Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 17, 1963

Wrong Thing In The Right Way

Warren R. Cheatham

During the past fifteen years in the church there has been a great controversy concerning the work of the church. Battle lines have been drawn many times on the same front by the ablest men in our great brotherhood. At the outset men were caught in a whirlpool of activities labeled "church work," much of which had not the least thing to do with the work of the church, and none of which had been considered under the authority of Christ. When questions arose about their activities they answered, "it is a good work." For a long time that was all that could be set forth to justify their deeds. However, as time passed they were pressed harder for authority and many imagined they could prove, by the Bible, their projects scriptural. Varied texts have been used to prove (?) whatever brethren wanted to keep as their practice. Verily, it might have been different had brethren not been caught in their activities without a scripture. If we had seen the truth before we were involved in actual practice, prejudice may not have been involved. Brethren did not want to give up that which they had learned to love.

Among the many attempts to prove their doctrine right, we want to examine a few. Remember the battle we had a few years back (still going) when men justified the church in business by proving (?) that whatever the individual could do the church could do? Remember the answer from 1 Tim. 5:16 of the individual doing it "and let not the church be charged." We know it was not accepted, but it was answered.

Then there will be some that will remember the "Constituent Elements" argument. Generally speaking this was a trick of sophistry by lobbing a half dozen things together, supposedly authorized in scripture, then claiming the right for church participation. It had been proven, once and again, that some of their elements were not scriptural. No one could have missed the argument on James 1:27. "Pure religion" is and in order for the church to be practicing "pure religion" she must be supporting an institutional benevolent society, or at least in sympathy with it. Anyone may find an answer to this by reading James 1:27. We haven't forgotten the "all men" argument of Gal. 6:10. It wouldn't take a very careful Bible student to figure out the answer here. Nor are we liable to forget the fast deal on the reversing of benevolence and evangelism. They have one church sending to another in benevolence (which is authorized), then they simply change horses and get the preacher's pay to him through another church, (evangelism now in place of benevolence). From here it's only a short step to the full fledged sponsoring church and centralized control, which no one will soon forget. Some try to make Jerusalem the sponsoring church and others have given up completely in trying to make it authoritative. A little time back a few brethren gave up all New Testament examples including the example of first day of the week communion. Why? Because their cause was crushed, if they were to comply with N. T. examples, on the work of the church.

There are others that cannot be forgotten; yet, lest we be tedious, we mention only one more for this review. I have heard brethren very recently say, "We had rather be found doing good works, even if wrong, than doing nothing?' This attitude is vainly seeking a right way of doing that which is wrong. And "I'm as good as you are" attitude is certainly no good when neither is right, and it's not the standard when both are right. Brethren need to see the fallacy here. I heard of an elder a few years back arguing with a very well informed preacher making this statement about church supported institutional benevolent care: "I had rather care for them in the wrong way, than not to have cared." These statements sound nearly right, but nearly, or almost is not enough. "Doing nothing" will get no one to heaven, neither will doing wrong things in the right (?) way. (Matt. 7:21-23) "Not to have cared," provided you have had opportunity, will damn the soul, just as quickly as "caring for them in the wrong way," i.e. church support of a human institution. So what have we gained by taking hold of two wrong sides? Why is it that anyone will imagine they can do the wrong thing in the right way? There is no such thing. You cannot worship an idol right. You cannot baptize an infant right. You cannot, religiously, sprinkle a person right, any more than you can count beads right. These are wrong, not in themselves, but because they have been introduced into worship without authority.

The same objection is made to those who have introduced things into the work of the church without authority. The only objection we make to anything is that of having no authority. We have had more than a decade to find a scripture authorizing the Herald of Truth. Scripture has not been found after a mighty try. There is no scripture, therefore it is without God's authority, and wrong. One cannot support the Herald of Truth right. It is as wrong as infant baptism; neither is authorized. The same principle will work in regard to support of the college, hospital, farm, cows for Korea, benevolent societies, youth camps, recreation centers and the like. You cannot do a wrong thing in a right way. You may goof up that which is right but one cannot glaze over that which is wrong — and make it pleasing in the sight of God.

We do not give up hope, though at times it seems like a vanishing thing. It's wonderful to see brethren dig deep in support of the church. It's wonderful to see these same brethren further glorify God when they care for their own needy and the needy of this world, over and above their contribution to Christ. Some are, above this, supporting gospel preachers in different places. May God richly bless them and may their tribe increase.

Let each examine self and do the necessary things in the right way. There is no praise in accomplishing a better wrong than your neighbor.

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