Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1961
NUMBER 30, PAGE 7,11c

Brother Lemmons Misses The Boat Again

R. L. (Bob) Craig, Bridge City, Texas

In a former article titled "Its Own Orphans" I answered seven questions asked by Reuel Lemmons, editor of the Firm Foundation, back, in 1957. These questions, according to his article, were for the purpose of arriving at truth in the differences existing among us. By a diligent study of the New Testament, I arrived at the position that the church (the collective body) has no responsibility in benevolence to anyone other than poor saints. And in particular I tried to emphasize the idea that the church had no obligation toward any child, simply because that child happened to be an orphan. Chidren (that is; non-responsible children) are not members of God's family (the church) therefore not, subjects of church benevolence. I pointed out that we have no command, example, or necessary inference, authorizing such. I gave scripture to show that the church's benevolent obligation began and ended with destitute church members, those who are related in Christ.

In the Firm Foundation of September 12th brother Lemmons writes another editorial in which he spends a lot of time and wastes a lot of paper deploring what he calls a "new doctrine" which has "sprung up to plague the church in the past ten years." Brother Lemmons needs to check the scriptures I gave and then he would know that the doctrine is nearly 200 times 10 years old!

He then puts the church into politics. He is going to save the nation from Communism — with the church! Yes, Italy is going Communist because the Catholic Church didn't feed the people. The same, he says, is true of all Europe; South America, and Cuba. He says, "we would not give a dime for charity work that does not have as its ultimate goal the salvation of souls," even though he has expended all this effort in giving as an outstanding motive, the salvation of the nation from Communism. I believe brother Lemmons is actually in the shape Festus falsely accused Paul of being in. He is "beside himself."

He then hands down one of his famous decrees: "God gave the church a two-fold mission, the preaching of the gospel and the alleviation of human misery. It must not fail in either." What is extremely significant is the fact that Lemmons gives absolutely NO scripture for his decree. Give us the proof for what you say, brother Lemmons.

He further says that this NEW doctrine (that the church is obligated only to relieve poor saints) "would make a leech upon any community out of the church of our Lord." But he missed the boat altogether on that one didn't he? Think, please, brother Lemmons. Just who would be a leech on any community? You know, as well as I, that the person or organization that the community has to take care of is the leech. Now, is this true of the church which will take care "only of its own?" No, it would be impossible for the church, even one who cares only for its own to become a "leech' on the community." Think of the church in Jerusalem, which, in time of local distress; received contributions from other churches, taken up and sent specifically, for the relief of "the poor among the SAINTS."

Did that cause the church in Jerusalem to become a leech? Lemmons is pretty loose with his reasoning (?).

Brethren, if this NEW doctrine of brother Lemmons is true — (unlimited, world-wide benevolence for the church) then we are all going to be lost, because the Salvation Army is head and shoulders ahead of us. Even the big churches among us are doing practically nothing along this line. I know of none who maintain a coffee and donut truck to stand by during floods, fire, tornado, etc. Come to think of it, I don't know of any religious group anywhere, except the Salvation Army (and brother Lemmons) who really believes in world-wide benevolence, and, of course, it would be completely out of the benevolent picture itself, were it not for the funds various communities turn over to it, thus making it a community agency for benevolence rather than it doing its own work.

Church benevolence is either limited or unlimited. If limited, the limitation must be regulated by the New Testament and I believe it is limited and that the New Testament draws the line at "poor saints." If brother Lemmons can find the scripture that proves unlimited benevolence, let him do so and then let him dedicate the Firm Foundation to getting the "Church of Christ Army" to rolling. Remember, he lumps preaching and benevolence together as world-wide missions of the church. It is easy for him to prove the preaching part of it and it looks like it would be just as easy for him to come up with the scripture on going into all the world "relieving human misery."

Then brother Lemmons, not having any scripture, grabs at (of all things) the story of the good Samaritan to try to prove church benevolence. A novice in Bible study should know better. If anyone needs an explanation, this parable teaches "individual" not "collective" responsibility. And if brother Lemmons will go back and read my article (I sent it to him and that was the reason for his recent explosion) he will have his memory refreshed to the fact that I believe that individual Christians have a responsibility to "all men" (Gal. 6:10) to the extent of their ability and opportunity.

Now, if brother Lemmons wants to get "church" responsibility out of the "good Samaritan story," let's interpret it that way. If one man (the Samaritan) represents a church, then to be consistent in the interpretation, each man must represent a church. So — here's the way it would have to be: The priest, God's child (a church of Christ) passes by the beaten man (a church of Christ); the Levite (another church of Christ) passes by also; then the Samaritan (a Baptist church — he couldn't be a church of Christ, could he?) comes along and ministers to the beaten man (a church of Christ). I don't think Lemmons will want that interpretation, will he?

Brother Lemmons is extremely unfair in his tactics. He uses his paper to fight a straw man, a big bogie. Many of his readers never know the truth of the matter, because he keeps his pages closed to the truth. At last account, he had a circulation of over 14,000 as compared to my (Texas Bible Banner) paltry 2,000. He boasts that he believes in controversy. But he does not believe in it enough to engage in any of it, except as sectarians do — fight it from one side.

Study your Bible. If you find the ideas I present to be false, write me a letter. Give your scripture. I'll appreciate it. And if I find that you are right and I'm wrong, I'll acknowledge that in this paper. Fair enough?