Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 19, 1959
NUMBER 45, PAGE 9a-10

What Is The Gospel Press?

Luther G. Roberts, Salem, Oregon

The preacher for the Broadway Church of Christ, Lubbock, Texas, has an article in the bulletin published by said church of date of January 18, 1959, on The Gospel Press. He states the purpose of The Gospel Press in these words: 'An organization for the purpose of teaching the gospel by means of advertising in national magazines." He says further in the article: "There are many fine works being carried on today. We must continue to support them and take the gospel of Christ to the world." Thus it can be seen that one preacher thinks that the gospel press is an organization for the purpose of preaching the gospel.

As I understand it, The Gospel Press is an organization with a board of directors with its president and other officers soliciting contributions for the purpose of paying for ads in the form of articles in national magazines on what the "Church of Christ" believes, or teaches. Here is an organization with the avowed purpose of doing the exact work assigned in the New Testament to the church of the Lord. Is this not one of the objections raised for so long to the Missionary Society organized by brethren in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849? That is, that it was an institution formed by human authority to do the very work the Lord established the church to do?

In the Firm Foundation of April 10, 1956, page 226, the editor, brother Reuel Lemmons, had the second of two articles on the question, "What Is Wrong With The Missionary Society?" There are some true statements made in this article that plainly condemn such organizations as The Gospel Press with its purpose to teach the gospel of Christ. In condemning the Missionary Society he likewise condemns any other organization except the local church for the purpose of preaching the gospel of Christ. Hear from him a few words, "The Missionary Society is a group of individuals from many congregations banded together, and organized under a board completely foreign in arrangement to anything authorized in the scriptures, for the purpose of doing the work which God gave the church to do." This is the purpose of The Gospel Press according to the preacher whose words we quoted as above. Then, it is no more Scriptural than is the Missionary Society. But what is wrong with the Missionary Society? Let us quote further from the article in the Firm Foundation.

"(1) It is an organization completely unknown to scripture. God did not authorize it. Nothing like it existed in New Testament days." (Is this not true of the Gospel Press? LGR) "It is the fabrication of human wisdom rather than divine planning. It is clearly an organization of man rather than of God." .. .

"(2) The second count on which the Missionary Society can be indicted is its purpose. It was organized to do the work God commanded the church to do. (Emphasis mine. And this is exactly the purpose of the Gospel Press, according to brother Stephenson, preacher for the Broadway church in Lubbock.) "The very organization of the society for this purpose is indicative of the folly of men in believing that some organization other than that ordained by Jehovah can do the work better than the one God planned for that purpose." (Emphasis his.) . . . "God has no organization for doing the work of the church save the church. It is a sin to substitute man's wisdom for God's by substituting man's organization for God's."

Please take note that brother Lemmons did not condemn the Missionary Society on the basis that it controlled the churches, but that it was an organization formed by a group of individuals banded together, "for the purpose of doing the work which God gave the church to do." Some one may say The Gospel Press does not receive contributions from churches, but from individuals. If that be true, since when do individuals have the right to band together as individuals and form a human organization to do the work that God gave the church to do? Would the Missionary Society be right, scriptural, if it were to receive contributions only from individuals and confine its work to teaching the gospel by means of advertising in national magazines?

Another thing about individuals contributing to The Gospel Press. Brother J. D. Thomas, in his book, We Be Brethren makes the claim that when an individual Christian does a thing that is a good work, that is the Lord's church doing it. He stoutly affirms that when the local church does a work it is the same as if done by Christian individuals. He says that it is impossible to differentiate, or words to the same effect, between the work Christians as individuals do and the work of the congregation. (See page 165 of his book.) Now, if this is true (and who would dare dispute the brother's contention since he has used "Scientific Method" for reaching his conclusion?) then when Christians as individuals contribute to The Gospel Press it is really the church doing it anyhow! So, you have an organization for the very purpose of doing the work the church was ordained to do, and, also, receiving contributions from the church.

I wonder just how long it will be before the Gospel Press will be exercising authority over the church like the Missionary Society does? But it is clearly unscriptural any way since it was formed to do the work the church, and only the church, as an organization was formed to do.

But some will likely say that the home is another organization and that it teaches the gospel of Christ. Yes, the home should teach the gospel of Christ, not as a family but as Christian individuals in the family, but it was not established for this purpose primarily. But the church was formed for this purpose primarily.

Another may contend that the schools teach the gospel. Well, the schools can defend their right to teach the gospel if they are interested in doing so. However, I have understood that the schools are not organized for the purpose of teaching the gospel but to teach the secular branches of learning and as Christian individuals also to teach the gospel. (Of course, if the doctrine taught by brother J. D. Thomas, one of the Bible faculty of one of the schools, is true, that whatever the Christian individual does it is the congregation doing it, then the "church" is contributing to the schools when individual Christians contribute to them.) In justice to brother Thomas it ought to be said here that he teaches that the schools operated by brethren are operated for the spreading of Christianity; to do the work of the Lord; and to support the gospel. He even claims to give examples of the church using organizations human institutions in the first century and makes the apostle Paul a party in one of the human institutions used by the church for preaching the gospel. The school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10) was a human organization doing the work of the church according to this brother. In his reasoning the school of Tyranus was a human organization doing a powerful and effectual work of preaching the gospel. (See page 191 of his book.) According to him the Gospel Press is a thoroughly scriptural arrangement for the purpose of teaching the gospel of Christ and as far as he is concerned churches are contributing to it for when Christian individuals do a thing that is right it is the congregation doing it any way — he says. I always wondered if when an individual Christian does a thing that is right that it is the church doing it why is the church not doing wrong when an individual Christian does wrong? If when the individual Christian teaches a Bible lesson that is the church doing it, then why is it that when an individual Christian gets drunk the whole church is not drunk? If this theory is true then when an individual Christian gets a divorce that is the church getting a divorce? Did I hear the principle taught that, "That which proves too much, proves nothing"?

Brother Stephenson further wrote in the bulletin mentioned above as follows: "We are glad that a substantial contribution was made by our women and are glad that a number of our members are making regular contributions to the fine work being done by the Gospel Press."

Then, of course, the Broadway church is contributing to it, for whatever "our members" are doing, it is the church doing! The sectarian language in the above statement may account for the fact some brethren are departing from the truth. Such phrases as "our women" and "our members" are the language of "Ashdod." I would like to conclude this article with a quotation from an editorial in a paper that has been discontinued, but while it was alive made a militant fight against innovations in the work of the church. The editorial is headed, "THE WORK OF THE CHURCH." "The work of the church must be done by the church and cannot be subcontracted or farmed out to extra organizations. God has decreed that man shall give Him glory in the church (Eph. 3:21) and so has made the church itself big enough and small enough to do the biggest or smallest tasks required of the church. Extra organizations therefore are not needed.

"Not only are extra organizations unnecessary, but in the New Testament church they are impossible." (Did the editor mean by this that when a church introduces one of these organizations to do its work it has ceased to be a New Testament church? This must have been his meaning as you will see by reading the next statement in his article.) "Being a New Testament institution, the church must be organized according to the New Testament; this sacred Book does not authorize any organization above, below, or besides the local congregation with its elders and deacons. There is no mention of 'Aid Societies', 'Missionary Associations', 'YP' groups, etc., and there is no provision for the various officers required to run them. Of course the church of Christ has not formally organized its young people nor its women classes, but recent developments indicate that some classes in some congregations are beginning to function as separate groups: even holding rallies or conventions, and sponsoring projects and doing work as a Young People's Group or as a Ladies' Class. So far as is revealed by the publicity on these projects and 'rallies', the elders have nothing to do with them. The Young People or other group sends out the letters and invite like groups from other churches to participate. When any class begins to function as a separate group, we have the extra organization in fact whether or not we recognize it by giving it a name." (Gospel Defender, Vol. 1, No. 9, 1948). Although that was written eleven years ago this year it sounds downright modern. I wonder if that editor has changed?

But aside from the writings of men, the New Testament does not authorize any organization or institution to do the work of teaching the gospel of Christ except the congregation with its elders and deacons (Phil. 1:1). "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9).