"A Review of 'May Only the Church Teach the Gospel?'"
In Volume number 51 of
Truth Magazine, Editor Mike Willis wrote the following as to the new policy
of the magazine:"There are many
papers which do not last fifty years and many of those
which endure have changed their doctrinal stance to the point that they are
nothing like the magazine which they initially were...We have reached the
conclusion that most of the doctrinal issues facing brethren will be
fought through the Internet rather than through the
papers. We are adjusting our approach to reflect this
conclusion. Generally only a small percentage of our readers are interested in
the doctrinal conflicts occurring among us. Most brethren think these doctrinal
exchanges are distractive. Some turn off the magazine because they view them as
Such a policy reminds one of
the late Christianity Magazine. Another
similarity between Truth Magazine and Christianity Magazine is the
fact that while they assumed the posture of "no
controversy," they both were influential instruments
in the advancement of error among non-institutional
churches of Christ. Christianity Magazine advanced the mistaken
notion that Romans 14 receives such teaching as was done by Homer Hailey
relative to divorce and marriage to another and, now, Truth Magazine is
also becoming a famous or, rather, infamous purveyor of unity-in-diversity,
especially regarding human foundations preaching the gospel and also multiple
causes for divorce (a doctrine championed by Mike Willis and pervading through
other staff writers).
The latest material in
Truth Magazine promulgating a foundation preaching
the gospel and having gospel meetings is, "May Only the Church Teach the
Gospel?" by Johnie Edwards (Vol. 51, No. 7, p. 7). Of course,
Truth Magazine does not now allow any response to their material; thus, they
have a free reign in teaching whatever they desire without challenge.
Notwithstanding, I shall herein briefly review brother Edwards material.
While I want to focus on the teaching and not the man, it is hard for me to
imagine that Johnie Edwards believes the issue now dividing brethren to be as
simplistic as he assigns and argues.
Just as in the case of most
teaching that is slanted and designed to defend what is biblically indefensible,
the article expends most of the time and energy
used to produce it in chasing after the wind and dealing with
non-issues. Why must this be the case? Does brother Edwards really
believe that preachers who oppose what the Guardian
of Truth Foundation is now overtly doing (playing
church) really opposes "A family Bible study," Home
Bible studies," and/or a "Husband/wife teaching?" Perhaps he does, at
least, this is what he contends the issue is. I should hope that brother
Edwards would extend to others and me the intelligence that we do not believe
such non-sense. Why then would he write and make such charges? Again, perhaps he
really believes this to be the case. Since I shall strive to be as kind
and forbearing, assigning only the best motive, I must conclude that brother
Edwards does not understand the issue and wrote what he did without knowledge of
First, let me start by
agreeing with Johnie's statement: "It is true
that the church is to preach or teach the gospel as the church is 'the pillar
and ground of the truth' (see
I Tim. 3: 15)." He and I can agree because this is what the Bible
teaches. I read about Christians working in and through local churches to
collectively preach the gospel (Acts 13: 1ff.). The scriptures clearly and
irrefutably set forth the teaching and example that Christians are to combine
their efforts to preach through God's entity set up for such a work, the local
church. The local church has structure, oversight, and a treasury (Phili.
1: 1ff., Acts 14: 23, I Cor. 16: 1, 2). Where Johnie Edwards and I disagree is
relative to what is not taught or exemplified in the scriptures. I am
referring to Christians working in and through a human foundation such as the
Guardian of Truth Foundation with its structure, human oversight, and
treasury to collectively preach the gospel.
Brother Edwards mentions five
specifics in employing the logic that if Christians
are limited to the local church to collectively preach the gospel, then the five
specifics cannot be done. While this sort of logic and dialectics may have
a place and functionality in examining the truth, such is not definitive.
At best, it would only illustrate inconsistency and not directly establish the
Religious journals. "If only the church can teach the gospel,
then one could not have a journal where the gospel is taught," reasoned Edwards.
Such is the case if we are referring to a journal such as Truth Magazine
that is highly structured and has all the requirements to render it an entity
providing the collective preaching of the gospel (oversight, treasury, etc.).
Editor Mike Willis has written that my Web site, Bible Truths, and
Truth Magazine are tantamount. At best, such would simply prove that I
am inconsistent. However, Truth Magazine and Bible Truths
are not equal. I am the sole owner, controller, financial provider, and
functioning person in the workings of Bible Truths. Just because I
have some articles by others does not necessarily make Bible Truths equal
to Truth Magazine (they are not staff writers or constitute part of any
organizational structure). The scriptures do not condemn individual but
concurrent action. Bible Truths is not an entity equal and
comparable to Truth Magazine, an extension of the Guardian of Truth
Foundation. Such a comparison constitutes apples and oranges.
family Bible study. Johnie reasons that if the local church is
the only organization through and in which Christians
pool their resources to collectively preach the
gospel, then "A family cannot do any Bible teaching,
since a family is not the church!" Here would be apples and apples:
A family such as Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18: 24-28)
forming the Protect the Truth Foundation,
having its own structure, oversight, and treasury in and
through which Christians pool their resources to collectively preach the gospel.
A family Bible study is not the issue.
Bible studies. Johnie wrote: "If only the church is to
preach the gospel, we will have to stop teaching the Bible in home Bible
studies, since these individuals teachers are not the
church!" I have taught many home Bible studies
and hope to do more in the future. Am I inconsistent?
Consider this: "Don, we are forming the ‘Save The Lost
Foundation’ to take the gospel to the lost.
It will have its own oversight, treasury, and structure in order to provide Christians the opportunity to pool their
resources to collectively preach the gospel and we want you to join."
Would I be a part of such? You correctly guessed if you said: NO!
Just as I said "no" when I was invited to be a staff writer for Truth
Magazine many years ago! Is it the case that the supporters of foundations
doing the work God has only assigned to his collectivity cannot see what they
are arguing and promoting? (Cp. 2 Thes. 2: 10-12.)
Schools teaching Bible. The number four specific mentioned by
author Edwards is a school that teaches the Bible.
I do not necessarily oppose a school having the Bible
in its curriculum. However, brethren forming a "Church
of Christ Seminary," this I do oppose. Edwards reasons, "If only
the church is to preach or teach the gospel, a school could not do so, and it
would be sinful to attend such an institution."
Husband/wife teaching. Truth Magazine staff writer
Edwards wrote, after mentioning the example of Aquila
and Priscilla teaching Apollos: "Who is ready to
condemn this couple, who are not necessarily the church, for teaching the
Bible?" It is important to differentiate that Aquila and Priscilla did not
operate a privately funded missionary society in and through which Christians
pooled their resources to teach the lost. Again, we have apples and
Here is the issue succinctly
stated: The local church with its elders, structure, and treasury is the
organization that God has specified in and through which Christians collectively
preach the gospel (I Tim. 3: 15). When God has specified, man is without option
(cp. Heb. 7: 14). Human foundations acting as local churches (providing
gospel meetings, etc.) and offering the opportunity for Christians to therein
collectively function in doing the work God has assigned to his collectivity,
the local church, are a violation of God's order. What will be the end of
this aberrant practice and what else will such run-away thinking produce.
Ron Halbrook, Guardian of Truth Foundation board member and Truth
Magazine staff writer, has already taught that the
Guardian of Truth Foundation is just a case of
Christians individually functioning. He affirms this to be so,
notwithstanding the presence and activation of the foundation. In view
of this growing thinking and rationale, how could such men possibly again
refute the common institutionalism of the latter forties, the fifties,
and the sixties (such continues today and is actually beginning to seriously
rear its head again among non-institutional churches of Christ)?
Here is my offer: I
invite brother Johnie Edwards to effect an exchange with me on the real issue
now facing brethren, not the apples and oranges, relative to privately supported
foundations to preach the gospel. When all the details are settled, the
exchange can be published where Johnie would like and I will publish it to
Bible Truths so others can study this issue. Is Johnie "...set for the
defense of the gospel" or will he only write for a "brotherhood paper" that
offers asylum? (Phili. 1: 7, 17).