Herald of Truth Bears Fruit in Ohio
February 12, 1965 TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
With the introduction of the Herald of Truth into the congregational budget of the Mansfield, Ohio church, it has become necessary, for the sake of our conscience, for the undersigned to begin meeting separately. We opposed contributions by this church to the Herald of Truth, and as humbly and patiently as we knew how, asked the brethren to reconsider the matter and to cease these contributions. With full knowledge that such continuance could result only in division, the majority of those attending the business meetings elected to continue these contributions.
We have always been taught, and sincerely have believed, that all congregations were to be kept equal, independent, and autonomous (self-ruling). Consult these passages: Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1,2. Each church is to have its own officers to oversee its own members and its own work.
We have told our religious neighbors that we have no central church government, but that each congregation directs its own affairs and oversees its own work. The Highland Avenue Church in Abilene, Texas that oversees the Herald of Truth for the brotherhood is the second largest church of Christ in the world. In 1964 it had local contributions from its own members of more than $7200 weekly, and an annual contribution of $375,000. Yet this church has been a perpetual beggar for more than ten years. It never gets enough. For 1965 they are asking that other congregations that are supposed to be equal with it, independent of it, and able to rule themselves and to oversee their own work, to send them something like $2,000,000! Sixteen hundred churches are now making donations to this large and wealthy church. Many denominational church headquarters do not handle anything I i k e $2,000,000 a year.
It is a violation of our conscience for this independent and autonomous church to turn the oversight of its funds to the eldership of another church. If 1600 churches can function through the elders of this church, 16,000 churches could also function through it. This is basically the principle upon which Roman Catholicism rests--all the churches are inferior to, and work through one church-- the church of Rome. We are as opposed to this practice in the churches of Christ as we are in the Roman Catholic Church.
Those who promote the Herald of Truth also promote other innovations. For example, Brother Batsell Barrett Baxter, one of the featured speakers on the Herald of Truth, recently advocated in a nationally circulated booklet the following position: "Some who are agreed that the church can contribute to an orphans' home are not convinced that the church can contribute to a Christian school. It is difficult to see a significant difference so far as principle is concerned. The orphans' home and the Christian school must stand or fall together." (His Emphasis, QUESTIONS AND ISSUES OF THE DAY, pg. 29)
We are opposed to church donations to human institutions of any kind, and thus are opposed to congregational contributions to institutional orphan homes and "Christian" schools. But the key personnel in the Herald of Truth are promoting both. In addition to being unscripturally linked together by the sponsoring church arrangement, this link involves the Mansfield church with those who propagate other digressions, such as the one just quoted from Brother Baxter's booklet. Such involvements we must, and therefore do, oppose.
In this action, the Mansfield church has failed to follow the pattern of New Testament cooperation (Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-4 Rom. 15:26, 2 Cor. 8:13, 14 -- The receiving church in the New Testament was always a church with destitute members it could not relieve), and therefore has gone beyond the teachings of Christ (Heb. 8:5; 2 Jno. 9). The Highland Avenue church cannot by the wildest stretch of one's imagination be called a needy church. Yet in the New Testament, when one church sent to another church, the receiving church was destitute, or in need. We cannot be a party to this departure from the New Testament order, and therefore respectfully separate ourselves to worship after the New Testament order. We bear no ill-will or malice toward any member of the congregation, but we cannot violate our conscience by being a party to the pooling the resources of the brotherhood, and centralizing the control of these resources in the eldership of one church, even though this church be both very large (over 1600 members) and very wealthy.
SIGNED: James Bond, Lucas Bond, Leon Bond, Delbert Mills, Walter Blevins, Chester Kidwell, Elwood E. Long, and Fred Lucas--Members, Church of Christ, Mansfield, Ohio.
(Editor's Note: It is not our purpose to carry news of local church disturbances, but since the Mansfield church division is so typical of the result of introducing centralized arrangements and human institutions into a congregation's work and treasury, we deemed it timely to print this statement from the faithful Mansfield, Ohio brethren. As these human innovations intrude into other churches, the Mansfield scene will be repeated many times We beg of brethren to keep their "expediencies" out that peace may remain in the Body.)
GOSPEL ADVOCATE AND RECREATION-- 1951 Style
"It is not the duty of the church to provide entertainment for young or old. It is not a part of the program of the church to provide playgrounds, programs of entertainment, or supervisors of such programs.... But it definitely is no more the duty of the church to provide recreation for the young people than it is the duty of the church to provide a business for every member of the church to conduct.... Building recreation rooms and providing and supervising recreational activities at the expense of the church is a departure from the simple gospel plan as revealed in the New Testament. The church might as well relieve the parents of feeding and disciplining all the young people at church expense as to take over the job of entertaining and supervising their recreation at church expense.... Be sure to get a clear conception of the duties of the home as contrasted with the duties of the church in the matter of recreation. To confuse the two realms of activity will involve us in absurdities."
--GOSPEL ADVOCATE, Annual Lesson Commentary, 1951, pp. 225-229.
Truth Magazine IX: 9, pp. 13-14