August 18, 2018

Willi’s – Carrell Discussion, Second Affirmative

By William. L. Carrell

PROPOSITION: "Resolved: That it is in harmony with New Testament teaching for one or more congregations to send money from their treasuries to another congregation, (Highland Avenue in Abilene or any other) for the purpose of supporting a nationwide radio broadcast or telecast (Herald of Truth or other) which broadcast or telecast is supervised by the congregation receiving the funds."

30. Brother Willis has just given us a demonstration of his skill in demolishing straw men of his own construction. If he could just be persuaded to deal adequately with the arguments I have presented, we might yet see some good results from this exchange. It is regrettable that from his opening paragraph he has chosen to take a contemptuous and abusive attitude toward all who disagree with him. Such an approach is not designed to persuade. Rather it appeals to minds already fixed and closed, to confirm them in the supposed invincibility of the position he represents. It suggests that all which can ever be known about God's will has been discovered and neatly codified by him, so that it need never be reconsidered. It has the odor of sectarian prejudice rather than of mature and objective conviction.

But value can he had, even from such a discussion, if only to use it to point out his tactics and false reasoning. Therefore in answering what arguments he does present I would like to note the following:

32. Brother Willis accuses others of doing what he himself does. He accuses me of assuming in my opening paragraph what I set out to prove. Yet in his opening paragraph, after branding all who disagree with him as liberal, he not only assumes he is right and we are wrong, but that we know we are wrong, and are afraid to defend our position.

33. It is my understanding that the affirmative in a debate has the responsibility of defining the terms of the proposition under discussion. In other words, it is my job to state what the proposition means to me. Therefore I was not assuming but stating what I set out to prove. Had not Brother Willis been so eager to discover the "error" he assumed lurked in every page of my manuscript he might have remembered that and not accused me falsely.

34. A second example is found in his p. 26, where he asks that I stipulate the rules by which I determine whether a command is binding or not. "I have done so for examples;" he says, "now would you please do the same on commands . . ." Yet when I check back up through his manuscript to find where he has done so, I find that to the contrary he has refused to do so. "It is like someone asking you to tell them how to interpret the Bible in two minutes!" he complains. In paragraph 25 he suggests that I study several good books on the subject, and makes vague reference to certain "laws" of interpretation. Then in page 26 he claims to have answered me on this, when in fact he has not done so at all. His misuse of apostolic examples is the crux of our whole disagreement, and I am not about to leave this out of the discussion.

35. Brother Willis teaches that if a man is wrong in anything he is wrong in everything. In my first affirmative I used a chart from Brother J. D. Thomas' book, "We Be Brethren." Instead of dealing with this chart, Brother Willis plows into the book to find any errors, supposed or real, which Brother Thomas might have made. And I find that in order to 'use this chart I must defend lemonade in Vacation Bible School, and coffee and donuts in the church basement.

36. Now if all these things are a direct and necessary consequence of the argument presented by this chart, then I would be bound to answer him. But I do not think that they are, nor has Brother Willis proven that they are. Therefore I am not obliged either to defend or oppose any of these things, because they have nothing to do with what we are talking about. But it seems that Brother Willis cannot discuss this subject without bringing in missionary societies, college in the church budget, social gatherings in the basement, and just about every other issue that has ever troubled our brotherhood.

37. A second example of his "wrong-in-anything-wrong-in-everything" approach is found in his p. 6, where he condemns the Herald of Truth for supposed mismanagement of funds. Let me point out first of all that those endorsing the Herald of Truth are just as concerned about the proper management of the funds as he and his friends are. So what do his figures prove? And where did he get his information about mismanagement? Was it not from reports published by the brethren in Abilene? It does not make sense that they would waste money and then send a financial report of this waste to those from whom they hoped to receive more money for future needs.

38. But what is this waste? He says that more than 11 cents out of every dollar is used to "beg for more money." If they used only 5 cents, or I cent, would it be scriptural? Or if they used nothing at all for fund raising, would you approve of it then? Go over any program with a fine-tooth comb, trying to find fault, and something can be found, real or imaginary, to criticize and condemn. Even the Lord did not escape the unjust criticism of being a glutton. The question is, is this type of program itself scriptural. Fund raising is a necessary part of such a program, and is not a waste. Your charges of mismanagement are beside the point.

39. But let me ask, is your little bulletin, "The Enlightener," sent free of charge to about 7,000 brethren and churches, most of whom have not requested it, in which you castigate churches and brethren, a sinful waste of the Lord's money? Why don't the elders of the church which publishes this oversee the flock that is among them, and quit trying to interfere in the work of other churches all over the country by attempting to undermine (and therefore usurp) the authority of elders they know disagree with them?

40. Or is it a sinful waste of the Lord's money to enter into a community where a church of Christ is already meeting, and at considerable expense construct another church building and hire another preacher for this "mission point"?

41. Brother Willis belittles arguments he cannot or does not choose to answer. I presented two charts in my first affirmative. The first, from Brother Thomas, he dismisses as being "about as clear as a sea of mud." I doubt that he has checked with "most brethren" to know that this is true. But he then proceeds to "answer" it by digging into Brother Thomas' book to uncover all the "errors" which I must then defend because I presumed to use one point which he made. I wonder, Brother Willis, if you would permit me to accept the principle of the Protestant Reformation, that the Bible is our sole guide in all matters of faith and practice without requiring me to accept also the infant baptism and "faith only" doctrine of the Lutheran Church?

42. When he comes to deal with my argument that "no example is itself binding," he answers not with reason, logic, or scripture but merely states what he understands that brethren have been t0oching for years, and castigates me sharply for presuming to go against this sacred tradition. Actually I don't believe Brother Willis really understands what the brethren have been teaching about commands, examples and inferences; else he would not teach as he does.

43. And here he resorts to still another fruitful technique, that of misrepresenting the argument of his opponent. I have not set out to "destroy apostolic examples," as he indicates. I simply do not believe they were ever intended to have the limiting power which he assumes they have. His argument against me on this is the same one which the Roman Catholics use about Mary. They say we are belittling and dishonoring Mary when we refuse to pay her the homage they think she should have, actually the worship which belongs to God and His Son.

44. In the same way, Brother Willis accuses me of destroying apostolic example when I state that reasonably and logically such examples can only clarify, illustrate, or emphasize the commandments of Christ and his apostles. The apostolic command concerning giving, for example, is "as God hath prospered." The apostolic example includes the selling of houses and property and giving the proceeds to the church. This illustrates the fact that giving was intended to be more than a token. Put it does not mean we must necessarily sell our property (although of course we could.) If we tried to bind this example on those brethren who for years have considered their 50 cents and a dollar contribution as "God hath prospered," we might run into a great deal of objection!

45. Another example of how Brother Willis misrepresents an opponent is found in his page 15, in which he quotes me as demanding the passage which "expressly limits the church with regard to cooperating in such a work or in the handling of its funds." He says that the Christian Church preacher demands the passage which "expressly" forbids the use of the piano, and indicates that my argument is the same.

46. Now he would be right if I had been talking about something in which a command of the Lord restricts us. We cannot use the piano because the scriptures command us to sing in our worship, and playing is not singing. This command therefore excludes playing even though it does not "expressly" mention it.

47. But I was talking about optional matters, those things in which the Lord has left us free to decide how we will carry them out. The commandments concerning giving do not specify the details of sending or handling the money. "Let him that is taught in the word share in all good things with him that teacheth." (Gal. 6:6) Verse 10 says, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." III John 5 says, "Beloved, thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers." The only restrictions are common sense ones, such as that we avoid the appearance of evil, do things decently and in order, and provide for things honorable in the sight of God and of men.

48. Brother Willis says that these passages show individual responsibility, and do not apply to congregational action. But notice that the examples he says are binding on the church in its congregational activity also apply only to individual benevolence. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief . . . ." (Acts 11:29) "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store" (I Cor. 16:2). If the command in Gal. 6:6 cannot be applied to congregational giving, how can the example in Acts 11:29 apply so as to limit one church from sending funds to assist another church in a worthwhile project? When Paul speaks of the administration of the funds he speaks in the broadest terms: "Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem" (I Cor. 16:3). Thus the Lord has left us free in such matters, and it is correct to say that unless Brother Willis can produce a "Thou shalt not" in express terms from the scripture, he has not established his case.

49. Brother Willis in paragraph 5 accuses us of preaching one thing and practicing another when we say that support of the Herald of Truth is optional. "Would Brother Carrell and the Fairlawn church permit a man who objects to the Herald of Truth to preach there? Would they even call on him to lead a prayer?"

50. Brother Willis, contrary to what the commercials say, popularity is not assured by using the right deodorant and mouth wash. And there just might be other reasons why brethren do not welcome you. If I understand you, a church which supports the Herald of Truth is not considered as being a true church at all. You feel free to go in where such congregations already exist and establish "mission points," drawing away members and sowing discord among brethren who were at peace.

51. Mature elders recognize that the peace and stability of the congregation cannot be maintained by giving a hearing to every wind of doctrine that blows. Refusal to knock the chip off the shoulder of every belligerent preacher who comes along by giving him a hearing before the whole church and accepting his challenge to debate is not a sign of weakness or fear. I know of no church that withholds fellowship from a person who does not endorse the Herald of Truth. But they would oppose anyone who tries to divide the church over matters of opinion.

Are Examples Binding?

52. Brother Willis insists that examples are binding because Paul said, "The things which you both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do" (Phil. 4:9) 1 Cor. 11:1 clarifies what he meant, however, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." It is the teaching we are to follow, not every incidental thing Paul did. He is not commanding 'us to play a game of follow-the-leader!

53. But does Brother Willis himself bind Paul's examples? In p. 25 he says, "some examples are binding." Only some? If these verses mean what you say, how explain that you reject some approved examples?

54. Brother Willis says he has proven something when in fact he has not. In his p. 26 he solemnly assures us he has stipulated the rules by which examples are to be bound. But when checking back through his letter seeking for his rules I find that he has only suggested that I get several good books on Bible interpretation! "The solution," he says, "of Brother Carrell's admitted deficit of knowledge regarding examples is not easily supplied in an article of this length." Maybe so! But let's not be saying then that you have supplied it.

55. In p. 26 he refers vaguely to certain "laws," the "law of unity," "the law of uniformity," etc. I have not been able to find these laws in the books I have. In personal discussion with you, you mentioned D. R. Dungan's "Hermeneutics." Please tell me the page where he explains these.

56. The only place I have run across these so-called "laws" before was in a discussion with another man who believes as Brother Willis does. So I know what they are, and I also know that if Brother Willis can ever be persuaded to discuss them he will get himself into quite a bind. For they would "prove" that Brother Willis ought to do a number of things which I know he does not want to accept.

Lord's Supper in Upper Room

57. Let us examine these "laws" and see if they do bind us, to observe the Lord's Supper in an "upper room." If I misapply them I am sure Brother Willis will correct me. Remember that Christ instituted the supper in an upper room (Mark 14:15). And the church at Troas met in an upper room to observe it (Acts 20:8).

58. 1. Law of Uniformity: "When all examples of a New Testament practice are uniform the example is binding." (In all examples of taking the Lord's Supper in the New Testament it was in an upper room. Therefore by this "law" we must meet for the Supper in an "upper room" today.)

59. 2. Law of Unity (Also called the law of harmony). "Each example, to be binding, must be in harmony with all that the Scriptures teach on the same subject. Truth must be in harmony with truth." (Taking the Lord's Supper in an upper room is certainly in harmony with all that is taught about it. No passage condemns it.)

60. 3. Law of Universal Application: "For an example to be binding it must be within the realm of possibility for all people in all ages and countries." (If we can provide water for baptism, and bread and fruit of the vine for the Supper, why not an upper room of some sort? No serious problem here!

61. 4. Law of Materiality: "Is a thing relevant, material, essential to the practice of God's will?" (Here is where Brother Willis will likely struggle the hardest to get off the hook. But if the "upper room" is immaterial, why is not the mere handling of money also immaterial, as long as it is done in a responsible way? It is scriptural he says, for a church to send money directly to a missionary. But it is wrong to send the same money to a church which then sends it on to the missionary, even though they keep none of it for themselves.

62. Note also that while he binds the example of sending money directly, he does not bind the example of always sending it by Christian messenger. In no case in the New Testament was money ever sent by any but a Christian. But this is immaterial, he says, and we can use the U. S. Mail. The fact is that if we are to have peace we must all agree to let Brother Willis and his friends tell us what is material and what is not. "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you" (job 12:2).

63. 5. Law of Competence: "We cannot base a doctrine on a Supposition or a probability." (We're not just supposing they took it in an upper room. According to the examples they always did.)

64. 6. Law of Limited Application: "Every New Testament example applies only to the circumstances or set of facts similar to those to which it applies in the New Testament." (The "upper room" applies only to taking the Lord's Supper. You can come down, Brother Willis, for the rest of the service.)

65. 7. Law of Exclusion: "When there is no precept, approved example, or necessary inference for practice, then it is without scriptural authority." This is a good rule when properly applied. But when Brother Willis tries to use it to exclude the Herald of Truth he finds himself obliged to include the ~Cupper room." I think we can see why he only mentioned these laws in passing. Applied as he applies them they prove more than he wants to accept. And he knows he cannot come down out of the "upper room" until he is ready to give up his hobby.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 11, pp. 1-5
August 1967

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