Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 27, 1951

Is It Right To Pledge?

Osby Weaver, Greenville, Texas

Any method used which applies human pressure in the place of divine teaching is unscriptural, but to apply human pressure in connection with and in harmony with divine teaching is eminently scriptural, else the apostle Paul was unscriptural when "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, he PERSUADED men." Obviously this was human pressure guided by divine teaching that was pressing and encouraging obedience to the will of God.

It is insisted by some that a congregation must plan its work, but the inference is that the only way this can be done is to plan according to past or current contributions. Just what incentive would the church have in such an arrangement as this for growth? Instead of looking forward to doing greater things in the Lord's kingdom, we would turn around and look back to what has already been done and make a carbon copy of that for the church to meet in the future. This isn't the only way of stymieing interest in a congregation, but it is as good as any plan I can think of.

Just what Bible principle is violated in asking members to state how much they have purposed in their hearts to give each Lord's day for a year? You say, "Oh, we have no scriptural proof or precedent for doing such!" Well, there are a number of things which we do in connection with obedience to certain commands for which we have no scriptural precedent. Does that mean that they are wrong? We have no scriptural precedent for passing a collection plate. Does that make it wrong? Certainly not! This is only an arrangement for the convenience of the congregation to do what God says to do, that is, give as they have prospered. No Bible principle is violated. Since the elders are to plan the work of the congregation, for their convenience, the members are asked to state what they have purposed to give. Again, I ask, "What Bible principle is violated?"

The church at Corinth promised a year in advance to do a certain sum and Paul told them to complete the doing of it. How did he know that it wasn't completed? He said they were the first to make a beginning, hence they had contributed something. They must have told Paul that they would give a certain sum, and he knew they had not obtained to that sum, therefore, the instruction to complete the doing of it. In addition to this, Paul sent some of the brethren over to entreat them to make up their afore promised bounty, lest some from Macedonia come and find them unprepared and would put him to shame for he had used Corinth as an example to others of readiness and willingness to give. This looks very much like human pressure, but it was in harmony with divine teaching. Just how the church in Corinth was able to say how much they would give a year in advance is not stated, but the various members could have put down the sum they expected to give and turned it over to the elders, who in turn could have totaled the figures and said, "Paul, this is it." What Bible principle would this have violated? It would not have interfered with their giving willingly or cheerfully. It would not have affected their giving each first day of the week. It would not have hindered their purposing in their hearts, in fact, it would actually have incited their doing that. For they must of necessity have purposed in their hearts before they could put it on paper. It would not have destroyed their Christian liberty unless someone would have demanded that they give a certain sum, while holding over their heads dire consequences for a failure to do so. In fact, it violates no Bible principle, interferes with no Bible command, or hinders any Bible precedent. It actually aids one in realizing his duty to God, and anything which is in harmony with divine truth that does this is right and ought to be used.

Some have objected to the "pledge cards" on the basis that it is wrong to let others know how much one is giving. Does purposing in the heart scripturally preclude letting the purpose be known? If this is true, then it is wrong to sign a purpose card or to allow a member sitting next to you see the amount you put in the collection plate, or for you to see the amount someone else drops in. It would be wrong for a husband to let his wife know how much he was giving and wrong for her to let him know how much she was giving. Hence, she could not allow him to give her the money for the contribution, but would have to sneak it out of his pocket while he was not looking to keep him from knowing how much she was giving. She couldn't write a check on the family account for the contribution, for he would see the check when the cancelled checks came in. The scripture cited to support the above contention is Matthew 6:3. Of course, this is a misapplication of the scripture. The thing Matthew 6:3 condemns is doing good in order to be seen of men, and the spirit that desires personal glory. In Matthew 6:6, we are told to "enter into thine inner chamber and shut the door" when we pray. Does this condemn public prayer? Not at all, but it condemns those who pray publicly in order to be seen of men. If we let others know how much we give in order for praises of men, we have sinned. Letting them know was not sinful, it was the spirit that desired personal praise. If it is wrong per se to let others know how much we give, then Paul did wrong by telling Corinth about the liberality of the churches of Macedonia. Jesus did wrong by calling the disciples attention to the amount given by the widow, and left the wrong instruction when he said "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works." (1 Cor. 5:11) How are the elders to put away the wicked from the church which includes the covetous unless they know something of one's ability to give plus the amount be gives?

Informing the elders of the amount we expect to give each Lord's day in no sense destroys the Lord's way of financing His church.

It is further stated by some that the "pledge card" always destroys the cheerfulness of giving and is therefore unscriptural." Well, it doesn't always destroy the cheerfulness of giving; it has never destroyed my cheerfulness of giving, and scores of others could say the same, hence, it would not be unscriptural for us. If anything that destroys the cheerfulness of giving is unscriptural then the divine teaching is unscriptural, for when it is pressed, it will destroy the cheerfulness of some.