Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 6, 1960
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1,12-13a

Brethren, I Believe In It

E. L. Flannery, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

So many times we hear of folks saying, "He doesn't believe in doing this, or doing that," and oftentimes they are speaking secondhand, not knowing really what the man believes and practices. I have jotted down a few of these "sayings" and want you brethren to know exactly what I do believe about them. That way all you honest brethren will know what I believe, and will be able to tell others, should they be interested, as to what I believe.

Christian Education?

I believe in Christian education, and education under Christian teachers. Parents should educate their children for life and eternity. I believe schools conducted by Christians, and where the Bible is taught daily, can greatly assist parents in fulfilling their God-given responsibility to bring their children up in the "fear and admonition of the Lord." I was blessed with the opportunity of attending a "Christian" College for two and one-half years. I still rejoice to know Christian men have organized such schools to conduct the business of education. I'm sending my children to such a school.

Now, I am opposed to such schools (private educational enterprises) asking or accepting funds from church treasuries. This I believe to be unscriptural. I do not at all agree with H. A. Dixon, President of Freed-Hardeman College, in his statement during the 1960 Lipscomb Lectures, that church donations to Christian Colleges are Scriptural. (Page 17.) Rex Turner, of Alabama Christian College stated the same thought. (Page 89.) In fact, it is a startling thing to realize that every President of every Christian College north of the Florida border believes that it would be scriptural for churches to make donations to the colleges if the elders so decided! Every boy and girl we send to them for "Christian education" is going to be taught that such a practice is scriptural. When these return home and become the leaders, the churches will eventually put the colleges in their budget. Give them one generation — just 10 or 12 more years — and we will see this a common practice.

Perhaps it has been my strong opposition to this abuse and this false teaching in the schools that led some to believe I opposed Christian education. I agree with the editor who wrote: "The teaching of school violates no moral or scriptural principal. The owning and operation of a school violates no moral or scriptural principal. But when the operator of a business comes and demands (or pleads for) help from the church treasury it becomes the business of every member of that congregation and indirectly of every congregation who may later be so approached. I do not have a right to tell a congregation of which I am not a member that they can or cannot contribute to the school in such a case, but I certainly can show them the error of it. Love for them and for the school demands that I do so." (Bible Herald, "Institutions, Educational," Inman, March 1, 1954, p. 2)

Wholesome Recreation?

I believe in wholesome recreation. I believe the Bible sustains that parents should provide themselves and their children with wholesome recreation. I believe brethren may provide recreation by organizing camps, hikes, games, etc., or that they may buy these services from those in the recreational business. I believe they may plan picnics, dinners, etc. I can't understand how anyone ever reported that I "didn't believe in recreation or entertainment!"

Of course, I do not believe the church should get into the entertainment or recreational business. Christ died for more serious purposes in purchasing the church with his blood! It has never been the work of the church to provide entertainment or recreation to the members or to others, and it is a misappropriation of the church's money to divert it for such uses, regardless of who says to spend it for such. Elders have no authority to spend church funds on things not the work of the church.

Helping Distressed Brethren?

I believe in helping brethren in distress, even in sister churches. This is clearly taught in Acts 11:27-30. Many churches sent to the relief of these drought-stricken brethren. I believe in such benevolent cooperation among churches. I'm perplexed as to how it got started that I opposed cooperating in relieving distressed brethren!

It must be because I oppose brethren setting up benevolent societies for the purpose of serving as a centralized agency for the brotherhood. The early church relieved distressed brethren without additional organizations. I insist we can do the same today.

Mission Work?

I believe in mission work, in world-wide evangelism. Jesus commanded it. (Mark 16:15-16.) The early church practiced it, both individually (Phil. 4:15), and cooperatively. (2 Cor. 11:8.) More than twenty years I have practiced "mission work," in Canada, in North Carolina, in East Tennessee, in Alabama and Ohio. I've conducted as high as five "mission meetings" in one year; worked regularly with a church whose membership was 18 at the beginning; worked with churches whose membership was near 300 three times; have helped in five building programs; helped start four new congregations. I have been supported in my work in all of the four ways the Apostle Paul was in his. In light of this practice of mine it is astonishing to me that some brethren have reported I do not believe in "mission work!"

It is true I am opposed to the church working through arrangements to organize the church universal, either by creating a Missionary Society (a new organization from the church), or by perversion of the God-given organization wherein one eldership "assumes" a position unknown to the New Testament. The "sponsoring church" concept is an example of the latter. I believe in the all-sufficiency of the church as an organization as much as I do in the all-sufficiency of the Bible as a revelation and guide. Surely the church can fulfill all her God-given responsibilities in the God-given organization, the local congregation. She did in the first century, and she can in the twentieth century, if she is restored to the New Testament pattern.

I wish brethren would not circulate false reports. Why, both my preaching and practice show I believe in "mission work!" It sort of hurts to hear and read such things from a fellow preacher, and especially when he has never lived and preached in another country; never worked with a congregation regularly with less than several hundred members and under the guidance of several elders; never held a meeting unless the church was big enough to insure fine support; never sacrificed and worked through a building program; never spent several hundred dollars of his personal savings down to the last dime to stay on foreign soil to help a small band of Christians proclaim the gospel! Regardless of his reputation, his culture, his prestige, his wealth, his age — the man who says that I do not believe in "mission work" is either a false witness (a shorter term is "liar!") or a talebearer, and both are condemned by God. We ought to know what a man believes before we begin to tell others what he believes.

Visiting The Sick?

I do believe in visiting the sick. Jesus taught us to do this. I have made it a practice to visit the sick. I believe that "visit" implies more than a social call — that it could embrace "caring for the sick." I believe an individual Christian or a congregation may "visit the sick," care for the sick; they may buy professional services (nurses, doctors, hospitalization, etc), medication, etc. How could anyone ever believe that Christian people did not believe in visiting, in caring for the sick?

Certainly, I oppose a church or churches getting into the hospital business. There is a vast difference between buying services or products from some business enterprise and in making a contribution to that business organization. A congregation may purchase a ticket from a transportation company to send a preacher to some field, but it may not make a contribution to the same company.

Brother H. A. Dixon and brother Marshall Keeble both urged the scripturalness of the church building and supporting hospitals on the 1960 Lipscomb Lectures. But it is no more scriptural for the church to build hospitals than it is to build jails, prisons, dog pounds, form construction companies, etc. None can logically surmise that my opposition to the church entering the hospital business implies that I do not believe the church can "visit" (care for) the sick. My opposition to the church entering the transportation business does not imply that I believe the church can not pay the transportation of an evangelist. Surely you can see the difference: that in the one the church maintains the oversight and control of its work and funds, but in the other the funds are contributed and the church loses its oversight and control of the funds given. The latter is unscriptural.

Caring For Widows?

I believe in caring for widows. Nothing is more clearly taught in the Bible than this. My emotions and sympathy are deeply stirred by the plight of the needy widow. Paul stressed that children (even grandchildren and nephews) should care for their widows. (1 Tim. 5:4-10.) He further stated, "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." (1 Tim. 5:16.) This I believe and have practiced from my youth. Certainly the church must take care of such "widows indeed." I have always preached this. (Acts 6.)

But, as the church may care for the sick without organizing or supporting some remedial institution, (the hospital), the church may care for widows indeed (relieve them) without organizing or supporting some remedial institution. The church is not to function through some separate institution in fulfilling her responsibilities. This I also believe and preach. Some undiscerning person must have gathered from this that I opposed the church caring for widows indeed, but such a conclusion is erroneous.

Caring For Orphans?

I believe in caring for orphans. If the Bible teaches the church is to relieve brethren in distress and to care for widows indeed (and I believe that it does), then we should also provide for those left fatherless or in need who were the responsibility of brethren. To see a little, helpless child bereft of father and mother, with no kinsman to offer assistance, is indeed a pitiful sight. Even the loss of one parent is a tragedy of immeasurable proportions! My father's death left my mother a widow with six children, the oldest 15 years and the baby one year old. Yes, indeed, we saw hard times! But my widowed mother had a younger brother in Oklahoma who learned of our need, and practiced the teaching of 1 Tim. 5. He moved us to Oklahoma, arranged for us to farm for him, saw that we grew up, were educated, learned the gospel of Christ. The church was not "charged." Since I was eleven years old I have worked regularly to help my mother and the family.

Now, I just can't appreciate how anyone could say (and even less how an intelligent person could believe) that I am "anti-orphan," opposed to orphans, against orphans! That is a stupid statement, as well as a false one! I love fatherless children, and my experiences through life have enabled me to better appreciate their situation than many of the self-proclaimed experts in orphan care today.

I believe the church should not create nor work through some Benevolent Society; should not turn over to some other organization the control and direction of her funds in the caring for orphans or homeless children. I oppose, not the orphan, but the church turning over to another organization her funds and her responsibilities; just as I oppose, not the sick, but the church making donations to hospitals, and leaving the hospital to direct and control such funds in caring for such sick as they may chose, and in whatever manner they deem best.

Brethren are seeing that they must accept the church support of hospitals ("visit the sick") or drop the church support of institutional orphan homes incorporated to provide homes for the homeless children ("visit the fatherless"). They are parallel. Some of our Christian College Presidents are already teaching it would be scriptural and fine to build and maintain hospitals from the church treasuries!

The Red Cross?

I have given to the Red Cross. But I do not think the church should give to it. Brother H. Leo Boles wrote concerning this:

It seems clear to the writer....that no elder or set of elders should use the church fund to d o w or k through one of these human organizations. There is no New Testament example for such and no instruction for a church to use any of the church funds through such organizations. Furthermore, many congregations are divided in sentiment as to whether the church as such should help relieve any distress through a human organization. Now, since there is no scriptural instruction for such, and the church is divided in sentiment — that is, some members believing it should be done and others conscientiously opposed to it — it is wise and best to leave the church out of the picture entirely (Gospel Advocate, Jan. 29, 1942, p. 101.)

I believe brother Boles' advice is sound and good. If such were to become the practice of the churches today, peace would descend upon the brotherhood.

We need to deal honestly and fairly one with another if we would settle differences. Name calling and term-coining prove nothing. Saying I oppose institutions is not true; this is not the issue. Saying I am anti-orphan is both ridiculous and untrue; that is not the issue before us. Saying I am disinterested in the old and feeble and afflicted is not true; this has never been an issue. Saying I'm opposed to Christian Colleges is not so; it is not an issue in the church. What is the issue? Simply stated it is:

"May a congregation scripturally contribute to, or work through, other institutions in doing her work that God gave her to do?" I deny that she may do so.

Conclusion By Brother Boles

Christians are to do good unto all, and helping those who are in distress is a good work. We do not find any example of a church that has sent help to those who are not Christians. The church as a church has not functioned that way; if so, we have no record of it in the New Testament. It seems that if one Christian could help those in distress who are not Christians, a church could do the same, This point should not be pressed, since we have no New Testament example of it. We do not have any example or instruction of the churches or one church helping any cause through some other institution or organization. (Ibid.)

Think of it! No New Testament example or instruction of the church or churches "helping any cause through some other institution or organization!" We who believe the Bible an all- sufficient revelation of God's will believe it should be followed implicitly. We therefore are "anti" unscriptural arrangements for the church in doing her work — "anti" Missionary Society; "anti" church College Society (edification); and "anti" Benevolent Society. If we are wrong in this opposition, then, the New Testament is not a sufficient revelation of God's will to man.

Friend, hadn't you better study these matters again, seriously?