Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 24, 1955
NUMBER 29, PAGE 1,12b-13

Reviewing Brother Roy H. Lamer On Congregational Cooperation -- (V.)

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

Another long article on "Congregational Co-operation" by my good friend, Brother Roy Lanier, is in the Gospel Advocate of October 6.

In the four long articles, comprising more than twelve columns in the Gospel Advocate, which he has written so far, Brother Lanier has cited a few Bible references, followed by a miserable failure at paraphrasing but he has not quoted as much as one verse of God's word.

For three reasons, I have been calling him "my anti-Bible brother": (1) his total abstinence from Bible quotations; (2) his violent opposition to Bible "patterns"; (3) his fluency in the vernacular of Modernists. However, I have said that I will stop calling him my anti-Bible brother, if he will tell me that he is not anti-Bible, and will ask me to stop calling him that. I should think that such a request of me would be rather abashing to him, in view of the fact that he has said that he is going to call those who do not agree with his sponsoring church type of co-operation, "anti-cooperation brethren", even though he says he knows they reject the unsavory title.

I have told him that he is misrepresenting his brethren in trying to "force" them to "accept" his insults; I have given him reasons why he should stop calling them "anti-cooperation brethren"; I have pointed out to him many ways in which they do believe that churches should cooperate. However, if he asks me to stop calling him my anti-Bible brother, I will stop it, even though he refuses to stop his use of ugly names of misrepresentation.

Brother Lanier is trying to prove that it is right for a church (any church) to set itself up as the sponsor of a "good work" to which all churches are related equally, and then all the other churches in the world may turn their resources over to the control of that one sponsoring church. We all know (including Lanier), if he could find one verse of scripture that would help his Romish contention one whit, he would quote it at least once.

If he is not arguing that all the resources of all the churches should be surrendered to the control of one church, then let him state plainly how many churches and what part of their resources should be placed under the management of one sponsoring church. Let him state why he thinks it is God's will for one or even several churches to set themselves up as "sponsors" of a work to which all the churches are related equally, but not God's will for every church on earth to make itself a sponsoring church and a beggar of resources from other churches, if he denies that he thinks that such is the will of God. Let him state plainly which, and how many churches should solicit and accept the control of resources of other churches, and who should select them. Where is the stopping place, Brother Lanier, for this centralization, if you think there is a stopping place?

The Bible teaches that it is right for all the churches to send contributions to a church (any church) that is an object of charity, until the "want" of that receiving church is met, and then the contributions to it should stop right there. Quotations for this practice are plentiful. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me" (1 Cor. 16:1-4). Paul, an inspired apostle of Christ, would not let the churches make a Don Carlos Janes out of him, nor would he let them make him so much as the sole transporting agency of these funds to Jerusalem; he would "take thought for things honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Cor. 8:21); he said he would go along to Jerusalem, "if it be meet" for him to go, and that the men whom the churches approve "shall go with me"; he would not assume that responsibility. Yet there are uninspiried men today, elders, who are not taking thought for things honorable in the sight of either God or man, but are ready to quarantine every brother who lifts his voice against their ungodly practice of running all over the country and begging other churches to turn their contributions over to their control.

If Brother Lanier knows of any passage of scripture that so much as remotely indicates that any church ever sent a donation to a sister church that was not an of charity, I want him to quote that passage. I do not want him to merely give a reference with his floundering paraphrase attached; I do not want him to merely cite a reference and then tell what some sectarian commentator said that the inspired writer "probably" meant, or should not have said; I want him to quote the verse, and thereby give his readers the rare and refreshing experience of seeing a Bible quotation in the Gospel Advocate.

Essentials And Incidentals

Brother Lanier is confused miserably on the difference between essential elements and incidental elements in divine "patterns".

In 2 Cor. 8:13-15, the Holy Spirit lays down a pattern in the matter of one church's sending a contribution to another church: "For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; but by equality: your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality: as it is written, He that gathered much had nothing over; and he that gathered little had no lack."

Paul states specifically that the purpose of these contributions to Judea is "that there may be equality". Therefore, the purpose is an essential element of the pattern: "that there may be equality", meaning mutual freedom from want, and not equal financial strength as Brother Lanier claims.

In order to make void the essential purpose ("that there may be equality") in this divine pattern, my anti-Bible brother has thought up five incidentals, and he labors desperately to reduce an essential element in the pattern (the purpose) to the level of the incidentals. Here are his five incidentals:

1. "This congregational cooperation was instigated by Paul, an individual, not by a church." Then he wants to know, "Why not make it an essential element of the 'pattern' that no church can instigate a collection, or any co-operative work." "Instigate" means to urge or stir on to action. As to who does the stirring to action in a scriptural work is purely incidental, and Brother Lanier would know it, if he knew the difference between incidentals and essentials in a pattern.

Doesn't Brother Lanier know that "this congregational cooperation was instigated", not only by Paul, but also by churches? I wish he would read this verse: "For I know your readiness, of which I glory on your behalf to them of Macedonia, that Achaia hath been prepared for a year past; and your zeal bath stirred up very many of them" (2 Cor. 9:2). According to Paul, the church at Corinth did some "instigating"; it "stirred up very many of them".

2. "So far as we know Paul, the prime mover in this collection, was not a member of one of the co-operating churches." Then he asks, "Why not make it an essential part of the 'pattern' that any man who gets up a collection for any worthy cause must not be a member of any one of the co-operating churches?"

In the work of teaching the truth, the congregation to which the teacher belongs, is altogether incidental. Brother Lanier admits that he does not know that Paul was not a member of one of the "co-operating churches", which obviously means that none of his beloved sectarian commentators has given him a "probably" on that point. Therefore, his effort to destroy the purpose in God's pattern in trying to make it analogous to an incidental falls flat.

3. "Why name only one design in the `pattern' when Paul stated another in Rom. 15:25-31?" solemnly asks my anti-Bible brother. If he had quoted the passage instead of giving his long paraphrase of it, some of his readers might have learned something. Does he think he can tell it better than Paul?

When Christians do anything that God commands, and for the purpose that he commands it, much good is done incidentally and in addition to the specified purpose. To illustrate: when a believing penitent is baptized "for the remission of sins", others are encouraged thereby to do likewise, many see a picture of the burial and resurrection of Christ in that baptism, Christians are made to rejoice, and much good is done incidentally, and in addition to the specified purpose — "for the remission of sins". But that does not mean at all that the design, "for the remission of sins", can be removed from the divine "pattern", and that a man can be baptized in the absence of that purpose.

Even so, "that there may be equality" or mutual freedom from want is the specified purpose of a church's donating to another church. Much good is done incidentally and in addition to the stated design in the pattern. But that does not mean at all that the specified purpose may be removed, and that a church may send a contribution to another church in the absence of the stated purpose, or when the receiving church is not in "want"

If Brother Lanier can see that the specified design in baptism is indispensable, why can he not see that the specified design in contributions from one church to another is indispensable also?

4. "Paul had the church at Corinth to pledge a year in advance how much they would give to the saints" Brother Lanier declares. Then he asks, "Why not include the pledge in the 'pattern'?"

The Bible does not say that "Paul had the church at Corinth" or any other church to pledge "a year in advance"; it does not say anything that sounds like it He said that "Achaia hath been prepared for a year past" and then he stated, "I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your aforepromised bounty" (2 Cor. 9:5). "Prepared" and "aforepromised' are not synonymous, nor are they used interchangeably in 2 Cor. 9.

Some of the churches that sent contributions to Judea were not "prepared for a year past", and their bounty was not "aforepromised"; therefore we know that such was not an indispensable element in the "pattern". Now let him find one church that sent a contribution to another church when the purpose was not to supply the needs of the receiving church; that is, when the receiving church was not an object of charity, and then I shall readily admit that the purpose in this collection was not an essential element in the "pattern".

5. "Why not make it a part of the 'pattern' that only Gentile churches with abundance are obligated to give to Jewish churches in want?" inquires my brother in his desperate effort to destroy God's purpose in the divine pattern. The answer to that question is: Because many who were not Gentiles gave to "Jewish churches".

Is he trying to tell us that the churches that he calls "Gentile churches" were made up exclusively of Gentiles?

The nationality of the contributors was purely incidental. If a church is in want today, it is the duty of churches that are not objects of charity themselves to supply the needs of the church in want, and nationality has not one thing to do with it. Does Brother Lanier think that nationality removes the design in baptism? Why does he think it can remove the design in the divine "pattern" of 2 Cor. 8:13-15?

The missionary society and instrumental music advocates have tried so long and hard to reduce the essentials in God's patterns to incidentals, that Brother Lanier ought to be ashamed to try the same trick.

In Eph. 5:19, the divine pattern requires that the "melody" be made in worship by "singing". In an attempt to break away from God's pattern and to add another kind of "melody", the instrumental music advocates try to reduce the singing to a non-essential element in the pattern. They ask, "Why not make the tuning fork, the song book, the notes and other incidentals parts of the pattern?"

In 2 Cor. 8:13-15, the divine pattern requires that the design be "that there may be equality" — mutual freedom from want. But in an attempt to break away from God's pattern and to centralize the resources of the churches, Brother Lanier lines up five incidentals and asks: Why not make these a part of the "pattern?"

In Acts 20:7, the day of the week on which they ate the Lord's supper is an essential element in the pattern. In an attempt to break away from God's pattern and to observe the supper on some other day, a man might rise up and say, "In that Lord's day meeting at Troas, (1) a man preached till midnight, (2) they were in an upper chamber, (3) a young man went to sleep, (4) he fell from the third story, (5) the preacher raised him up alive again; now, why not make these five things essential elements in the pattern?" If he did say such a thing, would he be more guilty of wresting the scriptures to his own destruction, than Brother Lanier with his five incidentals?

In his current article (Oct. 6), Brother Lanier names several things in which he says little churches "could never have a part", unless they turn their contributions over to the control of a sponsoring church. In my next chapter I shall try to show him that "little churches" all over the country are doing the very things that he says they cannot do, and they are not sending their money to a Don Carlos Janes, or a missionary society, or a sponsoring church, or a benevolent society.