Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 1, 1955
NUMBER 30, PAGE 1,14b-15a

Reviewing Brother Roy H. Lanier On Congregational Cooperation (VI.)

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

In the Gospel Advocate of October 6, Brother Lanier presents four terrible calamities which he says will befall the kingdom of heaven, if "little churches" do not surrender the control of their Lord's Day contributions to a sponsoring church.

Some of the most humble men in the brotherhood, whose achievements are outstanding, are elders in "little churches". I personally know some elders of "little churches", who are as capable and efficient in overseeing the work and resources of a congregation as are any of the elders in the biggest sponsoring churches on earth. Just a brief interview with them will convince any man, who knows the truth, that their knowledge of the Bible and their understanding of the nature and work of the churches is equal to the greatest in the kingdom today.

Brother Lanier's four "final results of this pattern" of little churches managing their own resources is an insult to the elders of "little churches" all over the world.

But here are the four things that he says "will happen", if "little churches" do not renounce God's way, and take Lanier's advice and relinquish the control of their contributions to a sponsoring church:

1. "No church will ever undertake any program of work that is bigger than it can do alone."

If it is God's will for any church, big or little, to create and "undertake any program of work" that necessitates its having control of donations from other churches, when both the giving and receiving churches sustain the same relationship to that work, then it is God's will for every church in the world to plan such a program, and to beg one another for contributions. Is God a respecter of churches? Does he give a few churches or one church the right to do a thing, and then deny that right to all the other churches in the world?

Brother Lanier's prattle about "little churches" not being able to engage in evangelistic work, unless they give their money to a sponsoring church, is contrary to facts. From the very "first day" of the Philippian church's existence, it had "fellowship in furtherance of the gospel", even unto the day that Paul sat in a Roman prison and wrote a letter to it.

My anti-Bible Brother does not quote scripture, but "probably" he will read a little of it, if I quote it for him; therefore I give him the following which I hope he can understand without the aid of a "probably" from one of his beloved sectarian commentators:

"I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now." (Phil. 1:3-5).

Now, Brother Lanier, on the "first day", the day that Paul baptized Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) and planted the church in Philippi, was it a "little church" or a big church? From that "first day" (Acts 16:15) the Philippians had "fellowship" in preaching the gospel to the world. They never did turn one cent of their evangelistic money over to a Don Carlos Janes, or a sponsoring church, or a missionary society. They sent it directly to the "individual" preacher on the field (Phil. 4:15-16). And now you say that you have a way "wiser" than that; your unbelief is amazing.

2. Brother Lanier says that churches should surrender their money for evangelism to a sponsoring church, and not send it directly to the preacher on the field, because "brethren have found" that gospel preachers are not to be trusted in that way; that they will not be able to withstand the temptation to become crooked and to take more money than is due them, thereby bringing a calamity upon the preachers, and hurting "the cause of our Lord."

I have plenty of confidence in the elders of the churches, but I have as much confidence in my preaching brethren. In fact, I feel sure that I can name an elder with a sticky finger and a hot foot for every preacher that Brother Lanier can name with such.

Of course, we could not expect Brother Lanier to say that it is "unwise", or that any temptation to embezzle could possibly exist, when a thousand churches every year surrender two or three million dollars of their money for evangelism to five or six elders who are accountable to no man on earth for the way that money is spent, and who are not even expected to give an account to the contributors; if he even hinted that such a thing is possible, that might cause his sponsoring church hobby horse to stumble; therefore, he prefers to hurl his insulting insinuations at every gospel preacher who would go into a new field, rather than let his hobby horse stumble.

I present here Brother Lanier's second imaginary calamity in his own words, lest some of the Guardian readers think that I am misrepresenting him:

"I say this is unwise because brethren have found it so in the past when certain preachers collected from so many such churches amounts which far exceeded a reasonable salary for the work done. I know Philippi sent to Paul, and I know there are preachers today as worthy and as trustworthy as Paul; but I also know it is wiser today to support the man by joint action, co-operation, so there will be no temptation put in the way of the man and there will be no chance for unworthy men to hurt the cause of our Lord and the churches sending him money."

It is hard for me to believe that Brother Lanier knows what he is saying. Please notice what he says he knows: (1) he knows how "Philippi sent to Paul"; (2) he knows "it is wiser today" to do it another way; (3) he knows it is "unwise" to do it today like Paul and Philippi did it. This proves beyond reasonable doubt that Brother Lanier has lost faith in God, if he ever had it.

To lose faith in God's wisdom or God's way of doing things is to lose faith in God. A loss of faith in God inevitably leads to complete apostasy.

God told Eve not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in Eden. She understood God's commandment, and repeated it to Satan, and stated the penalty for disobedience (Gen. 3:1-3). The devil told her she would not die. She believed the devil; she lost faith in God, when she lost faith in the wisdom of God's plan for her. Apostasy was the result.

Brother Lanier says he knows that Philippi sent support to Paul, and there was no intermediary controlling agency. The devil has told him that it is "unwise" to do it like Paul and Philippi did it. He believes the devil just like Eve did; he rejects the wisdom of God on how to support preachers in distant lands. Apostasy is inevitable for all who follow the wisdom of Lanier.

The Israelites knew that government by judges was God's plan for them; they did not misunderstand that. They doubtless thought that God's governmental wisdom was good enough earlier in their history, but "unwise" for "today" — their day. They lost faith in God. Their unbelief was the cause of their apostasy.

Brother Lanier doubtless thinks that the direct method employed by Philippi and Paul was good enough for the "first century", but "unwise" today. He gives his reason why he thinks it is unwise "today". The Israelites gave their reasons why they thought God's plan of government by judges was "unwise" for their day. Brethren, that's unbelief; that's apostasy; that's Modernism.

The leaders of the Roman apostasy knew how the churches did their work in New Testament days; but they thought they knew of a way "wiser" than inspiration had revealed to them. They thought it was "wiser today to support the man by joint action, co-operation"; therefore they began to centralize the control of the churches' work and resources. They gave "unworthy men" 'a better chance "to hurt the cause of our Lord" than they ever had before; the Roman Hierarchy was the result; they apostatized.

The missionary society advocates knew well how New Testament churches supported gospel preachers, which was good enough for the "first century". But they thought that "first century method" was unwise "today". They thought it was "wiser" to do it "by joint action," therefore they organized the missionary society and called it "joint action, co-operation". And every brother who objected to their "joint action, co-operation", was called "anti-cooperation", "non-progressive", "anti-missionary". They lost faith in God, when they lost faith in God's way of doing mission work; they apostatized, and "today" there are more Modernists to the square foot among them than among any other religious group. If Brother Lather does not know that he is traveling the same road, he doesn't know much.

3. That the nation cannot be reached by radio, if the churches do not contribute to a centralized agency, is another calamity that will tumble down on the world, as Brother Lanier sees it. How wrong he is!

Long before the moving van unloaded Herald Of Truth on Highland Street in Abilene, independent churches through local radio stations were covering more of the nation with radio preaching than Herald Of Truth is covering today, and with a much better quality of preaching, and much more of it. The Herald Of Truth coverage now is largely in areas where churches already have their local radio programs. If the churches now contributing to Herald Of Truth would use that money in sending gospel preachers to local radio stations where the church is not so well known, every nook and corner of the nation would be reached by radio. The way that Herald Of Truth millions are being spent is neither good business nor sound judgment.

4. "Many small churches could never have a part in caring for orphans and aged", says Brother Lanier, if they do not send their charity money to some sort of centralized benevolent federation. Why does he make such ridiculous statements? Does he think that the elders of "small churches" that have only ten dollars a month for charity just do not have sense enough to take that ten dollars a month and spend it wisely for "orphans and aged" among them? If they do not have any indigent "orphans and aged" among them, couldn't the elders of such "small churches" send their ten dollars monthly to some church that is not able to take care of its own?

That is the way it was done in the New Testament churches (1 Cor. 16:1-3); but Brother Lanier not only thinks that is "unwise" today, he thinks it cannot be done today.

No Real Emergency Existed?

Brother Lanier argues that no "real emergency existed" in Jerusalem, when Paul ordered the churches of Galatia and others to send relief to Jerusalem; and that "the condition of the poor saints" was not "such as to call for immediate action". He gives this as a reason for making such a ridiculous statement: Paul stopped at Troas for a week to meet with the brethren on Sunday; stopped at Caesarea to rest in the home of Philip; fiddled around for four years "in getting relief to them".

When a church is not able to feed its own poor, whether for three days or thirty years, an emergency exists in that church. When that church becomes able to provide for its own worthy poor, the emergency ends right there, and contributions from other churches should end right there.

I am reviewing Brother Lanier's articles as fast as they appear in the Gospel Advocate. What he will say in the next, if there is a next, I do not know. But I do not see how he can make them more absurd than the four he has written so far.