Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1951


W. W. Otey, Belle Plaine, Kansas

To give an unscriptural practice an accepted and scriptural name misleads many. This is specifically true in regard to centralized plans for doing mission work in foreign lands. Why men of a high degree of education and generally of keen discernment will persist in calling such plans "cooperation" is a hard question to answer. The simple word "cooperate" means "to act or work jointly." The Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee, is doing a work which it claims to be a "cooperation" with a large number of congregations, perhaps a hundred or more.

What Are The Brief Facts ?

1. Union Avenue selected a representative and sent him to Japan.

2. He, as Union Avenue's representative, made a survey of the field.

3. He returned home and made a report to Union Avenue.

4. Union Avenue published the report and sent it to a large number of congregations over the land.

5. Union Avenue sent this special representative throughout the country to stir up interest in the Japanese work, and to solicit contributions for that work.

6. Many congregations, responding to the appeals, sent their contributions to Union Avenue church. Some months the contributing congregations number well up toward a hundred.

7. Union Avenue published and sent out a report of the contributions received.

8. Union Avenue disburses the money thus received to the workers and the work in Japan, following the donor's wishes in the spending when those wishes are indicated; otherwise using her own judgment in the disposal of the funds.

In at least these eight points there is not the least semblance of "cooperation" ("to act or work jointly") between Union Avenue and the contributing churches. The cooperation is between and among the contributing churches; they are cooperating with each other, but working through Union Avenue to perform a task in Japan. A child in the grade school should be able to see that Union Avenue on the one hand and the large number of congregations on the other hand are not "cooperating"—not acting and working jointly—yet doctors in colleges and editors of ripe years and education are affirming loudly that what is being done is "scriptural cooperation," the kind all of us have endorsed and practiced for years.

Please, brethren, look in your dictionary once more. Then tell us whether Union Avenue and the other congregations working through her are "acting or working jointly." The plain fact is, and all really know it, that the many contributing congregations are in cooperation with each other, but working through Union Avenue as a central agency. Union Avenue church is performing every essential function performed by district missionary societies fifty and sixty years ago, except that the board is as yet the local eldership of that church.

Till someone can produce from the New Testament some congregation that performed the eight items mentioned above, it seems to me serious minded brethren should cease to refer to such plans as "New Testament cooperation." I stated in one of our papers some time ago that to call such a centralized plan "cooperation" is a reckless use of language and a perversion of scriptural principles. I say it again.