Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity

When Change Is Honorable

Cecil B. Douthitt

More than forty years ago C. R. Nichol taught in a series of short articles that churches had no scriptural right to donate from their treasuries to missionary societies, secular schools, colleges, benevolent societies or any other human institution, that they all stand or fall together as far as church contributions are concerned. I do not remember the paper in which these articles appeared, but it seems to me that it was a little paper in Dallas, Texas, which long ago ceased to be published.

Through nearly all my preaching ministry I have believed and taught this truth, and have opposed church contributions to any and all human organizations. My study of the Bible through the years has deepened my conviction that Nichol was right, and I have never changed on this point.

About ten years ago Roy E. Cogdill said in a conversation with me: "There is no command, example, or necessary inference in the New Covenant authorizing church benevolence for any, except poor saints." He went on to explain that Christians as individuals have a work of charity to perform among the poor of the world, but not local churches.

Very soon thereafter I made a careful study of the nine passages in the New Testament that deal directly with church benevolence. This study of these passages forced me to the conclusion that a church goes beyond the authority of God's word (If John 9) when it takes money from its treasury to relieve the physical needs of any, except indigent saints. Therefore, I changed immediately and began to teach this truth from the pulpit and the papers.

In my study of these nine and related passages I learned another truth which I had not previously known: I have learned that no New Testament church ever donated one dime from its treasury to another church, except when the receiving church was an object of charity; that is, unable to provide the physical needs of its own members. Though it was contrary to what I had believed and previously taught on the subject. I changed and began immediately to teach what I had learned to be the truth of God's word.

I know my changes were honorable and safer and I am no more ashamed of it than Paul was ashamed that he had changed from the Jews' religion to the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:13-17). I believe it would have been dishonorable, hypocritical, stubborn and rebellious, if I had refused to change when I learned truth that I had not known before.

Many of our most faithful elders and gospel preachers were once members of denominations; but they learned the truth and changed from error to the truth of the gospel. There is something manifestly wrong with the heart and soul of any man who sneeringly refers to such changes as "blundering."

I personally know of a few modernistic apostates among the institutional faction, who deny that they have changed their teaching on the issues that are dividing churches; but why they want to lie about it, I do not know. Every one who has read after them knows they have changed, and they themselves know it, unless they have sunk so low in the slough of error that they cannot now understand their own writings.

Their changing from truth to error is enough to condemn them; but lying about it heaps a two-fold condemnation upon them. Do they not any longer believe that "all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone?" (Rev. 21:8). Have they lost faith in everything the Bible says? Are they infidels? Anyone who has read the published writings of Guy N. Woods and Foy E. Wallace and still cannot see that they have changed their teachings on institutionalism cannot be trusted to see anything.

W. L. Totty's charge in a recent number of his bulletin that I am trying "to leave the impression" that I have "always taught everything that I am teaching now is an unmitigated lie. In what I have read of his writings I have never seen anything to indicate that he has any more regard for truth than the devil himself, the father of liars (John 8:44). Not one line of his ungodly trash do I purpose ever to read again.

— 712 Victoria Place Louisville, Ky., 40207