Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1959

Swapping Dollars

R. L. Craig, Port Arthur, Texas

Much commercial enterprise has taken place through the medium of trading, barter, exchange. In fact, in times gone by, most business was conducted in that way. The idea was that one person, or perhaps a company or even a nation, had one thing that they did not particularly care for or more likely, had a surplus of. This item was traded or exchanged or bartered for that which was surplus or unwanted by others. Cotton was traded for finished garments; tea was traded for lumber; silk and jewels was traded for corn, etc. In these United States that kind of commerce became known as "swapping." But the idea remained fundamentally the same; one thing unwanted or had in surplus, was "swapped" for something of equal value. It would have been considered foolishness and a complete waste of time to expend effort in "swapping" one thing for another just exactly like it. The entire world, even the natives of darkest Africa, would recognize that.

But, in these days of everything fantastic a mind can conjure up taking place, many of my own brethren in Christ have forgotten the first principle of "swapping" and are spending their time and efforts in exchanging between and among themselves, things not only of equal value, but exact things. In other words, they are willing to waste energy, belonging to the Lord, in bartering one or many dollars, for one or many dollars. Here's what I mean:

"Sponsoring" churches are being set up all over the country. Each is "sponsoring" something that lies beyond the power of that church to support. So, the only thing left to do is beg. Thus, the begging campaign begins. Her letters flood the mail telling of her wonderful idea, the doors that have been opened, the opportunities before her, if — others will only send the money. In fact, it is stated in such a way as to make it become the obligation of other churches to supply the funds. This is the accepted method of doing things right now among the majority of "Churches of Christ." For this so-called "method" we have been asking that Bible authority be established. Just as others before have cried out in vain for a "thus saith the Lord" to authorize missionary societies and instrumental music and multiplied numbers of other innovations, even so our cry today goes out and falls on hardened hearts and stopped ears. But the unlawful activities of my brethren in bringing into existence unscriptural arrangements, breeds abuses and misuses untold. Perhaps if you will not see the unscripturalness of these arrangements, you will have your eyes opened a little by viewing some of the abuses brought into existence through unauthorized practices, such as "dollar swapping."

The most flagrant in this "dollar swapping" business comes from the "Herald of Truth" arrangement. Nearly every "sponsoring church" in the nation has been or is now sending to the "sponsoring church" in Abilene. Even among small churches being supported by the funds sent from other churches, contributions have gone to the "needy" church in Abilene at 5th and Highland. Highland in Abilene, the "Herald of Truth" church, sends $50 per month to Broadway in Lubbock, while Broadway sends $50 per month to Highland. Some time ago, a church in Corpus Christi sent funds to Highland, while sending out begging letters for a radio program of her own. San Benito, "sponsor" and begging agent for Sunny Glen Home, sent $50 to Highland, but got $50 in return. And on and on we could go with the "Herald of Truth."

Broadway in Lubbock begs for money for her orphan home, but in the meantime sends to the orphan homes of San Benito and Tipton, Okla. San Benito and Tipton in turn beg for funds for what they "sponsor" and then turn around and send to someone else. Glenwood church in Tyler, Texas, receives funds for her "Bible Chair" and in turn sends to other "sponsors" of some big program or promotion. South Park in Beaumont receives funds from Procter St. here in Port Arthur and then sends her funds somewhere else. There is no end to this foolishness.

But one more thing: the big "sponsor" to stop all "sponsoring" — Manhattan church in New York City.. She begs for (and this is an exact quotation) "every Church of Christ on earth is urged to send 1/2 their contribution on. March 30, 1958" to the Manhattan church. And a lot of people fell for it and are still falling for it because the begging campaign of Burton Coffman and Manhattan continues until this very day. Their ultimate aim is "millions for Manhattan." While they beg other churches to build them a cathedral, they support two full-time ministers, send $100 per month to "foreign missionaries," aid sister churches in that area, etc..

Once again, these are not exceptions. Every one of these projects have received the endorsement of the "leading lights" among us. Nearly every gospel (?) paper among us has urged support of these and similar activities and have not raised the tip of their little fingers to object to any part of it.

And you may be saying, "But I don't go along with ALL of this." Remember this: If you go along with any part of it, you go along with ALL of it. "You can't have one without the other." And, if you don't go along with ALL of it, why don't you say so, and begin doing something about it? You know the answer to that. If you raise your voice against any of these pet hobbies, you will be branded and perhaps shunned, and you know it, and you don't have the courage to try it.

But there are a multitude of people who are yet anxious to contend for a "thus saith the Lord" just exactly as we all once did. Some need a leader. I, and others like me, continue to beg and plead with you for a "return to the old paths." Won't you open your eyes to these unauthorized thus unscriptural practices, before we are completely overtaken by digression? Begin your "search for the ancient order." Begin your search of the scriptures this day for authority for these "innovations." When you find it, let me know, and then, hand in hand, we can all together turn our backs upon the course we once pursued, open our arms to sectarians everywhere, and forget the "narrow road that leadeth to life everlasting."