By Weldon Warnock
It was refreshing to read brother Jackson’s third affirmative without his thrashing Thrasher or exprobating Mr. Editor. Brother Thrasher must have done a better job on Jackson in their debate than we are led to believe in Jackson’s affirmative.
No, Warnock is not in a bind! Brother Jackson is just dreaming. He has been trying to get me into a bind, but his cords are like the seven green withes with which Delilah bound Samson, easily broken as a piece of string when it touches the fire (Judg. 16:7,9).
The church, indeed, has an obligation to some orphans. I said this in the Guardian of Truth article to which brother Jackson alluded. But Jackson conveniently overlooked what I said in the article, “If there are orphans who are Christians, then the church may relieve their needs.” This statement was made in the context of whom the church may relieve, viz., needy saints. The local church is to provide for its own (Acts 2:44,45; 4:32; 6:1-3; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25,26, etc.), and if some of them happen to be orphans, then, by all means, the church is to help. These are the passages, brother Jackson. Furthermore, I stated in my first negative that the local church “has a responsibility toward orphans if they are needy saints, or the responsibility of needy saints.”
Brother Jackson is a good one to talk about orphans’ care when the institutional homes operated by the brethren (the kind of home in his proposition) won’t even take a homeless child that is under three years old, severely retarded, psychologically unstable or extremely physically handicapped. Friends, this is the kind of religion that these institutional homes are practicing.
I was falsely charged with citing Titus 3:1 to prove the church can obey the laws of the land. The brother must have blurred vision. I said no such thing! What I did say was, “The local church, the collectivity, in its God ordained functions is not subordinate to civil government.” In that context, I cited Titus 3:1 and stated, “If (if, brother Jackson) 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, etc.” I was not affirming that the church is in Titus 3:1, but rather the text is individual in nature. I then asked, “What about it brother Jackson?” He observed the passover.
In reference to singing, Jackson maintains that Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:26 are individual (outside of the assembly), but the church is in them. Brother Guy Woods said in regard to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, “this is corporate (congregational) action” (Spiritual Sword, July, 1990, p. 35). Brother Alan Highers, who quoted brother Woods, argued the same thing. Brother G.C. Brewer was also quoted by brother Highers as saying that the instruction in these verses “cannot be followed by a man when he is in solitary confinement or is otherwise alone.” But Jackson says it is also individual. Can you obey Ephesians 5:19 when you are alone, brother Jackson?
Since Jackson contends that a human organization may handle the visiting of orphans for churches in James 1:27, would he allow a Singing Saints Society to take care of the singing for churches in Ephesians 5:19? He cannot logically oppose a society for singing since he endorses a society for visiting orphans and widows in James 1:27. Why is a human society through which churches work permissible in James 1:27, but not acceptable in Ephesians 5:19?
James 1:27 is the thrust of this discussion. I maintain it is individual in scope and does not include the local church. Brother Jackson says it involves the church, but the church cannot visit the orphans and widows (except send money) as it is not a home, so he drags into James 1:27 an institutional home through which the church works. Is he forgetting that the Jerusalem church in Acts 6:1-6 took care of their widows without a board of directors and superintendent? They had more than two or 22, but the local church did it. They provided for their indigent widows, and we may do the same, such as providing money, a house, food, clothing, etc. The church provides me a house and it doesn’t need a Preacher’s Aid Society to do it. The first century church aided people, needy saints, and not “homes.” This is the way we may take care of the two or 22. Brother Jackson sees an institutional home through which the church takes care of its widows and orphans.
Observe in Jackson’s third affirmative how he totally ignored what I said about the “church’s widow” in 1 Timothy 5 and the “individual’s widow” in James 1:27. He can’t answer it topside, edge or bottom. The widow in 1 Timothy 5 whom the church is to help is a faithful saint who is destitute. She “trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day” (v. 5). This is the same widow in v. 16 the church is to relieve. But James 1:27 is a different situation. The widow in James 1:27 might be my neighbor who is not a faithful saint as mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:5. Jackson, does James 1:27 only authorize the church to care for the kind of widow in 1 Timothy 5:5?
Looking at James 1:27 more closely, it states that pure and undefiled religion also entails keeping oneself unspotted from the world. I suppose that some brethren could establish an institution through which the church may send money to help men and women to overcome the world. We could call it the “Holy Development Home.” It seems to me if the first part of James 1:27 demands a human institution, the last part would, too.
Brother Jackson does not like my diagram in my second negative because it does not have enough human organizations in it with their board of directors. Of course, that is easy to fix by just adding an “S” to organization in the diagram. This would just make more of the same. There is not a whisker of difference between having one organization and several as all of them are without Bible authority through which churches work. But brother Jackson wants to be well represented, so he says, “Bring on the boards.” One cannot do all of the works for the church, but several can, he surmises, This is the most convoluted reasoning I have ever heard in my 38 years of preaching.
We are having trouble getting brother Jackson to understand that “visit” also includes visiting those in prison (Matt. 25:43). Actually, he does not know what to do with my argument on “visiting those in prison,” except to say that a jail is not a benevolent institution. Yet, Jesus teaches us to “visit those in prison.” If the church may fulfill its duties through a human institution in visiting orphans and widows, why can’t it work through a human institution to visit those in prison? Common sense teaches us it may. Christians imprisoned in ancient times bad to be visited and fed (cf. Heb. 10:33-34). Thus, we could have a Prison Relief Society through which churches visit.
So, we have, following the logic of Jackson’s argument, an institutional home for widows and orphans, a hospital for the sick, a penal society for prisoners, a type of monastery for the prevention of worldliness, a singing society for praising God in song, and a church builder’s corporation for erecting meetinghouses, providing they don’t put them all under one board and the institutions are operated by members of the church. Friends, when we embrace institutionalism, there seems to be no stopping place, with the result being the church entangled in the parasitic barnacles of human institutions.
Brother Jackson, if a disaster occurred in the front of the Knollwood building, we would call 911. What would you do in Alabama?
We are told by Jackson that he approves church contributions to a charitable hospital. This is strange in light of the fact that he endorses churches contributing to the Bible departments of “our” colleges, although they charge tuition and several dollars for each credit hour. Why does the hospital have to be charitable, but the college doesn’t? Oh, consistency, where art thou!
Marvin Vincent has some interesting comments on James 1:27. He says, “James strikes a downright blow here at ministry by proxy, or by mere gifts of money. Pure and undefiled religion demands personal contact with the world’s sorrow: to visit the afflicted, and to visit them in their affliction “(Word Studies, Vol. 1, p. 736). Jackson’s religion for the church in James 1:27 is done by proxy through mere money.
My brother still has difficulty with Galatians 6:6. It is so simple that I am baffled at his perplexity. Paul simply states that individuals are to give to support the gospel. Many do this directly to the preacher. But, in 2 Corinthians 11:8 and Philippians 4:15-16, churches support preachers. Surely this is not too difficult for brother Jackson to see.
Jackson declares he already knows about the grammar in Galatians 2:10, 6:10 and 1 Timothy 5:16. Then, apply it and quit stuggling to get collective action into “we” and “us.”
We must again pay our respect to Jackson’s modus ponens syllogism as to its soundness. He says I know “nothing about distribution.” Of course, Jackson thinks he does. A fellow doesn’t have to know much to see that Jackson’s syllogism is fallacious. Basically, his conclusion or consequence does not logically follow from his premises. He did not have institutional home in his premises, but he has it in his conclusion. He attempts to dodge this falsity by saying “the term ‘home’ is generic, referring to every type of home, and appears in three of five premises.” Therefore, Jackson has every type of home in his premises. Every type would be a house, relationship, family, business (as funeral home), county and state home, Baptist home, one’s country, and even the grave. (Wonder if the church could have a burial society?) In this, Jackson didn’t shoot himself in the foot, as he thought I did, but he got himself right between the eyes. He knocked himself out of the bout. Jackson’s syllogism allows the church to contribute to any and every kind of home.
In a conversation with a professor of logic at the University of Dayton, he told me the syllogism of Jackson’s was what is called in logic, “informal fallacy.” He said it contained a subtle shift of meaning from the premises to the consequence or conclusion. This is quite revealing. I have said all along that Jackson shifts and changes his usage of “home,” depending on what his immediate need is. You had better quit using syllogisms brother Jackson; they get you into trouble. Who was it Jackson said knew nothing about distribution?
Briefly, I need to notice what Jackson says about being a father is not a “peculiarly religious act.” He says it is not peculiarly religious if it is not based on religion. He gave an atheist as an example. He said, “Why even atheists are good fathers. They do so on some basis other than religion, so it is not peculiarly religious.” But this would be true with visiting widows and orphans. We could say, “Why even atheists help orphans and widows. They do so on some basis other than religion, so it is not peculiarly religious.” Again, Jackson has knocked the props out from under himself. He has now eliminated James 1:27 from being peculiarly religious! This is the trouble one gets into when he arbitrarily sets up his own rule for religious activity. A Christian who is being a good father is doing a religious act. Is Jackson trying to tell us that a man who provides for his own (1 Tim. 5:8) and brings his children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) is not practicing religion?
James MacKnight correctly stated in regard to caring for orphans, “These, when they proceed for a regard to the welfare of society are termed virtuous actions; but when done from a regard to the will of God, and to promote his glory, they become pious actions, and make a chief part of true religion.” The atheist may act virtuously, but the Christian father practices pure religion from a regard to the will of God and his glory.
Little children who are homeless need our love and care. Thank God for those who open their hearts to provide for homeless children. The issue with me it not about visiting orphans, but rather who is to do the visiting.
I am confident I have shown brother Jackson’s position to be unscripturally founded and patently false. Consequently, it must be rejected and repudiated. May the Lord help us to always walk in truth and right.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 11, pp. 342-344
June 4, 1992