Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 29, 1956

An Answer To An Article On "The Inconsistency Of Anti-Ism"

Elders, Vandalia Village Church Of Christ, Lubbock, Texas

Since an editorial in the Firm Foundation of November 29, 1955 has been circulated among the members of this congregation we thought it wise that an answer be made to some of the things stated in that editorial.

Among other things written by the editor of the Firm Foundation in the aforementioned article were these. "No one who claims to be Christian would hesitate for a moment to study his practice in the light of God's word. It would be a sad mistake indeed for us not to constantly measure our practice by that divine standard. None can stand against a preacher with a Bible in his hand and with nothing but what the Bible teaches to defend." We agree that the above sentiments should characterize every Christian, and it is in this spirit that we send forth the following thoughts for study.

Brother Reuel Lemmons says that the devil "puts it into the heads of good brethren that something the church is doing is wrong." Does he mean to imply that the church can do no wrong? Is every thing that every church does always right and never wrong? This is the doctrine of the infallibility of the church. It is Catholic doctrine, but it cannot "stand against a preacher with a Bible in his hand." Just because a church does something is no guarantee that it is right. Jesus says that something six of the seven churches of Asia were doing was wrong. Did the devil use the old trick, and put it into the head of Jesus "that something the church is doing is wrong"? Paul said that many things that the church at Corinth was doing were wrong. Was it the devil that put it into the heads of good brethren, including Paul, that something the church at Corinth was doing was wrong?

The accusation is made that "almost every brother" opposing certain things has changed and should return the money he received from churches before he changed because the money is `tainted money.' According to this reasoning, a preacher who is supported by a church could never under any circumstances conclude he and the rest of the church had been engaging in some unscriptural practice, stop the practice himself and pattern his practice according to the New Testament teaching, and urge others to do so, without first returning the wages he had received while preaching something he now believes to be wrong! So the poor preacher is in a dilemma! If he continues in a practice which he believes to be unscriptural his heart condemns him now, and God will condemn him at the judgment. (1 John 3:20,21; Rom. 14:23.) If he changes, stops the unscriptural practice and conforms his actions to a thus saith the Lord, he will have to return the "tainted money" which he received before he changed. If he does not return the money he has not repented, for a "restoration is proof of the repentance," according to Brother Lemmons. And if he does not repent he will perish. (Luke 133.) But he cannot return the "several thousand dollars restoration money" which "somebody (the poor preacher who said, 'I have changed my mind') owes somebody (the churches which paid him before he changed his mind) due to the fact that he now has only two dollars and ninety eight cents of the "several thousand dollars" left. About thirty per cent of it has been contributed to the church and used in other good works. The rest he has spent for clothes, food and other necessities of life for his wife and children, not knowing at the time it was "restoration money" and that some day he might want to "change his mind" which he could not do without sending back the "tainted money."

Poor preacher! Looks like he is doomed to purgatory, for he is too poor to repent!

We wonder if Brother Lemmons preaches this to denominational preachers? Does he tell the denominational preacher that when he "changes his mind" from error to truth he "owes somebody (the churches from whom he had received money before he changed and which he now "says he received wrongly," i.e., while preaching and practicing error) "several thousand dollars restoration money"? Does he shout: "If restoration is proof of the repentance, then we anxiously await the proof"? And thus imply that unless he returns the "tainted money" his "change of mind" is feigned and his "repentance" is affected?

Let us now paraphrase paragraph three. "Almost every brother who was before his 'change' a denominational preacher, at one time preached error over a 'radio program' 'sponsored' by the denomination of which he was a member. He has now `changed' — obeyed the gospel of Christ and become a Christian. Since he has 'changed' has he restored the cost of the program to his former brethren he now condemns, for 'sponsoring' him on the radio?" This but illustrates the absurdity of the reasoning of the editorial under review. His article is filled with statements that are his bare assertions and no proof is given to sustain any of them. Is this the way one does "with nothing but what the Bible teaches to defend"? Paul admonished elders and evangelists to oppose error in the church. (Acts 20:28-30; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:2-4.)

A misleading statement is made when the writer speaks of orphan homes and the preacher's home. "Surely if the church can't build an orphan's home it couldn't build a preacher's home." No one can name one individual who opposes any church making any arrangement, even building a home to house orphans, to carry out the scriptural function of caring for orphans. Any church can do every thing needed to fulfill its mission and the scriptures furnish the authority for doing it in preaching the gospel, and in caring for orphans. Brother Lemmons leaves the impression that preachers who oppose organizations other than the church doing the work of the church are against caring for orphans. This is untrue. He also accuses preachers who live in homes furnished by the churches of being against caring for orphans in homes. The home for the preacher is authorized in the same passage that ordains that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1 Cor. 9:14.) The house in which he resides is simply part of that support. The human organization for caring for orphans is another organization other than the church, and this is what "almost every brother" is "anti" on, including Brother Lemmons according to one statement he made in another issue of the same paper. He said, "I want to make it clear that I do not believe that an orphan home directed by a board that is larger than a local eldership, is a "church institution" or is "the church at work." Hence. Brother Lemmons is both "Anti" and "inconsistent." He says that he does not believe the orphan home under a board larger than a local eldership is the church at work. Then, he opposes such, does he not? So, he opposes this sort of set up, hence, he is "Anti." But he leaves the impression in his editorial that he is for everything, every kind of organization for caring for orphans. Hence, he is "inconsistent."

We believe that the church must fulfill its responsibility of preaching the gospel and that it cannot turn its work over to another church to do this work for it. Likewise, we believe that each church must care for its own orphans or for orphans who are its responsibility. We believe that if one church has more orphans than it can care for that other churches may send money to help them do this work — just as churches sent to Jerusalem to relieve the "necessities of poor saints" which Jerusalem was unable to do. Thus churches may cooperate scripturally in doing this work.

Name calling should be beneath the principles of a gospel preacher. How does it sound to much for a denominational preacher to call Christians "Campbellites"? This is usually done because the arguments cannot be met. Many "good brethren" are opposed to forming brotherhood organizations separate and apart from the church through which the church is to do its work, and their arguments based on the Bible cannot be met. So, the epithet ""Anti-ism" is hurled.

But Brother Lemmons says "antis" do not practice what they preach, and he is not referring just to the "Anti-Bible-Class" group either. He says, "That is the universal position of anti-ism of any kind." Is Brother Lemmons not against anything? If he is, he is "anti"! Is he anti-sin? Is he "anti-atheist"? Is he anti-mechanical music in the worship of the church? Is he anti-missionary society through which to preach the gospel? Is he anti-denominational? Is he anti-premillennial? Remember, he is the one who charges that "the antis" cannot be consistent. "They do not practice what they preach. They themselves will not accept the inevitable and ridiculous consequence of their own teaching." No, Brother Lemmons is not just talking about the "Anti-Bible-Class group." for he says. "That is the universal position of anti-ism of any kind." (Emphasis ours) Is being "anti-missionary society," "anti-ism" of "any kind"?

Another assertion in the editorial which is an assumption that cannot be proved is this: "The only place where it ("Anti-ism") grows is in congregations that are bent on doing nothing, and want an excuse for not doing anything." In this paragraph the writer does what he accuses others of doing: "He starts with an assumption. The chances are that he didn't have the truth." Then, he accuses brethren who are opposed to human organizations doing the work of the church, of being so opposed because they are "selfish," "covetous and unconcerned." This is a charge without fact or foundation. Many churches are cooperating in preaching the gospel who are opposed to the brotherhood schemes of doing the work of the church through human organizations, or through some one church that sets itself up as an agency through which other churches are to work.

Furthermore, the editorial states that "they (brethren) have caused confusion in a congregation." Who has caused confusion? Who caused the confusion over the missionary society through which the churches could preach the gospel? Those who organized and introduced the society, or those who opposed it? Who caused the confusion over the introduction of instrumental music in worship? Those who introduced it or those who opposed it? Who caused the confusion over premillennialism? Those who taught it, or those who opposed it as error? Now, who has caused confusion over caring for orphans — those who support and defend homes under a board, larger than a local eldership, or those who oppose such? Who has caused the confusion in the church over the sponsoring church set up (many churches funneling their funds through one church for the church to do the preaching for the contributing churches), those who are doing such, or those who follow the New Testament example of the church sending directly to the preacher doing the work as is found in Philippians 4:16? As for "some good brethren" hurting their usefulness by opposing these unscriptural practices, just remember that many of these, and there are many of them, are not "young preachers." C. R. Nichol, W. Curtis Porter, Will M. Thompson, to mention only three, cannot be counted as "young preachers" in age and experience, though they are yet young in spirit.

Brother Lemmons advises that any one who claims to be a Christian would not hesitate a moment to study his practice in the light of God's Word. But in the last paragraph of his editorial he suggests that preachers stay at home and that elders attend the debates where the practice is being discussed. Are not preachers Christians? And do they not, also, need to study as well as elders? "It would be a sad mistake indeed for us not to constantly measure our practice by that divine standard. The seeds of apostasy are omnipresent. And constant vigilance is the price of liberty still." We subscribe to these statements just quoted, and pray that everything that is taught or practiced may be measured by the Bible and if it is not in harmony with it, that it may be discarded and that every thing that accords with divine truth be accepted.

E. A. Harris, D. M. Summers,

Clay Turner