They Ask, "Are You 'Anti'?"
Recently a young man came to my study with this question: "Bro. Turner, are you 'Anti'?" He paused, apparently expecting a reply, and when I remained silent he repeated the question "Are Non 'Anti'?"
"You still have to finish your sentence," I said. "I'm afraid I do not know what you are talking about."
"Anti !" he repeated, his voice rising. "You know what 'Anti' is!"
It took several minutes to get a calm consideration of the facts. The word "anti" means "against"-and needs an object. Against WHAT? How can any man know or say he is AGAINST or FOR-when no object is stated?
An honest appraisal of our subject should convince all that the word "anti" is now being used just as it was used by the "instrument and society" digressive brethren-a name of derision, intended to so prejudice the public that a fair hearing will not be given the true issues. The whole church of Christ is still "Anti" to the Christian Church. Fair minded Christians will not speak in this manner.
But now our visitor supplies a few objects. "Are you 'anti' radio-and-TV-preaching?" he asked. My reply is an emphatic, "No!" I have preached via radio and TV, and consider them -along with newspaper articles-excellent means of communication.
Can fair-minded Christians really believe their brethren oppose radio preaching? Shall we rashly accuse,-and stop our ears to reason? Can WE BE BRETHREN by such treatment ?
I am not "anti-mission-work" even though I oppose the pooling of funds from many churches in the treasury of a missionary society. This is one means by which churches form a working unit larger than a single local church, and there is no divine authority for such organizational structure among Christians.
Christian Church members call me "Anti" because I oppose the missionary society. They say I am "against foreign mission work." They err, both in principle and in spirit. I am FOR every mission which God gave the church, here and abroad; and I am FOR a strict adherence to the organizational structure which God gave the church, viz.. each congregation in independent functional unit, working under her own elders, to the extent of her ability. I am FOR God's plan!
When brethren today propose and operate a plan for pooling the funds of many churches under the eders of one church, or in the hands of the directors of a human welfare institution, I must also oppose this. I am NOT anti-TVpreaching , nor anti-benevolences - I AM against any organization church structure that is without divine authority.
"Are you 'Anti-Cooperation'?" our querist continues. Again, we have a question that is "loaded" because of the prejudicial propaganda that has been spread. The Christian Church members will say that the missionary society is but a means of cooperation. The Baptists contend that their "Associations" are but means of cooperation. And now, our brethren!
If the querist means, "Are you opposed to the pooling of resources and adoption of a plan whereby many churches may act as one," the answer is "Yes!" The scriptures recognize no such church structure, and give no elders the right to oversee such a functicn. (I Pet. 5:1-3, Acts 14:23.)
But if the querist means, "Are you opposed to many churches sending aid to a church in need" (a charity case) the answer is "No!" The Scriptures clearly warrant this. (2 Cor. 8:9)
Paul took "alms" to Jerusalem, not "ante" -- (One's proportionate part in a pool.) (Acts 24:17.) He was a "messenger"-not treasurer or overseer of a media through which many churches could act as one. Paul received "wages" from churches. (2 Cor. 11 :8.) We cannot logically defend the pooling of funds for brotherhood projects, by scriptures regarding "wages" and "alms." The pooled fund requires oversight unauthorized in the New Testament.
While prejudicial name-calling, and "strawman" argumentation keeps brethren occupied and confused, the self-appointed brotherhood planning committees move ahead. Church supported colleges, hospitals, etc. are but a beginning. Some make an effort to justify all by claiming their project is simply "helping a church in need" (???) while others have boldly launched into inter-congregational projects.
One brochure for inter-church newspaper ads says, "Any other newspaper advertising done by the churches was on the congregational level and was not of sufficient size-etc." Now tell me, on what other level has God authorized brethren to operate as it functional unit?? Haw we lost faith in God's plan?
Recently a gospel preacher, in a religious journal article, wrote "If our organization is wrong, let us admit our error and change our procedure. I wrote and asked to what organization he referred, and he replied, "My reference to 'our organization' pertains to the organization of the church, with special reference to its manner of effectively and efficiently doing the work of the church throughout the world." No bones about that!!
The identifying characteristics of the church of Christ are divinely appointed. Since the organizational structure of the church falls into this classification, we are not at liberty to supply the plan of our choice. The preacher quoted above openly questioned the "lack of organization and unity among all congregations." A plea for the sufficiency of God's plan did not impress him. Apparently he is a product of the current craze for 'brotherhood projects'-and his ears have been closed to Bible pleas by a simple tool of the Devil-viz., "Brand all who object as Antis."
Now the visitor to my study tries another tack. "is not all this simply a fuss about methods of going and teaching?" The answer is "No!"
"Going" calls for locomotion, and methods of going are: Walk, swim, ride a train, plane boat, etc. There is no issue about methods of going. And "teaching" calls for methods of pedagogy: as discourse, object lessons, use of black-board, etc. There is no issue in these matters; except as they are used to blind brethren to the real problems.
"Method" has a place in the issue only in respect to organizational structure. There are many methods of organizing people into functional units. God's way is to form congregations, - independent functional units, - and there God stops. We go beyond that which is written when we go beyond this. God authorized a treasury, and appointed overseers for this type functional unit ONLY.
I am confident that there are many Christians who want only to "Speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent; "-people who deplore the growing division among saints, and would like for brethren to study the issues calmly, and find true unity upon the sound basis of God's word. The destiny of the church in this generation is in their hands.
But many are victims of institutional propaganda; and do not realize how far this organizational digression has gone. Many have it completely distorted conception of the real issues-some actually believe that those who fight for organizational purity in the church are "against caring for orphans."
And many brethren today have been so frightened by the name "Anti" that they will disown their brothers and sisters in Christ rather than risk being called this "bad name"! Is this love for CH RIST, and TRUTH ???
If you can't answer the argument, call him "Anti!" If you covet their members, call the congregation "Anti!"
MAY GOD HAVE MERCY UPON OUR SOULS.
Truth Magazine III:12, pp. 4-5