Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 5, 1956

"This Line Up Complex"

D. M. McQuiddy, El Centro, California

For as long as I can remember, gospel preachers have emphasized that we are not to line up behind anything but the New Testament. It must be our guide and authority for all things that we do religiously. Having grown up under one who believed and followed this rule, I can assure you that I have heard many arguments in matters of doctrine settled on this basis. It is, and always will be an eternal truth that the scriptures are sufficient to furnish us unto all things that we do religiously. If the scriptures do not furnish either through command, example or necessary inference then it is not a good work and we had better leave it alone — else we deny inspiration. (2 Tim. 3:15, 17.) When this divine rule is ignored the flood gates of speculation are wide open and the waters of opinion soon wash away all restraint. While faithful workers try to stem the tide they also have to watch that the pounding blows of controversy do not destroy that which they are trying to rebuild. Controversy is not a delight in which we can exercise our much learning but rather a tool of correction in destroying error. Controversy is the actions of right against wrong. It is the actions of error against truth. Then unless all are willing to submit to a standard of authority, we have a controversy that endangers the unity of the body of Christ. Its final results being division of the body ....

It was just such a condition that we find the Apostle Paul rebuking in the church at Corinth. Contention had arisen. They had refused inspiration's instructions as their criterion. Some were lining up behind Apollos, others behind Peter and Paul, while others were rightly following the Christ. Christ was certainly not pleased with such a state and caused Paul to pen these words unto them. "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; Are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed? (1 Cor. 3:4, 5.) Then after this severe rebuke we find him adding this warning . . . "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye may learn in us not to think of men above that which is written." (A.S. Version) "That ye may learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (1 Cor. 4:6.)

In the present crisis that faces the body of Christ, all of us as members of His body need to consider well this statement from inspiration. As I go among the brethren from one place to another, it is not an uncommon thing for them to inquire, Whose side are you on? What religious paper are you supporting in this controversy? My reply is, "I am on the Lord's side, I am lined up behind His religious paper, the New Testament." I have even been told that unless I line up behind the Gospel Advocate or the Gospel Guardian, I am a fence rider. Again I reply, "Would it not be better for all of us to line up behind the simple gospel of Jesus Christ? Paper and brother fighting shoulder to shoulder under the guidance of the New Testament advocating only a practice of religion based on a "thus saith the Lord" or given example or necessary inference. You pick out the paper or man that is promulgating such action and you will find them lined up with me behind the Lord." Certainly, I realize that where controversy exists that men will be grouped together and I am proud to be listed among those who believe in following the things written ..

Now before some Appellation Applier has me in a category in which I do not belong, let me say, that I believe in the right of congregations of our Lord to cooperate. In fact, I know that churches can cooperate and I also know the law concerning such is ambiguous. Back in the early part of the twentieth century the church was faced with the same problem as today, only on a smaller scale. Such men as J. C. McQuiddy, David Lipscomb and others were able to close the breaches and unite the brethren with these simple truth .... "All meetings of churches or officers of churches to combine more power than a single church possesses is wrong. God's power is in God's churches . . . . For one or more to direct what and how all the churches shall work, or take charge of their men or money and use it, is to assume the authority God has given to each church. Each one needs the work of distributing and using its own funds as well as in giving them." If this was a divine truth in 1910, then I ask, Why is it not true and applicable to our day? But let us hear Brother Lipscomb further. "We sincerely and earnestly believe all organized bodies for religious purposes outside of, within, above or below the congregation of the Lord are sinful and treasonable." (Gospel Advocate, 1910) ....

I believe that in the aggregate most of us can see and understand that God never intended for elders to oversee anything but their own congregation. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2.) Then why can't we see and understand that they cannot oversee any work greater than the ability of the local congregation? Except where an emergency exists, where is the authority for a brotherhood work that involves the funds of many of the congregations? Each congregation working in its own location under its own elders to the best of its ability to further the kingdom is cooperating with every other. When an unforeseen emergency arises in any part of the body then it becomes necessary that other parts assist to bring that part of the body back into perfect coordination that equality might be restored in cooperation of the body. This is as the Lord planned it in His spiritual body but men in trying to improve on God's methods have once again led the church into trying times ....

Brethren, let's quit lining up behind preachers, religious journals, or even elders of some BIG congregations. We are servants of Christ and ministers of the gospel. Where differences do exist among us in regard to methods of applying doctrine, then the only way to settle these issues is to discuss them in a Christian like attitude and let the truth of God's word be the authority and criterion for what we practice. Then and then only will we be justified in our sayings, and overcome when we are judged.