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Quotes on the Social Gospel

What is the purpose of the church of the Lord? Suppose I discuss the negative side first. I may say some things with which you do not agree, but I bid you hear me regardless. I do not consider it a part of the work of the church to try to run the government. I am taught in the Bible to be subject unto the powers that be, just so far as I think they do not conflict with some law of God. Again, I say to you, with caution and thought, that it is not the work of the church to furnish entertainment for the members. And yet many churches have drifted into such an effort. They enlarge their basements, put in all kinds of gymnastic apparatus, and make every sort of an appeal to the young people of the congregation. I have never read anything in the Bible that indicated to me that such was a part of the work of the church. I am wholly ignorant of any Scripture that even points in that direction. Furthermore, it is not the work of the church to try to adjust labor troubles, or to supervise our social conditions. It was never intended that the church should run politics, stop wars, supervise public morals, or to be any kind of a collecting agency to pile up a large sum of money. The church should not go into the banking business. Money is contributed for the work of the Lord and my observation is, that if you want to take the life our of a church, and rob it of doing good, just pile up a big fund in the church. ...

It is the duty of the overseers to feed and develop the members of any church. To do so does not require the organization of something unknown to the Bible. Many brethren have looked upon our young people's meetings with some degree of suspicion. If we are not careful, we may have an organization not at all different from others which we now condemn. Really, brethren, I have failed to find anywhere in the Bible where there is a difference made in teaching or church work between a young fellow and an old fellow. Just where is that passage which intimates that the church should be divided according to years? Brethren Srygley and Tant though that such distinctions evidenced our drifting away. To say the least of such, there is danger. I submit to you preachers that we should be exceeding careful lest, in our enthusiasm to make a big show, we turn apart from the straight and narrow path and have within our midst something that the Lord does not want.

N. B. Hardeman, Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons, Volume V, pages 50,53, November 1945.


It is not the mission of the church to furnish amusement for the world or even for its own members. Innocent amusement in proper proportion has its place in the life of all normal persons, but it is not the business of the church to furnish it. ... For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its mission. It is to degrade its mission. Amusement and recreation should stem from the home rather than the church. The church, like Nehemiah, has a great work to do; and it should not ‘come down on the plains of Ono’ to amuse and entertain. As the church turns its attention to amusement and recreation, it will be shorn of its power as Samson was when his hair was cut. Only as the church becomes worldly, as it pillows its head on the lap of Delilah, will it want to turn from its wonted course to relatively unimportant matters. Imagine Paul selecting and training a group of brethren to compete in the Isthmian games! Of his work at Corinth he said: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

B.C. Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1948