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, in the field of benevolence, only to care for needy saints (brethren)."
First Affirmative By Adelphos Dzeton AlethinonBrother Gratis, the editorial staff of TRUTH, and readers: Once again it is a pleasure to come to you in these pages to discuss the obligation of the church in the care of needy people. There is nothing complicated, or difficult to understand, in the above proposition, and, with the foregoing discussions, it should he almost self-explanatory.
When we say "The scriptures teach" we mean there is teaching within the pages of God's word, and since this discussion has to do with church responsibility, we can say this teaching is within the New Testament. This teaching is discovered by statements of fact, commands, examples, or necessary inferences. "The church" means the Lord's church; the one spoken of in the New Testament; the one which began on the first Pentecost after the resurrection. "From its treasury" means the accumulated resources of the church, whether located in the bank or elsewhere. "Is authorized" means there is revelation in God's word to empower the church to do so. "In the field of benevolence" means in the area of provision for material things at a time when the one provided for is unable to provide for himself. The inclusion of these words in the proposition implies a distinction between church responsibility in material and spiritual things. "Only" means authority is found for the one group next named as distinguished from all other people of the world; it means that the church is limited bv the scriptures to this category.
We will show that the only authority the church has from the New Testament in the field of caring for the needy is the authorization to care for needy saints, or brethren. "To care, for" means to provide for the material needs as the scriptures give authority. By "needy saints (brethren)," we mean all who would be incorporated in those terms as they are found in the scriptures when reference is made to the Lord's people after the establishment of the church.
We want to get the real issue in this discussion before you as clearly as we possibly can. It revolves around an attitude toward the scriptures. When are we authorized to do a thing? Do we have freedom and right to do what we think is the best thing? Do the scriptures give a pattern for everything the collective church is to do? In short, do we believe in a revealed religion, or in one that is half revealed and half "freedom and right?"
The church is most assuredly to be in subjection to Christ, and guided by His will. Paul stresses this thought in I Cor. 15: 24-27 as he speaks of the kingdom, or church, and its subjection to Christ. Verse 27 says, "For he (God) hath put all things under his feet." The same thought is stressed in Heb. 2:8, "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him." In Eph. 5:23, 1:22-23 ; and Col. 1:18 this thought is presented by reference to Christ as the head of the church. Note Eph. 1:22-23: "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." Christ claimed possession of this power or authority in Matt. 28:18.
Just as our bodies are to be in subjection to our heads, even so the church, the body of Christ, is to be in subjection to Him. What is the nature of the subjection of the body to the head? Are the activities of the body the expression of its "freedom and right" to do what it wants to do, or "feels able to do?" If the human body starts to act without a "thus saith the head," a doctor is immediately consulted to determine what is wrong with the nervous and muscular systems that they are without proper motivating authority. Even so, if the church begins to act without a "thus saith the Lord" it does so without authority from the Lord. The subjection of the church to the Lord deprives the church of "freedom and right" to do as she wishes, but binds her to obedience to Christ's will. This subjection requires revelation for the church to know to act, and to know what action is legal. The scriptures, then, must provide a pattern for all the activities of the church.
Let me make it very clear that the issue is not over whether the Bible teaches us to be respecters of persons, or to show mercy. Neither is it over whether individual Christians, the church in the distributive sense, have an obligation to help the needy of the world as we have opportunity. The issue is whether there is a distinction between church action and individual action in the field of benevolence, and whether the scriptures reveal that the church in the collective sense is responsible for helping the needy of the world.
In order to establish my proposition successfully the following things are necessary: (1) We must establish the completeness of the scriptures as they provide law for everything the Lord's people are to do; (2) We must establish from the scriptures a distinction between church responsibility and individual responsibility in caring for the needy, (3) We must show that the church is limited by the scriptures in this field; (4) We must show scriptural authority for the church to care for "needy saints;" and (5) We must emphasize the fact that the church we read of in the New Testament was not found caring for the "world's needy to the extent of its ability." In addition, we will show what the Lord's people are authorized to do to care for needy people of the world, and that even as individuals there are limitations and restrictions. In this paper we will strive to place a framework for each of these points, and then add to them in the papers that follow.
In Matt. 17:5 we read where God indicated that His Son was to be heard in religious matters. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." In Mt. 28:18 we are assured that Jesus is the only one who is to be heard. "All power (authority, ADA) is given unto me in heaven and in earth." In Gal. 3:23 Paul, in speaking of what was to come after the law, speaks of "The faith (system of doctrine, ADA) which should afterwards be revealed." In Heb. 8:6-13 he emphasized the change that was to take place in the covenants, that it had taken place, and that Christ was the mediator of the new one; that the "old is ready to vanish away." In Heb. 9:15-17 this covenant is spoken of as a testament, and in Heb. 10:10-17 as a will. Again Paul emphasizes that Christ is the mediator and testator of this new testament, and that He had to die before it could go into force. In Heb. 10:10 he says, "By the which will we are sanctified . . ." In Eph. 1:22-23 ; 5:23; and Col. 1:18, as we have already noted, we read of Christ being the head of the church. Christ is our authority as we try to determine what the church must do; yea, even what the church has the "freedom and right" to do.
In John 14:26; 15:26; and 16:7-13 we have records of Jesus telling His apostles of the completeness of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They would be taught all things, reminded of all things taught, guided into all truth, and shown things to come. Therefore, we conclude that the apostles would know and be guided into all truth on every subject in which the church will need instruction. I Cor. 2:12-13 emphasizes this guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit as inspired men taught God's truth. There are other passages that can be cited on these points, but these are sufficient for the present.
In 2 Pet. 1:3 we learn that all things pertaining to life and godliness had been given unto men, and in Jude 3 we find record of the system of doctrine, "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." ASV. Such passages as 2I Tim. 3:14-17 ; Gal. 1:6-9; and Rev. 22:18-19 are evidence that the Bible claims to be authority for everything God wants men to know, to be, and to do. This fact is summed up in I Cor. 13:8-13. When that which was perfect was present-the faith once for all delivered-there remained no more need for partial revelation and special gifts. The Bible is God's complete revelation to be used as authority for everything men do in their religious activities. May the Lord help us that we "might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." I Cor. 4:6, ASV. Surely point number one is now taken care of. We have established the completeness of the scriptures as they provide law for everything the Lord's people are to do.
Since the scriptures are a complete guide for all that God wants done, we must then have guidance from the scriptures for the church to be authorized to act in any field. If there is no revelation instructing the collective church to act in a given capacity, or stating they did act in that capacity, a church which does so is refusing to abide by the infallible guide. This church thus denies the completeness of the guide, or denies the need for instruction from this guide. Gratis' arguments that "is authorized" means "freedom and right" are nothing short of a denial that such instruction is needed.
The New Testament definitely makes a distinction between church action and individual action in caring for the needy. As Paul instructs Timothy on the subject of caring for these people he says, "Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God." I Tim. 5:3-4. Again, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than in infidel." I Tim. 5:8. Verse nine says certain widows are not to "be taken into the number." Verse eleven says, "But the younger widows refuse." Now note verse 16: "if any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."
The church is strictly forbidden to help some needy people as noted above, and thus reason demands a search to see when she is authorized. Our religion is a revealed religion; one in which we are given a "thus saith the Lord" for what we are to do rather than a "thus saith the Lord" for everything that must not be done. There are many negative instructions in the Bible, but if we demanded a passage distinctly forbidding everything men would desire to do that God did not authorize, no man could carry a book containing a tenth part of God's word because of its tremendous size. Primarily, the will of God reveals what God wants us to do. Now another restriction: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he cat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies." 2 Thess. 3:10-11. In this discussion Gratis has already said the church must not help such people, but has affirmed she could such who were needy of the world. His affirmative arguments had him committed to the position that the church could, if she desired and was able, help a needy widow of the world who lived next door to widow who is a saint but who could not be helped by the church! Since the church cannot care for some of its own, reason insists that she will not be authorized to care for all others. We have established point number three: the church is limited by God's law given in the scriptures as to what to do in benevolence.
Our proposition states that the church is authorized to care for needy saints (brethren). This we shall establish as point number four. In fact, it has already been established. I Tim. 5 :4-6 states that the church "may relieve them that are widows indeed," and 2 Thess. 3:10-11 implies that if a Christian is willing to work the church can feed him if circumstances prevail that make it impossible for him to feed himself. There are many other passages that can be cited to show that the church is authorized to care for needy saints, or brethren. Immediately after the church was established there was need for some of the Lord's people to receive help in a material way. In Acts, chapters 2-4-5 and 6 we read of this assistance being given at the direction of the apostles. In Acts 11:27-30 we read of relief being sent to the brethren in Judea. In I Cor. 16:1-2 and 2 Cor. 8 and 9 instructions are given for the "collection for the saints" and the "ministering to the saints." Thus we have ample "thus saith the Lord" for the church helping needy saints, or brethren. Another point is now thoroughly established.
The next point we come to is the fact that the church did not try to relieve the needs of the people of the world to the extent of its ability. In our proposition we affirm that the on1y authority found in the scriptures for the church to help needy people is for help for saints (brethren ). In Acts 11: 27-30 we find the prophecy of Agabus as he "signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." Josephus tells us in his history of the widespread nature of this famine. There would have been every opportunity for churches to care for all the needy of the world they had the ability to care for. Gratis said once in his affirmative arguments the church was commanded to do so. But, what do we find in the scriptures? The record says they sent "relief unto the brethren." By no stretch of the imagination can we infer from this account that the church had authority to care for the world's needy, or that they became "like Publicans" because they did not.
Again, in the instructions with regard to the collections several years after the aforementioned famine, the scriptures specify the destination of these funds as Jerusalem, and stress that they were to be used for the saints. Even though this famine was not nearly so widespread, there was, no doubt, ample opportunity for the church to help needy people of the world in Jerusalem. But what do the scriptures say? In every instance we are given information that the collection is for the saints. Read I Cor. 16:1 ; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1; 9:12; and Rom. 15 :25, 26, and 31. Once again there is no reasonable way to assume that the church cared for the needy of the world to the extent of its ability. These churches were guided specifically in that which they were doing by an apostle of the Lord. We have already noted that the Spirit was to guide them, and did guide them, into all truth on every subject. Why then do we not find some effort made in behalf of feeding people of the world, if God so desired? Could it be that this whole doctrine is a part of some kind of "latter day revelation" that is separate and apart from the scriptures? Once again we see another point established. The church did not try to care for needy of the world.
Even as individuals we are restricted in our assistance to the needy of the world. We are to do good unto all men, but especially to those who are Christians-Gal. 6:10. My first responsibility in providing material things is to my family-I Tim. 5 :3-16; then to my brethren in Christ; and finally unto all as I have opportunity. We are to do good unto all men as we have a seasonable time, which is the root meaning of the word translated opportunity. People being in need, we must realize their need at a time when we have ability to help.
Often we hear the plea that the church must he ready for every good work, but there is no such thing as a good work for the church unless it is authorized by the Lord. To be without law is to be guilty of iniquity. In Matt. 7:21-23 we read of people who will claim in the judgment that they did many wonderful works in the name of the Lord, but they acted without law. We all know the Lord's answer to them: "Depart from me, ye that work in iniquity (lawlessness)." Now, if we accept Gratis' definition of authorized-that we have freedom and right to do so if we want to and are able-there is no law to bind us to the extent we may go, except our own wills and abilities. This definition is an advocation of lawlessness!
The scriptures restrain the church from caring for the needy of the world in the same way they restrain it from using instrumental music in worship. There is simply no authority for either. When we cite the word on what God has authorized as music in worship we find no record of any mechanical instrumental music involved. When we cite the word on what God has authorized the collective church to do to care for needy people we find no record of any needy of the world being cared for. If we start arguing freedom and right in one instance, we are immediately faced with the need for that same "freedom and right" in the other. In the absence of any Bible to authorize such care, how shall we prove it is "acceptable unto the Lord ?" Eph. 5:10. As Paul expressed the thought in I Thess. 5:21, we must "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
Now notice the syllogism in closing:
Major Premise: The scriptures provide instruction to authorize everything the collective church is to do in its work and worship.
Minor Premise: The scriptures do not provide instructions for the collective church to care for the needy of the world.
Conclusion : Therefore the church acts without authority from the scriptures if it cares for the needy of the world. It must not act without law.
The points we have established in this paper make the major and minor premises sure, so the conclusion is inevitable. The church only has authority to care for needy saints (brethren).-Adelphos.
FIRST NEGATIVE by GRATIS
Brother Adelphos, Mr. Editor and readers: Before dealing directly with Adelphos' first affirmative I would like to make a few observations about our discussion:
1. It is absurd for Adelphos to go to Gal. 3:26-27 and argue that this is not church action for this refers to a time when they were not even in the body of Christ and, naturally, it could not be church action for they were not yet members of the church! But, let him find something which they did or were told to do after they were members of the church to "promote New Testament Christianity" and prove that it was not or could not be church action!
2. He implied that he thinks Gal. 6:3-9 refers to individual responsibility, but, we think he will be quick to admit that the command in verse 6 of Gal. 6 may be done by either the individual or the church as such! Now, Adelphos, YOU have some explaining to do! Why may the command in Gal. 6:6 be obeyed by, either the individual or the church as such, but, the command in Gal. 6:10 is limited to the individual ONLY? Tell us plainly, please. Do not forget this!
3. Lev. 10:1-3 was not directed to the church but all of us have used it to teach certain principles which are binding upon the church today. And doubtless even my opponent has so used this scripture. Yet, he refuses to let me use Matt. 5:43-48 in like fashion, because, he says, "the church had not yet been established." We think Adelphos was squirming!
4. Adelphos tried to make a play on pronouns that are singular and ones that are plural in reference to the church. Yet if he knows as much about the original language as he wants us to think, he surely knew that the word "which" is used as a singular pronoun in reference to the church in such passages as I Cor. 1:2 and 2 Cor. 1:1. And if he knew this we wonder why he would try to make the kind of argument that he did? Grabbing for straws?
5. Friends, I have said that I believe the church can do anything the individual may do to promote New Testament Christianity, and I do believe this, but, my position does not depend solely upon this for I have shown that the church is to care for needy non-members. I Thess. 1:1-2, 3:12.
6. About the syllogism I used while in the affirmative, he says my first premise (the New Testament teaches the church as such to "love") is not proved. Well in order to avoid the quibbling Adelphos does about the other scriptures, we will use the one passage he "forgot" to mention and which he MUST admit PROVES the church as such is to love and that is 2 Cor. 8 :24. I repeat that he MUST admit that this shows the church as such is to love! He next states that "love" does not mean to care for the physical needs of men because the church is told not to help a man such as found in 2 Thess. 3:10-11. This was to refute (?) my second premise that "love" means to care for the needs of men even out of the church. Get it now, friends, Adelphlos points to an exception and says "Therefore, THERE IS NO RULE." This is but a sample of the kind of logic (?) he has used throughout the debate! Adelphos, AS A RULE, "love" includes the care of the physical needs of men. I will give 2 Cor. 8:24 again as evidence of this. Paul points to such care as being "proof" of the churches "love"! Now, if my respondent claims that a difference exists between "love" to be manifested to the church member and the non-member, then, THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON HIM! However, I submit the following scriptures to prove that there is no difference: Gal. 6:10, 1 Thess. 3:12-13, 1 Thess. 5:14-15. Note, please "ALL MEN." Therefore, my friends, I maintain that my syllogism (argument) stands and my proposition is shown to be true even by Adelphos' strongest efforts to deny it, and likewise his current proposition is shown to be false. I could let the whole matter stand or fall on this point alone!
7. We are commanded in the Bible to assemble so the brethren build a building. But some fanatical group might argue that it is against the teaching of the New Testament to build a meeting house. I would reply that we have the "freedom and right" to build a building in which we could obey the command to assemble. The freedom would, of course, be freedom from the human law made by these fanatics. This, I believe, explains fully my use of the word in this debate. But my opponent has continually chided me and ridiculed me for using the words "freedom and right." Hear him at the height of his folly: "an advocation of lawlessness." Well, now Adelphos, it disturbs me to be publicly accused of such as this, even though the discussion is anonymous. I want you to face this matter squarely and then admit your error. Adelphos, DOES THE CHURCH HAVE THE FREEDOM AND RIGHT TO BUILD A CHURCH BUILDING? Must she build one? But if she "feels" she should have one and is "able" to finance one is she not free to build one? Must she have specific "thus saith the Lord" before she can build one? In the Absence of a specific "thus saith the Lord" are all churches which build buildings "acting without proper motivating authority"? Are they all to be accused of "lawlessness" who thus act? Is the "pattern" for such activity on the part of a congregation found in the scriptures? Is building a building church action or just something the individual has the "freedom and right" to do? NOW, ADELPHOS, I WILL NOT LET YOU REST UNTIL YOU HAVE DEALT WITH EACH OF THESE QUESTIONS FULLY AND CONSIDERED THEM HONESTLY. I think when you do you will recognize your error. There are some things which are "authorized" which come under the heading of "freedom and right"! It is Adolphos (not Gratis) who is mistaken on "authority."
Now, friends, most of the first half of my opponents' first affirmative was taken up in declaring the scriptures to be complete and that they are the final authority in matters of religion and since we agree to all of this there will be no need for us to deal with it. Frankly, except for the fantastic idea that the church must have specific "thus saith the Lord" for EVERYTHING that she does, I thought it was pretty good. He will have all kinds of embarrassing questions to answer, however, if he sticks with the idea that before the church can act it must have a specific "thus saith the Lord." Where is one for the meeting house?
Adelphos says that his proposition will be established successfully by the following five things: "(1) We must establish the completeness of the scriptures as they provide law for everything the Lord's people are to do." We have already dealt considerably with this. If he means the church cannot act in anything without a thus saith the Lord for each SPECIFIC THINGS SHE DOES, I DENY IT! It he means that authority (properly understood) must be had for everything the church does and that she cannot act in the absence of this authority, then I agree! He will explain fully what he means in his next paper, I am sure.
"(2) We must establish from the scriptures a distinction between church responsibility and individual responsibility in caring for the needy." Yes, he needs very much to do this, but, let us notice carefully please his efforts to do so. He says I Tim. 5 :16 is a passage where the church "is strictly forbidden" to do that which an individual is to do. However, it is obvious to all who carefully consider the passage and its context in the light of reason and revelation that IF THE INDIVIDUALS DO NOT DO THIS BENEVOLENCE THE CHURCH MUST DO IT! Read carefully now the verse: "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged ; that it may relieve them that they are widows indeed." Now it is agreed that these relatives should take charge of caring for their own needy widows, BUT WE DENY THAT PAUL IS SAYING THE CHURCH IS "STRICTLY FORBIDDEN" TO DO IT. It is my contention that Paul is saying that if they do not do it, the church WILL and MUST do it! If there were a law against the church caring for the widows under consideration, why did not Paul say that the relatives MUST care for them because they will starve if they do not ? Why did he say that the church would be charged with their care if the believing relatives do not provide for them? Will my opponent take the position that in such a case where some rascal will not care for his widow relative, the church is forbidden by the Lord to step in and provide the needed care? Will he really say she must starve and go naked or else be turned over to the Catholics to receive help? My opponent's reasoning is shocking when considered in its true light. He thinks he has found something the individual can do that the church cannot, BUT NOT SO, he has merely found something that if the individual will not do, the church MUST do! Nor do verses 9 and 11 teach the church CANNOT help the widows mentioned therein. Since Adelphos knows so much about the "original languages" let him do a little research on these verses, he will find the truth!
And will you PLEASE notice what else my opponent has to say on this matter! He says that 2 Thess. 3:10-11 teaches that the church, get it now, THE CHURCH cannot help some. Adelphos, WE ARE NOT GOING TO LET YOU PREACH IT BOTH ROUND AND FLAT AT THE SAME TIME! When and where did you learn that this was CHURCH ACTION? While in the negative he utterly denied that such scriptures had any reference to church action. He laughed and chided me for even suggesting such a thing to be true. Now, in the affirmative, he seems to need something, so he changes his tune and says this is "church action." Adelphos, your readers are too intelligent to let you get away with a thing like that! In view of your negative arguments on passages in Thessalonians, Adelphos, I CHALLENGE YOU TO PROVE THIS IS CHURCH ACTION! Does one decide upon the basis of what fancy he chooses??? The scripture, however, presents no difficulty to my position for it represents an exception and not the rule!
Regardless of how much Adelphos may turn and twist my words he could never find where I ever affirmed that the church could help a needy non-member who refused to work. I believe 2 Thess. 3:10-11 applies to "any."
"(3) We must show the church is limited by the scriptures in this field; Well, he used I Tim. 5:16 and we have shown that it does not limit the church but rather teaches the church is charged with care of widows when individual relatives fall. And he used 2 Thess. 3:10-11, but, we are deriving that this limits the church any more than the individual, and we are also demanding proof from our respondent that this is church action.
"(4) We must show scriptural authority for the church to care for needy saints." Yes, we believe he did this, but, let us notice some of his "proof." He mentions the early part of the book of Acts. Let us go there. Acts 2:44-45 says, "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Acts 4:32 says, "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: (Adelphos would criticize Luke for this-Gratis) neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own ; but they had all things common." Verses 34-35 say: "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the price of the things which were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." Readers, if we used the same arguments on these verses Adelphos used on me when he was in the negative we would have to say that all this refers to INDIVIDUAL action and not CHURCH action! Keep in mind that his arguments were either true or false, and, by his use of similar passages now he admits that they were not true! But, the main question we have for Adelphos concerning these scriptures is this: After they sold all they had and put the price into a common treasury, did the individual responsibility to care for needy non-members still exist? If it did where did the means to accomplish such care come from? Would it be scriptural for us today to do as the members of the church did in the early part of the book of Acts? If so, and if we did, where would we as individuals get the means with which to care for needy non-members ? In other words, please distinguish between individual and church action, Adelphos, during this time WHEN THE CHURCH TREASURY AND THE INDIVIDUAL, TREASURY WERE COMBINED!
But notice some more of his "Proof." He goes to Acts 11 :27-30. Adelphos, apply some of your negative arguments on my scriptures in I Thessalonians and then really PROVE that verse 29 refers to CHURCH ACTION and not individual action! You are beginning to see, my friends, that Adelphos doesn't believe his own negative arguments that he used on me a few issues back!
He uses I Cor. 16:1-2, but, there are pronouns in this passage! Shall we accept his former position that if there are pronouns the collective group is not meant, or, shall we now change our "fancy" and say that this is the church as such. The passage says, "let every one of you lay by him" but when Adelphos was making fun of me for using James the 2nd chapter, he was horrified to think that I would suggest that a verse using such words could refer to church action! He preaches it round and he preaches it flat! And get this classic argument made by Adelphos on the collections taken by the early churches: He says they were specified for the saints who were in need! Now Adelphos are you taking the position that this is all the first day of the week collection may be used for? If so, we have some more interesting questions for you to answer. If not, what possible good is your argument?
He uses 2 Cor. 8 and 9 and says this confines the distribution of the churches to needy saints ONLY. But let him wrestle with Paul's statement: "not only supplieth the want of the saints," in verse 12 of 2 Cor. 9. And also let him deal with "liberal distribution unto them, AND UNTO ALL MEN" in the following verse. Readers, doesn't Adelphos sound a little like a "faith only" preacher, going to a few verses which mention only faith and then assuming that there are no other conditions of salvation ? He has gone to a few which mention the saints specifically and then assumes that, therefore, the saints only may be helped!
"(5 ) We must emphasize that the church we read of in the New Testament was not found caring for the 'world's needy to the extent of its ability." But we read of Paul writing to the churches of Galatia and telling them, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal. 6:10. Adelphos will argue that the command in verse 6, "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" may be done by EITHER the church or the individual, but, he inconsistently argues that the individual ONLY can do that which is commanded in verse 10! We have shown that Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians and told them, "the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, AND TOWARD ALL MEN . . ." I Thess. 3:12. And Adelphos now admits that a similar passage found in 2 Thess. 3:10 APPLIES TO THE CHURCH! Therefore, readers, our friend of the affirmation has not proved his proposition at all.
Near the end of his affirmative paper he amazes us by trying to draw a parallel between the care of the world's needy by the church and the instrumental music! When Adelphos presents as much authority for the use of instrumental music in worship today as Gratis has produced authority for the church to care for needy non-members, I am ready to accept it!
Notice too, his syllogism: (1) "The scriptures provide instruction to authorize everything the collective church is to do in its work and worship." Indeed so! We agree, providing he does not mean everything must be mentioned specifically to be authorized! (2) "The scriptures do not provide instruction for the collective church to care for the needy of the world." But they do, my friends! Read Gal. 6:10, 1 Thess. 3:12-13, and 2 Cor. 9:12-13. THESE APPLY TO THE CHURCH EVERY BIT A MUCH AS DOES 2 THESS. 3:10! You can all see this, I'm sure. His second premise is untrue and therefore disproves rather than proves his proposition. Naturally his conclusion is unwarranted and unfounded. He says his conclusion is inevitable, but actually it is inexcusable!
And now some questions for my friendly opponent to answer in his next paper:
1. If the church is obligated to help needy saints (as the proposition states) is not this "love"?
2. If the church as such can "love" needy saints but may not "love" needy non-members, produce the scriptures which thus specifically limits the churches "love."
3. In view of your previously stated position that there is no command in the New Testament for the church as such to "love," will you please explain Paul's statement in 2 Cor. 8:24?
4. What difference is there between I Thess. 3:12 and 2 Thess. 3:10 which causes you to say the former does not apply to the church but that the latter does?
5. Is everything that is done out of the church treasury done by the church as such?
6. If so, where is the church as such commanded to pay her debts?
7. If the church as such is obligated to pay her debts simply because all individuals in the church are commanded to be honest, please explain why the church as such is not obligated to help needy non-members since all individuals in the church are commanded to do so!
8. And since our discussion revolves around what may or may not be done with the church treasury, will you answer for us please, may the church buy flowers for the dead out of its treasury?
9. In view of the fact that you are affirming that the church may care for needy saints ONLY from it's treasury, will you please explain 2 Cor. 9:12-13, with special emphasis on the quotations "not only supplieth the want of the saints" and "liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men."?
10. Is the church as such obligated to care for orphans?
11. Are orphans "needy saints" or nonmembers?
12. How may we know when the church or an individual is meant in a verse?
13. Where does the New Testament teach the church as such to withdraw fellowship from an erring member who will not repent?
14. Read Romans 12:4 to 21 where Paul speaks of the "ONE BODY" and tell us ONE THING in those verses the church as such is forbidden to do.
15. The "Church of God" denomination in this town helps to pay the loan on their new building by the members baking cookies and cakes and selling them in a downtown hotel, explain fully, giving scriptures, just why it is wrong for them to do so.
We trust that our respondent will answer each one of these questions fully and clearly so that we may pinpoint a few of the issues between us. When one sees that he is wrong he should not be too proud to admit that wrong and abandon his error no matter what the cost. If I know my own heart I think that I am willing to do this very thing. We now anxiously await the next affirmative. May Adelphos consider seriously all the arguments presented herein and deal with them forth-rightly. And may our discussion do some real good in helping to solve some of the problems which confront churches of Christ today.
Truth Magazine II:9, pp. 4-12