Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 4, 1954
NUMBER 38, PAGE 1,10-11

"Holding Hands Across The World"

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

Continuing our review of Brother Logan Buchanan's article printed in the Gospel Guardian, January 7, 1954, and our examination of "The Herald of Truth" in the light of facts and the teaching of the New Testament scriptures, your attention is directed to the following from Brother Buchanan's pen, "One congregation, working by itself, can accomplish little. By joining hands together, we can do much more. There is a cumulative effect on the world, when the church works together. (John 17:20, 21) God help us to grow more willing to 'hold hands across the world' for the salvation of souls." Two or three things are worthy of note in this statement:

(1) It is implied that unless the churches "join hands" by channeling their funds for gospel work through a single agency, little can be accomplished. This is the kind of thinking which gave birth to the missionary society. Inherent in this philosophy is the idea of an organic functioning of the universal church. A century ago, Alexander Campbell took the position that the preaching of the gospel to a district, territory, nation, or the world is not the work of a single congregation, that such is beyond the ability of any one congregation, hence is the work of the whole church in any particular district, territory, or nation, or the world. From this premise, he deduced the necessity, the absolute essentiality, of "cooperation," and, by "cooperation," he meant exactly what the brethren today mean in the use of that term; that is, combining resources and operating through a single agency. Having established (?) the absolute essentiality of "cooperation," he advanced a step further by affirming that "cooperation demands organization." Having reached this conclusion, he then argued that in the absence of any revelation on the type of organization, the churches might set up such organization as was expedient and necessary for the accomplishment of the work. Thus did he justify the "cooperation meetings" and the district, state, and national missionary societies of his day. He, too, believed in the "cumulative effect on the world when the church works together." Unlike our brethren today, however, he believed that the more equitable arrangement for such working together was to set up a cooperative arrangement in which all participants would have a voice in its management. Our brethren in such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" ask that cooperating churches surrender their money and their right to a voice in its use to a single agency. It is reported from absolutely reliable sources that Brother James Nichols made a defense of "The Herald of Truth" in Dallas, Texas, on about the same basis. His basic postulate was, "Churches can cooperate." He then argued that since no method of such cooperation is given in the scriptures, the churches are at liberty to select the method which seems most feasible. Like Brother Buchanan, Brother Nichols is guilty of assuming the point at issue in his major premise. He assumes that churches can pool their resources and act through a single agency in the accomplishment of their mission. He cannot assume, he must prove his major premise. Brother Buchanan professes to find a New Testament example, we shall see later if his example meets the demands of the case.

(2) Brother Buchanan uses the prayer of Jesus for the unity of his disciples (John 17:20, 21) to justify such working together as is done through "The Herald of Truth." If the prayer of Jesus justifies the functioning of the churches as a unit through a single agency, it must involve the organic unity of the whole church of God. If it involves the organic unity of the whole church of God, the Roman Catholics may legitimately use it to justify their organization. I should like to pose a question for general consideration: Can the prayer of Jesus for the unity of his disciples be fulfilled without such arrangement as "The Herald of Truth"? Our Non-Sunday School brethren use the prayer of Jesus to prove that it is wrong to divide the assembly or to classify students for the teaching of God's Word. Their use of the prayer is, of course, erroneous, but no more so than Brother Buchanan's use of it.

(3) It is assumed by our brother that churches cannot "hold hands" with one another without such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" and that without such "little" will be accomplished. In apostolic days, the gospel was preached "to every creature under heaven" without the type "cooperation" which Brother Buchanan defends. Without modern means of communication and travel the job was done. Did these brethren fulfill the prayer of Jesus for the unity of his disciples? Did they "hold hands across the world"? Did they believe in "mission" work? To be sure, but without "sponsoring churches" and "centralized control and oversight." Were their accomplishments "little"?

"A New Testament Example"

Brother Buchanan uses the case of the churches of Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia going to the relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem as his example of "cooperation" in apostolic days. Since this is the only argument actually based on the scriptures, I take it that he considers it the strongest and most conclusive of all. If he fails in the use of this example to establish the scripturalness of such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth," it would appear that he is without proof, hence should abandon his position. His argument consists of the following points:

(1) There were saints in Jerusalem who needed relief.

(2) Paul gave "apostolic orders" to the churches of Galatia and Achaia to help them.

(3) The church of Macedonia joined in this ministering to the saints.

(4) The church at Corinth made a pledge to this work and Paul commanded them to keep their pledge.

(5) The money was sent to Jerusalem by the hands of Titus and another unnamed brother who had been "chosen of the churches" to travel with the money.

(6) These brethren circulated among "the churches" to gather the money and carry it to Jerusalem.

(7) From all this, Brother Buchanan's conclusion is that a number of churches "cooperated" in helping Jerusalem, those who carried the money were cooperatively chosen, pledges were made and paid, and those who carried the money visited a number of churches in collecting the money, hence "The Herald of Truth" is scriptural.

The question is: Does Brother Buchanan's conclusion follow from his premises? I do not believe that the premises justify the conclusion. With the premises, I find no fault, but the conclusion does not logically or scripturally follow. The premises fail to justify the conclusion for the following reasons:

(1) The Jerusalem incident had to do with benevolence, but "The Herald of Truth" with evangelism.

(2) The relief sent to Jerusalem resulted from an emergency over which the church at Jerusalem had no control and the work was done among the constituency of that church, whereas "The Herald of Truth" is a scheme born in the minds of men not members of Highland Church at Abilene and which had previous existence under at least two elderships and involves not the constituency of Highland Church alone. Furthermore, it is not an emergency but a need deliberately created.

(3) That Titus and others were chosen by the churches would prove only that a local church has the right to select and use the same messengers used by other churches to send benevolence to a sister church in time of emergency.

Some of the statements above need amplification and discussion. Note the first and second: Benevolence vs. Evangelism. It would not necessarily follow that a practice employed in fulfilling benevolent responsibilities in an emergency sets a precedent for the evangelization of the world. The relief sent to Jerusalem proves only what may be done in a case of emergency with reference to relief of distressed brethren. To infer more from the incident than this is to infer too much. An arrangement employed to meet the demands of an emergency does not furnish a pattern for a permanent arrangement in the work of the church. The community of goods practiced by the Jerusalem church (Acts 4) in time of emergency does not set a pattern for a permanent arrangement of this kind. In time of emergency such as that at Jerusalem, yes, but as a permanent arrangement in all churches for all time, no! Newly established churches in New Testament times functioned without elders. Can we legitimately infer from this that such would please the Lord as a permanent arrangement? Some seem to have inferred such, but not legitimately. A conclusion can involve no more than is included in its premises. Brother Buchanan infers from his premises much that they do not include.

Brother Buchanan compares the work of Titus, Paul, the unnamed brother, and the "messengers of the churches" to the work of the Highland elders as the official board of "The Herald of Truth." Others have compared the function of these men in this matter to the institutional boards of colleges and orphan homes. If there is a parallel between these men and the Highland elders in their respective functions, would this not justify the missionary society rather than "The Herald of Truth"? These men were all members of different congregations. If they were "cooperatively selected to perform a cooperative work" and possessed the same authority that the Highland elders possess and exercise over "The Herald of Truth," they would in principle constitute a missionary society. Brother J. W. McGarvey thought that these men possessed and exercised the same authority that our digressive brethren delegate to the missionary society, hence he used them as his example from the New Testament justifying the missionary society in a speech before the Atlanta Convention of the Christian Church. The fact is that these men served only to carry the funds to their destination and to see that they were accepted by the parties to whom they were sent.

The poor saints in Jerusalem were the objects of the benevolence of the churches, hence it was perfectly proper and scriptural that the money be sent to the Jerusalem Church. Highland Church gives (Glenn Wallace, GG, Jan. 14, 1954) $600 per month to "The Herald of Truth." Brother Reese, one of her elders, is paid $150 per week to superintend the work. I endorse the principle of a supported eldership in such cases where the work demands sufficient time of the elders or elder. Brother Reese's work no doubt demands all of his time, hence it is right that he should be paid. No objection is raised to this, but you will note that the amount Highland Church contributes to the work will not even pay the salary of her own elder much less other salaries and office expense to say nothing of the program itself. By what stretch of the imagination could the Jerusalem incident be compared to this? The Herald of Truth is a brotherhood project, not the work of Highland Church. The Highland Church gives slightly more than one half of one percent of what she proposes to spend in her radio and television plans, hence how could it conceivably be her work?

"Shall We Deny God?"

Our brother says, "Here is a New Testament example of cooperative action in which more than one church chose a man to go out to more than one church and promote a scriptural work, requiring the raising of funds from more than one congregation. This was a scriptural cooperation in spite of the fact that it was too big for the oversight and the support of one single congregation... If this be heresy, rescue me from it — I cannot deny God." Again, he says, "If it was right for the church at Corinth to pledge their giving a year ahead for the relief of the poor saints as in 2 Corinthians 8:10-12, and if it was right to send money to the elders of another congregation as in Acts 11:27-30, it is scriptural and right for a local church to pledge to help Herald of Truth and send money to the Highland elders. If not, why not?"

Brother Buchanan's eloquence and fervency are admired and appreciated, but as has been pointed out already, he infers too much from his premises. He speaks of the relief sent to Jerusalem as being an example of a work too big for the oversight and support of one congregation. He errs. It was not too big for the oversight of one congregation for it was administered by the Jerusalem Church. It was a work too big for the support of the Jerusalem Church for she was the one in distress, but did she plan it that way or were the saints at Jerusalem simply victims of unkind circumstances? How is it with the Highland Church at Abilene? Has she been victimized by circumstances or did she knowingly plan a work two hundred times greater in cost than the amount she planned to contribute toward it with the idea of enlisting the support of other churches? Seriously, Brother Buchanan, do you still consider these two arrangements parallel?

Someone has argued in the past that there is always an emergency as far as preaching the gospel is concerned. Suppose we admit that in a sense this is true. Would it not follow that such an emergency existed at the very time the churches were sending relief to the poor saints at Jerusalem? All can see that it did. This being true, the fact that no such arrangement as that employed to relieve the poor saints at Jerusalem existed for evangelistic purposes proves that there is a difference and that it is not God's will that it should be done.

In Acts 11:27-30, money was sent to relieve the distress of saints in Judea. It was sent to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. It was sent to what elders? Why, to the elders where the money was sent, of course. Well, where was the money sent? It was sent to Judea, hence to the elders of Judea. There were several churches in Judea, hence the money was unquestionably sent the elders of the various churches to be distributed among those over whom they had oversight. This does not remotely resemble "The Herald of Truth." "The Herald of Truth" is a brotherhood project. Logan Buchanan admits it, and Brethren Nichols and Willeford deny it, I am told. Highland Church furnishes one-half of one percent of the cost and yet it is her work. Well, well, what do you know? The preaching of the gospel via radio and television in several hundred communities of the United States and other lands for which Highland Church proposes to ask one thousand churches of the brotherhood to defray ninety nine and one-half percent of the cost is not the work of Highland Church. "Let no man deceive himself." This is not the case in the suggested examples. Certainly, churches can help a sister church in time of emergency with which she is unable to cope, but one church has no authority to plan a work requiring the resources of one thousand churches either in the field of evangelism or benevolence. One "denies" God, rejects God, when he presumes to substitute a humanly devised scheme of organization and government for God's people. (Luke 10:16; 1 Samuel 10:19; 2 Kings 17:15-20) Unless Brother Buchanan can do better in finding authority for such as "The Herald of Truth" than he has thus far presented, it must be said to him, "Thou art the man."