Missionary and Benevolent Institutions

Cecil Willis

Religiously related human institutions are run by ambitious men, hence, they constantly have an expansion drive on, necessitating the begging of more and more money. Too, they are forever expanding the function of the institutions so they may "serve the church" in ever new fields.

The United Christian Missionary Society of the Christian Church is a good illustration of this. Though started originally to promote evangelism, it now is active in nearly every phase of Christian Church activities. The United Christian Missionary Society now also operates homes for orphans and the aged.

The institutional descendants resulting from this and similar digressive thought have aped the UCMS in this respect. Nearly all of them have expansion programs underway, and the Board of Directors of the Boles Home currently oversees two benevolent institutions.

Now we are told that evangelistic work may be done through these benevolent boards. Just this week a defense of orphan homes was made to me in conversation on the basis of the evangelistic work they do.

Boles Home recently said: "Support of homeless children at Boles Home has not only been a tremendous work of mercy, but its evangelistic import is remarkable and staggering! "

The Christ's Haven (at Keller, Texas) "Home" paper commended a Dallas church thusly: "They have an extensive program of evangelistic work. They send $100 a month to Christ's Haven. On their financial statement this contribution is listed under 'evangelism.' Preaching the gospel through benevolence is one of the most effective means of reaching the lost."

So benevolent institutions promoted by ambitious men not only have grown more numerous and larger, they also have evolved from benevolent institutions into evangelistic institutions. The Christian Church owns and operates a benevolent Missionary Society, while the Churches of Christ own and operate about 31 evangelistic Benevolent Societies. Churches of Christ, who function through such benevolent boards, are now admittedly not only doing benevolent work through a human board, but they now are also said to be doing evangelistic work through a human board.

Restricted Themselves Out

In 1944 (December 28) the Gospel Advocate advised that churches put a restrictive clause in their deeds to protect their property. The clause stipulated that in "work and worship" "only what i9 ordered and required in the New Testament, either by (1) direct command, or (2) approved example, or (3) necessary inference" was to be practiced. This was before E. R. Harper had concocted his "principle eternal" to justify the Herald of Truth, or A. C. Pullias has announced, "There is no pattern" to justify institutional orphan homes and church supported colleges.

The church is further, according to the clause, to reject "all inventions and devices of men, such as the use of mechanical instruments of music in connection with worship," and "any societies other than the Church of Christ in carrying out the work of God..."

Now either (1) orphan homes and church supported Bible Colleges are not inventions and devices of men, and hence are divine; (2) or orphan homes and church-supported Bible Colleges are not "societies other than the Church of Christ" and thus must be Churches of Christ; (3) or the work done by institutional orphan homes and church supported Bible Colleges is not "the work of God" and should therefore not be given the Lord's money to do that which is not the Lord's work; (4) or the present day pro-institutional churches who followed the Gospel Advocate's advice and inserted the restrictive clause in their deed have restricted themselves "out" of their own property.

Truth Magazine, IX, 2: p.6
November 1964