Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 7, 1957
NUMBER 39, PAGE 1,10b-11

Some Questions -- And Answers (U)

T. A. Thompson, Decatur, Alabama

QUESTION: (12) Isn't it true that the first day of the week contribution in I Corinthians 16:1, 2 was for benevolent purposes exclusively, so far as specifications are concerned?

(ANSWER: As far as this reference is concerned, yes. However, there are other references that authorize the use of money from church treasures for other purposes. (See my answers to Questions 14, 15, 17.) Do you mean to imply that there was no first day of the week contribution until Paul wrote this letter ? — Patton.)

QUESTION: (13) Isn't it true, so far as the record shows, that the only treasury that any church had was brought about in the interests of the needy — objects of charity?

(ANSWER: NO! Paul received wages from church before he ever wrote First Corinthians. (II Corinthians 11:8.) These churches were taking money from their treasuries, and using it for a purpose other than charity. There is a difference between charity and wages. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (14) If this treasury (containing contributions of individual Christians given on the first day of the week) cannot be used to care for orphans in a home, how can we be scriptural in using the first day of the week contributions for any purpose except for the poor saints of another church?

(ANSWER: Whether or not the church may scripturally use money from its treasury "to care for orphans in a home" depends upon whether the church does it, or sends to another organization that it might do it. The church may use money from its treasury for any purpose that is within the scope of the mission of the church. They may support a preacher in a distant field. (II Cor. 11:8.) They may support one at home. (I Cor. 9:14.) They may support a work of edification within their own congregation. (I Tim. 5:18.) They may help the needy of their home congregation. (Acts 6:1-6; I Tim. 5:16.) They may help a needy sister congregation. (I Cor. 16:1, 2.) Do you mean to imply that the only authority for using money from the church treasury is found in Corinthians 16:1, 2 ? — Patton.)

QUESTION: (15) If the treasury created by the first day of the week contribution of individual Christians is not an example of raising money for the general work of the church, then, how can we use it for a building, or paying the preacher, or for any purpose other than that specified?

(ANSWER: This question implies that the only authority for use of church funds is found in I Corinthians 16:1, 2. This implication is wrong! See my answer to Number 14, above. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (16) Have I been wrong all my Christian life in encouraging people to lay by in store on the first day of the week that the church may have a system — an orderly system — in doing all the work of the church? If I have, I have been taught wrong by every preacher that I have ever heard preach on the subject. If the scripture must specify the exact use of the first day of the week contribution in order to be scriptural, what can we use that treasury for except for the poor saints?

(ANSWER: The answer to the first question is, No. You have been wrong, however, if you have assumed that the only reason for encouraging them to so do is that we might have "an orderly system." We have authority for using money from the church treasury for purposes other than charity as pointed out under Number 14 above. How the money was raised in each instance is not revealed. In I Corinthians 16:1,2, Paul shows how money was to be raised for the church treasury for one work of the church. In the absence of any plan to the contrary, would it not be presumptuous to deviate from this revealed plan for any work of the church? Your last question implies that there is scripture for only one use of church funds. This is wrong, as pointed out under Numbers 14, 15, and 16. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (17) Must we let individuals pay the preacher in some other way? Does Galatians 6:6 mean that individuals must give direct to the preacher? If yes, does that exclude giving in any other way?

(ANSWER: By "some other way" I suppose Brother Thompson means in some way other than from the church treasury. If so, the answer is, No. (II Cor. 11:8.) Galatians 6:6 is authority for the individual also giving directly to the preacher. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (18) If I condemn one method of caring for orphans on the ground that the scriptures do not mention that method, and then suggest a way by which it may be done when the scriptures do not mention that method either, then does that not classify me as a dictator for the Lord and to the churches?

(ANSWER: If church methods is the thing under consideration, the answer is, yes, especially if pressed to the dividing of the church. Those favoring Childhaven argue that such an organization is only a method. Yet such organizations are dividing the church! Whom does this classify as a dictator? — Patton.)

QUESTION: (19) Isn't it exceedingly dangerous to be a dictator and make laws where God has not made them?

(ANSWER: Yes! — Patton.)

QUESTION: (20) Will not dictatorship rob the churches of their autonomy? Who should decide in such matters when the Lord has not specified the method? the church by the decision of the elders, or the decision of the preachers? Should the preachers make up their minds for them?

(ANSWER: Yes. "The churches by the decision of the elders" — not some human organization by the decision of its board of directors. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (21) Can the churches please God and bow to dictators?

(ANSWER: No. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (22) Is it true that the individual communion cup. has caused division in the church of our Lord? Or have the preachers caused the division by trying to force a law where God did not make one?

(ANSWER: Preachers and others have caused division by trying to force a law where God has made none over the use of the cups. — Patton.)

QUESTION: (23) Must the churches bow to these lawmakers at the expense of cleanliness and sanitation in order to be at peace with those who are in error in their demands? Must we do this in order to go to heaven?

(ANSWER: These questions imply that those opposing institutions like Childhaven occupy a position parallel to those opposing individual communion cups, literature, classes, etc. If this be true, then Brother Thompson is right in his implications that such are dictators, making laws where God has made none, etc. BUT THIS IS NOT TRUE! The following points of contrast will make this clear:

a. Either those opposing Childhaven occupy a position parallel to the "Anti" who oppose cups, literature, classes, etc., or those favoring Childhaven occupy a position parallel to the "Digressives." Which is it?

b. The "Antis" deny general authority for the things in question and affirm that the authority is specific. We have shown conclusively that they are wrong by citing the General authority. Hence, by contending for specific authority when God has given general authority, they are making laws where God made none. Such are as much transgressors of God's law as those who add to his will things for which we have neither specific nor general authority.

c. The "Digressives" affirm general authority for their institutions, societies, auxiliary organizations, etc. They say that such are only methods, and that the authority for such inheres in the command to do the work. We have shown conclusively that they are wrong by emphasizing the all-sufficiency of God's organization, the church; by showing that the organizations are not methods, but separate organizations, and by challenging them to produce either specific or general authority for organizations other than the church for executing the responsibilities of the church. There is NO authority for such!

If Brother Thompson knows where such authority is, we will be most happy to receive it. I'm sure the "Digressives" will also welcome it, for, as yet, they are still hunting for it.

If there were general authority for such organizations, we who oppose institutional orphan homes would be like the "Antis" in the position we occupy. However, since there is NO authority for such institutions, those who favor such are like the "Digressives" in the position they occupy. Find either specific or general authority for such organizations and the controversy will be over! — Patton.)

QUESTION: (24) There are those who teach that classes and helps — commentaries, written sermons — in class work are wrong; they claim that they are not able to see the scripturalness of it. They also claim to be sincere. Must we bow to their wishes and retard the work of the church in order to please them? They claim that these things have divided churches. Are they right? or have the churches been divided by some preacher trying to force a law where God has not given one?

(ANSWER: I answered this question in my reply to Number 23. Read it again. — Patton.)

Frankly, I do not have personal knowledge of any church being divided over the issues about which I am now so much concerned. Furthermore, all the trouble that I have known of over the "orphan home" question has been caused by some preacher opposing the home and suggesting ways not mentioned in the Bible. I have heard some say, "The private home is the place to care for orphans," but no scripture was given to support the assertion.

I have asked these questions to provoke some serious thinking. The way it looks to me the controversy is uncalled for. I may not have the ability to see what should be done. But I do know that somebody is wrong. It is highly possible that some on both sides have made unscriptural arguments. I realize that we must be careful about the work of the Lord. I realize that in some cases expediencies are included in the command to do a thing. The method, or "how," is left to our judgment. I realize too, that it is dangerous to become a dictator for the Lord. I trust that these questions will be considered with sincerity and answered in the same spirit in which I have asked them. I am anxious for the controversy to cease. The more it brews, the more harm I fear it will do to the cause of Christ. I am willing to surrender my present convictions only when I can be convinced that I can do it without doing the cause an injustice. I should surrender one proposition to accept another to ease the consciences of men, and thereby encourage dictatorship, I would be doing wrong. I speak of dictatorship with caution; I do not accuse anyone of being desirous of such.

But I realize that there is danger of unconsciously becoming such. I present this with the hope and prayer that it may be a contribution to the cause of right. May it be of some help in getting this matter settled. If this is not worth anything, I trust it will do no harm.

(Editor's footnote: We commend Brother Thompson's questions and Brother Patton's answers to the careful reading of all. It is completely obvious that somebody is wrong, and we think Patton sums it all up in his answer to Question Number 23. Turn back and read it and study it! Until the AUTHORITY (either specific or general) is introduced to justify these auxiliary organizations — both among the "digressives" and among our own selves — faithful brethren will continue to oppose them. They will oppose the "benevolence society" among us with the same vigor and the same arguments they oppose the "evangelism society" among our digressive brethren. They stand or fall together.

— F.Y.T.)