Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 2, 1950
NUMBER 42, PAGE 1,6b

Getting Me Straightened Out

Cled E. Wallace

Several good preachers are making a noble and protracted effort to get me straightened out on this "business in Italy", before I do some more harm that "cannot be repaired." I'm lending my full cooperation for I would really like to learn something that would help me to get on the popular side of this issue. If they succeed in subduing me, I will be as meek and submissive as "the men of Succoth" were whom Gideon "taught" with the briars and thorns of the wilderness. The very latest effort comes from Brother Milton F. Henry, who does some preaching "unto the eldership of the church at Palestine" and informs me that he is "not a novice in the knowledge of the Word of God." That is encouraging. Surely, he can help us.

He begins by informing me that; "I have just read your tirade against the action of the church, recently taken to continue the cause of Christ in Italy, appearing in the last issue of the Gospel Guardian." I have been under the impression that it was "a mass-meeting" composed of "approximately 700 ministers and laymen from 60 churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area", as the papers would say—and did. Brother Henry tells me it was "the action of the church." He makes that clear also.

"You also condemn the concerted action of the church in taking the action to keep the cause of Christ going in Italy and sarcastically mention 'our denomination!' You should ask God to forgive you that statement. You seem to forget that the church is mentioned in two senses in God's word. One, the church from a universal sense which includes every Christian in the world, and the other the church as a local congregation, and that the action you condemn and throw slurs at was concerted action taken by the church in a universal sense, each congregation determining its own action in the matter, which is exactly like the Apostle Paul did when he had the churches or congregations in existence at that time provide financial help for the poor saints in Jerusalem."

Brother Arnold Hardin, over at Lancaster, Texas, says that he along with others would like to have some "concrete information" in "just plain English as to what your views are." That is a fair request and I'll try to comply with it. There ought to be some reciprocity in this business of plain speaking. Brother Henry has given us some "concrete information" in "just plain English" about that Dallas meeting. It will help clear things up a bit if we can have it "in just plain English", whether "the 700 ministers and laymen" in that meeting think he has correctly represented it.

"The action of the church recently taken" was not the action of a local church. It was "concerted action taken by the church in a universal sense." Now we have it. This "universal sense, which includes every Christian in the world." There were only "approximately 700 ministers and laymen" present and possibly not all of them in action. There are "approximately 10,000 churches of Christ in this country alone, I am told. Frankly, I don't know how many. There may be many others "in the world" and some Christians scattered here and there who do not belong to any of them. They are all in the church in the "universal sense." The number of members in that "mass-meeting" was less than one-tenth of the number of churches. Yet it took concerted action for "the church in a universal sense."

What about "our denomination?" A denomination, as commonly accepted, is something in the way of a religious organization, which is smaller than the "church in a universal sense" and larger than "a local congregation." There isn't anything like it in the New Testament. This "mass-meeting" in Dallas certainly cannot qualify as "the church in a universal sense" nor as "a local congregation". If it was "the church", what church?

In justice to all the brethren involved, let me say in "just plain English", I think Brother Henry is all wet about the whole affair. I do not think he knows what he is talking about. Plenty of the brethren who took part in that meeting will disavow his diagnosis of the case. His effort to make that meeting and its proceedings "exactly like Paul did" in raising funds for the poor saints is about as sad a perversion of scripture as one could readily find. "A novice in the knowledge of the word of God" could hardly do worse, even if he thought Pharaoh's daughter found little Moses among the bull nettles. Those brethren represented nobody but themselves. If there had been a few Baptists and Presbyterians among them it would have made no difference. They made enough noise to get some good results in the way of "civil rights." At least that is the way I hope it was. If local churches can send their representatives to "a mass-meeting" to do one thing, it can send them to do something else. Did you ever hear of a convention? "A concerted action taken by the church" indeed! I do not think I'm the one standing in the need of prayer in this case.

The church in Antioch sent help to the "brethren that dwelt in Judea." They sent it to the elders where it was needed to be used there. Other churches throughout the country, stirred up by Paul, did the same thing. They did not send it to Antioch, or some other big church. They raised their own funds and sent them directly to the field where they were to be spent. Churches sent directly to Paul, not to some "sponsoring church" to send to Paul. There is no evidence that I know of, that churches throughout the country sent money to the church in Jerusalem, to build an orphan home and do "missionary work" in Rome, or anywhere else. If some of the brethren will calm down, quit asking me to apologize and quit insinuating that I am not a Christian, long enough to show me, I will greatly appreciate it. Don't hand me that old line about the end justifying the means. The digressives have been dangling that bait in my direction "lo these many years!"