Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 1, 1956
NUMBER 42, PAGE 10-11,12b

Who Is An Anti?

Obert Henderson, Pullman, Washington

In the November 29 issue of the Firm Foundation, the editor writes an article entitled "The Inconsistency of Anti-ism." By the very title he gives his article, he betrays the weakness of the position he endeavors to uphold. When a man must resort to the use of such words as "anti," "Sommerite," etc., then his position is weak and needs bolstering. Since these brethren cannot bolster their contentions from the scriptures, they attempt to do so by trying to discredit those who oppose them.

Through a part of the article, his effort was to prove that those who are opposing the present day "cooperative projects" among churches of Christ are inconsistent. He didn't prove it, but WHAT IF HE DID? That still would not prove the "Herald of Truth," "sponsoring churches," "brotherhood orphan homes" and such like to be scriptural and right. You cannot prove something is right by proving its opponents are inconsistent. Protestantism, in its opposition to Catholicism, is inconsistent, but do we conclude that Catholicism is therefore right?

Almost at the very beginning of his article, he tells us that "none can stand against a preacher with a Bible in his hand and with nothing but what the Bible teaches to defend." That is true, and has been proved many times over. Now, let him tell us where the Bible teaches that elders can have the oversight of the work of a thousand congregations; or where it teaches the elders of one congregation in the United States can oversee a congregation, or several congregations in Germany; or where one congregation can become the agency through which others do their benevolent work. When he shows us where the Bible teaches these things for which he contends, then he will have some ground for talking about "defending what the Bible teaches."

Some are very adept at charging their brethren with positions they actually do not hold. It is very easy to knock over a straw man, but sometimes it is very difficult to deal with the real man. Therefore, some prefer to engage in conflict with a straw man of their own creation. Consider some of our brother's straw men. He says, in trying to show the inconsistencies of those whom he styles "antis," that "almost every brother who opposes one church sending money to another church to help support the preaching of the gospel, has himself, preached under these same circumstances." Instead of setting up his straw man, and then attempting to demolish it, he needs to tell us who it is that opposes one church sending to another church to support the preaching of the gospel. It is true that he could name many who oppose one church setting itself up as the "sponsoring church" for all the preaching in a given destitute area, or country, and then asking other churches to turn their funds to it for its oversight and supervision, thus becoming a "brotherhood preaching society." But let him name those who oppose one church helping another church to do a preaching work that is peculiarly the work of the second church, but which it is unable to perform alone.

Again, he says, "almost every brother who opposes one congregation sending money to another to help it support a radio program has himself preached under the very identical circumstances." And again, we say, let him tell us who it is that opposes this. He could name many who oppose one church promoting a nation-wide program under its oversight, and supported by all churches. There are many who oppose one church setting itself up to do the radio work for a thousand churches (or all, if all would cooperate), and thus becoming the "brotherhood radio preaching society," but let him name those who oppose one congregation helping a weak congregation to carry on its own work (including a radio program), which work is peculiar to itself.

But hear him again, "almost every brother who opposes one congregation sending money to another congregation to help care for orphan children . . . ." Again, we raise the question, just who is it that opposes this? There are many who oppose one congregation becoming the "brotherhood benevolent headquarters" to do the benevolent work of the universal church, but who opposes one congregation sending help to another congregation to relieve the distress of that congregation (Acts 11:29-30) ?

But he goes ahead to tell us that some of the brethren opposing the "brotherhood orphan's homes" now, have, in the past, put children into them. Well, a man can learn, can't he? I expect that if you got to scratching around in the editor's closet, you could find he had done things which he would disavow now. Does that make him inconsistent?

But further, our brother says, "almost every brother who opposes one church contributing to another to help it carry on any work to which the two were equally related, has himself appealed to churches to support him while he carried on a work somewhere, to which he and the church he appealed to bore equal responsibility? In the first place, it seems our brother needs to learn the elementary lesson of the difference between the church and the individual. Let us consider this situation — here is a work to which all congregations are equally related, a work of preaching the gospel in a destitute field. A preacher is willing to go. It is his responsibility to GO; it is the churches' responsibility to SEND. Half a dozen churches support him so he can go. They send to him, which is scriptural. (2 Cor. 11:8.) Yes, he could even appeal to them for that support. But where is the scripture that would allow one of this half-dozen congregations to set itself up as the "sponsoring church for this particular work, and then ask the other five congregations to turn their funds to it, so it could then oversee and supervise the work. There is a world of difference between a church sending directly to the man in the field, and sending to a "sponsoring church." The editor supposes a case where a church sent to a man in the field, and not to a "sponsoring church."

Next, he says, "Most brethren who oppose the church building a home to house orphan children have themselves taken the lead in urging the church to build a house for the preacher." Now, again, in the first place, he needs to tell us who the brethren are who oppose the church building a home to house orphan children. Just who is it that holds to this position? But I suppose he meant this: one congregation building a home to set itself into the "brotherhood benevolent" business, and then appealing to other congregations to turn their finances over to it for its oversight and supervision in benevolent work that was the responsibility of each congregation. If he meant that, then he also meant that one congregation could become the "brotherhood preacher's home builder." Does he take the position that one eldership can become the "sponsoring eldership" for a home for all gospel preachers, and thus do the work of the "church universal" in this respect? If not, then his parallelism doesn't parallel. He says further, "surely if the church can't build an orphan's home, it couldn't build a preacher's home." Who says it can't build an orphan's home? Let's leave off the assertions, and give some proof! But does the right of a congregation to build an orphan's home to do its own work give one congregation the right to build a "brotherhood orphan's home" and thus become the "brotherhood benevolent institution"? If so, then does one congregation have the right to build a "brotherhood preacher's home"? Truly, some arguments get more ridiculous all the time.

Speaking concerning the arguments made today against such projects as "Herald of Truth," "sponsoring churches," "brotherhood benevolent organizations" and such, he said, "we find nothing new in today's arguments." Well, that is to be expected. They are the same ones advanced by Lipscomb, Otey and others in their fight against the missionary society and other like organizations within the present day Christian Church. No one claims originality or newness for the arguments presented against the "brotherhood projects" being promoted today. In fact, if one has read the New Testament to any profit, he is well acquainted with them.

But then, not content to try to prove those who oppose these projects to be inconsistent, our brother brings a very severe indictment against those who oppose these projects, by stating that "it (what he calls Anti-ism; OH) appeals to the selfishness that is in us. The only place where it grows is in congregations that are bent on doing nothing, and want an excuse for not doing anything." IS HE GOD, TO SET HIMSELF UP AS A JUDGE OF HIS BROTHER'S HEART? Not only is the indictment he brings a severe one, but I flatly charge it is also a FALSE ONE! Many examples could be given of churches doing their work in God's way — examples where a church, working as God intended it to work, is doing a great deal more than "cooperating churches." Now, let our brother tell us something about the congregations who send a paltry sum to a "brotherhood orphan's home" and feel they have discharged their responsibility, or who send a small amount to Lubbock or Abilene and feel like they have "preached the gospel to every creature."

It has always been a favorite ruse and "argument" ( ?) of men who could not sustain their position and meet the issue to charge those who did not support their plans with being opposed to the doing of the work itself. That has been true in this present controversy. The idea often expressed is, "If you don't support the Herald of Truth, brotherhood orphan's homes, etc., you are opposed to radio preaching and caring for orphans." The idea our brother expressed is also common, i.e., "If you don't support these brotherhood projects, you are stingy, covetous and unconcerned, and furthermore, you're just looking for an excuse not to do these works of evangelism and benevolence."

He talks of some not accepting the consequences of their own teaching. I wonder if he will? Some have already seen the point that the Herald of Truth, and such like projects, stand or fall on the same round as the missionary society formed a century ago. And so, accepting the consequences of their position, they have now spoken in defense of the concept of the missionary society, and charge those who opposed the society with dividing the church. Will our editor brother do it also? Will he accept the consequences of his teaching? Time will tell.

Toward the end of the article, he makes two very good suggestions. One is that we need to continually study our practice in the light of God's word. Certainly there is a need for this. But this prompts us to mention the fact that one thing very noticeable about the articles written by brethren in support of these "brotherhood projects" is the lack of scriptural support for their contentions. Brethren write article after article and never even so much as quote one scripture, and hardly even refer to the scripture. Now, if their contentions have Bible support, let them bring it out.

The other suggestion is that it would be a good idea if elders attended the debates. This could well be heeded. Maybe if elders attended, some of them would learn that their responsibility is to oversee the flock among them (1 Peter 5:2), and ONLY IT! If elders had learned this in the past, the body of Christ would be spared the agony of its present hour, for if elders knew the limitations placed on their authority by the scriptures, and would abide by those limitations, they would not be promoting "brotherhood radio programs," "sponsoring church setups," "brotherhood benevolent organizations" and such like.

As we read such articles as this, we are impressed with the similarity of argument and expression between them and articles from advocates of the missionary society and such other cooperatives among present day Christian Churches. Consider, for instance, this statement which he emphasizes in his article. "We have seen the fruits of Anti-ism. Its mark still lingers upon the churches of the north. We have seen its fruits among the Anti-Bible Class brethren. God forbid that we must look a third time as its shadow falls across the orphan and the lost!" These words could well have come from a Pendleton, an Errett, or a Briney as they defended and contended for the missionary society. What many brethren need to learn is that an appeal to emotionalism and/or prejudice does not settle the question. It may with some who are willing to let an editor or preacher think for them, but it does not with those who are willing to think for themselves.

In conclusion, we want to call the attention of our brother, and others, to this fact, though we despair of its doing any good. The fact is this: we are not anti-missionary, nor anti-orphan. They have had their attention called to it a number of times, but pay no heed, and continue to use the appellate "anti" to describe us. In spite of the fact that many churches are caring for orphans, if they won't support a brotherhood home project, they are contemptuously styled "anti-orphan." In spite of the fact that many churches are carrying on an active program of evangelism at home and afield, if they will not support the Herald of Truth, or turn their money to a sponsoring church, they are disdainfully referred to as "anti-missionary." I disagree with the brethren who oppose separate classes, but will not stoop to misrepresentation of them by slightingly referring to them as "anti-Bible study brethren."

There is one sense in which we are "anti" in this present controversy. Many "writin' brethren are characterized by a disregard for Bible teaching on these matters. Let it be understood that, in opposition to this practice, we are "anti-disregard for the Bible brethren,"