Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 27, 1952
NUMBER 46, PAGE 3,5c

"An Answer To Brother Boydston"

R. Ervin Driskill, Columbus, Georgia

In the February 26 issue of the Firm Foundation there is an article by brother Hugh Boydston, of Breckenridge, Texas. The title of his article is: "Things Scripturally Permissible." I think I can say I can reply to his article and still be regarded as his brother. I have known him for a number of years although I have not had the privilege of seeing him for several years.

He says, "The fact that no example, or command for printing papers can be found does not prove that it is sinful for papers to be printed. The editor and publisher of a paper does not by his actions nor words proclaim that be thinks he is able to improve upon the New Testament." Now, this is true but it seems, to me, that there are some who "in effect" are saying by their actions they can Improve upon the plan, of doing the work of the church, as taught in the New Testament. The editor of a paper is doing what all Christians are to do; teach the word of God. He is acting within his God given sphere and I think that no one would question that examples of individual teaching can be found in the New Testament. But, the question is: "Is a congregation within its God given sphere when it plans and directs a work (to which other congregations sustain equal relationship) and then call on other congregations to send THEM money to carry on THEIR plans? In other words, is it scriptural for congregations to turn their money over to ONE congregation to finance what that ONE congregation plans and directs? Is this staying within their God given sphere? I am waiting for the passage that teaches it and I believe a lot of other brethren are too. No one denies congregations can cooperate in teaching God's word and caring for orphans but the question is what is scriptural cooperation? The word teach is generic but the sphere of congregational activity is specific; if not then what is it that prohibits the societies? The difference is simply this; we have a scriptural example for the paper (individual teaching) where there is no scriptural example of centralized control for preaching the gospel and caring for orphans, where congregations send money to ONE congregation to plan and direct a work which is a work of said CONGREGATIONS.

He further says, "The elders of a church who own a home for orphans, and hire employees, and take care of orphans do what is commanded in the Bible." This is true provided they do not undertake more than they can handle and then expect other congregations to furnish the money to sustain it. God doesn't expect any congregation to do more than it can do and it certainly is no part of wisdom to try to do so. If there are more orphans in a community than the local congregation can care for then outside congregations can help but what right does the local congregation have to create a situation (take on more than they are able) and expect others to finance it? If it is right for one local church to do this then, it is right for all congregations to do it and who would appeal to whom for finances?

Then brother Boydston says, "The home becomes no more an institution than the Bible school on Sunday morning does." True, if it is doing the work of that local church but if it is being supported by other congregations to do THEIR (other congregations) work of caring for orphans it becomes an institution as certain as there are institutions.

But again, "In each case a part of the Lord's work is being carried on by the elders of a church of Christ." There seems to be something wrong when people cannot see the difference in a local church's Bible school work (under the supervision of the elders of that church) and other congregations paying that local church (by supporting a home under that local eldership) to do THEIR (the supporting church) work of caring for THEIR orphans. Yes, in each case a part of the Lord's work is being carried on by the elders of a church of Christ but the former is scriptural (and this is not questioned) and the latter is not scriptural (this is the thing for which we are asking for proof).

Furthermore the article says, "I may not be able to find an example of this specific method of caring for orphans or the teaching of God's word either, but that does not come into the picture when the thing done is authorized by a general command." I deny a home under local elders (which is being supported by other churches to do what they themselves are to do) is authorized by the general command to care for orphans. When the Bible commands us to care for orphans and then gives us an example of how it was done (the poor saints at Jerusalem) the command is not general, at all, but specific. As I view the matter brother Boydston has produced a "double exposure" for the picture.

Could Churches Cooperate In This?

"The Bible school of a congregation is sometimes very much dependent upon a sister congregation for a teacher in some strategic part of its work. Who would cry centralized control and oversight if the congregation of the College church in Abilene were to answer a plea from the church in Breckenridge to send one of its members to teach a class here or to take care of the preaching if such were needed?" Teaching and preaching is a work the local church is to do and they are not acting in behalf of the College church. When that teacher or preacher arrives he is amenable to the Breckenridge church and not the College church. This is not true in the case of the thing brother Boydston has in mind when he speaks of "centralized control and oversight."

"But if the congregation at the same location in Abilene were starting a new work why could they not solicit the church at Breckenridge to assist with some money, personal workers, a song director and in any other way that new work might need? Is that "centralized control and oversight?" Does brother Boydston mean by this that elders of the College church can oversee their home congregation and the new congregation too? Does he believe in elders over "one congregation" or, more than one? When does this "new work," to which he refers, become a church? Yes, Breckenridge could help but neither the elders of the College church nor the Breckenridge church have the scriptural right to "oversee two churches." Then he says, "If these principles are applied they will reach to Germany, or Japan as easily as to a mission point in Texas." The point yet to prove is that these principles will apply. They do not and therefore, they do not reach Germany, Japan or a "mission point" in Texas. That's what is wrong with the whole thing.

"If a church as a church may not ask another church as a church to help in a scriptural effort there can never be much done in the foreseeable future." Brother Boydston, they can — IN A SCRIPTURAL EFFORT! Your plan is not scriptural.

"If the church in Breckenridge had an orphanage under its elders and we found ourselves with more orphans than we could support would it be better to turn the surplus over to Catholics or to request of sister congregations that they make contributions to us to help us care for them?" Brother Boydston: I would say that if in order to care for this surplus of orphans you had to do it in an unscriptural way or turn them over to the Catholics that the end does not justify the means. If you had an orphanage and could not care for YOUR orphans then call on sister congregations to help you just as was done for the poor saints IN Jerusalem. But this would not be "centralized control and oversight" because you would not be calling on them to furnish you money to care for THEIR ORPHANS but YOUR ORPHANS. This is not the "centralized control and oversight" that I have been hearing complaint about.