Men, or What Is Written?
C. D. Plum
(Editor's Note: "The following article by Brother C. D. Plum is a reply to an article written by Brother Fred E. Dennis, under the title "Question From Texas," and published on the front page of the BIBLE HERALD, Sept. 1, 1964.")
"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us NOT TO THINK OF MEN ABOVE THAT WHICH IS WRITTEN, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another" (1 Cor. 4:6).
A good brother long known and loved by me says, "When good and able brethren are found on "both sides" of this question (the church support of a human organization called an orphan home, C. D. P.) we little fellows should make haste slowly." This dear brother seems to be confused in knowing what to do under such circumstances. Why be confused? Just follow "that which is written." Whether Paul is on one side and Apollos is on the other side, big preachers, little preachers, all preachers should ignore the men and follow that "which is written." Following that which is written will scripturally take care of that "lining up" and "puffed up" one against another feeling. Following that which is written will remove all doubts of what is right or wrong. If the scriptures do not authorize church support of a human organization called an orphan home (and they do not) then all that big preachers, little preachers, and in-between-preachers say will not make such church support right.
The greatest preacher who ever preached met his wicked adversary by saying, "It is written." Can we improve upon this example? Forget men, but remember what is written.
The strongest sermon I ever heard preached, the preacher told about when his wife wanted him to go the store for groceries he said to her, "Write it down." This beloved
brother said he did not tell his wife to write down a list of "don't get this" and "don't get that," just write down what you want. This preacher said he would be governed by what his wife had written. Well, that is all God wants us to do, be governed by what is written. Forget what men are on "both sides" of the question. Follow what is written. If sprinkling and pouring for baptism are not authorized, follow what is written (Col. 2:12).
If a human missionary society is not authorized as an agent through which the church should evangelize the world, no matter how many Alexander Campbells say it is alright, you follow that "which is written. " And no matter how many men say that human organization called the "Herald of Truth" is God's way of evangelizing the world, you follow what is written. Where is it written that one congregation, in Texas or elsewhere, can have a sort of a "brotherhood eldership" through which thousands of congregations can work? The brotherhood eldership idea is a violation of what is taught in 1 Peter 5:1-4. Better follow what is written. No one is objecting to preaching the gospel over the air by radio or TV. It is the "not written" hook-up followed in the operation of the "Herald of Truth" that is opposed. Some mighty good men used to work for the "Herald of Truth" and who are now convinced that hundreds of evangelists in the field constantly will accomplish more. This I doubt not, but whether more is accomplished or not, it is in keeping with scriptural writings and apostolic example. Don't stray away from what is written.
If there had been a better way to rear children than in the home, in the family circle, it would have been written. When one takes orphans into his home he has not established an orphan home, even of a "miniature" nature. He is just using what God has already established (not a human organization) but the divine organization, the home, to take care of the work God wants done. If necessary, other Christians may give this brother a financial "lift" in caring for these unfortunate ones. If necessary, and no relatives to look after such dear ones, the church can give this private home a financial lift from time to time (1 Tim. 5:4, 8, 16). This would be simply the church, a divine organization, helping the home, another divine organization, to support either old or young that qualify. Such a home is NOT a human organization, not incorporated by the state. Even civil authorities are now advocating that orphans be placed out in homes instead of in an institution. To say that some homes are not what they ought to be proves nothing. Many human institutions are not what they ought to be. When the church assumes care of little ones, it is also her responsibility to select the right kind of homes.
It is sometimes suggested that we might find homes for the "beautiful" and "bright" children, but for the "ugly ducklings" and mentally retarded it is going to be hard to find a home. Even if such difficulty is often present in homes God has authorized, human institutions among us are not any better. Unless it is a recent thing, how many human institutions among us will take colored children, or mentally retarded children? Any?? One human institution among us turned a child under three years old over to the welfare people because they were not qualified to care for it. The child had been deposited on their doorstep, so I'm told. If this is not so (but it is so! --Cecil Willis), it will be easy to correct this matter. I'll be the first to be willing to go all out to correct this matter if it is not true.
When there was need in the church in Jerusalem, the need was immediately supplied by the church to the Grecian widows. Nothing new was organized to take care of the need. The church did it. (Acts 6:1-4). Why don't we follow what is written? The church did not work through a human organization to get this work done then. Regardless of men or sides, what is written? What is written is safe; it is building on the rock. No need to be confused.
In Cleveland Clinic Hospital
This article was written September 17, 1964. The idea was framed in my mind while taking my turn in watching over our precious daughter while in the Cleveland Clinic Hospital; the typing was done in the room where I was staying. Nothing has been hasty in what is here recorded. The article was conceived while my heart was heavy. The article was written, not by a weeping prophet, but by a weeping preacher, and a praying one. No levity is connected there with. Not only is my daughter gravely ill, but also I am conscious of the fact that if I obey doctors' orders I shall in a few weeks undergo major abdominal surgery that could be serious. And it is with a consciousness that eternity could be very near for me that I wish to send this article forth. God help us to abide by what is written in his word.
Brother L. R. Wilson, in reporting the meeting conducted July 26 - August 9, 1964 in Dallas by fifty-six congregations, stated that "Dallas Had A Great Meeting." (Gospel Advocate, August 27, 1964) One of the reasons for this "Great Meeting", according to Wilson, was that "The preaching was great". Brother Jimmy Allen, the preacher from Harding College was said not to be sarcastic, haughty, derisive or ugly. And-- "He never challenged anyone f or debate."
It appears that our soft brethren are getting softer. There was a time when the "great" preachers were the great debaters. Now our soft brethren classify debating with sarcasm, haughtiness, derision and ugliness. And in so doing they indict the greatest and most prolific debaters of all time-- Christ and His apostles. And there are many other ways in which modern "great preaching" differs from plain but potent apostolic preaching. Soft preaching can only make soft churches that in turn want more soft preaching. Oh what lengths to which men will go to scratch itching ears.
Truth Magazine IX: 3, pp. 4-5