Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 20, 1964
NUMBER 15, PAGE 1,10a

Compendium Of Issues - (IV.)

Foy E. Wallace, Jr.


Something has been said on the point of churches playing the role of "sending" or "spending" the money of other churches. Some of them may be doing both, but some are doing neither with some of the money of other churches. They are holding it. Their reports show large accumulations of money, big bank accounts, held in reserve for emergency. Thus the church is made a holding company, a sort of religious federal reserve bank. The money in this reserve bank account has been siphoned from many other churches. But it is controlled by the eldership of the one church. Is that centralized control? Also, something is said of a church forwarding the funds for another church, a forwarding company, like the U. S. mails. Well, when is a church a forwarding company, and when is it a holding company?

The effort of elders of these churches to defend their practice is about all the evidence needed that their programs are infringements on the divine system of the New Testament. Just read their ads and pick out their weaknesses. For instance, distinction between churches and individuals doing the giving to the foreign college is all on the ledger. The ad placed the church and the college in Japan side by side, and called on all the churches to give; to take their choice; either or both. Even if churches are informed that they "may" send direct, or mark their funds for forwarding, it remains that they also "may" not do so, but may put their money into the big religious bank of one church, controlled and administered by a central eldership, at their own will, the thing some are trying to make-believe is not being done. But it is. The Don Carlos Janes Agency of not many years ago did the same thing, and said the same thing about it, using the same language. Churches were told that they "may" mark their checks for forwarding, or, "may" simply put it into...the Janes Missionary Fund. Churches did bot. But Janes left a huge missionary account in his will and specified the missionaries he wanted to be the beneficiaries of certain amounts and in the same will specified that... approximately $40,000.00 should be used exclusively to promote the tenets of premillennialism. That is how that "may" and "may not" terminated. The churches that are pouring money now into these brotherhood reserve banks of centralized elderships have no more control, administration and identity in their funds, as local churches, than these churches did who were victims of the Don Carlos Janes missionary schemes. The principles involved are the same. If the missionary societies should announce that henceforth the churches "may" mark their funds for certain places and the society would simply function as a forwarding agency — that would not make a missionary society a scriptural thing. Nor does it make it scriptural when an eldership of one church becomes a "board of foreign missions" for all the churches and does the same thing under the name of a local eldership When elders become general they cease to be local.

Extremes. It is to be admitted that these extremes in this so-called cooperation have slipped up on us all. Most of us in the past have acquiesced in cooperation plans, one way or another, and have said things that may be taken as a past endorsement of what is presently being done. But it has developed into something that was not expected. Even the brethren who have assayed to come to the defense of the central sponsors are now conceding that this cooperation thing may be carried to extremes. That being true, it really becomes their duty to point out when and how these churches may practice the extremes they concede to be a possibility. If they are not already doing so, I confess a loss to know how they could do so. If it has not already gone to an extreme when would it, and how could it? When the conceded extreme is named, and an attempt made at an argument on it, the conclusions will contradict the premises.

When it comes to pass that the elders of a big city church feel called upon to propagandize the "brotherhood" with big ads in the papers, in an effort to justify their course, and at the same time plead with the "brotherhood" to the point of imploring the churches to "send us" your money, not for any local emergency or need, but for a general program — anybody ought to see that it has gone much too far, and honest brethren who know the principles involved will acknowledge it, even if they may have thought a more limited cooperation was harmless and previously said things to condone it. A practice may become so persistent as to develop into a malignant growth, and so far reaching as to form an octopus. That stage has apparently been reached in the course of things, and hope lies in the eventuality that these men and these churches have gone to such an extreme that their arbitrary attitude and diocesan dictates will become so repulsive to sober-minded brethren as to be self-rebuked. Many good brethren already, who have felt sympathetic to the plans of these big churches, have come to realize that it is time to call a halt.

Precedent. It is palpably weak to offer to affirm that something is as scriptural as something else. Nothing is scriptural unless it is. There is no as' about it. That is mighty poor logic, and men who are always doing it are afraid of their ground. It is time to quit talking about who did this or said that and start giving scripture precedent for the practices that are being promoted. It is time to quit careering around all over creation and cite the scriptures to prove the practices. A starter to focus the fracas may be suggested in the matter of "autonomy." If a "board of foreign missions" do no more than forward funds for the churches, would it violate the autonomy of the Local church? If not, then on what principle would it be wrong for the local churches to send their missionary funds to ''a board of missions"? It is on that principle that the elders of one church may themselves become an unscriptural board of some kind, and when elders are organized into a general board, they cease to be elders and become an eldership, with a big E, as well as a big WE. It does not comport with the divine arrangement and scriptural functions of the New Testament congregations.

Care. There is an agency called CARE for the handling of relief bundles to foreign countries. But there is a recent new slant on care. At a place where I recently held a meeting, a letter came from Boles Orphan Home, addressed to the Church of Christ, in care of the Ladies Bible Class! And the board of trustees of that institution was asking the church to do something for them through the Ladies Bible Class. What Next? It is evident that there are sects within the church. A denomination cannot exist without an organization and a name; but a sect can. In the church, for instance, already there is the young people's sect. In all of the doings that have been going on, we have developed the young people consciousness and complex into a young people sect, within the church. And now the Church of Christ is considered to be in care of the Ladies Bible Class, by one of "our Institutions."

Jekyll and Hyde. This same institution has on quite an expansion campaign. The plans seem to be taking shape of something over at Quinlan that will develop into the proportions of a Boys Town, of "Father Flanagan. Their traveling entourage is appearing before governors of state, great business executives, putting on entertainments and calling for much expense. Of course, all of this is the work of the church, according to some among us, and to make it scriptural the Board of Trustees for this now secular institution have been placed under the oversight of a Board of elders of a local church. But members of the Board of Trustees are elders in different local churches. So elders of one church as board members are under the oversight of elders of another church, overseeing the board! Where do we go from here? When an institution expands into such a general thing that it becomes a public institution, with an organization board to run it, the time has come to cut it completely loose from the church, and let it stand on its own secular institutional legs. For it to claim to be a church orphanage, but operating as a secular institution, with all of the secularism that belongs to any of the eleemosynary Institutions, is simply to play the role of Doctor Jekkl and Mister Hyde. We have had too much of that sort of thing. — TORCH, September, 1950.