Fellowship with Unscriptural Worship

O. C. Birdwell
Columbia, Tennessee

When worship that is without New Testament authority is offered to God, one who is concerned with his being accepted by God will not participate. If a congregation were to insist on burning incense as worship, since this is not found in the New Testament, one would have to sever his fellowship with such a church.

In this every person is responsible. One cannot rightfully say, "I just attend and have nothing to do with what is done in worship." If a person is a part of a local church, he is involved in what is done. Some say, "If the elders decide to do it, I have no right to object." This is not so. Elders have no right to do anything without New Testament authority. They are accepted by the congregation as overseers because of their qualifications. Acting without authority from Christ is one thing that will disqualify them. When elders, or anyone else, insist upon that which is not scriptural, they should be dealt with as a teacher of false doctrine. See Romans 16:17.

Fellowship with Unscriptural Work

Unscriptural congregational work is just as wrong as unauthorized worship. Over the past twenty-five years churches have gradually moved toward institutionalism. Special effort was made before to get the college in church budgets, but because of strong and scriptural opposition by dedicated men the effort failed, with a few exceptions.

The proponents, however, did not give up. Now, a large number have either changed their Position and joined forces or are remaining silent on the subject. Recently, Batsell Barrett Baxter made a public appeal for donations from churches to be made to David Lipscomb College. Also, a few days back, we received a letter from the Office of the Director of Development at Freed Hardeman College from which the following quotation is taken:

"As one of a thousand churches being asked to contribute $100.00 between now and January 1, 1972, you will be joining forces with other interested congregations in the furthering of the great cause of Christian education at Freed-Hardeman."

Until recent years most of the supporters of Freed-Hardeman College took the position that the college is a private human institution not to be supported by churches. Many said it was a business enterprise that might be supported by and used by parents in teaching and training their children. These brethren were right then, and that is still the truth today.

Opinions That Are Sometimes Heard

In view of the current efforts to get church donations for colleges, there are several opinions often expressed.

(1) Sometimes one will say, "I do not believe churches are donating to colleges or that colleges are soliciting such donations." Now friend, if this is your opinion, you accuse these people of lying about the matter. They say if you donate you will be "joining forces with other interested congregations."

(2) Others say, "As long as they teach the Bible, it is all right." Such support of colleges makes the local church no more than a fund raising arrangement, collecting money to be sent to human institutions to do the teaching God organized the local church to do. Is the organization God gave the church not sufficient to do the work authorized? What about church donations to a missionary society? As brother C. M. Pullias once said, "If you say they make the church more efficient, I answer that man can, then, improve upon what God has made. This I deny. The Lord had a purpose in making the church. He made it to fill a place and do a work and, therefore, it is adequate to such."

(3) Still others say, "I am opposed to it, but if the elders donate from the treasury, I can do nothing about it." You have the same obligation here that you would have if the elders injected burning incense into the worship. If they will not stop, you cannot have fellowship in the work of the congregation. The idea that members of a church have no say in the worship and work will lead to all manner of unscriptural innovations with members who are conscientiously opposed being left without recourse.

(4) There may be some who would say, "You are just prejudiced and opposed to the existence of such schools." I will give you the facts and you can judge for yourself about this. I attended two private schools where the Bible was taught daily. My oldest daughter graduated from Florida College, which is such a school. My oldest son is now enrolled in Florida College. Friend, I am not opposed to the existence of such schools. I am opposed to their being tied on to the church as indigent relatives to be maintained and supported by donations from the treasuries of local churches.

The letter from Freed-Hardeman College9 already referred to, also says, "In order that Freed-Hardeman College may continue to function in the role for whence it has endeared itself to the brotherhood, it is necessary that interested congregations be informed of the ways and means at their disposal in which they can continue to support the good work of Christian education."

To this may I say that if Freed-Hardeman College or any other school, cannot stand as a private business enterprise, but has to receive donations from churches for its existence, let it die the death. And if it continues to insist on church donations, the sooner the better!

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 14, pp. 5-6
February 10, 1972