A Reply to a Reply

James R. Cope
Temple Terrace, Florida

The issue is: Florida College, -Inc. what it is and does. I say it is wholly a commercial business enterprise. Brother Williams agrees on the "commercial" but disagrees on the "wholly" because he thinks no cooperative except a local church may rightly "teach" the Bible. He and his elders, however, are inconsistent since they do not practice what they preach as we shall see. Actually, they preach the practice of the 21 men who constitute F.C., Inc., when they say that brethren have "the right to enter the field of higher education which is purely secular as a business enterprise." Logically and morally, then, our brother is obligated to prove F.C. is performing an exclusive function of the church or cease his opposition.

I insist that the church is not in the Bible text and commentary "selling business" while F.C., Inc., is. I reason, therefore, that until a local church begins selling the Biblical text plus human comments, orally or written, or F.C., Inc., begins giving away the text plus comments that these two specific actions will never merge or conflict any more than two parallel lines will displace each other. Though F.C., Inc., sells Bible text and written commentary through individual members of its Bookstore Staff or "Department" in one room and sells the same Bible text and oral commentary through individual members of its Bible staff or "Department" in another room, somehow Brother Williams visualizes a displacement of a local church's work of "teaching the Bible" in the latter room. Here, however, is his error1or he makes a distinction where there is no difference in principle!

I clarify a few points here before moving to more detailed matters. (1) Col. 3:17, l Cor. 10:31 and Rom. 12:17 were not used specifically to "justify this admittedly 'human institution'" as charged but to answer the question: "'Is the Lord glorified or man and human wisdom through such an arrangement?" My point is the moral right of an individual to act with others in a "commercial arrangement". I repeat: God is glorified just as He is glorified when a Christian does anything morally right, e.g., selling Bibles or making tents. Paul glorified God when he made tents and Brother Williams glorifies God when he buys Bibles from or sells them to a Methodist publishing house, a human organization. Does he sin? (2) Respondent asks: "Does bro. Cope wish to argue that a missionary society, supported by individuals and separate from churches, would be all right provided it charged the lost whom it taught?" I don't relish argument with brethren but, if defining "missionary society" as "a group of Christians having the purpose of selling the Biblical text with human comments for a charge," this is what I am here arguing Florida College, Inc. is! Red Bluff church doesn't charge anybody for its Bible courses, does it? Then there must be a difference between Red Bluff collective (church) action and that of the missionary society suggested! Yet Red Bluff church is a missionary society of a kind isn't it? So is Florida College but not of the Red Bluff species in membership, organization or work. (3) Reply on I Tim. 3:15 is in my original "Assumption Without Proof."

Respondent has a "hang up" on the "Bible Department" but departmentalization is not his real trouble for he admits that "if F.C. were strictly a Bible College ... the distinction would be even clearer." He and his kin oppose a group of brethren selling oral comments on the Biblical text under any conditions and this is the issue he must face. Homer Hailey's personal responsibility to God is no different in the school house and the church house in speaking "as oracles of God." Baker Book House pays him for his written comments on the Minor Prophets, Temple Crest church pays him for the same oral comments in its meeting house and Florida College, Inc. pays him for both actions in a school house. Hailey never does more than comment. Hailey's commenting is neither Book House action, F.C. action nor church action yet each employer remunerates Hailey. Strictly speaking, neither a local church nor Florida College, Inc. teaches! Each pays a teacher for his services in the accomplishment of its peculiar mission but when the nature of the missions never converge or conflict their use of the same personnel does not thereby identify the institutions in fact and should not identify them in the mind of saints or sinners. Brother Williams confuses individual action with organizational structure, what with who! They are not the same! Nor can they ever be!

Solomon built three houses besides the "house of the Lord" (I Kg. 7). Because he employed some of the same workmen and materials in building "his own house" that he used in building "the house of the Lord," does it follow that these materials or the workmen displaced "the house of the Lord"., Is a Solomon needed to see the fallacy in such reasoning? So I stick with my statement that "who does a thing does not change the basic nature of the doing itself, i.e., the action." To reach different ends the same person(s) may employ the same means but the use of the same means does not always result in the same end. I ride the same car to a place of worship and to a place of play. Christians may convene to eat their own supper and again to eat the Lord's Supper and eat each supper in their own houses without displacing the Lord's Supper when they eat their own supper. Though the activities involve the same people, place, and a physical act called eating, the purposes differ! No, Brother Hailey does nothing different in his relationship to the Lord and His word in the school room controlled by 21 trustees and in an auditorium controlled by 21 trustees, elders or not. In the "thing taught" no elders or College Board stands between Homer Hailey's conscience and God! You erroneously think "Brother Cope sees a difference" in the "thing done" if by "thing done" you mean the "thing taught." A teacher's personal nature, his mechanics, and the nature of the "thing taught" are the same before both a college class and a church but there is a vast difference between the purposes of the two collectives which pay the teacher for his services. The school is commercial, the church charitable! As argued in my original reply, otherwise consistency demands that each local church must logically translate and distribute its own version of the Bible text!

To help all see the fallacy of respondent's question about placing the Bible Department under elders, we ask: "if the all-Christian Para-medical Staff of Mercy Hospital, Inc., including Red Bluff elder Dr. Torno, were placed within the framework of Red Bluff church, does that not prove that to that extent this hospital is doing a divine work (relieving poor saints) which God has placed upon His church (collectively)?" Now what specific technical action does Dr. Torno perform as a minister of the Red Bluff church toward a needy saint and toward the same saint as a minister, a resident physician, of Mercy Hospital, Inc.? Does Dr. Torno's employer change the doctor's personal accountability to God in the action performed? Is it not proper for the hospital "cooperative" to pay Dr. Torno for his services? When he "changes hats" does this change the basic action performed by him? Individually, Dr. Torno works "heartily unto the Lord" under both employers yet one employer is a human "collectivity" while the other is divine, isn't it? The difference is that the human institution charges for its employee's services while the divine institution gives these services to the needy saint!

Let us test respondent's charge that I "trip" myself by my statement with the hospital analogy: "Who (Mercy Hospital, Inc., or a local church) does a thing (relieves) does not change the basic nature of the doing itself, i.e., the action performed (relieving)." One cannot escape motive or purpose in dealing with either individual or collective activity. When Brother Williams disregards the difference between selling and giving away goods and services he disregards the difference between two actions of two separate organizations though some acts of their employees as individuals may be the same.

And what did our brother say about the "Publishing House-College Parallel"? Not much! And that reluctantly! "It's not easy to unravel that's why I also gave it extra space," he says. Further, "I confess to an incomplete grasp of this particular question, and possible inconsistencies." I ask: why, then, introduce a hazily grasped major argument and leave it dangling even more nebulously? Why say so much original indictment and so little when exposed? His obvious refusal to deal with my "Publishing House-College, Parallel" shows the strength of that analogy. I stake my case on this admission and he ignores it!

How can these brethren talk about "settling" the "question of authority" later in view of Red Bluff's present practice? As unbelievable as it may seem, brethren, they are patronizing the very type organization whose right to exist they deny! Here it is.

Red Bluff elders have placed an order to Truth Magazine, a subsidiary of a human institution (could Truth personnel be parallel to a "Bible department"?) for 125 copies of this Special Issue and are paying a part of its cost of publication. Cogdill Foundation, Inc., structured as is Florida College, Inc. has goods and services for sale, one of which is Truth Magazine comments made by their own preacher Ralph Williams! The identical right they deny to others in preaching they promote in practice!

Unmistakable evidence is before you, dear reader. The Red Bluff elders are using part of the very printed material you now hold in your hand to convince you that Cogdill Foundation, Inc., a human organization which publishes Truth Magazine, has no right before God to do what they are paying it to do! How can it be "scriptural" ("legal," to use their turn on this term) for them collectively or individually to purchase from one human organization of Christians the word of God plus human comments in writing and "unscriptural" ("illegal") to deny parents and/or children the right to purchase the same word of God plus human comments orally and in writing from another human organization -- Florida College, Incorporated?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 44, pp. 30-32
September 16, 1971