Gospel Press, Inc., Solicits Church Contributions
In the past I have repeatedly warned that the advocated principle that the church may contribute to separate organizations formed by men for the express purpose of performing good works would allow and eventually bring back the missionary society of yesteryear. Many advocates of Benevolent Organizations flouted such warnings, saying we were "shouting 'wolf, wolf,' when there is no wolf." One preacher recently wrote accusing me of having a "fear complex" about present issues, and exhorted me to "work and save souls and quit worrying over so many 'boogers' (sic) that really are not out there."
Do we really have a "fear complex" which causes us to see things not there? Are we guilty of crying "wolf, wolf" when there is no wolf? Are our fears groundless and without foundation? Are we radical extremists and chronic fault-finders?
The following is an exact copy of a letter we recently received. The envelope is postmarked Sept. 26, 1960, addressed to the Belmont Heights Church of Christ, Tampa, Florida, where I preach. The letterhead shows it is from the Nashville Office, Gospel Press, 3813 Hillsboro Road, Nashville 12, Tennessee. It lists Alan Bryan as President, Leslie Huff as Chairman of the Board and Paul Munton as Vice-president. On the bottom of the letter are these words expressing the purpose of Gospel Press: "Teaching GOD'S WORD to Millions through Pages of National Magazines."
Church of Christ
You will agree that preaching the gospel to every creature in our generation is the most urgent challenge we face. We must also count the cost and make the Lord's dollars go as far as possible. We can reach 1000 individuals through the enormous circulation of the national magazine for only $1.73. To reach the same number with a postal card, the postage, the printing and typing would cost at least $60.00.
In our fall campaign we are asking every congregation to give the fifth Sunday contribution in October, or give all over regular expenses one Sunday in October or take a special contribution one Sunday in October. If an announcement is made with enthusiasm for this work every Sunday for three weeks before the contribution is taken, the results will be overwhelming.
It would help us very much if you would write or call and tell us what you will do. (Signed) Vice-President Paul Hunton
Gospel Press, Inc, had its origin in the mind of Ray Tenpenny, an elder at the Central Church of Christ, Nashville, Tennessee, and began operating in the fall of 1955. (Nashville Banner, April 19, 1956, Page 11). Its brochure mailed to churches in January, 1956 stated that "Contributions will NOT be solicited from congregations to the Gospel Press." On February 23, 1956, the Gospel Advocate printed the following statement: "The Gospel Press is not doing the work of the church, nor is it soliciting or accepting contributions from congregations." Was this a statement of policy or principle? If principle, when, why and by whom was it changed? If policy, multitudes of brethren were deceived.
The old Missionary Society concept of yesteryear has now been openly resurrected. The fact that the organization has a new name does not change its basic nature or purpose. It is the same type organization in a new dress! Will its advocates attempt to defend it by the Bible? Or will they tell us there is no pattern of "how" to preach the gospel? Will they charge those who oppose it with being against preaching the gospel through the printed page? Do they feel that hearts and minds have been so thoroughly prepared for its reception because of the battle over benevolent organizations that it needs no defense to make it acceptable to brethren "on the march"?
What will the host of brethren now do who have tried to justify the Benevolent Organizations while rejecting the Missionary Society by saying, "The church is its own missionary society but it is not its own home"? Will they become men pleasers by reversing their arguments, to defend the thing they have rejected? Will they compromise by changing their preaching to suit the new practice? Will their confessions be published in the Gospel Advocate, which will repudiate previous preaching and embrace present practices? Will any change positions to defend this new missionary organization while saying, "There has been no change; you just misunderstood my past statements; I was for it all the time, and my former statements do not contradict my present position"? All this has been done relative to Benevolent Organizations, and no doubt history will repeat itself as many rush to join the "on the march" group, lest they be called "anti." Time will soon tell the story.
In Bible Bulwarks, 1957, I wrote the following paragraph. Subsequent events have corroborated its truthfulness, and as future history reveals the progression of digression, other named organizations may be listed on its pages.
"The principle that the church may contribute to independent organizations formed by men for the express purpose of performing the work of the church is limited only in its application by the number of works churches perform (scriptural or unscriptural) and the desires of the brethren. Such a principle will logically allow a Missionary Society, Gospel Press, Hospital Association, Publication Society, National Food Processing and Distribution Center, Christian Clothing Factory, National Building Corporation for Churches, National Benevolent Society, et cetera, all completely organized with President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Board of Directors and any other desired officers, set up as, non-profit organizations for the purpose of doing good works, receiving contributions from churches on a national or world-wide scale to enable them to operate. No man who endorses the principle that churches may contribute to and work through human independent organizations can show that such organizations would violate said principle."
Digression is progressing very rapidly now. The dark ominous clouds of a major apostasy are fast building up on the horizon, clearly visible to those who are interested enough to look. The Bible has been rejected as the final, complete authoritative guide and pattern for the church and human standards have been substituted. A "thus saith the Lord" is no longer demanded by many, but "what saith and thinketh and practiceth the brotherhood in general?" The statements of prominent preachers, both living and dead, are superseding apostolic teaching. History will reveal the great tragic results.
We must seek refuge in the Rock of Ages. We must continue to preach that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, and that it is impossible to please God without faith, and that we must walk by faith, not by sight, abiding in the doctrine of Christ, having Bible authority for all we do in word or deed. (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6; 2 Cor. 5:7; 2 John 9-11; Col. 3:17). We must fight "tooth and toenail" all spiritual wickedness in high places. Time is too short, complete apostasy too threatening for many, and souls too precious to sit idly by with sheathed swords in silent compromise. We must fight while it is day; the night soon cometh when no man can fight. We must walk by faith in the old paths of God wherein is safety and salvation, lest after we have preached to others we ourselves should be castaways. Let us continue to preach the all-sufficiency of the Lord's church to do the Lord's work, rejecting any human organization which seeks to fasten itself upon the body of Christ, that we may remain free by the truth. (John 8:32).
Truth Magazine, V:2; pp. 1, 22-23