Vol.XI No.II Pg.2
April 1974

Social Reaction

Robert F. Turner

Twenty years ago, as the social functions of churches increased and brethren began to tap the treasury for fun and frolic, some sounded a justified cry of alarm. History students were seeing a repeat of the steps in digression apparent in the past century. I remember attending a class at the ACC lectures and hearing a teacher say that the church had an obligation to develop saints spiritually, mentally, physically and socially. I asked for Bible authority, and was cited Lu. 2:52 — which tells how Jesus grew, and has nothing to do with the function of the organized church. Social fellowship was called Christian fellowship— and the church treasury was used to buy softballs.

In 57 I wrote some articles on the Social Gospel— tracing the historic background of this philosophy, and showing its evolution into churches through our educational efforts. Others wrote and preached about the social gospel and pointed to general welfare institutions as examples of emphasis upon this world welfare that was slowly replacing the proper emphasis upon eternal benefits. But as the battle spread it was easier to shock people with examples of church fishing camps and greased pig races than to dig out the fundamental error of the social gospel concept. Many churches were building kitchens and having parties, so this was fuel too.

And soon the very mention that brethren were getting together socially was proof to some that they had swallowed the social gospel. The liberal opposition — not noted for getting issues straight anyhow— were soon saying that we objected to eating in the church building; and poor Willie, the Water Cooler articles abounded. One San Antonio preacher was astonished to learn that I didnt object to his having a cup of coffee in his study.

Under these, or any circumstances it is unwise for a church to use its property in such a way as to lend support or encouragement to those who pervert the spiritual purpose of this divine institution. Our course should be determined, however, by sound Bible principles, and not simply in reaction to gossip and quibbles. We can not separate a social aspect from the gathering for worship; and we do not believe the building is sacred. Also, the issue: authorized purpose and function of the organized church must not keep us from encouraging all saints individually or severally— the church in its distributive sense-from practicing and enjoying a live, daily social relationship. Carefully read Shipleys LETS GET TOGETHER!