Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952
NUMBER 18, PAGE 3,12b

Objections To "Herald Of Truth" Examined

. P. Baird, Wilmington, North Carolina

Through the "Herald of Truth" broadcast a vast number of people are hearing the gospel each week. In the June issue of the "Guardian" appeared an article by Robert H. Farish objecting that the method being used is unscriptural.

The writer of the article rightly said that in any endeavor we should "consider whether we are moving along scriptural lines." He then undertook to show that the "Herald of Truth" is not along scriptural lines. 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 these objections are opposed to the right.

Our brother says "those who have endorsed `The Herald of Truth' should attempt to establish ... the scripturalness of such an arrangement as the `Herald of Truth'." If the scriptures authorize a thing to be done but do not indicate what arrangement or method is to be used in doing it we are left to our own judgment as to what method or arrangement should be used under any particular set of circumstances, limited only to those methods or arrangements which do not violate any teaching of scripture. Brother Farish thinks the arrangement for financing the broadcast is in violation of scripture.

The only objection brother Farish offers is this: "More and more individuals and local congregations are planning super programs of work, which exceed the bounds of the possibilities of that individual or local congregation and then calling on the 'brotherhood' to support their programs . . . There is a growing number of self appointed planners springing up in the church. These planners seem unwilling to plan and work within the divine framework of the local congregation but must in their planning ignore congregational lines and limitations. The elders of each congregation need to realize that they are limited in their plans to the resources of the local congregation over which they have the oversight. They are responsible for that church and that church alone. This is ignored in this national broadcast set-up."

This principle would exclude all cooperation of churches to do work which could not be done without cooperation. The church in Wilmington, North Carolina, for which I preach is small and financially weak. Churches and individual Christians in many places have sent contributions to enable us to build a suitable place of worship. Others send regular monthly contributions to enable this church to have the help of a regular preacher. 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"? It is not hard for us at Wilmington to see that something is seriously wrong with brother Farish's principle.

We all know it is the duty of individual Christians and churches to relieve the suffering of the needy. The church in Jerusalem did that from the beginning. Such a distressing condition of need arose in Judea that the churches there did not have the resources to supply the need. Paul helped them get aid from other congregations to do the work for which they did not have the resources. Paul went about among the churches urging them to send money to make up what the brethren in Judea lacked in resources to do the work which they found at hand, promising that he and others would take the money to Jerusalem. Was Paul a "self appointed planner"? 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. Besides, that was not as serious an emergency as the famine of the word in the hearts of people today. If the elders in Jerusalem had acted according to brother Farish's principle they would have refused the aid of the churches in other regions and said, "If we can't feed all the hungry from our own resources the only scriptural thing to do will be to let the ones we can't feed starve."

Perhaps someone will say it is right for one church to help another relieve the suffering of the needy, since there is a Bible example of that, but that it would be wrong for one church to help another preach the gospel, since there is no Bible example of that. There are many things a church ought to do in carrying out the mission God gave it. All admit we have a Bible example of churches in one place helping a church in another place carry out one part of its God-given work. If someone tries to tell me that churches cannot scripturally help another church do some other part of its God-given work, I can't accept that until I am shown a reason from the scriptures for making such a distinction. Such a distinction would be purely arbitrary. It is sinful to make unscriptural distinctions that tend to discourage God's people from having a part in a good work that advances the gospel.

If brother Farish were asked to give a scriptural reason for taking up a collection on the first day of the week for the general support of the church, including preaching the gospel, doubtless he would cite the Bible example, in 1 Cor. 16:2, of laying by in store on the first day of the week. He would be right in citing that passage, but, remember, that was a collection for a special purpose and it was not for preaching the gospel, it was for relief of the needy. Please find an example for taking up a collection on the first day of the week for any other purpose. If we can see that this passage shows it is right to take a collection to carry out the work of the church, helping the needy being only one part of that work, why can't we see that the example of churches helping churches in other places relieve the suffering of the needy shows that it is right for one church to help another one to do any work that should be done by the church but is beyond the resources of the one congregation? But this is a little aside from the point that brother Farish raised. His principle would forbid one church from even considering doing anything for which it would need assistance from the Lord's people outside that one church.

Since brother Farish's position, if accepted, would stop churches from doing what New Testament churches did with apostolic approval his position is wrong and needs no further refutation. Nevertheless, let us give attention to his effort to prove his position by the scriptures. He gives scriptures which we all admit shows that it is God's plan for elders to have the oversight of only the congregation over which they are appointed elders. Why does brother Farish think these scriptures prove that "the elders of each congregation . . . are limited in their plans to the resources of the local congregation over which they have the oversight"? From the scriptures he gives he correctly concludes, "These elders were to exercise oversight over the flock in which the Holy Spirit had made them bishops. They had been made bishops of a single congregation." To prove his point by these scriptures brother Farish would have to show that God's plan of the elders of a church having oversight of that church only is violated when one church helps another do a work for which it does not have sufficient resources. He would have to show that the church giving the aid comes under the oversight of the elders of the church receiving the aid.

Since brother Farish contends, and rightly so, that there is no Bible example of elders of one congregation exercising the oversight of another congregation, and since we have undeniable Bible examples of one church aiding another to do a work it was not able to do alone, the simplest kind of logic would force brother Farish to admit that such aid given by one church to another does not violate the plan of God for the elders of one church to have the oversight of that church only.

It is sincerely hoped that if good people have been hindered from having a part in some good work of the Lord by the objection brother Farish makes that they will no longer be deceived.