By Lindsay A. Allen
The January 5th Times Daily of Florence, Alabama featured an extended article under the caption, “Churches of Christ Tackling National Campaign. ” The campaign entitled “One Nation Under God” is a $17 million evangelistic campaign under the oversight of the elders of the Sycamore Church of Christ, Cookeville, TN, with David Burke, a deacon, as national chairman. The purpose of this national campaign is to evangelize the U.S. through massive mailing, TV, radio, and simultaneous area gospel meetings throughout the nation. This massive mailing will be the largest in U.S. history except the U.S. Government, even surpassing that of the 1990 census. “Churches of Christ in the Shoals are playing a significant role with at least fifty churches in Lauderdale and Colbert counties involved who have pledged $1 million. One church has pledged $12,000 a year for ten years. Methodist and Baptist churches over the nation have given financial support.”
This plan begs for divine authority. After more than sixty years of Bible study, this writer has never read in the Scriptures anything that remotely resembles this project. If there is such Scripture, it is welcome and will be printed in this paper. Those who have conjured this monstrosity are among those who, years ago, pleaded for institutions to care for orphans. Those who opposed such efforts sounded a warning that once the door was opened there would be no end to the additions and innovations. They were warned that the spirit of apostasy is subtle and stubborn and does not relent until it has completely corrupted God’s plan. The above scheme is but one example of the evil fruit of departure from the word of God. It is a national evangelistic campaign of churches of Christ with national headquarters and over seen by the elders of one congregation! Can you believe it? Honestly, brethren, where was the Bible when you envisioned this “campaign”? If this plan is scriptural for one time for one nation, why would it not be scriptural for all nations for all time? Why not make it a permanent arrangement whereby all churches would turn their evangelistic responsibilities over to one congregation with each church supplying the funds?
Strange, indeed, that little is learned from history either divine or secular. There is need, not only to read the Scriptures, but also the history of the churches of Christ in the 19th century. “One Nation Under God,” aside from being unscriptural, is impractical and extravagant both in time and money. $17 million would support eighty preachers for five years at a salary of $40,000 a year. Think what eighty could accomplish in that length of time.
Another very distressing feature of this arrangement is fellowship with denominations. This strongly suggests that someone has not been preaching a full gospel with the proper “reproving and rebuking.” One could not imagine the enemies of Jesus and Paul offering financial support. Still another disturbing factor about this whole affair is that fifty churches of Christ in the Shoals, with the elders and preachers, are deeply involved in this national project. Brethren, all of us should take a good look at the landscape. We have drifted. Rome is not far away. This article is brought to a close with a brief look at the New Testament church as it is revealed in the Scriptures.
Each local church was completely autonomous and independent of every other church. Each church, under its elders, planned and executed its own work. Elders had no authority beyond the local church. No church planned a work beyond its ability and solicited funds from other churches. No church acted as an agent for another church. There were no “sponsoring” or “receiving” churches. Each church sustained the same responsibility for preaching the gospel according to its ability. Did the churches cooperate? Yes. When each congregation preached the same gospel for the same purpose, the saving of souls and glorifying God, there was complete cooperation. There was cooperation without centralization. The results were amazing. The gospel was preached to the whole world in one generation (Col. 1:23). The same things can be done today when the New Testament plan is faithfully followed.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, p. 403
July 4, 1991