Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 4, 1951

Brother Bales Does And He Doesn't

Roy E. Cogdill

We have heard from brother Bales again. He has so much writing to do that he has gone to just putting it in outline form. He appreciates our fairness in printing his articles but he should remember that going over and over the same ground without a single new point raised might get exceedingly monotonous. It would not be necessary for him to suffer such a "drain on his time" trying to establish his position if he would just furnish us with one scriptural example of what he is contending for. He tried to do that in his first article but was unable to make it stick. All we are asking for is the scriptural precept for or a scriptural example of the elders of one church becoming the controlling and directing medium through which many other churches may spend their money and discharge their responsibility in a field foreign to them all. If brother Bales will just show us one bit of scriptural authority or anything in the New Testament that is like what Lubbock and other churches are doing, we will accept it and join in with them. Until he can find that and is willing to bring it out for us to look at, he should be quiet and quit taxing the patience of the brethren with his twisting and turning over the same ground again and again.

In the same paragraph (3) he makes these two statements:

(1) "I was not affirming that centralized control of one congregation over other congregations should be established."

(2) "One congregation, I maintain, can help another in a work done beyond its (the one helped) community."

It would be interesting to know what brother Bales thinks would actually constitute "centralized control." If one or more congregations turning the direction of a work over to another congregation to oversee for them and combining their funds in the treasury and under the direction of the overseeing church is not centralizing the control of the work, how in heaven's name could it be done brother Bales? You tell us.

To further add to his inconsistency he states in another paragraph of the same article: "My position is that since the program of a congregation can, and ought to as soon as it is able; extend beyond its own physical locality and membership; that other congregations can help them, if they see fit, in this phase of their program of work." I want brother Bales to tell us how a congregation can carry on a work beyond the activity and work done by their own members without assuming the control and direction of a work done by the members of another congregation. If one congregation assumes the control and direction the work done by members of another congregation, you have one group of elders directing the work of two churches. If this can be done, they can direct the work of two hundred, and if that can be done, where will the line be drawn and how far will they have to go without having centralized control which brother Bales says he does not affirm? "It would be very helpful for brother Bales to enlighten us a little on his position here. It sounds like he "can and he can't; he does and he doesn't; to me.

No one in my knowledge has contended for a congregation limiting its work to any "physical locality." We are simply affirming that wherever the work of a congregation may be done, it must be done under the direction of its own elders as an independent and autonomous body. We further affirm that one congregation cannot delegate its responsibility for the oversight of its own work to another congregation. We affirm that in the word of God there is not one trace of an instance where one congregation ever contributed through another congregation to a work for which they were equally responsible. Let brother Bales find it and the argument evil cease. Let him find it and "Cogdill," as he so flatly puts it, will acknowledge that someone has "drawn up a law, where God has not," though "Cogdill" didn't do it for what "Cogdill" is contending for was preached for generations before "Cogdill" was ever born and didn't originate with him at all. Just because brother Bales is ignorant of what has been taught and advocated through all of these years by faithful gospel preachers, he should not reach the conclusion that something new has been originated. One could not have read the array of evidence that has been carried in the pages of this paper from men like Srygley, Boles, Lipscomb, and a host of others without knowing that such has been the contention of faithful brethren all along. It pre-dates even all of them and originates in New Testament teaching. It is the truth because it is found there.

Brother Bales continues to try to force on me a very restricted meaning of the word "community. It may be that he has never consulted an authority on this word or it may be that he thinks he knows more about the word than the authorities. The only reason that the idea of locality is ever connected with the word community at all is because of the common relationship of the people as the result of living in a common locality. A community is a body of people who for some reason hold a common relationship. In the spiritual sense a congregation is a community, Christians brought into a common fellowship with joint and equal responsibilities and under the direction and oversight of a common eldership. If brother Bales cannot see that, I can't help him and I don't believe there is any use in anyone else trying.

To such a Christian community (congregation) there are responsibilities that attach in a peculiar way. The elders of such a Christian community have a responsibility that is peculiar to that community of Christians and that they cannot exercise over any other community of Christians. They must see that they are taught, that discipline is exercised, that the work of the Lord is carried on in that community of Christians. God charges them with this responsibility over their own congregation and they cannot exercise it over any other. Their responsibility ceases with the membership of the congregation over which they rule. They have no authority to rule over outsiders or over the membership of another congregation. They cannot direct a program of work for another congregation. Community lines are congregational lines in spiritual matters. Beyond these lines Christians dare not go. We are affirming the independence, equality, and separate responsibility of each congregation in doing the Lord's work we believe this is what Lubbock and other churches and men like brother Bales are trying to destroy.

The Music Hall meeting is still bothering brother Bales. He cannot see the difference between the Norhill church holding a meeting directed by her own elders, guaranteed by her own members, in fulfillment of her own responsibility, in which other churches had fellowship, and Lubbock directing a work off across the world for the whole brotherhood. The Gospel was preached for both members of the church and outsiders during the meeting as is the case in every meeting. Those who obeyed the Gospel during the meeting could have worshipped with any congregation they chose, which is the case of every gospel meeting. Brother Bales thinks these facts put the meeting outside of the work of one congregation. If so, then there isn't such a thing as a Gospel meeting which is the peculiar responsibility of one congregation. Any congregation which had fellowship in the meeting was only enabling the Norhill church to make it a bigger and better meeting but it was within the work of the Norhill congregation for it was the work of the members of the Norhill church. I would call attention once again to the difference. Other churches had fellowship with the Jerusalem church in a work belonging peculiarly to, the Jerusalem church which they could not have done so effectively without that fellowship. Brother Bales and the Lubbock brethren would have set Antioch up to receive all the contributions and be responsible for the distribution of the relief in Jerusalem instead of letting the Jerusalem church do it.

If they are willing to follow New Testament example, then why not let all the contributions for which they are asking be sent to the churches in Germany and let them be responsible for their own work. They now have about one thousand members according to brother Gatewood. If they are not a church now, when will they be? If these promoting and sponsoring congregations would get out of the way and urge the churches to send direct as it was done in the New Testament day, we could all have a part in it and encourage it. As it is they think more of their preeminence in the promotion of their schemes than they do of the Lord's way and fellowship with brethren.

As to a debate, brother J. L. Hines called me and asked my permission to propose a debate in the pages of the Guardian with brother Bales. I suggested to him that since brother Adams probably had a little more free time than I, it would be good to have a discussion between brother Bales and brother Adams. I was informed that brother Bales had been contacted. The way is still open if he and brother Adams can agree on a proposition. We will be glad to have the matter discussed and believe it should be.

Brother Bales, without knowing what he was talking about, and without proper grounds represented the Lufkin church as having the oversight and direction of the work being done in Rusk by brother Luther Blackmon. I called his attention to the fact that he was wrong as to Lufkin having the oversight and direction of the work in Rusk and that all the connection we had with the Rusk work was to furnish the money for brother Blackmon's support. Even after that he made the assertion again. If he wants to acknowledge that he was unfair and wrong in doing so, that will settle the matter as far as I am concerned.

I do no know his heart and would not undertake to sit in judgment on his honesty of purpose or sincerity but I do know that he misrepresented the situation and that he should correct that mistake.

Another thing that should be set straight is the intimation in the article by him that accompanies this that I agreed that the idea in "establishing an error by an error" is a correct method of proof. I did no such thing. The method of proof which he discussed in his article of August 29, 1950, in the Firm Foundation, and the effort to establish an error by an error are two different things entirely. I am more convinced than ever that brother Bales reads carelessly, and does not think straight.