June 19, 2018

Colleges and Orphan Homes Again

By Cecil Willis

Before reading this article, please turn to page one and read the article on "Orphan Homes and Colleges" by Brother Clifton Inman, editor of the BIBLE HERALD, a paper published at Parkersburg, West Virginia. Brother Inman is replying to an article that I wrote and which appeared in the July issue of TRUTH MAGAZINE. We are glad to print Brother Inman's article, and hope that he will reciprocate the courtesy, should there appear in BIBLE HERALD an article about which we should like to make some comments.

Everyone knows that institutional orphan homes and Bible colleges are not parallel in every particular, and I did not state that they were. However, they are parallel in that both are human institutions, both are said to be doing at least a part of the work of the church, and churches are attempting to function through both. But even if Bible colleges and institutional orphan homes were both doing the work of the church, the church could support neither. The church can no more do its work through a human institution such as a Bible college or an orphan home than it can scripturally do its evangelistic work through a human institution called a missionary society.

Brother Inman's contention is that the institutional orphan home and the Bible college are not parallel because the orphan home is doing the work of the church and the Bible college is not doing the work of the church. However, those who advocate the right of churches to contribute to Bible colleges do so precisely on the basis that it is the work of the church to teach the Bible, and since the college teaches the Bible, the church therefore can contribute to its support. Brother Inman alleges, and correctly so, that it is not the work of the church to contribute to the support of teaching science, literature, arts, mathematics, agriculture, etc. These are not authorized works of the church.

But even the Bible teaching done in the Bible College is not the work of the church. It is work done by a private business institution, exactly parallel in this respect to BIBLE HERALD or TRUTH MAGAZINE.

Brother Inman asserts, without scriptural proof, that it is the work of the church to care for orphans. So far as I have been able to learn, the benevolent obligation of the congregation is limited to the relief of the, "saints" (Acts 2:44,45; 4:32-35; 6:1-6 11:27-30, Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 9:1). It would be very interesting to see the array of Bible passages that Brother Inman would produce in an effort to prove that the congregation has obligation to relieve an orphan merely because he is an orphan.

The brethren advocating congregational support of Bible colleges do not care to talk about the science, art, mathematic, athletic, agriculture and dramatic departments. Similarly, Brother Inman, in his advocacy of congregational support of benevolent institutions prefers not to mention some of these programs in which they engage. He objects to churches contributing to colleges because they are doing some things that are not the work of the church. This argument implies that he would endorse congregational support of the human institution called a Bible college if its work were confined exclusively to Bible teaching. But I object to church contributing to colleges because they are human institutions, and whether they are o are not doing the work of the church does not authorize a church to function through them by contributing to them.

Brother Inman, the activities engaged in by the benevolent institutions recommend to be supported by the church could not possibly be called the benevolent work of the church. To illustrate my point: The Maude Carpenter orphan home in Wichita, Kansas owns and operates an eight hundred acre wheat farm. Is the operation of this wheat farm the work of the church? Obviously not. Yet Brother Inman maintains a church can contribute to its operation. The Tipton Orphan Home in Tipton, Oklahoma operates a cotton farm for profit. Is this the work of the church? The children's home at Lubbock, Texas owns and operates an irrigated farm consisting of nearly two hundred acres. Is this the work of the church? The Childhaven orphan home sometimes has on its farm more than a thousand hogs, and markets one hundred thousand chickens a year. How many professional farmers do you know with a farming operation of this magnitude? Is it the work of the church to subsidize this business? The Boles home at Quinlan, Texas owns and operates a two thousand acre farm for profit. How did it get to be the work of the church to subsidize this big business? The orphan home at Mt. Dora, Florida owns and manages citrus groves. Is it permissible for the church to subsidize by contributions this business endeavor? One can name about any moneymaking endeavor and then find some institution seeking church support engaged in that enterprise.

If the colleges are not to be supported because a part of their work is admittedly not within the province of the church's prescribed mission (and this is the only objection that Brother Inman has stated), then the orphan homes are not to be supported for the same reason. Brother Inman's attack on this point only, seems to imply that if the colleges were doing work authorized for the church, then churches could contribute to them. This I yet deny. I deny that the church can discharge any part of its work through contributions to any human institution, whether this institution is a missionary society, a Bible college, or an institutional orphan home. If colleges are doing the work of the church, they are dong that which they should not be doing. No part of the church's work should be done through any human institution. However, if the college is not doing the church's work, the church certainly has no right to contribute to the institution.

The Bible Banner

Brother Inman's assertion about what was to be found in the BIBLE BANNER caused me to pull out my set of the BANERS, and again to scan through them. For the benefit of those who may not know, let me say that the BIBLE BANNER was paper published by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. from 1938-1949. The BIBLE BANNER en was fighting the same war against entangling the church with human institutions that now is being waged by TRUTH MAGAZINE, GOSPEL GUARDIAN, PRECEPTOR, and SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES. Perusing the pages of the BANNERS again was both interesting and helpful. Since sets of the BIBLE BANNER are rather rare, I thought you might like to read a few of these controversial paragraphs from the past.

R. L. Whiteside, Cled E. Wallace and others are said by Brother Inman to have differentiated between colleges and orphan homes, so that they opposed churches contributing to colleges and endorsed churches supporting institutional orphan homes. Fairness requires that I state that out of twelve years of the BIBLE BANNER, I did find two short paragraphs that have been construed to mean what Brother Inman said. But I would like for you to look at these paragraphs. Here's what Brother Cled E. Wallace said:

"As I anticipated when this scrap started, the proponents of church support for the schools have sought to inject the orphan's home into it. The idea seems to be that: if the churches are already doing as bad as they want them to, there should be no objection to them going ahead and adding something else just as bad to a budget all of which Brother Hardeman admits is badly needed for what the church is directly commanded to do. They seem to think they have a perfect parallel, which they haven't. We are not going to leave a hot trail for a cold one, but it will not be amiss to make a suggestion or two for the curious or the crafty to ruminate on.

"The orphan's home has never raised any serious issues. There is no need to make it so under present circumstances. Everybody knows and admits, so far as I know that an orphan's home is a poor substitute for a real home and that some churches do not very well resist the temptation to evade their real duty toward orphans by making token contributions to an institution. If we have just got to have some institutionalism mixed up in the work, home for orphans and old people seem to be the most innocuous kind we can have . . . "BIBLE BANNER, June 1947, page 5.

You will note the Brother Wallace clearly left the impression that he did not like to have any institutionalism mixed up in the church's work. But if some institutionalism seemed to be demanded by institutionally minded brethren, he thought orphan homes and homes for the aged were less dangerous than church-supported Bible colleges. At least orphan homes did not boast of having saved the church, Brother Wallace added. However, he refused to leave a hot trail for a cold one. They heatedly had followed the trial of those advocating church support of colleges. These advocates were trying to throw their trailers off onto another trail by the injection of the orphan home issue. Brother Wallace said he refused to be sidetracked. Yet, unfortunately, it seems that we have allowed this to happen in more recent years. The strategy of those being trailed seems to have worked.

I did not find any statement from R. L. Whiteside that related to this point. Of course, it is possible that I overlooked it. Fearing this, I wrote Brother Inman for documentation of his allegation on August 7th. At this writing no documentation has been received from him.

Some also may distort a statement by Brother James W. Adams. So I also present what he said. I am trying to give Brother Inman the benefit of every doubtful statement.

"The brethren who seek to establish the scriptural character of a church-supported college are fond of the practice of arguing from analogy. This is a favorite form of sophistry among controversialists . . . In the use of this ruse, brethren, you betray your own lack of confidence in your ability to sustain your views with respect to the real issue.

" . . . Your (sic) brethren settle the college question first, and then we will talk about orphan homes. Proving something with respect to an orphan home would not prove anything with respect to a college. You probably have overlooked the fact that the church is charged with the responsibility for the care of orphans, whereas secular education is no part of its mission." BIBLE BANNER, July 1947, page 9.These statements, taken completely out of context, may be used to imply Brother Adams was lending his endorsement to church support of institutional orphan homes. But one only has to read the next paragraph of the same article to find out that he is not endorsing institutional orphan homes. Read it:

"An interesting sidelight on the question of orphan homes may be found in Brother Luther G. Robert's lecture on 'Institutionalism.' This lecture is quite famous, having been delivered in Dallas, printed in A. C. C. Bulletin of March 1947, and printed in tract form and distributed through the office of the campaign director of the A. C. C. expansion program. In seeking to prove that a home organized under a board of trustees from various churches is a scriptural method to use in the care of orphan children, he makes the following statements: 'In the New Testament, we read of a group of brethren selected by the churches to go about among the churches to take up a collection for poor saints (2 Cor. 8:16-23). What kind of an organization was this? It was not the local church. It was a group (a committee) of brethren representing the churches that sent them out to do a work on behalf of the churches. This is all the brethren do who serve as trustees and directors of the work of caring for the needy.' This article is not dealing with the orphan homework; hence I am interested in Brother Roberts' statement only because of his unique application of the word of God. It is amusing to see that a man of his ability should try to make a board of directors of an organized relief society out of Paul and his companions. I suppose Paul was president of the board, Luke the corresponding secretary, and Titus the treasurer. Brother Arceneaux's favorite expression provides the answer befitting the dignity of this argument. 'Huh!' Has Brother Roberts ever read Acts 11:29-30? Is there any reason to suppose that this clearly established precedent in benevolent work was violated at a later date by Paul in such an organization as is contemplated by Brother Roberts? Incidentally, it is interesting to note that J. W. McGarvey in an address before the Alabama Missionary Convention in the latter part of the last century made this very argument in favor of the missionary society. Is that where Brother Roberts got it?"

It should be obvious to any candid reader that Brother Adams was not trying to justify a church contributing to an institutional orphan home. In fact, he plainly said that such a home under a board would violate the "clearly established precedent in benevolence" found in Acts 11: 29,30. He simply observed, as did Cled E. Wallace, that the orphan home issue was not the main one then disturbing the brotherhood. They then were talking about church-supported colleges, and he did not want brethren to attempt to shift the issue.

It also should be stated that Brother Luther G. Roberts does not now endorse a church contributing either to a college or to an institutional orphan home.

Now brethren, so far as I could discover in a cursory reading of twelve years of the BIBLE BANNER, these are the only two statements that could be construed to be an endorsement of church-supported benevolent institutions. There are, however, many objections to such voiced in these old BIBLE BANNERS, which if space permitted, I would reproduce. Cled E. Wallace and James Adams simply stated that the college issue was the issue then disturbing the church, and they at that time refused to be side-tracked by some other issue.

To use Brother Inman's expression, "Every considerate man and faithful Bible student" should be able to see that if the church can do part of its work (benevolence) through a human institution (an institutional orphan home), it should be able to do the other parts of its work (evangelism and edification) through other human institutions such as missionary societies and Bible colleges. In fact, "Every considerate man and faithful Bible student" already sees this.

Those who maintain that all of the work of the church can be discharged through human institutions are at least consistent, though they are wrong. Brother Inman, in arguing that a part of the work of the church can be done through a human institution, and that other parts of the church's work cannot be done through a human institution, is both wrong and inconsistent! Quite an unenviable position I would say.

Truth Magazine, VIII: 1, pp. 3-5
October 1963