Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1966

"Placing Membership"

Cecil B. Douthitt

For any one of more of many reasons a Christian may want to become a part of a given local church where he never before has been a member. Many ways of expressing this act of uniting with some local congregation are employed by brethren everywhere. Such expressions as "uniting with the local church', or "transferring membership", or "Identifying himself," or "placing membership", are all used by well informed brethren freely and widely.

Nothing is wrong and no harm is done in the use of any of these terms in expressing this act: but something is radically wrong with a man who selects one of these expressions as the "accurate term to describe the practice" and condemns the others.

One preacher in his bulletin selected the words, "identify oneself with the church" as the right way to say it, and then proceeded to denounce the terms, "placing membership".

He did not tell why he thinks "placing membership" carried "denominational connotations", and "identifying oneself" does not. Denominationalist use both of these expressions; if one carried "denominational connotations", the other does also. Then to be consistent, he must object to his own pet phrase. But consistency is no jewel to an advocate of a radical theory.

What does he mean by "letters of membership"? Is he attacking letters of commendation sometimes given to members moving into another locality? We have such a letter from Tenth & Frances Street in Oklahoma City commending unto us two very fine Christians: we have given such letters to faithful members moving to other cities: When Apollos left Ephesus the brethren wrote a letter of commendation to the disciples in Achaia where Apollos was going: but until recently I never knew that any gospel preacher thought that such letters had a "denominational connotation".

-1923 Bluff Avenue Fort Smith, Arkansas