Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 18, 1954
NUMBER 28, PAGE 6,10b

More About The Church And Individuals

W. L. Totty, Indianapolis, Indiana

In the August 5 issue of the Gospel Guardian there appeared an article written by me and also Robert Welch's reply to my article. My article was in reply to one he had written in the June 17 issue of the same paper. He complains that I misrepresented him and said of me, "He either did it in ignorance of what I had said or he did it playfully, not really meaning it; or he did it maliciously arid deceptively." He indicates there that perhaps I did it ignorantly and therefore was honest in what he terms a misrepresentation. Yet in the very next sentence he asks the question, "Why did you so deliberately pervert what I said, Brother Totty?" Thus he eliminates any indication that I might have done it honestly and charges me with being a deliberate perverter of what he said with the intent to deceive the readers. He evidently believes that if he can make the readers think that his opponent is a malicious rascal, they will not pay any attention to what he has to say. However, I refer the readers to Brother Welch's article in the June 17 issue; and, when they have read the first paragraph, I am willing to leave it to their judgment as to whether I misrepresented him or not in the August 5 issue of the Guardian.

Under the heading "Unfounded Charge," Brother Welch confirms his former statement that there is no difference between the missionary society and the orphan home. He now takes the extreme position that it is wrong for an individual to support the orphan homes. Here is his statement:

"This writer asks for the quotation where he has said that an individual can support one of these church-supported institutions, charitable, educational or otherwise. When the quotation is given, he will retract it and apologize for having made it."

Brother Welch, you may get ready to apologize, for here it is. In your church bulletin of October 3, 1948, under the heading "Individual and Church Support," you said:

"Some people seem to think that anything which can be supported by a Christian can be supported by a church. They think that because a school operated by brethren can be supported by Christians that it can be supported from the treasury."

You further said in the same bulletin:

"The scriptures teach the individual to provide things which are honest and honorable. (Rom. 1:17; 2 Cor. 8:21.) If giving training to people for secular positions is honorable, then it is to be supported by Christians."

There you have it, and we shall be expecting your apology in your next article.

That is an example of how far a good person will go when he leaves the truth. In 1949 he contended that churches should support orphan homes. In a letter of July 19, 1949, in which he contended that orphan homes and Bible colleges are not parallel, he said, "Supporting orphans is commanded in the New Testament, it is thus right for churches to support them as you have stated same here in the book." I stated in the book to which he refers that they were being supported from church treasuries, and Brother Welch endorsed that. In another letter to me of September 10, 1949, he said:

"I do not mean that all that an orphanage does is right. I would question the advisability of taking money from churches when a rich orphan could have his money used for his support. But it is lawful to do so. There is no law that includes the training of children of parents who are able to support them. Read it, I challenge pou. Even if it were not lawful for the church to support an orphan in such circumstances, it still does not mean that an orphan home with the right practice could not get contributions from churches."

The thing that Brother Welch thought was probably not right in the orphan homes in 1949 was their taking rich children and supporting them with money given from churches. But even at that, he said, "It is lawful to do so," and that it "does not mean that an orphan home with the right practice could not get contributions from churches." At that time he did not question the organization, but questioned the "advisability of taking money from churches when a rich orphan could have his money used for his support."

In 1948 and 1949 Brother Welch contended that orphan homes should be supported by both church and individuals. Now he denies that either church or individual may scripturally support them; thus he takes the position held by Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett on that issue. Carl, he is yours on the orphan home question. Now convert him to your "dislocated-preacher" hobby and he will be all yours.

"Arguments Misrepresented But Not Refuted"

Brother Welch's attempt to meet my argument in reference to the widow who had washed the saints feet borders on being ridiculous. Does he deny that the church can minister to a sick or aged person, which might include washing of feet, by hiring a nurse or some other person and paying the person from the church treasury? If that can be done, will it be the church doing it, or will it be an individual act? If it is not the church ministering to the sick person through the nurse, then it is not the church supporting orphans when it sends money to the orphan home. If he can see one, surely he can see the other. Or is it possible that "Ephraim is joined to idols" so that he cannot see. If the church cannot minister to the sick by hiring a nurse, the elders cannot feed the flock by hiring a preacher; so Brother Welch will be compelled to join Ketcherside on his "mutual-edification" hobby. That is the inevitable conclusion to his fallacious reasoning.

Do Elders Act As Individuals When They Make Decisions For The Church?

My contention is that the church can do any religious act that an individual Christian may do. That is the premise from which this argument started. Brother Welch denies that and brought up the acts of the elders as being individual religious acts. But any student of the New Testament readily recognizes the fact that the decisions of the elders are the decisions of the church, thus the church is a party to what the elders do. But how can the decisions of a group of elders, acting for the church, be merely individual decisions? Does Brother Welch think that when elders meet to make plans for the work of the church that they are acting only in the capacity of individuals? An elder, as an individual, has no more authority than any other member, as an individual, in the church. Elders act for the church in the same capacity that our congressmen, etc., act for the people of the United States. Every individual can't go to Washington; but the men we send there act for the people; and their actions affect every individual in the United States. Therefore, it is a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." Elders are selected and appointed by the church to direct the affairs of the congregation, and their actions represent the church. Brother Welch, when the elders of the church hire you, do you consider that you are hired by the church or by individuals? If elders are not representative of the church when they act for the church, then why in the name of common sense do we have them? Brother Welch knows that as well as any of us, but his nonsensical hobby has forced him to take the absurd position that elders, acting for the church, are not representative of the church, but are merely acting as individuals.

When Brother Welch attempted to answer my argument in reference to training children, he evidently was not thinking clearly. He says:

"My point was that the parents were authorized to punish the children, an individual act, which the church is not authorized to do. No doubt the church can teach the children, but can the church spank them?"

Remember we are arguing the point of whether the church can support orphan homes with money, and let us not drift away from the issue. If the church supports the orphan home with money and a matron "spanks" one of the children in the home, the church supports the "spanking." If the church is supporting a widow with six children, and the widow "spanks" the children, since the church is supporting the home, the "spanking" would be included. Again, let me say that the man doesn't live who can find one act of a religious nature that an individual can do that the whole church cannot do.

Brother Welch challenges me for a written discussion on the subject. This exchange of articles seems to me to be a written discussion. However, I will meet him in an oral discussion on the orphan home question anywhere a church wants us for a debate.