Church Responsibility In The Field Of Benevolence
An anonymous discussion pertaining to the extent and limit of the church's responsibility toward needy people.
"The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to care for the world's needy to the extent of its ability."
Denying: ADELPHOS DZETON ALETHINON
"The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized, in the field of benevolence, only to care for needy saints (brethren)."
Affirming: ADELPHOS DZETON ALETHINON
There will be three exchanges on each proposition. This means that both an affirmative and a negative article will appear on ihe pages of TRUTH Magazine for the next six months. The disputants will remain, at least for the duration of the discussion, anonymous. They are known only to the editors of this magazine.
RESOLVED: "The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to care for the world's needy, to the extent of its ability."
Unknown opponent, respected Editor, and friends and readers of the TRUTH magazine: it is my pleasure at this time to start what I believe will be a most interesting and profitable discussion of the subject that is outlined in the above proposition. The proposition is simple and to the point and needs little explanation from me.
When I say that the "scriptures teach" I always mean that such teaching is found somewhere within the pages of the Holy Bible and that it may be directly stated, necessarily implied or found in principle therein. "The church," of course, means the only church mentioned in the Bible which is in existence today, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. "From its treasury" means the store-house of financial funds which have been collected upon the first day of the week and in most cases deposited in a local bank under the church's name! "Is authorized" means to me that she is given the freedom and the right to do so should the opportunity arise and should she feel able to do such as the proposition states. By "care" I mean that the church is given the right to provide funds whereby these needy may purchase the necessities of life, or, that the church may purchase the needed items from her treasury and supplv them to the needy. By "care for the world's needy" I mean that the church is authorized to do this by the scriptures regardless of whether or not the object of such charity is a Christian! "To the extent of its ability" is merely a qualification to prevent any quibble that either my opponent or some reader might bring up about the church not being able to care for the whole world! We all recognize, I think, that there are many other things which are to be done with the money in the treasury of the church, and therefore it could not ALL be spent for benevolence. In short, the proposition simply means the church can help those needy who are not members.
In the very outset I want to make it clear that my opponent in denying this proposition is trying to place the church in the same position as the publicans who were severely criticized by Jesus Christ in the sermon on the mount. Read Matthew 5:43-48: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. FOR IF YE LOVE THEM WHICH LOVE YOU, WHAT REWARD HAVE YE? DO NOT EVEN THE PUBLICANS THE SAME ? AND IF YE SALUTE YOUR BRETHREN ONLY, WHAT DO YE MORE THAN OTHERS? DO NOT EVEN THE PUBLICANS SO? BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT, EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT." I want to ask my opponent if the church can do what Christ commands in verse 44? Jesus says "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to, them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Now, friends, it is my position in this discussion that these words, "love, bless, do good, and pray" necessarilv infer that we would care for the needs of our enemies. We do this in spite of the fact that they are enemies and not because of it!
But I would like for the readers and my opponent to further note the reason why we are to so do: "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." This is verse 45. Will my opponent tell us that the church is prohibited from doing that which God would do? This scripture states that God permits the sun to rise on men whether they are doing His will or not. It teaches that God will not refuse the blessed rays of the sun's light to those who are rebellious and disobedient, even to those who militantly fight against Him. Shall we, His children then refuse to provide that which the sun helps us obtain even to our enemies? No, the passage under consideration tells us to do as our Father in heaven has done. He sends rain on those in the church and out of the church. He causes the sun to rise on those in the church and those out of the church. The sun and the rain thus given by God causes the sinner's garden to grow and produce. The food finally reaches his table and feeds his family, because God is a kind and loving and merciful Heavenly Father. Let my opponent answer: ARE WE TO BE LIKE GOD IN THIS RESPECT OR UNLIKE HIM? WHAT DOES MATTHEW 5:44-45 TEACH US TO DO? WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VERSE 48? Now I am not through with this passage but I shall leave it for now.
I go next to Romans chapter 13 and verses seven to ten. "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." May we ask the opposition if the church is bound by this commandment to love? If he says, "not the church as such" then, let him tell us where the scriptures teach that the church as such is to love! But, if he admits that the church is thus commanded to love by Romans 13:7-10, then, he has virtually surrendered the proposition! For "love worketh no ill to his neighbor," love would not withhold that which is needful in time of distress. The passage under consideration certainly teaches that the Christian will not let his debts go unpaid if he loves his neighbor. But, how about the church? May the church "as such" let her debts go unpaid ? Is she not obligated to pay her debts? If she is, tell us which scripture so teaches? Will Romans 13:7-10 do it? If not, which passage does? And, if she is not obligated to pay her debts, forever keep it a secret from the world for I fear they will not any longer extend their credit to my brethren when they want to build a building or improve their old one or do some other good work!
But if Romans 13 teaches that a church "as such" must pay her debts, then does it not likewise teach that the church must "love" and not work any "ill" to her neighbors? If a man whose wife was a Christian were to suddenly become ill and disabled so that he could not earn daily bread, should the church feed, clothe and otherwise take care of the woman but let her husband and children suffer because they are not in the church? Would this be working "ill" to a neighbor? What about it? I am taking the position that Romans 13:7-10 teaches that the church is to love and that this love includes the sharing of the necessities of life as well as paying our debts!
Let us notice now the book of Galatians. In chapter one and verse two, Paul addresses the epistle "unto the churches of Galatia", so let there be no doubt as to whether the things found therein apply to the church or not! Galatians 5:14 says, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." If there has ever been any doubt in the reader's mind that the injunction, "love thy neighbor" applies to the church, this should dispel all such doubts. Paul writes to the "churches of Galatia" and tells them to "love thy neighbor"! But does this love actually mean that we are to feed and clothe them when in need and otherwise do them good ? Let us see. "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal. 6:10. Yes, Paul is still writing unto the "churches of Galatia." If my opponent says he is not, let him tell us when he stopped his writing to the churches! But the verse says, "do good unto all." Lest some get the idea that Paul meant "all" in the church, he clearly states "especially unto them who are of the household of faith." This latter quotation explains plainly that the first quotation was not meant to be confined only to the church! When brethren confine their "doing good" to the members of the church only, they are clearly disobeying Paul's command to the church in Galatians 6:10! The expression "do good" means to, help in time of need. It means to feed them when they cannot feed themselves. It means to clothe them when they are unable to clothe themselves. It means to doctor them when they are unable to provide their own medical care. It means to share God's blessings with them, even as God Himself is willing to do, Matthew 5:44-45.
But Paul did not only teach this to the Galatians, he taught it in "every place." To the Thessalonians he said, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, AND TOWARD ALL MEN, even as we do toward you: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." I Thess. 3 :12-13. Here Paul did not teach them that they were to be careful not to manifest any love toward a man if he were not a saint, but, he told them to "INCREASE AND ABOUND" in such love! Rather than to quench it they were to INCREASE it! But was the apostle speaking to individuals or to the church "as such"? "Paul, and Silvanus and Timotheus, UNTO THE CHURCH OF THE THESSALONIANS . . ." I Thess. 1:1. My friends, this is an exhortation to the church "as such" if there IS such an exhortation in the Bible! But what does it mean to "increase and abound in love toward all men" ? Does it mean to provide for the needy or to ignore the needy? Does it mean to care for those of this world who are less fortunate or does it mean to excuse ourselves from such on the pretention that we are saints and not allowed as a group to help the needy of the world? Which is love?
But notice that Paul tells the "end" to which all this leads. He says "To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God . . ." Dear brother, may I suggest in all kindness that if your "love" (in the practical sense of that term) is withheld from the people of the world then your heart is not unblameable in holiness before God! NOW WHO IS THE MAN WHO CAN SAY THAT THE SAME THING IS NOT TRUE OF THE CHURCH AS A GROUP?
Paul did not stop with this comment, however, nor shall we. In the last chapter of First Thessalonians and in verses 14 and 15 we have the following words: "Now we exhort you, brethren, (the church, chapter one, verse one,) warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward ALL MEN. See that none render evil for evil unto any man: but ever follow that which is good, BOTH AMONG YOURSELVES, AND TO ALL MEN." Can any man forbid the church to do just what Paul enjoins upon them in this passage? If so, upon what basis and by whose authority? The passage indicates no emergency. It gives no restrictions such as are being taught today by my opponent and others. This was not confined to one congregation but verse 27 implies that it was general . . . "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren."
My next passage is James 2:1-26. Obviously, it would not be wise to give the text in its entirety here. The reader is requested to read the second chapter of the book of James carefully. Read it more carefully than you ever have before! Read the first 13 verses particularly with our proposition in mind. "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons," verse one. "But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?" (The rich of the church, James, or the rich of the world?) "Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called?" (Is it the rich of the church or the rich of the world who do this, James?) "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ve have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." It is clear to me that James is not here speaking of the rich of the church only and if this is true then it is likewise the truth that he is not here speaking of the poor of the church only! Therefore, any poor, in the church or out of the church, are to be cared for under the royal law . . . "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." If the objection is raised that this is all well and good, but, it is to be done individually and not by the church as such, we shall ask for an explanation of why James used the church "as such" in his example! See Jas. 2:2.
And now, my friends as the affirmative writer in this discussion, I have every right to try to anticipate the objections (or some of them) which my opponent will try to lodge against my proposition. Since the exchanges will be few in number, I think I shall attempt to do so at this time. (I) My opponent will doubtless agree with most of the comments which I have made upon the scriptures contained in this first paper, but, he will try to show that these things apply only to individual Christians and not to the church "as such." He will no doubt attempt to show that individuals must care for the needy of the world out of their own private funds and that such care is not to be taken from the treasury of the church as my proposition affirms. However, if he does, we shall press the matter of Paul writing to the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:2), and Paul's writing to the church of the Thessalonians (I Thess. 1:1 ), and commanding them to do good to all men and to love all men! We shall also expect him to be able to tell us clearly just how we may distinguish in any given passage whether the individual Christian or the church "as such" is meant! Let him show clearly from each of the texts we have used that the individual is meant and that the funds for such care of the needy is to be privately financed and that it is not to be taken from the church treasury.
My opponent may also object: (2) "Gratis has failed to involve the "church treasury," he has only showed that we are to love our neighbors, but he has not shown that funds are allowed to be taken from the treasury of the church to manifest this love." And, if my opponent so objects, we shall merely reply that when we have shown the church is obligated to care for non-Christians who are needy, we have by that same token shown that it is to be done from the church treasury. When an individual is told to love his neighbor it is implied that he is to do so with all his faculties and resources. And, likewise, when the church is commanded to do good to all men, she is thereby authorized to use any and all faculties and resources at her disposal with which to do this good! I shall remind my unknown opponent that very little is said in the New Testament as to what may or may not be done with the money collected into the church treasury and that only certain principles are set forth which the church is to follow in this matter. It is under the heading of one of these principles - do good to all men - that the care of the world's needy out of the church treasury comes!
(3) And mabye the opposition will try to involve me in a difficulty with respect to the church's supporting false teaching if she provides for some needy who are members of some false religion. But if such an attempt is made, we shall expect him to be able to eliminate the individual and yes, God Himself (Matt. 5:45) from the same difficulty!
I now anxiously await my unknown opponent's reply to these things. May he deal with these matters directly, point by point, in a kind and honest fashion. - Gratis.
Brother Gratis, the editorial staff of TRUTH Magazine, and friends who read these discussions: it is with great pleasure that I enter into a discussion and testing of the foregoing proposition. This debate will be exceedingly interesting to all who are in the Lord's body because of the lack of prior discussion of this proposition, and what it involves. To my knowledge there have been no discussions which pin-pointed that which is the real problem in much of the unrest among the Lord's people regarding care of the needy. There is to be a discussion in Chicago that will involve similar propositions, and it will have become history before these first papers go into print. Many of the discussions between brethren along these lines have been conducted with the very thing that needs to be proved having been assumed by at least one party to the discussion. This discussion will be focused on that which is the root of many of our problems.
It was at the request of the editor that this discussion is conducted with the participants remaining anonymous to one another, and I suppose to almost everyone else. This meets with my hearty approval, although I have no reason for being unwilling to reveal my identity, and I am sure Gratis doesn't either. My "pen name" means "a brother seeking truth." I trust that is my goal, as well as Gratis', and all who read these papers. I will be glad for Gratis to call me by my first name to avoid being tedious. I shall try to refrain from referring to him as my opponent, for I hope and pray he is not. I oppose what he affirms but not Gratis.
Since Gratis is in the affirmative it is his duty to get the issue that is between us clearly before you, to prove it by scriptures, to meet all objections that are made to his arguments, to answer questions given in an effort to probe deeper into the results of his affirmations, etc. I am not obligated to affirm anything now; that will come later when we discuss this same issue with I different proposition which I will affirm and Gratis will deny. My obligation now is simply to refute the arguments made by the affirmative, showing why they will not stand to be measured by God's word. It is a God-given responsibility that rests upon each of us in this discussion to agree in all points that stand the searchlight of the scriptures.
Just a few words are now in order concerning Gratis' definition of his proposition. He suggests three ways a thing may be taught by the scriptures: (1) Directly stated; (2) Necessarily implied or (3) Found in principle therein. Let me point out to Gratis, and to you - our readers, that there is no principle found in scripture that is not taught by the scriptures in one of these ways: (I) A statement of fact; (2) A command, either positive or negative; (3) An example, either approved or disapproved; or (4) A necessary implication. Let me appeal to my brother to measure every argument he shall henceforth make by one of these rules. You, dear reader, remember to measure everything said in this written discussion by the scriptures as they teach in one of these ways.
Notice also Gratis' definition of authorized. 'Is authorized' means to me that she is given the freedom and the right to do so should the opportunity arise, and should she feel able to do such as the proposition states." It would be good for Gratis, and every reader, to examine a dictionary for a definition of these three terms: authorized, freedom, and right. Freedom implies an absence of need for authority, while right implies an obedience to law or power given to a person or thing by law. Webster says authorized means, "a. Possessed of, or endowed with, authority. b. Sanctioned or approved by authority." He further states that authority means, "I. Legal or rightful power; a right to command or to act; jurisdiction . . ." Gratis, what we are interested in is the law that gives the church this right. Unless the scriptures teach a thing it is not authorized by them. The church is not free to, nor does it have the right to, do that which the scriptures do not teach it to do. In Gratis' first affirmative there is not one command, statement of fact, approved example, or necessary inference for the church to take money from its treasury to help needy people of hle world. Remember readers, that is what Gratis has affirmed; that such is to be found in the scripture. I ask a question: if such is in the scripture, why not get right to that passage in the beginning? We are going to insist that he bring it forth as soon as possible in his next affirmative.
Gratis' proposition logically, obligates him to show us, not only where the scriptures teach the church to withdraw money from the treasury to help any of the world's needy, but a1so what determines the extent of the ability of the church along this line. He admits the church can't care for all of the needy of the world. However, we do not want to "quibble" about a little thing like determining who is to starve!
We will now take up Gratis' arguments to show that they fail to sustain his proposition. In reality he has made on1y one argument, and then several efforts to sustain that one argument. That argument is as follows, although he did not express it in such a way that it would be quickly noted in a casual perusal of what he said: The church "is authorized" to care for the needy people of the world because there are commandments to disciples of the Lord binding this responsibility upon them as individuals; since the individuals instructed were part of the church, then the church "as such" is thus included in the command. In short, it is the same old argument we have been hearing for some time now: the church can do what the individual can, or the church must do what the individual must do (Gratis is not sure just which of these horns he wants). One time he tells us "is authorized" means the church "is given the freedom and right to do such" if she wants to and thinks she is able, and then points to a commandment given to the Lord's disciples as individuals and tries to bind that on the church "as such." Gratis, when God commands individuals to do something does that mean they are "given the freedom and the right to do so should the opportunity arise," or should thev "Feel able to do such?" If not, then what "principle" gives the church the "freedom and the right" to exercise this liberty with God's commandments?"
Let me call your attention to his statement in point number two of his "anticipations of my objections." "And, likewise, when the church IS C0MMANDED to do good to all men, she is thereby authorized to use any and all faculties and resources (if her disposal with which to do this good!" (Caps mine, Adelphos.) Again, "It's under the heading of one of these principles -- do good to all men - that the care of the world's needy out of the church treasury comes!" Gratis, tell us why the church has "freedom and right" to obey the Lord's commands "if the opportunity arises and should she feel able to do such?" Does everyone have that freedom and right with His commands?
Now let us notice Gratis' five appeals to scriptures. Matthew 5:43-48 is a part of the sermon on the mount, and was spoken long before the church was established - Matt. 16:18. Reader, you are asked to believe this was directed to the church. The church "as such" is not spoken to here any more than in Matt. 7:13, which is a part of the very same sermon. Gratis, was all of the sermon on the mount spoken to the church? If not, how did you learn this was?
It is just as much my position as Gratis' that "we would care for the needs of our enemies." The difference, and reader do not forget that this is the real issue, is simply that I am content to leave the burden of responsibility where the Lord placed it - on the individual - while he insists on binding it upon the church "as such." Making the care of the needy of the world the responsibility of the church does not in any way enhance the possibility of all of them being helped. In contrast to that, it has the tendency of encouraging individuals to shirk their God given responsibility. There is entirely too much emphasis now placed on concentrated group action by the Lord's people, thus giving us an excuse for this shirking. We cry, "It is Corban," Mk. 7:11, and violate God's commands in the personal realm. Then we cry out just as hypocritically as did the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' day against those who will not go beyond what God has written on this subject.
Gratis' arguments from Rom. 13:7-10 are as far from his proposition as Matt. 5. It is another effort to take a passage manifestly directed to individuals and twist it into something to the church. Reader notice these nouns and pronouns in Rom. 13:7-10: man, one another, he, another, thou (six times), thyself, and his. Gratis, do you really believe our readers are so gullible as to think this passage is instruction for church action? I am not nearly ready to surrender my position on that passage. Reader, Gratis is supposed to show that the scriptures teach the church to take money from the treasury to help the needy of the world. This passage does not mention the church or its treasury.
Gal. 5:14 and 6:10 are again efforts to take scriptures that apply to individuals and bind them on the church "as such." I am aware of the stress put by Gratis on the salutation to the "churches of Galatia," and the request he made for me to show when Paul stopped writing to the churches. I will answer by asking a question. Was Paul talking to the churches "as such" in Gal. 3:26-27 ? Was Paul saying, "For ye are all (the churches of Galatia) the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you (the churches of Galatia) as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ ?" Gratis, were the churches of Galatia baptized? If not, how do you know when Paul ceased writing to the "churches of Galatia?"
Who has suggested that "brethren confine their 'doing good' to the members of the church only?" Brethren must do good to all -- not that they just have the freedom and right to if they want to - but brethren may do many things the church cannot, including raising money by a bake sale.
Gratis cannot seem to see how Paul could address a letter to a church in a place and include one thing for the individual. Notice his quotation of I Thess. 3:12-13 : "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, AND TOWARD ALL MEN, even as we do toward you: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." Why do you suppose Gratis did not emphasize these phrases in this passage: "one toward another," "we do toward you," and "your hearts?" Was that one church toward another church, or one church toward another man, Gratis? Who is the we in verse 12 ? Are they churches Paul had membership in? or was that Paul and some other individuals? You notice that Paul just wrote to one church in Thessalonica, I Thess. 1:1, but he talks about establishing their hearts. Gratis' doctrine now gives us many hearts to go with the many religious bodies of our day! Remember Gratis, you said this was to the church.
Gratis continues this misapplication of passages into chapter 5:14-15. Once again we are told this is church action, but that means we have the unruly warning themselves, the feebleminded comforting themselves, the weak supporting themselves, for they are a part of the church. Gratis, do not try to evade the issue. We recognize individual responsibility toward the people of the world but we want a passage that instructs the church to take money from its treasury for benevolent help to them.
The last passage Gratis used was Jas. 2:26, although he sure didn't put any stress on the part of it that dealt with benevolence. He found the word assembly in this book, so he makes the entire second chapter refer to the church. His own arguments used in trying to prove how Galatians and the 1st Thessalonian letter are every word to the church would make it impossible to use this book in his theory. It is addressed to "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." Gratis' arguments on Galatians and I Thess. would mean this could applv only to a Jewish Christian. Maybe this is an epistle of straw! By the way, the word for assembly is not the Greek ekklesia meaning church, but the Greek sunagoge which means any coming together. This word is found 57 times in the N.T. and is translated synagogue 55 times, congregation once (Acts 13:43), and assembly once here. (Young's Anal. Con. 91 of the Index Lexicon to the N.T.) So you see Gratis' big play about the church "as such" in this passage is pretty weak after all.
Gratis wanted you to read the first 13 verses particularly with the proposition in mind. I hope you did, for I am sure you saw they dealt no more with benevolence than with baptism. Now I ask you to read verses 14-16 with the proposition in mind. Isn't it amazing that Gratis just completely passed over those verses in this text that really dealt with the subject under consideration? Note them: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though A MAN say HE hath faith, and have not works? can faith save HIM? If a BROTHER OR SISTER be naked, and destitute of daily food, and ONE OF YOU say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (Emphasis mine, Adelphos.) Friends, does that sound like church action?
Now I have a list of questions for Gratis to answer in his next paper. As the affirmative it is his responsibility to do so. They are:
1. How can we determine how far the church is able to help the needy of the world, and which are to be helped and which to starve?
2. Is there anything in the book of Galatians that is individual instruction? If so, what is an example and how do you know it is?
3. What is the mind and heart of the church from which love springs forth in response to God's command?
4. Is the church restricted in doing good to all men other than by opportunity and by a decision that it "feels able?"
5. Is a church that does not take money from its treasury to help the needy of the world like "publicans?"
6. If the churches are to help the needy of the world that they may be children of the Father (Matt. 5) who are the church's children of Matt. 7:11?
7. Should the church give financial help from its treasury to a brother like those mentioned in II Thess. 3:10?
8. Which of the churches of Galatia were circumcised, and how? Gal. 5:2.
9. Had all of the churches of Gal. 5:4 fallen from grace?
10. In view of your explanation of I Thess. 3:12-13, explain the next 12 verses (4:1-12). What are the hands of 4:11?
11. Does I Thess. 5:23 mean the church has a spirit, soul, and body?
12. Does Rom. 14:12 mean each church will give an account of itself?
13. Who is the transgressor of Jas. 2:9, and are the works of Jas. 2:14 church actions?
14. Can the church "as such" get drunk if some in it abstain completely?
15. Where is the command for the church "as such" to observe the Lord's Supper?
Now we will answer some of Gratis' questions. Matt. 5 :44 was not addressed to the church and the church cannot obey it. The church is often prohibited from doing that 'which God does. We as individuals are to strive to be like God in being good even to our enemies, and Matt. 5:43-48 thus teaches. It does not teach the church "as such" to do anything. Verse 48 stresses God's desire for us to be complete even in this respect. There is no command that binds the church "as such" to love. If the church "as such" lets her debts go unpaid there are some individuals in that church that are dishonest, but it does not mean the whole church is dishonest any more than it would mean the church was drunk if a couple of elders got drunk. The families of the man and woman who are in need of help are first responsible for their well-being, I Tim. 5:3-16. The church may have to help the woman who is the Christian, and she is in turn obligated to help her family, I Tim. 5 :8. Gratis will have answered his own question about Paul writing to the churches of Galatia if he will answer those I asked him. I Thess. 3 :12-13 does not teach care for the needy of the world nor excusing ourselves on "the pretention that we are saints" and cannot help. The church "as such" is not commanded to do anything in I Thess. 5:14-15. Gratis, all you need to do to determine "clearly just how we may distinguish in any given passage whether the individual Christian or the church 'as such' is meant" is to read it and see whether it speaks of and to individuals, or the church as a body.
I did not agree to affirm money "is not to be taken from the church treasury" to support the world's needy. You agreed to affirm. Not one passage you have cited mentions the church or its treasury, much less taking money from the church's treasury to care for the needy of the world. We just want one statement of fact, command, approved example, or necessary inference.
You were right when you realized I would see you had not involved the "church treasury." It was such a glaring failure on your part no one should have failed to see it. Then you say, "if my opponent so objects, we shall merely reply that when we have shown the church is obligated to care for non-Christians who are needy, we have by that same token shown that it is to be done from the church treasury." The key to that is found here: "when we have shown." We are waiting for that WHEN. It would be more accurate if the word when had been changed to if. If Gratis had shown by his arguments that the church "as such" is obligated to care for non-Christians to the extent of its ability there would probably be little reason for us discussing where to get the funds.
Truth Magazine II:5, pp. 4-11