Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 3, 1954

Questions For Study


We think it is a highly encouraging sign that brethren all over the land are giving serious and scrupulous study to the many problems which now face the churches. We should never be alarmed or distressed by "problems." Problems are the daily fare of every faithful Christian and congregation. It is only when individuals or congregations refuse to face the problems, flee from reality, and seek refuge in trying to blame others that problems can become dangerous. Let us face them resolutely and honestly, seeking the Bible solution to each of them as it arises.

Of late years there has been an increasing problem in the churches over what has been called "institutionalism." Readers of this journal will hardly need an explanation or definition of that term. The problem arises not because institutions exist, but because efforts have been made, and are being made, to have the church support, contribute to, and do its work through such arrangements. This, to many seems a tacit denial of the "all-sufficiency of the church." It appears to be a retreat from the plea and preaching of gospel preachers of the past, and a positive step toward sectarianism, if not Roman Catholicism.

We are receiving a very heavy mail these last few months relative to this matter. We quote herewith an excerpt from a letter received last month which is typical of scores we've had in late weeks. The writer of this letter is a faithful gospel preacher. He has never had any writing of any sort on the pages of the Gospel Guardian, and so far as we can recall, this is the first letter we've ever had from him on any subject. But here is the quotation:

"In discussions with brethren regarding our "super-organization" tendencies I have frequently asked the following questions. If these will serve any good purpose, feel free to use them.

I. Do the elders of one congregation have a scriptural right to devise a permanent program which will necessarily involve funds from other congregations?

II. Is responsibility in proportion to ability?

1. Is it possible for there to be the assumption of responsibility where there is no ability?

2. If assuming responsibility where there is no ability is the responsibility of one congregation is it not the responsibility of every congregation?

3. If a congregation has the responsibility to assume responsibility where it has no ability, then how does a congregation know what its responsibility is, and how does it know when it has met its responsibility?

4. Is congregational responsibility determined by the possibility of the brotherhood?

III. How does emergency affect law?

1. Can things be done in emergency situations which cannot be done under ordinary circumstances? (emergency — the existence of a need peculiar to a local congregation which is greater than that congregation alone can bear)

2. Does a congregation have a right to create an emergency?

IV. What about doing other works through super organizations?

1. As benevolence, establishing new congregations, distribution of tracts, news articles in all the papers of the world, etc.

2. Would this not create two types of churches: paying and working, contributing and receiving.

These are questions for study. They indicate that there has been serious THINKING on the part of the one who prepared them. And we are heartened and encouraged by such. Fuming and fussing and fretting will solve no problems, mean and vicious outbursts of sarcasm and ridicule will get us nowhere. What we need is STUDY — the most serious, prolonged, and prayerful searching of God's Word of which we are capable. And then, having a clear grasp of its teachings, we need infinite patience, sympathetic understanding, and an indomitable determination to help others to that solid safe ground. Letters like the above indicate that there are multitudes of quiet and humble preachers over the land who say little but who are thinking plenty. They will not be swept off their feet by the whoop-la of big promotions nor will they be intimidated by the vociferous outbursts of the critics who try to pressure them into line. We thank God for such men, and take heart for the tremendous task that lies ahead of all of us.