps we do not get down to the roots of some of our difficulties. It is hard for an unscriptural group to find a scriptural way to do an unscriptural thing. Be sure you have no unscriptural organizations. An individual may voluntarily do a good deed; that is individual effort. The church may appoint a person to do a thing; that is church activity. When a group of the members of the church, on their own initiative, combine their efforts to do a certain work, I do not see how such work could be called the work of the church. A thing done by members of the church is not necessarily the work of the church. A jury that sends a man to the penitentiary might all be members of the church. Certainly no one would claim that to be the work of the church. If the church wants it to appear that it is clothing an orphan, let it appoint women to do the sewing, and furnish them the money with which to purchase the necessary goods. A Christian can give a part or all of his income to the Lord; that is his individual business. A group of business or professional men can do the same. And so can a woman or a group of women; but their work is not church work, any more than is the work of a farmer or businessman. Such a group is a business institution, even though they are only making and selling quilts. In that capacity they are not a Bible class. In selling their goods they should operate on purely business principles, as should any other business institution. Nor should they seek to sell the fruits of their labor on the plea that they are doing it for the church. Let them do a legitimate business on business principles. For them to operate under the plea that they are making and selling things to help the church puts the church before the public in an unfavorable light, and it is taking unfair advantage of their competitors. They should make arrangements with the authorities for the privilege of conducting such a business, if the laws of their state require it. But let it he distinctly understood that the church is not making and selling goods. If such a combination of women want to give all they make, that is their business." (Gospel Advocate, October 7, 1937.)

"Elders and Preachers": "In discussing this, as in other questions, it is well enough to stick to the plain teaching of the Scriptures. It is not sound practice to modify our faith to accommodate the failures of either elders or preachers, or both, to operate according to the word of the Lord. Elders are men of wisdom, age, and experience, meeting specified qualifications laid down in the word, whose business it is to order and oversee the affairs of a congregation. It is a preacher's business to preach the word and otherwise behave himself as a Christian ought to. The fact that he is 'located' in one place for two weeks or two years does not make him an elder of the church he is working with "in fact and act" or any other way. If it does, then we have an epidemic of boy elders throughout the country who are making a huge joke of the qualifications Paul laid down for a bishop in the church. On general principles, the work of preachers and elders overlays in many respects, but that fact should not confuse either preachers or elders in the performance of their duties. If 'the preacher is expected' to be the pastor — the whole cheese, so to speak — taking upon himself the responsibility which scripturally belongs to many others, then his duty as a preacher seems quite clear. He should not abdicate as a preacher, but measure up to his responsibility in teaching the recreants the word of the Lord more perfectly. He does not have to become an elder, either 'in fact' or 'act' to do it. Even a young man can take a New Testament and do it if he is a good preacher. Elders are fine, of course; but what is there so fascinating about them that a preacher is under constant temptation to become one or several of them? Is it the authority to 'rule' that he craves? If so, he needs some overseers over him, not under him. I did `full-time work with a church' when I was eighteen years old. I was a preacher, not an elder. Doing some work that elders did too, and the church had some good ones, did not make me an elder 'in fact' and 'act.' It has never occurred to me that I was not an evangelist because I spent several months preaching under the direction of this church. If an eighteen-year-old preacher can do 'full-time work with a church' without being an elder, there is no reason why a fifty-year old one cannot do the same thing even better. One trouble seems to be the tendency to distinguish between 'local work' and 'evangelistic work as though evangelistic work could be done any other way except locally. The time spent in a locality is incidental. If a preacher cannot function as such in a place for a year or two without jumping the fence and becoming all the elders, he ought not to stay that long. I knew a preacher one time who got out of humor and chided the elders because they had not shown him the courtesy to ask him to become one. I have never felt that way about it. 'In fact,' I declined an appointment as an elder in a congregation where I lived for reasons I thought, and still think, good. However, I did a good deal of 'full-time' preaching for that church. The Lord ordained elder rule, and not preacher rule, in the churches. This fact ought to clear the issue of a good many irrelevant matters." — (Cled E. Wallace, Gospel Advocate, May 6, 1937.)