Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 10, 1959

Billy Dollar's Question

Herbert E. Winkler, Nashville, Tennessee

"Would you please answer the following questions for me: 'In most all of the examples where a church sent a contribution to another church, or to a preacher, they sent it by their own chosen messengers. If the example is to be carried to the nth degree, why would we not have to do the same today? That is, choose a member of the church and send him with the contribution.' I have answered this question for others on many occasions as far as is my understanding. I would like to have your answer as it might help me make a clearer explanation."

Dear Brother Dollar: I have kept your letter of Sept. 8, on my desk so as not to forget to answer your question. I have been just that pressed for time. I appreciate your letter and question and will try to answer it. However, I may not do any better than you have done for others.


As to sending the gift by their own chosen messenger: In those times the only way of transmitting a message or article was by personal carrier or messenger. And having to send by messenger they would choose one in whom they had confidence. And as there were no public carriers, it was natural for them to send by messenger of their own faith. Had they had public carriers who were as trustworthy as our U. S. Mail system I doubt not that they would have sent by them and saved the expense. I recall that in 1919 it was reported that we could contribute $100.00 to the work in Japan and the U. S. Mail Service would deliver the $100.00 to our missionary in Japan for the sum of thirteen (13) cents postage. Look, what it would have been to send it by individual messenger with ship costs across the Pacific both ways. The U. S. Mail Service is as trustworthy and reliable as any brother in the church and using the Mails at such savings in time and money is right in the sight of the Lord. We make our own contribution and choose the U. S. Mail Service as our messenger to carry the bounty, and I am sure all will agree that from the cost involved that sending by mail comes under the law of expediency. But if one argues that it would still be lawful for us to send the contribution to Japan by an individual messenger, I will counter with the question that in consideration of the expense involved, would it be expedient? I doubt it, for Paul said: "All things are lawful for me; but not all -things are expedient." (1 Cor. 6:12.) Yes, it would be lawful to send it to Japan by messenger, but no one will be so silly to claim it would be expedient to do so.

In this way we make the gift and send it by our own chosen messenger without involving any other congregation. I think the significance of the apostle's statement is: to show that the churches did not go into a combine of joint-cooperation, instead of setting a precedent for the churches to ever-after choose a messenger from among their number to carry their bounty.

Of course churches could send by a messenger chosen from among them without any evil potential that would lead the church into a departure.

But for the churches to enact a "joint-cooperative" movement would hold the potential of joining all the churches into one single joint cooperative movement which would soon call for some centralization regarding Head-quarters, and the appointment of some one congregation or a board of men to have charge of disbursing all the funds of all the churches. Brethren who are supposed to know the order of the apostasy of the early church seem to have forgotten how the "Man of sin" did his work. In the days of the persecution the church made its most rapid growth in spite of the hardships of life. There was not enough power without to destroy the church; but the falling away came from the internal decay and corruption in their departure from the autonomous status of the local congregation. There is no organization, of the church universal, on earth. The local congregation of Christians with its bishops and deacons is the largest organization of God's people on earth. Yet each church, (separate, and an independent organization from all other congregations, in doing her work,) is cooperating with all other churches in working (con-currently) for the one common goal — the glory of God and the salvation of souls. With this independent, autonomous status of each local church maintained the church will never go into an apostasy.

The sponsoring church system or any kind of a combine among the churches establishes a centralization of power and control within that church over the funds of the contributing churches. And, therefore, the contributing churches have violated their autonomous status in that they have turned their responsibility for handling their own funds over to a sister church to handle. Yet, some say this does not destroy the autonomy of the contributing church, for they still have the choice to give or not to give. Here is where they fail to see what they have done. For one church to elect to turn its funds over to a begging, sponsoring church is as much in violation of their own autonomous status as if they had given its funds under duress. Brethren, you cannot thusly excuse yourselves before the Lord! The independence or autonomy of each church binds it to work in the giving and the disbursing of its own funds in the spread of the kingdom among men that there may be no corruption of God's order. Each congregation stands equally related to and responsible for preaching the gospel to the nth of its power and we cannot improve upon God's arrangements without being guilty of transgression. "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son." (2 Jno. 9.)