Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 20, 1955
NUMBER 36, PAGE 8-9a

A Review Of Brother Banister's Article No. 2

R. Ervin Driskill, Birmingham, Alabama

I have read Brother John Banister's article (No. 2) in the Advocate, with interest, and would like for those who read it to read it again in connection with my comments in this article. FIRST, he is correct when he says, "One congregation sent help to several congregations in a given area" and then cites Acts 11:27-30; 12:25. He concedes the money was sent to the elders (and I take it he means DIRECTLY) of the various congregations of Judea.

SECOND, he says, "Several congregations sent help to one congregation" and gives Romans 15:25-27; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; 8:1-5. I suppose he means this was sent DIRECTLY to the receiving church. He uses 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 to show this contribution was sent TO the Jerusalem church BY Titus and other brethren (caps mine, R.E.D.), which is certainly true. Why Brother Banister did not attempt to say this was ONE COMMON fund (held by Titus and these other brethren) I do not know. He later attempts to prove the messengers carrying money, from "several congregations" in Macedonia to Paul was a COMMON FUND. He could have proved the former as easy as he could the latter that is — if either could be proved. He made a signal failure, of proving it, in his efforts. In either case there was no intermediate church between Jerusalem and the "several congregations" contributing to Jerusalem and between Paul and the contributing churches of Macedonia. That is exactly why there should be no intermediate church between a contributing church and a receiving church today. That's what makes the Lubbock and the Abilene arrangement wrong. It has been said repeatedly, that these "several congregations" were helping Jerusalem care for JERUSALEMS needy — (a work peculiarly Jerusalem's) which Jerusalem could not do alone. But, it is not a work (peculiar to Highland) of preaching to the nation. Neither is it the work of Lubbock to care for the orphan children of Birmingham, Nashville and Abilene churches. The Jerusalem church was in NEED. Abilene and Lubbock are NOT in NEED. A simpleton can see the difference. Brother Banister says, Titus and these brethren (appointed by the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to carry the contribution to Jerusalem) ". . . . were the `messengers' of all the participating churches and REPRESENTED (caps mine) them." Notice Brother Banister's parallel . . . . the messengers are like unto the intermediate church in cooperative work today (if that is not what he intends then, what does he mean?) and yet the messengers REPRESENTED the contributing churches. It therefore follows that the intermediate or disbursing church, in cooperative work today, REPRESENTS the contributing churches. Now, what I want to know is: Where (in the New Testament) did one church REPRESENT another or a number of other churches? ? And, if the REPRESENTED churches do not lose their autonomy in the REPRESENTING church, just what would a church have to do' to lose its autonomy? This is a point that needs to be made clear because it is the nearest proof (?) the modern cooperative advocates can find. I have not read any other argument, from any of them. Let me state it again: The messengers were a go-between between a contributing and a receiving church therefore, a disbursing church can be a go-between between a contributing and a receiving church. That is the argument. Yet, the messengers REPRESENTED the contributing church, says Brother Banister. This being true the disbursing church REPRESENTS the contributing church. And yet, it is claimed the contributing church does not lose its autonomy. I repeat! what would the contributing church have to do to lose it? Moreover, the Bible says nothing about these messengers REPRESENTING the churches. This is a figment of imagination. The U. S. postal department serves as messengers for churches today but does not REPRESENT the contributing churches. The Bible says they were "messengers" and that's what they were. If the Bible said they REPRESENTED the churches, that's what they'd be but since all it says is they were "messengers" then THAT'S WHAT THEY WERE. It is very noticeable that these messengers did not take this contribution, from churches, to another church, to send to a third church, or to the second church for it to use in a work, to which the contributing church and the second church were equally related.

THIRD, Brother Banister says, "In apostolic days, congregations cooperated in mission work. They did not always cooperate, it is true, . . ." He is wrong here; churches did always cooperate but, of course, not in the way he here advocates. There is cooperation (with centralization of funds and power) and then there is the Bible way; churches working and cooperating in their independent capacity.

FOURTH, I think Brother Banister would have a difficult time proving the church sent Paul and Barnabas on their first journey. True, the church "sent them away" but it was the Holy Spirit that "sent them forth." Certainly, ". . . a single congregation did mission work with no apparent assistance or cooperation from other congregations" but to use Acts 13:1-4 as an example does not prove it. However, there is no point, in the issue, involved here.

FIFTH, the article says, "Epaphroditus was the man appointed for this purpose and he, as REPRESENTATIVE (caps mine) of the Philippian congregation ... etc." Why Brother Banister persists in saying something the Bible does not say I cannot tell. The Holy Spirit could have said they were REPRESENTATIVES.

SIXTH, Brother Banister also points out that the Corinthian church supported several preachers and cites 1 Corinthians 9:12. This, I think is true and no one objects if there is no intermediate church involved.

SEVENTH, effort is made to prove several churches "pooled" their funds into ONE COMMON fund or, at least "they could have done it this way . . . ." says Brother Banister, since "the New Testament gives no clear answer to this question . . . ." Thus, the proof (?) for a DISBURSING CHURCH is based on a case where the Bible is not clear. This is poor proof and yet, it is the nearest proof Brother Banister and the Gospel Advocate can offer. The case under study, by Brother Banister, is 2 Corinthians 11:7-9. It is his case of "several congregations supporting the same preacher in the same place and at the same time." "If this was done in apostolic days," says Brother Banister, "the same can be done today." Here he raises some questions: (1) "Who were these contributing congregations?" "EVIDENTLY the churches of Macedonia . . . . Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea." (2)

"How did these congregations send their funds to Paul ? All we know is that a plurality of congregations sent money by the hands of a plurality of brethren to the same preacher at the same time and at the same place." Brother Banister admits he doesn't know much about the matter and then sets out to prove what he doesn't know. He says, "Did the Macedonian churches "pool" their contributions into ONE COMMON FUND, or did they keep them SEPARATE and send them by different men?" (caps mine.) His answer is, "the New Testament gives no clear answer to this question, but strongly implies that it was a COMMON fund from all the participating churches sent by brethren representing them all!" Brother Banister, this no more STRONGLY implies a COMMON fund than it does SEPARATE funds and you know it. When Brother Gatewood turns funds, from churches, to Broadway do you think he does not report that so much came from this church, so much from this church, etc? Does he not deliver each contribution to the Broadway church and a report is then sent from Broadway to the contributing church? Aren't these SEPARATE funds, until turned over to Broadway, and then they deposit it into ONE COMMON fund? We all know this is true. The implication is on the side of SEPARATE funds, delivered by these messengers, instead of a COMMON fund. We thus have the two pictures before us: (1) Brother Banister has cited the individual contribution of the individual church, sent to Paul (Phil. 4:16) which all can agree upon and (2) he has cited an example ( ?) of churches "pooling" their funds into a COMMON fund, based on a STRONG IMPLICATION, which we have seen is no such thing. This, brethren, is what is causing so much trouble in the church today because they all seek to justify the "pooling of funds into the hands of a disbursing church" on what they are pleased to call a STRONG IMPLICATION. It is like proving "infant baptism" in connection with the conversion of Lydia. Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 knocks such implications into a tail-spin and Philippians 4:16 does the same for Brother Banister's common fund and the Advocate's "centralization of funds."