Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 24, 1960
NUMBER 29, PAGE 3,11b,14b

"You're Just Looking For Things..."

K. A. Sterling, Napa, California

Quite frequently it seems, the charge "Oh, you're just looking for things," is directed toward those who stand opposed to the current promotional and institutional movements among us, when they point out some error in a sermon, paper, bulletin, etc. I believe it is true that some on "both sides" as it were, are "just looking for things." In fact, some, like a shrewd lawyer, examine every word and phrase spoken or written by a brother in an attempt to "find something." Some have taken words or phrases completely out of context and "torn them apart" drawing conclusions which were perhaps just as erroneous as they could be. Such is certainly unfair and unkind and every one of us ought to be cautious in this respect — not "just looking for things" we can use to the discredit of some brother.

However, on the other hand, when a person makes a plain, forthright statement which can hardly be misunderstood or misconstrued, it is not unkind or unfair to take issue with the statement if you do not agree with it and believe it to be unscriptural. For example, if I write an article or make a statement or statements in an article favoring the use of mechanical instruments in worship — if I unequivocally state "there is nothing wrong with the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship to God" — could some brother be rightfully accused of "just looking for things" if he took issue with that and pointed out in a firm but kind way that such was contrary to the scripture? None would say this was unkind or unfair — in fact it would be lauded and commended as a Christian's duty to point out error — and so it is. But why is it if some brother points out error in a plain unambiguous statement of another which has to do with the current grave problems before the church — Lo and Behold, "He's just looking for things!" Personally speaking, I do not believe I am just "looking for things" (oh, to some extent we all are — it is hardly possible to be completely objective), but there are a couple of things I would like to point out — statements brethren have made which it seems to me no one could misunderstand — and which a person would not have to be "just looking for things" to notice. Actually of course, there are many, many which could be cited, but I call your attention to the following:

The first is from the "Philippine Mission News," Vol. 3, No. 2, June, 1960, published by the Southwest church of Christ, Los Angeles, California. From an article captioned "Philippine Students Occupy New Building" by Ralph Brashears, we quote:

"The Catholic Church has 600 schools in the Philippines and are building more fast. Also, the denominations have many powerful institutions of education. We cannot hope to succeed, it seems, without one good Bible School to train leaders for the Church of Christ" (Emphasis mine — KAS).

Now brethren, can that be misunderstood? Am I "just looking for things" when I notice such statements as this? How can you keep from noticing it? Our brother's statement, no matter how sincere he may be in it, reflects upon the sufficiency of the institution which the Son of God shed his life blood to establish. It reflects upon the wisdom of God in designing the church-that this glorious blood-bought institution is in effect insufficient to "train leaders"-preachers, Bible class teachers, etc. I am not opposed to colleges and institutions of higher learning in which the Bible is taught, but I do not believe that we must have them to succeed.

But here is another statement which again, I don't believe one would have to be "just looking for things" to notice. This statement appeared in a "fact sheet" supplied with a letter from the Highland elders under date of August 30, 1960. The letter itself was, of course, an appeal for funds. Supplied as an enclosure was a sheet captioned "Facts You Need To Know." Several things are set forth on this "fact sheet"-i.e., paragraphs telling of the "Savings In Rates," "New Television Series," "Radio Work Advancing," "Radio Schedule Changes," and a final paragraph captioned "The Herald of Truth Is Distinctive." I would like to quote this final paragraph in its entirety:

"The Herald Of Truth Is Distinctive"

The Herald of Truth radio and television series is distinctive in many ways. One of these is the continued refusal of the elders to commercialize the program by appealing for funds. (Emphasis theirs — KAS) "Advertising Age," the national newspaper of advertising, stated in an article on August 22, 1960, in reference to religious programs, "A great many of the programs now on the air feature ministers and speakers who do not appear to be associated formally with any specific church or denomination. Most of the church broadcasters make regular appeals to listeners for donations to keep the program going. (Emphasis theirs. KAS) These appeals, which sometimes in the slow summer months take on a note of near desperation, are frequently accompanied by offers of free picture books on Africa, religious calendars, records, inspirational talks, pictures and other such write-in come-ons."

Such is the complete paragraph. Did you notice the first emphasized statement? They said the Herald of Truth is "distinctive in many ways" and notice it! "One of these is the continued refusal of the elders to commercialize the program by appealing for funds." (Emphasis theirs-KAS) Really now, is this something for which the Highland elders are to be commended? They say one of the distinctive features of the Herald of Truth is the "continued refusal" of the elders, (which to me means that it has been thought of but they have rejected the idea of appealing for funds over the air), but they refuse to "commercialize" the program by appealing for funds to the listening audience. The point is, brethren, why even mention this?-It is unscriptural to begin with! Haven't we been preaching the truth regarding who is to support the Lord's work as set forth in 1 Cor. 16:1-2? Commercialize the program indeed! It would make it even more unscriptural than it is now! "But," someone says, "don't you realize that they are merely pointing out ways in which the Herald of Truth is distinctive from other religious programs?"

One of these ways is simply that we do not appeal for funds over the air." Listen my brother, this sheet "Facts You Need To Know," sent along with the letter, was prepared for and sent to brethren — not those outside the body of Christ! Certainly brethren know that to appeal for funds over the air is unscriptural, and that it is a distinctive mark of the Lord's church that no one but the Lord's people support it. Why mention it then in a letter sent to the brethren? What it amounts to is that they are commending the Highland elders for refusing to do that which is unscriptural to begin with! Maybe they ought to be commended for not yet "going this far," but let them produce the scripture which authorizes centralizing the work of individual congregations under the sponsorship of one eldership and we will commend them! Yea, verily! If they would truly manifest an attitude of "continued refusal" to do that which is unscriptural to begin with, they would abandon the program as it is presently organized. (Incidentally too, do not think they had in mind appealing to brethren over the air to support the program thus "commercializing" the program, because the context indicates clearly they are speaking of appealing to listeners.)

There are just two more statements which I wish to consider — both are from the Boles Home News. The first is authored by brother Melvin E. Weldon, preacher for the church meeting at 309 36th St., Richmond, California, and appeared in the "Mailbox" section of the Boles Home News, Vol. 17, No. 15, August 10, 1960. He says: "We want to thank you for sending the Bel Canto Chorus our way. They were an inspiration to us all and did more good in one day than all of the preaching of all the preachers in the whole area could have done." (emphasis mine-KAS) Doesn't this speak well for the gospel?? For the gospel preachers in the greater Bay area?? Am I "just looking for things" when I notice such statements as this??

Here is another from the Boles Home News, "Mailbox" section, Vol. 17, No. 17, September 10, 1960. Author of this letter is Leo H. Bryant, 135 Blackstone Dr., San Rafael, California. The letter states: "Please, for the sake of keeping our people informed as to the true value of institutional child care, don't ever consider taking the Bel Canto Chorus 'off the road'." (emphasis mine-KAS) I am certain that our brother is sincere in this statement, but just does not know the facts. According to child care experts, what is the "true value of institutional child care?" If anyone should know, they should, and they are tearing down the institutions while brethren are building them as fast as they can! The very state in which I and this good brother reside uses the foster home method of child care. Why?? Because they have discovered it to be far superior to "institutional care." Don't take my word for any of this, check with the welfare and child care experts as to the "true value" of institutional child care."

I do not believe I am "just looking for things" when I notice statements such as this and the preceding — you can not help but notice them. Certainly we ought not just "pick" at what others say or be guilty of looking for any little thing to "hang" them as it were, but we ought to be sure also that what we believe, say, and write are correct and according to the Word of God.