Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1956

"Go" And "Visit"

Conway Skinner, Roanoke, Alabama

At the recent lectures at Alabama Christian College another straw-man "bit the dust." Brother D. Ellis Walker spent a great deal of his lecture in answering a brother's arguments on the Epistle of James. According to Brother Walker, this unnamed preacher had testified that all that is contained in the book of James was addressed to the church "universal." Therefore, James 1:27 could not be a guide for individual congregations for it was not addressed to them as such, but rather to the whole body of Christ. Then immediately Brother Walker began to tear down the unnamed brother's arguments, and in the process he made it appear that all who oppose our present day methods of co-operation take a like position and can be so easily routed in complete defeat.

In answer to the church "universal" argument, Brother Walker pointed out from James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God," James 1:12 "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation" and other similar passages that it was written instead to individuals. That this is true I am sure all thoughtful students of the Bible will agree.

But then when he got down to James 1:27, he wanted to make this apply to the separate or local congregations and not either to the church "universal" or to just the individual Christian. And then he spent his closing minutes in a "splendid" discussion of the generic term "visit" and how that God has not limited the "visit," therefore, anyone who would limit it becomes un-godly.

But let us investigate what Brother James really says and to whom or what is he talking. In verse 23 of the first chapter James speaks of "if any (man)", verse 24 "he", verse 25 "whoso" and "he", and then verses 26, 27 "If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself (or oneself) unspotted from the world." From these verses I think all can come to but one conclusion, that James is talking to individuals and not congregations.

Now let us suppose as Brother Walker evidently does, that what individuals are allowed to do, so also may a congregation. In other words, a congregation as a group has the same right to do any good work, and to use any method that an individual Christian can use. If that is true and the word "visit" is generic (and it is) then the conclusion would be that a church may do its work of "visiting" or it's benevolent work in any way or fashion it desires.

'But lest we go too far with such a conclusion, let us draw a simple parallel. Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mk. 16: 15. Here we find another generic term, "go". Using Brother Walker's same logic, that which applies to an individual also applies to a congregation, let's see the results. A congregation would have the right to "go preach" in any way, form or fashion it saw fit. Therefore, using such logic, if a church may "visit" through a benevolent institution, it could also "go preach" through a missionary institution. If not, why not? So as the old saying goes, "That which proves too much, proves nothing."