Brother Thomas And The Missionary Society
(This is the tenth article in review of "We Be Brethren" written by J. D. Thomas, Professor, Bible Department, Abilene Christian College)
Before this review was announced or begun, Brother Cecil Willis of Brown Street Church in Akron, Ohio, an excellent student, thinker, and writer, as well as preacher, wrote an article on Brother Thomas' attitude toward the missionary society that we want to give our readers at this juncture in our review. We could not improve on it and it has some information in it that is very enlightening concerning the charges Brother Thomas makes against the missionary society and the reasons he gives for thinking it wrong. We are grateful to Brother Willis for this help in our review of this book.
Brother Thomas And The Missionary Society Cecil Willis
For some time it has been obvious that some brethren objected to the missionary society of the Christian Church more from prejudicial reasons than from scriptural and logical reasons. We have been alarmed to find so many of the brethren (usually those not very well informed) who have no objection at all to the missionary society. For many years, our main objection to a missionary society has been that it is a human organization undertaking to do the work which God gave to His divine organization, the Church. The missionary society presupposes that God's arrangement has failed. It presupposes that God either could not, or did not, or would not supply such an organization adequate to accomplish His purposes. It insults either the wisdom of God, or the ability of God, or the goodness of God. It says that God either did not know what was needed to propagate the gospel throughout the world, or that He knew what was needed but could not provide it, or that He knew what was needed and could provide it but would not do so. Any way you look at it the missionary society insults God. It also assumes that man can build an organization that can accomplish what the organization God built could not accomplish.
In Brother Thomas' book he quotes a brother who rightly says: "In this paper, only one proposition is discussed and defended: The church, being divine in its origin, needs no human organizations through which to do its work, and that the innovation of such organizations violates the divine will, and thereby becomes sinful".
Brother Thomas then adds his comments to the quotation in these words: "We accept this BROTHER'S definition of organization, but we question the necessity of his later conclusion." He questions that the addition of such organizations is sinful!
Hear him further: "He must prove to us just exactly how and at what point 'such organizations violate the divine will!' A mere claim that they do so will not suffice." (We Be Brethren, page 133.)
In all of the debates the brethren have denied that the church could work through a human organization. Brother Woods at first (see Indianapolis Debate) denied that the orphan homes are separate organizations. At that time they were likened to Bible classes. Since then orphan homes have become separate organizations, like private homes, but enjoy divine status as homes. Brother Thomas admits a church can do its work through a human organization, so long as certain conditions are met. He says:
"Our point just here, however, is that a human institution or organization can be used in doing the work of the Lord . . ." (Page 154.)
"The only qualification, legalistically speaking, of any organization's doing a work for the church is that in doing so they be able to classify as an expedient method, and (in the context of our present problem) that they do not usurp the local church autonomy. But the local church and the individual Christians must use agencies (his emphasis), or 'organizations,' for getting the Lord's work done." (Page 168.)
Without hesitation, Brother Thomas tells us that the Lord's church "must use agencies or 'organizations' for getting the Lord's work done," These agencies are not options; they are "musts".
According to Brother Thomas, the only requisite necessary to legalize an institution or an organization is that it must "classify as an expedient method." I never knew that an organization was a method. I thought institutions used methods to get works done. Brother Woods in the Indianapolis debate objected to the missionary society because it was an "organization or institution" that used methods and means. Brother Briney thought he made a pretty good case to show that the Missionary Society was an expedient method. He showed that it was getting the work done. And after all, Brother Thomas says:
"Ways of sending money to a preacher are purely optional and we must not make binding what God hasn't! The fact of getting money to a preacher is important, but how many hands it goes through in getting to him or whose hands they are, are purely incidental and in no sense binding". (Page 74.)
Well, the missionary society is a "way" of getting money to a preacher, Brother Briney said. They also have "hands" and a good many of them, but these make no difference Brother Thomas says. Thus far in the controversy, Brother Briney would have by far the better of the argument with Brother Thomas. In fact, there would be no argument, because Brother Thomas has already made Brother Briney's arguments.
But we notice that Brother Thomas says an organization is legitimate if it can "classify as an expedient method." An organization is a "method". Of course this is not so, for an organization is a unit or entity that employs methods. Once more Brother Thomas tells us, "There is no such thing as a binding method of how cooperation must be done, and we are therefore free to choose any method of cooperation." (page 81.)
Brother Briney could not have done better. His parallel argument on this point reads:
"I allege that where the Scriptures require this to be done (i.e. preach the gospel — CW), and are silent in regard to the method by which it is to be done, this silence authorizes these men, whether they be many or few, whether it be one congregation or a hundred congregations, to meet in the name of the Master, and under the commandment to go, inaugurate such a work and carry it on; and whenever you have that, you have a missionary society!" (Otey-Briney Debate, p. 169.)
Brother Briney said we are free to use any method; so does Brother Thomas. Brother Briney says a human organization is a method; so does Brother Thomas.
Brother Briney says he gets his authority for his human organization in the command "to go" (see above quotation) which is generic authority; Brother Thomas says he gets his authority for his human organizations in "the generic authority to 'visit the fatherless . . . . in their affliction'." (page 114.) Both of these brethren can see a human institution in such generic authority. Brother Briney claimed God was "silent as to how to go" and Brother Thomas claims God is silent about "how to cooperate" or "how to visit". Boles Orphan Home is just a "method" to Brother Thomas, though it admits it is an institution. Abilene Christian College is also just a "method," to Brother Thomas. He says, "So, today, we may take advantage of a Christian college as an expedient method of teaching God's will ..." He means CHURCHES may use a "Christian college as an expedient method of teaching God's will", as he devotes an entire chapter of his book trying to prove. Of course, he doesn't prove it but assumes it. No brother can defend the right of a college to exist who undertakes to defend it on the basis of it being a "method" through which churches of the Lord propagate God's will. The church is the one and only organization through which church duty is discharged. The only defense of the school, in my opinion, is when it is established and defended as a private educational business enterprise of a group of brethren, operated similar to a publishing company. If you would like to read an instance in which a brother took a well deserved cleaning on this point, read the Sommer-McQuiddy debate. Brother McQuiddy tried to defend the college as a method of teaching (page 17, 26) parallel to blackboards and gospel meetings. If A. C. C. is just a method through which the church may function, why is not the U. C. M. S. just a method???
Lest Brother Thomas be misrepresented in the matter, let it be understood that he does not endorse the missionary society of the Christian church. I am not sure that he could or would object to all humanly devised missionary societies, because his objection to the United Christian Missionary Society is not because it is an unauthorized human organization doing the work of the church. He thinks that is all right. I am not at all sure that he would object to a missionary society if it omitted one feature from its make-up. If the board at Boles Home, Inc., should begin to accept church contributions to propagate the gospel rather than to help needy children, I believe Brother Thomas would endorse it — if it still operated as it does presently. What about it Brother Thomas? Would you endorse a missionary society conducted in this fashion.
Brother Thomas' Only Objection To The U. C. M. S.
It is evident from reading his book that Brother Thomas does not object to the missionary society on the basis that it is an unauthorized human organization built and maintained to do the work God assigned to the church which He built. In his book, We Be Brethren, he argues at length to prove "that a human institution or organization can be used in doing the work of the Lord . . ." (page 154.) He, along with some other prominent brethren, is trying to tell us now that the strongest argument made throughout the years against the missionary society will not stand and is not true. They inform us that the missionary society is not wrong because it is an unauthorized human organization usurping the function of the church. A human organization to do the work of the church is perfectly all right with these brethren.
Nevertheless, Brother Thomas does not think the United Christian Missionary Society of the Christian Church is right. He has just one objection to it. He says:
"The only qualification, legalistically speaking, of any organization's doing the work for the church is that in doing so they be able to classify as an expedient method, and . . . that they do not usurp the local church autonomy." (page 168).
An institution to be legitimate must be an "expedient method". Well, Brother Thomas says the missionary society can meet this requirement. He says:
"Now to illustrate; The Missionary Society, in relation to the required pattern, "Go Preach', could be classified as an optional expedient, or as an "aid', . . . as it is indeed considered by those who use it." (Page 34.)
So, the missionary society can meet the first part of Brother Thomas's requisites for a scriptural human organization to do the work of the church. It is an expedient method. It is only at the second part that the U.C.M.S. falls down insofar as Brother Thomas is concerned.
Our brother's second requirement for a "scriptural human organization" through which the church may function is "that they do not usurp the local church autonomy". The missionary society is wrong, Brother Thomas says, "since it is by its nature a clear-cut violation of the local church's autonomy". (page 35.) Brother Thomas' only objection to the missionary society is that it violates the local autonomy of a church. Hear him state this:
"The exact point of this 'parallelism to the Missionary Society' is that these 'societies' (i.e. orphan homes — CW) are supposed also to violate and contradict the principle of the autonomy of the local church. It is admitted by all of us that the Missionary Society is guilty here, AND THIS IS REALLY THE ONE AND ONLY THING THAT IS WRONG WITH IT — however, this is sufficient to make it sinful and wrong." (page 137.)
Brother Thomas insists that "ways of sending money to a preacher are purely optional and we must not make binding what God hasn't! The fact of getting money to a preacher is important, but how many hands it goes through in getting to him or whose hands they are, are purely incidental and in no sense binding." (page 74.) According to Brother Thomas' definition, the Missionary Society is a "way" to get money to a preacher and it would be an "expedient way", if it did not violate local autonomy. This is the sole basis of his objection to it. He concludes, "and consequently there is no such thing as a pattern for cooperation!" (Page 80.) Therefore the Missionary Society could not be wrong because it violates the pattern for cooperation, for no such pattern exists. He says further, "there is no such thing as a binding method of how cooperation must be done, and we are therefore free to choose any method of cooperation." (page 81.) The Missionary Society is a "method of cooperation" its advocates maintain, and Brother Thomas admits, and it would be perfectly legitimate if it did not violate congregational autonomy.
Unfortunately Brother Thomas has not been alone in his advocacy that the Missionary Society is not wrong because it is a human organization doing the work of the church. Several years ago Brother J. C. McQuiddy shocked the brethren when he said, "Whether an organization is right or wrong depends entirely upon what it does. A missionary society is wrong, not because it is an organization, but because it is more than a method of teaching and preaching and usurps the functions of the church by taking upon itself control of the churches." Brother Tom Warren takes about the same position. As I understand him, he says that the only thing wrong with the missionary society is its delegate feature. He says in his "famous lectures",
"But there is something that I would like for someone to do. So far, I haven't been able to persuade anybody to even try the job. Here's the job I would like for some of these objectors to try their hand on: list the component parts of the Missionary Society as it was when it was started — 'without the abuses that now characterize it'. Then let them point out the component part which made the Society unscriptural. And bear in mind that it must not be this delegate-legislative matter which I have already spoken. They cry 'that was just an abuse.' It will be interesting to see them try that, although I doubt that I will ever have the pleasure of seeing any of them try it." (Lectures, page 119.)
Now, if Brother Warren would just take time to read the Otey-Briney debate printed in 1908 he would find where some one objected to something in the missionary society on grounds other than its "delegate feature". If he will read several decades of the Gospel Advocate, when the controversy was being so heatedly waged, he will find several objections in addition to its delegate feature. I, and thousands more, object to the missionary society because it is a human institution through which the church undertakes to discharge its duty and for which there is no scriptural authority, and not only because of its delegate feature.
Brethren Thomas and Warren are objecting to the missionary society on one basis: i.e. its legislative power through its delegate system. Brother Thomas says again,
"What we mean by 'control', is that the Missionary Society is an organization whose board 'legislates', or passes rules that they expect to be binding upon the member churches and where the member churches expect to be so bound." (page 141)
But remember that the board that runs the Orphan Home "passes rules", and the eldership running Herald of Truth "passes rules", and the churches that contribute to the orphan home and to the Herald of Truth are bound by these rules. But someone says the churches "elect" to be so bound. So do the Christian Churches that are bound by the decision of the board of the Society. They "elected" to be so bound. Brother Warren gives an explanation which "explains what is wrong with the Missionary Society: it is a legislative body with 'every church represented in that body obligated to every measure adopted'." (page 118.) He further explains that local autonomy is violated by the missionary society because if on a given point three delegates are instructed to vote "yes" and one church instructs its delegate to vote "no", the "yes" decision would be rendered, and the church which voted "no" is therefore bound by a "yes" decision. But suppose a church that contributes to the board that provides an orphan home thinks that frame houses are adequate, but the board votes to provide brick houses. Is not this church which voted "frame" bound by a "brick" decision? You say, "They have the liberty not to give". So does the Christian Church that voted "no" in Brother Warren's illustration.
The point these brethren make is that the delegate system removes the congregation's voice in its own work. Question for brethren Thomas and Warren — if the Missionary Society should begin acting only upon decisions rendered unanimously, would its work then be all right? Each church would have its own way. No church voting "no" would be bound by a "yes" decision. Would this change of policy make an unscriptural organization scriptural? The Christian Church might be willing to make this "minor concession" to Brethren Thomas and Warren in order to "take them in". Brother Thomas says this feature of the Society is "REALLY THE ONE AND ONLY THING WRONG WITH IT." Brother Warren obviously concurs.
It is becoming more and more obvious that some brethren have taken in so much of the modern institutional spirit that they really no longer have any solid basis upon which to object to the U.C.M.S.
Misrepresenting The U.C.M.S.
In our criticisms of the Missionary Society, it is often easy to misrepresent. We should be careful that our objections to the missionary society are not founded upon misrepresentations of it. We have mentioned before that though Brother Thomas does not object to the organization of a society through which the church may function, he does object to the Missionary Society of the Christian Church. Brother Thomas evidently believes that the Missionary Society and the institutional orphan home are both human institutions engaged in work assigned to the church; i.e. evangelism and benevolence. Brother Thomas endorses the benevolent institution through which the church undertakes to operate, while he condemns the Christian Church Missionary Society. In order to do this, he must show some characteristics of the Missionary Society that do not inhere in the Orphan Home.
Brother Thomas says:
"The Society dominates the churches, can coerce them and bring authoritative, organic pressure upon them if they do not live up to the demands which the Society makes of them." (page 142.)
Recently I wrote the president of the United Christian Missionary Society located in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mr. A. Dale Fiers, and asked him some questions. I tried to use the very words of Brother Thomas. Remember that this alleged dominating feature of the society is "the one and only thing wrong with it," according to Brother Thomas. I numbered my questions and Mr. Fiers numbered his replies and we give you this material in order:
Question No. 1. "Inherent in the U.C.M.S. is there any legislative control or authoritative organic pressure that binds the contributing churches?"
Answer No. 1. "No".
Question No. 2. "Is a local Christian church free either to contribute or not to contribute to the U. C. M. S.?"
Answer No. 2. "Yes".
Brethren, remember that the Missionary Society is an organization to which Christian Churches become voluntarily related. The benevolent organizations endorsed and supported by the churches of Christ are organizations to which contributions are voluntarily made. Thus far the two institutions (benevolent and evangelistic) are on equal footing.
Question No. 3. "Are there any adverse consequences if a local church elects not to contribute, but to spend its money in some other way?"
Answer No. 3. "Adverse consequences would not in any way arise from legislative action. I believe there would be adverse consequences to the work which the United Society is chartered to do because of lessened contributions. There would be adverse consequences for the church because of weakened ties with the United Society and consequently a weakening of those mutual relationships which enable us to fulfill the scriptural admonition to edify one another and build each other up in Christ".
Now would this not also be true if more of the churches elected not to support our "benevolent societies"? There would certainly be "adverse consequences to the work which the benevolent society is chartered to do". And we must add that there are "adverse consequences for the church" or the Christian individual who opposes these benevolent societies or who elects not to support them — "because of weakened ties with the benevolent society". The brethren today say that giving to the institutions is optional, but woe be unto you if you decide not to give for conscience sake! You will be castigated, boycotted, anathematized, quarantined and probably crucified if they had the legal power to accomplish it. Witness the recent attacks made in the pages of the leading "institutional Advocate" against brethren and their work because they have refused to become a part of the institutional movement.
The fourth and fifth question asked were given one answer as they involved the same point.
Question No. 4. "Does the U.C.M.S. have any way of exercising dominating or controlling authority over the churches?"
Question No. 5. "Does the U.C.M.S. have any power of coercion over the churches?"
Answer No's 4 and 5. "No. The only authority that the United Society has over the churches is the authority which arises out of voluntary cooperation or contractual authority in which a local church agrees with the United Society to enter into certain mutual relationships having to do with property, program, or leadership."
I asked questions four and five because Brother Thomas said, "The society can coerce the churches". Actually the U.C.M.S. has no organizational or legal way to coerce the churches any more than "our" benevolent societies or human arrangements through the sponsoring church. It misrepresents them to say they do. A church might be "isolated" and "quarantined", as we have suggested, if it decides to have nothing to do with the U. C. M. S. but so will the church that decides to have nothing to do with the "advocated" institutions among our brethren today.
Mr. Fiers gives us an example of his answer to questions 4 and 5. He says that the U.C.M.S. may agree to assist in the local preacher's support "upon the condition that the employment of such a minister will be mutually satisfactory . . . The church may withdraw from such a contract at any time". You can see by these points that the M.S. and the churches enter voluntarily into their relationship. According to Mr. Fiers, the Society has no control over the churches unless the churches are willing for the society to have such control. The benevolent societies among us today exercise authority over work said to belong to local churches, ln it brethren attempt to justify this control on the basis that the local church agreed to enter into such a relationship. So did these Christian Churches mentioned in President Fier's letter.
Question No. 6. "Does a contributing church lose its autonomy by contributing?"
Answer No. 6. "No".
The advocates of the M. S. say a church can give to the U.C.M.S. without losing its autonomy. The advocates of the benevolent societies say that a church cannot give to the M. S. without losing its autonomy. But these benevolent society advocates say that a church can give to their benevolent institutions without losing its autonomy.
Which institutional advocate can be believed? But Brother Thomas says:
"They (i.e. the objectors — CW) must PROVE that the will and choice of the contributing church is subservient to the will and choice of the receiving or forwarding church; or to that of the group which makes OFFICIAL DECISIONS for the orphan home." (PP 142, 143)
Now you notice that one group "makes official decisions for the orphan home." Suppose the will and choice of this group which "makes official decisions" should be different from the will and choice of the "contributing church." Which group's "will and choice" would be followed? Not the churches! The churches that contribute to these institutions are never asked about the work of these institutions nor invited to even register a protest. They have no voice in the control. They are asked for just one thing — MONEY! Brother Thomas says the missionary society is wrong and sinful because the will and choice of the contributing churches is made subservient to the will and choice of the board that runs the society. But the will and choice of the contributing churches is also made subservient to the "group which makes official decisions for the orphan home."
Brother Thomas again misrepresents the Missionary Society that he might have something upon which to object to it that will not also be true of his benevolent societies which he tries to defend.
He says, "The churches are expected to do all of their missionary work through the Society and to do none of their own planning." (page 142.)
Question No. 7. "Can a congregation spend part of its mission money through U.C.M.S. and the rest in works other than U.C.M.S. works?"
Answer No. 7. "Yes".
So Brother Thomas did not correctly represent the facts. If one stands on the truth, he will not have to misrepresent an institution like the U.C.M.S. in order to find out what is wrong with it. Brother Thomas sees so little wrong with it that he has difficulty establishing even one thing.
Brother Thomas says the M.S. "assesses contributions" and "brings organic pressure upon them (churches — CW) if they do not live up to the demands which the Society makes of them." (Page 142)
Question No. 8. "Is a member church assessed and compelled to contribute a certain amount?"
Answer No. 8. "No".
So Brother Thomas has failed once again to show a difference between the U.C.M.S. and the institutional orphan home. He says the board of the home is "in position only to 'suggest' and 'request'; and they are totally dependent upon the choice and/or the mercy of the contributing churches". (page 142.) But this same is true of the Missionary Society. They are also in position only to "suggest" and "request". Neither are very reluctant to "suggest" and "request". We know the benevolent societies are not. Most of them have come to think of the fifth Sunday contribution as belonging to them.
The U.C.M.S. is an institution of human origin, without divine authority therefore, undertaking to do a work God gave the Divine Organization, the church, to do. So the institution is wrong, whether it dominates, coerces, legislates, or brings authoritative, organic pressure upon the churches or not. If the U.C.M.S. eliminated its delegate feature, and if it brought no "authoritative organic pressure" upon contributing churches, and if each church is free either to send or not to send, I still maintain that man has no right to insult the intelligence of God by building and maintaining a human institution whose purpose is to usurp the function of the Church; whether this institution functions in benevolence or evangelism does not change the point one whit.
The institutional brethren have been for some time moving closer and closer to defending the missionary society. For some time Brother Warren seemed to be in the fore-front, but he now has been surpassed by the audacity of Brother Thomas. In my opinion, it will be some time before the mass of the institutional brethren are ready to accept the positions of Brother Thomas. But don't be impatient, Brother Thomas. Some are coming your way! Don't be surprised if they have a Missionary Society with them when they get there!
An Interesting Sidelight (Roy E. Cogdill)
As an interesting sidelight to the above article written by brother Cecil Willis, there was an exchange of letters between brother Willis and brother Thomas involving a particular question which was asked brother Thomas. We will not make the article too lengthy by reproducing the entire correspondence but we do want our readers to have the benefit of the direct question asked and the response to it.
Question by Brother Willis: "In order to clarify your position in my mind, would you please answer the following question. You make the point that the board of the orphan homes does not violate congregational autonomy. So this question: If the board that directs Boles Orphan Home were to decide to change its mission from care of orphans, or to enlarge its mission, so as to include gospel preaching, operated just as it is now, except that its work changed, would you endorse it? Could congregations send money to that board and the board make arrangements for the gospel to be preached, just as it does for children's care to be provided?" (letter — Nov. 15, 1958)
Answer by Brother Thomas: "In reply to your specific question, I believe that my book answers your problems already on page 181 and again on page 192. I list some organizations outside of the framework of the local church that can scripturally be used in doing the work of the church. I would not, of course, want to make a general blanket statement that might be applied by others to any and all situations in various contexts. I simply believe, in view of the above, that churches can use certain types of organizations for carrying out the Lord's work where there is no trace whatever of usurpation of autonomy, as my book points out." (letter — Jan. 12, 1959.)
Question by brother Willis: "Your argument in your book was that the UCMS violates the autonomy of the local congregation. But you also argued that a congregation's autonomy is not violated when it gives to the board that operates an orphan home. So I asked a very specific question: 'If the board that directs Boles Orphan Home were to decide to change its mission from care of orphans, or to enlarge its mission, so as to include gospel preaching, operated just as it is now, except that its work has changed, would you endorse it?' In light of what you say about autonomy not being violated when churches now give to the board, I cannot see how changing the mission from benevolence to evangelism would change the nature of the board and its relationship to the congregation. So would you please give a reply to the above question". (letter Jan. 15, 1959.)
Answer by brother Thomas: "In further reply to your last letter, my purpose has been to deal with principles and to try to help brethren to think clearly with respect to them. There is no point in my making specific application of the principles as brethren should be able to do that.
"Specifically the question that you asked me to give a yes or no answer to is definitely "loaded" and I would be doing an injustice to answer it in that manner. You know no doubt, that many questions cannot be answered in such a fashion without laying the matter open to various misinterpretations.
"If your purpose is simply to understand my views, I ask you to check the illustrations found on pages 160-156 in my book, especially the one on pages 150-152, and as mentioned in my last letter refer again to pages 181 and 192. A correct solution to the problem you pose can be had, I think, if you will consider the illustration I gave in my last letter to you; namely, Can a church buy subscriptions from one of our brotherhood papers out of the church treasury? In this case I think you would find that this would be a church paying money to a human institution to discharge a part of its teaching responsibility. When you answer this question I think you will have a good answer to the one that you ask." (letter Jan. 26, 1959.)
Question by Brother Willis: "I am disappointed that this is now the third letter I have written you trying to get an answer of a single question. Of course, you say you have already answered the question. So I cannot understand your reluctance to tell me what your answer was.
"I simply want to know if you would endorse evangelistic work being done through the board that operates Boles Home, if they were to change their activities from the benevolent realm to that of evangelism ...
"Twice you have asked if I thought a church could purchase papers from a business enterprise in the religious publication business. I reply, "yes". Would you now be so kind as to give the same kind of an answer to my question? I do not believe that a church could subsidize that private business by its contributions, but I do believe that it could buy services.
"Now, do you believe that churches can make contributions to a board (such as runs Boles Home) so that this board can employ evangelists to proclaim God's word? I believe that you endorse such. Now will you please either admit it or deny it?" (letter Feb. 2, 1959.)
Answer by Brother Thomas: "Not simply to carry on what may turn out to be an unprofitable correspondence, but simply to drop one additional thought.
"It seems to me that when a church buys subscriptions to a brotherhood paper in advance without knowing who is going to write what articles, it is in fact not simply "buying a service", but it is in truth subsidizing a human institution that will use its own judgment in doing teaching work for the church". (letter Feb. 11, 1959.)
You can see by the above exchange that our learned professor knows how to dodge the issue. We guess he learned that from the sectarian training he had in S.M.U. and Chicago University.
Wonder if it would help the situation for a church to know who is going to write what articles before paying for subscriptions to literature? Would that have anything to do with whether or not it would be a contribution or paying for service? According to such twisting as that an eldership would have to take a preacher aside and make him preach all his sermons to them privately before they engaged to pay him or support him or advanced any part of his travel fund or expenses to send him to a distant field! If they didn't, they would not be supporting him for his services rendered but simply making him a contribution on a charitable basis, I suppose! Then how could they know when they sent him out that he would preach the same sermons that he had recited to them? Or how would they know that he did unless they went along and heard them? How ridiculous can a Ph. D. get anyway?
We do not blame brother Thomas for dodging the issue raised by brother Willis' question. He cannot answer it without committing himself to something that he knows the "BROTHERHOOD" is not ready for! You won't have to wait too long, brother Thomas, until your "institutional advocates" will go along with you. They are in the awkward position now of having two positions or "patterns": one for benevolence and one for evangelism. It is all right to have an outside organization — a corporate body — to do the benevolence of the church but it is wrong to have the same kind of an organization to do the evangelistic work of the church. Why? Would it be unscriptural to incorporate the Herald of Truth? You could even make the elders at Highland the board of directors like Sunny Glenn and Tipton homes have done. You could also claim that the purpose of incorporating it is to protect the elders of Highland Church from personal liability and then if it goes into bankruptcy like the Christian Chronicle Publishing Company did, they would not get hurt. They might even come out of it in better shape. Sometimes men do.