By Jimmy Tuten
It is regrettable that my reply to Al Diestelkamp did not appear at the same time his reply appeared in print (Vol. 21, No. 20). The fault lies with me. I received Al’s response to my Sunday night communion articles approximately four weeks before I moved to Charleston, South Carolina. When the copy of his reply was received I had already packed my library and all my notes for the move. Two weeks before I moved I was in a good meeting at Beaufort, South Carolina and returned to another in progress at my home congregation where W. L. Wharton was preaching. Following the move to Charleston I was about 10 days getting around to setting up my office and then immediately thereafter I preached a meeting for the Ashley Heights church where I am now preaching. I am just now getting to Brother Diestelkamp’s reply. I am sorry for the unavoidable delay. My original articles on Sunday night communion appeared in Truth Magazine in Volume 21, Nos. 5, 6 and 7.
There are several comments I want to make about Al’s reply. First, in his conclusion he charges me with establishing my position with tradition. I deny this and maintain that my position is Scripturally established as can be seen by reading my three articles on the matter.
Al says, “if those who share Brother Tuten’s conviction insist upon the participation of us who cannot do so in all good conscience, then they will be guilty of causing division.” Frankly, I know of no one who takes the position I take who forces anyone to take part in the Sunday night communion. We simply insist on the right to do what the Lord commanded us to do, i.e., commune on the Lord’s Day. To the contrary, some of those who hold to Al’s position have split at least one church I know of and have refused to let brethren commune on Sunday evening in other places. It is Brother Diestelkamp’s position that causes the division. Let’s put the shoe on the right foot!
Brother Diestelkamp does not like my reference to “the One Assembly Argument” preferring, he says, to call it “the Second Serving” argument. This change may add some emotional appeal but it does not make Al’s position any more Scriptural.
Because I maintain that the communion can be served anytime during the Lord’s Day, Sunday morning and Sunday night, for example, Brother Diestelkamp charges me with holding to a “metropolitan bishop” concept. This simply is not true! I know of a church which holds two services on Sunday morning: Communion is served at both periods. One worship is on a service base for midshipmen. The other is about three hours later at the building. The midshipmen cannot attend worship at the building at 11:00 A.M. This is Al’s “metropolitan bishop” concept and he would deny the young men the right to commune unless they can attend the one assembly where supposedly all are tarrying one for another to commune. If he denies this he has given up his position on communion in one assembly. If he grants the young men the right to commune three hours ahead of the one assembly communion, and the rest to commune at 11:00 A.M., then he cannot deny other brethren the right to commune in the evening. In either case the brethren are simply doing what the Lord commanded (I Cor. 11:23-26).
As to forming “two congregations,” I think Al had better re-read my article. I admit I could have been more careful in wording this section and should not have used the word “congregation.” But what I said was, “if we should accept the one-meeting-in-one-congregation theory,” then this might be the solution. I do not accept Brother Diestelkamp’s position so I do not argue for a separate congregation. Surely Al can see this. Those who attend Sunday night are as much a part of the flock as those who attend Sunday morning and should have the same right to commune at the only time they can do so. Who gives Brother Diestelkamp the right to “play God” and tell people when they can and cannot commune on the Lord’s Day?
Al wants authority for establishing a congregation for “convenience of time.” Acts 20:7-11 gives every indication that this was a Lord’s day evening meeting, possibly because most of the disciples were slaves and had to work, not having the Lord’s day off as we do. Paul’s continuing his speech until midnight, being ready to depart on the morrow (Act 20:7), and the reference to “lights in the upper chamber” where the disciples were gathered adds weight to this. The reference to “midnight” shows Roman time is under consideration. I am convinced that the church at Troas was established for the convenience of time. I would like to inform Al that some brethren in Missouri who hold his position pulled off from a congregation who would not buckle under to their “Sunday-morning-only communion” idea and started a church of their own. If this is not starting a church for the convenience of time, I do not know what is. Perhaps Al needs to talk to these brethren if he considers this unscriptural. Why do brethren meet at 10:30 A.M. or 11:00 A.M. anyway? For the sake of convenience! Al, are brethren unscriptural in doing this? Maybe you can tell us, based on Scripture, when we should meet. What about it?
On Acts 20:7, Brother Diestelkamp says, “Brother Tuten, you cannot ‘come together’ without being in the same place at the same time.” Al, have you ever seen a congregation whose Sunday morning worship was attended by all of the members down to the last member there? If there is not 100% attendance at your communion time, your argument means nothing. You have to admit that if such should happen it is a rare occasion indeed. Frankly, I have never seen it, not even in small congregations.
Al wants authority for one Christian partaking of the Lord’s Supper at a time and place where other Christians are not partaking with him. This is not the issue! The issue is: do Christians have the right to commune on the Lord’s Day The time element is immaterial as long as it is on the Lord’s Day. The partaking of the Lord’s Supper on this day is vital and I
am not going to refuse one the right to do so. I might add that the Lord’s Supper is just one act among several that is observed on the Lord’s Day. Brother Diestelkamp’s position makes it the most important item because he makes an issue of it. I would like to know where he gets authority for this. His very position de-emphasizes the other acts of worship.
As to I Corinthians 11 and tarrying one for another, to have an argument, Al would have to have all members of the church present at the same time. This is an impossibility except on rare occasions due to the fact that there is always someone out of town, or sick or hindered from attending Sunday morning for some reason beyond their control.
Let me say again that when disciples break bread in one assembly on the Lord’s Day, they are doing what is authorized. When others break bread in another assembly on the same day in the same building, they too, are doing what is authorized. I maintain that the observance of the Lord’s Supper is Scriptural at any hour on the Lord’s Day. If a brother misses Sunday morning unavoidably and wants to commune Sunday night, we have no right to forbid him the privilege of communing with his Lord. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Cor. 11:26).
It is difficult to end a discussion of this nature without leaving one writer without opportunity to respond to questions and arguments made in the last article. Yet the editor’s responsibility to maintain balance requires that he determine when this can be done most equitably. Therefore I have decided that this will be the last article in the exchange between these two brethren on this subject for publication in TRUTH MAGAZINE. Readers who would like a copy of Brother Diestelkamp’s response to the above article may obtain one from him.
Write: AI Diestelkamp 5916 Graceland Drive Peoria, Illinois 61614
Truth Magazine XXI: 35, pp. 553-554
September 8, 1977