Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1950
NUMBER 14, PAGE 2-3,11

Answer To Four Articles

James D. Bales, Searcy, Arkansas

There are some who become discouraged because brethren have and discuss differences. One should realize that differences arise and that it is right to discuss them. Courtesy and Christian kindness should characterize the discussions, but even if someone errs in these matters, it still should be our desire to learn what is right.

I. "Those Judean Elders—who Were They?" Roy Cogdill, June 15.

1. We know who the Judean elders were, but Acts 11:30 does not say Judean elders.

2. No effort was made to refute "Centralized Control and Oversight" before an analysis was made. I simply promised to analyze "his article from another standpoint" later. This was done ("The Diocesan Decree," Firm Foundation, June 6, 1950). If memory serves me correctly a carbon was sent, before publication, to the Guardian. An effort was made to turn the diocesan charge against me.

3. Acts 12:25 no more mentions elders than 11:30 mentions Judean elders, but we both grant that there were elders in Jerusalem. My reasoning was as follows: They took the relief "to the elders." (11:30) They returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry. Moffatt translates it: "After fulfilling their commission, Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem." (12:25) My conclusion was that the place they went to accomplish their mission was to the very place from which they returned after having fulfilled their mission. The Bible does not say that they went to "Jerusalem only," "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had finished their ministry there... " As long as I stay with the scriptural account I cannot know that they went elsewhere, for 11:30 does not say Judean elders, and the relief could have been sent on to the brethren in Judea without Paul visiting every congregation. Cogdill's inference is that they went elsewhere than Jerusalem. If one stays with just what the Bible says he can know that they went to Jerusalem, but whether they went anywhere else will have to be left to inference. On this point the Bible is silent. Is it not always safer to base our conclusions on what we do know, rather than on what we do not know? The evidence from 11:30 and 12:25 is not the most conclusive evidence in the world, but it is more conclusive for my position than for Cogdill's.

4. Of course, the relief was not for Jerusalem only. But it could reach all Judea through the elders in Jerusalem as certainly as through Paul. One can send relief packages to Germany through CARE in New York City. Of course, if one took pictures of all the brethren in Judea he would have to visit all of them, but not so in order to get relief to them.

5. There is no endorsement on my part of elders overseeing elders in other congregations. There is a vast difference between organizational control and authority over other elders, and cooperation wherein one group sends to another group, or helps one group assist another group. Sending it to the brethren in Judea through Jerusalem, who in turn could send it to the elders of various congregations for distribution, would no more place Jerusalem elders over all Judea than Paul and Barnabas were placed over all elders in Judea if they took it to every eldership personally. Cogdill realized in another article (June 29, page 3, column 1) that sending support does not necessarily mean that the ones sending "oversee" the work as elders oversee the flock. And this could be true regardless of the place that the one sending got the money.

6. Concerning Cogdill's last paragraph: (a) My reasoning is not always right. Students sometimes enlighten me. (b) Should either Cogdill or Bales be discredited in all their teaching work if they make a mistake sometime?

II. "Diocesan Elders?" Yater Tant, June 15.

1. Right or wrong my interpretation of Acts 11:30; 12:25 does not justify diocesan elders. Cooperation and assistance does not spell authority and centralized control over those with whom we cooperate. Is the Gospel Guardian cooperating with the church, preachers, and elders? Can I send spiritual contributions to many congregations through it? Does it therefore have oversight over all elders who read it? If some individuals sent money to an eldership in a large city to support Foy E. Wallace in a fight against some "ism", would that place those individuals over that eldership? Would that place that eldership or Wallace over all the elderships in the

city? or the eldership in the congregation which had a little of the "ism"? Does Tant's interpretation of 11:30 place Paul and Barnabas, as Antioch's representatives or relief bearers, over all the elders in Judea? If not, and they were not thus placed over all the elders in Judea, then the Jerusalem elders cooperating with Antioch and Paul, in helping in forwarding the relief, would not place them over the Judean elders.

2. All of us have differed with McGarvey on some point. His reasoning I listen to with respect—though not without weighing it—but in this matter he merely stated his opinion without giving reasons for it.

3. It is not a necessary conclusion that my interpretation forces the elders in Jerusalem to distribute it directly to each individual disciple throughout Judea. Tant can send relief to some brethren in Italy through some gospel preacher there.

4. Will Tant argue that Paul and Barnabas were placed over all elders of Judea on the basis of their distributing the relief? If they did go personally to each eldership they would have had to distribute the relief "according to their own judgment and discretion," although doubtless they would talk it over with elders in each place. The wrong implication that Tant got from my article would force one to conclude that his interpretation of 11:30 meant that Antioch had the right to appoint men to rule over all the elders of Judea. It would mean this if Tant's reasoning is sound in maintaining that my position placed the elders in Jerusalem over the elders of Judea, as exercising "diocesan" control over them. With reference to Paul and Antioch, Tant can distinguish between cooperation and the exercise of authority, so why not with reference to my interpretation?

5. Tant said: "He (Bales) believes that he has in this verse an example of a group of elders (Jerusalem) who did exercise the identical kind of authority Cogdill condemns—centralized control and oversight.' If that is not his argument, then we are at a loss to understand what he is driving at." Cogdill contended that sending through another congregation was giving that congregation "centralized control and oversight." I deny it. I do not believe that this amounts to "centralized control and oversight," even if his article thought that it did. Jerusalem sending on the relief, forwarding the relief, from Antioch would no more give them "centralized control and oversight" over Judea, than it gave it to Antioch because they sent it, or Paul because he took it. Cogdill grants that it is right for a number of congregations to send to one to help it in its local program (in its own community). Does that place this eldership under all these other elders? Certainly not. Neither do I make a diocesan eldership when I say that "A" can send to "B" to help support their evangelist outside their community. Cogdill does give the elders of congregation "B" a diocese, a territory, when he says that they cannot use money from "A" to support their evangelist anywhere but in their community.

6. Brother Tant, I appreciate the fact that your article was free from sarcasm. It makes it easier for many readers to get your points.

III. "Who Believes In The 'Diocesan Decree'," Roy E. Cogdill, June 29.

1. I sent some articles to the Advocate and the Foundation, as well as to the Guardian since I doubted that the Guardian would have space to print all of my articles which dealt with issues raised in the Guardian. If they will publish my replies to their articles, which deal with my articles, these replies will be sent to them alone. If they do not see fit to publish them, and they have perfect freedom on this score so far as I am concerned, I shall send them elsewhere.

2. My position is that an eldership is over a membership and that it is not over a geographical territory. Cogdill did fix geographical boundaries—the geographical boundaries of a community. He wrote, April 20, "Here is the principle: each congregation had the oversight and responsibility for the work in its own community." In harmony with this principle Cogdill contends that it is right for many congregations to send to one congregation to help it work "in its own community." He maintains that when this same congregation is doing a work outside of its community that it is unscriptural for other congregations to send money to it to help it in this work. It is this later position of Cogdill to which I object. My article on the "Diocesan Decree" pointed out that Cogdill was limiting the eldership to a geographical territory. Now he repudiates the community boundaries and states that "I have never contended for any such thing except as the proper observance of scriptural principles and the ability to carry them out would necessarily involve such a consideration." (June 29, 1950) Since this is now his present position why not let controversy cease. For surely Cogdill will grant that a congregation in Lufkin can send him to some place in Arkansas to hold a meeting, and that they can have him under their oversight, and that he can still be responsible to them.

3. Cogdill also fails to see the difference between congregations cooperating with other congregations and their taking authority and control over other congregations. My position is not that one church "can exercise the oversight of all the work of the churches in any field either at home or abroad," but that one congregation can help another in the work it is doing either at home or abroad. Cogdill says that they can help them in their community work, but not elsewhere. Does Cogdill think that therefore it would be a logical conclusion for me to say that his position means that a number of churches who help the congregation in its local program have become the overseers of that congregation and have authority over it? or that this congregation directs the expenditures of all the other congregations?

4. I did not say that Blackmon meant to convey by "sponsor" all that some may use it to mean, but I thought that it at least meant something. I thought that they exercised oversight of Blackmon who was in Rusk. Cogdill denies that they exercise any oversight over Blackmon; all that they do is support him. Brother Cogdill, would it be right for them to oversee him as well as support him?

5. An inconsistency in another person does not justify one in me. It is right, however, to argue from the principles which another person realizes to be right, in order to show him that he ought to accept certain other things which are authorized by similar principles. Jesus often thus argued.

6. Congregations within a city ought to cooperate so as to help, not hinder, one another. But in his "overshadowing" argument is Cogdill trying to set up geographical boundaries and put an eldership over such, instead of over a membership? If not, why mention it as if it were pertinent to this argument? If so, then why deny that he puts an eldership over a territory instead of a flock?

7. Is a man outside of the flock, and thus beyond the jurisdiction of the eldership just because he lives outside of the community in which the elders live, and where the meeting house is located? Can elders send a man into another community to start a congregation? Can the man be under the eldership that sent him? Or does he pass from under their jurisdiction when he drives over the boundaries of the community? If elders sent brother Cogdill from Lufkin to Japan to carry some relief to brethren there, would he still be under the oversight of the eldership while he was on this mission? If so, then his whole argument collapses. For he is assuming that it is impossible for a person to be under the oversight of an eldership unless he is in their geographical territory. If he repudiates this position, controversy is at an end. Cogdill's present article speaks of "spiritual boundaries" while his other spoke of geographical ones—that is, the community.

8. Congregations such as the Broadway and N congregation in Lubbock do not control all the work in Germany. In fact, they exercise oversight only over the men whom they support. Many of the workers in Germany are supported by, and responsible to, other congregations, as Broadway's bulletin on Germany for Christ shows. Furthermore, it is always the desire of the elders there that other congregations support workers there.

9. The above congregation does not direct the expenditures of other churches. These other churches may send them money, if they so desire, to be used in work in Germany, and this church uses it for such work. But Broadway has not told these other congregations what they must spend money for, and how much they must allot for this, that, or the other. The elders of any congregation which sends money to them to be used in Germany are directing their own expenditures. In this case, they direct it so that it will be spent in Germany. Brother Cogdill states that churches can send money to be spent by another congregation in its own community. It would be as reasonable to argue that this means that this congregation directs the expenditures of these other congregations as to say that Lubbock does. The only difference is that one spends it in one geographical territory, and the other in another. And spending it in another territory is the reason for the present argument being initiated by the Gospel Guardian.

10. A congregation that spent all of its money preaching the gospel in foreign fields, would not be nearly as unscriptural as one which always spends it all in its own locality. For after all, individual Christians can do personal work in their own locality, and so work would be done in their own locality, as well as in a foreign land; whereas the other would be working at home only.

IV. "Brother Bales Finds It!" Yater Tant, June 29.

I think that this article has been answered by the principles already set forth. Brother Tant might ask himself: Did Paul and Barnabas as representatives of Antioch exercise centralized control and oversight over all the elders of Judea?

V. The Issue Briefly Presented.

A clear statement of what the discussion is about ought to be sufficient to show that there is really no need for controversy. The Guardian maintains that money which congregation "A" receives from congregation "B" can be scripturally spent in the immediate community, or territory, around congregation "A"; but that it is unscriptural if congregation "A" spends the money in another community. This is the reason I knew that they had the diocesan idea, i.e. that the rule of an eldership is over a flock in a community's territory—their own community. If this is not their position, then there is no difference between us.

The difference is simply a question of distance. We are agreed that one congregation may send to another congregation to support an evangelist in their community. They disagree when I maintain that the evangelist can be thus supported in another community. The work is the same, the distance is the only difference. We are agreed that the elders ought to have enough confidence in the evangelist while working in the community that they do not have to keep an eye on him twenty-four hours a day. They ask him to do certain work and they trust him to do it. The same principle is followed when the evangelist is sent to another town. They send him to do a work, they trust him just as they did when he was at home. So the oversight is still there. The difference is the distance. In other words, the difference is that they have the diocesan idea and I do not.

VI. Since Cogdill Realizes That To Contribute To The Support Of A Mart Does Not Necessarily Mean "Oversight," He Should Approve Broadway And N Forwarding Money To Any Workers Over Whom They Do Not Have "Oversight."