Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 18, 1951
NUMBER 36, PAGE 12-13b

"To" Not "Through"

Wallace W. Thompson, Boulder City, Nevada

In the November 7 issue of the Firm Foundation, brother Hugo McCord makes some startling statements concerning "missionary work." It is rather alarming that so many of the preachers have not learned the difference between "to" and "through." Just an ordinary member of the church knows the difference in meaning between the two words. But "missionaries" have not learned it, some brotherhood elderships have not known the difference, and seemingly many of the "home evangelists" do not know the simple meaning of "to" and "through." Brother McCord does not know the difference. I had heard that he was of pretty big caliber, but what do you want me to believe now? Perhaps he is teachable. If he is he is in a class to himself. Brethren Cogdill and Tant, and others have repeatedly and carefully explained the difference in numerous articles in the Gospel Guardian. So, again, we will attempt to help the brethren to understand. However, it is completely impossible to think with the other fellow's

"An Assertion"

Quoting brother McCord, "it is scriptural for several churches to combine their resources in the hands of an official appointee." This is a bald and bold assertion. The New Testament nowhere teaches the doctrine of "church combination." Elderships were never conjoined, they worked independently. 2 Cor. 8:19 does not prove that the churches merged their funds and that they became lost in a common pool. The churches used the same footmen or messengers, but their contributions were not lost in a combination of funds. To so argue, one might as well say that, "when several churches send to a certain church, using the U. S. Postal Service, they combine their funds." If cooperation means combination, congregational lines will be erased, elderships can merge and will, authority can and will (already is in some cases) be delegated, and apostasy is the inevitable result. Such is "spiritual communism."

"Another Assertion"

Brother McCord is quite bold, hear him: "(there can be no 'if' about it; Antioch worked through the Jerusalem church)." You know we are rather fortunate that brother McCord is just an ordinary preacher like the rest of us. If he were not, we would be bound to accept his ultimatum. "Through" expresses agency of. "To" expresses purpose, aim, end. What brother McCord and all other "combination preachers" must find in the Testament of Christ is where any church became the agent of another church in any kind of work. If to means through, then through means to. According to brother McCord's position, when the church in Antioch sent their gift "to the elders" in Judea, it was sent "through the elders," by Barnabas and Saul. Such an awkward position demands two agents in the transaction, viz., the Antioch church sending through Barnabas and Saul and the elders in Judea. To whom did the elders in Judea send the gift? Silence is the answer. Why? They received the gift, were not the agents, did not sponsor anything. The Bible nowhere gives authority to any church to work "through" another. There is a vast difference between a church contributing to a work, and contributing to a work through another church. The agent idea, the proxy notion, the committee fancy, the federated and brotherhood eldership teaching, the combination and centralizations ideas are as old as human wisdom. In every generation they have raised their ugly, monstrous head to divide the church. Sad, but true, parrots in the pulpits are screeching the cry on behalf of human wisdom, leaving Divine wisdom.

"Enlightenment On Word Sponsor"

Brother McCord says, "Thus the "elders" down in Judea were asked by the Antioch brethren to sponsor a relief work." I think he needs to read his Bible again. Such loose applications of the scriptures disqualify a man to preach the truth. He has added something to the inspired account that is not there. They did not determine to sponsor a work, they determined "to send relief" which they did. But while we are on the subject, "Why did not Antioch 'sponsor' the work?" They were not nearly so far removed from it as some churches in the U. S. who are "sponsoring" work in Germany and Italy. Why ask elders in Judea to do it? Why did they not ask all the churches to send their funds to Antioch? I do not think we are in position to argue the meaning of words with Webster. He says of sponsor, "one who assumes, or one to whom is delegated responsibility for some other person or thing." That is the position in which many churches find themselves, one church assuming authority for others, other churches delegating responsibility to the assuming church for some person or work. It would be a good thing if true, but it is neither true nor good. Since when has a church become a sponsoring church when it does its work? When a man preaches the gospel, does that make a sponsor out of him? In a cooperative work we contribute to it, such as meetings where several churches participate. But, to get a parallel out of such, all churches would have to contribute to a sponsoring church, then the sponsoring church send the money to the area where the work is done. For example, the church in Lubbock wants to sponsor a meeting in Houston; all the churches interested send the money to Lubbock, and in turn the Lubbock church defrays expenses, pays the preacher and receives the credit for doing the work. Why are not the brethren advocating that? If the field is the world, and it is, and there are no congregational limits, such could be scripturally done. It is a human impossibility for one man to preach the gospel to every creature within his lifetime. There are barriers he cannot overcome. One congregation cannot do it, but working from a locality and spreading the gospel in a leavening manner, by us all it can be attained. But let us do it without creating unscriptural organizations. And let us remember that a work is not good unless it is scriptural. For the sowing of the seed, the field is the world; for development and growth the church is the place. Elders do not rule over the world, but over the flock in a local congregation. No set of elders has been appointed to rule the whole church, we dare not go beyond the local congregation in such matters, or do we dare?

Some of the brethren, concerning "to" and "through" are as bad as the Baptists on "unto" and "into". It appears to me that until preachers know the difference between "to" and "through" they should go "to" school. But if some of these missionary minded preachers went "to" school, in their present attitude the teachers would have a difficult time convincing them they were not "through" because they had come "to". Well, let us hope they come "to."