Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 20, 1954

When Bigness Is Badness

Gordon Wilson. San Bernardino. California

Twice each month there comes to my home a four page newspaper which is published by the Boles Orphan Home. In the March 10 issue of the Boles Home News there appeared an editorial which I feel shows some very false and dangerous thinking on the part of its writer. The article appeared on the front page of the paper and was titled, "Bigness Is Not Badness Nor Littleness Virtue."

The article contained a story which explained that "some of our religious 'Wolf! Wolf!' editors and preachers" remind one of the young lawyer who always wanted to sue anything big regardless of whether or not he had a case. The story was very interesting and entertaining, but the point of it was obvious. The writer left no doubt as to what he was talking about, as he went ahead to explain:

"Such a young lawyer, had he been such a preacher would have felt obligated to orate or editorialize about 'the Lubbock plan' or to criticize the Herald of Truth program, and to pay special attention to the bell towers of sizeable congregations. He might even have paid his respects to Boles Orphan Home in those areas where he thought he wouldn't get fired by not too patient brethren grown tired of their little Moses leading them out of the wilderness."

To the mind of that writer any preacher who "felt obligated" to speak out against the errors and innovations in the church is in the same class with the inexperienced young lawyer. In other words, those faithful men who dare lift their voices against false and vain religion and condemn any deviation from the true religion of Christ, are only trying to appear ambitious. He seems to think that anyone who strives by preaching and writing to maintain the purity of the church has a fear of anything which is big and represents progress. Of course, this is not true. There is a place for bigness but not just for the sake of being big. A thing can be too big.

We have always stood on the principle that any organization, bigger than a local congregation, organized to do the work of the church, is too big. It is the duty of the church to preach the gospel to the lost, therefore any organization which is larger than the local congregation, and organized to preach the gospel, is too big. This includes the Herald of Truth, the "Lubbock Plan," etc. Yes, we condemn these things because they are too big. They are bigger than the local congregation. It is the obligation of the church, local congregations, to edify its members. Any college or other organization bigger than the independent congregation which takes over the job of training preachers, elders and teachers and demands or solicits the support of churches, again is too big and must be fought against. The church must do its work as the church and has no right whatsoever to work through any man-made society.

Anything other than the church which seeks to do the work of the church is too big to be right according to God's divine plan. "To God be glory in the church" (Eph. 3:21). It is a special mission of the church to do works of mercy, such as caring for orphans. But the church has no right to shift its responsibility onto another institution designed to do that work. Any institution which assumes the care of orphans and is not a part of the work of the local congregation is too big for the church to have a right to support. This, of course, includes Boles Orphan Home. Certainly the church should care for orphans but it should do so within the local, autonomous, and independent congregation. I think that paint is settled.

In trying to prove that "bigness is not badness" the writer uses three paragraphs to show that the church in Jerusalem was big, yet was not looked upon with displeasure by the Holy Spirit. It is true that the saints at Jerusalem numbered many thousands, but the thing being overlooked is that it was still the church. It was not doing its work through some extra-curricular institution. It preached the gospel, trained its members, and cared for the unfortunate and it did all of this as the church at Jerusalem. It was big, but not too big because it stayed within the bounds of God's laws which govern the work of His church. There is no proof here for the societies of men that have grown up.

The closing paragraph of the editorial reads as follows:

"A tree is good or bad because of the fruit it bears and not because of its size. If the fruit is good, the tree is good. If the fruit is evil, the tree is evil, whether it be the dwarf variety in the yard or the giant on the mountainside."

It is easy for an informed mind to see that this is just the old, fallacious, "end justifies the means" argument in disguise. "An organization is good or bad because of the results it shows, regardless of whether God ever authorized its existence. If the work it is doing is good it is all right even though it is not the church." This argument has been answered time and again and it doesn't require much thought to see what is wrong with it. God has told us what to do and furthermore He has told us how to do it in the church. We have no more right to choose the method of doing something when God has spoken on it than we have to choose what to do when God has spoken.

Brethren, let us stay with just what the will of God reveals and always be careful to try not to be too big to be right.