By Rod E. Cogdill
The Catholic Church grew out of an organizing. of the churches. In the debate between Harper and Tant in Lufkin, Texas, on the Herald of Truth, J. Early Arceneaux, veteran preacher and Bible scholar, wrote a note to Yater Tant, when Harper contended that the Herald of Truth was not another organization, reminding him that the apostasy that grew into the Roman Catholic Church was brought about not by forming another organization outside of the church, but rather by an organizing of the churches.
The apostasy in the Nineteenth Century that resulted in the development of the Christian Church denomination began with an organizing of the churches but grew into a giant organization outside of the church-The United Christian Missionary Society.
No Bible Authority for Church Supported Human Societies
The same thing is wrong with some benevolent societies today, such as Boles Home, Ontario Children’s Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, etc., that is wrong with the Missionary Society. Many brethren do not know, however, what is wrong with the Missionary Society. Some of them do not know or believe that it is wrong. J. D. Thomas, for example, of Abilene Christian College Bible Department and School of Religion, states in his book, We Be Brethren, that there is nothing wrong with the principle of the Missionary Society, but it is wrong because it usurps authority over the churches that support it. Of course, the Missionary Society president denies that the society controls the churches at all. The orphan homes, the Herald of Truth, and the colleges like Abilene and Pepperdine, deny that they control the churches, but they control all of them that they can, and would destroy the rest if they could. But it is not the control of the churches that makes them wrong as church institutions. They are wrong because there is no Bible authority for their existence as church institutions.
Men like Gayle Oler have tried every device they could manufacture to satisfy the minds of the brethren and keep them supporting the benevolent society of which he is the head. He used to argue that such institutions are “Kingdom business,” the work of the church, and should be supported by the church. Guy N. Woods has affirmed six or seven times “The scriptures authorize the churches of Christ to build and maintain such benevolent organizations as Boles Home.” He has had the support of Gayle Oler and others in such work. But, out of the other side of their mouths, these same men contend that such institutions as Boles Homes are not church institutions, but “Homes” and are not part of the church. They are insincere one time or the other, and deceitful in their contentions, for both could not be true. The fact is, as we have pointed out in previous articles, they are not “homes” in any sense of the word, so far as the organization itself is concerned, but benevolent societies maintaining asylums or institutions to care for children and they are supported and function as church institutions. They have no scriptural right to exist in such status. There is no scriptural authority for the church to build, maintain, or do its work, through human societies.
It is immaterial whether such institutions are under a board of directors or under a brotherhood eldership. They are unscriptural either way and cannot be justified. The church has an obligation in the field of benevolence, but whatever that obligation is, it cannot be fulfilled through human societies. God specified an organization through which the church is to accomplish its mission and that organization is the local church with its elders. The local churches did their own benevolence without any human organization outside of the church organization within the churches. Each church took care of its own destitute, out of its own resources, and under the supervision of its own elders (Acts 2; 4; 6). When there were more destitute in its membership than the local church could care for, other churches contributed to them to enable them to care for their own. These contributing churches made up their own contribution from their own members, they selected their own messengers-individuals-and sent their contribution by these messengers to the elders of the churches where the need existed (Acts 11:27-30; 2 Cor. 8; 9. 1 Cor. 16:1-4). There were no outside organizations involved in this work in any instance and there was no federation of churches, pooling of resources, or centralizing of authority in any way. What the churches today are doing cannot be defended by the Word of God. These liberal brethren have been challenged to show Bible authority for their Human Institutions. They have not done so, they cannot do so, and they have even quit trying. They have divided the churches of Christ over their unscriptural promotions and now choose no longer to try to defend them by the Word of God and think it more profitable to ignore all opposition. This is the course of sectarianism. They are becoming another distinct denominational movement in the world and will take their place among those who no longer profess to “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”
Truth Magazine XIX: 55, pp. 875-876
December 4, 1975