Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1955
NUMBER 24, PAGE 10-11b

A Reply To Brother Oler

J. N. Beard, Kilgore, Texas

In an article appearing in Boles Home News of August 10, Bro. Gayle Oler has, I believe, misrepresented many of my brethren and makes some charges and accusations against churches throughout the brotherhood which cannot be substantiated. Bro. Oler personally is acquainted with the elders and many of the members at the Houston and Broadway church in Kilgore, and I don't believe he could rightly accuse us of letting our "labor of love falter" and "our religion eventuate itself in doubts, fears and inactivity".

Although our program of work could not be called great by some standards, we are engaged in both benevolent and evangelistic work outside our own environs to the amount of something like $450 per month. We are helping churches which are unable to do their own work, and so far not a single dollar has been turned over to another eldership to do work which is not peculiarly their own. We believe this is co-operation New Testament style. I wonder if Brother Oler does! If not, he is obligated to give us an example of churches doing it some other way. If he does believe it is right, then he owes us, along with all other churches engaged in such work, an apology. Much has been said on both sides of the issue which should never have been said and what Brother Oler has written will only serve to further becloud the issue and discourage some from any further study of it. It will be a sad day indeed when elders and preachers no longer question what is being practiced in the church, and just embrace any arrangement or method that brings about the desired results. His reference to those who are letting men die in sin while they make up their mind as to how to do the work is exactly the same argument made to support the Missionary Societies. Would he say that Brother David Lipscomb and others erred in fighting the Societies? Were they guilty of letting men die in sin while they "fiddled"?

Now I realize that I'm not very smart. I'm not a preacher nor one of the "writin' brethren", just a mediocre elder in a mediocre church; and I freely confess I am unable to understand what Brother Oler means by his reference to Acts 11:30 and Phil 4:18. No gospel preacher or elder that I know contends that sending money directly to an eldership to help them do a work which is particularly their own is wrong. Nor do I know any who contends that sending directly to an evangelist is wrong (as in Phil 4:18), unless it is the Herald of Truth advocates. Does he know such men? The trouble is, some brethren want to put a CHURCH, an ELDERSHIP, between Antioch and those churches in Judea which were in need. They ASSUME that Paul and Barnabas took the money to Jerusalem or some other place, and they in turn were charged with ministering to all Judea. The same is true regarding the funds sent to Jerusalem by Paul and other messengers of the churches. They ASSUME that when the Jerusalem church received the "bounty" they set up a brotherhood children's home to care for all the homeless children in Judea. Still others think there must have been a home outside Jerusalem somewhere to which all the churches sent their money and their homeless children and aged saints. When they get to 2 Cor. 11:8, they do some more ASSUMING and say that what Paul robbed other churches of MUST have come through some other church.

In view of these things, by what rule of logic could we condemn the practice of sectarian preachers ASSUMING that there were children in the household of Lydia and the Philippian Jailor? What has become of the law of exclusion? If the command to build the ark of gopher wood excluded other kinds of wood, why doesn't the plain statement of Acts 11:29, 30 rule out any special arrangement such as a disbursement agency? If the fact that the Lord specified fruit of the vine and unleavened bread for the Lord's table excludes meat and potatoes, why doesn't 1 Cor. 11:8 and Phil 4:18 rule out a "sponsoring" church?

It seems to me that we get all mixed up when we talk about the "HOW" of doing the work of the church. If I understand what the New Testament teaches, there are two ways in which churches can co-operate (1) Each congregation, acting separately and independently, support their own work and discharge their responsibilities as a church without any outside help at all. This is co-operating. (2) Under certain circumstances, several churches still acting separately and independently, can contribute to another church which is in NEED. In reference to the needy saints in Jerusalem, the method used in collecting the money and getting it to the church in need is unmistakably clear. The churches simply laid by in store on the first day of the week as they were prospered, and Paul and other messengers chosen by the churches took their "bounty" to Jerusalem. Thus, up to this point, if New Testament example means anything, the "HOW" is vitally important. Allow me to use the law of expediency here, and I can justify almost anything anybody can dream up. This is an example — a Divine example and a principle that ought to be eternal enough for anyone.

There is one phase of the work of the church, however, in which I believe the "HOW" loses some of its significance. The Bible does not tell us "HOW" the Jerusalem church went about the task of taking care of her needy. She might have built an orphan's home or a home for the aged. It's just barely possible that she (if you'll pardon my saying so) might have taken care of her needy among her own members — in private homes. Just "HOW" she did it is relatively unimportant. One thing is certain; she did it without any human organization or brotherhood project.

If Brother Oler wants to blast someone, why doesn't he train his guns on the brethren (if any) who insist that a church follow a set rule in doing a work which is particularly HER work. That is making a law where none exists. They might be guilty of paying "tithe of mint and anise and cumin and omitting the weightier matters of he law". Let me once more remind Brother Oler that all that is needed to clear the atmosphere is an apostolic example or just a necessary inference that the Philippian church solicited funds from other churches to support Paul in his preaching, or that the Jerusalem church was the headquarters for a brotherhood project. Does he really think that it is "striving about words to no profit" to ask for New Testament authority in doing the Lord's work?

There are many preachers and others who believe that the church of our Lord is headed for another apostasy and open division. If it comes it will be because too many brethren have dwelt too long on personalities, open or implied accusations and innuendoes. I am convinced that when the people of God are confronted with the plain and unbiased teaching of the Lord's Word in the matter, they will choose to do the work in His church in the manner He has prescribed.