Who Made a Law?

Irven Lee
Hartselle, Alabama

The church of Christ is dividing from California to Maine. This, to me, is a most distressing bit of news. This fact is not mentioned on the front page of some New York- daily, but it is noted in heaven. It did not, of course, enter into the discussions of the platform committee of political parties, but it will affect the number of saved and lost people. What, brethren, could be more serious from the point of view of the true Christian?

Is there a new law to the effect that churches must give something to various brotherhood elderships and to various boards set up by some human wisdom? Some of these promoters give a very impressive negative answer. They go to great length to say that it is not necessary to give to Herald of Truth or to the board of some orphan home. Each church, they say, can plan its own budget in the light of its ability and its best judgment. These churches that do not answer some call from some powerful agency among us may still be "loyal" churches if they will just make it clear that they approve the institutions. If they will give their moral support and lip service to these institutions they may still wear the loyalty tag.

Among those who are so happy over the many international, national and area wide church supported institutions, it does help the loyalty rating to give to one or more such institutions. It is remarkable how much it helps the standing to give ten dollars per month to one agency. One can then say we give to so-and-so. That removes all doubt as to loyalty. To give a little each to three or four sponsoring churches and to three or four chartered institutions will cause a congregation to be listed as one of the most outstanding congregations in the nation. This arrangement can do much more to its loyalty rating than any zealous, scriptural plan of its own can do. The only way to rate higher than the church that gives to many of the nationally advertised projects is to think up some idea or plan and become a sponsoring church soliciting funds from all other churches, even from those to which it is giving.

When a church gives its moral support to an institution or national project, it is making a substantial gift in that direction. Individuals from such churches are likely prospects for gifts to such institutions. After the sending, of much more literature, the church will likely start sending regular contributions. Preachers, elders, and teachers in such congregations will encourage the support of such a board. Such "loyal" churches will be sending money in a few years.

The charge stands that a church must give something to the nationally advertised institutions if it is to be counted as "loyal." It must give money or influence. This means that each solicitor for each project must be assured of moral support, if not money, for his particular project. Woe unto any preacher or to any elder if he questions ANY centralized project! One suddenly becomes an "anti" when he questions the wisdom or scripturalness of ANY fund raiser's idea. He is not loyal. Several preachers have learned this the hard way. After supporting several projects, they have then questioned some far-out suggestion to find themselves smeared with the yellow paint of disloyalty. When will more learn?

Some larger city churches have digressed so fast that some members are awakening. Some of the national projects are already falling into the hands of modernists, and this is arousing some to the danger of institutionalism. The simplicity of the Bible pattern is always evident in the New Testament, and some give this book special study each year, so there are more and more people ready to stand among their brethren with a hand of warning raised. Others will see and hear and learn.

The words "liberal" and "conservative" are used to identify the two parties. These words do identify. It is true that they are indefinite, and so the degree of liberalism is not indicated when reference is thus made. If one knows a better way to convey the truth, let him announced.

There are many good men who think they are liberal that are certainly not fit subjects for the liberal camp. Some of these good men are elders in churches that may give twenty-five dollars to some benevolent society each fifth Sunday, but if they were taken away from the home county where they have always lived and were located near the meeting house of some big sponsoring church that has gone all the way into the concept of church supported entertainment and institutions they would be very unhappy at once. It is hard for these good men to think that anything known as a Church of Christ camp, a Church of Christ school, or anything sponsored by a church of Christ could be wrong. They overlook the fact that there is wrong on the surface. The sponsoring church is an unscriptural idea in the first place, and the church is not in the schooling or camping business in the second place. Churches are not to give to anything that sends its messengers out soliciting its millions of dollars. Do you know of any way warnings could be put into the hands of these good men before they lead the churches to the point of no return on the road to digression?

June 1969