Vol.II No.III Pg.4
April 1965

The "Church" Cannot Read

Robert F. Turner

Although many fallacious arguments are made by confusing the obligations of the church distributively (the individual Christian) with those of the organized church (saints functioning collectively) there are few who fail to recognize that such a distinction must and does exist. But consistency in the application of this distinction seems difficult to obtain.

B.B. Baxter, in his tract "Questions and Issues" recognizes private responsibility to the Heart Fund (a "good work" of benevolence, mind you) which "would not be the responsibility of the church as a congregation" (p.23). Later (p.30) he urges church support of colleges on the basis that "if the individual Christian should give to make such schools possible, the church has the same responsibility, for it is a good work and the church is the people.

When Reuel Lemmons replied to Baxter's tract (F.F.2-25-64) he showed the church can spend its money only for those things the church is authorized to do. Fighting church support of colleges, brother Lemmons made a distinction in individual and church obligations. But when the editor wished to make JAM.1:27 and GAL.6:10 "church" obligations he said GAL.6:10 "is not a command to the individual any more than any other command in the scriptures given to Christians in general is to the individual". The legs of the lame are unequal.

A passage commanding "faith" does not of itself, command "baptism". We reject the addition of "only" because "it is written again" "repent and be baptized". We support preachers from the treasury, not because of GAL.6:6 (which is an individual obligation) but because 2CO.11:8, etc. authorize such church action. The Lord's Supper is a collective project (ACT.20:7 1CO.11:20) hence is supported from the collective fund. If brother Lemmons could produce a passage authorizing the organized church to practice unlimited benevolence he'd use it -- instead of writing those foolish and self-contradicting editorials. Certainly individuals partake of the bread and fruit of the vine. Individuals go to the world and preach. The church acts (collectively) by supporting this going and preaching with its pooled means. Lemmons stumbled into this truth when he wrote, "Naturally, churches can't read -- only individuals can read". I'm interested in the editor's explanation of how the congregation can go to Europe to preach.

Collective action is done by agreement of members, the pooling of their means, and the acceptance of a common direction and/or guidance (the elders, when available) so the group may act as one. The Lord's Supper was partaken in the assembly; i.e., when saints were come together (above). Church funds are used therefore to provide a place of assembly, and other things necessary for this collective project.

The care of widows indeed, and the care of needy saints is clearly assigned to the church collectively, and scriptures show a pooled fund was used (ACT.4:34-f; 1TI.5:16; 1CO.16:2). Is not God's way sufficient?