Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1961

Straining At A Gnat And Swallowing A Camel

Cloyce L. Sutton, Blytheville, Arkansas

That to which I shall refer in this article would probably pass unnoticed in times less troublesome than these and were it not for the circumstances surrounding them. Further, the purpose of this article is not to set forth the procedure of acts, along with other things, which go to make the Lord's Supper acceptable with God. But, rather, it is to show the lengths to which some brethren will go concerning some things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

In Matthew, chapter 26 and verse 26, we read: "And as they were eating Jesus (1) took bread, and (2) blessed it, and (3) brake it, and (4) gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." Now, if my understanding is correct, there are three (3) essentials involved here and one (1) incidental. Bread, giving thanks (blessings) and giving it to the disciples are the essentials and breaking the bread was the one (1) incidental because the bread was no doubt a loaf and it necessarily follows it had to be broken to be given to the disciples. The Lord's Supper today is so arranged (unless specially set up otherwise) that the bread needs no breaking until the distribution among the disciples begins. But some brethren assert that the only way the Lord's supper can be scriptural is for the one(s) who officiate(s) to (I) take the bread, (2) bless it (give thanks), (3) break it, and (4) give it to the disciples. There is nothing wrong with breaking the bread before it is distributed. But to make an incidental a law is certainly not "handling aright God's word." (2 Tim. 2:15) And to make it (the breaking of the bread prior to distribution among the saints) a prerequisite to God's approval of the Lord's Supper is going beyond evidences which bind. If this is to be bound, why not bind also the fact that Jesus gave it personally to his disciples and therefore the one(s) who officiate(s) must pass directly to the disciples? Now, if not why not?

But some brethren are of the persuasion and so arrange the bread as to make those who officiate at the Lord's table comply with their dogma. However, if the breaking of the bread is a requisite of approval unto God of the Lord's Supper, is this not accomplished as each disciple breaks the memory bread? Then it is likened unto the body of Christ and as Paul sets forth "which is broken for you," is it not? (1 Cor. 11:24)

Now let us pass to another phase of this article and show the attitude of these same brethren, who are so legalistic (?) for breaking the bread, (before it is distributed among the saints) along some other lines in spiritual matters. These other matters are as important to one's approval unto God as the Lord's Supper, but the views of these brethren concerning these points (the Lord's Supper and other matters which we shall discuss later in this article) are as far apart as the poles as far as consistency is concerned.

Now for the other matters we promised to discuss: Now, concerning congregational cooperation, it matters not that the scriptural authority is wholly lacking for brotherhood projects such as: Paragould Children's Home, Herald of Truth, Southern Christian Home and others which fall into that category. These same brethren (who must have the bread broken before distribution to the saints) and others as well, brand as factious and rebellious anyone who calls into question such prostitution of a congregation's resources by the elders of the same.

Again: notwithstanding the warnings pertaining to false accusation some brethren will falsely accuse other brethren. When such false accusation is pointed out, honorable men will make correction, while others let it remain uncorrected and at the same time demand that the bread be broken before distribution among the saints. We think such on the part of men is akin to the things Jesus had in mind when he said, "ye strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." (Matt. 23:24)