Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 16, 1950

Missionaries And Missions

Richard Donley, Sioux City, Iowa

In the Gospel Guardian of January 5, there is an article from Brother Henderson answering my answer to his article criticizing certain practices and terms. One merit of controversy is that it often teaches us to be careful of our language. Having reviewed the articles mentioned, I confess to having been too free with my charge of ignorance. I still think my brother is not very well informed on the point at issue, but I have no way of judging his knowledge beyond that, and I am sorry for any reflection on his general knowledge.

There are one or two things that I want to make clear, lest anyone form an erroneous opinion. I took issue with my brother, because I thought his article covered too much, and cast reflection on many who are laboring faithfully for the cause of Christ. If anyone thought that I intended to offer a defense for the practice of churches doing what my critic calls, "operating their miniature Marshall plan," then they are mistaken. I agree with the proposition, that, there is no scriptural example for one church setting itself up as an agency for others to work through. I do not agree, that, it is wrong for a church to send a preacher out to preach in new fields, and to commend his work to others who may be interested. When they do that, they send a "missionary" and "sponsor" him.

My critic makes somewhat of a commotion over what he thought was my misquotation of Thayer's definition of "apostolos." I quoted the definition correctly, but the printer made an error. I have the carbon of my first article to prove that. His quotation of Clarke and Macknight confirm the very thing that I was contending for, and his other quotations are from lexicons. I would suggest that he read the excellent little book "Apostles of Apostates," by James D. Bales. It will help him to a better understanding of the term in question. An "apostlos" was anyone sent out by another with authority to act for them. Jesus sent a select group of men to reveal the gospel to the world. They were his apostles. The church at Antioch sent Barnabas out to do a certain work, and the inspired historian called him an apostle. The church at Philippi sent Ephaphroditus on a mission, and Paul called him the same thing that Luke called Barnabas.

I have noticed a considerable interest lately in the language that we use. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that we ought to conform in teaching to the exact language of the Bible. Before we set out to do that, perhaps we should determine which translation to follow. I think that Brother Henderson would not go so far as to suggest that we confine our teaching to the exact language of the Bible, for his effort at teaching contains this gem, "Worn-out phraseology of defunct denominationalism." Understand, I am not criticizing his use of words: far from it. I admire it. I don't even say that those words are not in the Bible, but I don't recall having read them there.

It matters little to me if I am called a "missionary," or a "preacher;" and I care not whether the church at Tulia "sponsors," or "commends" my work. I am trying to do the work that God would have me do, and I believe the same is true of many other "missionaries" and "sponsors." I am opposed to churches, or individuals, going beyond the practice of the New Testament; but I fear that many are not going as far as the practice of the New Testament.