Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 23, 1950
NUMBER 45, PAGE 1,4b

Voices From The Past -- No. 2

Cled E. Wallace

Much was said a generation ago, by able contenders for the faith, about "tendencies" that led to the departure from the New Testament order of things. Departures were gradual and always began with "tendencies" which the thoughtless and uninformed thought innocent enough, and they often became very impatient with, and just as often used bitter speech in denouncing loyal and able men who were able to see what these "tendencies" would ultimately lead to. About twenty years ago, F. B. Srygley said in the Gospel Advocate:

"Human organization gets its recruits from the thoughtless brethren who begin to add little things that appear innocent. But all departures from the word of God began this way. The older brethren remember that these innovations started among the plain churches of Christ; and they started this way."

As a case in point, he cited Brother Lipscomb's discussion of the Dallas situation.

"The elders of the church at Dallas were made the supervisors of the work, received the money, employed the preacher, directed and controlled him. For a number of years they employed C. M. Wilmeth. He then dropped out of the work and the missionary society took the place. Other experiments along the same course have been made. All of them went into the society work."

Brother Srygley remarked, "It will be noted how they went from the eldership to the society" and "the matter progressed from the eldership to the full-fledged society." Some elders today appear to be enthusiastic in trying out the same "experiments." It was "the full-fledged society" back there in an experimental stage. What is it now? Who is able to guarantee that our "experiments" will not turn out the same way in "a number of years?"

One young preacher, who is no older than some of my children, wants to know what I am "doing for others, other than kick and criticize those who are trying to preach the gospel in Italy." He accuses me of "condemning the efforts of these evangelists who have gone at great expense, and have braved many dangers to preach the gospel to the lost souls of Italy, and to expose the error of the Roman Catholic Church." He even suggests that I am "jealous of the publicity that these young men are receiving." I might even tell you what "Christian College" he came from, but the "publicity" would not do them any good. It is this type of immaturity that makes "tendencies" grow into what they ought not to, and were not intended to. I was preaching the gospel in destitute places before the young preacher was born. To him and his kind, a life-time of preaching the gospel in this country means nothing. I have been at it for forty years under just about all imaginable conditions. Yet he asks, "What are you doing now in order to spread the gospel in this land and in other lands where souls are dying without an opportunity to hear the gospel?" Incidentally, this is just history repeating itself. Innovators of a past generation sought to smother the voices of protest against every unscriptural organization, by the same kind of accusations. If a man was opposed to their society or their "plan" or even criticized it, he was opposed to "missionary work." The young man will know more, when he learns more, I hope.

Some of my critics keep asking why I don't go to Italy, if I think I can "do a better job than they." There are several reasons I can think of. One is I do not think I could "do a better job than they" and another is, I am so old and set in my ways, I think I can "do a better job" right around here where I can talk to people in their own language. There are a lot of people, not too far from me, who need the gospel as badly as they do in Italy. The way I have to poke around, I believe I'll spend what little time I have left practicing on them. Besides, if I left the country, some of these young hot-heads might start something over here they oughtn't to and I would not be on hand to protest. They are so excited now, they are accusing me of being in league with the Pope. Folks like that are liable to start anything. I think I ought to hang around and watch them and when they stampede, "ride herd on 'em." The Lord knows they need it.

But get along Dobbin. Brother David Lipscomb said in the Gospel Advocate:

"A society collects the money from churches and Christians that its own board may employ preachers, direct their labors, their pay, and control them. It concentrates the authority and power and means of all the Christians and all the churches in a few persons, who constitute a board to employ, direct, and pay the preachers. This places all the money, and all the preachers of all the churches and Christians in the hands and under the control of half a dozen men. Really, one or two men control all such boards, and it virtually puts the whole means and men of the churches in the hands of one or two men. Such men are not, as a rule, chosen for their piety, holiness, and devotion, but for their capacity to raise money."

Remember that this sort of thing was not born full-grown. It started in "the eldership" of a local church, planning something bigger than it could pay for, and gathering in money from other churches. 0, but nothing like that could ever happen to us! 0, yeah!

This is why Brother Srygley concluded and so expressed himself in the Gospel Advocate:

"Churches should never be tied together, even in as good a work as preaching the gospel to the heathens. Elders of one church should not try to get hold of the money that has been contributed by others to direct for them in foreign fields or other places. No missionary society should be started by elders of a church or by any individual We should have no one-man missionary society. Churches should not be tied together to support schools or homes for the aged or for any other purpose."

Some brethren must have wandered quite a distance from original principles, when they consider us a bunch of extremists, for contending that churches ought to raise their own money, select their own fields of activity, choose their own workers, and attend to their own business generally, including maintaining their independence and autonomy. That high and scriptural standard is not being maintained when a church says "Me too" to the "plan" of some other church. If the planning church gets off the track, the "Me too" churches will also have a wreck. That is one of many reasons why the Lord did not want them all tied together. Sure, there'll be more to follow.