Vol.VI No.XI Pg.7
January 1970

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro Turner:

We have some songbooks which we no longer use, and a neighboring church would like to have them. They are financially able to buy their own books. Would it be wrong for us to give them these books?


Under current circumstances I believe I would let them buy the books; and even a very low price would be to the advantage of both churches.

The above question was plucked from a list of quibbles, to illustrate an ever present problem. The APPLICATION OF A SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE OR RULE, IS OFTEN REGARDED AS THE RULE.

We set out to teach congregational independence — that each church has its own oversight, treasury; and is to operate according to its ability. The objection to such arrangements as a sponsoring church is that this church has become the medium through which a number of churches act collectively — and in collective action the unit must give up some of its independence.

But in the process of discussing the matter, and of making application to current practices, (contributing churches being sister churches in a churchhood activity) we begin to make sending to another church as the RULE or PRINCIPLE violated — and before long the sending is regarded as wrong — whether it has anything to do with collective action or not.

I have known churches to become so obsessed with the application of an independent local treasury, that they refused the market value of their property (sold for highway development) contending that the profit would be money in the treasury that was not their own contribution. No independence principle would have been here violated — since they did not buy the property as a business venture or commercial speculation.

The scriptures establish the RULE of modest apparel (1 Tim. 2:9—f) and I believe the APPLICATION of this rule forbids many of the mini peek through fashions of our day. But the RULE does not establish a hemline in inches, nor dictate a certain pattern for dress making. If we allow current APPLICATION (legitimate and proper) to become the RULE, we establish an orbiting platform, outside the divine regulation, from which to launch our creed to realms unknown. (Thanks to W. L. Wharton for the metaphor.)

Must we practice close contribution (making it wrong for someone other than bonafide members to give — and placing safeguards to assure the same) because we confidently believe the principle of self-sufficiency? Is there no difference in the gift of a visitor, and a solicitation of regular funds from outside sources? I believe there is validity in the distinction the Internal Revenue Service makes in a gift and support or salary; in a gift which a saint or church may make to another church, and a plan of operation calling for pooling of funds from many churches under the oversight of one church. Do not confuse RULE and APPLICATION.