"But Look How Much Good It Has Done"

Cecil Willis
Marion., Indiana

For more than a hundred years, brethren who have sought to justify human institutions to do the work of the church or unscriptural cooperative arrangements have attempted to do so on pragmatic grounds. When such an effort is made, one tacitly admits that be as no scripture to authorize what he defends.

Brother J. B. Briney, in his Louisville debate with W. W. Otey in 1908, sought to justify the missionary society on the grounds of the good it did. He told how the society was the instrument by which 108 "Living Link Churches" each supported a preacher overseas, and supported 54 preachers at home. The society supported about 1000 workers, besides building 1109 meeting houses. Such impressive statistics were supposed to take the place of a scripture.

The conservative Christian Church will not work through the United Christian Missionary Society, but it has its own "CHRISTIAN RESTORATION ASSOCIATION." How is it justified? In the same pragmatic way that the Disciples of Christ justify the United Christian Missionary Society.

In a letter received May 28, 1968 from Harvey C. Bream, Jr., "Director of Evangelism," the following pragmatic argument was made: "THE CHRISTIAN RESTORATION ASSOCIATION received support last year which under girded evangelists' salaries in 7 new churches in 6 states. It kept I fulltime and 3 part-time evangelists in the field. As a result 51 weeks of revivals were held with 1399 additions - 980 by baptism into Christ. A 3 month evangelistic tour in Australia resulted in 320 additions. There were 124 local churches that benefited from 15 church leadership clinics and institutes. Included were 483 elders and deacons and 51 ministers. Already this year 16 clinics and institutes have been conducted with over 800 men in attendance."

If the impressive statistics cited by our brethren will justify an unscriptural organization to manage a brotherhood radio and television program, and human institutions in both benevolence and evangelism, I fail to see why similar statistics would not justify the United Christian Missionary Society and the Christian Restoration Association.

However, I have been taught and have taught that it will take a scripture to make any of these matters under debate scriptural. So far, neither our brethren nor those in the Christian Churches have found the scripture they seek. So they continue to cite their impressive statistics. But the statistics of the United Christian Missionary Society and the Christian Restoration Association have not moved me. So why should I be moved, in the absence of a scripture, by the statistic quoting Abilene brethren?

September 1968