Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 19, 1957

"It's A Good Work"

Weldon Warnock, New Martinsville, W. Va.

It seems that brethren can't get away from the idea that "the end justifies the means." Time and time again we hear brethren say in trying to uphold the church supporting their human projects, "it's a good work." Paul's statement, "be ready unto every good work," has been worn out by those seeking support for colleges, brotherhood homes, camps, and no doubt in the future, hospitals. We don't deny that these things are good works, but we do emphatically deny that the church has a right to support them.

There are many, many things that constitute a good work in which the church cannot scripturally engage. For example, running a grocery store is a good work. Those in the city would be in a bad situation if there were no groceries. Operating a dog pound is a good work. It is good that all the stray dogs can be kept off the street and not become a nuisance to society. But the church has no right to be in the dog pound business.

We need to learn what the individual can do and what the church can do. Colleges, brotherhood homes and youth camps are individual enterprises and should be supported and maintained by individuals. The church has its work specified and the Lord's money should be used to accomplish that purpose. The good work that the church can engage in is the work that God has designed. This design does not include human organizations.

Galatians 6:10 has been used unreservedly also for church support of human institutions. The passage reads, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Of course, this is an individual command. The context of the chapter shows this to be true. But grant that it is applicable to the church. You still can't get church support for a human organization out of it. What proves too much proves nothing. If "the household of faith" means the church can support and maintain colleges, brotherhood homes, youth camps and hospitals operated by the brethren, then "do good unto all men" would allow the church supporting the Red Cross, a welfare society or CARE. If not, why not?

I am persuaded that many brethren are like the denominational people on some of their doctrines. They take a position and then have to misconstrue the scriptures to justify it. Dungan, in his book on "Hermeneutics" calls this the dogmatical method of interpretation. A thing is assumed and then proof is pursued. Consequently, if the thing assumed is wrong, then the Bible has to be misapplied to fit the erroneous position. Brethren assume church support of human organization is right, and, therefore, misapply such passages as, "be ready unto every good work" in order to uphold their position.

Dungan says that the dogmatical method of interpretation was inaugurated and perpetuated because of the desire to rule in spiritual matters. Dungan again states, "But men and parties hold and teach doctrines nowhere found in the Bible, and they must do something to support their theories. To go to a plain reading of the word of the living God, for support, would be ruinous; hence, resort must be had to what is known as proof. The assertion is made, and then something is found that sounds like the position already announced. This is satisfactory to those who want the theory sustained."

Let's continue to study this all important question with kindness and forbearance, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."