Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1950

In Conclusion

James D. Bales

The courtesy and fairness of the Guardian in printing my reply is deeply appreciated. May only good come from our deliberations. Perhaps this review of several articles will conclude my discussion of this particular phase of the subject. With the editor I realize that departures "slip up on one" if he is not very careful, and thus all should be happy to have their hand called at any time.

Although I am not conscious of any basic change on my part concerning the issues which we have discussed, evidently my position had not been made clear to some brethren. Discussion enables us, many times, to make our positions clear to one another.

Let me briefly refer to some things which have appeared in several articles:

(1) Roy Cogdill's August 10 article. There is not much to say concerning this article, which is not already covered in my August 10 article, and in Tant's agreement that they are not opposed to one church sending money for another, "merely acting as a 'forwarding agent'."

Cogdill, in so far as I am concerned, does not need to call in or to burn his present stock of The New Testament Church (fifth edition), but he should clarify, in the light of the present discussion, his comment on page 47 where he identified the elders of Acts 11:30 as the Jerusalem elders, and used the term "administered". "Charity (Acts 11:29-30). Funds for poor saints in Judea were placed in hands of elders of Jerusalem Church to be administered by them," (page 47) This book was advertised in the very issue (July 13, page 16) in which brother Cled Wallace had some things to say (page 1) about my identifying them with the Jerusalem elders. Also in the August 10, page 2 issue in which Cogdill spoke of my position as absurd (page 9).

Concerning the word "community". If Cogdill meant to use the term in the sense of fellowship, then did he mean to say in the April issue: "Here is the principle: each congregation had the oversight and responsibility for the work in its own fellowship." Cogdill said, August 10, that the "word community does not involve geographical boundaries." Acting on his recommendation that I pick up a good English dictionary, I picked up the American College Dictionary. It says: "A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and have a cultural and historical heritage." Community may also be used to mean "commonwealth", "brotherhood", or religious order.

Brother Cogdill is right, Bales did introduce "himself into this discussion without any provocation anyway". (page 10) If there had been personal provocation I should not have entered the discussion. It is not a personal matter with me, but a matter of what is right or wrong about issues which are raised.

(2) Cled E, Wallace, "They Found It In A Horse Lot". (July 13) Having published August 10 a long article which deals with some of the things in this, and the other articles, we shall notice only a few things. (a) Some commentators agree with them, and some with me on Acts 12:25. None of them are authoritative. All should weigh their reasoning and not be overawed by their name. (b) Length or brevity within itself does not commend or condemn an article. Cogdill seemed to think that one of my articles was so brief that it dismissed his long article with a wave and a puff, as he put it (June 15, page 9). Brother Cled E. Wallace speaks about my "great length, the only kind of length he knows" (July 13, page 1). Both comments are irrelevant. (c) I still think that he misunderstood Boles. My article on that point maintained that there is a difference between asking the aid of another congregation, and having the authority to lay just claim on another congregation for assistance. (d) The Guardian grants that two congregations can unite funds out of their treasury to support gospel preaching in the community of one of the congregations. Although I have not examined the context in which Boles put the following statement, quoted by Wallace, it does not seem to me to agree with another statement in the Guardian. "A challenge is here issued to anyone to find a New Testament example of two or more churches uniting their funds and supporting the preaching of the gospel." (July 13) C. W. Sewell wrote against missionary societies but maintained that churches can cooperate, "Study this little tract and tell me, if you are not able to support an evangelist yourselves, why should you not unite your means with those of one or more sister congregations and thus support a man while he works among the destitute?" (June 22, page 3) Now it may be that the fuller context of Boles' statement allows both statements to be harmonized, but I think not as it is quoted. (e) I make no effort for "cooperation" "meaning centralized control and oversight'." (page 11) Cooperation of the kind for which I reason does not mean centralized control and oversight, as some seemed to think that it did.

3. Pat Hardeman, "Is There A Divine Pattern?" (July 13, pages 2-3). Pat writes in a fine spirit. Most of my comments on Acts 12:25 are found in my August 10 article.

(a) Some ancient authorities do read "to" Jerusalem, and if this is correct the argument would be settled concerning this particular passage. But the weight of authority is not for that reading, as the various translations show. The way it is translated is more in harmony with the context for the next verses deal with the church in Antioch and Paul is there. They went out from Antioch on the mission and that is evidently where they went when they returned from that mission. (b) I do not argue that there is no divine pattern, but that the divine pattern permits one church ("A") to help another ("B") support an evangelist whether he labors in "B" community or whether they send him to Africa. (c) I do not argue that elders must oversee the way in which a preacher spends his personal support. My point is that they oversee the man, and that where other elders contribute directly to his support that they are cooperating with the "sending out" congregation or elders and thus enabling them to keep the man, over whom they have oversight, on the field. So they are cooperating with that eldership just as definitely as if they sent it to those elders to send it on to the man over whom they have foresight.

And now, beloved, I pray that God may use the discussion which we have had to stimulate a closer study of the Scriptures and an increasing determination to do the Lord's work the Lord's way.