The Inevitable Extremes of False Assumptions
Ronald G. Mosby
Valley Station Kentucky
The apostle Paul labored more abundantly than all others in an effort to preach the gospel to the Corinthians, and the record tells us that he was successful in his efforts (l Cor. 15:10, 11). The Corinthians l believed the apostle's preaching and both received and stood in l the gospel which he had delivered unto I them. When Paul preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, they believed it! But later, somebody put the notion into their thinking that there was no resurrection of the dead! Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15 and sets forth the inevitable extremes of such a false assumption. (Read the 10 terrible facts that would be the result of such reasoning, if such an assumption were true--vs. 13-19, 29-32).
The Corinthian brethren were guilty of adopting the doctrine of "no resurrection" without realizing the terrible consequences of such a doctrine on the gospel which the apostle had labored so abundantly to proclaim. We can rejoice with the apostle that his letter did much good even to the restoring of his confidence in them in all matters (2 Cor. 7:16)
There are yet brethren today in 1963, who like the Corinthians, have adopted false assumptions, which, when carried to their logical conclusions, will inevitably result in some extreme positions which they will not be willing to accept.
The particular assumption that I have in mind is the erroneous doctrine, "that whatever good work the individual Christian can do with the money in his pocket, the church as God's divine organization can do with the money in the treasury." When you ask a direct question, this doctrine is not readily admitted by many who have espoused it, but nevertheless, it is the inevitable extreme of their beliefs and practices.
One preacher in the area told me that Galatians 6:10 is the authority for a congregation with money from its treasury to work good, any good, toward all men, any men, whether they be Christians or not. The practice he was trying to justify was that of congregations from their treasuries building, maintaining, or supporting benevolent institutions and calling these good works according to the Bible. If preachers can pervert such passages as Gal. 6:10; Titus 2:1; and James 1:27 in an effort to prove such assumptions as the above, then anyone could take the same passages and prove that the church can perform any good work--but can they?? Let us see.
Now since the scriptures furnish us unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:17), let us confine our attention to only those things the Bible classifies as good works and view the inevitable extremes of the false assumption, viz. "that anything the individual Christian can do the church can do."
First of all, let's note four (4) examples from just one verse of scripture. The Bible specifically classifies the works mentioned in this verse as good works. The passage is
1 Tim. 5:10. Here we find a listing of the kind of good works that must characterize a widow who is being considered by the church for permanent relief.
(1) "... if she hath brought up children ..." Is it the responsibility of the elders of the church with money from the treasury to bring up your children and mine? If the church can do any good work the individual Christian can do, then why wouldn't it be their responsibility? In an effort to justify the false assumption made on Gal. 6:10, some have been heard to cry, "But Paul wrote the letter to the churches of Galatia, not to individuals!" Very well then, we can say that Paul also wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus and therefore 6:1-4 applies to the church as a whole as well as to individuals in the church. Therefore, I can divide the care of my children with the elders of the church and thereby relieve myself at least partially of what I had always thought was my exclusive responsibility! When my little girl wants a new doll I'll just call the elders and ask them to buy her one, especially since they have more money in the treasury than I have in my pocket. Brethren, that's the inevitable extreme of such a position. Are you ready to go that far? One holding such a position cannot consistently confute this argument. In fact, some probably wouldn't even want to try since another preacher here in town told me, "anything that would 'cement relationships' probably would be all right."
(2) "... if she has used hospitality to strangers..." Can the church with money from its treasury build and maintain a motel along side the meeting house and erect a large sign directing tourists (strangers) to come on in and lodge with them--free of charge? Remember, the Bible calls "lodging strangers" a good work, and if the church from its treasury can do any good work that an individual Christian can do, then how can we refuse, Brethren? You cannot say the church is in the "motel business" because the services it renders are without charge. We could call this a part of our benevolent work. And, to work in a little evangelism, we could leave tracts all over the room with phone numbers to call, so if our strangers were not too sleepy after watching eur free TV (a useful item to cement relationships) maybe we could drop by and teach them. Are you ready to accept this inevitable extreme? Can you confute this and be consistent with the aforementioned false assumption?
(3) "...if she hath washed the saints feet..." How many times have our brethren contended with our "Foot-Washing Baptist" friends over the fact that washing feet is classified as an INDIVIDUAL act of hospitality and was never practiced in the services of the church? But now, since the church can do ANY good work that an individual Christian can do, how are you going to answer your Baptist friends who insist on this? Shall we start washing feet in the assembly next Lord's day? Remember, the Bible, not I, classifies washing feet as a good work, and if the church can do any good work, we no longer can be consistent in condemning the practice of our Baptist friends on this point! Brethren, are you ready for the inevitable extreme of washing feet in the assembly?
(4) "...if she hath relieved the afflicted..." If the church from its treasury can do any good work, here is the passage that should be used to justify the church relieving ALL the afflicted, not Gal. 6:10! Here the context is definitely concerned with benevolent acts, while Gal. 6:10 has no reference to any sort of benevolence from anything we can read in the context. It is indeed strange that brethren have never been known to use this passage in 1 Tim. 5:10 in an effort to justify the practice of churches from their treasuries building and maintaining human benevolent organizations for the purpose of doing their work! Why? It couldn't be because the passage is not specific enough. Perhaps it might be TOO specific and would prove too much! Therefore, it would be wiser, for promoting anti-scriptural purposes, to find a more obscure passage like Gal. 6:10 where one can be more at liberty to stretch its meaning without being found out!
Another objection by one of the preachers mentioned above is this: "Just because the Bible mentions in nine (9) cases that the church specifically relieved only the saints, we cannot just throw Gal. 6:10 out of the Bible." For one to interpret many SPECIFIC passages in light of a GENERAE one is to err. Even this has an inevitable extreme which would be undesirable.
Take, for example, the fact that the contribution taken upon the first day of the week in 1 Cor. 16:1, 2 was used solely for benevolence. Add with this the fact that churches also spent money for evangelism (2 Cor. 11:8--Wages," is the Greek word, "opsonion," which was a stipulated salary). Then consider the fact that there is no example for how the church got its money to do evangelistic work. Since the Bible is silent, and since some of my progressive minded (?) brethren are adopting the same old cry which launched the Christian Church denomination, viz. "where there is silence there is liberty," then let's take a collection upon the fourth day of the week (Wednesday night) and invest it in the best available insurance stock in the world and earmark that money for the work of evangelism. Just because the Bible happens to mention that individuals laid by in store upon the first day of the week to meet a benevolent need, surely no one could scripturally object to a fourth day of the week contribution to be invested in good stock for evangelistic purposes! Look at how much good we could do with all the dividends. The Lutheran de- nomination in- Rantoul, Illinois 7got rich with this idea and rapidly was able to build over a $200,000 plant with carillons and all. And, if we can invade the silence of God's word this far, we can also build and sell apartments like our brethren in Manhattan! And, if we could go this far, we could charge a small fee for our motel accommodations (mentioned above), provided of course, that we use all proceeds strictly for evangelistic purposes, because we wouldn't want to violate the passage which tells us how to get money for benevolence!
Brethren, this could go on and on and there would never be an end to it. What we all need is to have a greater respect for the authority of the scriptures! One brother said that some of these things would probably be all right if the elders deemed it wise! It's high time that brethren were learning that elders are not the "Keepers of Orthodoxy," neither are they infallible guides. They have not one bit of Legislative or Judicial power when it comes to the word of God. Jesus Christ through his word and only through his word is both the LEGISLATOR and the JUDGE. The apostles and the host of Christians who followed them are only EXECUTORS of the will of God. Even when the apostles bound or loosed anything on earth they first received the impulse to do so from heaven above ("...shall have already been bound..." literally -- Mt. 16:19). Unthinking brethren even in the beginning followed elders beyond what is written, in matters they deemed wise, even into the Catholic Church! (Acts 20:30). It's past time that we held the line for what the Bible teaches, no more--no less, and stop this following the false assumptions of elders, preachers, or any others who will lead us into the inevitable extremes of error, thereby robbing us of our rewards to the damning of our souls.
Truth Magazine Vol.7, Page 8-9, 24