Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 25, 1954
NUMBER 29, PAGE 6,13a

Church Of Christ Building Fund -- No. 2

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

That institutionalism and the conception of many congregations (the church universal) operating through a single unit, go hand in hand, is evidenced in the brochure of the "Church of Christ Building Fund" of Dallas, Texas. As proof I give this paragraph from their literature. "Are you seriously interested to see the church own its own sanitariums, schools, radio stations, etc., and all of them adequately financed to meet their full opportunity, so that we would no longer have to depend upon secular or sectarian institutions for these services? Then line up with your influence and money, from the purely missionary viewpoint, for this is the program through which they may all be acquired with marvelous efficiency and promptness." The nations about Israel had kings so Israel said, "We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations." (1 Sam. 8:19, 20.) The Methodist, Baptist, Catholic churches and others own schools, sanitariums, etc., so some brethren cry, "we will have schools, sanitariums, radio stations, etc." These things are not called for because they have been discovered in the divine pattern, but because they have been observed in the churches about us.

The mission of the church, prescribed by Christ, the head, is specific. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15.) It is to support the preaching of the gospel. (1 Thess. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; Phil. 4:15, 16.) The work of the church includes caring for its needy. (Acts 4:34, 35; Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:9; 1 Tim. 5:9-16.)

Secular education is the responsibility of individual Christians; it finds no place in the divine pattern of the church. Before brethren are encouraged to be, "seriously interested to see the church own its own sanitariums schools, radio stations, etc." at least some effort should be made to establish that such is scriptural. To attempt to burden the church with works not authorized in the New Testament is to flaunt the authority of Christ. Had the Lord intended the church to run these various enter prizes, he was certainly capable of ordaining such Schools,, sanitariums, radio stations, railroads, farms, cafeterias, etc., are all good things, but none of these is a part of the work of the church. No elder or set of elders can rightfully give the Lord's money to such. It is not within the authority of elders to put the church in any of these businesses. When elders so far forget their place as to ignore the Lord's specification of the church's work and presumptuously use the money contributed, for the work of the church, in sustaining these institutions, h shall have to answer to the "Chief Shepherd." Peter say that the elders are to exercise the oversight "according to the will of God" (1 Peter 5:2) and that when the exercise the oversight in harmony with the requirement outlined in these verses that they will receive the "crown of glory." When any elder becomes self-willed and exercises the oversight according to his will rather than according to the Lord's will, he has no grounds for hop of receiving the "crown of glory" when the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested." Such a reward is promise only on condition that the elders exercise the oversight a God has ordained. The fearful responsibility impose upon elders should cause all elders everywhere to acquaint themselves with the Word of truth. If elders were giving more attention to what the Word says and paying less attention to the pronouncements and endorsements of the worldly ambitious the state of the church would be healthier.

Centralized Control

The trustees of the "Church of Christ Building Fund" require the "Elders, Deacons and Minister" of the borrowing congregation to sign a loan application which puts them and the church under the control of the trustees to a far greater extent than any worldly lending agency would ever think about requiring. Ponder carefully this excerpt — "Cheerfully and at any time we will place our books containing the financial records of the church into the hands of the trustees of the Church of Christ Building Fund or any representative of theirs for their inspection and verification. We agree fully to abide by the rules and regulations governing the operations of the said building fund at all times." To borrow money from the "Church of Christ Building Fund" the elders, deacons and minister must sign an instrument which subordinates the congregation to the "Church of Christ Building Fund." The financial records of congregations have been considered to be the business of those who made up the congregation but this is no longer the case with churches that have 'lined up.' When the elders, deacons and preacher of a congregation sign the loan application they sign away a large measure of their independence. Why should such clauses be inserted in the loan application? Do the "Church of Christ Building Fund" trustees think that the congregations will cheat? Do they have to have the power to inspect the books of the churches in order to be sure that the churches don't beat the Fund out of its "rightful" tithe? The "Church of Christ Building Fund" "modestly" suggests that the churches entrust it with ten percent of their income until 1976, but this trust is not reciprocated. The trust is not a mutual thing; it does not work both ways. For whereas the Fund requires the churches to trust it, it does not in turn trust the churches. The Fund rather than extending trust toward the churches, requires that the churches sign an agreement to "cheerfully" let the representatives of the "Building Fund" check their records at any time. While I do not doubt the trustworthiness of the men in charge of this Fund, yet I am unwilling to concede the implication that they are of superior honor. My conviction is that the average elder in the church of the Lord is honorable and would be unwilling to stoop to "employ any method to avoid donating to the 'Fund' the tithe of any of our income — ." Even though elders in some places have been instrumental in 'lining up' the congregation over which they have the oversight, with this human organization, they have done so in ignorance and not because they were deliberately set to follow a course of dishonor and rebellion against God's laws.

This excerpt from the "Loan application to church of Christ Building Fund" requires the borrowing church to. "agree fully to abide by the rules and regulations governing the operation of the said Building Fund at all times" — whence are these rules and regulations, from heaven or from man? There is no point in claiming that those who make the rules and regulations will refrain from meddling had in honor of all the people"; a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and an eye witness of many of the activities of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 5:33-40), and yet he was so blind that he failed to see and obey the truth of the gospel.

Some of the scholarly brethren in Abilene, Lubbock and Memphis do not seem to be able to see that they are advocating a system of centralized earthly authority over church resources, which is as contrary to New Testament teaching as anything Rome ever initiated. They are as blind as the scholarly Gamaliel.

Brother G. C. Brewer of Memphis, Tennessee, is a scholarly man. He is editor of a paper established for the specific purpose of fighting Catholicism, but I do not know of any man outside of the Roman Catholic Church, who is more Romish in his ideas of centralized earthly control of church work than he is. He does not know Romanism when he sees it; when confronted with ecclesiastical hierarchy in embryo, he is as blind as Gamaliel. He has not been helped by the study of the history of the Roman apostasy any more than Gamaliel was benefited by the preaching of Peter and John.

If all our brethren could be persuaded to turn a deaf ear to the "glory that is of man," and open their hearts to the "glory that is of God," then all these centralized authoritative agencies for universal church action, which are disturbing the churches, would vanish into oblivion and nothingness. May God speed the day!