Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 30, 1959

Another Extreme

Billy W. Moore, Harrison, Arkansas

The extremes to which men sometime go, rather than admitting they are in error, is indeed alarming. Recently when discussing the Orphan Home question with one who favors church support of the Homes, James 1:27 was mentioned and the preacher with whom I was talking asked me if the church where I preach practiced pure religion. When I replied in the affirmative he asked "How can you possibly practice pure religion since you don't give to any Orphan Home:- Thus showing that in his judgment a person that does not support the "homes' could not practice pure religion. His conclusions were based upon an erroneous conception of James 1:27. But I had heard that line of reasoning before. However, this preacher affirmed that I could not practice pure and undefiled religion unless I gave something to someone every day. His reasoning was, we give to the "homes" and thus our gift helps every day, but since you folks do not support the homes, but give occasionally to someone in need you are not practicing pure religion every day, but only on the days that you give to someone. This was the first time I had heard this argument (?) advanced, and I confess that it is the most warped conception of James 1:27 I have heard yet.

Christians are responsible according to their ability. Visiting the fatherless and the widows, which is only one of many ways of practicing pure religion, should be done as the need arises, and must be governed by ability. I frankly admitted that I did not have the ability to give assistance, whether in the form of food, clothing or money, to someone every day even if I knew of someone who needed such each day. But I raised the question: If I know someone everyday who needs help but I am unable to help him, will my inability to help keep me from practicing pure religion? Could I not otherwise worship and serve God, doing the things I do have the ability to do, and be acceptable in His sight? His answer was, NO! According to him, if I do not help someone in need every day then I am treating pure religion as a shirt . . . putting it on one day and taking it off another. He says it must be practiced every day. Of course brethren of this generation have an easy way of practicing pure religion daily (per his argument) by just sending a contribution (any amount) to a Home. One congregation in this area gave two and one-half cents per month per member during 1958, according to their own figures, to Orphan Homes. That makes their religion pure (?) and it comes pretty cheap too, less than a "mill" a day. I agree that one must practice pure religion continually, but I affirm that he can practice it in many ways other than giving to someone in need, fatherless, widows, or otherwise.

An application of that man's reasoning would make it utterly impossible for the needy saints to practice pure religion, for they surely would not be able to give daily to someone else. Thus the saints of Judea (Acts 11:27) were not practicing pure religion, and neither were the needy saints of Jerusalem (Acts 4; 2 Cor. 8,9). The man would draw a line of fellowship against me and the church where I preach because in his judgment we do not practice pure religion. Then, following his reasoning, the church in Antioch should have drawn a line of fellowship against those of Judea instead of seeking relief for them. And Paul should have rebuked the needy saints of Jerusalem instead of seeking relief for them, for they were not practicing pure religion, if the only way to do so is by sending to some institutional home or giving to some needy person daily. And even the church in Corinth, which was one of the churches that sent to Jerusalem, was not practicing pure religion for some time before they sent. For they purposed to send but their gift was not sent for more than a year, and, so far as the scripture teaches, they were not giving to anyone else, and certainly were not sending to any institutional home. Were they impure during that year? Brethren, where is the good common sense, the logical form of argument that we have been accustomed to making in exposing denominational error in days gone by? Some brethren seem to have lost all ability to reason in their efforts to defend that to which they have engaged themselves.

Let's reconsider our position, restudy our arguments, and not take up a line of reasoning that would force upon us the position that a Christian cannot practice pure religion if because of a misfortune or other circumstances he should be found in a state of need.