By Cecil F. Cox
We hear much today about those who are anti-cooperation. This is a charge that is usually leveled against those who are opposed to the “sponsoring church” type of cooperation. This is, of course, a false and prejudicial charge. To be “anti-cooperation” would be to oppose congregations cooperating. So the charge of anti-cooperation is a charge that is not true of any faithful church. We believe in the kind of cooperation that is taught in the New Testament. Brother H. Leo Boles put it so well when he said,
Every church in the universe that operates or works according to the will of God cooperates or works together with every other church in the universe that is working according to the same rule. Churches which are fulfilling their mission separate and independent of other churches never the less are cooperating with all other churches that fulfill their mission (Gospel Advocate, January 28, 1932, 114).
Yes, my brethren, we can and do cooperate with other churches without supporting unscriptural projects.
We have some brethren who themselves admit that they are non-cooperative. I have a book in my library entitled New Testament Churches of Today, Vol. 1. In this book there are some 873 congregations listed with information about each one. Among the questions asked is this one, “Do you engage in congregational cooperation in preaching the Gospel?” Among the answers which were given in reply are “yes,” “when possible,” and “no.” Please note, there are congregations, by their own admission, that do not en-gage in congregational cooperation. Therefore, we could rightly refer to them as non-cooperative. But I’m sure that they would object to this. They would possibly explain that what they mean is that they do not contribute to a “sponsoring church” arrangement of some kind to do their work of preaching the gospel. Isn’t it strange that if a congregation wants to be referred to as one who believes in and practices congregational cooperation that it must make a contribution to an arrangement which is not found in the New Testament? If you oppose it, you are an anti-cooperative. If you do not contribute, then you are non-cooperative. Let it be remembered that churches in the first century believed in and practiced congregational cooperation hundreds of years before the “sponsoring church” set-up ever came into existence. As they did, so can we. God forbid, that just because faithful churches do not surrender their funds to another congregation to preach the gospel, that we are anti-cooperative or non-cooperative in the work of preaching the gospel.
This reminds me of some things that happened during the “society controversy” back in the 1800s. Back then, those who did not “line up” with the Missionary Society were called anti-mission. They did not believe in preaching the gospel, according to those who were supporters of the Society. On November 27, 1865 Thomas Munnell wrote a letter to David Lipscomb and Tolbert Fanning, concerning the Gospel Advocate. He said, “I am told that anti-mission (emphasis mine, CFC) is to be one feature of the Advocate” (Earl West, Search For The Ancient Order, Vol. 2, 68). Along this same line W.K. Pendleton said, “Let men who have missionary work . . . take counsel together .. . and let us not be disturbed, or distracted in our work, byoutside railers, who seem to rejoice in nothing so much as their own success in preventing the preaching of the gospel” (emphasis mine, CFC) (Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 33, 255). Such charges as “anti-mission” and “pre-venting the preaching the gospel” were false charges and were resented by Lipscomb and others who stood for the truth.
Today brethren are branded as anti-cooperation because they oppose a society composed of the elders of a congregation and generally called a sponsoring church. If one opposes the “sponsoring church” type of cooperation, he is against churches cooperating is the conclusion that some reach. But, such a conclusion is absurd. It is not any more logical than the conclusion that if one opposes a man made missionary society, he is anti-mission.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 21 p. 21-22
November 6, 1997