The Issues Before Us

Foy E. Wallace, Jr.


Feature editor's note: We reprint the following article from brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. (no relation to this writer) because of its relevancy to mission work. Issues over which brethren divided 50 years ago are still before us as those among us doing mission work encounter brethren supported and/or sent by churches involved in the very things about which brother Wallace writes. Also, some of the same dangers of which he warns with regards to premillennial brethren of the past are applicable to brethren who have drifted into errors of our day.

The Issues Before Us
by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

Certain issues are now before the church which must be met. They constitute a threat to the future of New Testament Christianity just as clear-cut as premillenialism did two decades ago and as digression did two generations ago. These issues shall be met. The Gospel Guardian, like her predecessors in this valiant fight for the faith, is set for the "defense of the church against all errors and innovations." Among the problems which will receive attention are:

Institutionalism

No one claims that these institutions are divine organizations; no one denies that they are secular and human; yet their proponents want to bed them up in the treasuries of the churches and thereby subordinate the divine church of the Lord to the human organizations of men. So much emphasis in fact has been put on these institutions by various papers and in many congregations that when people are baptized in some of these places one may be led to wonder if they know whether they are being added to the church or just joining some college. Some brethren need to learn all over again what the church is and what the church is for; and we humbly hope to be able to help them learn it.

Brotherhood Elderships

History is repeating on ecclesiastical organization. It comes now in the form of the little church working through the big church -- which is centralization. It amounts to little elders turning the responsibility of their work over to big elders -- which is diocesan in principle. Thus hierarchal and ecclesiastical centralization is growing -- elders over elders, bishops over bishops. Remember, the pope of Rome is just an overgrown metropolitan bishop. With one eldership of one church taking over the work of many elders of many churches, and with this centralized eldership overseeing workers by the dozens who are not even members of the church where these elders are supposed to elder, what will be left of the local autonomous organization of the New Testament church? And to think that it has happened in Texas!

The Missionary Situation

Before the echoes from the Don Carlos Janes and E.L. Jorgenson scoop of missionary money have died away in the distance, brethren are again committing their missionary work and trusting their missionary money to the weak and wavering on important issues. Does experience teach nothing? Or, in the words of Jeremiah to Israel, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?"

After going among the brethren for a whole generation soliciting money missions, Janes (a premillennialist) left a fortune to E.L. Jorgenson (another premillennialist) in his last will and testament with the proviso that the bequest be used to promote premillennialism in the churches of Christ. Now, the churches are supporting again O.D. Bixler, a confessed Boll sympathizer and a convicted premillennialist (the documentary evidence of which we hold), and other men are in charge of the missionary program in Japan who have acknowledged their ignorance on the whole question, but declared that they would oppose the introduction of the issue in Japan!

What a pledge and what a pronouncement to come from men posing as missionaries of Christ and emissaries of the gospel, soliciting the support of churches of Christ! How can they teach the truth on the kingdom of Christ, reign of Christ, the throne of David and Christ, the second coming of the Lord, the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the evil and the good at the last day, the gospel dispensation as the last days, the gospel to the Gentiles now, and the Great Commission itself (all of which the premillennialist denies) without introducing the issue? Inasmuch also as there are legions of denominational preachers in Japan who will be teaching premillennialism all around them, how can they answer these denominational errors or oppose their doctrines without introducing the issue? The gospel itself poses the issue. Therefore, the "issue" ought to be "introduced" everywhere -- and its heresies exposed. Men who do not know the issue and cannot meet the issue should be kept at home and taught before anybody sends them anywhere to teach anybody anything, at home or abroad. (Brother Wallace's words in the preceding sentence also apply to the modern issues of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, and the fellowship question related thereto [2 Tim. 2:2]. Feature editor)

Promoting a Program

And another thing on the missionary situation -- are we preaching the gospel and saving souls in foreign fields, or simply promoting a program to finance the building of schools, orphanages, and human institutions? If it be argued that through these human organizations and institutions the church can be established better souls saved the more, then why is it that Jesus Christ did not order it done that way when he gave the Great Commission? And why did not the Apostles do it that way when they went into various countries of the world? And why was it not reported that way in the accounts and records in the Acts of the Apostles?

Some brethren seem to think that the mission of the church is rehabilitate the economic condition existing in Japan and Germany, and to do so they have inaugurated a program with a plan that makes the divine institution (the church) dependent upon human organizations for its existence and success. It does not help the situation any for one of these centralized, brotherhood elderships to take the "oversight" of a human organization operated by a "board" from Japan or Germany. What is the scriptural difference between a missionary organization or an institutional board in Germany and in the United states? If the church can do its work through such "boards" abroad, why not at home?

Shades of all the giants of the past generation who fought to their dying day the encroachments of missionary societies and human organizations in their early inroads within the churches of Christ! Between this and that, we had as well accept the missionary society and be done with it.

That we shall not do. The fight against societies, organizations, centralization of authority, and all that belongs to digression in general, so valiantly made in Tennessee and Texas fifty and sixty years ago, shall be fought all over again. The Lord has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal -- and shall not! From every point of the compass they shall rally to the call for truth and right. Our fathers have not fought in vain; their sons shall catch the torch of truth and hold it high. Let advocates of error be fully warned; there are a mighty host who say with us, They shall not pass!

(from The Gospel Guardian, volume 1, number 1, page 3)


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