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

Trading Stamps --- No Reply

Tom Roberts, Newport, N. C.

In the March 23rd issue of the Guardian, there was an article written by C. R. McRay relative to the "gimmick" trend in raising support for a project. The article referred to a letter sent out by the Tennessee Orphan Home over the signature of W. B. Richter, Superintendent. Accompanying the letter was an eye-catching sheet in a flamboyant red color advocating the stamp collecting in "your home congregation." To be perfectly fair, the entire message is recorded herein:

"STAMPS Attention: Minister, Bible class teachers, All Christians!!!

Will you please start a stamp campaign close to you! Please start a campaign in your Bible class, or start one in your home congregation. Start one in your neighborhood. We need the stamps for our school bus. Send any kind, we will convert them and use all of them to buy our school bus. This is a campaign that every one can take part in. Send your trading stamps as you receive them, as we need so many.

Thank you sincerely,

(Signed W. B. Richter, Supt.)

Keep Them Coming

Shortly after this letter was received, I wrote brother Richter personally for an explanation of such an action. My letter, dated Sept. 16, 1960, given below, explains itself.

"Dear brother Richter:

Your August 26th letter came addressed to the "church of Christ" in Newport, therefore we can agree that the message inside was to be to the entire congregation and that all money solicited was done so with the idea that it be supplied from the common treasury. (The letter also contained an appeal for money to send high school students to David Lipscomb High School; TR).

I find it necessary to write hoping that you can give me the basis of authority for churches to enter the educational field with money from the treasury of the Lord. You state that we should mail a "contribution to this effort" — Christian education, since it is of utmost importance. I agree that a full education is important and that it is better to attend colleges where teachers are Christians, but I fail to find scriptural authority for churches to finance ANYONE'S secular education, even if it does have a religious side to it. Do you feel that a church can make contributions to a college?

Also, would you please tell me by what authority Bible classes or entire congregations can scripturally enter a stamp-collection work? Paul said (2 Tim. 3:1617) that the word of God supplies us to every good work, but such worldly actions were not included in his principles of what constituted "good works." Surely, individuals could profitably enter such an activity and at the same time give all stamps collected to any organization they so desired, BUT WHERE ARE CONGREGATIONS PERMITTED TO DO SO?

It seems that our viewpoints as to what constitutes authority for a practice which is engaged in by an entire congregation or a Bible class (which is a work of the church under the local elders) differs widely. I do know that the end does not justify the means to attain it, but perhaps there is something I have overlooked. If you will be so kind as to take time to answer this letter, please instruct me as to my error when I teach that the church is in the soul-saving business and not the educational and stamp-promoting business. I do honestly want an answer to these questions and try earnestly not to be one with a closed mind, but at present I cannot agree with such practices.


(Signed, Tom M. Roberts)

To this date, no explanation has been forthcoming and I suppose I was just a wee bit naive to think that I would get a reply, but I did expect to hear from him. But never did get a reply.... at least in print. However, I did get a reply! That reply was tendered in silence, ignoring an honest question for authority. These folks don't need authority for their practices and to those who spend their time in asking for it, silence is the order of the day. In this fashion, they try to keep hidden from thinking brethren that they have no authority. But it is time that every Christian hold these liberal feet to the fire so that their lack of authority will be manifest. They cannot answer such letters as this, scripturally, for no scripture can be given. Such men as W. W. Otey and Homer Hailey and others have contended all along that digressions come, not because of institutions and institutional appeals (they are merely signs of digression or products of digression), but due to a lack of respect for Bible authority. I am fully convinced that nothing could be truer and also fully convinced that I shall never hear from W. B. Richter, superintendent.