Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 25, 1964
NUMBER 8, PAGE 4,10b

We Get Letters


Cecil B. Douthitt

Seldom does a week go by in which we do not get some sort of a reply to something we have written either in our local bulletin or in the Gospel Guardian. The response may be a two or three page typewritten letter, or only a few words written on the margin of a returned bulletin. Most are complimentary, but some are in vehement opposition.

A few brethren now gone liberal try to justify their claims by argument; some, only by innuendo and name-calling; others, by accusing us of practicing something as bad or worse than what they are doing (like the digressives of old who argued that their mechanical music in worship was no worse than our tuning fork and song book). This kind contends that we have no authority for communion cups, Bible classes, baptistries, meeting houses and preachers' residences, and therefore they have no need of scriptural authority for church contributions to Bible colleges, orphan asylums and other human institutions through which the churches may do their work, and centralize the control of their work and resources. Using a passage of Scripture to justify their innovations is an operation in which they scarcely ever indulge.

We used to wonder how highly educated instrumental music advocates could become so stupid as to suppose they could prove that such music in worship is scriptural by providing that song books and tuning forks are without scriptural authority. We now wonder how our highly educated liberal brethren can become so blinded by their innovations as to suppose they can justify them by contending that some other things are without scriptural authority. If we could not prove that we have Bible authority for Bible classes and preachers' residences, that would not prove that we do have Bible authority for a church's engaging in secular business for profit, and it should not take a sage to see it.

In a recent issue of our weekly bulletin, The Haldeman Avenue Visitor, we taught (1) that churches may buy the products or services of secular institutions — such as publishing houses — , but churches scripturally could not donate money from their treasuries to human organizations or enterprises, and (2) that no church has a scriptural right to engage in the business of selling either services or products. Yesterday a letter came from a brother down in Texas, in which he took issue with us on these two points.

Three features of that letter kept us from dropping it in the waste basket (as we do many others) and forgetting all about it. (1) It was written in a kindly spirit, (2) its wording indicated that the writer was pretty well educated, (3) reference was made to a passage of Scripture. The passage was not quoted, but the brother did cite the reference in his contention. Therefore, we wrote him a note thanking him for the kindly spirit of his letter and promising him that we would answer it more fully in our bulletin, a copy of which would be mailed to him.

In his reply the brother said, "In your article, you stated that one could 'BUY' services of publishing houses, but could not donate to them. The difference between buying and donating has little intrinsic difference." Never in all our life did we teach that "one" could not donate one's money to a publishing company. We teach that a church cannot donate money from its treasury to a publishing house or any other human institution. Oh, if our liberal brethren could only learn that individual Christians can do many things that churches as such cannot do scripturally, and if they were not so set for the defense of the false claim that churches scripturally may do anything that individuals may do, then they could more easily extricate themselves from their errors which are dividing so many churches.

Notice the brother's statement, "The difference between buying and donating has little intrinsic difference." How can any rational human being, much less a college trained preacher, make such a ridiculous declaration? In what kind of school did he get his training? Many of our "on the march" college connected brethren, who ought to know better, seem to believe it.

A church of Christ in a southern city bought a meeting house from the Methodist Church for several thousand dollars. Now if that church of Christ donates several thousand dollars to the Methodist Church, our Texas brother can see but "little intrinsic difference" between buying from the Methodist Church and donating to it. If he cannot see anything more than "little intrinsic difference," he is worse than colorblind.

A church of Christ in Indiana, with which we are acquainted, bought a house and lot from the Catholic Church, or from one of its subordinate organizations. Some of our "loose-constructionist" brethren claim that there is "little intrinsic difference" between buying this property from the Catholic organization and donating the same amount to the Catholic Church. Paul could buy meat sacrificed to idols and eat it to satisfy his hunger (I Cor. 10: 25-30), but there was a great deal more than "little intrinsic difference" between his buying the meat and his donating to the heathen temple that sold it.

Here is another point on which the Texas preacher chose to differ. He said, "You contend that Highland in Abilene has no right to 'sell' its services." And in his effort to prove that churches do have a right to sell their services, he gave a Scripture reference. What passage do you think he cited? We doubt that you would ever guess it. Well, he gave I Cor. 9:6-11 as his proof text. He said, "A careful study of I Cor. 9:6-11 will show that Paul both 'Sold' his services and had the 'right to charge for them' ", and he proceeded to prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt. He could have proved also that Paul had a right to make tents and sell his products, or his services as a tent-maker, to obtain money with which to do the work the Lord had assigned to him (Acts 18:2, 3); that Luke, the beloved physician, had a right to sell both his pills and his services as a doctor (Col. 4:14); that Simon, a tanner, had a right to tan hides and sell them at a profit (Acts 10:6); that Lydia had a right to sell purple (Acts 15:14). In this we are in perfect agreement. But when he jumps to the conclusion that churches have a scriptural right to sell their services, or to go into the business of manufacturing and selling products to obtain money with which to do the work the Lord assigned to them, because the Scriptures teach that individuals have the right to do so: right there we come to the parting of the ways; right there we call a halt; right there we demand book, chapter and verse. Now let him and all his helpers find that passage. They have their work all laid out for them. Brethren, START LOOKING.

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