Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 3, 1955
NUMBER 26, PAGE 1,10b-11a

Reviewing Brother Roy H. Lanier On Congregational Cooperation -- (II.)

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

In his second article on "Congregational Cooperation" (Gospel Advocate, September 15, 1955), Brother Roy H. Lanier shows beyond reasonable doubt that he is very much in need of some bask lessons on God's law of exclusion.

"Two Parallel Movements"

Brother Lanier tried to prove that opposition to the "sponsoring church" type of one church's receiving money from many churches is parallel to opposition to teaching the Bible in classes.

He says that "a few honest brethren" think they have found a pattern in I Corinthians 14 for edification of the church in "group instruction," to the exclusion of class instruction. Then he proves with the greatest of ease that their interpretation of I Corinthians 14 is wrong, because other passages of scripture plainly teach that house to house and class teaching had divine approval. (Acts 18:26; 20:20, 21; Titus 2:3-6; and other passages.)

Then he starts his parallel: he says that "a group of good brethren" think they have found a pattern in I Corinthians 16:1, 2; II Corinthians 8 and 9 of churches with abundance sending money to churches in want, and that this "pattern" applies exclusively to churches with abundance sending relief to churches in want.

He states correctly the position of this "group of good brethren." So far, so good. But why did he so abruptly stop his parallelism here? Why didn't he go on and show by other passages of scripture that this interpretation of I Corinthians 16: 1, 2, and II Corinthians 8 and 9 is wrong, like he did with the first group in his parallelism? Why didn't he show by other passages of scripture that one church did send money to another church, with divine approval, when the receiving church was not in want? In the "Movement" of group instruction and class teaching, many passages of scripture show that both methods have divine approval. But in the case of one church's sending a donation to another church, there is no passage that even remotely indicates that one church sent a donation to another church, except when the receiving church was in want. And Brother Lanier did not even claim that such a passage exists. He knows there is no such passage. His own opinion in the matter was all that he offered in support of such donations. He said, "I believe he no more intended this to serve as a 'pattern for congregational cooperation' than he intended I Corinthians 14 to serve as a 'pattern' for edification of the church." In the absence of scriptural testimony, he would be a much safer teacher of God's word, if he would withhold his opinion of what God "intended."

If Brother Lanier could be brought to a realization of the fact that the authority of God's word and the authority of Lanier's opinion are not exactly parallel, he might then be able to see clearly that his "Two Movements" are not parallel at all. In his attack upon one "Movement," he can produce many scriptures which show that both group instruction and class teaching were employed with divine approval; in his attack on the other "Movement," he can produce nothing on earth, except human opinion, as proof that one church sent a donation to another church, when the receiving church was not in want. Is there a preacher or teacher in all the land so blind that he cannot see that Brother Lanier's "Two Movements" are not parallel? How can a man of Brother Lanier's ability make such a blunder, and fail to see it?

The opponents of class teaching may make their "Movement" look "plausible" to Brother Lanier, but as long as the scriptures present divine approval of both group instruction and class teaching, they cannot even begin to make their "Movement" look plausible to me. If he states a fact when he says they make their "Movement" look plausible to him, he is much more gullible than a man of his experience ought to be.

The opponents of the "sponsoring church" type of cooperation could not even begin to make their position "look plausible" to me, if I could find one passage of scripture that teaches that one church sent a donation to another church, when the receiving church was not in want. But I cannot find that passage, neither can any body else find it; therefore their position not only looks "plausible," it is both plausible and safe. How can Brother Lanier say that opposition to a thing for which there is plenty of scripture looks "more plausible" to him, than opposition to a practice for which there is no scripture? What frame of mind is the man in? God's Law of Exclusion When the Lord uses a generic term in telling man what to do, then names a specific of that generic term, and does not express his approval of any other specific of that generic, man is forbidden by God's law of exclusion to employ any other specific than the one named.

When the Lord uses a generic term, but does not name any specific of that generic term; or if he expresses his approval of the employment of two or more specifics of that generic term, then man is at liberty to employ any or all the specifics of that generic that may be expedient.

Let me give a few examples in the application of God's law of exclusion, which law Brother Lanier ignores and must continue to ignore, or surrender his "sponsoring church" hobby.

1. God told Noah to make the ark of wood. Wood is a generic term. Pine, oak, gopher, cedar and others are specifics of the generic wood. God named one of these specifics to be used; He specified gopher. Nowhere did He express His approval of the use of any other kind of wood in the ark. Therefore, we can say with certainty that Noah was forbidden by God's law of exclusion to use any other kind of wood than the one specified. And Noah was safe in sticking to God's "pattern." This not only "looks plausible"; it is plausible.

If Brother Lanier "had been there," would he "have denounced" Noah for his "legalistic use of patterns"? Would he have told Noah how "dangerous" it is to be such a stickler for God's "patterns"? Would he now criticize Noah because he "followed slavishly" God's "patterns"? Would he have delivered to Noah a dissertation on "Principles Verses Patterns," as though Bible principles are against Bible patterns? Just what does Brother Lanier mean by "Principles Versus Patterns"? Does he think God's "Principles" are "versus" God's "Patterns"? Does he not know that every New Testament pattern establishes a New Testament principle? Brother Lanier, you are very, very wrong in your attempt to prove that principles and patterns are "versus" each other.

2. Now let us consider examples in which men were not restricted to one specified method, kind, or way.

In Deuteronomy 31:9-13. a commandment to the priests consisted of four points: (1) gather all Israel together; (2) teach them the law; (3) gather them in a chosen place; (4) gather them every seven years.

How do we know the Israelites were not restricted to these four points in teaching the law to the people? How do we know that God's law of exclusion did not forbid these four things: (1) teaching only a part of Israel at a time? (2) all teachers, except priests? (3) all places except Jerusalem? (4) all times, except once every seven years? We know it, because the law itself contains many, many passages in which God commanded or expressed his approval (1) of teaching only a part of Israel at a time; (2) of parents, princes, Levites and many others doing the teaching; (3) of teaching in dozens of places; (4) of teaching every Sabbath, and continuously.

3. If some one would produce a passage of scripture in which the Lord expresses his approval of a church's observing the Lord's supper on any day of the week, except the Lord's day, then we would gladly eat the Lord's supper on "Ash Wednesday," or "Good Friday," or any other day of the week that men may choose. But, until some one does produce that passage, we must stick to that Lord's day "pattern," even though men may call it "slavish" and a "Legalistic Use of Patterns."

4. If some one would present a passage of scripture in which God expresses His approval of a church's sending a donation to another church under any condition, except when the receiving church is in want, then I gladly would endorse every "sponsoring church" case of centralization of church resources from the beginning of the Roman Hierarchy to this day. But, until some one does produce that passage, I must stick to "that-there-may-be-quality" pattern of II Corinthians 8 and 9, even though Brother Lanier calls it "slavish" and "Legalistic Use of Patterns."

5. Elisha told Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan, and he would be healed of leprosy. (II Rings 5.) When he named the "Jordan," he thereby excluded all other rivers. No other river was included in the "pattern." Naaman did not like the river of Elisha's "pattern"; he thought that other rivers ought to do just as well, or maybe better; he was wrong.

If Brother Lanier "had been there" would he have told Naaman that the rivers of Damascus would do just as well? Would he have said that Elisha's "pattern" was not "to be followed slavishly"? Does he now accuse Elisha of "Legalistic Use of Patterns"? If not, why not?

6. Brother Lanier and I teach that singing is the only kind of "melody" that should be made in worship. Why do we advocate singing, and oppose instrumental music in worship? We both give the same answer: we have scriptural authority for singing; we do not have scriptural authority for instrumental music in worship. For exactly the same reason I advocate a church's sending a donation to a sister church in need (scriptural authority for it, I Corinthians 16:1, 2); and I object to a church's sending a donation to a church as well off as the contributing church (no scriptural authority for it). I wish Brother Lanier would be consistent, and go along with me. I hope these simple little lessons on how to apply God's law of exclusion will help him.

The Language Of Modernism

The words used by Brother Lanier, the sense in which he uses them, and what he says about "legalistic use of patterns," "binding churches for all ages to come to first century methods," "the right to make use of twentieth century developments," "principles versus patterns," and many others, we would expect to hear from a confirmed Modernist, but not from Roy Lanier. Is he, too, tainted with Modernism? I am not accusing; I am just asking. All who are acquainted with the language of Modernists know that they use the same phrases in the same senses that Brother Lanier uses them. Let us hope that he is not including this phraseology of Modernism in the "Sunday school and vacation Bible school material" which he says he is writing.

For his own good, and the good of those who may use his literature, I should like to offer the following:

1. When God warned Moses to "make all things according to the pattern" (Heb. 8:5), he thereby bound Moses to a "legalistic use of pattern," and it was not "dangerous."

2. In the "first century," Jesus told the apostles to bind some "patterns" on the earth (Matt. 18:18), and those "first century methods" which they bound on the earth are just as binding in this "twentieth century" as in the "first century," and no man can improve them.

3. The "principles" of the Bible are not "versus" the "patterns" of the Bible; there are no contradictions in the Bible; the Bible is not against itself; and the expression, "Principles Versus Patterns," is infidel language.

4. No Bible Principle was ever made known to any man, except through Bible "patterns" in the form of commandments, examples, or necessary inferences.

5. Man must have a "pattern" for every step he takes in the worship and service of God. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23.)

6. When man loses faith in God's "patterns," he loses faith in God.