By Larry Ray Hafley
The article below is by Bill Jackson. It is entitled, “Some Say A Get-Together For Food Is Not Fellowship.”
Those brethren who call themselves “noninstitutional” are quite steadfast in the position that we, the rest of their brethren, are liberals of the rankest sort in calling our meals together “fellowship.” In fact, they’d have a collapse of much of their system if they admitted the meal/fellowship connection. Here is one instance of creating a doctrine, promoting a doctrine, fostering division by a doctrine, and then refusing to notice some of God’s Word for fear that the doctrine would be disturbed. Here is an item or two:
(1) Clearly, the early church had such meals, called in Jude 12 “love feasts.” All material we can find on this indicates it was a fellowship meal for the saints, with the poor among the saints included, though they could not provide any of the food items.
(2) Most significant is the fact that when Paul was instructing on dealing with the fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5, in the commands that all recognize meant a withdrawal of fellowship, he said “with such a one, no, not to eat” (v. 11). If participating in a meal together is not fellowship, then why, in teaching to withhold fellowship, did Paul forbid eating with the offender? The point should be clear.
“Fellowship” is joint-participation, communion, sharing, etc., and has dozens of applications. Having a meal together is one form of fellowship!
Brother Jackson constructs his straw man and attacks it. Hitting a “blocking dummy” on the practice field is one thing, but blocking a genuine opponent is quite another. Bill sets up his dummy and knocks it over. As we shall see, his dummy will turn on him.
Bill Jackson opposes the building of gymnasiums and Family Life Centers by a local church. He has referred to such actions as a “craze.” However, Bill believes it is scriptural for the church to build, stock and maintain a “fellowship hall” for “A Get-Together,” bridal showers, wedding receptions, etc.
Suppose an advocate for gyms, such as Furman Kearley, editor of the Go$pel Advocate, were to write an article entitled, “Some Say A Get-Together For A Ball Game Is Not Fellowship.” Suppose he said, “Those who call themselves ‘non-recreational’ are quite steadfast in the position that we, the rest of their brethren, are liberals of the rankest sort in calling our ball games together ‘fellowship.’ In fact, they’d have a collapse of much of their system if they admitted the ball game/fellowship connection. Here is one instance of creating a doctrine, promoting a doctrine, and then refusing to notice some of God’s word for fear that the doctrine would be disturbed. Here is an item or two:
“(1) Clearly, the early church had such ball games, called in 1 Corinthians 10:7, ‘play.’ All the material we can find on this indicates that after brethren have a fellowship meal, they rise ‘up to play,’ with the poor among the saints included, though they could not provide any of the game items.
“(2) Most significant is the fact that when Paul was instructing on dealing with the fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5, in the commands that all recognize meant a withdrawal of fellowship, he said ‘not to keep company . . . with such an one.’ If participating in a ball game together is not fellowship, then why could we not continue to ‘keep company’ with the offender? The point should be clear.
“‘Fellowship’ is joint-participation, communion, sharing, etc., and has dozens of applications. Having a ball game together is one form of fellowship!”
Bill needs to hit his dummy again, for it is blocking him. Bill, how would you answer the article above if it were used to authorize the church to build gymnasiums? The ball is in your court, Bill. Your serve.
Social meals do meet the general, dictionary definition of “fellowship.” So do ball games. When a Baptist Church baptizes someone, it is a “baptism,” but it is not scriptural, New Testament baptism. When Christians gather at a park for a picnic, there is “fellowship,” but it is not the fellowship of the New Testament, for “truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3; cf. 1 Cor. 1:9). Bill is correct, though. “‘Fellowship’ . . . has dozens of applications. Having a ball game together is one form of fellowship! ” Therefore, gymnasiums built by the church are scriptural, right brother Bill?
Brother Jackson’s View Of Gymnasiums
No, Bill does not think gyms are scriptural. He has written, “But where, oh where, would one go to in God’s Word and find justification for building a gym, and with the necessary special flooring and all the required equipment for games, etc.?
” . . . By the ‘reasoning’ of some in ‘justifying’ the gym, what is next – a swimming pool? Swimming is one of the best of exercises! How about a golf course? A bowling alley? Why not own a stable of horses, and, thus the members could exercise both themselves and the congregation’s mascots? And, too the riding trails could be planned to circle the golf course, go around the gym, circle the swimming pool and polo field, etc.” (Bill Jackson, “After The Gymnasium, What Then?”).
But if Bill can authorize the church’s building dining rooms and cafeterias because they qualify as “fellowship,” why cannot gymnasiums and Family Life Centers be authorized, since they, too, comprise “one form of fellowship”?
Furthermore, Christians may not only go to the park for a picnic and a soft ball game, they may band together to own a gas station. Since fellowship “is joint-participation . . . and has dozens of applications,” could we say that “having a meal, playing a softball game and operating as gas station are forms of fellowship”: therefore, the local church may build fellowship halls, gymnasiums, Family Life Centers and gas stations? Could we, brother Jackson? If not, why not?
Bill is not opposed to brethren who want to jointly participate and share in the “fellowship” of a gas station. He is not anti-gas station. He just does not believe the church is authorized to own and operate one. Bill is not opposed to brethren who want to jointly participate in ball games and have fellowship while they play. He is not anti-fun and games. He just does not believe the church is authorized to own and operate a park or a gym. So, we are not opposed to brethren who want to share a common meal. We just do not believe the Lord has authorized the church to provide facilities for social meals, picnics, banquets, wedding showers, receptions, etc.
Jude 12 is not the authority for a fellowship hall. It does not mention a church, nor a work of the church, let alone a banquet room or feast provided out of the treasury of the church. But if “fellowship” at a “love feast” justifies a “fellowship hall,” then “fellowship” in a ball game justifies a gym. Brother Bill’s straw man has turned on him again.
Further, 1 Corinthians 5 does say “not to eat” with “such an one.” A meal would cause one “to keep company” with the fornicator. Playing ball with this brother would cause one to “keep company with” him, too. So, ball playing constitutes one form of “fellowship.” Thus, “The point should be clear.” Churches may build gymnasiums? The eating would include regular meals and “love feats” in a “fellowship hall,” but brother Jackson assumes what he must prove, i.e., that the Corinthian church had a “fellowship hall” and that it was authorized. (When the disciples did eat their food “with gladness and singleness of heart,” Luke says they ate it “at home” – Acts 2:46.) Later, to the Corinthians, Paul penned, “What? Have ye not houses to eat and drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not . . . And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come” (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).
The verses above do not support Bill’s banquet and feat rooms, but if they did, remember that a basketball game is “one form of fellowship”; hence, the church may build gyms; softball is “one form of fellowship”; thus, the church may have its own park. Bill Jackson opposes a gym built by the church. In fact, he has said that those who argue for the right of a church to have gym have “taken leave of their senses!” However, his argument for a fellowship hall on the basis that it is “one form of fellowship” will authorize a gym on the very same foundation. Bill, I told you that your blocking dummy would hit back!
If I were one of the liberal athletic supporters contending for a gym, I would feed brother Jackson out of his own spoon. (You can probably find such a spoon in his fellowship hall.) When Bill answers their argument, he will answer himself. That is food for thought. Perhaps Bill will swallow it after he chews on it awhile. Hopefully, he will see the truth and spue the whole thing out of his mouth. Bon Appetite!
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 21, pp. 648-649
November 2, 1989