Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952
NUMBER 18, PAGE 2,5b

The Church And Human Organizations: -- No. 2

A. M. Plyler, Jasper, Alabama

Our former article closed, with the simple statement of the fact that the missionary society of our progressive brethren has been a failure, in so far as preaching the Gospel to the world is concerned. I know by my own observation that this is true in the southland. In New Testament times the early church carried the Gospel to the then known world in less than forty years; the missionary society started among the brethren about a hundred years ago, and I have been unable to find one single congregation that they have started by means of this society. Every congregation known to me that works according to the fashion of the society brethren, is a congregation that was started by loyal brethren and was later captured by these soft pedaling progressive brethren.

I began preaching in Walker County, Alabama, in 1920. At that time in the county we had fourteen small struggling congregations of loyal churches, and one congregation that espoused the cause and manners of the society. In a little more than thirty years we have started more loyal churches in the county; the progressives still have their one, and to my knowledge they have never so much as held a Gospel meeting in any section of the country where there was no church established. What is true in this county is true throughout the southland. It does not take a wise man to see that the organizations of men to preach the Gospel have been an utter failure.

I believe that brethren are generally agreed that the above statements are true and cannot be successfully denied; but today many good brethren who admit these facts, and who have consistently opposed digression from the simple Bible pattern have been of late years led captive by another false conception of the work of the church, and are now advocating the idea that the church may contribute of its funds and from its treasury to other human organizations such as Christian colleges, orphan homes, old folks homes, and such organizations that have been formed and organized by the strategy of men.

It is the contention of this writer that brethren do have the right to form themselves into a band, organization, or board for the purpose of carrying on a legitimate business. Such a board or organization may be made up of members all of whom are members of the Lord's church. But such an organization is not a church, and its work is not the work of the church. Such an organization is a human organization, and has no legitimate right to call upon the church of the Lord to support it nor even to accept funds if they are offered. To mix and mingle the human with the divine is to bring down the wrath of the Almighty God upon those who thus do.

It is now our purpose to consider some of the arguments that have been set forth by these brethren who contend for the support of these human boards and organizations by funds collected in the local congregations.

First, an argument of this kind has been made; in a certain congregation all the members felt willing, and wanted to make a contribution to a certain college engaged in Christian education; and it is agreed by all that individual Christians may contribute to such a school. It is contended then since every member of the congregation wanted to contribute to the school that the funds could be taken from the church treasury. Since all the members had contributed the funds to the church treasury it would be the same thing as it would be for every member to make a contribution to the school by a personal gift. This argument has often been made, and many seem never able to see the fallacy of it. Now in the first place the money put into the Lord's treasury is the Lord's money to do the Lord's work. It is not the work or business of the Lord's church to operate schools or any other secular business. Individuals may do that but not the Lord's church.

Again, it is said since the school teaches the Bible in the school and the teaching of the Bible is the work of the church, then the school is doing the work of the church, and therefore the church has a right and should contribute to it. To which we reply that it is also the duty of an individual Christian to teach the Bible as an individual. And we contend that is what is being done in our schools. The schools exist not for the sole purpose of teaching the Bible, but for general education, of which the Bible is a part.

The commission given to the church is to carry the Gospel to all the world. (Mark 16:16; Eph. 3:10-11; 2 Tim. 3:15) Those who teach the Bible in the school are not working under that commission as a church but are exercising their duty as a Christian to teach. (Heb. 5:12; 2 Tim. 2:2) The work of the church is to teach, convert, and save the world. The work of the Bible teacher in the school is not primarily to convert sinners, but to teach, build up and strengthen those who have been converted and want to attain to higher ideals in Christian life and living. Paul told Timothy to "Commit to faithful men" the things that he had learned of him that they might he able to teach others, also. (2 Tim. 2:2) That is not the commission given to the church but a charge given to an individual. Let us learn to distinguish the difference of the work of an individual, and work of the church.

It is also contended by some that anything that is the duty of an individual to support, then the church should also support the same thing. It should be easy for anyone to see the difference in what is the duty of an individual and the work of the church. In 2 Tim. 5:10, Paul declares that a widow indeed, must be "well reported of for good works, if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." Now if the church may engage in whatever is the duty of an individual, that puts feet washing in the church, because that is listed as the duty of an individual. In verse 16, again it is pointed out that individuals who have widows, let them relieve them that the church be not burdened. In these verses the duty of the church and individuals are clearly marked out and contrasted.

Some have been known to come up with this kind of an argument, they say that the church will lend the use of its buildings, and furnishings to a school, for a mass meeting, or program for the advertising, or making the public acquainted with the work that school is doing; they contend then that if it is right to thus do, it would certainly not be wrong then for the church to contribute of its funds already collected and in its treasury, to the work of the school. Oh yes, brother, there is quite a difference in the two. If the school puts on a program, or sends a speaker to a community to acquaint the public with its work, and the church building is used, the members of the church with their neighbors who live in the community are the ones who attend, they are the ones who sit on the seats, are cooled by the breeze of the church's fans, or warmed by the heating system of the church. They listen to the program, or to the speaker, if there are any benefits to come from such a meeting, the church and the people of the community are the ones who enjoy such benefits. No one is forced to make any contribution to the school. No church work or worship is performed or carried on in such a meeting, the church has only exercised its privilege in permitting its building to be used for such a meeting. The church building with its furnishings is also used for weddings and funerals. Suppose a man lives in the community who is a drunkard; his wife or some other member of the family dies and the church building used for the funeral, would that be the same thing as the church making a contribution to the man who is a drunkard? If the building is used for a wedding would that be the same thing as the church making a contribution to the married couple? If some club in the community sees fit to use the church building a time or two for its meeting, would that be the same thing as the church making a contribution to the club? Now surely we can see the difference in the church granting the use of its personal property, for such causes as are wholesome and legitimate, and in making a contribution from the church treasury. Other arguments will be considered in our next article which will conclude this series.