By Jeffery Kingry
Ira Y. Rice does not have me on his mailing list since I wrote him a letter a few years back, but he certainly has the church’s address where I preach, so I still get his newsletter. It is characteristic of Brother Rice’s paper his name is always set in the largest type; even his signature at the end of the thing is ten lines of type tall. Another characteristic of Ira’s paper is that he is always begging for money from churches to feed his grandiose human schemes.
I thought that Brother Rice made an interesting observation in his July 25th newsletter (Downtown San Francisco Church of Christ presents Ira Y. Rice, Jr.’s Far East World Evangelism Newsletter). “The DTSF church sponsors not just one effort – but three – in addition to the work of the local congregation.” Yes, children, he did say that. Above and beyond the work that the Lord has given to all churches (and limited all churches) to do, the Downtown San Francisco church, at Ira Rice’s dedicated prompting, has assumed three other works that all admit cannot be found in the Bible.
He is quite unabashed about it all, “We are well aware of the contentions of some that a church should attempt no more than it can pay for all by itself without any help beyond its own local membership. . .But, be it understood, in the outset, that (this) congregation is a self-sustaining congregation making no appeals in its own behalf!” That is right, Brother Rice. The appeals you and the DTSF church make to other churches are to support human institutions you thought up, planned, and put into operation. I encourage you and all the good brethren in San Francisco to read Matt. 15:7-9,12,13.
What are these “extra-curricular” activities this noble, submissive church assumed for all the Lord’s churches to support? Brother Rice listed them as follows:
“We were approached, in 1969, relative to accepting the sponsorship of Four Seas College of Bible and Missions, in Singapore. We knew then that the only way we could accept this responsibility would be with the implicit help of . . . congregations beyond the borders of our own local membership.”
“We took it on.”
“In 1970, when it was clear that the cause of truth was being undermined by . . . false teachers practically brotherhood-wide, the DTSF Church was approached to accept the sponsorship of a periodical-Contending for the Faith …. We knew that we were not strong enough financially to do this without rather a lot of outside help. It was with this clearly in mind that ….
“We took that on too!
“We were approached to establish a college of World Evangelism . . . .Our facilities were entirely inadequate . . . .We knew that the necessary property purchase. . .was “way yonder” beyond our local capacity . . . .Nevertheless, by sheer faith, we sold our old building. . .so we could have the college.”
“And we took that on too!”
Shades of Rome! Why not take it all on by “faith” Brother Rice? There is a local McDonald’s Hamburger Haven franchise available in Baltimore. Do you think that the good brethren in San Francisco would “take that on too” if I “approached” them? Just think, we could feed the starving masses of Baltimore, give them a room for the night, shave them, clean them up, and then convert them! But of course, you already tried that in California a few years back did you not, Brother Rice?
Completely aside from the fact that there is absolutely no authority for the church to be engaged in promoting, running, or funding human institutions like colleges and paid subscription papers, I wonder if any of the brethren in San Francisco (or throughout the United States that send money to such cock-eyed schemes) ever read Paul’s words concerning the work of the local church? `Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have”(2 Cor. 8:11). Paul was encouraging Corinth to do its work as a church in caring for needy saints. But God never required the church to assume a responsibility that was beyond its means to support: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath and not according to that he hath not” (8:12).
The Lord must have had someone like Ira in mind when he limited the church to its own sphere of work and responsibility. If we left the work of the church up to such “Popes” as this they would soon have the salt of the earth gathered and boiled down into one massive block to hulk on the West Coast for all the world to lick at their leisure!
Truth Magazine XXII: 15, p. 250
April 13, 1978