Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 24, 1957

Walker On James 1:27

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

One of the greatest monstrosities in logic to appear in defense of church supported human institutions is found in the Gospel Advocate, August 22, 1957. D. Ellis Walker is the author. He thinks he has the proper answer to the argument that the letter of James was written to the church universal, hence contains teaching to the individual Christian. He thinks that if this be so, it would demand that there be a universal church organization because elders are mentioned in the letter. It does not occur to me to try to argue that the letter is addressed to the church universal as such, but it is evident on every page that it is addressed to Christians. He seems not to comprehend the fact that instruction could be given to Christians about what to do with their elders without the letter of instruction being addressed to a particular congregation. He needs to find to what church or assembly the letter is addressed if he thinks it is not addressed to individual Christians but to the local church.

He also uses the case of the respect of persons shown to those who come into the assembly, and makes a long dissertation about the meaning of the term "assembly." No one has any question about that being the local church assembly. The point of concern is whether or not the instruction is given to the assembly or to the individual Christians who assemble. His own words recognize the inescapable fact that it is instruction to the individual rather than to the church or the assembly. He says; "The book of James also instructs Christians how they should treat people who 'Come into your synagogue' ..."

The conclusion he makes of his argument is; "Therefore, the book of James is directed to the local congregation as well as to every Christian." But let us note another section of his "proof" (?) to show just how puerile is the reasoning of the article:

Now, since the Bible teaches that elders were appointed in every church (Acts 14:23) and since no provision was made for elders of the church universal, we know the elders mentioned in James were the elders of a local congregation. Therefore the epistle of James is applicable to the affairs of a local congregation."

The epistle does instruct all Christians about what they are to do and how they are to act in the local congregation. But Brother Walker failed to present a passage which was directed to the local congregation itself. He does not have the complete chain of premises in his argument. He needs to find the missing link. It is easy to jump to the conclusion; much easier than taking it step by step, when all the steps are not there.

The fact still remains that James 1:27 is addressed to individuals. All one has to do to notice that simple, plain fact is to observe the pronouns. When brethren fail to see this, I am no longer surprised that the denominational preacher is unable to see baptism in Mark 16:16 and the meaning of "for" in Acts 2:38. The passage, from which they are trying to take the individual and into which they are trying to insert the church, still reads; "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."