by Wayne Goforth
Sentry Magazine, September 2000
Someone has indeed changed!
It has sometimes been argued that "The anti's have come up a new doctrine." Thomas B. Warren, in his book on "Lectures on Church Cooperation and Orphan Homes," argues "If you can find anyone who taught this before 1955, you will be doing me a favor." Bill Jackson claimed that the "anti doctrine" evolved, with the benevolence to the saints only doctrine being the last step in the evolution around 1960. In the Cogdill-Woods debate, page 226, Brother Woods said "Step by step, then these brethren are following the anti-pattern."
I will be the first to admit it, someone has indeed changed. The question is who?
I contend that the so-called "anti-pattern" is the same pattern of the New Testament, which was carried out and followed by inspired men in the pages of scripture, and was taught and practiced by Bible believers until someone told them they didn't have to do everything according to the pattern and that if you do everything the way Paul did, then you are anti. Many men who at one time taught "anti doctrine" suddenly stopped when the digressives drew lines of fellowship.
Many well-known and-respected brethren preached and died prior to the drawing of lines, likewise preached the same pattern -- long before the 1955s which Warren gave as the birthdate of "anti doctrine." Yet, many of these names are today heralded as great "champions of the faith" by some of our digressive brethren. True, some of the items may not have been preached against, but that could also be that they were not introduced prior, or at least no one attempted to force them upon churches as a "brotherhood project!"
As to church established and maintained homes, who has changed?
Around AD 65, the Apostle Paul said, "If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, let her assist them, and let not the church be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed" (I Timothy 5:16).
"Individual Christians, any number, may scripturally engage in· any worthy work such as running colleges, papers, and orphanages, and other Christians may properly. assist them in every proper way; but no local congregation should be called upon, as such, to contribute a thing to such enterprises. Such a call would be out of harmony with the Word of the living God." [Brother Barret, founder of Abilene Christian College, 1930].
"These churches were independent of each other and of all other congregations. They were not bound together by any organization under the control of the eldership of any of these churches, neither were they banded together under one board created by any state or national law ... there was no discussion among them about how to build and control institutions such as orphanages, homes for the aged, or hospitals for the sick. There is no more authority in the New Testament for the control of such things than there is for control of a farm or health resort. Sometime after the apostles died ... men became dissatisfied with this simple organization, which eventually led to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The catholic church then undertook to organize in a way to control schools, hospitals ... we now have brethren that should know better trying to find authority for owning and operating such things under the overworked rule of expediency. [FB. Srygley, Gospel Advocate, May 14, 1931].
"There is no place for charitable organizations in the work of the New Testament church." [Guy N. Woods, 1946 Annual Lesson Commentary, pg 338].
"The church is all-sufficient for the work God intended it to do. It needs no aids or auxiliaries." [B.C. Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1954].
As to evangelism, who has changed?
Around AD 62, the Apostle Paul said, "... no other church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye alone" (Philippians 4:15).
"The simple congregation can cooperate, help, assist, by each of them doing just what the master commands them ... what are usually termed cooperations are really not cooperation of the churches, they are an organization, combinations that do the work of the church ... two churches, both working by the same law for the accomplishment of the end are cooperation." [David Lipscomb, Gospel Advocate, July 23, 1874].
"Hence, the fact that one church is contributing to sustain a missionary is no reason why another church or churches may not do so if one is too poor financially to sustain the work; in such a case, each church maintains its own independence, and sends directly to the support of the missionary in the field." [M.C. Kurfees, ACC Lectures, 1920-21 pg 55].
"... For one church to solicit funds from other churches for general distribution in other fields or places, thus becoming a treasury of other churches ... makes a sort of society out of the elders of a local church, and for such, there is no scriptural precedent or example." [Foy E. Wallace Jr., Gospel Advocate, May 14, 1931].
"These elders had no authority to take charge of the missionary money or any other money or means of any church except the one over which they were overseers." [F.B. Srygly, Gospel Advocate, December 3, 1931].
"There is no example of two or more churches joining together their funds for the support of the gospel." [H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, November 3, 1932].
As to the training of gospel preachers, who has changed?
"He and I agreed that this society was unscriptural. Then I told him the church of Christ has its Bible college society with its president, secretary, treasurer, board of directors, etc. to collect money from churches to teach the gospel and do other good works. Then I asked by what process of reasoning could the digressive missionary society be unscriptural, and our college society be scriptural." [J .D. Tant, Firm Foundation, June 8, 1915].
"The ship of Zion has floundered more than once on the sand-bar of institutionalism. The tendency to organize is characteristic of the age. This writer has ever been unable to appreciate the logic of those who effect to see grave danger in the missionary society but scruple not to form organizations for the purpose of caring for orphans, and teaching young men to be gospel preachers." [Guy N. Woods, ACC Lectures, 1939, pg 54].
"What is God's institution to educate and train men in the gospel? Answer: The local church." [George DeHoff, Christian Magazine, January 1951].
As to church-sponsored recreation, who has changed?
The Apostle Paul said, "What? Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God?" (I Corinthians 11:22).
"For the church to tum aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its mission. It degrades 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 to the plain of Ono to amuse and entertain. As the church turns its attention to amusement and entertainment, 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 in the lap of Delilah, will it tum from its wanted course to relatively unimportant matters. Imagine Paul selecting and training a group of brethren to compete in the Isthmian games!" [B.C. Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1948].
Brother Floyd Decker came out of the Christian Church denomination about 1930 after having preached among them for seven years. In a lectureship at the Vickery Blvd church in Forth Worth in 1949, he was asked to speak on why he left the Christian Church. Look at the reasons, and compare it with the common practices found in churches of Christ today, and ask yourself, who has changed?
"The Christian Church has missionary. benevolent and educational organizations to execute the work of the church, the church of Christ does not."
"The Christian Church emphasizes society and the physical man by appealing to carnal nature with church carnivals, bands, plays, choruses, dramatics, kitchens, church camps, and elaborate fellowship halls. The churches of Christ do not."
"The Christian Church has Educational Directors, Associate Ministers, and Youth Directors. The church of Christ has Elders, Deacons, Evangelists, and Teachers."
Brethren, someone has indeed changed. Who? Seek the old paths and walk therein (Jeremiah 6:16), for Jesus and His Word never change (Hebrews 13:8).