Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 7, 1957

Show Us How It Can Be Done

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

Are those who oppose the "sponsoring church" arrangements, such as those of Broadway and Highland, under obligation to show how it can be done? That is, are we obligated to show how the Lord's church can have a national broadcast such as "Herald of Truth" etc.? The demand has come from several sources that we show how programs of this magnitude can be scripturally maintained.

Those who are engaged in defending such programs are proceeding on the assumption that the amount of money or means required to launch and maintain such things has nothing to do with the scripturalness of the things. They point out that the church has the duty to preach the gospel in all the world, hence any one who attempts to oppose a work because it is too big for any single congregation "moving in its congregational capacity alone" to accomplish, is guilty of legislating where the Lord has not legislated. Let us see about that — God has legislated by giving the organization through which the work (preaching the gospel and caring for the needy) is to be accomplished. That organization is the local congregation. God thus limited the extent of the work, legislated with reference to the magnitude of work to be undertaken by a congregation, by legislating the organization for the accomplishment of the work. The magnitude of the work is determined by the organization. Had God desired to accomplish this great work as a "joint operation" program he certainly could have given an organization commensurate with the work. The local congregation is not equipped by its designer to function on a universal scale. When misguided enthusiasts attempt to force the local congregation into a work which is out of proportion to that organization, they are guilty of perverting the Lord's organization. When the organization ceases to function in its appointed sphere it ceases to be the organization divinely designed. The elders, in their relation to the sponsored work, sustain the same relation to the contributing churches as they do to the "sponsoring" church over which only do they have a divine right of oversight.

Brother Benjamin Franklin wrote, "But if the Lord has given no plan for the purposes here specified, why ? Does the conclusion follow that we may adopt any that may seem best ? Not by any means. More likely for the reason that he did not intend any such plan or organization, and that the whole affair is an arrogant assumption. I take it that he legislated where legislation was needed, and where he did not legislate, it was not needed, nor intended. Why did not the apostles and first Christians proceed on this freedom, and legislate where the Lord failed to legislate, and do this great work which the scriptures left the people of God to do? The apostles understood it not in that way. They never did it in that way. This is a long leap in the dark — it is a strange precedent!"

Those who demand to be shown how such programs as "Herald of Truth" can be maintained, reveal that they have a denominational concept of the church. To successfully deny this, they must find their concept in the scriptures. When they do this they have established its divine origin and if it has a divine origin it is not denominational. In order to establish that their concept is scriptural they must find an organization in the scriptures which is commensurate to the scope of their concept. But if they have to appeal to denominational practices for their pattern, they show by their actions that their concept is denominational rather than scriptural. To whom do they go? Do they argue that the church at Jerusalem, Antioch or Corinth had such universal church programs? Not often. It is a rare thing for any one of them to try to prove their practice by the scriptures. Most generally they appeal to denominational practices to gain sympathy for their projects. The plea is frequently heard that the Catholic church has a national broadcast so why can't we? Thus they go to denominational practice for their pattern, a thing they would never do if they had not developed a denominational concept of the church.

Now for a plain direct answer to the question, "are we obligated to 'show how it can be done'?" No that is not our obligation at all. Our obligation is to teach the local congregation to function to the extent of its ability — "moving in its congregational capacity alone." I feel no more obligation to show our institutional minded brethren how they may "do it," than I do to show our modernist friends how we may have fellowship with those who refuse to respect the Lord's legislation of baptism. In both cases, my obligation is to show them the way of the Lord.

Ponder this: to what extent is pride the root from which these "super" programs spring?