By Weldon Warnock
After reading brother Jackson’s second affirmative, I wonder if he came to debate the issue or to browbeat Warnock? He employs the tactic of attacking your opponent, a ploy used by denominational preachers when they are being “taken to the cleaners” in a debate with a gospel preacher.
To keep our discussion in perspective, brother Jackson is affirming, “The Bible teaches that a church of the Lord’s people may make a contribution, from its treasury, to an institutional home for orphans.” Thus far he has failed to find one single scripture that authorizes such. He won’t find a passage in his third affirmative either, because there is none.
It is interesting how my opponent goes about trying to establish authority for an institutional orphan’s home to receive money from the church. He labors hard to try to make James 1:27 “church action.” Then after he thinks he has gotten church action in the verse, he tells us the church can’t do what James 1:27 says, as it is not a home; so he pushes the church out and replaces it with an institutional home. You talk about stretching the word of God, ladies and gentlemen, that is it!
Reading James 1:27 ala Jackson, it says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, ‘For the institutional home to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep itself unspotted from the world.”‘ If brother Jackson would just take the verse for what it teaches that an individual Christian is to relieve orphans and widows and keep himself unspotted from the world, he wouldn’t need component parts, constituent elements and syllogisms to try to squeeze in the back door a benevolent institution. He says he never tried to make “himself” a church. What are you trying to make it?
Below is a diagram that sets forth clearly what is involved in brother Jackson’s proposition. He tells us that James 1:27 authorizes churches of Christ to subsidize a benevolent organization to provide for orphans.
If “visit” allows a church-supported orphanage, why does it not also allow a church-supported institution for widows, for the sick and for those in prison? W.E. Vine indicates that episkeptomai (visit) includes more than just orphans. As you can see from the chart, a board of directors, superintendent and helpers stand between the churches and the work done.
I am accused of practicing deception saying “the church may help orphans, when in reality he does not believe it can help any orphan on the basis of his being an orphan.” Brother Jackson’s arrangement is that local churches provide for orphans through institutional homes providing the orphans are not infants, not severely retarded and not grossly physically handicapped. Some years ago a six to eight weeks old baby girl was left on the steps of an orphanage operated by the brethren and the superintendent said, “The home is not equipped to care for children under three years old.” Brother Jackson’s operation makes James 1:27 a “pick and choose” religion.
Brother Jackson wants to know if I know the difference between a jail (penal institution) and a home (a benevolent institution)? Yes! The point is, however, does Jackson realize that if “visit” in James 1:27 can include a benevolent institution, it can include a penal institution in Matthew 25:43. If my opponent can’t see this, then I will have one of our third-graders who attends here at Knollwood explain it to him in my third negative.
We are finding out that brother Jackson does not oppose church-supported hospitals, providing they are operated by the brethren. He endorses a “saints only” hospital, while at the same time condemning the church contributing to a state or county hospital. There are people who are sick in the county hospital, too, brother Jackson, and in many places the hospitals are low on funds. They need equipment and supplies. Why won’t you help them? He says the church would be engaging in secular business if it gave money to such a hospital. The brethren’s hospital is not a secular business? Come on!
Mr. Webster defines hospital as “an institution where the ill or injured may receive medical, surgical, or psychiatric treatment, nursing, food and lodging, etc. during illness” (New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Second Edition). It is not just a place but an institution. This is what Jackson says that churches of Christ can maintain out of their treasuries. If a tornado hit in the area where brother Jackson preaches, the church there could not assist the injured in its building because the church is not a hospital, but it would have to set up a human institution to do the work and the church merely fund it.
Jackson’s hobby that he rides (he has a hobbyhorse) is that the church provides the money for benevolent care through human institutions. You see, friends, there is no bigger hobbyist, by the very definition of the word, than Roger Jackson. He throws around the terms “hobby” and “hobbyist” for the same reason Baptist preachers use “Campbellite,” to prejudice the minds of people. Brother Jackson, define “hobbyist,” using Webster, that includes me but excludes you.
We are asked to give the passage that authorizes the church to obey the laws of the land and to sing. The local church, the collectivity, in its God ordained functions is not subordinate to civil government. However, in fulfilling some of its obligations, there are incidentals and expediencies, like erecting a meetinghouse. In this area certain governmental codes would have to be met. But this is true of the electric ‘ gas, phone and water companies. Though we are not subordinate to utility companies, in the area of incidentals there are at times regulations we have to meet.
In Titus 3:1 Paul wrote, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” If the church has the same relationship the individual does to government, then the church could “be ready to every good work” (civic works), like having a voluntary fire committee for the community, a committee to handle blood donors, relief of war victims, city clean-up committee, etc., all under the elders of the church. What about it brother Jackson? As to singing I suggest Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:26.
Our brother wants to know if an individual obligation cannot be discharged collectively, then explain Galatians 6:6. He says, “Did your brethren pay you individually Sunday?” Galatians 6:6 has to do with individuals supporting preachers and if individuals arc to support preachers, then the church can’t, Jackson reasons. The truth is that both the individual and the church do it. The church paid me Sunday as the church or churches paid Paul (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15-16). We will let the readers decide who is not getting the point.
Galatians 2:10 is reintroduced and brother Jackson asks, “If the ‘we’ of Galatians 2:10 can include ‘churches’ why cannot the ‘we’ in Galatians 6:10 include churches?” The 64we” in Galatians 2:10 is Paul and Barnabas. The “we” in Galatians 6:10 is individuals. The local church is not in either “we.” In grammar the pronoun is plural if the individuals of the group act as individuals. A pronoun which refers to a collective noun is singular if the group acts as a unit. In Galatians 6:10 it is “we” and “us,” individual acting. In 1 Timothy 5:16 the action is a unit – “that it (church) may relieve them that are widows indeed.” Simple, isn’t it?
Brother Jackson wants to know how I can get all the distressed people into “fatherless and widows” in James 1:27, but can’t get “church” into “himself” in the passage. The article to which he refers was a question about widowers; do widowers come within the purview of James 1:27? Here in part is what I wrote: “Actually, James 1:27 is a synecdoche, a figure of speech where the part is put for the whole. . . . E.W. Bullinger states that ‘widows and fatherless are put for all kinds of afflicted.”‘ Now, let’s see you get “church” in “himself.”
My opponent does not know what to do with the widows in James 1:27. If he applies the stipulations of 1 Timothy 5, he limits James 1:27 to saints because the widow indeed is one who is not only desolate, but trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayer night and day (1 Tim. 5:5; cf. v. 16). Brother Jackson, does James 1:27 include alien sinners? May the church help widows who are not Christians, based on James 1:27? Again, may I say that Jackson confuses “church’s widows” of 1 Timothy 5 with “individual’s widows” of James 1:27. James 1:27 would allow me to help any widow (friend, neighbor), but it does not allow the church to help out of its treasury. The church helps widows who are destitute and faithful to the Lord.
I can’t do anything about it if brother Jackson doesn’t like what I said about the word “home.” Obviously, he likes the word because it permits him to jump around from one meaning to another when it is convenient. He says, “If you do not believe a church can contribute to any home, why not discuss what you believe?” I am discussing what I believe in the negative of this debate. You agreed to the proposition you are affirming. If you don’t like it, then don’t debate it any more. The first century church helped saints; not homes.
No, I did not concede your point that “home” is implied in James 1:27 as “place” is implied in Hebrews 10:25. I did mention that brother Jackson’s position would permit a “Christian Builder’s Corporation” through which churches could build meeting houses. Of course, the board of directors would be members of the church brother Jackson and the corporation would be non-profit. You would go along with that, wouldn’t you? You did the hospital. Seemingly, brother Jackson loves human institutions through which the church may work.
In regard to a church providing a house, food, clothing for widows and orphans, he wants to know if they can make the house a little bigger and take in two? Then, 22? Yes, if they are the local church’s responsibility. But if we began taking them in from every place, we would be irresponsible and would have to start begging to provide for our magnified ambitions. Brother Jackson, is it acceptable to you for a church to take on a work it can’t pay for and then start bumming in order to meet the expenses?
Concerning his modus ponens syllogism, he wants me to prove it is invalid since I said it was invalid. Let me say that I was using the term “invalid” as it is commonly used. Certainly the word “validity” in logic does not convey the same meaning as “validity” in ordinary discourse. The ordinary usage encompasses both form and content while the technical usage is restricted to form alone.
But there is a rule that his syllogism violated, which rule is necessary for a valid syllogism, and that is: No term can be distributed in the conclusion which was not distributed in the premises. In his conclusion he injects “institutional home,” which is not found in his premises.
Brother Jackson introduces another syllogism in his second affirmative. He arbitrarily states his major premise. This is his homemade rule that he endeavors to foist upon us. I don’t accept your rule, brother. He can throw into his minor premise whatever he chooses and then rear back and declare in his conclusion that I have proven my proposition. Pretty handy, eh?
To try to squirm out of a difficulty, he eliminates being a father, provider, laborer, etc. as peculiarly religious acts. Since when is being a good father not a religious act? The laborer in Ephesians 4:28 has become a new man in verse 24. He works with his hands in order to give to him that needeth. This passage has nothing to do with religion? Who is Jackson kidding? We have as much right to put Ephesians 4:28 in Jackson’s minor premise as he does to put James 1:27 there.
In the closing segment of brother Jackson’s article, he chews his cud” again because he was afraid he had not told you enough times how inefficient Warnock was in his first negative. He seems to think that if he repeats it over and over you might, just might, believe it. We will leave it with you, the reader, as to who is weak, deceptive, evasive and inconsistent.
He wants to know how a man can have as many inconsistencies and blunders in five short pages and still expect people to believe he has the truth? Well, brother Jackson, you ought to know, if any man does, because you have had a lot of practice in working at it.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 11, pp. 337-339
June 4, 1992