Another "Second Look"
A. C. Grider
In the June issue of TRUTH Dudley Ross Spears wrote under the title: "A Second Look at the Issues." He traced the history of the issues for the past several years, noting that, from time to time there have been changes made in the questions that have been discussed. There are many good things in the article and I commend them. However there are statements made which do not accord with either facts or scriptures and they must be reviewed.
Those of us who have discussed limited church benevolence are accused of having "espoused side issues." We are accused of making a "radical change." We are accused of making a "radical swing away from the real trouble in the Lord's church." We are accused, in advance, of "ill will" when the article under review appears in print. These accusations are not so bad and we would be inclined to pass them by, but the following more serious charges are made: Brother Spears suggests that we will have to answer to God for "being side-tracked" and for "side-tracking others" and for "allowing others to become more and more enmeshed in the throes of institutionalism . . ." I emphatically deny every single one of these charges and vehemently challenge the statement that I have, or that any position I have taken has, allowed ANYBODY to become more enmeshed in institutionalism. I can point to member after member and even preacher after preacher who has been led to the TRUTH through my efforts.
But the most amazing thing about the article is Brother Spears' admission that the church CANNOT help everybody and then his efforts to PROVE that the church CAN help everybody. For instance he says, "I know that, if this article is read, there will be those who will jump down my throat over 'THE PASSAGE THAT AUTHORIZED THE LOCAL CHURCH TO ASSIST AN OUTSIDER FROM THE TREASURY."' (Emp. his. ACG). Now, I am not going to jump down his throat but I AM going to ask for the passage that authorized the local church to assist an outsider from the treasury. I asked Guy N. Woods and he didn't find it. I asked W. L. Totty and he didn't find it. I've asked hundreds of liberal brethren and they haven't found it. Now, where is it?
Brother Spears offered two proofs (?) that the church could help anybody. First he noted that the Mississippi River overflowed its banks in 1937 and left people in need of help and that the church helped them. He noted that they didn't stand at the door and refuse admission on the basis of the people being "baptized believers." He asks, "Did they violate the scriptures . . .? He seems to THINK nobody will say they did. He says he hasn't met the man who thinks they did. I don't know where Brother Spears has been for the last several years. But I can INTRODUCE him to dozens of gospel preachers who not only "think" but also positively KNOW they violated the scriptures by helping those who were not poor saints. But, look a little closer at his argument. Here the church helped everybody. If they didn't inquire then they might have helped Sectarian Preachers, Liars, Whoremongers, and Idolaters. Thus church help was UNLIMITED. But our brother admits that it, properly, should be limited. The whole thing is ridiculous anyway. What does the Mississippi River overflowing its banks have to do with whether or not a thing is scriptural? But, since he had no scripture he could cite, he cited the RIVER as proof.
His next proof "text" is just as ridiculous. He "supposes" that somebody attending services may some day become a Christian. Hence he reasons (?) that the church could help that man! Now, isn't that refreshing? The church can help a SINNER even though no scripture can be cited because that sinner may some day become a saint!
Finally he says that if the church in Oklahoma City helps a non-saint it will not split the church in Indianapolis. Thus he proves (?) that the church can help a non-saint!! But I don't believe if the church in Oklahoma City sends a contribution to a home for unwed mothers it will split a church in Indianapolis. So, let it support the "home" if it wants to.
Brethren, we can't prove whom the church can help by overflowing rivers, prospective converts, and whether or not actions of one church will split another church. We can prove whom the church can help only by the scriptures. Now, WHOM do the scriptures say the church can help?
I agree with William Wallace in the same issue of TRUTH. He said, "There are a few conservative brethren who have tried to defend the practice of church treasury benevolence for the outsiders. But their exegesis of scripture is not convincing." That's so. But Brother Spear's proof is not convincing either.
When brethren want to say we need to get back to discussing INSTITUTIONS I will quite agree with them. But when they charge that I am responsible for the SPREAD of institutionalism I quite disagree with them. When the church contributes to benevolent institutions it violates the scriptures. But when the church contributes to anybody other than a SAINT it violates the scriptures. If a child is a saint then the church can help a child. But no man living can prove by the scriptures that the church can help anybody BUT SAINTS.
Truth Magazine IX: 12, pp. 1-2