By Donald P Ames
Controversy has been raging in Nigeria for some time regarding the “issues” we have been fighting here in America. Although conservative brethren formerly worked well in the Western part of that country, while the liberals dominated the Eastern part, the war there disrupted the whole country and created an air of unrest and independence among the natives there. Following the war, as the brethren there began to take a second look at these things, various efforts were engaged in by the liberals to maintain their grip on the churches, including the creation of a special board for the purpose of barring conservative preachers from entering the country at all for a 2-year preaching trip, as is usually (and was formerly) done there and elsewhere.
As this feeling of unrest grew, many of the native preachers began having second thoughts about the sponsoring church arrangements as well, and our liberal brethren were quick to move to head off trouble in that direction as well. Responding to the growing pressures for direct-support of preachers, on Mar. 11, 1974, J. W. Nicks not only sought the Green Lawn, Texas, brethren to secure additional funds to be used to support preachers, but also urged that support be sent direct to the native preachers rather than through the sponsoring church arrangement to calm down this restlessness. The Texas brethren responded on Mar. 23rd with $4,800.00 and also letters of appeal addressed to “All Nigerian Brethren” to consider the tremendous sacrifices made in their behalf. Note the following comments by Jim Massey in a letter of Mar. 16th:
AI think you also may know that we have had to borrow money, that Brother F. W. Mattox and I have personally borrowed $2400, and right now we don’t see where that’s coming from. The note came due, the loan had to be paid and we went back and we begged at the bank and said let’s borrow it again, so they let us borrow it again. “
Certainly it does not take a lot of reading to see that this statement is meant to draw on the strong sense of obligation felt by many Nigerians for American assistance. Again, let us note the comments made in a letter by Rees Bryant, Mar. 18th:
“Brother Nicks was the first American brother to move to Ibo-land. He helped to establish the Onicha Ngwa Bible Training College. He was its first principal. He trained many of you to preach, and he helped you to establish many of the congregations where you now preach. He has taught many of you `the way more perfectly.’. . . Surely, brother Nicks has not forgotten you.”
But, since the tide seemed to be favoring the direct support of native preachers rather than the sponsoring church arrangement, they quickly decided to go along with it–with a minor catch, of course! “I wouldn’t help you for a minute . . . and we will not have anything to do with supporting any Pharisee or forbidding brother in Nigeria, but if you believe direct support is a way, one of the good ways like other ways are good, then we are willing to help you.” (quoted from letter by Jim Massey). Naturally they felt the growing unrest, so they agreed the direct-support of preachers was “better” at the time. However, rather than surrender their sponsoring-church arrangement altogether, they now seek to weaken the opposition to it by tying a slight catch to any support that is sent. I wonder who has made these “issues” there a test of fellowship? I wonder why this catch, if all can agree that the direct support of preachers is scriptural? (For more details on their efforts to make these issues a test of fellowship, read the article “Immigration Crisis In Nigeria” by Leslie Diestelkamp, Truth Magazine, Mar. 8, 1973).
In a country where money is scarce, the liberals are now using it as a vicious tool, reminding the Nigerians, “You have survived sickness, suffering and starvation” (quoted from letter by Rees Bryant), and if you now accept “our opinion,” we will help you again, but only if you accept “our opinion.” J. W. Nicks went on to point out in a letter to Nigerian brethren that there would be no Nigerian unity in the work unless all conservative brethren repented and recanted (Mar. 23rd). To them, it is all a matter of opinion, but you must accept “their opinion” or there can be no fellowship. Yes, money can indeed be an effective-and vicious-method of coercion.
False And Absurd Charges By Mattox
But, let us note some of the false and utterly absurd charges made about the church here in America by these “loving, honest, Christian gentlemen.” If anything shows the futility of their cause, these certainly do.
(1) F. W. Mattox’s letter of Mar. 18th affirms: “Thirty years ago two American preachers tried to dominate the American Churches by teaching that it was wrong for two or more Congregations to cooperate by putting their money together to expand the Kingdom of God.” It would be very interesting to find out which two brethren Brother Mattox would select to blame this on-he has a mighty big field! Even more interesting is the statement by G. C. Brewer himself in the Gospel Advocate; Aug. 27th, 1953: “In sponsoring a missionary, the church simply underwrites his support. It is therefore, responsible to the missionary for the amount that it. takes for his maintenance, and it is responsible to any brethren, who may be willing to help support the missionary, for the missionary’s soundness, for his Christian character, and for his qualifications as a missionary. This whole idea was born because of a very sad condition that existed in the brotherhood forty or fifty years ago.” And he was defending the system!
(2) Again, “this anti teaching still hinders the work and causes division in America. Fortunately, only 3 to 5 per cent of the American Churches have followed their divisive teaching.” (My wife almost choked on her hot tea when I read that to her). This charge would be downright funny if it were not for the fact such an outright lie is told in a country where they have no means of verifying the truth and is intended to discourage faithful Christians by the shear weight of “numbers” (see Ex. 23:2). If Brother Mattox is sincere (and I can hardly see how with such an absurd statement), I would suggest he take another looks-a figure more like’ 3040 per cent would be more accurate. But, since when did numbers make a thing right or wrong? In the division over the Missionary Society, and the instrument, about 80 or 90 per cent of the church was carried off into digression. Did that make those liberals right?
(3) Further: “In Lubbock, Texas, we have 17 strong congregations of loyal brethren. They have 3 small groups who do not grow, and they do no mission work that we know of.” (It is good he added his latter clause). Of course this smear is to be then applied generally, and is absolutely false. I easily can cite circumstances that are just exactly in reverse. But note only 3-5 per cent affected by “anti” teaching, but 3 out of 20 churches in Lubbock equals 15 per cent there. Oops! Of course he might claim . that he was counting “noses” here, and again statistics can be easily reversed. But, so what?
(4) And then our “loving” brother urges that all who do not bow down to their institutional idol “should be disfellowshipped as factionalists.” Again, who split the log? No wonder they no longer have the courage to defend their false practices-it is now easier to call for a disfellowshipping instead.
And By Jim Massey
Calling all who stand for a “Thus saith the Lord” as merely “Pharisees”‘.and “troublemakers,” Jim Massey then accuses faithful brethren in Nigeria of “binding Diestelkamp’s law, Akime’s law and others’ law.” I wonder what he would have stood on 100 years ago in the division over the instrument and the Missionary’ Society? What do you suppose the digressives would have called him? Do you think they might even have accused him of “binding Lipscomb’s law”? And then; what do you think all that would have proven about the scripturalness of his position? A lot of words, name calling and accusations, and nothing else! A nice tactic when one lacks Bible authority for his practices!
(1) From his letter of Mar. 16th to Nigerian brethren: “They see a big distinction between evangelistic cooperation and that this must be kept separate from benevolent cooperation, that relief must be an entirely different pattern and different way of cooperating than support. You and I know that the Bible does not make this distinction.” Now, first of all, there is no “different way of cooperating” involved. The Bible pattern is that in each case the assistance came direct-to the preacher, and to the elders overseeing the congregation in need. He denies there is any pattern at all. Who says so? Jim Massey. Bible proof? Not offered! Jim Massey has spoken! But try to get them to defend that teaching and to find authority for their sponsoring-church arrangement, and they run like a scared jack-rabbit, denying the Bible gives a pattern or defense of their false teaching either. They are not interested in defending it at all, and I can not blame them.
(2) “Another silly distinction is that God’s commands to all Christians must be kept separate and distinct from His commands to the church. I believe what He commands every member of the church to do He commands the church to do because the church is every member. Isn’t it silly, isn’t it a Pharisaical distinction to say that you must keep separate what God commanded all Christians to do and not let the church do these because there are those commands for the church to do and those, commands for all Christians to do, when really the Bible teaches that the church is all Christians.” Sort of sounds like the answer from the Pharisees in Jn. 7:47-49, doesn’t it’! His proof! “I believe”! Jim Massey has spoken again! Certainly such passages as 1 Tim. 5:16, Acts 5:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, etc., show the unscripturalness of such teaching. No wonder he offered no Bible proof.
(3) “Another silly distinction is that helping saints must be kept clearly distinct from helping non-Christians.” Proof? Try Jim Massey again! He said it was “silly” so that ought to settle it–per him! All he need do is show one Bible example of a church from its treasury helping the needy of the world in general, and he would have an argument from the Bible to go on. I predict the Christian Church will find authority for the instrument to be used in worship first–and I deny it is therefor either of them or we would have heard it long ago: But, Jim Massey has spoken, and all Nigerian brethren should give heed! Jim Massey says to ask for Bible authority is to be “Pharisaical,” and thus wrong. Move over denominationalism-he is well on his way (1 Pet. 3:15)!
These things need to be exposed, not just because of the false and absurd nature of them, but because it reveals the true “nature” of these “loving, Christian gentlemen” when they feel they will not have to face their own words. Also because many in foreign countries have no means of verifying how accurate their statements are, and they are obviously designed to discourage faithful brethren from standing for the truth by deliberate falsehoods regarding the truth here in America.
There are a number of faithful brethren standing for the truth in Nigeria, and we commend them for it. But, it always strikes me interesting to see how liberal brethren can wax so mighty overseas, and then grow so quiet here in America (just like the Pentecostals). I now wonder how well these brethren will like having to see their own words being revealed here as well’? Church supported colleges, orphanages, prisons, hospitals, homes for unwed mothers, Boy Scout troops, recreation, etc. can all be justified by their reasoning used in this article. Do any still believe there is no danger of apostasy?
Truth Magazine, XVIII:50, p. 8-9
October 24, 1974