October 1981

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

I wrote you a couple of years ago concerning this church. A new building was being considered and a kitchen was in the plans. Other members and I are opposed to this. At your suggestion we met with the elders. They feel we are binding something on the church that should be a "liberty;" and that we are adding to the scriptures. They were very nice about it and asked us to be patient and let the responsibility rest on them. They continue having basket dinners funded by the church although we asked to pay so we could attend in good conscience. That idea was overlooked. One elder is strongly against the church funding ball teams, youth outings, etc. He could not answer when asked the difference in church funded dinners and baseball. (Of course he doesn't enjoy baseball.) I'm happy to say we have felt no difference in attitude toward us.


I remember this situation (Truth is a Sword, V. 16, N.3, P.4-5) and am happy that relations have remained cordial; but the reasoning (?) is fallacious. The Scriptures contain absolutely no authority for church support of either banqueting or baseball so how could one who objects to this unauthorized function be "binding" something on the church. It seems the addition of an unauthorized function, and against conscientious objection, is "binding something on the church." If "liberty" means we can broaden the God-assigned role of the church it destroys the whole idea of a God-directed people. We are not asking for specific authority. Generic authority will do — and the baseball team will be in the same verse. Surely thinking people can see that!

"Let the responsibility rest upon them (the elders) " — and rest there it will, but not exclusively there. No saint can abdicate individual responsibility to live in good conscience before God. "Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12); and "he that doubteth is damned if he eat..." (vs. 22-23). The elders cannot answer for me in final judgement. This presumptuous attitude condemns the elders, and all who submit to it. Will we never learn?

It is not "nice" to overlook the conscience of brethren who are trying to avoid doing what they believe to be contrary to God's will. Are we to believe that elders who will not allow brethren to pay their own way at a "church" dinner; are going to show respect for their feelings when the time comes to build banqueting and recreational facilities? (Oh yes, the gym and ping-pong table will come in through the same "church funded" banquet gate.) When the pooled funds of a congregation are used, all who contribute to those funds are involved — in fact; this is the usual way for members to act collectively. Those who cannot conscientiously have a part in church funded activities must cease their support — and this means eventual withdrawal from the group.

Far better this (as unwanted and distasteful as it is) than to leave God in order to have popular approval.