Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 12, 1956
NUMBER 48, PAGE 1,9-10a

Brother Lanier 'Crayfishes'

Roy E. Cogdill

Brother Roy H. Lanier in an article in the Gospel Advocate of March 1, 1956 entitled "Equality In Cooperation" gives an excellent demonstration of 'Crayfish' qualities. He does and he doesn't first he is coming and then, though his head is in the same direction, he is going back. Let us see ....

Brother Lanier labors to justify a position taken by him in some recent articles on "Cooperation." He will have to put in considerably more effort to fix up those articles and all of the wild, radical positions advocated in them. Brother Douthitt shot them so full of holes that Brother Lanier refused to discuss the question publicly with him and I am sure he did the wise thing if he intends to stand where he is. But he is one of the "Ace Writers" of "Old Reliable" and maybe the "Editor-Owner" feels the need of some patch work and has called on him for it. Someone feels it is needed and that is evident.

Brother Lanier advocated in his articles that the "Equality" of 2 Corinthians 8:12-14 was equality between Corinth (Achaia) and the churches of Macedonia, the contributing churches, and not between the contributing churches and the receiving church which was Jerusalem. In his latest article he tries to justify this position.

He freely admits that he deserted all of the scholars but one when he took such a position, but he is not bothered about that because he feels sure his position is established by Webster. That is refreshing, I am sure, to the Methodist preachers who read his article, if any, for they have been guilty of such a course for all these years. Instead of relying on plain Bible words and their usage by inspiration, a usage corroborated by the critical scholars of ages past, they have always gone to Webster for their definition of baptism. Will Brother Lanier join them on this point? He gives us Webster's definition and discusses it in this manner:

"The word 'equality' means 'character or condition of being equal.' The word 'equal' means 'exactly the same in measure, quantity, number, or degree; like in quality, value, status or position." So equality is a state or condition in which two or more parties have exactly the same amount of that of which the equality consists. If it is social equality, they will have exactly the same social standing. If it is educational equality, they will have exactly the same amount or degree of education. If it is financial equality that is under consideration, the parties will have exactly the same financial rating or strength. This I believe to be the meaning of the word equality. Those who oppose me in this interpretation have defined the word in this passage to mean 'freedom from want.' I know of no dictionary that so defines the word and these brethren have not cited one in proof of their definition. It occurs to me that I have not departed any further from the commentators in my interpretation of this passage than they have departed from the dictionaries in their definition of this word. I know of no writer with any reputation for correct usage of words who has used the word equality to mean 'freedom from want' and my critics have thus far forgotten to cite one.

"If Webster's definition of equality is correct and if my critics are right in saying the equality is between the giving churches and the poor saints in Jerusalem, it will follow that Paul taught that wealthy churches are to send money to poor churches so as to maintain equality. And since money is the thing, the means, to bring about that equality, it would follow that Paul was talking about financial equality. I do not believe Paul taught that financial equality is to be maintained among congregations. This would pin a form of Socialism on the churches, I conclude that the equality of this passage is to be among the giving churches and not between the giving churches on one hand the receiving church on the other hand."

Brother Lanier cannot put his interpretation of Webster's definition into Paul's usage without Socialism as the answer. Brother Douthitt told him that all along but that does not mean that Paul's usage is wrong. It could mean that the word Paul used simply cannot be limited by Lanier's explanation of Webster's definition of the English term translating it. This is often the case as in our English word "baptize."

Brother Lanier denies that "Equality" in the passage could mean "Freedom from want" upon the part of all concerned. Yet the definition he gives does not deny it. Freedom from want is a "condition of being equal" in respect to want. There is to be a likeness in "status or position."

Surely Brother Lanier can see that!

He uses Webster's definition to prove that the passage is not talking about financial equality. I don't remember anyone saying it did but Brother Lanier, he and others in the Advocate in an effort to avoid the force of the passage, have made the silly contention that if "equality" in the passage is to be attained by Corinth sending money to Jerusalem, then Corinth must send until Jerusalem has as much money as Corinth.

In spite of this contention our "scholarly" brother turns in 'crayfish' style and says that the "equality" of the passage is between Corinth and the Macedonian churches and is reached (No. 1) by the contributing churches giving according to their ability, Giving to whom Brother Lanier . . .. to each other or to Jerusalem? According to your definition (which you try to force upon those who disagree with you) the only way Corinth and Macedonia could have equality would be by giving equally, "exactly the same measure ...." That is your own argument and you must take it. Don't run backward now. Stand up to it squarely. You gave the definition and you argue that in order for "equality" to exist "two or more parties have exactly the same amount of that which the equality consists of."

If Corinth and Macedonia have equality in anything without having financial equality, the same amount of money, why couldn't Corinth and Jerusalem have equality in some things without having the same amount of money? What is sauce for the goose is salad dressing for the gander, don't you think? The same definition and construction which you try to force upon us fits admirably around your own neck and you can't run backward fast enough to keep out of it either.

Does Brother Lanier believe that the Jerusalem church was entirely negligent in caring for their own? Were they not obligated to do all to help their own that they could? Did not their history prove their faithfulness in meeting such emergencies?

If the equality was not financial but was equality in sacrifice, as Brother Lanier contends, would not Jerusalem have to be included in it unless they were failing to "give according to what they had" in which case they were unworthy of help as a church. Paul had not released them from any part in the obligation to care for their own needy. The obligation was theirs, it was more than they could meet, but that did not mean that they did not have to do what they could. The fact that others were called in to help them did not mean they could take out and quit.

By Brother Lanier's own contention when the Jerusalem church did what it could to relieve the need of its own, it had equality with those who did what they could to help her. If not, why not?

Brother Lanier admits that equality in the passage involves the future possibility that the relation of these churches might some day be reversed. Corinth might conceivably fall into need and Jerusalem might supply their need. But if this would constitute equality — why would it not do so when in the same circumstances Corinth supplies Jerusalem's need — "at this present time"?

I have never seen Gospel preachers labor so hard to avoid the plain, obvious meaning of a passage of scripture. If Brother Lanier would but read Romans 15:27, he would learn that the Gentiles of Achaia, Macedonia and Galatia coming to the relief of the Saints at Jerusalem was put on the basis of reciprocity — carnal for spiritual. Jerusalem had sent out the gospel. Now the Gentile churches could send things material back to supply their need.

Again in 2 Corinthians 9:12 Paul says, "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God?

Whose "want" is Paul talking about in that verse — why, the want of the saints in Jerusalem, of course. Then whose want is Paul talking about in verse 14 of chapter 8 when he said, "But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want, that there may he equality"?

There are two "wants" in this verse — "their want" and "your want." "Their want" was Paul's concern "now at this time." "Their want" ("now at this time") was to be supplied by "your abundance."

The abundance was in Corinth — even Brother Lanier recognizes that — but who was in want? Who was being ministered unto? Was Corinth ministering unto Macedonia? Was the "administration of this service" which "supplieth the want of the saints" in 2 Corinthians 912 an "administration of service" to Macedonia? If it was, then Corinth distributed their contributions among the Macedonian saints instead of the Jerusalem saints for the "administration of this service" in verse 12 and the "distribution" in verse 13 refer to the same identical thing.

'But Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 8:4 that the Macedonian saints were doing the ministering, not being ministered unto as Roy Lanier would have us believe. The collection was for the Jerusalem saints-1 Corinthians 16:1-3. The "collection for the saints," the "ministering to the saints" (2 Cor. 8:1-4), this service which "supplieth the wants of the saints" (2 Cor. 9:12) and "your liberal distribution unto them" (2 Con 9:13) all refer to precisely the same things as any honest student of the Word of God can see.

For whom was the collection taken at Corinth? Why for Jerusalem, of course! (1 Cor. 16:3.) To whom was this relief administered? To Jerusalem, of course! Whose want was supplied by this ministration? Jerusalem's, of course! How was equality "now at this present time" attained? By supplying their (Jerusalem's, of course) wants. (2 Cor. 8:14.)

But Brother Lanier trips himself in his own folly. He contends that the equality is "equality of sacrifice" between Achaia and Macedonia. That is even more preposterous. His definition is: "The word equality means character or condition of being equal. The word equal means exactly the same in measure, quantity, number, or degree." Look at the idea of Achaia and Macedonia making "exactly the safe — measure — or degree" of sacrifice. Paul said the Macedonians "in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For according to their power, I bear record, yea and beyond their power they were willing of themselves."

According to Brother Lanier's definition and Paul's statement, if the equality was equality in sacrifice between Corinth and Macedonia, then until the Corinthians plunged themselves into the same "deepness of poverty" and "gave beyond their ability" there could be no equality of sacrifice between them! It either had to be that way or if the equality was between the giving churches, as Brother Lanier contends then Corinth had to give to Macedonia until they both had the same amount to give. Either idea is so foolish that if Brother Lanier will turn away from his idol for just a moment surely he can see it.

Brother Lanier is trying too hard to be the "ace writer" of the institutionally minded brethren. If he would relax and let the Lord mean what he says he would stand much higher in the Lord's esteem and return to what he once was, a safe teacher of Divine truth.