Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1950
NUMBER 14, PAGE 9-10b

Brother Bales Double Barrelled Scatter Load Reply

Roy E. Cogdill

In this issue brother Bales has a double barreled scatter load sort of a reply to articles written both by brother Tant and myself. Brother Tant has taken care of his part of the article in a splendid fashion. A lengthy reply by me is unnecessary.

In the Gospel Guardian of April 20, 1950, I wrote an article on "Centralized Control and Oversight" in which I contended that there is no New Testament authority, either in precept or example, for one church becoming the controlling and directing agency through which all other churches discharged their responsibility in preaching the gospel in a field foreign to them all.

Brother Bales, among others, took exception to that article and wrote what he considered a demolishing reply and rushed it to us and then continued with a veritable barrage of replies to all the papers. He thought he had found an example of the very thing against which I was contending. The example that he offered was in Acts 11:29, 30, and 12:25. The relief sent by the church at Antioch for the "poor saints in Judea" was placed in the hands of the "Jerusalem elders only" and they administered it throughout Judea, among all the churches, therefore—well, therefore—what? Why therefore I was wrong, there is an example of such control and oversight by the elders of one congregation over the work of another congregation. If this wasn't his conclusion, why did he reply to my article? That is what I was condemning as without scriptural authority? If his point on the Jerusalem elders in Acts 11:29, 30 did not point in this direction then it didn't "point" at all.

When both brother Tant and myself answered by showing the consequence of his contention, he now comes back with a "scatter load" reply and avows "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 elders, and cooperation—." I would think so. But if brother Bales had seen that difference when he read my article he would not have set in to "destroy" it so completely for I was not writing against cooperation, have never written against it, for I am not against it when it is carried on within scriptural bounds. Brother Bales cannot produce a line in my article that opposes cooperation and we have been carefully telling him and others right along that "cooperation" is not the point of our opposition. They should let us speak for ourselves.

Thus brother Bales has back tracked from his original contention and yields the point that he thought he had destroyed. If we can get him to yield just a few more that should be obvious, we will be glad and he may even begin to write against the very thing which he says he is now against. Of course, he will have to send such articles to us for the Gospel Advocate, on which he is a staff writer, will not print an article against anything much unless it is against us.

Brother Bales again charges that "Cogdill did fix geographical boundaries—the geographical boundaries of a community. He wrote, April, Here is the principle: each congregation had the oversight and responsibility for the work in its own community." The word community which I used is confusing brother Bales. We are surprised that he isn't better acquainted with its meaning. If he could lay his translation aside long enough to pick up a good English dictionary, he would surely be able to see that Cogdill did no such thing or anything akin to it. The word community does not involve geographical boundaries. My present position is exactly what it was in the original article—"I have never contended for any such thing (geographical boundaries) except as the proper observance of scriptural principles and the ability to carry them out would necessarily involve such a consideration." If brother Bales had known that the word community meant a body of people—a fellowship—and does not have in it "geographical boundaries" he would have known that my original article had no such thing in it. I can't be responsible for his ignorance of such simple things.

Having now deserted the original issue, brother Bales raised another concerning the "sending" rather than the "spending" of money contributed by another church. His contention now is that the Jerusalem elders were just "messengers" and not overseers. I challenge him to prove even his last position. It is not in the verse he cites—Acts 12:25. It says not one word about elders anywhere either as messengers or overseers. Paul and Barnabas were the messengers of Antioch. They were sent as messengers to "bear relief" to the "poor saints which dwelt in Judea"—"which also they did placing it in the hands of the elders." What elders? Why the elders of the context, of course. Does not brother Bales know what the context of a passage is? His contention that Paul and Barnabas went only to Jerusalem and placed the relief only in the hands of the Jerusalem elders is utterly without foundation and is absurd and ridiculous as even he should be able to see.

On this point it would be well for brother Bales to leave his philosophical training aside and his logic in which he takes so much pride and show enough respect for the word of God to produce something that looks like one church serving as a messenger for another church. This he cannot do and we challenge him to try—and stick to the point. Individuals served as messengers of the churches—Acts 11:29, 30. II Cor. 8:23. This is one thing which individuals did which the church never did. There is no reason for one church to send through another. All can send by the same agency—United States mail and other postal services.

Sending for another isn't all there is to it and that isn't all that is being done. We have ample evidence of contributions being made to churches to be spent as they see fit under their own discretion and oversight. If this isn't oversight, then there isn't any such thing.

More than that, I have information that Brownfield, Texas, church has actually written to churches asking them to quit sending direct and send to them instead. What little sending without oversight has been going on, if such a thing is possible, has not been that innocent. It is the matter of agency-appointed, approved implied, but actually agency—one church acting for another in a work foreign to both of them and toward which they should be equally related and for which they are equally responsible according to their ability. It isn't a case of emergency with which we are dealing. Rather it has grown into an established practice, solicited, and made representative in all of its implications.

These "sponsoring churches" have established themselves as agents for the whole brotherhood and have been self appointed, have solicited contributions as well as accepted them, and though they have handled large sums of money for other churches have contributed comparatively little if any at all to the work themselves. It is indeed an insidious evil, destructive to the principles of congregational independence and equality, heading the church toward complete departure from the simplicity of God's government for his church.

Brother Bales needs only to see the difference in an individual acting as an "agent" for a church and a church aging as an "agent" for another church. His brilliant logic (he criticizes brother Cled's) should not have to strain itself too much to see that difference. The Lord must have recognized that difference whether brother Bales did or not since He had it done the "individual" way and never the "church" way. If brother Bales would lay all his "philosophical reasoning" aside and give us some New Testament proof he would hit the "point" and deal with the issue. That is what we are calling upon him to do.

As to publishing his articles, we have let him be heard and will do so, but I would not agree to publish everything he wants to write for he is too prolific for us to furnish the space. If I remember correctly, he introduced himself into this discussion without any personal provocation anyway. He was ambitious to "destroy something" and found when he set sail that it took all the articles that the Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, and the Gospel Guardian all three could publish without running out of space and then could not get the job done.