Yes, you, my brethren, are "squint-eyed scribes," "caviling casuists," "crying caterwaulers," "critical cranks," "fulminating factionists," liquidators of love, assassins of affection, and Bluebeards of benevolence if you disagree with brother. G. C. Brewer on the institutional orphan home question. He says so himself, and with him that is the end of all controversy. The engaging title of this article was inspired by brother Brewer's rhetoric and I would not for the world deprive him of any of the honor that attaches thereunto, hence due acknowledgement is given.
Ah! But Thanksgiving at Harding College must have been a delightful feast of spiritual dainties! If brother Brewer's defamatory declamation was its upper octave as I have been led to believe, its keynote must have raised from its musty mausoleum that sleeping specter of yesteryear, Total Depravity.
As readers of the Gospel Guardian know this is the third installment of a review of a lecture delivered by brother G. C. Brewer at Harding College last November and printed in tract form for wider distribution. Our review deals with the printed tract. If you do not have a copy, write brother Brewer. He will, no doubt, be glad to supply you with one. This article begins with page 11, section 5, of the tract
"Christ Did Not Command Us To Build and Operate Orphan Homes, Say the Cavilers"
This statement has been lifted from its context by our learned lecturer and applied to the controversy over orphan homes under institutional boards. It has not been made in this connection by those who are the objects of his wrath. Certain of our brethren in their current efforts to evangelize foreign countries have gone into them and established orphan homes as mediums or agencies through which the gospel is to be preached. It has been suggested by some of us that Christ did not say, "Go into all the world and establish orphan homes and build schools of secular learning," but rather, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." It is contended that benevolence grows out of a relationship established by the preaching of the gospel, that it followed rather than preceded the preaching of the gospel, and that it was never used in apostolic days as a medium through which sinners were converted. As far as I know, the statement attributed to those who oppose homes under institutional boards has not been made by them in connection with this issue. Authority from the scriptures for any work of the church directed and controlled by an institutional board has been requested repeatedly, but as-far as the writer knows no such affirmation as that attributed in the Harding lecture has been made in connection with the controversy by any speaker or writer representative of the viewpoint to which reference is made. But let us hear brother Brewer on this point:
"Sober minded men should be able to see that this is a quibble and your speaker feel like apologizing to the audience for answering it, but we do know that some good brethren are being confused and misled by this quibbling and it is the purpose of this lecture to clarify the matter for them. They should remember that we have been answering and refuting this type of false reasoning from other sources and on other points for a century with the common sense observation that the command to do a thing includes the means necessary for the doing of that thing; the authority for a practice is also authority for the means and the method—any convenient or successful method—of the practice. Christ did not tell us to ride on trains, in automobiles, or on airplanes, but he told us to "go" and the authority for "going" is the authority for the means and the method of going. Christ did not tell us to build meetinghouses, but he does tell us to meet, and the command to meet and to worship includes the place of meeting and the convenience for worshipping. Christ never intimated that there would ever be a radio, a wire-recorder, a televising machine, or even a printing press. But the Lord does tell us to "preach the word," and we all agree—even the casuists confess—that the command includes and supplies authority for the use of all these inventions and methods in preaching the word. Even the most squint-eyed scribes of our times are prolific users of the printing press. They also establish publishing houses, organize companies and incorporate them for the purpose of "preaching the word"—the very thing God ordained for the church to do. Yet they claim that these means, these methods and these organizations or institutions are scriptural and right! We agree that they are and we contend that orphan homes are scriptural and right for the same reason and on the same basis or principle." (Tract P. 11)
It is interesting indeed to note the "basis and principle" upon which brother Brewer justifies orphan homes directed and controlled by institutional boards. He argues that the command to do a thing includes the method of doing it and he qualifies the term "method" by saying, "Any convenient or successful method." We are not so much interested in the method of caring for orphan children, as we are the organization through which the work is done. However, from the standpoint of "method" it is not true that "any convenient or successful method" of obeying divine command is included in the command. Any "convenient or successful method" is included in the command provided that the method violates no scriptural principle. This is the very point at issue in the institutional orphan home question. Brother Brewer is obligated to prove that the church of the Lord may discharge her divine mission, perform her work, through an institutional board. This point he studiously ignores. He begs the question by assuming that the controverted principle is an incidental. On the same basis one could justify a missionary society directed and controlled by a mission board. We are commanded to "preach the gospel to every creature." A missionary cooperation controlled and directed by a mission board is a "convenient and successful" method of "preaching the gospel to every creature." The command includes the method, therefore a missionary cooperation controlled and directed by a mission board is scriptural. Grant the truth of brother Brewer's contention concerning the institutional orphan homes and this conclusion with reference to the missionary society is undeniable.
Our brother illustrates his argument by showing that the command to "go" includes the train, the automobile, and the airplane. We are quite willing to grant his contention in this regard. No scriptural principle is violated in "going" in a train, automobile, or airplane, but when it is argued that such is parallel with the church performing her benevolence through a benevolent board made up of members of various contributing congregations of a benevolent cooperation (such as an institutional orphan home), the disputant is guilty of the use of pure, unadulterated sophistry. The Digressive can justify his missionary cooperation on the same basis if these are true parallels. Radios, television, wire-recorders, and meeting houses are likewise introduced to justify and illustrate the principle indicted. These fall into the same category with trains, automobiles, and airplanes, but are in no sense parallel with an institutional orphan home. The institutional orphan home, and our brother points out that these corporations are organized "for the purpose of 'preaching the word'—the very thing God ordained for the church to do!" He then avers, "—we contend that orphan homes are scriptural and right for the same reason and on the same basis." Now I wonder if brother Brewer is really going to stay with this contention? We shall see! A publishing house is a private business enterprise operating in most cases for profit. It is true that it does publish religions literature, papers, tracts, and books. It, however, furnishes such materials on a commercial basis, is operated as a private business enterprise, and should not be subsidized or supported by the churches as such. The churches may and do patronize such concerns but on the basis of paying for services rendered. The churches may and do patronize hospitals, construction companies, food stores, and furniture manufacturers in purchasing services necessary to the accomplishment of her divine mission. It is, however, no part of her mission to own, operate, or support with contributions from her treasury such organizations. Does brother Brewer mean to say that this is the basis on which our institutional orphan homes operate? If he does, he is stating that which is false. If he does not, he has no parallel and his contention is not argument but sophistry.
If an orphan home under an institutional board operated simply as a boarding home for dependent and neglected children and the churches purchased her services in the care of such persons while retaining legal custody and oversight of the children involved, the matter would be altogether different. No such arrangement exists. If, as brother Brewer suggests, institutional orphan homes and publishing houses exist on the same basis and are justified by the same principle, why then have not some of our promoters started a cooperative publishing house directed and controlled by a board of directors made up of members of various contributing congregations and circularized the churches for regular contributions from their treasuries to maintain it? Would brother Brewer object to such an organization? His logic would force him to accept and defend it.
Only a few years ago a major fight took place in the religious journals among "us" over a "Foundation" set up on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of printing and distributing Bibles and Testaments at cost. If memory serves me right, this "Foundation" was not to solicit the contributions of churches. Brother Brewer is away out ahead of that thing back there which was so bitterly opposed, yet, some of its inveterate enemies were present to hear him at Harding College and if they have raised their voices then or since I have heard nothing of it. Perhaps brother Brewer has converted them. Events of our day lead us to pray, "Backward, turn backward, 0 time in its flight." The darky was unquestionably right who said, "De worl' do move."
This is enough for one sitting. Look for us next week under the caption, "Fulminating Factionists."