Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 5, 1954
NUMBER 13, PAGE 1,5b

The Herald Of Truth

W. W. Otey, Winfield, Kansas

The launching of the "Herald of Truth" in Abilene, Texas, marked the most momentous event in its effect on the church of the Lord since the organizing of the first Missionary Society in 1849. Other Societies, district, state, and national, were organized till the number reached at least six of national scope. Early in the present century all of these were merged into one over-all society, called the United Christian Missionary Society, generally referred to as the "UCMS." In the Louisville debate in 1908, J. B. Briney, the strongest defender of such societies the Christian Church has ever had, affirmed that such societies were authorized in the New Testament. But when all the societies were merged into one, he opposed the "UCMS" till his death. The Christian Standard, certainly the most powerful medium for the support of the societies, turned against the work of its own fashioning, and opposed the UCMS, and does till this very day. Will young men now living see history repeated? The first step away from the New Testament pattern is always a small one, and is taken by good men.

From 1884 till 1908, the leaders of the Societies never launched so ambitious an enterprise as is now observed in the "Herald of Truth" movement. In 1908 the goal the Society backers hoped to reach was only $350,000.00; but from February, 1952, to October, 1953, the sum raised and paid out by "Herald of Truth" was $702,527.51. And the goal for 1954 has been put at $1,400,000.00 for radio and television.

We live today in a world of nervous tension. In every phase of life minority groups propagandize and pressurize revolutionary movements. Not in modern times have great masses of people been so stampeded into new and dangerous experiments political, social, and religious, as we have seen in recent years. The same spirit of unthinking, restless, mass movements, that has so permeated the denominational world is now beginning to effect the church of our Lord. We have insisted that the teaching, practice, methods, and spirit of the New Testament church must be maintained in spite of the spirit of the age. The majority of people around us seem determined to be no longer governed by old standards, human and divine. The idea that "it can't happen to us" has bred a spirit of complacency. Jesus said, "While men slept an enemy sowed tares."

That a young man, just recently out of his teens, almost single-handedly could propagandize and pressurize 1080 churches into contributing from the Lord's treasury more than $700,000.00 in 1953, and propose to double that sum in 1954, these vast amounts to be spent by a board of men (self-appointed) as they may choose, is amazing. It is more than amazing. It is alarming. If a number of men of great ability should unite to make the church universal function as a unit, what might be the result? The idea of making the whole church function, as a unit, is the impelling principle behind the entire movement. The first effort has succeeded in making 1080 churches function through a board of a few men. It is the same tap-root from which all such movements have grown.

This idea of making the church function not as local congregations but as the whole church once led to the centering of authority in one man, the Pope of Rome. The same idea that the church must function as a whole led the digressives to organize their six great national societies, and then to consolidate these into one — the UMCS.

In the Louisville Debate, 1908, J. B. Briney affirmed that Missionary Societies are authorized in the New Testament. 'In his opening speech he laid down the following as the foundation for all his argument:

Now, my dear friends, I think it is obvious to every mind that in this regard the church cannot act as a whole. I take it that the term is used in this passage in its general sense, and is equivalent to the whole body of Christ. It is not an organized body, the church in the general sense, but it embraces all those who believe and obey the Lord. Now, I repeat, this body of Christ, or the church, in this comprehensive general sense, cannot act in carrying out this commission as a whole; that is, the whole church, everybody, cannot arise and go preach the gospel. Well, now, how is it to be done. And here I lay down this principle, and it is to constitute the foundation of nearly my whole argument upon this question. I read as follows: 'When a thing is commanded to be done, and the method of doing it is not prescribed, those commanded are at liberty to use 'their best judgment in devising ways and means to carry out the command.' " (Otey-Briney Debate, p. 161)

Reader, there you have the authority for the Missionary Societies. God has not given any plan for the church to "arise and go as the whole body." God has not given any plan for the church to function in a larger group than the local congregation. Therefore the Abilene plan must be set up so that 1080 churches can act as a unit in a nationwide effort!

Brother Briney frankly declared that God had no plan for the church to act as the whole body of Christ, or as a unit. He boldly declared that they were left free "to devise ways and means" to make the church function "as the whole church." Our Abilene brethren should show that God HAS made provision for 1080 churches to function as a unit — or else be as frank as Briney was, and state plainly that they have the "liberty to devise ways and means" through which so great a number of churches can act as a unit. God's decree that every seed shall bring forth after its kind has never been revoked since creation. It is still true in the vegetable, moral, and spiritual realm. In some instances the plants may be rooted out before reaching maturity.

For emphasis I repeat Briney's foundation principle for organizing Missionary Societies:

"The church cannot act or function as the whole, universal body of Christ, because it has no organization as a whole."

Young man, mark well Briney's "foundation" on which Missionary Societies are built. He argues that the church must be made to function as the whole body of Christ. But since it has no such form or organization for universal action, "ways and means" must be devised to enable it to act or function universally. This is the line on which the battle was so fiercely fought fifty and sixty years ago. The victory for all the churches of the Lord was unquestioned. It is the same line of battle on which must we fight today and perhaps for years 'to come.

At that former time there was no example of recent apostasy from the New Testament model. Many then were sincere but deceived. Today every one acts with his eyes wide open. Start a movement to make the church act or function as a unit larger than the local congregation, and the end is certain unless the movement is abandoned. If in 1908 anyone had suggested to the stalwarts who so valiantly wielded the sword of the Spirit against every movement away from the New Testament model, that in forty short years the same battle would have to be repeated, such an one would have been declared of unsound mind. But God has always had men of faith, courage, and a willingness to make any sacrifice in defense of the .purity of the church of the Lord. This writer has close to 1,000 letters, mostly from young men, who declare they are set for the defense of the New Testament church, let the cost be what it may. From the last great apostasy fewer than 300 active preachers were left. But let us not forget Gideon's three hundred!

The idea of making the whole church function as the whole body of Christ rather than as individuals and local congregations is the idea that led to the centralized authority of the Pope of Rome. The same concept matured into the United Christian Missionary Society, an admitted authoritative ecclesiasticism by which the great majority of the Christian Church is governed. It is the same idea from which has sprung every centralized control agency among the churches of the Lord in recent days. The latest, most ambitious, and alarming of these present day projects is the Herald of Truth. In the short space of two years, this movement has centralized the radio and television work of 1080 congregations into a single enterprise. Its proposed collection and expenditure for 1954 is $1,400,000.00. Though not yet formally organized with constitution and by-laws, it has grown greater in its ambitious plan, and the amount of money commanded, than the growth of the digressive Society during the first sixty years of its existence. It is performing every essential function the Missionary Societies performed during their first sixty years.

(To be continued)