Church of Christ Support to Catholic Orphan Homes
Moundsville, West Virginia
For a number of years our liberal brethren have sought to prove in debate that the institutional orphan homes are nothing more than the private home restored. They have told us that children had a home but lost it either through death or desertion, and that the provisions made by a board of directors are their restored home. They have been asked over and over again that since the institutional home is just the restored home would it be scriptural for the church of Christ to support other such homes - like the Baptist or Catholic? The response has usually been the same: no real answer. Most of the time it was something like this, "they teach error." Well, the private Catholic home teaches the same; the Baptist private home teaches the same doctrine that the Baptist orphan home teaches. So, really what does their answer mean?
Brother Clifton Inman does not contend the institutional orphan home is the home restored; he says it is a substitute. But he says that it makes no difference -who has control of the children - Baptist Boards, Catholic Boards, or what have you - the church of Christ MUST, if it has the resources and the children are in need, give donations to them. In 1942 Brother Inman said of the Nashville Orphans Home: "I will not defend it unless I find that its function is not contrary to New Testament principles." The Hunt-Inman Debate, p. 35. For several nights (in Parkersburg and Dayton) in debate with Cecil Willis he contended that 'church support of benevolent boards like Potter Orphan Home and School and Midwestern Orphan Home are expedients and MAY OR MAY NOT be supported. But, finally, in his second thirty minute speech on-the third night in Dayton, Brother Inman said concerning the church of Christ donating to the Catholic -Orphan Home: "Now I will say this, and make of it what you please. I do believe that there would be certain circumstances, under which, that if these children became destitute in these places that we would be sinning if we didn't help them."
"If we didn't help them" we would sin, says Brother Inman. But of course to help them would involve the same process as helping the children in Potter or any other institutional home built and maintained by churches of Christ. Yet there was a time when such could be defended only when they functioned according to New Testament "principles." We illustrate the process of support and the work being accomplished in the chart below. It is simply the sending of money by and from the church to the board and the board in turn provides the actual care. The board is not the care, but provides it. I hardly think anyone would deny this is correct. Certainly the checks are not made out to the children expecting them to make their own provisions.
This is simply the church contributing the dollars and the human board providing the help. Brother Inman is consistent in his contentions, whereas many of his colleagues are not. But this is not the end! You will see things done and. tenets taught by this liberal element within the church that you did not dream just a few years ago could possibly be in the church of our Lord. Attesting this is the last issue of Bible Herald, which Brother Inman owns, and Brother Charles J. Aebi edits. The editor places in the same category of Orphan Homes and Old Folk's Homes the Hospital. In some places the church of Christ already has a hospital and homes for un-wed mothers, etc. They do not mean by this the buying of services, but churches making contributions to them. How long will it be before the churches of Christ in the Ohio Valley will also have their own "Christian Hospital?" Don't think it will never come!
The truth of the whole matter is the church of the living God is able and must do its own work, whether that be educational, evangelistic or benevolent, without delegating any of it to any human organization. (Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26; 1 Tim. 5:16). This is true and this is what we are contending for. This is what the New Testament calls for and we are satisfied with it. This is a consistent position. We don't have any human institutions living from church contributions to defend. This will -never split churches; but contention for human organizations being subsidized by churches of Christ not only will split churches but already has. We pray and we plead that brethren give up their efforts to get the churches to give their money to boards and conclaves unknown in the New Testament. We also yearn to see the day when so many who are i(sitting on the fence" get off of it and begin to do what they should. Then we may have peace. The Bible teaches us to ensue peace (I Pet. 3:11). One must make an effort! But to remain passive is NOT that effort God demands.
One day it will be TOO LATE!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 5, pp. 18-19