By Donald P. Ames
(Editor’s Note: The following article written by Don Ames is published in reply to Brother Roy Cogdill’s request for help in defending the Akin Foundation. Brother Ames wrote me shortly after the article appeared regarding the fact that Brother Cogdill had requested that churches help in the legal defense of the Akin Foundation. When Brother Cogdill first submitted his article, I was reluctant to publish it because I did not want to get Cogdill Foundation tied in with the Akin Foundation in any way, especially since the Akin Foundation was presently under investigation and some of the Board members of that Foundation were also Board members of Cogdill Foundation. I did not catch the statement that Brother Cogdill made requesting that churches contribute to the legal defense fund for Akin Foundation until Brother Ames called it to my attention. I say this in spite of the fact that I read the articles which are printed in Truth Magazine several times before they are published. I just missed it.
At that time, I requested that Brother Ames correspond with Brother Cogdill to try to get the matter straightened out. As the article will continue to explain, Brother Cogdill believes that his statement is defensible and Brother Ames does not. Consequently, Brother Ames requested that I publish his response to Brother Cogdill, which I gladly will do.
I have been reluctant to make any comment about this matter for several reasons. First of all, I know so little about the Akin Foundation that I felt that I would be speaking with too little information should I say anything. Secondly, l have more than a little confidence in Brother Cogdill. Inasmuch as he knows the Akin Foundation better than I and is opposed to institutionalism, I did not believe he would consciously involve the church in institutionalism. Nevertheless, he is human and errs. Consequently, the cautions which brethren have sounded regarding our respect for other brethren blinding us to statements they make is something that needs to always be reiterated. Thirdly, so far as I know, not one church has contributed one dime to Brother Cogdill to tide legal defense of the Akin Foundation. This makes the discussion which follows more a matter of principle than a matter of practical application. Consequently, I have been hesitant to make any comment about this matter.
I guess that I now need to make a statement of my doctrinal convictions about the matter. I shall speak with reference to Cogdill Foundation rather than with reference to the Akin Foundation because I know more about the Cogdill Foundation than I do the Akin Foundation. I believe that it would be sinful for churches to make donations to Cogdill Foundation, as does every member of our Board of Directors, including Brother Cogdill. I do not believe that churches could make donations toward a legal defense of anything with which Cogdill Foundation may become involved without becoming guilty of sin; the Board of Directors, including Brother Cogdill, feels exactly the same way.
If the Akin Foundation is parallel in all essential respects to the Cogdill Foundation, my conclusions are the same with reference to it. It would certainly clarify the matter if someone associated with the Akin Foundation would let us know a little more about its organization, purpose, etc. Personally, I have enough questions in my mind that I could not conscientiously recommend that any church send any money for its legal defense. On the other hand, if the Foundation should be able to be legally defended, those who care enough about it should rally to its aid individually.
Furthermore, I resent the implications made by some among us that there has been a “cover-up” of sorts with reference to this matter. If there was any effort at “cover-up,” I am not aware of it. Some have been making wild charges without investigating the matter to see what is going on before making them. Frankly, I would prefer that some make a little more effort to believe the best about their fellow man than being guilty of evil surmising. With these statements having been made, I hope that the matter is laid to rest.)
In both the April 1, 1977 issue of the Gospel Guardian and the July 28, 1977 issue of Truth Magazine, Brother Roy E. Cogdill had an article regarding the Akin Foundation and the possibility of a successful defense of the continued use of those funds by faithful brethren. I have no quarrel with his efforts along that line and, if he is successful in. that defense (which now seems at least a little more hopeful, according to a note in Vanguard, 10-13-77), I will be among those rejoicing in his efforts, even though I have never been a recipient of any funds from the Akin Foundation and do not foresee any occasion for becoming such.
Likewise, in this article, I am not interested in seeking to determine who has been at fault in the dispute over the handling of the Akin Foundation funds. Frankly, I do not have adequate information to determine accurately who did what or who is at blame. This, those involved in it and with more information than I have, will have to determine. Those guilty (on whichever side) will have to answer for their deeds — if not in this life, in the life hereafter — whether right or wrong.
But, what does bother me was the closing remarks of Brother Cogdill’s article referred to above. Here he stated, “Those of you who through the years have been supported by and have participated in its help, what will you do to help preserve it — both churches and individuals (emp. mine-DPA) are urged to respond.” Having already written several letters to Brother Cogdill about this statement, and as time is marching on, I feel it important to express my convictions about this
statement, and let Brothel Cogdill make whatever reply he may wish to my remarks.
First of all, I do not believe churches have any scriptural justification at all to become involved in the defense of the Akin Foundation! Hence, for them to do so would be, I believe, a sin. If I am in error in this conclusion, I welcome the proof from the word of God wherein I have erred.
Let us take a look at exactly what is involved. The Akin Foundation is a “private religious foundation” (so recognized by Rother Cogdill also in his letter of 9-13-77)! The money, under the control of the board of that “private religious foundation,” may well eventually be distributed to various faithful congregations as the board so determines. However, until the time of such distribution, the funds are strictly those of the Foundation; no church or churches have any right whatsoever to dictate how those funds are to be used. This being so, where is the scriptural justification for churches to contribute to the defense of a “private religious foundation”– be it the Akin Foundation, an orphan home, or the Cogdill Foundation? If there is scriptural justification for such, I have failed to find it; and, in light of 2 John 9, I contend that to do so would be a misuse of the Lord’s money by those churches so involved.
In his letter to me of September 13, 1977, Brother Cogdill offered the following as justification for “a congregation making a contribution toward a fund to compensate a lawyer for performing legal services for a righteous cause”:
(l) Drawing up a deed for a church for church property.
(2) Clearing the title to church property.
(3) Defending the tide to church property against trespassers.
(4) Prosecuting those who vasdaiaae or disturb the use d church property for proper purposes.
(5) Seeking an injunction against resurgent individuals who interrupt or seek to prevent the proper functioning of the church or in rebellion against the elders of the church in functioning in their proper authority.
(6) Defending the church against a slander or libel suit brought by a member withdrawn from.
(7) Etc., etc.
Without even questioning these points, the fact remains there is no parallel between this argument and what is involved in churches contributing to the defense of the Akin Foundation. One involves the action of one congregation in defense of its right to work and function; the other involves the right of many churches to contribute to a lawyer in defense of a fund belonging to a “private religious foundation.” The very closest one could come in making a parallel would be to assign the funds of this “private religious foundation” to all the churches of. Christ! (And, in so doing, remember the same logic can be applied to the Cogdill Foundation, an orphan home, or whatever else may be slipped in under the same cover!) Hence, one could then activate the church universal to come to the defense of “its” fund. Then, all local congregations would be obligated to contribute for the preservation of this fund belonging to the church universal, on the same basis of logic one church would be called upon to defend its own property. If not, why not? This logic is a renunciation of the very principles of church activities and oversight versus the activation of the church universal concept that we have, battled with our liberal and apostate brethren over the past 140 years.
I wish Brother Cogdill success in his defense of the continued use of the funds of the Akin Foundation by faithful brethren — but not under those terms! I hope various individuals who have been benefitted by the Akin Foundation will aid him in the expenses of such a legal defence. However, I do not believe Brother Cogdill has fully thought through the implications of his statement in his zeal to defend what he deems a worthy cause — or else he did not actually mean what he said in his article. I therefore urge him to pause, think if over, and retract his statement. I also urge congregations to pause and think for themselves before coming to the aid of a “private religious foundation” to hire a lawyer for $90 per hour to defend its fund, even if the board of that “private religious foundation” might someday designate a portion of that fund to some specific congregation!
If the church itself is placed in such a position that we must violate the word of God to maintain control of the funds of a “private religious foundation” for our existence, then my advise is let the funds go! I hope we never become so dependent upon any “private religious foundation” that the word of God is compromised in order to preserve the operation of that “private religious foundation”! Nor that we ever allow our love and respect for the dedication, of any faithful brother ever to become such we do not have the courage to call a careless statement into question.
Truth Magazine XXII: 2, pp. 43-44
January 12, 1978