"Is Preaching the Gospel Enough?"
O. Fred Liggin
Undoubtedly there are certain brethren among us who think that just "preaching the gospel" is not sufficient to do the work Christ has assigned His church. Today we hear of many brethren who are in favor of the church contributing to various institutions round about us as well as sponsoring certain recreational activities. They seem to feel that this is the way to reach the people of the world. This idea is as old as denominationalism itself and I guess that it will continue to be a problem with which all faithful Christians must strive.
There are many brethren today who are saying that the institutional crowd will soon be pleading for "Church of Christ Hospitals." Brethren, WAKE UP, WE ALREADY HAVE CHURCH OF CHRIST HOSPITALS. There are definitely some of these institutions in existence today. WHERE? In Tanganyika, East Africa and Nhowe Mission in Southern Rhodesia. I shall deal particularly with the work in Tanganyika, as I know more about the details of this work.
Tanganyika's border is about 300 miles north of where sister Liggin and I lived while in Nyasaland, Central Africa. We both had the privilege to visit the brethren there before the hospital work began.
Brother Andrew Connally, who was one of the original gospel preachers to begin the work in Nyasaland, was going to return to Nyasaland's Southern province, but instead went to Tanganyika to promote and begin the first church of Christ hospital. When the Chimala hotel was to be sold, brother Connally made his decision not to return to Nyasaland. Note what he wrote in the Christian Chronicle, August 3, 1962, page 5, in defense of his change of plans. "Immediately brethren Echols and Horne contacted me, imploring me to help them by coming and setting up an orphanage and medical dispensary in order to achieve church recognition and to minister to untold thousands who are in dire physical and spiritual need." (emp. mine) Why did they choose brother Connally? One reason was because he already had a large sum of money raised for his proposed work in Nyasaland and because they knew he could raise the other money needed. Plus the fact that he could sway the brethren here to get behind the idea.
Further down brother Connally says, "Someone had to try to protect our investments and secure the future of the church in Tanganyika. This was no small decision to make." So he went to Tanganyika to "secure the churches' future," and begin the first big church supported hospital under the guise of a dispensary. The institutional brethren knew that IF they could establish and support a church hospital in Africa, they would have no or little trouble doing the same here in America in the coming years.
Concerning their plans at that time, note, "Our plans for our work (truly it was their work and not the Lord's. MULL), now include the desperately needed social service of an orphanage and medical dispensary." (emp. mine). So he left his plea to the brethren as to why he suddenly changed his plans to go to Nyasaland and then went to Tanganyika.
But were not these same needs to be found in Nyasaland? The answer is YES, but that country would not suit his or their purpose or need. For they (the institutional brethren) needed some excuse for starting a work they have no scriptural right to start. Thus, the government's call for aid gave them their excuse.
Now on November 2, 1962, brother Connally again made a plea on behalf of this unscriptural work. This time he is looking for a doctor to come over and "save the church." He states that the denominations have "medical missionaries" and wonders why the church of Christ does not. He then plays on the emotions of any human being by asking, "Does Christ mean more to them (denominations--MULL) than to us? Does the suffering of multiplied thousands touch them more than us? Does their 'zeal no languor know?' Are their people blessed with greater vision than we are? Are they more willing to sacrifice? and etc." Then he says, "could it be that we preachers have felt that 'preaching the gospel' is enough? Have elderships and congregations failed to seek medical men and women to send them where they might demonstrate the fruit of Christianity as they spread the seed of the kingdom.... If we God's people, have no responsibility to help, where no help exists, Christianity IIAS LOST ITS GREATEST POWER THE DEMONSTRATION." (Christian Chronicle Nov. 2, 1962) (emp. mine).
Now I always thought, and was taught and have taught, that the gospel was the greatest power that God gave to man. Paul says "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). Brother Connally says that the "Demonstration" is the Christian's greatest power. Who is right? The Bible or brother Connally?
After making this grand plea he then says, "We must produce a medical doctor ( or doctors, depending on the need) and nurses, as well as a dispensary to help the needs of the people in our area." Now brother Connally definitely knows that ONE man cannot doctor "ml ltiplied thousands," but note how craftily he places the term "doctors" in his plea. The call is for ONE, but in order to take care of future needs he inserts "doctors." Doctor Jerry Mays and family went to Africa in answer to this need.
Having been in Africa a little over a year, Doctor Mays was ready to return and needed a replacement. Now the 6th and Arlington church in Lawton, Oklahoma, took the responsibility of raising the travel fund for Dr. Ronald W. Huddleston and family, in order that they might replace the Mays. They published a complete newspaper type brochure and mailed it to many individuals and congregations. In this paper they said that Dr. Huddleston was supported by the Park Roe congregation in Arlington, Texas and the Sunset church in Dallas, Texas. The first few words said, "Our part in sending Brother Huddles, on his mission of mercy (emp. mine) is to raise his travel fund." Note again we have a "mission of mercy," a play on the emotions of brethren.
Next they show a partially completed building and say, "This building after undergoing repairs and renovation will be the MISSION HOSPITAL. Another small building serves as a DISPENSARY" (emp. mine). My, how our baby has grown in a little over ONE year! The "need" surely has become a large one.
Now they say, - "Brother Huddleston and family MUST sail for Tanganyika, East Africa by January 1st to replace the present Dr. Jerry Mays who has been there for over a year. Dr. Mays consented to stay until another doctor was found to replace him, in order that the government would not confiscate the mission property . . . Dr. Huddleston MUST be on the ground in Tanganyika at that time. We cannot afford to jeopardize our start in East Africa by not having a doctor in the mission hospital" (emp. mine). Yet this was the statement made by brother Connally. (Christian Chronicle, August 3, 1962, page 5): "Since 1955 brother Echols has been engaged in training African evangelists for work among their own people. " This is quite some start, or are they talking about their starting the hospital? ? ? The 6th and Arlington paper further states that they will have a "50 bed hospital."
Now, brethren, the writer Luke was a physician, and there were "multiplied thousands" in his day who needed medical attention. Why did he not start a hospital? He would have been just the man for the work. He did not do it because it is and was NOT THE WORK OF THE CHURCH.
Continuing our reading of this advertisement, we find this quotation, "By going to Tanganyika he WILL SAVE THE PROPERTY FROM GOVERNMENT CONFISCATION. (emp. mine). The church and missionary school in Tanganyika has been ordered, by the recently formed government of Tanganyika to establish a fifty bed hospital, and provide a medical doctor, or forfeit all its property and remove is missionaries." The same old plea, save the property--they started with a dispensary and now have a 50 bed hospital. Where is the stopping place? I suppose when Dr. Huddleston is ready to leave, they will cry, "Dr. needs to go to Tanganyika to save the property from confiscation by the newly formed government."
Now that we have church of Christ Hospitals, I am wondering how these brethren plan to justify such a practice. They will, I am sure, continue to make their appeals to the emotions of brethren. Possibly you will see something like this in the future, "Can you not visualize the poor, dirty African with tropical sores as big as your hand in which the bone in the foot or leg can be seen. Where countless millions are dying from T. B. and numerous diseases. These good men who are going over will be able to give medical aid to countless thousands. With this good doctor there, we will be able to care for the orphan children whom we are keeping. Without this particular service these poor children would be left out in the heat of the day. So brethren, open your heart and send us your fifth Sunday contribution."
In all of the material that I have read, (I do not claim to have read all that has been written), I have found only TWO passages either referred to or partially quoted. In the Christian Chronicle, November 2, 1962, brother Connally said on page 3, "It is because for generations we have been afraid 'to do good unto all men."' In the 6th and Arlington brochure on the first page they used 1 Corinthians 16:3 about "bring your liberality." These are the ONLY TWO passages they have used thus far to my knowledge. Yet the first one is the individual's responsibility, and the second is speaking of the contribution for the poor saints.
Yes, I believe in helping the poor African who is riddled with disease. While in Africa we helped in this field of work to the best of our ability. But we NEVER took any money from the churches to do this work. Yes, the African needs trained men and women to come and care for their medical needs. BUT IT IS NOT THE WORK OF THE CHURCH.
Concerning the new hospital I quote, "The new hospital opened its doors on April 1st. The estimation of the church has arisen a hundred fold in the minds of the people. They can see our efforts and we never let them forget its due to your love, at home, and ours for their well being both physically and spiritually. Only time and eternity can show the wonderful good that shall be accornplished by this medium." (A. Connally, via, Highland Helper, Abilene, Texas, May 24, 1964.)
Brethren, let us not blame the African people. They do not know that it is wrong to use the Lord's money this way, and these brethren will not teach them that it is. Let us blame those who are pushing such unscriptural practices. Such men as these are not helping the Africans learn the pure unadulterated truth, for they are teaching at least by action that such is the work of the church. It reminds me of a statement found in Matthew 23:15. Here Jesus said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." Now if this is not true, I ask those who are upholding such, PLEASE GIVE ME THE SCRIPTURE THAT AUTHORIZES SUCH PRACTICES. If and when such is given, I will be more than glad to repudiate my statement. But until such is given I believe the statement to be true.
Awaken, brethren, we will have to meet the question of "Church of Christ hospitals" here in the very near future. Let us teach those who are striving to remain faithful to the Lord that these things are sinful. Let us be sure that they thoroughly understand that these institutions of man are not authorized by the word of the Lord. Let us do it NOW.
Brother in Christ, will you stand with God or with man? " . . . Choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
Truth Magazine IX, 4: pp. 7-10