Some Additional Information Desired
In connection with the appearance in the Gospel Guardian of an article in three installments, written by me, there was the advance notice of one to be published by brother G. K. Wallace's position, thereby increasing the weight of its influence on those who anxiously awaited its appearance and digested its contents. I was of that number.
Having read this article, bearing editorial endorsement, I am still in want of some information which I have failed to glean from this, I feel, too brief a treatment of the church at work. I concur in the rejection of the traditional authority even of "our fathers;" but straight way brother Wallace states that the care of orphans is the work of the church, and in support thereof cites that such is not denied but by a few brethren north of the Mason-Dixon line. Contemporary thought is no more authoritative than traditional; hence, I am unable to see the appositeness of the statement in this connection. In a spirit of inquiry I am asking for information from the scriptures to sustain the assertion that the care of orphans is the work of the church as the church; and, too, if so, what orphans? Is it the obligation of the church to afford an asylum for all of earth's unfortunates, and, if so, are we able to accomplish this?
Then, with that satisfactorily solved, let us strive to ascertain both the scope and limitation of "church cooperation." Can one congregation assume the obligation of any number of congregations in performing this work? If they did not assume such, how did they come to be engaged in the execution of this work? If the Riverside Church in Wichita, Kansas, is only doing its own work, then why is it soliciting other churches for support? Has this congregation assumed a work they are unable to perform alone, and if so, where does the New Testament impose such a burden on them? Whatever scripture that may be cited to justify the assumption of this work in excess of their own resources would apply equally to every other congregation, except in a state of emergency. Is this a state of emergency at Wichita created by the sudden decimation of parents?
Has this work not been launched on a permanent basis, property secured, a name given (Maude Carpenter Home), personnel selected and widespread support solicited and received? Is this home the church or a human organization? If just the church, why is it identified by a human name? Does this home have in its personnel those workers who are not members of the church? If not, where is the relevancy of the statement that "The elders of the church may hire someone who is not a member of the church to do a job of work for the church?" Why group song leaders and preachers with plumbers and carpenters in this connection, unless the suggestion that the church may "do the work of the church" by hiring non-members to perform the actual work to be done? On that principle I see no reason why the church could not send its contributions to some worldly charitable institution. There is a distinction between doing a work for the church and doing the work of the church.
If the suggestion that we need hundreds of such homes were acted on, and the larger congregations rented or purchased the necessary property, would they then solicit from the smaller congregations to "cooperate," they thereby "operating" and the smaller churches "co-ing?" If so, we would have in principle just what we now have.
Thus far I am unable to reconcile the opposition the Guardian has registered to the centralized program in missionary work where one congregation has solicited, received, controlled, and disbursed funds from many congregations with their endorsement of the same procedure in the realm of benevolent endeavors. This has been written, not in the spirit of petty fault-finding, but in the spirit of anxious inquiry to know the truth on all matters that pertain to our present duty and our future destiny.