Church Responsibility in the Field of Benevolence
An anonymous discussion pertaining to the extent and limit of the church's responsibility toward needy people.
RESOLVED: "The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to care for the world's needy, to the extent of its ability."
SECOND AFFIRMATIVE by GRATIS
Adelphos, Mr. Editor, and friends: I am happy to come to you through the pages of this paper for the second time to affirm those things which I believe to be true regarding the matter of church action in the field of benevolence. I hope that you have read carefully my friendly opponent's negative and that you have it handy so that you may refer to it repeatedly as we now investigate its worth.
Mv opponent (for he is my opponent so far as this proposition is concerned) gives some consideration to the word "authorized." He gives definitions and so forth. All of which I see no reason for opposing, except, that I will disagree with him upon the word "freedom" and what it implies. But, let us keep in mind a little difference between the church being "authorized" to care for the needy of the world and, say, the "command" to the sinner to be baptized. There is no reason for the sinners not being baptized! But there could well be a reason for a congregations not spending any money for the care of the needy non-members, even though she has the "right" to do so. As, for instance, the more pressing matter of caring for the needy who are of "the household of faith." Gal. 6:10.
He makes the very bold assertion that "in Gratis' first affirmative there is not one command, statement of fact, approved example, or necessary inference for the church to take money from its treasury to help needy people of the world." But I did give Gal. 6:10 as a case of necessary inference that the church is to do such, and my opponent has yet to successfully deny it!
And he asks the question: "if such (my proposition) is in the scriptures, why not get right to that passage in the beginning?" And he says he will insist that we do so in this paper. However, I call to the reader's attention that I used no less than SEVEN scriptures in my FIRST paper and we shall shortly notice how effectively (?) he took care of them!
But first, he seems to want to draw me out on the matter of the church and the individual and so here, for both my friendly respondent and my dear readers is my statement along this line: The church can do anything the individual can do to promote New Testament Christianity. In a moment we shall notice an example he tried to use to the contrary, and ask for another to replace it.
He also asks: "When God commands individuals to do something does that mean they are given the freedom and the right to do so should the opportunity arise, or should they feel able to do such?" Well, does my opponent wish to take the position that they do NOT have such freedom? I have already dealt with the difference between this matter and other commands such as baptism or repentance. This is a matter which God Himself has placed second to some other, more important matters.
Now to his replies to my scriptural proof of my proposition. He is not very careful about replying to what I said and sometimes we find him replying to what he wishes I had said. I did not say that Matt. 5 :43-48 was spoken to or directed to the church! He calls our attention to the fact that the church was not vet established and thinks that this answers my arguments! I asked the question, "can the church do what Christ commanded in verse 44" and he said "No." Well, I believe that there are many principles in the sermon on the mount which are applicable to the church and which are binding upon the church and I think few people would agree with my opponent's position that none of it applies to the church. Will he answer whether or not anything that was written before Acts 2 applies to the church? But now this is all my respondent had to say about my argument on Matt. 5:43-48. He says it was not directed to the church -- well, we all knew that it was not directed to the church-but we are contending that it sets forth principles, which ARE binding upon the church and we backed this up with several other passages of scripture which my opponent did not answer any better than he did this one.
But before we notice them we want to notice another one.of his fallacies. "Making the care of the needy of the world the responsibility of the church does not in any way enhance the possibility of all of them being helped." I wonder whom he is trying to reply to here. Did we make such an affirmation as this? No. But, he continues-"in contrast to that, it has the tendency of encouraging individuals to shirk their God-given responsibility. There is entirely too much emphasis now placed on concentrated group action by the Lord's people . . ." He had better be careful lest he be found to be "fighting against God." What he said would be alright maybe, if it were man's invention he is talking about, but we would shudder to think that he might be talking about God's will this way! Naturally, I believe that there are, indeed, dangers involved by "going off the deep end" in either direction, but, this does not necessarily follow nor does it necessarily militate against my proposition. I think we shall soon see who is taking all of the responsibility from one and placing it upon the other. For so far as my opponent is concerned the church can do nothing at all! According to him there are no commands in the Bible directed to the church! (Note his question about the church "taking communion!" When he tells us how the church "as such" could pray, he will have his answer. See Acts 12:5 and Acts 20:7).
His reply to what I said about Rom. 12:7-10 was something less than adequate. He says it is "manifestly directed to individuals- and that I "twisted it into something to the church." He uses as his basis for this statement, the nouns and pronouns found in the passage. But I wonder if he has forgotten that in I Cor. 1:2 Paul wrote "unto the church of God," and in verse 3 said, "Grace be unto YOU." I suppose he did not know that Paul wrote to the Philippians and said, "no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but YE only." No, he evidently did not know these things! And yet, this is ALL he had to say in direct response to my argument on Rom. 13:7-10. But, he did reply to a question I asked on this passage and his reply is most interesting indeed! Get this carefully now: "There is no command that binds the church as such to love." (What about 1 Thess. 1:3? - Gratis) "If the church 'as such' lets her debts go unpaid there are some individuals in that church that are dishonest, but it does not mean the whole church is dishonest any more than it would mean the church was drunk if a couple of elders got drunk." Therefore, according to Adelphos, the church must pay her debts because individuals in the church are commanded to be honest! So, what does this mean when the individuals in the church are told to care for "ALL MEN"???
Disregarding the fact that Paul said he was writing unto the churches of Galatia, Adelphos still contends that everything in the book of Galatians is directed to the individual Christian. He says I cannot conceive of a thing in Galatians or Thessalonians being to an individual. But he is wrong, he is the one who cannot conceive that a thing that is written to the church could be a collective obligation! This he utterly refuses to allow! Yet, it is exactly the case. He wants to know if Paul were speaking to the church " as such" in Gal. 3:26-27. Well certainly all in the church had become children of God by faith and obedience but they had done this individually. And all in the churches of Galatia had been baptized into Christ and put him on, but they had done this individually. Yes, he was speaking to them collectively and tell them what they had done in the past to become members of the church. And he was speaking to them collectively in Gal. 6:10. And my opponent will still be trying in vain when this discussion is over to show that Gal. 6:10 refers to individual rather than collective obligation. But, this is the ONLY direct reply my respondent made to my position on all the scriptures in Galatians.
Then the classic "break" of his whole negative - "but brethren may do many things the church cannot, including raising money by a bake sale." Now, before someone accuses my friend of digression maybe he had better explain himself more fully. Did he mean that individuals could raise money for religious purposes by a bake sale? Can they raise money for the work of the church this way? You will have to give one of the other "many things" Adelphos, I'm afraid this will not work! I'm surprised at you!
He said, "Gratis cannot seem to see how Paul could address a letter to a church in a place and include one thing for the individual." No, this is not the case, but, I frankly admit that I cannot see how he could address a letter to a church in a place and include NOTHING FOR THE CHURCH as my opponent has it!
When it came to I Thess: 3:12-13 Adelphos' only effort to prove that I did not use it correctly was, again, because of the use of pronouns (which I have already answered) and also because Paul used the term "hearts" in the passage. This, he thinks, unmistakably refers to individuals since he cannot conceive of the church having "hearts." But, once again, I suppose my opponent has forgotten about such passages as Acts 11 :22 which states that a certain thing came unto the "ears" of the church! I wonder if the church could not have "hearts," Adelphos, just like it can have "ears," huh? And then Paul said he was "unknown by face unto the churches of Judea" in Gal. 1 :22. But, then, he did not know as my opponent evidently does, that the churches of Judea did not have any "eyes" or it would not have been necessary for him to even make such a statement. And in the next verse when he said, "only they had heard that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth . . ." Paul really did not understand that the church could not hear anything because he thought maybe they might have "ears" and "eyes" and "hearts." Maybe it is because my opponent fails to see that the church has a "heart" that he has taken the unenviable position that he now holds! But, this kind of reasoning is supposed to defeat my argument on I Thess. 3 :12-13. I'll let the readers judge.
He overcomes what I had to say on I Thess. 5:14-15 by saying that this cannot be so, for, it would have the "unruly warning themselves, the feebleminded comforting themselves, the weak supporting themselves, for they are a part of the church." Now isn't this something? In the first place who said they were all members of the church? And in the second place, isn't it a pity that the church of Corinth did not know that which my opponent knows for they would then have known not to take a collection upon the first day of the week for the saints for this would be merely helping themselves since the saints were members of the church! And the church in Acts 12:5 would have known better than to pray for Peter if my opponent had been there to tell them they would only be praying for themselves! And, friends, it is this kind of refutation that is supposed to convince you that I have misused I Thess. 5:14-15. What do you think?
On the matter of James 2:1-26, he said I did not stress the part that deals with benevolence. Maybe not so much, but I did deal with the part which referred to being a respecter of persons and not being merciful and that is the part I wanted to stress at the time! I believe that he is right in saying that the epistle of James was directed to Jewish Christians but I would not say that this teaching is for them "only." After all my opponent is the one who is trying to limit things not I! My respondent labors to define the word assembly in Jas. 2. Will he tell us what kind of an assembly James meant when he said "your assembly"? Did he mean a lodge meeting? Did he mean a political rally? Was it a wrestling match? What does "your assembly" mean when talking to Christian men and women? But remember now, dear reader, all this is supposed to make my arguments " pretty weak after all." You be the judge!
The fact is that James 2:14-16 could refer to either individual or church action, but, I made no specific argument on these verses so it really doesn't touch the discussion.
Adelphos says the "families of the man and woman who are in need of help are first responsible for their well-being, I Ti'm. 5:3-16." And I will agree with this all the way. But now comes the "legal loophole" in the whole business! Read carefully what he says: "The church may have to help the woman who is a Christian, and she is in turn obligated to help her family, I Tim. 5:8." If this is not a "legal loophole" I have never heard of one! We can just quit the debate right nnow, brethren, and from now on for the sake of peace, instead of helping a non-member from the treasury direct, all we'll have to do to please my respondent would be to help them through a friend or relative who is a member! It is alright, says Adelphos, as long as we don't give it to them directly. We can give it to someone else and let them give it to the needy non-members! And look what verse he uses to prove it! I Tim.5:8! And he is the one who has accused me of misapplication of scripture!
On some issues, some brethren cry: "Glorify God through the church, through the church!" But now, on this issue, Adelphos wants us to "Glorify God through the individual"! I do wish some of my brethren would make up their minds! Well Adelphos, if the woman in my question is to take part of what the church gives her and give it to her husband and children, the church would have to give her more than enough - is this scriptural???
And my friendly opponent can really answer a question in fine fashion, listen: I asked him how we may know in any given passage whether the individual Christian or the church "as such" is meant, and this is his reply: "all you need to do ... is to read it and see whether it speaks of and to individuals, or the church as a body." Now isn't this some answer? "Just read and see"! Well, now we are not quite satisfied with this answer, Adelphos, tell us plainly now, can we tell by the pronouns? Can we tell by whether or not a part of a human being is mentioned, such as "eyes," "ears" and "hearts," is this how we can tell? Of course, I'm sure that you would not say that we could tell by whom the letter is addressed to, would you? But we would like more information on this, please!
1 wonder what Adelphos was thinking about when he said, "not one Passage you have cited mentions THE CHURCH OR ITS TREASURY . . ."?
Friends, the truth of the matter is that every scripture I mentioned in my first article stands untouched! I used Matt. 5:43-48 along with Rom. 13:7-10, Gal. 1:2 and Gal. 5:14, and also Gal. 6:10 don't forget this one. I used I Thess. 3:12-13 and I Thess. 5:14-15. I emphasized that Paul wrote unto the "church" and told them to "ever follow that which is good, BOTH AMONG YOURSELVES AND TO ALL MEN." And what did my opponent do with these things? You can see that he did next to nothing at all. I also used James 2:1-26. In all I used more than seven scriptures to uphold my proposition and they ALL stand for my opponent has not taken away ONE of them.
I have shown by these scriptures that the obligation rests upon the church to do good unto all men especially to those who are of the household of faith. And in doing so, I have thereby shown that the church is to use its treasury for this purpose, since the treasury is one of the facilities available to the church for such good work.
Now, to the questions submitted by my opponent:
1. How can we determine how far the church is able to help the needy of the world, and which are to be helped and which to starve?
This is limited by (a) opportunity, (b) ability, (c) the preference of more important tasks which fall upon the church to do. This is equal to asking how many shall we teach-as many as we can, of course.
2. Is there anything in the book of Galatians that is individual instruction? If so, what is an example and how do you know it is?
I do not know of anything i n Galatians which could be limited to the individual--anything which could not also apply to the collective group.
3. What is the mind and heart of the church from which love springs forth in response to God's command?
The same mind and heart from which the Thessalonians manifested love, for which Paul complimented them. I Thess. 1:3-THIS WAS THE CHURCH!
4. Is the church restricted in doing good to all men other than by opportunity and by a decision that it "feels able?"
This is answered under number one above.
5. Is a church that does not take money from its treasury to help the needy of the world like "Publicans?"
Yes, in that respect, it is! Of course, this would not be true if the church did not have the ability or the opportunity.
6. If the churches are to help the needy of the world that they may be children of the Father (Matt. 5) who are the church's children of Matt. 7:11?
I did not say that everything in the sermon on the mount has direct reference to the church -my opponent is straining my argument in order to try to find an answer to it.
7. Should the church give financial help from its treasury to a brother like those mentioned in 2 Thess. 3:10?
8. Which of the churches of Galatia were circumcised, and how? Gal. 5:2.
If members of the church had themselves circumcised it could be said that the church was practicing circumcision. Is he trying to win a point by being humorous?
9. Had all of the churches of Gal. 5:4 fallen from grace?
10. In view of your explanation of I Thess. 3:12-13, explain the next 12 verses (4:1-12). What are the hands of 4:11?
This has already been answered.
11. Does I Thess. 5:23 mean the church has a spirit, soul, and body?
12. Does Rom. 14:12 mean each church will give an account of itself?
Not as a group, no.
13. Who is the transgressor of Jas. 2:9, and are the works of Jas. 2:14 church actions?
(a) Anyone who has respect to persons. (b) This has already been answered. It could be.
14. Can the church "as such" get drunk if some in it abstain completely?
15. Where is the command for the church "as such" to observe the Lord's Supper?
Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
In closing may I say that in the most technical sense the church cannot do anything collectively - everything she does is done through and by individuals. Nevertheless, the New Testament certainly represents the church "as such" as doing many things. Which things we call upon our respondent to explain: Acts 11:22, Acts 12:5, Phil. 4:15 and I Thess. 1:1-3. Notice particularly, "work of faith, and labour of love," in this last passage !-Gratis.
SECOND NEGATIVE by Adelphos Dzeton Alethinon
Brother Gratis, the editorial staff, and readers of TRUTH Magazine: it is a pleasure to return for the second negative. Gratis' second affirmative contains very little new material, therefore this second negative will consist of answers to his efforts to refute my first negative. Let me remind you that Gratis is to prove by scripture that the church is authorized to care for needy people of the world from its treasury. He admitted in his first paper that he did not involve the church treasury, and has come forth with no new arguments to do so.
Gratis wants to disagree with me "upon the word 'freedom' and what it implies." We noted last time that this word implied an absence of need for law or authority. In Webster's New Collegiate Dict., 1949 edition, p. 331, under synonyms for freedom, we quote: "Freedom, a very general term, may imply at one extreme total absence of restraint and at the other, an unawareness of being hampered in any way; liberty often differs from freedom in implying a power to say, do, etc., what one wishes, as distinguished from being uninhibited in doing, thinking, etc. . . ." The first meaning given for freedom by Webster is, " 1. Quality or state of being free; as: a. Liberation from slavery, imprisonment, or restraint." (Emphasis mine, ADA.) If the church is unrestrained and uninhibited then it needs no authority. Gratis disagrees with Webster on this.
Now notice his argument on the difference between the command for a congregation to care for the needy of the world, and a sinner to be baptized. He says, "There is no reason for the sinners not being baptized! But there could well be a reason for a congregations not spending any money for the care of the needy non-members, even though she has the 'right' to do so. As, for instance, the more pressing matter of caring for the needy who are of 'the household of faith.' Gal. 6:10." We would still like for him to tell us upon what basis we decide when we have a "more pressing matter." Is it possible for the physical needs of worldly people to become "more pressing" than proclaiming the gospel to dying sinners? If so, how do we determine that it is "more pressing?" If not, how could we have "freedom and right" to take the Lord's money for such unless every sinner has been converted ?
In answering my question about individual responsibility and church responsibility for obeying commands, Gratis wants to know if I wish to take the position that they (individuals) do NOT have such freedom" and right to obey only if the opportunity arises and they should feel able to do so. My position is simple on that: just as surely as they fall to obey God's commands they will spend eternity in hell unless they repent and turn in the other direction. Included in that statement are those individuals who "have no opportunity to do so," or "feel they are not able to do so." Gratis, if it is God's command, the church had better feel able and make an opportunity! Why don't you just admit you missed the boat on your definition of authorized ?
We are still insisting that Gratis get to a passage of scripture that states the fact they did, commands churches to do so, approves by an example that they did, or necessarily implies that she must, or can, take money from the treasury to support the world's needy. Gal. 6:10 doesn't even come close to that. It is not necessary at all to, infer church action from that verse; no more so than from verses 3-9. Reader, I beseech you to read the context. Gratis misused this passage, just as he did the others he noted last time.
Now readers I want you to examine this statement from Gratis very carefully. "The church can do anything the individual can do to promote New Testament Christianity." Even after saying that he had the audacity to warn me against saying something to cause brethren to think me digressive. He says, "Then the classic 'break' of his whole negative -'but brethren may do many things the church cannot, including raising money by a bake sale." Yes readers, that "break" will smash Gratis' whole argument, and he knows it. That is probably the reason he tried to see some terrible digressive trend in it. An individual may raise all the money he can in any way that is honest and upright, and use any or all of it for "religious purposes" for "the work of the church."
Gratis, could a Christian operate a bakery? Don't you suppose he would have a bake sale if he did ? Could he then give any, or all, of this money raised into the church treasury? Gratis, you are faced with three horns of a dilemma . You said if a brother can do it, the church can do it. Which horn do you want? You must say the church can operate a bakery, or that an individual cannot do so, or that if he does it is unlawful for him to use any of the proceeds "to promote New Testament Christianity!" If Gratis and 15,000 other people give me one pie each I would have a perfect right to sell 15,000 pies for $.25 each (that's a bargain now, if the pies are any good), eat the one Gratis gave me, and give the entire proceeds to the church. Do you suppose that would qualify as a "bake sale," and one where money was raised for "religious purposes ?" Now remember, Gratis said the church can do anything the individual can. Gratis, you are a great one to worry about someone accusing me of digression !
Reader, what Gratis believes or how "few people would agree" with my position is beside the point. If Gratis did not mean to imply that Matt. 5:43-48 was directed to and applicable to the church, why do you suppose he introduced it in the discussion? He was going to show how the scriptures taught the church to take money from the treasury to support the world's needy, and used that passage as his first proof-text. We are glad for him to admit that it is not instruction to the church "as such." But, how does something not directed to the church, and thus not applicable to our discussion, set forth principles that bind the church "as such," or should we say give her freedom to do as she pleases?
Gratis worried about me answering an argument he did not make. If he thinks help from the church will not enhance the possibility of the world's needy receiving aid, what is his excuse for binding it on the church? God has emphasized individual distributive action for His people in accomplishing the duties He gave them. Between "shudders" how about an answer to the argument, Gratis?
It would be very interesting for Gratis to tell us about "'going off the deep end' in either direction" on this question. We are especially interested in knowing how we know when we have gone off, and when we are just in deep water on the end where we use money from the treasury. Would you enlarge on this Gratis ?
Notice his "answer" to my argument on the nouns and pronouns of Rom. 13:7-10. He refers to I Cor. 1:2-3 and really emphasizes that big YOU, and again in Phil. 4:15 the YE is noted and emphasized. I'm sure our readers could tell that both of these words are in the plural (YOU can be singular or plural in English, but the plural is definite in the Greek), and thus his so-called refutation of the argument is worthless. Every noun and pronoun in this passage called to your attention in my first paper was in the singular form! Gratis tried to, make an argument in return about two words in the plural form!
Reader, study I Thess. 1:3. This is supposed to be the command to bind the church "as such" to love. Begin with the beginning of the sentence in verse two and read through verse four. Any man who will call that a command to love is really "straining" to try to prove something. It comes just as near commanding the church to be elected of God!
Notice these statements from the pen of Gratis: "Well certainly all in the church had become children of God by faith and obedience but they had done this individually. And all in the churches of Galatia had been baptized into Christ and put him on, but they had done this individually. Yes, he was speaking to them collectively and telling them what they had done in the past to become members of the church. And he was speaking to them collectively in Gal. 6:10." I was sure Gratis would be able to see the distinction between church action and individual action in some of these passages we questioned him about in our last exchange. Now Gratis, why do you suddenly switch gears completely when you get to Gal. 6:10? We are not denying that Paul wrote to the churches in the collective sense when he addressed a letter to them. But just as surely as Gal. 3:26-27 is written to them collectively but telling them what they did as individuals, even so Gal. 6:10 is written to them collectively and is telling them what to do as individually. That is all that needs to be said on your position in Gal., and all of the other passages you used in your first paper. You used so much space in answering my first paper in your second that you forgot all about any affirmative arguments. We want scriptures that teach the church to take money from the treasury to care for needy people of the world. You have not come close to one that touched that.
Gratis made a big play on the church having ears in Acts 11 :22, and the face of Gal. 1 :22. You missed the whole point, Gratis. I know the church has ears, eyes, hearts, etc. There are twice as many ears and eyes as there are members of the church except as some have been handicapped in some way. Your position is that the church "as such" has eyes, ears, hearts, etc. We would like an explanation of those. In the passage in Gal. 1 :22 Paul said he was not known by face. Right in the middle of this so-called explanation of the churches ears, eyes, etc., Gratis switches again to the church having one heart. While he is explaining this "heart trouble" he might tell us about the church having a heart. Is that the universal church? or does each congregation have one? We will be most happy to let our readers judge our efforts on that point, as well as on all the rest.
Gratis' reference to Acts 12:5 is a perfect illustration of my point. It distinguishes between the church as a collective group and the individual (Peter). He asked who said the people of I Thess. 5:14-15 were members of the church. If there was anything that stood out in his first paper it was his claim that letter was for the church "as such." The argument still stands. As he has so ably expressed it, this passage is a part of a letter written to the church collectively with some instruction for them as individuals.
Gratis admits he did not deal with the part of Jas. 2 that deals with the issue. We still wonder why. He says, "I did deal with the part which referred to being a respecter of persons and not being merciful and that is the part I wanted to stress at the time!" The discussion isn't on respect of persons and mercy. People of the world will be lost. Is God thus a respecter of persons? Why did you want to deal with that which we are not discussing, and what was your point ? I did not "define the word assembly in Jas. 2." I gave the usages listed by one of the best concordances. The principle involved in this passage will apply to any "assembly" in which the Lord's people engage. The reader can see the weakness of introducing a passage that you admit does not apply. We still wonder why he mentioned all of Jas. 2, but "made no specific argument" on those verses that concern our discussion. He they "could refer to either individual or church action," but makes no argument on them. Why Gratis?
Gratis raised a cry about my "legal loophole" as he called it. I did not make the law. The church is obligated to help some needy saints. It is a collective obligation. The church helps the needy saint, who must provide for his own, and must have enough temporal things to do so. The church is not giving more than enough when it furnishes that which is necessary. The record says it should provide for needy saints, and did, but not one instance is found where the church gave to people of the world. That is what Gratis is to find, and reference to what "some brethren" say or do on other issues will not help.
He still asks how to know whether the church or an individual is meant in a passage; will the pronouns or portions of the body help ? Not if one decides on the basis of what fancy chooses. He said Gal. 3:26-27 was on an individual basis, and he saw it even though "the letter is addressed to" churches! When he realizes why he saw that he will have the answer to his question.
Our readers knew what "Adelphos was thinking about when he said, 'not one passage you have cited mentions THE CHURCH OR ITS TREASURY. . .- I was thinking about your admitted failure to do just that. The scriptures cited do not obligate "the church to do good unto all men" except as that responsibility rests upon individuals. The treasury is not available to individuals for such good works. Misused scriptures leave his proposition no nearer to proof.
Now we note his answers to the questions submitted last month. 1. He says the church is limited by only three things in helping the world's needy: opportunity, ability, and preference of more important tasks. No church lacks opportunity while millions need aid. Ability is not the limiting factor if a church uses money for other things. Therefore his only real limitation is preference of more important tasks! If we are to preach the gospel to all we can, and care for all the needy we can, which is the more important task?
2. He says he knows of nothing in Gal. that could be limited to the individual, but says elsewhere that part of Gal. is so limited. 3. The Thessalonians manifested love from their individual minds and hearts. If he concedes this he concedes his argument. If not, he needs to explain the church heart and mind. He says question 4 was answered under number I. Thus he says the church has "freedom and right" to build a youth center for the needy, supplied with a fully equipped gym and playing field. The only limitation to the church doing good is opportunity, ability, and the preference of more important tasks, he said.
Gratis has condemned every church in the N. T. as like publicans regarding help for the needy. Question 5 asked if a church that did not take money from the treasury to help the needy of the world was like publicans. Gratis says, Yes. Yet no man ever read of any N.T. church doing so. 6. Answering a question about the church's children in Matt. 7:11, asked because his argument implied churches are the children of Matt. 5 :45, he says he didn't say everything in the sermon had direct reference to the church. We asked the question so he would admit some did not. Why does Matt. 5:45 apply but not Matt. 7:11 ?
In answer to question 7 Gratis said the church should not give financial aid to a brother who would not work, but his proposition has him committed to help such a man from the treasury if he is not a Christian! Paul forbids the church to help some Christians, but Gratis says opportunity, ability, and preference of more important tasks is all that limits the church in helping the needy of the world. If you need physical help it is easier to get it from the church treasury if you are not a Christian according to Gratis!
8. In answering how the churches of Galatia were circumcised he said : "If members of the church had themselves circumcised it could be said that the church was practicing circumcision. Is he trying to win a point by being humorous?" No, I was not being "humorous," but I did "win the point." "If members of the church" did good unto all men "it could be said that the church was practicing" Paul's command. He saw it when the "humorous" point was involved.
9. Note this one. In answering whether all of the Galatian churches had fallen from grace Gratis says, "Yes." I think he had difficulty deciding what to say there. All churches of Galatia had fallen from grace according to Gratis!
He says question 10 asking for an explanation of I Thess. 4:1-12, and the question about the hands of 4:11 have been answered. We didn't find it. 11. He said I Thess. 5:23 did not mean the church had a spirit, soul, and body. Why not? He applied the context to the church. 12. He says Rom. 14:12 does not mean the church will give an account of itself as a group, but a few verses prior to that he takes a passage with as much emphasis on the individual and applies it to the church. Why? 13. He says the transgressor of Jas. 2:9 is "Anyone who has respect to persons," but he used the context "proving" church action in benevolence. Why didn't he say "Any church that has respect to persons?" He says the works of Jas. 2:14 could be church actions. Thus the faith of this verse may be either church faith or individual faith. If not, why not? 14. He admits the church cannot get drunk if some abstain. Thereby he admits the church does what individuals are commanded to do only insofar as the individuals obey the command. Those questions and answers do not look very good when seen together.
Gratis, why, should I explain Phil. 4:15? Did I indicate that the church is not to support the preaching of the gospel? We would certainly like to see the passage that says a church communicated to the world's needy. Where is it? - Adelphos.
Truth Magazine II:7, pp. 4-12