By James P. Neddham
What is the difference between a church’s receiving funds for evangelism from a trust or a foundation, and its receiving money for evangelism from another church as is practiced in the Herald of Truth? -Tenn.
The difference is very basic: a foundation or trust fund is the carrying out of an individual’s wishes in reference to his personal money, while church funds are regulated by God’s law in reference to its use. Thus, the difference is between what an individual may do and what a church may do. A failure to distinguish between the church and the individual has caused much confusion and led to much error. It is obvious that some brethren are not yet settled on the question.
There are quite a few trusts or foundations around today. Most of them were set up during the lifetime of some wealthy brother who wanted to regulate the disposition of his fortune after his death. So, he employed some attorney to draw up a trust. The trust maker can regulate the trust as he pleases. He makes the rules by which his wealth shall be expended. He can form them any way he chooses. He might specify that his money shall go for the support of evangelism anywhere in the world, or he may limit it to a given area. He may allow the money to be paid to individual preachers, or he may specify that it must be paid to a church. But in either case, he is making provisions for the disposition of his own funds, the same right he had during his own life time. Now if we grant him said right during his life time, how can we deprive him of it because of his death?
For instance, I am acquainted with various kinds of trusts. I know of one from which funds can be given to any preacher the trustees judge is qualified under the trust agreement. I know others where the funds must be paid into the treasury of a local church. I know yet others from which loans may be made for the purchase or construction of church buildings. We would all agree that the men who set up these trusts could so use their money, if they were living. Now, what principle of scripture is violated when their money is used after their death just as they could use it, if they were living? I know of none, and do not believe anyone else knows of one.
In the Herald of Truth we have direct violation of scriptural law. God regulates how church funds are to be expended, and there is no authorization for expending them as practiced in the Herald of Truth. In the New Testament no funds were ever passed from one church to another for evangelism. Acts 11:28-30 records the passing of funds from one church to another, but it was for benevolence, and it occurred became the receiving churches had more needy members than they could care for. Thus when one church sent to another, the receiving church was always in physical need. This is not the case in the Herald of Truth. The Highland church in Abilene, Texas which sponsors the Herald of Truth is anything but a needy church! They receive and disburse funds from hundreds of churches in producing the Herald of Truth radio and television program. This is unscriptural, because there is no authority for passing of funds between and among churches for evangelism.
Thus, a church’s receiving funds from a foundation, which is but a means of carrying out a dead brother’s will, has no kinship with centralized control and oversight of church funds. He who thinks it does is not thinking logically or scripturally. Sometime when brethren are prejudiced, and cannot defend their position, they try to sway others by saying, “That is like the liberals.” Let us never be guilty of such unfairness.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 27, p. 9
May 11, 1972