A House of Merchandise -- By: Morris Humphrey Roach

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 091:363 (Jul 1934)
Article: A House of Merchandise
Author: Morris Humphrey Roach


A House of Merchandise

Morris Humphrey Roach

Is the tendency to make the church an emporium at variance with God’s instruction? Are Jesus’ words “Make not my father’s house an house of merchandise” apropos? Should Paul’s teaching on Christian giving be disregarded?

The majority of Protestant churches are continually, or at intervals, engaged in merchandising plans to aid in the support of the church. Nationally promoted plans, as well as local schemes, have enjoyed the enthusiasm of an unquestioning church. There has not lacked ingenuity to devise plans, but there has lacked the spiritual integrity to despise them. The church has been solicited by commercial enterprises to prostitute her ideals of Christian giving for a 2% profit. Dinners, card parties, raffles, food sales, plays, musicals, etc., ad infinitum, have also been promoted in the interest of church financing. This is merchandising for the sake of the gospel. It is selling something in order to apply the profits to Christian work. The worthiness of the purpose does not recommend the method. “The end does not justify the means.” No matter how freely a purchase is made it is not a gift. If it is right for a church to be an emporium, Paul was wrong in his teaching on Christian giving. If merchandising in the house of God is right, then Jesus was wrong in driving business out of the temple.

The purging of commercialism from the temple occurred on two different occasions. The first was probably early in the public ministry of our Lord and at the Passover season (John 2:13–16). The second was

on the day of the Triumphal Entry (Matt 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15–18; Luke 19:45, 46). The “zeal” for the house of God burned within Him as He witnessed the market scene in the outer court of the temple. He was “eaten up” with indignation at the abuse of getting and spending in the Father’s house. It is true that the oxen, sheep, and doves were needed for the sacrifices; and that change was needed for the temple tax. Some have maintained that for these reasons a certain amount of shopping was necessary; but Jesus did not try to reform the “den of thieves,” neither did He try to reduce the excessive prices being charged. The house of prayer had been transformed into a house of merchandise. He energetically purged the temple of its commercialism by casting out those who bought as well as those who sold. Amidst the scene of overturned t...

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