Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 15, 1951

A Reply To Brother Tallman

George W. Dehoff

Three short paragraphs from me really brought a lengthy article and, frankly, I have read it carefully several times without being able to find out what it is about! First of all, it should be noted that my article did not take any position on whether or not human institutions should be put into the budget of the church (or, indeed, whether they should exist at all or be supported at all). It called attention to the fact that one argument now being made in favor of such support is a specious and false argument. The argument being made is as follows:

"One is a member of the church twenty-four hours per day. Whatever the individual does, the church is doing it. If the church may not do it, the individual may not do it."

The above reasoning is false. The individual may do things which the church may not. Brother Tallman states "he confuses the issue by mixing a singular and a plural concept, and then comparing them as if they were both singular or both plural." Talk about singular and plural! His whole article is devoted to providing that an individual is the church or, at least, if an individual member of the church acts that the church is, therefore, acting. The conclusion of his reasoning would be that there is no such thing as an individual or an individual action.

An individual may love his wife (Eph. 5:25) but the church may not do so.

An individual may tell his brother his fault between the two of them but may not tell it to the church except under certain circumstances. (Matt. 18:16-17) Will someone kindly tell me if "whatever an individual does the church is doing it" how the offended brother could tell the brother his fault and later tell it to the church? Would he be the church when he told the brother the fault in the first place? When he told it to the church, would he merely tell it to himself or is there a difference between the brethren—individually or both of them—and the whole church?

An individual may support any widow he wants to (if his wife will allow it) but the church may only support those meeting certain requirements. (I Tim. 5:9) For nearly twenty years I have partially supported a widowed mother. She is not and never has been a charge of the church. Will brother Tallman insist that there is no difference?

If an individual or a group of people (all citizens of the state) by mob violence execute a man, the state has not executed him.

An individual is a Christian all of the time but he represents the church as a church only when the church has authorized him to do so. The other day a fine lady died. She willed the "elders and deacons of East Main Street Church of Christ" $200. I went down to the attorney's office and could sign nothing. I represented nobody except myself. Later the elders and deacons met and passed a resolution authorizing me to sign certain papers on their behalf. I went and signed but this time I represented the elders and deacons.

I still insist that the church may not spank my children but that as a father I may find it necessary. The church may do nothing except what the Lord has authorized it to do. I may put steak and gravy on my table but not the Lord's table. An individual may play the piano but not as a representative of the church. The church is not in the piano playing business. I thought we had this matter out with the digressives fifty years ago.

"In the church the same man may be a husband, father, elder, evangelist, Christian, citizen of his state, member of the school board and owner of his business." I see nothing wrong with that statement. Brother Tallman has me making a distinction between a church member and a Christian which I did not intend but if he insists I will make the distinction and present him with some church members who are not Christians!

I am not interested (in this article) in arguing with brother Tallman on the "college in the budget" question, the orphan home question, or the publication business. The whole issue here is: Is there any difference between the individual and the church?

If a congregation were made up of five Christian men, and only them, and they formed a partnership for the operation of a filling station, I suppose brother Tallman would say that was "the church" operating the gas station—and no doubt it would be named the "Church of Christ Gaseteria!"

Brother Tallman falls into the old trap about "giving glory to the church." We do not give glory to the church but we glorify God in the church. He wants to know if a church must have elders and deacons. Not necessarily. He asks if the church should be given to hospitality or the members. Both. There is a difference between divine and human institutions. I suspect if brother Tallman will look up some of his old sermon outlines he will find a number of such differences.

Brother Tallman asserts that I am asking someone to disprove an assumption I could not prove! He states that I want someone to prove a negative. I do nothing of the kind. If "when the individual acts, it is the church acting," I would like to see the proof. "He affirms there is a distinction between a church and Christians." Not necessarily. The church is composed of Christians (note he uses the term "church man" instead of Christian). His statements about the church treasury and the weekly contribution have nothing to do with this question. When I take it out of one pocket and put it into another, am I giving to the church since there is no difference or is the church giving to me? Is there any difference between the church and one individual or a group of individuals? What is the difference? What difference does the difference make? I would like to hear someone with brother Tallman's idea tell us what is wrong with the missionary society. In the meantime, the original quotation at the beginning of this article is taken almost verbatim from speeches being made in pulpits, classrooms and private conversations all over the brotherhood. It has even been written on the blackboard (in substance) for young preachers to copy as an "unanswerable argument." I still want to see the proof.