Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 4, 1956
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1,9b-11

An Editor Condemns Himself

Roy E. Cogdill

The Book says, "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." I know of no one to whom this statement more correctly applies than Brother Rue Porter — recently made editor of the Christian Worker in Wichita, Kansas. In an editorial of the August 16 issue Brother Porter condemned himself in that which he both "allows" and "avows."

"Just who and what is the 'Church of Christ' today? So many different ideas are being preached as 'the doctrine of Christ' as makes necessary a restatement of what brethren have been pleading for since the Restoration began. The plea 'Where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent' seems to have been lost sight of. There are several groups today, some small and others smaller, whose spokesmen seem to think they are the only authorized spokesmen for the Lord, and who tacitly claim infallibility in their declarations. The Campbells, Stone, Smith, Franklin, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb, E. G. Sewell, and even the Sryglies, would not be acceptable as members of many of the congregations today who claim to be churches of Christ. Why? Because they did at one time or another, give voice to some opinion with which some present day preachers do not agree!"

"The plea in those early days was, 'In matters of faith we must be united. In matters of opinion, we must not be dogmatic,' was a sensible and safe principle. It should be so today. When an editor assumes that-his column is the only one setting out an inerrant course in those matters which the Lord did not specifically settle, he by inference claims infallibility. Certain it is` that those matters which inspiration specifies, must be taken as specified, but, in incidental matters even common sense proves that we must not allow our customs' and pet ideas to become a bone of contention and thus force us unto the position of legislators in the realm of religion."

Thus Brother Porter admits that the "benevolent institutions" which brethren have built are matters of opinion. He classifies them as "customs," "incidental matters," "pet ideas" and freely admits that they are not authorized in New Testament scriptures. If they were authorized, they would not belong in the realm of opinion but would be matters of faith. If he could find any scriptural authority for them, he would not admit them to belong in the realm of human judgment. But in spite of his admission he is willing to make them a "bone of contention" and force them into the churches against the consciences of many brethren who are just as sincere as he could possibly be. He would have the congregations put these "human organizations" that have been built and are being maintained by the churches as a method of cooperation in taking care of orphan children into their budgets and force those who worship with them to contribute to them against their consciences if they are opposed to such or get out and go elsewhere. This was the attitude and course of the digressive movement when instrumental music was injected into the worship, admittedly without authority to begin with and as a mere human expediency. Brother Porter has encouraged such an attitude and has even advised brethren to go to law and take away the property from those who are so opposed so that they will have to submit or desert the place of worship which they have helped to build and pay for.

He has for the slogan "We will speak where the Bible speaks and we will be silent where the Bible is silent" only lip service or he would respect God's silence by refusing to introduce into the church of God where he admits God has not spoken his own human opinion as to how the church is to take care of orphan children. It is Brother Porter's opinion, and he admits it to be such, that the churches can build and maintain a human organization to take care of orphan children for them. It is the faith of many of his brethren that true churches of Christ cannot do their benevolent work in such manner because God is utterly silent about such and there is no authority in His word for such procedure, therefore, to proceed in such manner is to act without divine sanction and authority, invade the realm of God's silence, walk by sight instead of by faith, and therefore is sinful. Brother Porter and those who are introducing such human organizations into the churches and dividing brethren all over the land over them cannot be "walking by faith" in doing so for they admit that such "methods" are matters of opinion and that there is no scriptural authority for them. He is self condemned.

He is not only fostering benevolent societies to the division of the churches in his paper and through his column but he is "dogmatic" in his opinions with reference to such matters and assumes that his course is "inerrant" and according to his own reasoning (?) "by inference claims infallibility." He is so dogmatic in his opinion that the church should discharge its benevolent obligation through human organizations that the rest of us who do not agree with him are a "group of factionists" all because we will not let him "speak where God has not spoken" and make his opinion our law. He sometimes talks right ugly about us because we will not let him make his opinion the law by which we shall be governed. Hear him:

"I cannot feel bitter toward the young fellows who have relied upon the wisdom of the older ones. Fellows like Tant, Moyer, Cogdill and maybe another or so. The little paper Gospel Guardian filled in every issue with such stuff, and hasn't had enough gospel in the last twenty issues to teach a single person how to become a Christian!!! check it over and see."

This statement in a letter under date January 13, 1956, shows how rabid, unreasonable and utterly unreliable he can get in his representations when he expresses himself privately. Brother Rue is much too sweet and lovable (?) to feel as bitter as he admittedly does toward some of us. Surely our age doesn't give him license to do so. He has lost his balance for some reason and has begun to write in his own "little paper" (or is it a big one?) on such matters instead of "How to become a Christian." My prediction is that his "musings" will contain more and more of such bitterness and strife. He has gone much further even than that in some of his private advice concerning these matters. Listen to him again as he writes his advice to some of the brethren in East Bakersfield church in Bakersfield, California, under date of March 15, 1956.

"It is a fact indisputable and incontrovertible that the folk who are now trying to claim and hold, are a people who BELIEVE THINGS different from what the people who originated the congregation believed. This group has as their distinguishing feature and tenet of religion which the church as a whole, and more than nine-tenths of the congregations composing it, doesn't hold, and to which we do not consent. They have only been believing it and teaching it for a short time."

"A dark chapter will have been written in American Jurisprudence when the courts allow a group so different in faith, to come over and take title to property which they did not build, nor claim any right or title to until so recently. I cannot believe that any court of law would validate their claim to the title. I stand ready to help contest it to the last. Will give, and get others to give for the defense of the property as ours." (Emphasis mine, R.E.C.)

"A lawyer who is willing to dig in and work for the cause there can easily force their hand and bring the whole scheme and plan into the light where the public can see, and know that they are simply a power seeking crowd."

Thus Rue Porter not only commits himself as being in favor of dividing the church over these matters of expediency and human judgment but advises brethren to go to law against the brethren and take the meeting house away from them if they won't support the benevolent societies which the brethren have formed. Either he knows little about what the Bible teaches on a number of points or has no respect for it.

In his article he uses the "theory" concerning the millennium as an illustration of what should be done about the benevolent societies in the church. Dr. Brents held his theory as a "think so" and it caused no trouble he tells us. But R. H. Boll and his cohorts did not hold their theory as a "think so." They introduced it into the churches and instated on teaching it and caused much trouble just as Brother Porter and those who worship his "idols" are doing. They, like Brother Boll, are so infatuated with their idols that they are willing to sacrifice everything for them. They have not held their "theory" concerning the church building benevolent societies as a "think so" but have taught and practiced it as a "must." This is what is causing the trouble. It was not those who opposed "premillennialism" who caused the division among churches and brethren but those who introduced them. It is not opposition to human societies doing the work of the church that is causing division over them in the church today but those who have introduced them to the disruption of fellowship. If they had "kept their faith unto themselves alone" (Romans 14:19-23) these institutions which have been built to do the work of the Lord's church would not exist. When a church sets aside a part of its contribution on the first day of the week to build and maintain some human institution they make it impossible for anyone conscientiously opposed to worship with that congregation without sinning against God by violating his conscience. The only alternative is to go elsewhere, if there is any place that can be found that is not tied in with these human organizations. Thus they disrupt the fellowship of God's people over a matter which they admit in one breath is a matter of "opinion" and then would have you think In the next breath is the only way the church can discharge its obligation to care for the needy. We would ask Brother Porter "Must the church build a human organization to take care of its destitute or can it be done some other way?"

But to further witness the confusion an inconsistency of this editor listen to him again:"When brethren decided that James 1:27 meant what it said, and began to follow its order by building and maintaining homes in which 'fatherless and widows' might be 'visited' in a sensible and helpful manner, some began a war upon the how' it was done and made their opinions a law."

Brother Porter would have you think that James 1:27 actually orders such institutions as Boles Home and Maude Carpenter Home and the like. Such an inference from this passage is too ridiculous to need reply for those who think. He couldn't even find a congregation in James 1:27 if his life depended on it. To apply the passage to congregational activity is to wrest it and pervert it and the judgment of God is upon him for that. But it you granted that it is addressed to the congregation instead of the Christian individual you still do not have anything that looks like an "order" for a separate corporate body to do the work of the church. He confuses the "home" with the organization that maintains the home. Maude Carpenter, Boles, and all the rest save one are corporate bodies organized and given entity separate and apart from the church. The home maintained is not a part of this corporate body or organizational set up. The superintendent is not a part of the corporation, he is hired by the corporation. The children and the caretakers are not any part of the corporation. The buildings and grounds and the necessaries furnished those cared for are not a part of the corporate set up. The corporate set up is another body — another organization — set up and designed by men — controlled by their authority and wisdom and not by the Lord. It is another organization substituted to do the work which Brother Porter would have us think the church is to do according to James 1:27. What I want Brother Porter to do is to find that part of this passage or any other passage in the Word of God that gives the churches of Christ authority to build any other organization than a congregation. I will meet him in Wichita, Kansas, Bakersfield, California, or Kalamazoo if he will try to do it. What about it Brother Rue? I deny that. God has given the church authority to do anything of the sort. All the church has the right to build is the church.

More than that, if such institutions should be maintained as a "means" of caring for orphan children, why can't the church maintain them without another organization? Just what does the "corporation" do that the congregation cannot do, if such work is the work of the church? If you grant that congregations should build and maintain institutional homes for the aged, widows, and orphans, why can't the church — the congregation — do it without setting up a "corporate body" to do it instead? I submit that there is not one solitary provision for the care of orphan children that such a corporation can make which a local church cannot make if it is right and needed. Brother Porter just like Guy Woods and others think the brethren are dumb enough to confuse the organization with the method or means used by such organization to do such work. When you build another organization to do it, it must still adopt a method and use means. Building an organization does not eliminate the necessity of method or means if by method and means you are talking about a place, someone to care for them, and provision for the necessities of life. These must be provided no matter what organization does the work. I do not believe brethren are as dumb as these smart brethren think they are. They can see the difference between organization and means. We have a divine organization to do what God wants done, a specific one, the congregation. God is the author of it. Another "body" is not needed and is not permissible for such is an invasion of God's silence and a human substitute for the divine organization God has given. Brother Porter says God has not told us "how" to do it. Do you mean with reference to the organization Brother Porter? Will you deny that God has given the church organic form? Will you deny that God has given an organization as a medium through which a Christian must work to do His will? You infer as much by what you say but surely you do not believe that.

But he contradicts himself again in the article by suggesting first as we have seen that James 1:27 orders such institutions and then turning right around and saying that God has not told us "how" such work is to be done. Hear him again:

"Did they find a passage in the Bible telling them 'how' they or we are to do this good work? No, but they had an opinion, and made it into a law. They invaded the realm of God's sacred silence and spake where it did not. This is self evident. We have from the time their opposition was raised, offered to begin at once to do what the Bible says, the very minute they show us where and how the Bible says do it. They have not, and of course will not for the simple reason that the Bible does not say that."

Then how in the name of common reason, Brother Porter, does James 1:27 order the building of such institutions as you are defending? I think you know it doesn't. If these institutions are to be left in the realm of expediency, then I charge that you encouraged brethren in Bakersfield, California, to divide the church of God over a matter of expediency. go to court to take the property away so that an expediency could be followed, and that you have therefore made your "opinion" into a law in this specific case and have therefore sinned against the body of Christ. Who is the church splitter? In this case it is Rue Porter. Brother Porter you should correct this great wrong which has done inestimable damage to the church of our Lord.

As for showing "how" God said to do this work, that is an easy matter if you mean the organization through which it is to be done. It is the congregation Brother Porter and if you do not know where to find the congregation in God's Word, I will be glad to point that out. That is the only "how" that we are contending for. No one that I know anything about is trying to tell the congregation how to care for its own destitute so far as any specific provision for them is concerned. We only believe that it should be done through the organization God has given us — the local church. And there are a lot more of us — both young and old than you are willing to admit. You may be on the side of the majority as you evidently think you are, but that has nothing to do with truth as you well know and when you think that only a few are opposing what you are advocating, you have a rude awakening in store for you. You need not think you can get earnest conscientious brethren to falter in their opposition to human organizations doing the work of the church by belittling your opposition.

Brother Porter is in the same company with some other brethren over the land who think they have the right to make their opinion law as to how the church should do its work of benevolence and demand that the rest of us go along with them, swallow their judgment, bow to their will in such matters or they will "quarantine," "mark," "disfellowship," discredit and destroy us and our influence. I cannot say for others and wouldn't try but as for "me and my house" if I have to worship at the shrine of their idols, stultify my conscience, and submit to their creed in order to have their fellowship, there will be none as far as I am concerned. I am too much concerned about having fellowship with God. These brethren are writing one of the most "shameful chapters" in the history of the church of our Lord with their wire-working, politicking maneuvers, court procedures, and intimidating gestures to try to force the submission of faithful gospel preachers, elders, and congregations to their dictation as to how this work shall be done. It is their inventions that have "driven the wedge that is splitting the log" and they will answer for it in the judgment.

In conclusion, let me quote to Brother Porter and all our readers from David Lipscomb concerning such matters. He mentions David Lipscomb in his article and yet no one has more severely condemned the course he has chosen than did David Lipscomb. We plead with Brother Porter to hear this great man on the very point under consideration.

"To speak something, to teach something as service to God or to introduce or maintain something as service to God, that God has not commanded, is placed upon an equality and condemned as equally sinful, with speaking in the name of other gods. This is idolatry, as heinous an offense as can be committed against God. He who commanded a thing to be done, as service to God, that God had not commanded, sinned a sin unto death."

"In the New Testament, Christ begins by purging out all the additions of man. He condemned the traditions of men, the practices based on human opinion as nullifying the commands of God."

"Those who introduce and those who practice things resting on human opinion are blind leaders of the blind, both of which shall fall into the ditch. Every institution and organism of earth, save those ordained by God, rests on the opinion of men and will be engulfed in the destroying vortex of ruin."

"This disposition to introduce into the service of God things based on human opinion or judgment, has been the besetting sin of humanity from the beginning. It has been the fatal rock on which man has wrecked his faith and forfeited the favor of God. It is yet. Men become infidels by starting out to introduce their opinions into the service of God."

"The adoption of societies, organs, pastors and festivals or any and every practice based on man's judgment, into the service of God, is a school that leads and trains the mind to rely upon human judgment in religious service and finally to substitute it for the Word of God. It thus tends to infidelity. In this school, of expediency, of adopting aids and helps or orders and institutions in religious service based on human judgment, persons take their first lessons that often land them in a rejection of the Bible as the Word of God. The man who substitutes the things approved by 'sanctified common sense,' for the approved appointments of God will supersede the revelation of God with inspired genius."

"Then, not only the end and aim of the reformation by the Campbells, but more and higher, the aim of God in all his dealings with man, in all ages and dispensations, have been to train men to accept his law, as the rule of his life, free from the opinions, judgments and traditions of men, and that he should worship and serve God in his own institutions and ways, excluding all devices and inventions of men."