Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 19, 1955

Brother Lemmons' "Individual Thinking"

Jesse M. Kelley, Lafayette, Louisiana

In the editorial in the Firm Foundation of April 12, our brother and editor of that journal passes along to his readers the result of some "individual thinking" on inter-congregational cooperation. His advice and counsel on the danger of the masses letting a few do their thinking for them is commendable and could well be heeded by all. As he points out this was the cause of the first great apostasy, to which we would like to add, of every apostasy from the first to the present. "Individual thinking" on the part of Christians certainly would clear a lot of the fog away from the minds of many and would help us to see "inter-congregational cooperation" as it is simply set forth in the New Testament. It is when one ceases to read and think for himself that he is in danger of being led by the few. And when one loses vision of the simple precepts of the Lord as they are revealed in His word he is likely to be influenced by the way the few are thinking whether right or wrong. Indeed "individual thinking" is what we need and must have if we are to survive the present difficulties facing the church as "one body in Christ."

However, if our brother's editorial is characteristic of "individual thinking" I am not so sure. His position in the editorial is vague; you cannot tell just what it is our brother is trying to "get over." He warns of the abuses of principles but he fails to inform us as to what either the abuses or the principles are. And evidently he has thought much about "principles" for the term is found thirty-three times in less than a page of editorial. He seems to be overly conscious of the "abuses of principles" but he has not given us the benefit of his "individual thinking" on what either is. Now if our brother will just tell us what the New Testament principle of church cooperation is, and not forget to base his "principle" upon a New Testament example or precept we can benefit from his individuality.

He says, "some have taken the abuses of the principle of cooperation and after citing examples of the abuse of the principle of inter-congregational cooperation, have attempted to build a case against cooperation itself." This statement is misleading and is designed to imply that those of us who oppose inter-congregational cooperation of the "super organizational" variety are opposed to cooperation itself. This is not so. There isn't a preacher or elder among us that I know anything about, who opposes congregational cooperation upon the New Testament order. Our brother ought to know that the "principle" of church cooperation is established by the New Testament "example" of church cooperation, and that one cannot violate the principle without violating the example. He has much to say about "principle" but nothing about "example." Does Brother Lemmons have "principle-ites" too? One would get the impression that he has been receiving instruction from up Abilene way, or maybe it is the other way around. Now if our brother will tell us what the New Testament "example" of cooperation is we can know when the "principle" is abused. There are a lot of folks who are anxious to know what our brother's "individual thinking" has produced on church cooperation. This is one of the things upon which he is vague in his editorial — you can't tell exactly where he is; his "thinking" leaves too much room for fluctuation. I suppose being able to move around considerably is comfortable but it isn't very "stationary."

Brother Lemmons should realize by this time that an editor of an influential journal such as the F.F. is obligated to his readers to be plain on an issue and tell positively where he stands and why. Though he promised us that he would be thus in his very first editorial, he has so far failed to do so. We are still waiting.

He says, "things have reached a critical stage in the church when brethren cannot state a principle without labored and strained attempts to line them up as defending all the abuses of the principle." No one has asked Brother Lemmons or anyone else to defend the abuses of the principle of church cooperation. What many have asked is that inter-congregational cooperation such as that practiced in "The Herald of Truth" be defended. It is believed that this cannot be successfully done. "Herald of Truth" is more than an "abuse" of a "principle"; it is an outright violation of the New Testament EXAMPLE of church cooperation. We are still waiting for a successful defense of the "set up." Does our brother think that "Herald of Truth" is patterned after the New Testament example of church cooperation? He hasn't told us. He writes about the "wisdom of stating principles clearly, and with finality," and says that men will not do this only when they wish to leave room for an issue. But as yet he has failed to "state the principles (of church cooperation) clearly, and with finality." Does he want to "leave room for an issue"?

Now Brother Lemmons, just for the few moments it will take you to write an editorial, forget about "Herald of Truth" and all the other promotional schemes among us, and give us an editorial stating exactly what the New Testament "principle" of church cooperation is. Give us the New Testament example or precept upon which the principle stands. If you will do this we will be in a position to recognize the abuses of the principle. You owe it to your readers to "state the principle clearly, and with finality." Let us know what your "individual thinking" is on this.