The Foundations Are The Same As....
Many of the
institutionally minded among us have given up on attempting to
present scriptural authority for their human foundations, societies, and
orders that provide the opportunity for Christians to collectively work
(structure, treasury, board of directors, president, etc.) in preaching the
gospel. They have generally reached the point now to where they summarily
dismiss the issue by charging all who oppose them and insist on God's order, the
local church, as being Sommerites. When additionally pressed, as they must
be, they are then observed offering such justification for their foundations
doing the work of the church as, "The foundations are the same as...."
They have many fill in the blanks, such as, "your papers," "your Web sites,"
Let me say at the outset, if one is practicing, at least in principle, the very thing he is condemning, a matter condemned by the scriptures, then he and those whom he is faulting are both wrong, it is just as simple as that. However, what is accomplished even if both are shown to be wrong? There perhaps is the occasion when we need to point the finger of accusation against accusers, but we are to examine ourselves and see where we stand, make any needed correction, and then proceed to try to recover those in error (Matt. 7: 1-5, Jas. 5: 19, 20). However, too many times we want to justify ourselves by pointing out alleged or even actual flaws in others (cp. 2 Cor. 10: 12). Let us now look at some of the things being said in an effort to support privately funded societies to preach the gospel.
"The foundations are the same as brethren who have entered secular business for financial gain." One form of logic that can be, when correctly used, useful in arriving at truth is "comparative logic." However, the danger is in mixing apples and oranges. In other words, comparison must of necessity involve two of the same kind and even then, such comparison usually only shows that both are either right or wrong, depending. It is apparent that brethren have a scriptural right to band themselves together and enter into a business for financial gain arrangement, all things equal and understood (cp. Acts 18: 1-3). However, to compare the foundations in which the gospel is collectively being preached to brethren such as Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul is a stretch, indeed. In the first place, Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul were obviously engaged in secular work, tent making. Are the foundation promoters preaching the gospel for hire? If so, we might have a comparison worthy of considering. However, such would be merchandising the gospel (cp. 2 Pet. 2: 3)
"The foundations are the same as gospel papers." This comparison can be valid, at least in some points of comparison. A religious journal or publication that has its own treasury, president, board of directors, staff writers, etc. would meet many if not all of the comparative components. However, once again we see false allegations made in an effort to justify. For instance, the late Gospel Anchor magazine continues to be used to illustrate how those who condemn privately funded missionary societies have themselves practiced such. The Gospel Anchor was owned, operated, and overseen by one man, its editor, Gene Frost. There were no staff writers or organizational structure to accompany such, to my knowledge. How, then, are the foundations, entities, and orders with their board of directors, president, and treasuries, now being used by some brethren to preach the gospel, tantamount to papers such as the Gospel Anchor? Here I think we have a clear case of apples and oranges.
"The foundations are the same as Web sites containing religious material." Mike Willis himself has charge me with practicing what I say is wrong in that I have a Web site, Bible Truths. Mike has contended that the Guardian of Truth Foundation/Truth Magazine and Bible Truths are comparable.
I submit that any organization involving brethren collectively
preaching the gospel and doing the work God has
assigned for his collectivity, the local church, to
perform that has entity classification (control of a board, etc.), its own
treasury, and organizational structure such as a president, presence of a board,
etc. is a foundation or order in every sense of the word, definitionally and
functionally. There could be some isolated nuances that are a little
difficult to evaluate, but the foregoing is clear and irrefutable.
A duck compared to a duck is still a duck and as a result of the comparison, there are two ducks. However, a duck compared to a raven remains a duck, but there is only one duck and one separate raven. Have some become so blinded by their love affair with their institutions that they cannot even exercise basic ability to distinguish between a duck and a raven, if you will?