Rationale in Favor of Privately Supported Foundations
You have probably already read some of the articles that I have written plainly against foundations having their own treasury, board of directors, President, etc. that provide Christians the opportunity to pool their resources in order to corporately preach the gospel. The local church is the "Pillar and ground of the truth" and provides the organization in and through which Christians are to corporately preach the gospel (I Tim. 3: 15, see preceding context, Acts 13: 1-3). Since the scriptures have provided the local church with its treasury, eldership, and structure for Christians to corporately function, men must argue from the silence of the scriptures in order to attempt to justify their human foundations and such is wrong (cp. Heb. 7: 14). Yet, there must be some rationale that attempts to justify these privately supported entities to do the work God has assigned to the local church. I shall briefly consider the primary and often heard arguments in favor of such societies.
"As long as church treasuries are not involved, foundations should not ever be allowed to become an issue." During the forties and fifties much of the debate was over church supported missionary societies, etc. It was correctly contended by faithful preachers that the local church is Godís only, "Ömissionary society to function with the Lordís money." Sadly, only part of the issue was considered. The real and full truth was and is, the local church is Godís only missionary society (Acts 13: 1-3, etc.). I have actually been told by preachers who were there and fought the battles of the forties that concession was sometimes made behind closed doors. Such concession as, "If you will agree to keep your foundations, societies, and missionary orders out of the church treasuries, we will agree to not say anything against the privately funded orders to preach the gospel."
Some have even stated that if a matter does not involve the church treasury, it should not be made a dividing issue. While I agree that the use of the church treasury clearly and immediately involves the local church, there are many other disorders that do not involve the treasury; yet, are of grave concern, even to the point of fellowship (cp. I Cor. 5, 2 Thes. 3: 6). Who is empowered to make such a rule as the first rationale in favor of the foundations, anyway? It is certainly not something taught in the scriptures. Stated succinctly, privately funded orders to preach the gospel do the following:
1). Reject Godís simple plan, a plan that presents the local church as the entity in and through which Godís people are to corporately preach the gospel.
2). Privately funded orders reflect the wisdom of men. I say this because having such foundations with their President, Vice President, Board of Directors, treasury, etc. reflects upon man, not the simple order that God has put in place.
3). Such orders present the situation for power struggles. I have never seen a foundation such as being discussed that did not exert power and to varying degrees, control local churches and preachers. I recall in 1980 being approached by a recruiter of one of the foundations who told me that if I did not join their order, they would view me as against them and that "I (you) will find it hard to exist without us."
4). Foundations offer the circumstance for rallying around men and party formations. Many society members are more loyal to their orders than they are to the cause of Christ. I have seen many who had to first check with the foundation to see where they stood on a given issue. Some orders decide what the issues are and which false doctrines are not to be viewed as issues.
5). These foundations exist based on the silence of the scriptures because the scriptures know nothing of such orders. When it came to Christians corporately functioning, they did so through the local church. When a matter is taught and specified, we must accept it and all else is to be rejected (cp. Heb. 7: 14).
"We have pronounced church supported societies as wrong, but not the privately supported." Again, I ask, who is the "we"? Who invested in these the authority to make such a pronouncement? The truth is all we see in the scriptures relative to corporate action is the local church. If God had wanted the local church plus privately funded orders, He would have so specified, either expressly or by exemplification.
"The opposition of privately supported foundations to do the work of the local church will result in division." So? When you have stubborn men who demand their way, care nothing for scriptural authority, and the spiritual well being of their brethren, you will always suffer division, at some point (cp. I Cor. 11: 19, Matt. 10: 34f.). The gospel is aggressive and peace at the compromise of truth is sinful and pseudo in its essential nature. Some brethren are pushing the foundation as seen in the Guardian of Truth Foundation publication, "We Have A Right." Who, though, is actually effecting the division? Is it they who simply want to do what the scriptures teach and exemplify or brethren such as Dan King and Mike Willis, the authors of, "We Have A Right" who are going to have their foundations regardless of the division such causes?
If we employed this same rationale, where would we be relative to marriage, divorce, and marriage to another, social drinking, and worldliness in general?
"Jesus and the twelve did not work through a local church and they had their own treasury to preach the gospel; therefore, such is allowable today." It is true that Jesus and the twelve had a treasury; albeit, I do not think it is exactly the same in nature or purpose as the treasuries typically involved in foundations (cp. John 12: 6, 13: 29). Furthermore, I do not see Jesus and the twelve establishing a foundation. I read of no board of directors, etc. Besides, the institution that would be the "Öpillar and ground of the truth" was not even in existence (Matt. 16: 18). What a stretch!
"The foundations actually constitute only individual work." This has been one of the main justifications the Guardian of Truth Foundation has offered through their board member, Ron Halbrook ("Let The Church Be The Church," Gospel Truths, September, 2004). Ron has explained that even though the Guardian of Truth Foundation provides for (treasury, oversight) their annual lectureships or "gospel meeting," brethren functioning within the milieu of the foundation are really just performing individual action. These brethren seem to have lost the ability to deal with the simplest of concepts. They are attempting to make some of the same spurious arguments that distort action that the promoters of church supported institutionalism made back in the forties, etc. The apostle Paul presents both corporate, if you will, and individual action in I Timothy 5: 16. The presence and activation of the entity makes it collective or corporate and not individual action, both in the case of the local church and the Foundation, case of the so called lectureships. Regarding the Akin Foundation, I have been told, "When you look at the Akin Foundation, you should not see a foundation, but only John Akin attempting to assist churches." Again, what a reach. When John Akin was alive, I understand that he was generous with his money in assisting others. However, as the Akin Foundation functions today, it is not just John Akin individually performing. When monies are sent to churches from the Akin Foundation that is precisely the source of the monies, the Akin Foundation. The board of trustees decides which church to assist. Many of the original by-laws that John Akin put in place involved in the Akin Foundation have even been changed after the death of Akin, I understand. Sixty percent of the monies comprising the Akin Foundation are now going to manifestly unsound churches. Such reflects the wisdom of men!
"Aquila and Pricilla serve as precedent for foundations." We read of the couple Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18: 24-28 and how they took Apollos aside and taught him the truth. There are many attendant lessons to be gleaned in the example of Aquila and Pricilla. For instance, I believe we observe concurrent action. They both exerted the requisite effort to teach Apollos and they did this together. However, look as long as you may and I do not believe you will see a foundation set up, having its own treasury, board of directors, President, etc. in and through which Aquila and Pricilla corporately (through the order) taught Apollos. Hence, both individual, as seen in the immediately above rationale, and concurrent action are set forth as corporate action, such is not the case and is a distortion. There is clearly a discernable difference between what is truly individual, concurrent, and corporate action.
"The school of Tyrannus." Some see in the case of the school of Tyrannus a case of privately supported foundations in and through which Christians corporately preach the gospel. Consider the text:
"9: But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10: And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19).
"The foundations are only an extension of the family. To oppose these foundations is to oppose the family." I can see how, albeit flawed, the family extension argument is used to try to justify a school such as Florida College. However, I have never even begun to know how this argument is used regarding such foundations as The Guardian of Truth Foundation. Yet, Ron Halbrook advanced such rationale in his efforts to explain the right of the Guardian of Truth Foundation to exist in its present form ("Let The Church Be The Church," Gospel Truths, September, 2004). I shall address this rationale at it basic roots. It is said that a father has the right to conduct a Bible study in his home. Right so far (cp. Eph. 6: 4). It is said that a father has the right to bring in a preacher to teach a special subject to his family. Again, there is no issue. The matter begins to be graduated. The father now brings in five preachers and they decide why should they limit the good being done just to the one family, why not set up the "Teach the Family Foundation" and have a treasury, board of directors, etc. After they establish the Teach the Family Foundation, they argue: "What we are doing is exactly the same as when the father brought in five preachers to teach his family!" No, it is not and to so argue is dishonest! After thus reasoning, they then often say, "Those who oppose foundations are really opposed to a father teaching his children or bringing in some preachers to teach them." Such is not the issue and they know it.
"The Foundations are foundations for legal purposes only." I have heard this many times. When I hear this I ask, "If your foundation only exists in foundation form (treasury, President, board of directors, etc.) for legal purposes, why have the foundation? Why not simply allow individuals to either individually or concurrently do the work outside of the local church and then corporately function within the structure of the local church, having its treasury, oversight? I have yet to have one proponent of privately funded societies to even respond to my suggestion. I wonder why?
"Only the church is restricted by authority, individual Christians are not under authority limitation." In one debate that I had regarding the privately funded institutions issue, my disputation made the following statement:
"Colossians 3: 17, the command to have authority, only applies to churches and not to individual Christians. Individual Christians do not have to produce authority for all they practice."
In some way, the proponents of these foundations must eliminate these entities from being subject to biblical application. They must do this because they know there is not a particle of supportive evidence or teaching in the scriptures pertaining to the concept or existence of such orders. Hence, the argument that these foundations are strictly individual and that the individual does not have to have authority for practice as does the church. Yet, Peter said, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (I Pet. 4: 11). I cannot teach or promote these foundations because the "divine utterances" of God say nothing about them. However, when I present the local church as the means in and through which Christians preach the gospel, I speak as the "oracles of God" (I Tim. 3: 15, Acts 13: 1f.). In order to promote, sanction, or engage in such institutionalism, I must presume on the silence of the scriptures and reject what is taught. Such is wrong (cp. Heb. 7: 14).
The other way some attempt to make such foundation exempt from Bible authority is by saying, "Since the foundations are not churches, they may do as they desire." I asked the above reference preacher that, "Since these foundations are exempt from Bible authority, according to you, may they use mechanical music in their foundation worship?" He never answered. However, if they are in a zone to which Bible authority has no application, why can they not use mechanical music, have female preachers preaching to men, choirs, and you name it? Intelligent reader, one cannot offer such rationale as we are seeing and limit the references to only what they want. Perhaps this is why some non-church entities are now beginning to do just some of what we have mentioned in the immediately above.
I have presented in the foregoing, ten of the most often incurred rationale in favor of privately supported foundations, having a treasury, board of directors, President, etc., in and through which Christians may pool their resources to corporately preach the gospel. The bottom line is that there is no authority for Christians corporately functioning to preach the gospel in and through these orders, none whatsoever. It is just this cut and dried (Col. 3: 17, I Thes. 5: 21, I Cor. 4: 6). In closing, I think the most audacious rationale of all in favor of human institutions to do the work of the local church is the following, one that I have also encountered: "We believe that our foundations with their own board of directors and President and financially empowered by their privately funded treasury can do a better job of preaching the gospel than the local church does!"