Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 11, 1954

How Do They Differ? Is The Herald Of Truth A Missionary Society?

Logan Buchanan, Dallas, Texas

Brother James Adams (who writes me very kind personal letters), asks that I write on "What Is Wrong With A Missionary Society." This I shall be happy to do, at a later date, for publication in the Gospel Guardian, or by anyone else who is interested. For the present, however, our main interest is not in proving that such a Missionary Society is wrong — for we all agree that it is. My interest at the moment is to quiet the fears in the heart of Brother Adams and some others, that the Herald of Truth just MIGHT become a missionary society. I do not have the same fear.

Brother Adams feels that if we work together, or cooperate together as churches, that we must form a missionary society to do it. He says, "This is the kind of thinking which gave birth to the missionary society. Inherent in this philosophy is the idea of an organic functioning of the universal church." (Gospel Guardian, Feb. 4, 1954, p. 1)

Brother Adams quotes the Millennial Harbinger of October, 1850 (page 617), about "Cooperation Meetings," and charges that they "became the Society" (Gospel Guardian, Jan. 28, 1954, p. 9) and divided the church. Actually, the Millennial Harbinger of October 24, 1849 (page 690), gave the birthday of the Missionary Society as about a year earlier.

The Herald Of Truth Not Like A Missionary Society

Brother G. H. P. Showalter, in his excellent editorial in the Firm Foundation of January 12, 1954, disproves the charge of the Gospel Guardian most eloquently.

He quotes the Millennial Harbinger article by W. K. Pendleton, October 24, 1849, giving the "full and complete report as given by Brother W. K. Pendleton of the first convention and organization among the Disciples of Christ in the current restoration movement."

Brother Showalter quotes this report on the Society organization in full, and gives this pungent comment:

"It will be seen that the Society Organization was not the church. It did not even claim to be one of the churches. It was separate and apart from all the churches of Christ and was a distinct organization having a president, twenty vice-presidents, a treasurer, corresponding secretary, a recording secretary, all to be elected and chosen not by any church of Christ but by the Society at its annual meeting.

"There were twenty-five managers, there were life directors, there was an executive board, etc.; all of which have no parallel among the churches of Christ today.

"To be members of the Society, one had to be a delegate from the church with an annual contribution of ten dollars; twenty dollars paid at one time constituted one a life member one hundred dollars paid at one time was required to constitute one director for life ....

"There is no such organization among the churches of Christ today nor any probability that there will be such an organization.

"The societies were not formed by a church of Christ. They were formed by individual editors and members of different congregations."

"I have asked several times for brethren to tell where the organization was supposed to have had its origin, its offices, what it is supposed to advocate, uphold, and defend, and what it consists of, but I have never received one word of explanation.

"Who is the president? Who is the vice-president? Where are the fees paid? When and how often are they paid?

"In order that brethren may be enlightened along this line, I deem it proper in this issue and in the following issues of the Firm Foundation — to give these facts that constituted the departure of the Christian Church with the founding of the annual Convention in 1849, and I feel that the space is very well used for the purpose of reference for brethren interested in the churches along that line ...

"Such words as `cooperation' and other terms along that line are good and acceptable words in common use hundreds of times every day in the various phases of life.

"The question is not about the meaning of the word `cooperate' but the things in which people cooperate.

"Everybody is certainly very ignorant of the reading of the New Testament who does not know of the mutual work of the churches of Christ in apostolic days.

"The word `cooperation' is a good word, but of course it may be applied in connection with evil men in a bad work, just as well as good men cooperating in the Lord's work.

"In the New Testament organization of the church, there is no place for any other organization than the church of Christ, and where is the church of Christ today, that is, and has been, setting itself out as a society, separate and apart from the church?"

So concludes this excellent article by the beloved and honored Brother G. H. P. Showalter, for many years the editor of the Firm Foundation. His powerful pen, to the mind of this reader, thoroughly and completely outlines the very vast difference between what the church at Abilene is doing, and what they are being accused of doing by Brother Adams.

May I reaffirm my convictions on this matter:

1. Churches CAN cooperate, both in matters of benevolence, and in matters of evangelism. Such cooperation is scriptural and right.

2. Churches NEED NOT form any organization over and above, beyond or in addition to the church, to get the work done. Highland church has not formed, and will not form, any such organization.