Institutionalism Is Wrong on Two Counts

L. A. Mott. Jr.
Wayne, Michigan

I suppose the "limited benevolence" issue could be discussed in such a manner as to isolate it from the main problems in the church. But I think this need not be done. "Limited benevolence" can be discussed as one point under the general heading of institutionalism. This, in fact, is the way I approach the matter. Let me show you what I mean.

A clear issue may be stated like this: Can churches support orphan homes?

My answer is: No, they cannot, for two reasons:

  1. Orphans as such are not charges of the church.
  2. It is not right for churches to support human institutions.

In other words, the liberals must prove two points to sustain their position:

  1. That the persons being cared for are scriptural objects of church charity.
  2. That the church can do its work by making a donation to a human organization.

I for one do not intend to let them go home free on either point. I intend to make them prove both points.

So far from being a mere "by-product" or "side-issue," "limited benevolence" can be integrated into the main institutionalism discussion in a perfectly legitimate approach to the matter. The fact of the business is that the matter of who the church can help is one of the best ways to show that a human organization is present in the "homes, ' and is wrong: The church is limited in regard to who it helps. But when it donates to one of these "homes" the church has no voice in the matter of who is helped. This is left up to the directors of the "home." Hence, the church does not have charge of its work, but surrenders oversight of it to a human society. The church must have charge over its own work. Otherwise it cannot be assured that the work God wants it to do and only that work is being done.

The whole truth needs to be taughtnot just part of it. The charge needs to be leveled squarely against institutionalism that it involves the church in caring for those who are not objects of church charity. This is one thing wrong with it.

Let us heed the advice of Brethren Wallace, Spears, and others to use wisdom and foresight in our approach to the issues. But while doing this, let us not neglect to teach the whole truth.


Let error be exposed!

As respects doctrine, no leniency is asked. If error is found when the writer, or the preacher, is taken in the true sense, or as he intended, let the critics come, and let the exposure be most rigid! There can be no compromise with errorfalse teaching must be exposed! Nor is there any use to be particular about the spiritTrue, good men, even in exposing error, write in a good spirit; but it is preferable that error be exposed, though the spirit is not of the best kind. The impression made by false teaching is false, and should not be permitted to go on.... No matter how good the intentions of any mana false principle, an unfair or an unscriptural argument is always damaging. Truth needs no such support. Benjamin Franklin

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 3, p. 1 December 1965