Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 4, 1954

Camouflaged Missionary Societies Defended

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

Elsewhere in this issue of the Gospel Guardian will be found an article by my able and fervent brother in Christ, Logan Buchanan, in reply to my review of his defense of "The Herald of Truth." I am also in receipt of a very friendly, kind letter from him. Brother Buchanan is an experienced controversialist having engaged in some thirteen or fourteen debates, and is noted for his ability to maintain his equilibrium at all times along with his good humor. The friendly, brotherly spirit which he manifests in both his letter and article are most commendable and makes our discussion one in which I can engage without distaste. Of course, both he and I deplore the fact that there are two points of view about the subject of our controversy. We would much prefer to be aligned side by side in all matters affecting the peace, purity, and progress of the church of God.

Ethics Of Reply Questionable

I am not one to complain ordinarily about the manner in which an opponent presents his arguments, but I believe that Brother Buchanan has violated what would be considered ethical procedure in matters of this kind. My articles on "The Herald of Truth" are six in number. Only four had appeared at the time our brother wrote his reply. He knew that others were to follow because such was clearly stated. Too, it was made clear that my articles were more than simply a consideration of Brother Buchanan's article, a general consideration of "The Herald of Truth." For Brother Buchanan, knowing this to be true, to write as he has done criticizing the fact that certain of his arguments had been ignored (as though they could not be answered, therefore, were not replied to) and repeating almost word for word a lengthy argument which had just been printed from his pen in the Gospel Guardian seems to me unnecessary and unethical. Brother Buchanan wrote me on January 28 that "he was preparing some response" to my articles. On February 3, I received from Brother Tant my brother's article. It must have been mailed from Dallas not later than January 30. On February 1, I received the Gospel Guardian (February 4th issue) in which appeared my answer to all the matter about which Brother Buchanan complains at length. If our brother was going to reply to my series before it was finished, he was ethically obligated to reply only to what I had said up to that time and not to what had not been said. Much time and space could have been saved had he done so, but instead, he replied to what had not been said and passed over much that was said. It is my understanding that our brother has said he is set for the defense of "The Herald of Truth." If so, let him consider all the objections that are offered. He mentions my "methodical" treatment of the subject. I do not know whether he meant that as a compliment or otherwise, but his reply would have come much nearer being a "reply" had he been more "methodical" in meeting objections that were offered instead of replying to what had not been said.

An Imaginary "Middle"

Brother Buchanan refers to my use of 1st Corinthians 4:6 (ASV), "... that ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." In doing so, he affirms his firm conviction that such should not be done. Both in his article and letter to me, Brother Buchanan says that he does not hold in contempt those who demand a "thus saith the Lord," and that such is not his attitude toward those that are "agin everything." I am happy that this is his attitude, for all that he will have to do now is to give us his "thus saith the Lord" for 1000 congregations combining to perform a work of evangelism (to which one church is just as responsible as another) through the eldership of a single congregation and the matter will be settled. I will no longer be "agin" when he does this, I'll be "fur." His examples (Acts 11:27-29 and 2nd Corinthians 8, 9) furnish no such precedent as was shown in my article, "Holding Hands Across the World" (Gospel Guardian, February 4). Churches can help a sister church to perform that which is exclusively, particularly, peculiarly, and specifically her own work. They may not combine to perform a general work through the eldership of a single church. His examples illustrate the first, but not the second. "The Herald of Truth" belongs in the second category, not the first. Brother Buchanan is guilty of what is called in logic "an illicit process." His first implied syllogism has an "illicit minor." "No term must be distributed in the conclusion which was not distributed in one of the premises." (Elements of Logic, Whately, p. 82.) The "work" of both of our brother's examples was a work performed among those over whom the elders in question had oversight. The work done by "The Herald of Truth" is not exclusively the responsibility of the Highland elders. It is not the exclusive responsibility of the Highland elders to oversee the preaching of the gospel in Beaumont, and throughout the United States. Brother Buchanan, therefore, has an undistributed term in his minor premise, and a distributed term in his conclusion. The saints under the oversight of the elders of Judea and Jerusalem were their responsibility. The preaching of the gospel via radio and television throughout the United States and the world is not the exclusive responsibility of the Highland Church, Abilene, Texas. The work done by "The Herald of Truth" is the work of over 1000 churches, hence is nothing less than a "camouflaged missionary society." Brother Buchanan himself admits that the work of "The Herald of Truth" is not the work of Highland Church but of many churches: "I am interested in proving that churches can work 'in concert' and 'together,' and have 'fellowship' in performing their work." Note that our brother refers to "their" work. He also says, "If, on the other hand, there is ANY unity of action across congregational lines, there is a certain pooling of resources and confederation of plans necessary."

Brother Buchanan says, "But while it is true that we must not GO BEYOND what is written, we must also not STOP SHORT of what is written" . . . . "Which sin is greater — to do right so zealously that you go beyond what is written, OR to object to what is wrong so loudly that you fail to do what is written? Who knows? As for me and mine, let me stay in the middle of the road, and violate God's will neither on the right hand nor the left."

Brother Buchanan's "middle of the road" is completely imaginary. He's in the ditch on the left and doesn't know it. Two things should be noted about his statements:

(1) He is wrong when he speaks of "going beyond what is written" by doing right zealously. One cannot go beyond what is written doing right. When one goes beyond what is written, he is doing wrong.

(2) Brother Buchanan implies that if a church does not enter into such cooperations as "The Herald of Truth" it is "stopping short" of what is written. Such cooperations are of comparatively recent origin. According to his reasoning, all of the churches for lo! these many years who have not entered into such arrangements have been guilty of "violating God's will on the right hand." Too, the churches of New Testament times which entered into no such arrangement for general evangelism or benevolence were guilty of "violating God's will on the right hand." Our brother's reasoning, like that of Alexander Campbell in the Millennial Harbinger, 1853, on "Church Organization," would make participation in such "cooperation" mandatory. Brother Campbell argued that a church is related to the whole church of God as an individual member is related to a local congregation. Brother Buchanan's use of 1 Corinthians 4:6; James 4:7; Matthew 23:3 and John 17:20 is the same argument in a different guise. It is mandatory that an individual member of a local church be united with all members of that church under its eldership and to work with them within the framework of that divine organization. Is this true of congregations? Brother A. Campbell who endorsed and defended the missionary society and Brother Buchanan who defends "The Herald of Truth" say, "Yes." If it is, why then did God not give the whole church of God an organization as He did in the case of a local church? Brother Campbell stated his views on this point. He said that changing circumstances caused God to leave the type organization up to said, generation. What will Brother Buchanan say? Will our brother take the position that the local church is designed by God to be the organization through which individual members perform their collective responsibilities and that it is also the organization in which many churches are to combine to perform that which is the work of many rather than the work of a single church? If so, on what basis will the decision be made as to which church shall be the organization through which the churches cooperate? Brother Buchanan cites Brother Showalter's article as setting forth the difference between "The Herald of Truth" and a "Missionary Society." That, too, is a debatable point. Brother Showalter's article will be taken care of in time. Right now, suppose Brother Buchanan engages to show the precise difference between a missionary society void of abuses and "The Herald of Truth" void of abuses. I challenge my brother to take the principle of cooperation and the manner of cooperation involved in each and show why one is wrong and the other is not.

A Church Cannot Give Scripturally To A Human Institution

Our brother says, "Personally, we are sincerely convinced that it is TEN THOUSAND TIMES more scriptural to have the church, AS A CHURCH, perform its God-given duty to proclaim the gospel under its God-ordained elders, than to set up a CHARTERED CORPORATION (admittedly a human institution existing without Divine authority), such as the Roy E. Cogdill Publishing Company, to preach the gospel to the alien through the columns of Ancient Landmarks, and to further carry the gospel to the church, through the columns of the Gospel Guardian." He further says, "Brother Adams tells us that 'we cannot unite to act in a missionary society to accomplish that for which we pray.' — We grant this, as an agreement, without protest. Our interest is in seeing the CHURCH, as a church, do the work of the CHURCH. We are not interested in building up any OTHER organization to carry out, or to take over, the responsibility of the church to preach the gospel, whether it is a CHARTERED CORPORATION (such as Cogdill Publishing Company), or a MISSIONARY SOCIETY. We are not quite sure that it is scriptural for the church, as a church, to contribute to either."

Brother Buchanan may need to do some explaining of this statement also, inasmuch as its necessary implications are so far reaching. Let us note them:

(1) He makes parallel a "Missionary Society" and chartered corporations such as "Cogdill Publishing Company." If his parallel is a true parallel, then, "Christian Colleges," "Orphan Homes," "Religious Book Stores" (such as he once owned and operated in Oak Cliff), and all of the publishing houses of the brethren, "Gospel Advocate," "Firm Foundation," "Christian Chronicle," etc. are parallel to the "Missionary Society." Since Brother Buchanan professes to believe that "Missionary Societies" are unscriptural, he is obligated to brand as unscriptural all of these "chartered corporations" and "human institutions."

(2) He says, "I am not sure that it is scriptural for the church, as a church, to contribute to either." Does he think, then, that it would be all right for an individual to give to the missionary society? His argument forces him to do one of two things. He must either denounce colleges, orphan homes, publishing houses, book stores etc. as unscriptural, or he must take the position that it is scriptural for missionary societies to exist and operate so long as they are supported by individual donations. Which position will he take?

(3)Brother Buchanan's parallel is not new. The digressive supporters of the Missionary Society made just such an argument with reference to the Gospel Advocate in David Lipscomb's day. They, too, believed that publishing houses and the missionary society are exact parallels. They endorsed and supported both congregationally and individually. What is our brother's position?

(4) The Cogdill Publishing Company does not solicit or accept contributions from churches, or does Brother Buchanan mean that he considers a subscription for a paper or an order for a book or the payment for a printing job a contribution? Does our brother believe that it is unscriptural for churches as such to contribute to such institutions as Boles Home, and Abilene Christian College? If so, is it unscriptural for them to accept and use such contributions? Just what was Brother Buchanan trying to say? Does he believe it unscriptural for churches to subscribe for papers, have printing done, or order books?

Objections And Agreement

Brother Buchanan professes to define our points of agreement. He unconsciously, I am sure, misrepresents the matter. He reads into statements of mine his own irrelevant conclusions. He represents me as admitting that Highland Church has the "responsibility" of preaching the gospel throughout the world. I said, that she has the "right" to do so if she is able to do it. The responsibility of Highland Church ends where her ability ends with reference to general evangelism. If Highland has the responsibility to preach throughout the world without regard to her ability, so does every other church of Christ on earth. If it is the duty of all the churches to help Highland fulfill this responsibility, it is the duty of all of the churches to help every other church fulfill her responsibility along this line. What a situation that would be. Imagine every church trying to evangelize the whole world and depending upon all of the other churches to pay for the work she plans and sets in motion. This sounds like something a man might dream after eating too many hot-dogs at midnight. Now, if our brother argues that only the "big" churches — Broadway, Union Avenue, Highland, etc. — have the right (surely he will not), where did they get the right? Nothing that is not questionable on other grounds is too big for Highland Church to do that she has the ability to do? Anything in the field of general evangelism or benevolence that is too big for her to do, she has neither the right nor responsibility to try to do.

This brings up the matter of congregations working "together" or in "concert." I am correctly quoted as saying that congregations can do so. Brother Buchanan raises this question, "Now if churches can work together, and 'in concert,' why is it a sin for them to share the expense of that in which they may work together, if it is work that needs to be done?" Our brother evidently does not understand the meaning of such words as "together" and "concert" Did he ever attend a Band Concert? Every person in this effort does not blow the same horn, or function through a single band member. They are under the direction of the same leader; they play the same music; but they also act independently. One does not act through the other. Churches may operate concurrently in the same field for the accomplishment of the same object each functioning independently under Christ, yet in concert. Brother Buchanan assumes that radio preaching can only be done through the networks to the whole nation. Each church under Christ sustaining a radio program in its own and such other communities as it is able preaching thereon the same gospel is acting in concert with every other church so engaged. Churches might scripturally communicate with one another and cooperate in the reaching of the masses by so locating the programs as to reach the maximum number of those who need it. It does not have to be done through a single eldership. Webster defines "concert" as meaning: "Agreement in a design or plan; union formed by a mutual communication of opinions or views; accordance in a scheme; simultaneous action." It is an egregious blunder to assume that churches cannot cooperate, work together, act in concert without combining to act through a single agency. May it be repeated: If the Lord expected such of his churches, he would have given them the organization through which to act. So long as the New Testament teaches congregational autonomy and equality, such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" are forbidden.

A Dodge And An Inaccuracy

I am accused of unconsciously dodging a question. Our brother asked: "What is it that brethren can unite to pray about that they cannot unite to help accomplish?" I answered: "They can unite in prayer for the conversion of the heathen, but they cannot unite to act in a missionary society to get the job done." Brother Buchanan says that this dodges the issue. To the contrary, it is quite apropos of the point at issue. Let us reduce Brother Buchanan's argument to a syllogism:

Major Premise: Whatever we can unite in prayer about we can combine to act to accomplish.

Minor Premise: We can unite to pray for the salvation of the lost through gospel preaching by means of radio and television.

Conclusion: Therefore "The Herald of Truth" is scriptural.

A tyro in logic should be able to see that our brother is guilty of a common logical fallacy, "petitio principii" (begging the question). He assumes the truth of his conclusion in his major premise. He cannot assume; he must prove it. Instead he simply assumes that we can combine to act through a single agency to accomplish that for which we pray. This is the precise point at issue. I have the same logical right to conclude from his argument that the missionary society "is scriptural" as does he that "The Herald of Truth is scriptural." Brother Nichols makes the same mistake when he argues from the premise: "Churches can cooperate." No, my answer was perfectly proper and precisely apropos.

My apologies to Brother James Nichols IF he does not in the name of a relative or OTHERWISE own stock in the Christian Chronicle. May this correct any wrong impression and may he forgive me for any injury real or imagined. My authority was a personal letter from an Abilene brother to a local preacher in Beaumont, but even so I did not "charge it" or make an "argument" on it. Look at the context, Brother Buchanan.


Brother Buchanan has failed to find scriptural authority for such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth." His scriptural examples are completely deficient. He infers the universal from the particular. His conclusions involve more than his premises. I await with interest his reaction to our challenge to write an article on the subject: "What Is Wrong With the Missionary Society?"