Answering Hafley’s “African Christian Hospitals Foundation”

By Ben F. Vick, Jr.

In the January 3 issue of Guardian of Truth, a scion born from the union of two papers, Gospel Guardian and Truth Magazine, brother Larry Ray Hafley wrote an article reviewing a pamphlet on the African Christian Hospitals Foundation. In his article he compared the foundation in question with the missionary society. He also suggested that the same scriptural justification which would allow such a foundation would also favor a veterinary clinic, a recreation foundation; and again he makes an attempt to place the orphan homes and homes for the aged into the same category.

First, I do not know much about the African Christian Hospitals Foundation, other than what was in the article by Hafley. Since, it is not wise to commit one’s self in the dark, I cannot give a full assessment of it, based on the Scriptures. However, there were some questions and parallels which brother Hafley raised which need to be addressed.

Brother Hafley tells us that, because the African Christian Hospitals Foundation is “an organization separate and apart from the church, which is designed to do the work God assigned to the church,” it is unauthorized, just as the missionary society is. Well, let’s apply that same reasoning to the Guardian of Truth. Is it an organization, separate and apart from the church, designed to do the work God assigned to the church? It is a separate organization from the church. It has a board of directors. (Incidentally, where in the New Testament does one read of a board of directors for a paper? Inquiring minds want to know.) The editor, Mike Willis, tells us “Published twice monthly, Guardian of Truth contains excellent teaching articles written by some of the best preachers among us. It contains news of what is happening among Christians, advertising of places to worship when traveling, inspiring articles, teaching articles, and other material designed to help the Christian grow.” Now, does that should like the work of the church? If so, on what basis? Anti brethren need to wrestle with these concepts and questions. Inquiring minds want to know.

Do brother Hafley and these connected with GOT believe the concept of schools and colleges operated by individual Christians is scriptural? We would all stand opposed to the abuses of these schools, but is the concept scriptural? I would defend the concept that these schools have a right to exist as an adjunct of the home (Eph. 6:4; Gal. 4:1-2). I am not discussing the means of their support. Perhaps he and I would agree that individuals can support the school, but the church is not authorized to do so. Would Hafley take the position which Daniel Sommer at one time held, until late in his life; i.e., that the Bible College is unscriptural? If not, then, is the school or college an organization, separate and apart from the church, attempting to do the work God assigned the church to do? Now, brother Hafley, “root, hog, or die” in answering your own article! Inquiring minds want to know.

Brother Hafley asked, “Could Boles Home and Schultz-Lewis Children’s Home [sic] promote mission work as well as benevolent work and ‘avoid being’ a missionary society if they insisted that each missionary was sent by a sponsoring church?” I will happily comply with the brother’s request, if he will first answer this question: Could Hafley’s private home promote mission work as well as benevolent work and ‘avoid being’ a missionary society? The very argument which Hafley and others make in opposing the orphan homes can with equal and telling force be made against the private home. Give me the exception! Inquiring minds want to know.

It seems almost never to fail that when our anti brethren begin to speak or write they have the proclivity to lump all brethren to the left of them on the same pile. Those who eat in the building are lumped with those who build fellowship halls, gymnasiums and provide recreation for their members. But each is “poisoning the wells” to prejudice the minds of the readers. I, personally, resent that tactic. If I were not interested in practicing the golden rule, I would lump all anti-literature, anti-classes, anti-women teachers, anti-multiple container, anti-sponsoring church arrangement, and anti-orphan home brethren into the same category. This same tactic is one which was used by Ketcherside and Garrett and is still used by Rubel Shelly.

Brother Hafley says, “The truth is that there is no scriptural authority for churches to fund organizations which are established to do the work God gave the church to do. That is true in evangelism and benevolence. ” This would eliminate churches funding Guardian of Truth and the private home’s teaching the Bible. It would also mean that, given the view that the church is to care for the fatherless, then it must provide recreation and social events for them. Does the church where Hafley preaches provide these things for the fatherless and widows? What about any of the churches where the Board of Directors for GOT attend? Inquiring minds want to know.

Brother Hafley waxes eloquently in placing the blame for the condition of the church at the present time upon faithful brethren of the past who defended the sponsoring church arrangement and the orphan homes. His reasoning is that if brethren had not defended the right for such to exist, then the church would not have gone into the entertainment business, building gymnasiums and providing recreation as it presently has. He avows, “But Fifth and Highland in Abilene is now the mother of the Boston Church.” “Upon what meat doth Caesar feed, that he should wax so fat?” Could the anti-Bible literature brethren accuse Hafley and his bunch for all the liberalism that is found in the Sunday school literature today? If we were to use Hafley’s measuring rod on him, we could say that he, along with the rest of his group, opened the door for liberalism when they defended the right to use such literature. If not, why not? However, it is a maxim which cannot be successfully denied that extremes beget extremes. Ketcherside, Garrett and Charles Holt are prime examples. Why would it not be just as reasonable to assume that this anti-ism that swept the church in the late forties and early fifties, led some brethren to back, and back, and back until they landed in the camp of liberalism? That is just as plausible to believe as Hafley’s charge.

The preaching and defending of a principle of truth does not mean one is responsible for the abuses and fallacious inferences pertaining to that truth. For an example, the brethren who oppose the sponsoring church arrangement believe that the only way to support the foreign evangelist is through direct support from the churches. Yet, in my files, I have a case of a brother who was evidently taking advantage of that method by receiving more from the churches than he was acknowledging. This is a brother among their ranks! Does that mean it is wrong to support a preacher directly? No. (But it may not be the best way to support the preacher.) Would we not be unjust to accuse all brethren and churches who approve of this method of being guilty of the same or encouraging the same? We would indeed. Thus, Hafley is not fair in accusing faithful brethren of the past or present of being responsible for liberalism in the church today.

We deplore both liberalism and anti-ism and plead for all to return to the old paths.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 21, pp. 656-657
November 7, 1991