Missionary Societies (II)
Among us we have the "UCMS" (United Christian Missionary Society), the "ACMS" (American Christian Missionary Society), and the "HOT" (Herald of Truth). Are you surprised to learn that the Herald of Truth is a "missionary society" - with a capital "MS?" She qualifies in every necessary detail. She was born of the same reasoning, founded for the same purpose, and functions in the same manner as the others. Neither of them is the church, but a "human agency" through which a multiplicity of churches function. We are told that there is a signal difference in the UCMS, ACMS and the Herald of Truth; namely, the UCMS and the ACMS dominate, or rule over, the - contributing churches while the Herald of Truth does not! And, WHO, may I ask, says so? The contributing churches are as much under the influence and control of the Herald of Truth as the denominational churches are under the "Societies." There is one distinct difference, but the afore-mentioned is not it! This difference is: in the case of the denominational people it is admitted, while those who contribute to the Herald of Truth are doing so in ignorance OR they are falsifying the matter! In either case, they are alike!
One Man Missionary Societies
Don Carlos Janes of the past, and Jimmie Lovell and Ira Y. Rice, Jr. of the present, reflect such a society. It would be difficult to determine which of the three has "fleeced" the brethren, churches and individuals, out of more money. The term "Hundreds of Thousands" would be necessary to describe the amount in the case of either. Don Carlos Janes centered his efforts for the most part on "evangelism" in foreign countries, while Jimmie Lovell made his any likely project that would appeal to brethren, and Ira Y. Rice centered his, for a long while, on the San Francisco "Downtown" church, which was not "downtown" at all, but a small group meeting on Mission Avenue in a building mostly of "sheet-iron" construction. Enough money was contributed to pay for this property a dozen times. It is difficult to understand how brethren have become the ripe and ready target for such "con-man" tactics. Yet, these men have been successful in their "one-man" capacity, as has the Herald of Truth in her organizational capacity.
Whether it be the "organizational" or the "one-man" society, both are impractical and both are unscriptural. What John has said of the spirits ("Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; for many false prophets are gone out into the world."), he could have said of "projects!" There are many of them which have been introduced to brethren. Brethren have not been interested enough in "truth" to make the necessary investigation and have, as the result, been drawn into the whirlpool of unscriptural activities.
"Missionary Societies," who needs them? Denominational churches do. But not the Lord's church. She did very well for some 1800 years without them. She did much better, really, than she has ever done with them. They are expensive and unscriptural. They have been a "thorn in the flesh" of the church; a wedge of division, cleavage, rupture within the spiritual body of Christ. What we need is not "missionaries" to establish "missions," and "missionary societies" through which these "missions" work. But, "gospel preachers" to establish 61 churches" to work within their own framework, exercising their "autonomy" in the local church, the "divine" body!
Let us quit speaking in unbiblical language and cease functioning in the denominational manner. Let us apply the admonition given to Israel of old as Jeremiah spoke to them; "Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye s hall find rest for your souls." But let us refuse to be like Israel when she said, "We will not walk therein" (Jer. 6:16).
Brethren, if we propose to believe in God, in his only begotten Son, in the inspiration of his word, let us give a demonstration of it by respecting the authority of Christ. In His words: "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 14, pp. 5-6