Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 8, 1951
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4-5a

"The Cooperation Controversy" Reviewed -- No. 4


This is fourth and final article in our review of brother Cecil N. Wright's nine articles on "The Cooperation Controversy." We have demonstrated the dangerous and false assumption on which brother Wright built his argument: namely, that an American eldership can exercise authority over a foreign congregation "on precisely the same basis" that would prevail in their oversight of a gospel meeting in their own community. We have shown that if elders of an American "sponsoring church" are acting AS ELDERS in their oversight of a foreign church, they are violating plain New Testament teaching; and if they are not acting as elders in spending the money of other churches, then they are simply a "committee" or "agency" without any scriptural authority whatever. There is no New Testament example of elders ever spending money contributed by other churches in any way save in their own work and in their own community. We have demonstrated the wide divergence between brother Wright's "sponsoring church method" and the method actually used by Paul when he carried the gospel into a distant place and received help in so doing.

In this final article we want to offer a few comments on some of the things brother Wright produced in his effort to show that the "sponsoring church method" for foreign evangelism has always been regarded as scriptural.

The Oneida Work (Article 2)

Brother Wright cites the case of the work among the Indians at Oneida, Wisconsin, to show that in 1940-41 the Gospel Guardian (Bible Banner then) advocated and approved the "sponsoring church method" of supporting a distant work. We have not read all the back files on the Oneida work, but from the description brother Wright gives of it and from the quotations he makes from the Bible Banner, we are inclined to agree that this had many of the ear-marks of modern "sponsored foreign work" But if there was any action at all by which the elders of the Highland Church (Abilene, Texas) exercised "oversight" of the Oneida congregation, then those brethren in Abilene were wrong, and the Bible Banner was wrong to promote and encourage any such arrangement.

Does the fact that these brethren may have made a mistake in 1940 mean that it would be right for other brethren to make the same mistake today? Are we never to learn or profit from our mistakes? It might interest brother Wright to know that at least some of those connected with the Oneida work have since stated that they felt it was on the wrong basis. Furthermore, Oneida is not a very happy choice for one who is attempting to prove either the scripturalness of the practicability of the "sponsoring church method" for foreign work. The Oneida work failed miserably; her preacher apostatized; her congregation disbanded; and the very house which they built has been moved away from the grounds! Surely there is here a solemn warning of the practical impossibility (not to mention the unscripturalness) of one congregation trying to "oversee" another congregation two thousand miles away.

H. Leo Boles (Article 2)

In further defense of his "sponsoring church method" brother Wright quotes from H. Leo Boles, attempting to show that at one time brother Boles approved and endorsed such an idea. He also quotes from brother Boles to show that at another time Boles taught the very contrary of this.

We will not try to defend brother Boles. He was a godly man and our respected teacher. We loved him and we honor his memory. But there were others of brother Boles' students even closer to him than were we. Brother B. C. Goodpasture, present editor of the Gospel Advocate, was one such. We feel that it would be far more appropriate for him to answer brother Wright's charge against Boles than for us to attempt to do so. (Especially in view of the fact that it was his own paper which first published the Wright indictment of Boles.) It is a well-recognized fact that brother Goodpasture regards hardly any sin in the catalogue, as being more repulsive and reprehensible than the sin of "changing." And he will probably want to defend brother Boles against brother Wright's accusation.

So far as we are concerned, we'd rather just admit that it looks like brother Boles' practice of 1944 was contrary to his teaching of 1932. At least, on the basis of brother Wright's quotations from him that appears to be the case. Well, we believe the teaching was right. Now if brother Wright can prove that brother Boles acted contrary to that teaching, then he has convicted Boles of inconsistency.

So what? Does brother Boles' inconsistency prove a thing to be right?


To one who read brother Wright's articles with any degree of care and discernment, it was perfectly evident that the ninth article was an attempt to "hedge" or back up on some of the things set forth in the first eight articles. Brother Wright planned to make the eighth article his last, and so stated. But apparently re-reading the whole series after finishing, he realized how far astray he had gone and to what monstrous and untenable positions he had unwittingly committed himself. So Article Nine was seemingly written in an effort to disavow the consequences of the arguments made in the first eight. Certainly, we have no desire to press brother Wright and charge him with believing the logical and inescapable consequences of his position. Particularly will this be the case when he denies (as we anticipate he will) that he advocates any American eldership exercising "presbyterial authority" over a foreign congregation. But that his argument does imply such we feel no fair-minded person who has read our review will attempt to deny.

Since both brother Goodpasture and brother Showalter have given editorial endorsement to the Wright articles, we believe it is now up to them also to state whether or not they accept, or deny, the consequences of the argument. Very likely brother Showalter will issue a denial of any belief in that direction. He does not believe, and we think he will probably so state, that an American eldership can exercise eldership authority over a foreign congregation. Brother Goodpasture will probably make no forthright declaration at all on the issue, but will search various places for some quotation from somebody else which will tend to embarrass or discredit some of the men who are writing on these matters.

We could continue writing on the false charges and false teaching in brother Wright's articles; but we think this will suffice for the present. Certainly we make no claim that we have always written so that everyone could understand perfectly what we were trying to teach. And neither are we contending that all writings in the Guardian have been free from error—either as to content or as to the spirit of the writer. But we're trying. And we're going to keep on trying. The thing proposed by brother Wright is wrong and dangerous; his argument followed to its logical conclusion would land us all right in the historical stream of Roman Catholicism. Brother Wright does not want that. Neither do we. We have tried to point out to him, and to our readers, why his position is wrong. We hope our labor has not been in vain, and that brother Wright, brother Showalter, brother Goodpasture and all others who read this will join with us in a mighty and unflagging effort to encourage brethren everywhere to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." There is a scriptural way to do it; there is a New Testament example of how it was done once; there is a way which everybody will agree is right. It is the method used by Paul. If the churches will cooperate "on that basis" then we can have done with all this discussion and writing and argument. Why should it not be so? May God hasten the day when it will be so.

— F. Y. T.