The James D. Bales Tract
Before me is a tract entitled THE LAW OF LOVE. It was written by Brother James D. Bales, and is a defense of the orphan homes among us. I am amazed at the sectarian reasoning, and the perversion of scriptures in it. I am unwilling to concede that James D. Bales doesn't know any better. I am persuaded that it is an effort to uphold a cause which has no foundation whatsoever in the scriptures. I would like to point out a few of his observations and applications so the readers may see how far a man will travel to uphold a false theory.
The first glaring inconsistency I shall mention is found on pages 26 and 27. Here, Bales places caring for widows and orphans on a par with caring for the sick. He notes that "caring for them" means ministering to their needs. And he is right. But here is the inconsistency. Bales contends that churches may BUILD or MAINTAIN or CONTRIBUTE TO benevolent societies in caring for orphans. If they can, Bales cannot escape this conclusion. Churches may build, or maintain, or contribute to hospitals in caring for the sick. But, is Bales ready for this conclusion? Brethren, we are headed for this very thing. You who are contending for the right of churches to BUILD, MAINTAIN or CONTRIBUTE TO institutional orphan homes cannot make a single sensible argument against churches building, maintaining, or contributing to hospitals. Now don't just frown up and say it isn't so. Come on and make one.
Bales argues, after the same fashion, on page 27. Says he, "It no more meant that one must take them into his own home in order to do this than it meant that one had to take the sick into his own home in order to visit the sick. (Matt. 25:36, 43)." Our brother reasons that, since the passage to visit orphans doesn't force one to take the orphan into his own home, then he may build a benevolent society. And he concludes that the churches may build a benevolent society. But Bales says the same thing applies to the sick. He shows that individuals may build hospitals. His conclusion would permit churches to build hospitals. If his argument means anything in this world, it means that churches may build, maintain, or contribute to HOSPITALS. Their old "thread-bare" argument that, "The churches can build orphan homes because the churches aren't orphan homes" will become the "rope" that will hang them, for, according to the reasoning (?) "The churches can build hospitals because the churches aren't hospitals."
On pages 23 and 24, Bales argues that "the orphan home is not in competition" with the church, "for the church is not an orphan home." So, he reasons (?) that churches can BUILD, MAINTAIN, or CONTRIBUTE TO benevolent societies because they are not in competition with the churches. But, he says the very same thing about the schools (colleges) operated by our brethren. Hear him. "Thus the school cannot be in competition with or a rival of the church, for the church is not an educational institutional . . ." Note: If the church can build, maintain, and contribute to a benevolent institution because the church is not a benevolent institution (Bales said it), why can't the church build, maintain, and contribute to an educational institution, since the church is not an educational institution? (Remember Bales said it). See what we are up against, brethren? See what is back of all this pitiful palaver about "poor little hungry orphans"? It is a ruse to establish the scripturalness of contributing from the church treasury to human institutions, so the colleges can get their hands into the treasury of churches. Brother J.D. Thomas has written a book entitled WE BE BRETHREN, which is calculated to SPLIT the church right down the middle. In it, Thomas OPENLY ADVOCATES contributing to schools from church treasuries. Hence, the probable purpose of his book, for Thomas is connected with one of "our" schools. Now Bales comes out with his tract which seeks to prove that churches may contribute from their treasuries to schools. Could THAT be the purpose, the REAL purpose, of the tract? You see, Bales, too, is connected with one of "our" schools. We just as well get ready, brethren. We are going to have to support, from church treasuries, hospitals and schools or QUIT supporting from the church treasuries, these benevolent societies. For, as I said, we can't support one and give a sensible reason why we cannot support the others. Again I say, just try it.
We quote Bales again, on page 19. "Surely, they would have as much right to buy the services of the home, (benevolent society ACG) as a church has to pay a hospital bill or a grocery bill for some needy person, or to buy the services of the ANCIENT LANDMARKS and the GOSPEL GUARDIAN COMPANY." Now, so far is I know, NOBODY denies the church the right to "buy services" of homes, hospitals, grocery stores, or publishing companies. But, Bales reasons (?) that, since the above is true, churches can build, maintain, and contribute to benevolent societies. If such is so, then churches can build, maintain, and contribute to HOSPITALS, GROCERY STORES, and PUBLISHING HOUSES. If it doesn't mean that, it doesn't mean anything.
On page 17, Bales tried to parallel the trustees of church property with a board of directors and a superintendent in a benevolent society. That is why I said, "I am amazed at the sectarian reasoning and the perversion of scriptures in it." That is why I said, "I am unwilling to concede that James D. Bales doesn't know any better." Note: The trustees are IN the local congregation, while the board of directors and superintendent are NOT in the local congregation. They are made up of members of DIFFERENT congregations and formed into an institution that is SEPARATE and APART from ANY and ALL local congregations. Again, The trustees are appointed by the local congregation, while the board of directors and superintendent are NOT appointed by the local congregation, and no local congregation has anything whatsoever to do or say about their appointment. Not only so, the trustees are working IN and FOR the local congregation, while the board of directors and superintendent are NOT working in or for any local congregation. But that is not all. The trustees are under the elders, while the board of directors and superintendent are NOT under the elders. The trustees collect no money and spend no money, while the board of directors and superintendent collects and spends money all the time. Not so, I will NOT concede that James D. Bales doesn't know any better.
For some more bungling, I looked at page 15. He "proves" that it is scriptural for a church to build a church house, a house for a needy family, a house for orphans, and a house for the preacher, and from this, concludes that they can scripturally establish a benevolent society and turn part of their work over to it to do. But, can't Bales see that, while the church can build a house for the preacher, it CANNOT, in conjunction with other congregations, establish a PREACHER HOUSE BUILDING INSTITUTION and turn the building of preacher's houses and their control and supervision over to that institution? I say, can't Bales see that? If he can't, then somebody else, ANYBODY else, should head the Bible Department at Harding. Can't Bales see that churches may, as individual congregations, build houses of worship, but may NOT go together and form a CHURCH HOUSE BUILDING INSTITUTION and turn the building of church houses and the supervision of same over to that institution ? If Bales can see the foregoing, then he can see that, while the congregation may build a house for orphans, they may NOT, in conjunction with other congregations, establish or form an ORPHAN HOME BUILDING INSTITUTION and turn the building or orphan homes and the. supervision of same over to said institution. It is high time a little common sense was used and a little common honesty was manifest in regard to the subject at hand. By so doing, we may save the church from a certain SPLIT and we may assume ourselves a home in heaven after awhile.
On page 13, we have a "gem" from the pen of Brother Bales that should qualify him for another degree. In answer to the question, "Is an institution or organization separate and apart from the church necessary in order to care for orphans", Bales said, "Yes". Then he said "The church is not a home. If orphans were housed in the meeting house, it would be an institution, an orphan home, and not the congregation." Brethren, what do you think of this from a man who holds a Ph. D. and heads the Bible Department in one of the schools operated by our brethren? Some orphans housed in the church building he parallels with a board of directors and a superintendent made up of members of different congregations, doing the work of congregations all over the country, not under the supervision of any elders!!! Truly, I stand amazed. Certainly I will not concede that Bales doesn't know any better.
Truth Magazine, III:10, pp. 12-13