Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952
NUMBER 18, PAGE 13,15b

In Response To Brother Baird

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant City, Alabama

In this issue of the "Guardian" will be found an article by brother O. P. Baird on "Objections to Herald of Truth Examined." In his article brother Baird pointed out that I "undertook to show that the 'Herald of Truth' is not along scriptural lines." He then wrote, "In spite of his failure to show this, there is a danger of people being caused to see the matter as he does and being hindered from engaging in a good work for the spread of the gospel. For this reason it is important to show brother Farish and others, if possible, that those objections are opposed to the right." As brother Baird considers the objections that I offered invalid, it is proper for him, "to show brother Farish and others, if possible, that these objections are opposed to the right." I assure him that I appreciate his concern. There are a number of brethren who see the matter as I do. Several have written endorsing the article under consideration and thousands of others still stand for the New Testament principle of congregational autonomy and independence. A great host of sincere brethren have become convinced that the "Herald of Truth" violates these principles. If we are wrong in that conviction, "it is important to show brother Farish and others — that these objections are opposed to the right." However after reading brother Baird's article I am still of the conviction that these objections are not opposed to the right.

The article, "The Herald of Truth," which brother Baird criticizes appeared in the Gospel Guardian of June 26th. The reader should reread that article and also brother G. K. Wallace's article in that same issue in order to have a background for these present articles. This will also eliminate the need for extensive quotations.

If the elders of a local congregation are not "limited in their plans to the resources of the local congregation over which they have the oversight," what bounds are they to recognize or upon what basis are they to make their plans? Isn't the extent of work governed by the amount of resources available? Are the resources of the "brotherhood" to be the basis of planning for some congregations but not for others? How are we to determine which congregations are to have this unlimited field for planning and which are to be the supporters or contributors?

In his article brother Baird said, "The only objection brother Farish offers is this — ." This objection was the one dealt with above — that of resources. This however was not the only objectionable feature considered for I stated in my article, "Another thing that should be dealt with is whether or not it is scriptural for the elders of a local congregation to accept the responsibility of directing any phase of the work of a number of congregations." What about this other objection, brother Baird? If it is right for the elders of the Highland church to plan and direct the radio evangelism for a national hook up, would it not be right for the elders of the Wilmington church to plan, launch, and direct a national program for the care of orphans — and for another congregation to plan and direct a program for the preaching of the gospel by individual preachers on a national scale, letting local congregations everywhere send funds to that congregation to support such? Those are cases of centralization for which no scriptural justification can be found.

Brother Baird argues that "this principle would exclude all cooperation of churches to do work which could not be done without cooperation." NO, the principle of congregational autonomy and independence only excludes such so-called "cooperation" as would violate the autonomy or independence of the local congregation. If individual brethren and congregations are sending help to Wilmington as Gaius, an individual, and Philippi, a congregation, helped in the furtherance of the gospel, then certainly there is no violation of scripture. More brethren and congregations should be aroused to the need of doing such work in North and South Carolina and in other places where the cause is weak. Appeals can be made to the elders of local congregations to assist in such work without a centralizing agency like "Herald of Truth."

In my article I wrote "any impatience toward efforts to prove all things" reveals spiritual immaturity. This article is intended to provoke careful consideration of this program — to arouse brethren to the need of proving it by the scriptures. The need of such a warning is demonstrated by a statement in brother Baird's article which reveals an impatience toward efforts to "prove all things" by the scripture. He wrote, "Should we write to those churches which are helping us and say, 'It is unscriptural for any church to plan and carry out any work which exceeds the resources of that congregation, so, brethren, cease your unscriptural support to us and let us scripturally wither and fall off the tree?" Why sneeringly say "scripturally wither and fall off the tree"?

Brother Baird writes, "It will not help brother Farish's position to say that was a famine and an emergency unless he is prepared to say that in emergencies we may act on anti-scriptural principles." No, brother Baird, we can never act on anti-scriptural principles. But in emergency and exceptional situations we can act on principles which have been given for emergency and exceptional situations. The contribution for the poor saints in Judea was to take care of an emergency need — a need of such proportion that a "brotherhood appeal" was made. But keep in mind that no organization or unit larger than the local congregation was created — nor did any local congregation set itself up as a permanent collector and director of "church of Christ" funds for famine relief.

The church at Jerusalem "had all things common." Brother Baird, are you prepared to say that that was anti-scriptural? If that be a scriptural arrangement, and it is, then why not take that as authority for all Christians to have "all things common" today? Does that scriptural emergency arrangement furnish authority for the eldership of some congregation to call on all churches to have "all things common" and come and lay the proceeds of the sale of their goods at their (the elders) feet? Is having all things common the normal and regular arrangement with respect to the resources of the members of the church? If not, then are you prepared to accuse the apostles in that emergency of acting "on anti-scriptural principles"?

Finally on the matter of scriptural cooperation in emergency situations we note Paul's outline of the principle in 2 Cor. 8:13,14 "For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; but by equality: Your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality!" This is God's arrangement. Brethren in Judea were in need. That this was an emergency is evident by Paul's statement, "Your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want." The abundance of the Corinthian church was to be a supply "At this present time," not permanently for all time. The church at Corinth and elsewhere that was prosperous was to supply the want and thus even things up. Then sometime if the Corinthians were in want the churches in Judea and elsewhere could supply their want.

In the church of the Lord no one has the authority to declare an emergency and then attempt to justify their permanent super plans on the basis of their "declared emergency."