Willis-Carrell Discussion, Third Negative

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

58. Please keep in mind the relative responsibilities of the participants in this discussion.

It is the duty of Brother Carrell to present scriptural authority for 2000 churches to function through one eldership. Yet in p. 83 he asked me to prove the sending churches did not send through the elders of another church. This sounds like the Christian Church argument, "You prove they did not use a piano in worship." He wants me to do his affirmative work for him. Being in the negative on this proposition, it was my responsibility to be critical of Brother Carrell's presentation.

Violates New Testament Pattern

59. Basically Brother Carrell has made but one argument in favor of the sponsoring church type of congregational cooperation in this debate. His argument has been that the Lord told us what to do, but did not tell us how to do it (See p. 67, 68, 96, 97). It was precisely with this argument that the brethren who went out from us to form the Christian Church sought to justify the missionary society. J. B. Briney, in the OTEY-BRINEY DEBATE, said: "When a thing is commanded to be done, and the method of doing it is not prescribed, those commanded are at liberty to use their best judgment in devising ways and means to carry out the command" (p. 162). Brother Carrell has used this same argument to try to justify the sponsoring church. But if the argument is a valid argument when used by Brother Carrell, it was a valid argument when used by Brother Briney. If it will justify the sponsoring church, it will also justify the missionary society.

60. Keep in mind that Brother Carrell has been searching diligently for authority for 2000 churches to pool $2,239,250.00 a year in the treasury of the Highland church in Abilene in order that the Highland elders might then direct a program of work for the brotherhood. His "proof" is that God told us to preach, but did not tell us how to do it. But the truth is that the Herald of Truth violates the New Testament PATTERN of congregational cooperation. There are but two instances in the New Testament where a church sent funds to another church for any purpose. In Acts 11:27-30 we read about the brethren in Antioch sending "relief" unto the brethren in Judea who had been adversely affected by a famine. About thirteen years later we read of Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia sending funds to the "poor saints" in Jerusalem, as they were in "want" (I Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 15:25-31; 2 Cor. 8,9). And Brother Carrell, here are the examples of scriptural cooperation you requested in p. 71. Now brethren, this matter of congregational cooperation is just that simple. In the Bible when one church sent to another church, the receiving church was in want; it was destitute. Brother Carrell cannot find a single exception to this fact.

61. But the Highland church does not fit the pattern. The Highland church probably is the wealthiest church in the world, but is yet the beg ingest church in the world. The Highland church, with 1700 members, is the third largest church in the world. Their 1966 budget was $427,691.00, or a weekly average of $8,228.00. These figures do not involve the $2,239,250.00 they sought to beg from other churches. Their own local contributions were about half a million dollars. So they are not a needy church. Their members are not in need of "relief." They are not in "want." Highland wants a lot, but they are not in "want." Thus the Highland church does not fit the pattern of congregational cooperation found in your New Testament.

62. Brother Carrell asserts in p. 67 that "we have shown that cooperative efforts such as the Herald of Truth are in harmony with scriptures . . . ." He complains about me getting on him so often and so hard for asserting things he should prove. When he quits doing it, I will quit getting on him for it. He very definitely has not shown that the Herald of Truth is "in harmony" with scriptures. You rest assured that if Brother Carrell should ever succeed in showing the Herald of Truth to be "in harmony" with scriptures he will be moved to the head of the class - way ahead of Guy N. Woods, G. K. Wallace, and others who have tried and failed to show the Herald of Truth to be in harmony with scriptures.

Brotherhood Elders

63. The fact is that the Herald of Truth is in diametric opposition to New Testament teaching. Elders, in your Bible, are told to "Tend the flock of God which is among you" (I Pet. 5:2). The scope of elders' authority is limited to "the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers" (Acts 20: 28). But the Herald of Truth admittedly is a work of the brotherhood. Writing in a report to the brotherhood, the Highland elders said: "Briefly we shall give you some idea of this YOUR national broadcast" (LOOKING AHEAD, p. 2). Speaking of contributing churches, a Highland elder said, "However, we are humbly certain that they will be rewarded in knowing that THEIR mission work is increased at least tenfold by their decision." (John F. Reese, Letter to Lawrenceburg, Tenn. church). Again Highland said, "We believe the new Herald of Truth series will be the most fruitful effort of OUR GREAT BROTHERHOOD" (Brochure).

64. So you can see that the Highland elders state that the Herald of Truth is a work of the brotherhood. This is a fact. It could not be the work of the Highland church since Highland did not start the program, does not pay for the program, did not select the preachers, and could not stop it. It is indeed a program of "our great brotherhood." Now unless the Highland elders were appointed by the Holy Spirit to oversee "our great brotherhood" or the work of "our great brotherhood," they have perverted their office as elders and have gone beyond the limitation of oversight assigned them by the Holy Spirit.

65. Basically there are two major things wrong with the Herald of Truth: (1) it exists as a type of congregational cooperation that is without scriptural precedent and that even is in contradiction to the New Testament pattern; (2) and it makes brotherhood elders out of the Highland elders. Now if Brother Carrell has shown such an effort to be "in harmony" with scriptures, he deserves to be moved to the head of the class. But he will have to be in the class with Mormon Joseph Smith and others who have written their own book of scriptures, for he cannot use the New Testament scriptures and show such an activity to be "in harmony" with scriptures. I repeatedly have told him that I would accept either general or specific authority for such a practice, but he has given neither. He merely has assumed that the program is an "optional expedient."

Voluntary Contributions

66. In p. 73 Brother Carrell seems to think that it helps the situation if the contributing churches act voluntarily. I happen to know that a considerable amount of pressure is put on the churches to contribute. Brother Reuel Lemmons, Editor of the FIRM FOUNDATION, said: "Lately whole congregations are subjected to pressure groups. If a congregation doesn't support this project or that, someone is ready to blacklist it. We recently saw a letter in which a promoter of a certain project wrote the elders of another church and said, 'We would like to know why it is that your congregation has never "supported" this project.' Really, it wasn't any of that elder's business why . . . Efforts to line up congregations is (sic) charging the air with an unholy tension" (FIRM FOUNDATION, Nov. 22, 1960). Brother Lemmons could write even stronger of the pressure tactics of 1967.

67. The Highland elders have even told the "Key Workers" they send out how to use these pressure tactics on churches. Here is what they said in a handbook handed out to "Key Workers": "I know from experience what you will be facing. Let me tell you in part what you can expect. Steaming hot or bitter cold telephone booths, trying to set up an appointment that no one wants to give. Truculent elderships ("truculent" means "fierce, savage, ferocious, barbarous, ruthless, and destructive" - CW) that can't understand why Highland must continually have more money to carry on this program of preaching and teaching . . . . The preacher with a program of his own and he can't understand why anyone else would want to put another program in his town. (He might want to be the only preacher in the world TOO.) - . Don't ask if he wants to hear it, or don't ask if it will be alright if I come to speak. Emphasize the necessity of your speaking" (THE HERALD OF TRUTH STORY, pp. 130-135). Brother Carrell, this sounds like the exertion of pressure to me. Furthermore, some of us who have received intimidating letters concerning our opposition to these projects know something of the pressure they employ. Brother W. F. Cawyer, Highland elder who travels, over the world at the expense of the churches who contribute to the Herald of Truth, even feels it is, his prerogative and duty to warn brethren about private business enterprises that are what he calls "anti-institutions" in order to prevent churches from doing business with them. So do not talk to us about "voluntary contributions." Highland uses every pressure tactic available to them, and there is plenty of evidence to prove that she does.

68. But even if the contributions were voluntary, does that make it right? Can a church voluntarily relinquish its God-given responsibility to oversee its resources and work? Contributions are also "voluntarily" made to a missionary society, but that does not make a missionary society scriptural. In fact, the missionary society and the Herald of Truth use the same kinds of coercion.

Buying Services

69. Brother Carrell tries about every gimmick that any other defender of institutionalism has tried. In p. 74 he attempts to liken contributing to the Herald of Truth to buying services from the electric or Gas Company. You note that he takes great offense when I liken the Herald of Truth to the missionary society, but be thinks it perfectly alright for him to liken it to purchasing services from a utility company.

70. But if Brother Carrell's comparison is a valid one at all, then he is affirming that the Herald of Truth is a business enterprise like the utility company, and the contributing churches are merely buying services from the Highland church. Somehow Brother Carrell cannot see the difference between buying services from a business enterprise and donating to a business enterprise. A church may purchase services from a hotel, but the church could not donate to a hotel. Now if Brother Carrell really wanted a parallel to the Herald of Truth, he could let all the churches in the brotherhood send donations to the Highland church in order that the Highland church might become a provider of utilities for all the churches. Wonder if he would endorse and defend that too?

The Missionary Society

71. In p. 76 he virtually begs me not to "come back with this 'missionary society' bugaboo." It seems to me that the missionary society is "bugging" him alright. On this point I feel sincere sympathy for Brother Carrell. If I were defending an unscriptural cooperative arrangement that now handles more money a year than the missionary society did in several decades, I too might beg my opponent not to mention the missionary society.

72. The missionary society started in 1849. One hundred years later its "Unified Promotions" budget was $2,069,686.00. The Herald of Truth started as a national network program on February 3, 1952. Its budget now is $2,239,250.00 per year. The Herald of Truth has a larger budget 15 years after it started than the missionary society did 100 years after it started. And this "Unified Promotions" budget was for 7 National Boards, 23 State Societies, 5 colleges and represented the "major portion of the money obtained by Disciple of Christ causes." (Garrison-DeGroot, THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, p. 507) The missionary society, when it was about the age of the Herald of Truth, had a budget of $5,966.00; the Herald of Truth's budget is $2,239,250.00. If I knew these things about the missionary society and the Herald of Truth, I might beg my opponent not to bring up the missionary society "bugaboo."

73. It took the Catholic Church over 500 years to get all the churches to function through one church (the church in Rome), and it has taken our Highland brethren only 15 years to get 20% or 25% of all the churches to function through one church. It took the Christian Church 100 years to promote their cooperative arrangement into a $2,000,000 a year "bugaboo," but it has only taken Highland 15 years to promote its concoction into a $2,000,000 a year enterprise. But since Highland spends much more money on promotion than does the missionary society, its rapid growth is understandable. Highland is bound to be setting some sort of record as to rapidity of digression, and Brother Carrell apparently wants to have a little bit of the credit for this dubious honor, as he comes to its defense.

New Testament Cooperation

74. Some time ago I gave the following synopsis of New Testament teaching on congregational cooperation, to which Brother Carrell made reference in p. 77. I suggest that you study the listed Bible references to see if they teach what I said they teach. Following is a summary of what I said:

"1. CHURCHES HELPED EACH OTHER IN TIME OF EMERGENCY BY CONTRIBUTING DIRECTLY TO THE NEEDY CHURCH. (Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). There were needy saints in Jerusalem, and churches in Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia sent to their relief.

2. MANY CHURCHES CONTRIBUTED TO ONE CHURCH IN TIME OF NEED (2 Cor. 8, 9). Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia were provinces, and the churches of these provinces sent to Jerusalem to relieve the need of the destitute saints there.

3. EACH CHURCH MADE UP ITS OWN "BOUNTY," SELECTED ITS OWN "MESSENGERS," AND SENT ITS "BOUNTY" BY ITS "MESSENGERS" DIRECTLY TO THE CHURCH IN NEED. (2 Cor. 8, 9; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 15:26). Paul mentioned that "whomsoever ye shall approve" should "carry your bounty unto Jerusalem."

4. A CHURCH WITH "POWER" (ABILITY) GAVE TO A CHURCH IN "WANT" IN ORDER TO PRODUCE MUTUAL FREEDOM FROM WANT, OR AS PAUL PUT IT, "EQUALITY." (2 Cor. 8:13, 14). The only time one can read about one church sending to another church for any purpose at all was to relieve the physical needs of the church to which the funds were sent.




So far as I am able to ascertain, anything more than this taught on the subject of cooperation emanates from the wisdom of man rather than from the wisdom from above" (Quoted from the ENLIGHTENER, Sept. 1966).

75. Now what did Brother Carrell do with this summary of New Testament teaching on cooperation? He merely sought to show that there was no real "emergency" in the areas to which the funds were sent. But note that the scriptures state that "relief" was sent (Acts 11:27-30), and that Jerusalem was in "want" (2 Cor. 8:13, 14). Brother Carrell can quibble about this point all he wants, but the Bible plainly says they were in "want." Brother Carrelf says there was "A need, yes . . ." but no real emergency. Had it been Brother Carrell and his family who were in need of "relief" and who were in "want," I dare say that even he might have considered the situation an emergency. But remember that only when such a "need" existed did churches send money to another church, and at Highland there is neither emergency nor need. In fact, Highland is the wealthiest church in the world, but they are chronic and perpetual beggars. So they do not fit the pattern of congregational cooperation which you find in your Bible.


76. Brother Carrell would like to get Away from the binding power of examples. He knows that the only time one church sent to another church in the Bible was when the receiving church was in need, and he knows that the Herald of Truth practice is contrary to these examples. Oh, how he would like to convince you that following Biblical examples is not mandatory. But remember that when the examples on congregational cooperation are waved good-bye by Brother Carrell, the example of when to take the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7) also is waved good-bye. He told us he could prove when to take the Lord's Supper without using the example of Acts 20:7, but somehow he never quite got around to showing us how he does this. He sought to prove it by secular history, rather than by the Bible. He simply says of examples that "They are not in themselves binding" (p. 88).

77. Brother Carrell did not handle the quotation from D. R. Dungan any more correctly than he does those from the Bible. Dungan said, "Indeed, if the conduct has been directed by men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we learn from the example what we ought to do." (p. 95). He did not say that we learn what we "may do." It was Brother Carrell who said "may do." Now the man directing the conduct in Acts 20:7 and in the cases of cooperation was Paul, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 1: 11, 12; 1 Cor. 2:13). So we "ought" to follow the examples (Phil. 4:9). Dungan, on p. 97, tells the rules to follow in order to tell when an apostolic example is binding.


78. Brother Carrell concludes by assuming that "Incidental patterns in non-religious matters, such as the handling of funds, do not necessarily establish a precedent." (p. 91). This is purely a gratuitous assumption. He told us that handling funds are left, "for the most part," to "common sense and good judgment" (p. 87), but now we are told that there are "incidental patterns." But he hastens to assure us that these "incidental patterns" are not binding. Some brethren, like Herald of Truth speaker Batsell Barrett Baxter, 'think it is according to "common sense and good judgment" to use church funds to support colleges. What did Brother Carrell say on this point? Absolutely nothing I

79. It would have been helpful if Brother Carrell had told us how he determines when a "pattern" is "incidental" and when it is not. How do you determine when a "pattern" is binding and when it is not? How did you learn that the "patterns" on handling money are "non-religious" patterns? Brother Carrell can assume more in one sentence than nearly any man I know. I would diagnose his trouble as an overactive assumptive gland!

80. Let us note in closing this discussion some things that Brother Carrell has not done. He has not shown us where Brother J. D. Thomas erred when he applied his (i.e. Thomas' and Carrell's) argument to church support of colleges. He has not proved that the sponsoring church is an expedient. He has not proved that we must take the Lord's Supper every Sunday without using the example of Acts 20:7. He has not cited the hermeneutical rules by which he learned that the example of Acts 20:7 is unique. He has not shown us how he learned that the example of Acts 20:7 is backed by an inferred command, but that the examples on cooperation are not backed by similar background commands. He has not shown the hermeneutical rules by which he learned that the command to follow apostolic examples in Phil. 4:9 is not binding. He has not cited either general or specific authority for a sponsoring church. He has not shown even one instance of a church sending funds to another church when the receiving church was not in "want." He has not cited Bible authority for 2000 churches to work through one eldership. He has not cited a passage authorizing elders to oversee a work for "our great brotherhood." He has not read from the Bible of any brotherhood elders.

81. He has proved that he has an overactive assumptive gland, which we hope he can get regulated before we begin our next discussion. It has been enjoyable, Brother Carrell, and we hope profitable to our readers. We shall look forward to participating in a similar discussion in a few months on church supported benevolent societies. Meanwhile, let us all be sure that we "make all things according to the pattern" (Heb. 8:5).

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 11, pp. 5-10
September 1967