Vol.XVIII No.IV Pg.2
June 1981

Disturbed---With Reason

Robert F. Turner

An interesting letter says; "I'm disturbed..." about church entertainment, Fellowship Halls, banquets honoring teachers (for doing God's work), etc. The writer says she had been taught that the home and the church were two different institutions, and that a thing right in the home was not necessarily authorized for church functions. She says, "I'm getting confused, and yet when I turn and study I can't see that I was taught wrongly. But how can I condone and partake of such when I'm not convinced? I'm not grinding an ax. I want to believe that what I do is right scripturally."

I don't know this woman, but she writes like some one with sound Bible training. She also sounds like one of many who have been caught in a social gospel digression, and continue to move with the time against their conscience. The fact that her conscience bothers her (is still active), and that she is studying, are very good signs. But I must warn her that she must give account to God, not to her church friends (Rom. 14:12). "He that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (14:23). "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17). God demands a good (unviolated) conscience of His followers. We glorify God in domestic, civil, economic, and other relationships (Col. 3:17-25, Rom. 13:1-f, 1 Cor. 10:2731); but in these things the "church" acts distributively, i.e., as saints act in their individual capacities. To determine the work of the collective church (the church "as such" or "from its treasury" as different ones put it) we must determine by command, approved example, or necessary inference, the N.T. authorized function of this church. When we find such things as meeting for worship, self-edification, and preaching the word; and that it collected funds for support of the gospel and assistance of needy saints, we are determining what a faithful church can do today. There is NO indication, NO authority, for making social functions, recreational activities, secular education or general welfare the responsibility of the local church acting collectively.

It has been argued there is no difference in the church collectively or distributively, but 1 Tim. 5:16 spoils that. Passages like Gal. 6:10 and Jas. 1:27 have been applied to the church collectively, when context clearly points to the individual. As the social "club" aspect of church grows we expect less scripture argument, and more "just do it" on general principles of tradition. How long can Bible lovers stay with such a sell-out??