"Unfeigned Love of the Brethren"
Connie W. Adams
"'Seeing ye have obeying the truth purified your souls in through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." (I Pet. 1:22.)
This passage came to mind the other day when I received a bulletin from a church in Tennessee. The preacher of said church was greatly exercised because a family in that congregation had stopped contributing there when that church included one of the benevolent institutions in the budget. They are sending their contribution to a sound church engaged in scriptural work until they can decide what course to pursue in the unpleasant situation in which they find themselves. I know these people well; they are anything but trouble makers. They are not opposed to caring for orphans or others in need. They do not object to the existence of benevolent institutions supported by individuals. They do believe it is unscriptural for contributions to be made from the church treasury to any human institution. When they moved to this Tennessee town, they talked at length with the brethren there about their convictions and were assured that the church there had none of the institutions or sponsoring church projects in the budget, though they did not have any objections to them. So they decided to worship with them as long as they conscientiously could. When they were told the institution was placed in the budget, they forthrightly told the brethren that it would then be impossible for them to contribute there (they are liberal givers) under the circumstances, and until they could decide what action they would take, began sending it to a congregation they knew was engaged in work authorized for the Lord's church.
This decision, based on sincere convictions raised the preacher's blood pressure considerably. In the January 8, 1967 number of the Morristown Mirror, he exploded with the following article:
"It has been the practice for some time of those influenced by the faction or sect opposed to supporting orphan homes to 'boycott' the contribution by NOT GIVING because the church has decided to help the helpless in this way. Personally, I have no use for any person who would deny any child his daily bread. Even the Communists have a better heart. As far as I am concerned, these 'gnat strainers and camel swallowers' who withhold their contribution are the lowest forms of humanity; impossible it is to get any lower!
"Tell me, you who do not give, who gave you the authority to omit one item of worship and observe the others? Listen: If you cannot give with us you cannot pray with us . . . If you cannot give with us you cannot sing with us . . . If you cannot give with us you cannot study with us.
"Oh yes, we are well acquainted with the 'doctrine' of the little orphan anti school in Florida and its neurotic supporters . . . We realize that this self-righteous group instructs its followers that they are justified in meeting with us heathen, even though we do all the giving, in order to teach us! How utterly precious!
"Now get this and get it good: Those who do not give are violating Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 16:2 and other scriptures. If you think we have "been taken,' better think again . . . . WE DO NOT CONSIDER YOU IN FELLOWSHIP WITH US ... IS THAT PLAIN ENOUGH?"
Those who oppose church support of human institutions are not opposed to the care of the needy, and the preachers who so charge know good and well they are falsifying when they make such a charge. In the next place, the family involved is not refusing to give. They are giving. They are simply sending it to a congregation which is working according to a "thus saith the Lord." When I am away from home in gospel meetings, I do not put anything in the contribution of the particular congregation where I am visiting, for I leave it with someone at Brown St. to be placed in the collection on the first day of the week. This has been the practice of informed Christians for years.
Those who support the human institutions have argued long and loud that they (the institutions) are just expedients and that nobody was compelled to give to support them. Congregations, they tell us, are free to contribute to them or not. Those of us who oppose church support of these institutions have often been accused of binding our opinions and making laws where God made none. But now notice what you are if you can't conscientiously support such through your contributions to the church: (1) you are charged with denying a child his daily bread; (2) you are worse than the Communists; (3) you are the lowest form of humanity, "impossible it is to get any lower"; (4) you are a 'gnat strainer and a camel swallower'; (5) you cannot pray, sing or study with them unless you can contribute in violation of your conscience to this practice; (6) you are neurotic; (7) self-righteous, and (8) not in fellowship.
My brethren, if these church supported institutions are just "methods," "expedients," then how is it that brethren cannot exercise their conscientious scruples without becoming guilty of the aforementioned charges? This bulletin article reveals the fangs of those who out of one side of their mouth talk sweetness and light and bemoan the sad division in the church. They charge that we have caused division over our opinions. Yet, here is a brother who says that if you can't go along, you are not in fellowship. Who makes it a test of fellowship?
Brethren in congregations where unauthorized items are put into the budget are faced with having to violate their consciences, go to another congregation (sometimes many miles away), or else do what they can to worship in their homes, or help get another congregation started which will "speak as the oracles of God." I sincerely hope some of those brethren who have been writing to us and accusing us of pressing our opinions, will recognize just exactly who it is that is pressing an opinion. We stand ready to give the scriptural authority for what we teach and practice or else give it up. Ask the liberal for authority from the book of God for what they are doing, and it is "line up or get out." If there is any love of the brethren in such a sentiment, I am unable to discover it. On the contrary, there is unfeigned bitterness and hatred. These things ought not so to be.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 9, pp. 17-18