Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 22, 1951
NUMBER 41, PAGE 5-6b

Brother Bales' Loose And Lame Logic

Wallace W. Thompson, Boulder City, Nevada

Brother Bales' willingness to discuss issues is to be commended. There is very little ill-feeling on his part to be detected in his writing. It is good for brethren to discuss their differences if they can stay with the issue, but little good will come from any discussion of unconnected issues. Under the heading of an article "The Gospel Guardian Plan" printed in the January 23 edition of the Firm Foundation, brother Bales sets forth a sample of his reasoning. The whole article is an attempt to justify the Broadway church in Lubbock in what it is doing by what the Gospel Guardian and the Roy E. Cogdill Publishing Company are doing. Neither the Gospel Guardian nor the church in Lubbock, nor the church anywhere else is the standard of judgment, for none is perfect. If it can be established that the Gospel Guardian or the Roy E. Cogdill Publishing Company is violating the New Testament in its work, then brother Bales has a case. Otherwise, his article is like straws in the wind. If it can be established that the Broadway church in Lubbock is doing something contrary to the New Testament, there is a case against it. I am not writing in defense of brethren Cogdill and Tant; they are well able to answer for themselves as their good articles so well prove. Our interest in any discussion ought to be, must be, to arrive at the true teaching of the Bible. Any other motive in writing or preaching is out of line.

Private Enterprises

The church in Lubbock is not engaged in a private undertaking. Its business is the Lord's business and must be carried on by his orders. The church cannot scripturally engage in commercial interests, while individuals are free to follow the business of their choosing. Harding College is an enterprise engaged in by individuals banded together in a common interest. The church has no authority from Christ to establish such a commercial organization, but individuals are free to do so. Because individuals give to support this organization does not make a church of Christ out of it. The New Testament does not reveal the "plan" on how to operate a man's business, except that it ought to be within the legal boundaries of law. The Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate or any other religious journal has the right to operate independent of the church. In brother Bales' logic he makes the Gospel Guardian equal to the church in Lubbock. Surely brother Bales has not thought through to the illogical conclusions that such comparison would bring. In reverse reasoning, if a private business can do what the church at Lubbock is doing, (and brother Bales so reasons) then it is perfectly right to set up a "private missionary society." In fact, brother Bales' article implies that the Gospel Guardian organization (I do not know what he includes in this statement) is in principle doing what Lubbock church at Broadway is doing. Are the religious papers really doing what he asserts? Is the Firm Foundation doing what brother Bales accuses the Guardian of doing? It does the same kind of work and the church buys the literature that it sells. All other papers in the religious field do what the Gospel Guardian does. I have not as yet read in the religious papers put out by faithful brethren where they are asking the brotherhood to contribute money to them to put over a program of evangelistic work, have you? If they did, does brother Bales argue that it would be scriptural to support such? If not, what is his point in comparing a religious paper to the church in Lubbock, and saying that they have the right to do what they are doing? And while brother Bales is writing so freely, would he mind telling us who the elders are that do not want to read the Gospel Guardian? Personally, I would like to know and see the elders who would refuse to consider the writings on truth about anything. I believe the church is opposed to taking money out of the treasury and putting it into any human organization. But any teaching on the Bible the elders think worthy can be bought without violating any Bible principle. If they needed lumber and bought it that would not make a lumberyard of the church! Nor would it make a church out of the lumberyard.

The Work In Germany

It is futile to accuse the Gospel Guardian of opposing the work in Germany, or anywhere else. I propose to present to you what I oppose because I believe it contrary to the truth. Read it carefully: I oppose "the authority of a church sending a preacher across the nation inviting individuals of other congregations to give to their planned program, even if the elders of that local congregation do not approve." Brother Gatewood taught this in Santa Ana. Perhaps brother Bales would like to attempt to justify this action. Such calls for individuals to obey the voice of the Lubbock elders and their evangelist, rather than the local elders. This fact only proves what has been feared all along, "that these brethren (Broadway in Lubbock) are trying to be a brotherhood eldership." The independence of the local congregation is hereby challenged. And, brother Bales' "beloved Tant" stated it correctly when he said, "an effort is under way now to get Christians all over the nation to by-pass their local eldership, circumvent them in their contributions for mission work, and send directly to the Broadway church in Lubbock for the German work." (Yater Tant, Gospel Guardian, Nov. 2, 1950). I have given you a concrete example that cannot be truthfully denied that proves brother Tant's statement to be correct. What brother Bales needs, and what the church in Lubbock sorely needs, is scripture advising members to ignore local elders, and accept the oversight and program of the elders in Lubbock. Until it is found, we will continue to teach that such is anti-scriptural, without warrant, without authority in the New Testament. Elders (elders serve only in the local congregation as elders) have the oversight. Does this apply to finance as well as discipline, teaching, work and worship? The question in the controversy is this: "Who has the oversight, local elders or the elders at Broadway?" Turn it around and look at it: "How would Broadway like intruders coming in, trying to get members over whom the elders have the oversight (and no where else do they rightly exercise any) to support a work elsewhere—and if the elders do not see fit to do it have the intruders slap their decision in their teeth and tell the members if the elders do not see fit to do it—do it anyhow! That is what the Lubbock church is doing to other churches through brother Gatewood, and they cannot deny it and state the truth. What is it? Inciting rebellion against the local eldership, endorsed by the church in Lubbock on Broadway. Yes, "circumvent" is the correct word. It describes the action perfectly. And, if brother Bales keeps writing in the same vein, who knows but what Broadway will pay off his debts? And if Broadway does not change, it is on another "Broadway" that leads to destruction.

What Has Not Been Found

(1) Scripture calling for a sponsoring church. (2) Scripture supporting the idea of a "brotherhood eldership." (3) One church acting as the agent for others in the work of the Lord. (4) One church planning a program for other churches and begging for funds to carry it out. (5) A passage teaching that members of one congregation are to be under the oversight of elders of another congregation. (6) Scripture where the elders of a New Testament church invited members to ignore the local elders. These are some of the major things to discuss. Let us deal with the issues before us.