Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 4, 1951
NUMBER 34, PAGE 4-5b

Brother Showalter's Parallel

In the Firm Foundation of December 12, the able and venerable editor of that journal offers his contribution to one of the most perplexing problems now before the church. Brother Showalter is disturbed, as are all the rest of us, at the confusions and disagreements that have arisen out of certain missionary endeavors. But he is neither disturbed nor alarmed by the departures from the New Testament pattern which some of us think we see in these things; to him, they simply do not exist. On the contrary, he is fully persuaded that what is being done today is exactly parallel to what was done in apostolic days. He feels we have a full Scripture precedent and pattern, in fact, "an example in the Bible," for what is now being done. Here are his words:

"Funds from these different churches and individuals are sent THROUGH messengers from each congregation (I Cor. 16:3), THROUGH preachers (Acts 11:30), THROUGH men the different congregations had chosen and believed to be honest (II Cor. 8:23), or THROUGH the church receiving the funds, to those in need of the money (Acts 11:29, 30). The different churches sent THROUGH the church in Jerusalem to the poor saints (I Cor. 16:3; Acts 11:29, 30). If different churches or individuals from different churches choose to send their money THROUGH certain men in Lubbock or Brownfield that they believe to be good and honest men there is certainly nothing wrong with it. If you choose to give THROUGH the churches in Lubbock or Brownfield or any other place there is nothing contrary to this in the Bible, but rather we have an example in the Bible for such practice."

The Issue Clarified

We welcome this statement from the pen of one who has for a full half-century stood in the forefront among gospel journalists. He has been a life long friend of both the Tant and the Yater families, and it is not easy for the editor of the Guardian to take issue with him on this matter. But where a matter of truth and right is involved, there are no friendships and there are no family ties. Brother Showalter thinks the "churches sent THROUGH the church in Jerusalem to the poor saints," and he calls this "an example in the Bible for such practice" as churches today sending THROUGH the Lubbock church to Germany.

We kindly suggest that brother Showalter must be using a different Bible from any known to us. We have some eight or ten translations before us as we write, and without exception they translate both passages he cited (Acts. 11:29, 30 and I Cor. 16:3) by the prepositions TO and UNTO; not a single one of them renders either passage as THROUGH. Does brother Showalter think that sending money TO a person or an institution is the exact equivalent of sending it THROUGH them?

But There Is More To Follow—and Worse.

In the handling of the monies thus received brother Showalter says:

"the receiving church (I Cor. 16:3), the elders (Acts 11:30), or men chosen for the specific purpose. of handling such funds (Acts 6:3), administer what has been contributed by other individuals and churches, and thus the church in Antioch grows. This is scriptural cooperation."

Now that is exactly the danger that many godly brethren have felt to be inherent in the present set-up (i.e. that certain elders might in time come to "administer" the funds gathered, from scores of other churches). The Lubbock brethren have vigorously denied that they ever would do any such thing, or even had any desire to do it! Yet here comes brother Showalter arguing they or their successors, or any group of elders anywhere 'have "an example in the Bible for such practice" if they want to!

To be perfectly honest, we are a little bit discouraged about this matter. We had thought all this was thrashed out and agreed upon last summer, and that we had all come to a definite unanimity of understanding that one congregation did NOT have any scriptural right to "administer" the funds of other congregations. That was what our fight over the "diocesan eldership" question was all about. If the Lubbock elders have the right to "administer" the funds of American churches in Germany, they would have the same right to "administer" the funds of German churches in Germany. After all, "the field is the world." And where are you going to stop?

Brother Showalter is a few months late in his editorial. The controversy now has shifted" from the ground he defends to another: namely, have the American churches actually "administered" the funds of the contributing churches, or is there any tendency in the direction of such "administration?" That is the question now, brother Showalter; practically everybody who has been writing on the subject (except you) has agreed that it is NOT according to scriptural principals for one church to take over and "administer" the funds of hundreds of other churches. And we believe all our present day "sponsoring" churches would deny vigorously that they are "administering" the funds that come to them.

They tell us they merely act as "forwarding agents" and not as "administrators" of the monies. In fact, some of the hottest letters we've had have been rushed to us by airmail because there might have been a vague sort of hint by some of our writers that maybe, sometime, somewhere, somehow, there might come a situation in which one eldership would take over and "administer" the funds of several churches. And now comes brother Showalter boldly with a "Bible example" for that very thing! What next?

The Difference

No, there is a vast difference between sending TO a church to help the members of that church (as was the case in brother Showalter's example) and sending THROUGH a church to some work that is foreign to both the sending and receiving churches, and to which they both sustain exactly the same relation and for which they have equal responsibility before God. For the first we have "an example in the Bible for such practice;" for the second there is no Bible example.

Now, if brother Showalter actually believes that sending money to Germany through the Lubbock brethren is a true parallel to the sending of money to the saints in Jerusalem through the Jerusalem church, we submit to him the following proposition:

"The elders of the Broadway Church of Christ, Lubbock Texas sustain exactly the same relation to the Christians in Germany that the elders of the Jerusalem church sustained to the Christians in Jerusalem." (Affirms)

Gospel Guardian (Denies)

We believe that proposition ought to help brother Showalter see the difference. Frankly, we are little less than astonished that he did not see it before he ever wrote his editorial. But, one way or the other, we promise our readers an interesting discussion. If brother Showalter will affirm the proposition, we will have a debate. If he will not affirm it, we are going to insist that he straighten out his editorial, and make an editorial correction of his mistake.



W: S. Wiley, 50 E. Huisache, Kingsville, Texas, December 12: "Two more were added to our forces here this week. One came Sunday morning to identify himself, and one was baptized early Wednesday morning."