Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1950

Brother Wright's Self Justification

Roy E. Cogdill

Brother Cecil Wright has been heard from again through the pages of the Firm Foundation and the effort once more is to justify himself in what he is doing or what the church is doing where he preaches, by comparison with what someone else has done rather than by the word of God.

We have plead for the New Testament authority that justifies the practice of one church accepting and soliciting funds from other churches and assuming and directing a work for them toward which they should be equally related and responsible. He has not produced or made any effort to produce any and again I predict that he will not make an effort in that direction. Why? Well it could be that he knows that it isn't there. If he doesn't he should. If he had known of any or could have found any, you can be sure he would have produced it by now. But he has made no effort to bring forth from the word of God one commandment, necessary inference, or approved example of the thing that he is doing and trying to justify. I suggest that he study his New Testament, at least as diligently as he has my book to see if he can either find some authority for what he is doing and either point it out to us so we can get right on it or convince himself that there isn't any and quit his practice. He is apt to destroy all the regard he has for scriptural authority by continuing to look elsewhere for something that will justify in his own mind what he wants to do.

Human innovations have always followed the same course. Brethren introduce their false teaching, human practice, or unscriptural organization because they want it and their own wisdom prompts it and then when it is called in question, they seek to justify themselves by fair means or foul and never go to the Word of God.

These "centralized control and oversight" brethren have formed their unscriptural combinations not because they found New Testament authority for them but because they wanted them and their own wisdom prompted it Now they are willing to justify themselves by anything that they can grab that will cloud the issue and cover up the absence of scriptural authority for what they are doing. But in the well known words of another—THEY SHALL NOT PASS. We will still challenge and call for their scripture proving—not that they are just as scriptural or unscriptural as someone else—hut that what they are doing is scriptural so that we can all practice it. The dissension and division they are creating can be justified on only one ground and that is a "thus saith the Lord." If they cannot produce this, they must either give their practice up or be as guilty of dividing the body of Christ over an unscriptural practice as the advocates of instrumental music ever were. Will they produce it?

Brother Wright's article is as full of sophistry as it is lacking in scriptural proof. He should turn sectarian completely for he would make a good sectarian preacher and debater. He could argue to his hearts content then that he is just as scriptural as someone else. That is all they have to argue. But he will make no headway with thinking Christians trying to prove that what he is doing is no more unscriptural than what someone else has done, We want only what the New Testament teaches about the matter. I have told him that if New Testament principles should establish that the Music Hall meeting is wrong, I would but admit my wrong and not be guilty of it again. But let him deal with the issue of what the New Testament teaches on these centralized combinations. If the New Testament permits neither the Music Hall meeting or the combining of the work of a number of churches under the oversight of one, then they are both wrong. I am interested in being right and not in being consistent. Brother Wright has not dealt with the issue. He hasn't even started in that direction.

As to the statement in my book, the New Testament Church, I have only this to say: the statement is inaccurate and misleading though at the time it was written it was not intended to teach that one church—Jerusalem directed and supervised the work for all the churches of Judea. I have never believed that. The book was written some fifteen years ago and before the issue concerning the present practice among the churches had even been raised. It is certainly in error and especially in the light of the present issue. What do I propose to do about it? Why correct it, of course, and likewise any other that brother Wright can find. We will print an errata for the remaining copies of this edition and correct it in the next issue. If the brethren will do that about their literature and if brother Wright will do that about his practice, even if he has to change jobs again, much less harm will be done.

Let us try to justify what we are doing only by the word of God. Let us quit pleading that what we are doing is no worse than what someone else is doing. Let us go back to the word of God and find what is right and stand upon it. We call upon brother Wright to produce the scriptural authority for what he is practicing or quit practicing it. Quit hiding behind some proposition of sophistry and be courageous enough to discuss the principle in the light of New Testament teaching or say you are unwilling to do it. All the sniveling and pleading for prejudice and sympathy that is being done is unworthy of men who are trying to please the Lord and preach his word. Let us either produce the passage authorizing our practice or quit preaching that we "speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where it is silent."