Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1958
NUMBER 47, PAGE 8-9b

The Missionary Society And Current Issues

Forrest D. Moyer, Tucumcari, N. M.

(Note A thing is not unscriptural just because it is like something else. But anything that is unauthorized is unscriptural, and anything that violates a law or order of God is unscriptural. Simply saying that present-day arrangements are like the Missionary Society is not enough. Many arrangements of our brethren are wrong for the same reason that the missionary society was wrong: they are unauthorized. It is not my purpose in this study to discuss the likenesses of the society of the Christian church and of human organizations among "us." Nor am I discussing necessarily what is wrong with either. But I do want to show that many arguments today that are being used to uphold human arrangements and institutionalism were used by those upholding the society, and they are wrong for the same reason now that they were then because they violate the same thing. These quotations follow mainly an arrangement used by Gene Frost, and I am indebted to him for that arrangement.)

I. Arguments used to uphold the Missionary Society.

A. Methods and general statements:

1. "My friend says, 'through the church, the one body.' I say that too, but I deny that these societies are anything else than agencies employed by the church, the one body, to carry on this work systematically." (Briney, Otey-Briney Debate on Instrumental Music and the Missionary Society, p. 284)

2. "But I called attention to the fact that these are simply voluntary organizations and stated that churches or individuals could go in whenever they please, and come out whenever they please" (Ibid, p. 235)

3. "They are not over the churches, nor do they have churches under them . . ." (Ibid, p. 270)

4. "Now, is there any objection to those small congregations cooperating with each other? I ask my friend how small congregations that are not able to send a missionary each are to cooperate? How are they to take part in this work? Now, the society provides for that." (Ibid, p. 199)

5. "Well now, if one church may organize a band to do a special and local work, largely of a business character, (of course charity was involved in it as well, and the proper distribution of a common fund) might not any number of congregations, with a common end in view, desiring to accomplish one purpose, may they not select from their own number wise men into whose hands they can combine the interests that are involved in the transaction that is in hand?" (Ibid, p. 170)

6. "But now, my friends, there are a great many congregations that cannot do this individually ... They carry no heavy bank accounts, and yet their hearts are on fire with the love of God, and they desire sincerely to be at work for the Master. That congregation is able to contribute $10 per annum for the accomplishment of this work. There is another congregation able to do the same thing, and on and on this way until there is a hundred,

and if two may do this, then no limit can be put upon the number that may combine for the purpose of carrying on the same work. Now these hundred or five hundred congregations cannot act as a whole. Hence, they select people and authorize them, in their name, to take up this work and carry it on decently and in order . . ." (Ibid, p. 167)

B. The Silence Of The Scriptures

1. "I allege that where the Scriptures require this to be done, and are silent in regard to the method by which it is to be done, this silence authorizes these men, whether they be many or few, whether it be one congregation or a hundred congregations, to meet in the name of the Master, and under the commandment to go, inaugurate such a work and carry it on; and whenever you have that, you have a missionary society." (Ibid, p. 169)

C. Expediency

1. "When a thing is commanded to be done, and the method of doing it is not prescribed, those commanded are at liberty to use their best judgment in devising ways and means to carry out the command . . . Now, the method, I repeat, of doing this is not specified . ." (Ibid, p. 162)

2. "The first point I presented in support of that proposition was the fact that the Savior commanded his disciples to go, and left it to the exercise of their own judgment and their own wisdom as to how they would do that; that is, as to how they would carry on the details of the work that was committed into their hands." (Ibid, p. 288)

D. No Fixed Pattern

1. "There were two different interpretations of the church which inevitably came into conflict. There were those who believed the church should move on with the world and adapt the spirit of the New Testament to conditions that were ever changing. They held that, when not forbidden by the New Testament, they were free to adapt their program to changing needs. On the other hand, there were those who believed the pattern of the church was fixed for all time, and the fact that certain things were not sanctioned was sufficient ground for rejecting them. The men on both sides were equally honest, but they had a different approach to these issues that were raised." (Fortune, A. W., Disciples in Kentucky, p. 364465)

2. "There is too much squeamishness about the manner of cooperation. Some are looking for a model similar to that which Moses gave for building the tabernacle. Campbell, A., Millennial Harbinger, 1835, p. 119)

3. "... the crux of it was a difference of opinion as to the extent to which the church of today and of all time is limited by the pattern of the primitive church." (Garrison, W. E., Religion Follows the Frontier, p. 238, quoted from Hailey, Homer, Attitudes and Consequences, p. 178)

E. Not Scriptural — Not wrong

1. "You say, 'Your Missionary Society is not scriptural' — and you mean by this, that there is no special precept in the Scriptures commanding it. We concede this without a moment's hesitation. There is none; but what do you make of it? Is everything which is not scriptural therefore wrong?" (W. K. Pendleton in defending the society, quoted from West, Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. II, p. 56)

F. Appeals to Prejudice

1. "Are these things pleasing to God? Are they honoring him? Are they saving the people? Are they accomplishing the purpose of the great commission? Are they standing under the truth as it is in Christ, as its pillar and its support? Which are they doing? Are they building up the cause of the Master or tearing it down? Are they obstructing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, or are they promoting it?" (Briney, J. B., Op. cit., p. 218)

2. "You would be surprised and would weep if you would go to the Board of Ministerial Relief, and read the letters of gratitude and thankfulness that come from these old heroes ... little boys and little girls, that have been deprived of fathers and mothers, or both, and they are there, the dear little orphans, under the fostering care of these institutions, and there because the hearts of good people have moved them to make an arrangement .like this . . ." p. 272-273)

Each of the preceding quotations were used in trying to find authority for the Missionary Society. Do you hear statements like these today? Are there really any new arguments defending human societies or sponsored cooperation? Brethren, think on these things!

(Next: Brother Otey's replies to Briney's arguments)