What Saith The Scripture?
James W. Adams
"Understandest what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30)
A letter from a reader (M.C.M-Texas) poses six questions concerning the issues related to the problem of having kitchens in meeting houses of churches of Christ. We, shall answer all of these questions in one article, hence will ask a question and answer it as we work our way through the fist.
Is it scriptural to spend the Lord's money to provide kitchen facilities for use by the local church?
This question assumes that there is a special class of funds which are peculiarly "the Lord's money?" Some of our institutionally and socially minded brethren have ridiculed this concept contending that all of our money is "the Lord's money." There is a sense in which all we have came from and therefore belongs, to the Lord, and. certainly, the Lord will hold us responsible for our stewardship of these means. Yet, money contributed to the church as an act of devotion to God is "the Lord's money" in a sense in which other money which we possess is not. This is indicated in the case of Ananias and Sapphire. Peter affirms that while the money "remained" (i.e. was in their hands and not as yet contributed) it was their own (Acts 5:14). He, therefore, necessarily implied that, when it was "laid at the apostles feet" (i.e. contributed), it ceased to he theirs and became the Lord's. Our querist, therefore, is right in the assumption noted,
May these funds scripturally be used to build or provide kitchen facilities? The answer to this question depends upon the answer to another; namely, for what purpose are kitchen facilities being provided? It is conceivable that a scriptural benevolent program of a local church might require kitchen facilities. If kitchen facilities are required to perform a task that scripturally falls within the scope of the revealed mission of a local church of Christ, it would certainly be scriptural to provide them with "the Lord's money." A scriptural requirement includes within it everything essential to its performance.
On the other hand, if kitchen facilities are provided for the purpose of implementing a social or recreational program for members of the church and their friends work which no one has yet been able to prove scripturally falls within the scope of the revealed mission of the local church as such, it would be wrong to spend "the Lord's money" to do so. A principle well known in corporation law is: All of the operations of a chartered corporation must be set forth in its charter, and any operation in which it engages which is not thus set forth is an illegal operation. The New Testament is the all-sufficient charter of a New Testament church, hence whatever function is not authorized by the New Testament is an illegal operation for such a church. The New Testament teaches that local churches are to provide for the edification of the saved through worship, teaching, and exhortation (Acts 20:6-11); to provide for the .evangelizing of the lost (Phil. 4:15, 16); and to minister to "the poor among the saints" (1 Cor. 16:1, 2; Acts 6). Some of this is commanded and some of it established by approved apostolic example and necessary inference. There is neither command, approved apostolic example, nor necessary implication to justify a church of Christ engaging in a social or recreational program.
Question: If not, isn't the so-called "multi-purpose" room which many churches use as a kitchen and "fellowship hall" also unscriptural?
Answer: Yes, it is.
Question: If one is a member of a local church which adds kitchen facilities to the building, what alternatives are open to him who believes it is wrong for the church to engage in such activities?
Answer: Exhaust every opportunity which is afforded to teach and exhort the members of that church to cease the unscriptural activity. Having done this, if no correction is made, find somewhere else to worship. (2 Cor. 6:17.)
Question: If trouble should result over the introduction of a kitchen into the affairs of the congregation, who is responsible for the trouble?
Answer: As qualified by my answer to number 1, the person who introduces the kitchen is responsible just as the person who introduces the mechanical instrument into the worship is responsible for the division which occurs as a result of this action.
Question: Have we been 'wrong in charging the denominations with sin for having used these things in the past? What is the difference between "theirs" and "ours?"
Answer: No. None.
Question: If a church can build and equip a kitchen, could it also build and equip a recreation room? Why would it not be just as 8criptuTal to build and equip a gymnasium?
Answer: If a church builds a kitchen for recreational purposes, it is a recreation room. It would be just as scriptural to build a gymnasium. If not, why not?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 31, pp. 7-8