Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 18, 1951
NUMBER 36, PAGE 10-11a

Is It A True Parallel?

James D. Bales, Searcy, Arkansas

Our good brother Tant suggests that "It has been argued that Christians have always felt free to make a contribution to any worthy work, regardless of whether that work was being supported by their home congregation or not. Certainly that is the case. But we conceive a vast difference between an individual voluntarily deciding he wants to make a contribution for some special cause and a planned, carefully worked out project for soliciting members of other churches for permanent, sustaining contributions.

"We take it that the elders of Broadway Church, for example, would not be particularly alarmed or disturbed if some member of Broadway Church should occasionally desire to attend a service at one of the other Lubbock congregations. Perhaps he has a relative or a very close friend conducting a meeting at Southside or Pioneer Park, and decides to go over there one Sunday night instead of coming to his home congregation. Nobody would think much about it. But what would be the attitude of Broadway Church if the elders and preacher of any other congregation in Lubbock put on a well-planned campaign to solicit every member in Broadway and ask him to leave his own Sunday night services and become a regular attendant at one of the other churches? Would not Broadway resent the intrusion? And rightly so! Yet Broadway is doing in the matter of contributions that which she would resent bitterly from another in the field of attendance. Is not this a true parallel? Can not the brethren see it?" (The Gospel Guardian, November 30, 1950, pp. 4, 5.)

"Is not this a true parallel?" I doubt it, for the following reasons:

(a) If the brother made one contribution to Broadway, brother Tant would not object. "It has been argued that Christians have always felt free to make a contribution to any worthy work, regardless of whether that work was being supported by their home congregation or not. Certainly that is the case." But, brother Tant, what would be the difference in the amount of money which the home congregation did not get from this brother, but which Broadway got, if the brother sent $100 check as one voluntary contribution on one day, or whether he sent $10 checks over a period of ten months? In a letter, which the elder told me that he showed you, brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., once asked him for a contribution to be sent not in one lump sum, but a certain amount every so often over a certain period of time. I do not believe that he did wrong. Do you? Couldn't a brother volunteer to make six contributions?

When does it become scriptural? When he makes more than one? Or when he volunteers to do it when solicited? Would it be right if he was not asked to do it, but wrong if he volunteered on being asked?

(b) Although brother Akin gave (possibly, set aside would be the better term) a lot of money to the "Akin Foundation," contributions are sent out regularly from this "Individual Foundation," and so far as I understand it, they do not go through the eldership of the church of which he is a member. Would it be scriptural for such a one as brother Akin to give a million dollars in a lump sum to the Broadway Church, but unscriptural if he gave it over a period of two years until a million dollars was contributed?

(c) The individual who is solicited to leave his home congregation and attend regularly—in fact, thus become a member of—another congregation is not parallel with sending a contribution. An individual may give beyond what he would give in his home congregation. Or he may give only a part. Surely there is a difference between this, and leaving the congregation.

(d) In the one case only a part of his money goes to the other congregation, in the other case, his presence, money (or most of it, in case he sends some back to it), personal work, influence, etc., go from one congregation to the other.

(e) Sometimes a congregation is glad to loan a man part of the time to another congregation. There are men who go out from their home congregations regularly once or twice a month to help a struggling congregation in its preaching, teaching or singing service. They may go one night during the week. It may or may not be a night when their home congregation has a service. This individual is simply assisting another congregation in work which they are doing. Some assist other congregations by their presence—over a period of time and at stated intervals—and some may give assistance to other congregations through some of their money. But in neither case should it be said that it is an insult to the home congregation, or that it is of necessity an undesirable interference of one congregation on another congregation.

(f) Brother Tant does not think that it is sinful if The Gospel Guardian organization asks individuals in every congregation to get subscriptions for them, to send in their own subscriptions, and to send as many gift subscriptions as they are able. In fact, he urgently calls for such cooperation (Nov. 30, 1950, p. 5). They will accept this, and other individual contributions such as a Nashville business man made so that every young preacher in the various colleges could get The Gospel Guardian, and they will accept it in as large sums and over as long a period of time as an individual will send it to them. They will even accept money from congregations. It is right for The Gospel Guardian organization to accept money to preach the gospel throughout the world through The Gospel Guardian, but it is wrong for an individual or congregation to cooperate with another church in order to do the same thing (to preach the gospel throughout the world.)

(g) Brother Tant is affirming a position which says that it is unscriptural for an individual to make regular contributions directly to the work in Germany.

(h) Brother, are you saying that it is scriptural for an individual to send $100 to the Broadway church if he does it but once and in one lump sum, but that it would be wrong if he sent $10 a month for 10 months? You admit that he can send a contribution. How large would it have to be before it becomes unscriptural? Would you admit that he could send two contributions? three? Please let us know exactly when it ceases to be scriptural. Somewhere along the line, you must say (if you maintain your present position) that one more contribution makes it sinful, whereas it would not have been sinful if the individual had not sent that particular one. If you maintain that it is the regularity of the contribution over a period of time, you are faced with the same question as to how many contributions does an individual have to make for it to be a regular thing, and over how long a period of time can it be given without it being regular. Just how many, in other words, contributions could he make in a lifetime of fifty years?

(i) Brother, would The Gospel Guardian, accept a regular monthly contribution from me to send the paper and books each month to Germany, to preach the gospel there through the printed page? Am I the only one from whom you accept such a contribution? If not, from how many people would you be willing to accept a regular, individual contribution?