A Church "Gospel Press"
O. C. Birdwell, Jr.
Kansas City, Missouri
The false idea that elders of a local church can undertake and promote a work on a national scale that they cannot financially support, a work to which all churches are equally related, has given birth to another promotion. This one is different from "Gospel Press" only in that it is to be under the supervision of the elders of the Park Hill church in Denver, Colorado. The new program was outlined and explained at a special meeting that this writer attended. The meeting was conducted in a church building on 43rd Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. Loyd Bixler, one of the Park Hill elders, and Alan Bryan, president of Gospel Press, were present to tell of the promotion.
According to these men and the brochure handed out at the meeting, the Park Hill church hopes to receive $100,000 the first year from one thousand churches. The money will be used in setting up offices, hiring personnel, placing ads and articles in magazines, and in processing responses. The pamphlet relates that the church will (1) tell of their plans, (2) ask churches to send monthly donations, (3) write and place ads and articles, (4) arrange for personal teaching from the nearest congregation, and (5) set up a staff of members from all over the nation. According to Bixler, the Park Hill church is a "poor" church, undertaking a building program, and will be unable to put but little money into the project. Hence, about the only thing the Park Hill church can offer is their plan, which basically amounts to their willingness to receive other churches' money and let it run through their fingers; this in disregard for New Testament teaching on the scope of the authority of elders. (1 Pet. 5:2.) The setting up of "a staff of members from all over the nation" shows the extent of control that could be achieved should the national plans of Park Hill be fully realized.
For seven years, Gospel Press has been operating as an organization designed to place articles in magazines. When Gospel Press began, 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." Later, Paul Hunton wrote: "In our fall campaign we are asking every congregation to give the fifth Sunday contribution in October, or give all over regular expenses on Sunday, in October or take a special contribution one Sunday in October." (From an article by Earl Fly, printed in Truth Magazine, Vol. 5, p. 1.) Many have opposed Hunton's efforts to get Gospel Press into the budget of churches, and according to Bryan and Bixler, for this reason the Park Hill church has undertaken their project. Apparently the idea of a sponsoring church is more acceptable to the masses than is sending the same money to a board such as controls Gospel Press. Both, however, are wrong, one being just as unauthorized by the Bible as the other.
During the meeting mentioned above, several statements were made that are quite revealing, and ought to serve as "signs of the times" to all God fearing and truth loving people.
The first speech was made by brother Bryan in which he said, "Far be it from me to ever criticize any good work undertaken by anyone." This has been the cry of sectarian people for years. Members of the church are now parroting the same line. Such a spirit will forbid members of the church to oppose elders who misuse church funds to promote civic, social, or any other activity, just so long as the activity may be classified as "good." Brother Bryan should know that there are many "good" things that the church is not to do. It is good for parents to provide food and care for their families, but such is not a work for the church. Who would deny that it is good for parents to provide wholesome recreation, and proper education for their children; but, on the other hand, what member of the church will stand aside and allow elders to inject the church into such "good" works? Will brother Bryan7 According to his statement quoted above, he will not object to such being done by the church.
In discussing the reasons why Gospel Press does not solicit contributions from churches, brother Bryan said, "We have to live with our brethren." He proceeded to suggest that if donations to Gospel Press by churches could be made all right with brethren, he would be happy to accept them. It was clear that his failure to solicit donations from churches was a matter of convenience and not conviction. If he could "live with the brethren" and receive contributions, that is what he would do. This is the same reason some colleges do not solicit donations from churches. Often presidents and administrations have no opposition to such and feel that there should be none, but they abstain from asking for donations from churches in order "to live with the brethren." How long will it be until such men will have converted "the brethren" to their way of thinking? How long will it be before brother Bryan will have the brethren converted to church support of Gospel Press
But some are already converted to church support of Gospel Press. In fact, the elders of the "sponsoring church" undertaking the new promotion believe they have the right to make such donations. Brother Bixler, the elder from Park Hill, said, "We wanted to have a part in this good work." Speaking of the rejection by Gospel Press of church donations, he said, "Who are you to tell us that we cannot make a donation?" Thus, because Gospel Press did not solicit donations from churches (for reasons stated above), the Park Hill elders started a similar project, and they will accept donations from churches. Here, friends, is one of the great paradoxes of the whole deal: some churches they believe it to be unscriptural for them to make a donation to Gospel Press, will now send donations to an eldership that believes it to be scriptural for churches to make donations to CP, and the money will be spent by this eldership as they see fit! They could decide to send it to Gospel Press!
We sometimes hear this: "Newspaper and magazine teaching is good; therefore, how can this medium be utilized by the church without a sponsoring church like Park Hill, or an organization like Gospel Press?" The answer is simple. Let every church under their own elders function and use their funds without forming arrangements larger than the local church. This is all that is authorized by the scriptures. Anything more is presumption and transgression. If the elders of a local church want to place an article in a paper, let them spend their own money and if they do not have the money to place the size ad they desire, let them save until they do have the money. This will get the job done, and will not necessitate "setting up a separate office," and spending thousands of dollars to "oil the machinery" of a national organization. Admittedly, this simple arrangement will not satisfy the assuming elder, but it will please the Lord, and after all, He is the one who has all authority, and is to be obeyed in all things.
Truth Magazine VII: 1, pp. 12-13