Church Responsibility in The Field of Benevolence
An anonymous discussion pertaining to the extent and limit of the church's responsibility toward needy people.
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."
THIRD AFFIRMATIVE by GRATIS
Adelphos, Editor, and friends: This will be my last affirmative paper inasmuch as we go from this right into the reverse situation of Adelphos being in the affirmative and myself being in the negative. I cannot help but wonder what it will be like to see my opponent in the more difficult position of affirming the proposition, in view of the trouble he has had with the comparatively easy negative side.
I do wish to ask my opponent in the outset of this paper that he be more careful and observing in the future and hold down any unnecessary misrepresentations. For he did misrepresent me several times in his last paper and we will not even try to guess whether it was intentional or not, but, merely ask him to be more careful in the future. An example of such misrepresentation is found in his very first paragraph when he said, "He admitted in his first paper that he didn't involve the church treasury . . ." This is not factual and it seems that with a little investigation Adelphos would have known that it was not factual. I merely anticipated this retort on the part of my opponent and answered it in advance and it has caused him no little discomfort! To prove this is a church obligation is, in itself, to involve the church treasury!
He would like to involve me in a long quibble about the meaning of certain words. He tries to make out that I am disagreeing with the dictionary in my use of the word "freedom." However, I call to his attention and to yours, dear reader, that it is Adelphos, not Gratis, who disagrees with even his own quotation from Webster! He quoted the dictionary as saying that freedom is "a very general term." Now I agree with this! But my opponent does not. He thinks it is a very "specific term." In this he has erred.
He asks the absurd question, "It is possible for the physical needs of worldly people to become 'more pressing' than proclaiming the gospel ... ?" The answer, of course is no. He wants to know (if I answer no) how we can then have the 'freedom' to take any of the Lord's money to help the needy out of the church until every sinner has been converted. Well, this question would apply with equal force to the matter of caring for needy saints. Acts 6:1-4 clearly shows that the Word of God is more important! So Adelphos has gained nothing by his question, since he believes the church is to care for needy saints.
In spite of the fact that I have given the verse: "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), and, in spite of the fact that I have shown clearly that it was directed to the church, (Gal. 1:2), my opponent still "insists" that I give him such a scripture. We were afraid that maybe he would not be willing to accept the proof of our proposition even when it was presented and he has proved this time and time again.
Now the matter of raising money by a bake sale! We are not discussing what private business a brother may enter. We are talking about what an individual or a church may do to "promote New Testament Christianity." Adelphos thinks it would be alright for the sisters in the congregation to bake pies, cookies, and cakes, and the men in the congregation could rent the lobby of some hotel downtown and put up a sign that the proceeds from the sale of these things will go to the building fund of the church where he preaches! Now that is exactly the position he has taken on the subject and I would condemn it as being digressive and I KNOW that some of his own buddies would jump him about it too. And if he really believes this, I challenge him to prove it by trying it where he preaches and see what happens! And the fact that he says that "we are doing it as individuals, not as a church" would not make a particle bit of difference and he knows it! And he thinks that I am whipped on this point!
Behold, I thought, that surely my opponent would understand my use of the passage in Matthew but it seems that I must go into a long, drawn-out explanation to show him all about it. Naturally, if there were no other scriptures in the New Testament which prove that the church should help needy non-members then Matt. 5:43-48 would not prove anything on this matter. But since there are other such scriptures, the principle set forth in Matt. 5:43-48 may be used without doing violence to the Word of God.
Let us make it clear that I have made no argument whatsoever on whether the church helping needy non-members "will (or will not) enhance the possibility of the whole world's needy receiving aid." And all that Adelphos has had to say on this has been completely out of order. He is trying to get over on the affirmative side of the discussion where he is supposed to be next month. I am not obligated to answer his affirmative matters until he gets there. Let him bring it up later if he wants to do so.
He wants me to enlarge on what I said about "going off the deep end" in the matter of caring for the world's needy. Well, the very fact the Bible teaches that there are more important tasks for the church to do would imply the possibility that some might place too much emphasis on this if they are not careful. This is all I meant by what I said.
Next we have a dissertation about pronouns that are singular and pronouns that are plural ! This is supposed to over-throw my argument that pronouns are used in reference to the church and therefore we cannot tell by the pronouns whether the church as such or the individual is meant! The fact is that pronouns (both singular and plural) are used in the New Testament in reference to the church and my honorable opponent has STILL not told us HOW we may KNOW in any given passage whether the church or the individual is meant! And we are beginning to think that he does not know! We refer the reader to Phil. 4:15.
He thinks I am straining I Thess. 1:3 to show that the church is to "love." But he was very emphatic in his first paper to state the Bible teaches us by example, approved example. Now does it, or doesn't it, Adelphos? Is this an approved example of the Thessalonian church showing "love," or not, Adelphos? And while you are dealing with this, will you also explain Rev. 2:19 which mentions the "charity" of the church. It seems that Adelphos knows that if the Bible teaches the church as such to manifest "love" he has lost the debate; that he has failed to successfully deny the proposition. This is the only reason in the world why he would take such an untenable position as this. Indeed, necessity was the mother of this invention! This, no doubt, is also why he dropped like a "hot potato" the matter of the church being commanded to be honest when the individuals in it are commanded to be honest, when we were discussing the 13th chapter of Romans! How about this, Adelphos, if the church is commanded to be honest when the individuals in it are told to be honest, then, is not the church commanded to "love" when the individuals in it are told to "love thy neighbor as thyself"? Actually, if one follows my opponents reasoning very closely, it would not be necessary to produce ANY scripture which states the church as such is to care for the needy non-members. All it would be necessary to do to uphold my proposition (according to his own logic) would be to produce the scriptures where individuals are told to do it.
Adelphos thinks he has me over a barrel on the matter of what I said about Gal. 3 :26-27 having been done by the Galatians as individuals. But notice that I did not say that the church can do anything the individual can do to become a child of God! I said the church can do anything the individual can do to promote New Testament Christianity! There is a difference, you know. Adelphos seems to think that there can be no difference between telling the Galatians what they had done to become Christians and what they are to do as Christians.
Of course, any scripture which refers to the church as such as having any part of the human body is figurative in its nature. Adelphos is quick to jump at something when he thinks he can get an advantage-even by quibbling. However, is we have both pointed out, the church does all that it does through the individuals in it. The ears of the church are the ears of the individuals in it, and, the heart(s) of the church is the heart(s) of the individuals in it, and my opponent is forced either to the conclusion that the church as such may in harmony with the scriptures care for the needy of the world, or else, he is forced to the conclusion that the church as such can do nothing at all! This latter position we think he sort of wanted to take earlier but for some reason he hesitated. We do not know why, although we wonder about it. But, if he wants to take the latter alternative, let him develop it fully in his first affirmative so that we shall have plenty of time to discuss it back and forth. We feel that he must definitely take one or the other position and shall insist that he do so early in his affirmative.
Just what "point" my friendly opponent wanted to make on Acts 12:5 was not clear, but we do know that he made no effort to explain the church action in this verse, which we called upon him to do.
It amazes me how far Adelphos can stray from the point under consideration. He said I Thess. 5:14-15 could not refer to church action because it would have the feebleminded comforting themselves and the weak supporting themselves and etc. I asked how he knew that the feebleminded who were to be comforted and the weak who were to be supported were all members of the church, and he replies that it would have to be my position that they were since I maintain that the epistle was written to the church! This is absurd. The people who were to do the "comforting and the supporting , ' were members of the church, yes, but this is not to say that the ones receiving this aid were necessarily in the church! My opponent's whole refutation of my I Thess. 5:14-15 argument rests on this quibble, however, for this is his only negative argument on the passage!
"Gratis admits he did not deal with the part of Jas. 2 that deals with the issue." This is another misrepresentation. I admitted nothing like this. I said I dealt with the part which deals with being merciful on one hand and being a respecter of persons on the other -- AND THIS IS THE ISSUE! I think I emphasized that the readers should study the whole chapter. By the way, will my opponent tell us what Thayer says the word "sunagoge" means in Jas. 2:2?
Again I wish to remark that Adelphos would be better off if he were to reply to what I say rather than to what he wishes I had said. It is always easier to reply to a straw man.
My opponent says with emphasis, "The church is obligated to help needy saints. It is a collective obligation." May I ask, Adelphos, just for the record, where is the scripture for the above statement?
Now he doesn't like too well what I said about the "legal loop-hole" but nevertheless that is just what it is. He said that if a woman were a member of the church and her disabled husband were not, the church could help her and give her a lot more than was necessary for her own support so that she could share it with her husband and children. Thus, he has the church helping the needy non-member in this indirect way. Therefore, indirectly, he has admitted that he has signed a false proposition to affirm next. May we ask, Adelphos, if there are other such "loop-holes" which will permit the church to help the needy nonmembers? This is interesting and we would like to know more about it. If the man in the example were on1y a brother in the flesh to the woman who was a Christian, could the church still give her more than enough so that she could share with her unbelieving brother? And, if this brother who believed not happened to be married and lived next door with his wife and children, could the church give this sister enough and some over so that she could share with her disabled brother and his family who live next door? Tell us all about this in your next paper, Adelphos! And what about ORPHANS! Will you take the position that the church has no obligation in the care of orphans? What "loophole" permits the care of these little non-members from the treasury?
Adelphos continues to evade the direct question, "how may we know in any given passage whether the church as such or the individual is meant?" We call to the readers attention that IF Adelphos knew the answer, he would not permit us to continually press him to the point of embarrassment! Please, Adelphos, will you tell us plainly just how we may know?
Over and again he misrepresents me as having admitted failure, but, he could not find the quotation in any of my papers to save his soul.
He wants to know which is more important: preaching the gospel or caring for the needy. Well, obviously, preaching the gospel is more important just as the soul is more important than the body, but, this does not mean that we can let either job go undone!
He says that the Thessalonians manifested love from their individual minds and hearts. And he says if I concede that this is so, I lose my argument. But such does not follow! For I have contended from the very beginning that EVERYTHING the church does, it does through INDIVIDUALS, but this still does not militate against the fact that the Bible represents the church as such as doing some things. (Acts 11:22, Acts 12:5, Phil. 4:15 and I Thess. 1:13.) Which things we called upon Adelphos to explain and he dodged by asking, "Why should I explain Phil. 4:15, 1 do not deny that the church is to support the preaching of the gospel." Well, it just so happens that this is not the point we wanted to bring out. Adelphos would do well to answer my arguments instead of wondering "why" I want them answered!
The following is another classic example of gross misrepresentation, "Thus he says the church has freedom and right to build a youth center for the needy supplied with a fully equipped gym and playing field." I neither said this nor anything that could be twisted into something like it! His questions did not reveal any weakness in my position, but, my answers showed the weakness of his questions. Especially number fifteen!
Here is something real great . . . "Gratis condemned every church in the N.T. as being like publicans regarding help for the needy." ... "yet no man ever read of any N. T. church doing so" . . . (caring for needy non-members). In this he sounds like a "oneness holiness" challenging us to produce the scripture that says that any apostle ever baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost. I have shown where New Testament churches were C0MMANDED to support needy non-members as they had opportunity, Gal. 6:10. Now for my opponent to challenge me to show where they ever DID it is ambiguous reasoning.
Adelphos complains because something I said led him to believe "if you need physical help it is easier to get it from the church treasury if you are not a Christian according to Gratis!" My answer to this is that in view of this, my opponent would also argue that if you want to fellowship a Christian it is easier to do so when you are not a church member than it is when you are a member of the church according to I Cor. 5:9-13. You see Adelphos' negative argument is not so damaging after all.
It is difficult to follow my opponent's reasoning on the matter of "circumcision" in view of his negative position on this proposition. He said, "If members of the church did good unto all men it could be said that the church was practicing Paul's command.- BUT HE HAS SIGNED A PROPOSITION DENYING THAT THE CHURCH CAN OBEY PAUL'S COMMAND IN GAL. 6:10!
Again he misrepresents me by making out that I said that all the churches of Galatia had fallen from grace. I said no such thing. He asked if all the churches of Gal. 5:4 had fallen from grace, and I said yes! This verse talks about going back and trying to, be justified by the Old Law, and every CHURCH or INDIVIDUAL who tries it has fallen from grace. This is a far cry from saying what he tried to make me say. Please be more careful, Adelphos!
He says the questions he asked and the answers I gave do not look very good when seen together and he is right-they do not look good so far as his position is concerned, when see together. But why did he not have something to say about his question and my reply on the church taking communion?
Now ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has boldly denied that the church as such can love. We are persuaded that he did not take this position by choice but we believe that he was crowded into it. Realizing that he is beginning to feel the force of this matter, we have decided to let him wrestle the discussion to its conclusion upon the following argument:
Major Premise: The New Testament teaches the church as such to "love" . . . Gal. 1:2 and 5:14, 1 Thess. 1:1-3 and Rev. 2:18-19, 2 Cor. 8:24.
Minor Premise: And "love" means to care for the needy, even among non-members ... Gal. 6:10, 1 Thess. 5:14-15 and I Thess. 3:12-13, Matt. 5:43-48.
Conclusion: Therefore, the New Testament teaches the church as such to care for needy non-members.
The opposition must show that either the first or second premise is untrue, or, that the conclusion does not follow. In the event that he cannot do either of these successfully, my proposition is then proved to be scripturally correct, But let me caution you to demand in your own mind that he do so successfully, not just make a weak attempt to do so as has been characteristic of his rebuttal so far.
I want to say that I have enjoyed the discussion very much and I pray God that much good may come from it. May my worthy opponent deal honestly and fairly with this concluding affirmative paper.-Gratis.
THIRD NEGATIVE by Adelphos Dzeton Alethinon
Bro. Gratis, the editorial staff of TRUTH, and readers: This paper is the concluding portion of the discussion of this proposition. We are disappointed in Gratis' attitude in the latter portion of this discussion, and in the lack of new arguments after the first paper.
First now, we will deal with the accusations of misrepresentation in order that you, the reader, may judge. Gratis says I misrepresented him when I mentioned his admission of not involving the church treasury. Notice the third paragraph from the end of his first paper. He anticipated this very objection and gave a paragraph telling what he would do if I made it. When I made it he forgot what he was going to do and says I misrepresented him. Even now he says, "I merely anticipated this retort on the part of my opponent and answered it in advance.- He answered it in advance if I made it, but now that I made it he charges "misrepresentation.- Reader, you be the judge.
Again, he says I misrepresented him by pointing to his admitted failure to deal with the portion of James 2 that deals with the issue. Hear him: "On the matter of James 2:1-26, he said I did not stress the part that deals with benevolence. MAYBE NOT SO MUCH, but I did deal with the part which referred to being a respecter of Persons and not being merciful . . ." (Emphasis mine, ADA) I did not misrepresent him. Now he reminds us of his dealing "with the part which deals with being merciful on one hand and being a respecter of Persons on the other," and says, "and this IS the issue!" I should have said Gratis did not deal with the part that dealt with the issue because he did not yet know what is the issue! He thinks the issue has to do with mercy and respect of persons instead of the church and its work in benevolence. If mercy and respect of persons is the issue, why do you suppose he did not deal with my question on that subject? Is God a respecter of persons because He will not save those who are not saints? Are we respecting persons if we do good "especially to them who are of the household of faith?"
He was shocked that I would "misrepresent" him as saying "the church has 'freedom and right' to build a youth center for the needy supplied with a fully equipped gym and playing field." Note his answer to this question: Is the church restricted in doing good to all men other than by opportunity and by a decision that it "feels able.' He says,"This is answered under number one above." Number one said, "This is limited by (a) opportunity, (b) ability, (c) the preference of more important tasks which fall upon the church to do." His answer indicates nothing to keep the church from doing what was mentioned, unless it could not help the needy. His argument said what we noted.
Finally, notice this last accusation of misrepresentation. "He misrepresents me by making out that I said that till the churches of Galatia had fallen from grace. I said no such thing. He asked if all the churches of Gal. 5:4 had fallen from grace, and I said yes! This verse talks about going back and trying to be justified by the Old Law, and every CHURCH or INDIVIDUAL who tries it has fallen from grace!" He must mean some of the churches of Galatia were not trying to go back to the law; just those of Gal. 5:4. However, he still insists the whosoever of Gal: 5:4 does refer to some churches-those who try to go to the law. In other words, he asks us to believe that whosoever means some churches, for he says all the churches intended by Paul had fallen from grace. Reader, I plead with you that you read this context, as well as that of Gal. 6:10, and determine whether this passage can be even remotely considered as applicable to the church as such.
Gratis tried to get around his trouble with the word "freedom" by saying I disagreed with my own quotation because Webster says freedom is "a very general term" and that I think "It is a very 'specific term'." Notice Webster gives two extremes that may be implied by freedom-one is "total absence of restraint, and the other is "an unawareness of being hampered in any way." He also gives as his first definition the meaning of "Liberation from restraint." That "general term" at either extreme and right in the middle involves that which is the exact opposite of Webster's definition of authorized. What is even more important, it is opposite the scriptural picture of authority.
Gratis says "the physical needs of worldly people" can never become more pressing than preaching the gospel, and "obviously, preaching the gospel is more important than caring for the needy of the world," yet he signed a proposition affirming the church is authorized to do that which is less pressing and less important, to the extent of its ability. He has never told us how the church is guided in making the decision of when to leave the more pressing task of preaching to perform the less important one of caring for the needy. His comment on this question applying to the car of needy saints misses the mark completely. The church does not have " ' freedom and right" in its responsibility to care for needy saints. The scriptures give the law on that matter.
The only way we will ever be able to determine whether Gratis' fears were right about my failure to accept proof when presented will be for him to find some real proof. His "proof" consists of the fact that Gal. 1:2 shows the letter was written to churches and that Gal. 6:10 says Christians are to "do good unto all men." Therefore, he says, the church in the collective sense has "freedom and right" to do what individuals, or the church in the distributive sense, are commanded to do. You will remember he did not want to make it a command to the church that she must do. She has "freedom and right" to do as she pleases. Logic demands that this passage would thus also give the church "freedom and right" to refuse to care for those "who are of the household of faith," if the church's "freedom and right" be involved in the passage at all. As we have stressed before, this is a command of the Lord to individuals found in a letter written to churches. It is a broad command-do good -involving distributive action and not collective action. Gratis' argument from it would permit the church to engage in any activity that produces any good.
Gratis tried to confuse the issue on the bake sale by talking about "private business" a brother may enter, thus implying he would oppose the church entering a business. By his own argument, Gal. 6:10 would give the church "freedom and right" to enter any honorable business if it would do good to any man. Some brethren now have the church engaged in business because they think it is doing good to someone. Gratis either affirms they have this "freedom and right," or denies a business could do good to men. He talked of renting a hotel lobby for a bake sale and putting up a sign to advertise its purpose. Reader, what do you suppose Gratis would say if we left the sign down ? What scripture would forbid me renting the hotel lobby, having the bake sale, giving all profit for the work of the church, but having no sign to advertise my purpose? Gratis has said the church can do that if I can. I think it possible to find some "buddies" who wouldn't "jump me" for doing that. Gratis, will your "buddies jump you" now for advocating the church can do it?
Gratis says if no other scriptures in the N.T. proved the church should help needy nonmembers, "Matt. 5:43-48 would not prove anything on this matter." How would that work with another passage like Rom. 6:3-5 on the "mode" of baptism? Does Acts 20:7 prove anything about the time of observance of the Lord's Supper? There are brethren close to denying it limits observance of the Supper to the Lord's day. Maybe Gratis has the "Proof" they are seeking. We can't stretch Matt. 5:43-48 to cover collective church action. It states a command for individuals establishing a principle for them to follow. Regardless of what other passages do, or do not say, it teaches the same thing. That this does not make the church responsible for all the world's needy is evident because the church is limited in helping even faithful Christians, and forbidden to help those who are being disciplined. I Tim. 5:3-16 and 2 Thess. 3:10-11.
Gratis never did tell us how a church could "go off the deep end" in the matter of caring for the world's needy. He just says they may place too much emphasis on this, but has affirmed since the first page of his first paper that a church has the "freedom and right" to emphasize this to the extent of its ability. We still wonder how we would "go off the deep end" on it.
Notice this quotation: "My honorable Opponent has still not told us how we may know in any given passage whether the CHURCH or the INDIVIDUAL is meant!" I said, "we may distinguish in any given passage whether the individual Christian or the church 'as such' is meant" if we will "read it and see whether it speaks of and to individuals, or the church as a body." Notice the word church in Phil. 4:15. I have never evaded the question, and found nothing embarrassing about Gratis' refusal to consider the answer. The context helps a lot, and Gal. 3:26-27 proved Gratis knows how to distinguish the difference himself.
We noted that in the same sentence in I Thess. 1:3-4 where "work of Faith, and labour of love" are mentioned Paul talks of their "election of God." If this passage is an example of church faith and love, it must also be an example of election of the church "as such." Should Gratis find a passage that teaches the church to love, he has not "won" the debate. Next he must show that love always necessitates material help, and that forces him to conclude the church "as such" must hate some brethren-2 Thess. 3:10-11 and I Tim. 5:3-16. He introduces at this point Rev. 2:19 and wants it explained. Rev. 2:19 mentions "charity" in the message to the angel of the church at Thyatira. Evidently he thinks this must be church charity. But if so, the verse also talks of church "faith" and "patience." Again his "proof" proves too much to prove anything.
Adelphos did not "drop" the matter of the church being honest. He answered the argument in his first negative. Since Gratis was content to leave it, so did I. Christians must be honest, love, work with their hands, do good unto all men, etc. The church doesn't take collective action in every individual charge.
Gratis has confused our positions on church action and individual action. His words are: "Actually, if one follows my opponents reasoning very closely, it would not be necessary to produce ANY scripture which states the church as such is to care for the needy nonmembers. A11 it would be necessary to do to uphold my proposition (according to his own logic would be to produce the scriptures where individuals are told to do it." But that is his position exactly. He has not produced ANY scripture which states the church as such is to (or did, ADA) care for the needy non-members." He has produced passages where individuals are told to do so, and thus argued the church "as such" has "freedom and right" to because, he says, "the church can do anything the individual can do to promote New Testament Christianity." His statement regarding his proposition is true only if one admits the church acts when individuals act. That is his position.
Gratis introduced Mt. 5:43-48 as proof the church must love and emphasized Matt. 5:45 as the reason. Later he agreed it was not to the church but to individuals. He said Galatians was to churches and asked when Paul quit writing to churches. I mentioned Gal. 3:26-27 and 5:4 so Gratis would see individual instruction in the book. Gratis conceded the point by saying Gal. 3:26-27 was to the church collectively, but told what they did as individuals. That is my position on such passages as Gal. 6:10. My point on Gal. 3:26-27 had nothing to do with people becoming Christians, but was to force him to admit part of Galatians was speaking to individuals. He did this as noted above.
Again Gratis confuses two terms by saying the church does all that it does THROUGH the individuals in it." (Emphasis mine, ADA.) That is a far cry from what he has really presented by arguing that the church does everything that the individuals in it do. I never had a desire to, and, regardless of how much he insists, I shall not take the position the church can do nothing at all.
Gratis stressed how sure he was that I Thess. 5:14-15 was to the church, but when I reminded him of his position he said, "this is not to say the ones receiving this aid were necessarily in the church!" Notice the passage says, "warn the unruly' and even "see that none render evil for evil unto any man." Now if this is church action, and the church is to "warn the unruly" and "see that none render evil for evil unto any man," and some are not Christians we may need a police force! Gratis could just as logically argue this "authorized" the church to have a police force and operate jails as to take church action in the other things. That is no problem if we say "is authorized" means we have "freedom and right" to do so if we want to and are able.
If Gratis wants Thayer's definition of sunagoge in the discussion, let him give it. I noted James 2:2 had no bearing on this issue. Passages showing collective obligation to needy saints have been noted, such as I Tim. 5 :3-16.
According to Gratis I said "if a woman were a member of the church and her disabled husband were not, the church could help her and give her a lot more than was necessary for her own support so that she could share it with her husband and children." I really said, "The church helps the needy saint, who must provide for his own and must have ENOUGH temporal things to do so. The church is not giving more than enough when it furnishes that which is NECESSARY."
Gratis says I dodged explaining Phil. 4:15 by showing that I believe the church is to support the preaching of the gospel as this verse says Philippi did. He says, "it just so happens that this is not the point we wanted to bring out." In the very last portion of his second paper he made reference to the church "as such" doing many things. He called upon me to explain certain passages, including Phil. 4:15. He has not yet made an argument on Phil. 4:15. We could not answer a point that he never made. We have indicated throughout that we recognize the scriptures teach certain collective church actions. Phil. 4:15 has nothing to do with our discussion unless Gratis makes an argument from it.
Gratis' reasoning in the paragraph where he "compliments" (?) me by mentioning a "oneness holiness" is absurd. He found a passage that said Christians (individuals) were to do good unto all men as they had opportunity and says 'it is ambiguous reasoning" for me to ask for evidence that the church "as such" did it. He compares that to demanding a passage stating the apostles baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is they were commanded. We were not asking for a passage stating churches acted when individuals were commanded. In view of Gratis' statement on authorization this is certainly in order. Even if the church had been commanded to care for the needy, Gratis' argument would give "freedom and right" to do so if she wants to, but it wouldn't mean she had to. He is the one who would require an example to prove God's commands were practiced. If Gratis finds the command for church action we will not ask for examples to prove she must.
Gratis has done as so many are doing. He confuses "fellowship" and association at meal time. I Cor. 5:9-13 authorizes the withdrawal of our close companionship from an erring brother in a last effort to cause him to heed the truth. It not only is not easier "to fellowship a Christian . . . when you are not a church member than it is when you are but real fellowship is impossible between a Christian and an unbeliever. Read I Cor. 15:33 and 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
Gratis said, "He has signed a proposition denying that the church can obey Paul's command in Gal. 6:10!" I said, "just as surely as Gal. 3:26-27 is written to them COLLECTIVELY but telling them what they did as INDIVIDUALS, even so Gal. 6:10 is written them COLLECTIVELY and is TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO AS INDIVIDUALS." The proposition doesn't involve Gal. 6:10, for the collective church is not involved there. Individuals must obey that command.
I am willing to leave all the "legal loopholes" Paul left regarding the particular responsibility of a Christian toward his own, and the church's responsibility to help the Christian if necessary. The "loop-hole" Gratis tried to establish to give church "freedom and right" without legal authority is closed.
Gratis' answer to my question asking for a command to the church "as such" to observe the Lord's Supper was to cite Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 11:23-26. One is an account of individuals coming together for that purpose, and the other is a record of the institution of that Supper containing commands to individuals.
Gratis, I try never to take a religious "Position by choice!" If one does he is very apt to he prejudiced by that choice to the point of ignoring God's will. When we let God's revealed will "crowd" us into a position we are never in danger when we take it. I was crowded' into my "position" by God's word.
Now to Gratis' syllogism. In his major premise he has begged the question by assuming what he needs to prove. He still has to find the teaching for the church "as such" to love. We have noted his passages do not prove it. His minor premise does not follow for he admitted 2 Thess. 3:10-11 mentioned needy men that the church must not help. Therefore, by his own arguments, this is an instance where love does not "mean to care ' for the needy, even among" members, or else he "takes the position," the church must love worldly people but has "freedom and right" to refuse to love erring Christians. No syllogism proves anything when neither major nor minor premise will stand!
This has been a summation of Gratis' arguments in the debate. Let me remind you that Gratis was to give scripture to show the church was authorized, not given "freedom and right" to do what it wants to, but authorized to care for the needy of the world to the extent of its ability. No command, statement of fact, approved example, or necessary inference has been cited to give the church "as such" his authority. The position is not in the Bible. Thank you for your patient reading and study, and we hope to see you next month with the other proposition.-Adelphos.
Truth Magazine II:2, pp. 4-12