Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 11, 1951
NUMBER 23, PAGE 8-9a

Concerning "The Cooperation Controversy"

W. T. Boaz. Toronto. Canada

August 81, 1951 Mr. Cecil N. Wright Denver, Colorado Dear Brother Wright:

You remember I wrote you some time ago asking for some scripture that justifies or authorizes the sponsoring system in missionary work. You referred me to Articles 3, 7 and 8. I have waited some time for Article 8 to appear. I have it before me at present. I read Articles 3 and 7 with painstaking care for some proof of the system; but to my surprise there was absolutely nothing that even remotely hinted at a sponsoring church and I am not going to take up my time—or yours—in going into the things that were presented in that article unless you can point out some scripture that you mention that specifically supports this sponsoring idea.

Article 7 was quite a disappointment. Hardly a scripture mentioned in the whole article; but in Article 8 you bring in quite a few scriptures—scriptures that I have reviewed with painstaking care—not only after your article came out, but many times before; and to be frank with you I never even dreamed, or imagined or had the remotest thought that these scriptures in any way justified or supported this sponsoring idea. It reminds me very much of the Evolutionist theory. They have been called upon many times to produce the "missing link" between monkey and man, and in their quest for this missing animal they have taken bones from one animal and some bones from another, and some from another and put them all together and made a skeleton and dressed it up with their Evolutionist ideas, and they have stood back and looked at him and said: "He looks like the missing link."

Well, our sponsoring brethren have been called upon to produce a "missing link," and in your quest for him you have shown a church sending out a missionary and you have shown a church contributing their funds to a missionary; and you have shown a church selecting some brother as a messenger boy to convey the Missionary Funds to the missionary in the field, and you have shown that in benevolent work many congregations contributed to the Jerusalem church that had been overtaken by a catastrophe. Poverty everywhere, and different congregations in different parts of the country in the spirit of Christ sent their funds for the alleviation of the distress in the Jerusalem church, and these funds were sent to the elders of the congregation; and you think that you have something that looks like, or resembles, or is a forty-second cousin to a sponsoring church. You must remember my brother, that the Jerusalem church was not a benefactor but the beneficiary in this particular case; and you certainly didn't expect the many churches contributing to their support to come to Jerusalem and hunt up the destitute families and give them their share of the funds; neither did you expect them to scatter the money over the streets at random and let the poverty-stricken pick it up. But God's appointed way was to deliver the funds to the elders of that congregation to distribute among their own, but they did not go beyond their border and distribute to other congregations, supplanting the work, and authority of the elders of other congregations.

I was amazed at your using this passage. I might call your attention to this fact, that these contributing churches did not have a go-between, or a sponsoring church, collecting the funds from all the congregations and taking the work out of the hands of the elders of the local congregation and sending it themselves.

You also mentioned the fact that when Samaria had received the word of God, the church of Jerusalem sent Peter and John down there. Yes; you should have known that they went to do something that Philip could not do; that is, to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them, and incidentally while they were there they preached the word of the Lord and returned to Jerusalem. What bearing that has upon a sponsoring church is something I can not imagine. Any man thinking that it remotely resembles any feature or phase of the sponsoring church is beyond me; yet it is one of the bones of a skeleton that you are collecting to construct the skeleton that looks like the "missing link."

I note you say the sponsoring church is as scriptural as song books, baptisteries, communion plates, classes, help, etc. Well, I would suggest to you, my brother, that any one knows those congregations in the New Testament, in their singing did not compose the song and the music, all the members singing the song at the same time and composing the music at the same time; but you say "We know by necessary inference that they had a song book." And you therefore conclude that we know by necessary inference that they had a sponsoring church. Wonderful logic, that.

The song book was absolutely necessary; and the sponsoring church was not necessary; as proof of that I refer you to Phil. 4, where the church sent their contribution direct to the missionary, without a sponsoring church as a go-between. And my brother, let me remind you that this was the way the work was done in apostolic days. And in thirty-one years this method of evangelism carried the gospel to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23) and if they did it we can do the same.

So, after you get all of your scriptures—an idea here and an idea there—and a bone from this section and one from another—and construct your man and say we have something that is almost like the sponsoring church; but you can see that we have no specific example.

Thank you, my brother, I knew that before you wrote all those eight articles, before you wrote column after column, and page after page in quest of something that could not be found; but you say you have the basic principle of the sponsoring church idea and yet you confess that God never put that basic principle into practice of the first century church. And this Evolutionist theory has to wait for two thousand years before we can get a congregation of the church of Christ that is willing to adopt a system unheard of and unmentioned in the word of God.

I was surprised at your mentioning the place where the individual is to be baptized. God did not say It had to be done in a river, pond, lake, pool, but he said there had to be enough water for a man to be born of water; and that is the lesser coming out of the greater; hence there must be much water. So, your argument falls down.

Then you say we have no authority for blackboards and charts in preaching. Well, Christ said they were to "see with their eyes and hear with their ears and be converted." So if I can make them see with their eyes by using a blackboard or a chart, and doing exactly what God commanded, that is more than you can say for the sponsoring church.

You also mention classes for different grades. Well, I think you know your Bible well enough to know that milk belongs to babes—and meat to the grown-ups; and if there isn't some suggestion of an idea here, I leave it for you to think about. But I will suggest this much—that while the elders may conduct their Sunday School in any way they see proper without violating any scriptural principle, they dare not go over to another congregation and direct the Sunday School, dividing it into classes, or otherwise, and collecting funds, thus usurping the authority of the elders of other congregations as the sponsoring church does in missionary work.

As to religious papers and things of that kind: Anything that violates any principle of New Testament teachings—or sets aside the authority of the elders of a congregation or destroys the independence of a congregation is wrong.

I would like to review a few of the other things; but the above will apply. I might call your attention to this fact: that the preachers of the sponsoring church idea are learning fast, but they are fifty-years behind the times. The song book and the tuning fork are old stuff. S. D. Briny used that on me in 1912 in defense of the organ and societies. I believe I would get up a new argument. The fact is, you know, my brother, not one single passage in all the Bible supports the Sponsoring Church, and you have to write eight long articles before you can construct a man that looks like or resembles the Sponsoring Church to the unsuspecting; but to the man who reads his Bible and is really seeking for truth and has learned to discriminate between things that differ, your failure is obvious.

I wish to say, in conclusion, that I have the highest regard for you and your ability, and nothing that I have said is intended as a personal reflection upon you in any way. I do not deal in personalities; and if you desire to reply to what I have said, I will welcome any suggestion that you may make or any argument that you may construct; but I am firmly of the view that your position is a departure from the word of God and it tends to great trouble in the future.

I may not live to see it—and you may not; but these overlord elders—the present ones at least—may be so firmly established in the truth in general, that the departure may not be great at present. But little by little there is new blood coming in from time to time, and lack of loyalty and fidelity will lead to a greater desire for more power and more authority and the independence of the local congregation will be absolutely destroyed.

I beg to remain, yours in the love of the Truth, in the fear of God and as a brother in Christ, W. T. Boaz


Hugo Allmond, 3041 St. Clair Ave., Detroit 14, Michigan, Sept. 26: "The Lord continues to prosper the work at East Side Central. Last week mid-week and Sunday Bible school records were broken. Two were baptized. In the past 27 months audiences have almost doubled and contributions are up 125 percent. Two worship services (8:80 and 11 a.m.) are required. Visitors or those coming to Detroit for work will find a hearty welcome with us."