Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 1, 1960
NUMBER 30, PAGE 1,12-13

Missionary Societies, Orphan Homes, Et Al

James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee

If a man is opposed to a missionary society, its promoters say he is "anti" and opposed to preaching the gospel. The transgressives say brother Goodpasture is an "anti." They say he is a "hobbyist" and have him black-listed. They boycott brother Pullias and will not let him preach. He would be about as welcome at one of their churches as an "anti" would be at brother Pullias' David Lipscomb College. They would throw anything brother Goodpasture wanted published into the waste basket about as quickly as he throws mine. If he should get to preach for one of their congregations, they would telephone or write members of that congregation that he is an "anti," a "hobbyist," and a dangerous man and would try to have him dismissed. They make it impossible for him, or brother Pullias, or their friends, to be treated with even common courtesy by one of their churches.

But if a man opposes an institutional orphan home, which is brother Goodpastures' "hobby," and says he cannot find anything about such in the teaching and practice of the apostolic churches, then brother Goodpasture reacts as the digressives do against him. The man who believes that God's church in every place is complete, thoroughly furnished "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," to brethren Goodpasture and Pullias is an "anti," a "hobbyist," a "trouble-maker," a "church divider," not to be treated with even common courtesy, or decency. They circulate the falsehood that he does not believe in caring for orphans, just like the digressives say they do not believe in preaching, because they oppose the missionary society. Goodpasture uses the wealthy and powerful Gospel Advocate, and Pullias uses the millions of David Lipscomb College, to do all in their power to discredit and ruin him.

No man can give a consistent reason for opposing a missionary society to do the evangelistic work of the church, as brethren Pullias and Goodpasture do, and then turning around and supporting an orphan home to do the benevolent work of the church. Both are human institutions, other than the church, and both stand on human wisdom, not on the Word of God. The apostles, who were guided "into all the truth" by the Holy Spirit, did not establish either. Preaching the gospel is primary and comes before caring for orphans. Until the gospel is preached, no one cares for orphans. Why should brethren Goodpasture and Pullias oppose a missionary society, which is a human institution, other than the church, to take over from the church the work of preaching the gospel, and then promote an orphan home, which is a human institution other than the church, to take over from the church the work of caring for orphans? Does not a man stultify himself by such a contradiction? Brother Pullias says that a church contributing to the orphan home, and a church contributing to the college, from a Scriptural standpoint stand on exactly the same ground. He is right. It is a sinful departure from "the apostles' teaching" for a church to do either. The apostles did not do either. No New Testament church did either. A church today that does either is not following the divine example and is committing sin. For a church to divert its resources to a human institution to take over its work of teaching the Word of God is the same thing as diverting its resources to a human institution to do its benevolent work.

It seems that the "drive" of the college to increase its wealth from five million dollars to eleven million dollars is the root of the movement, headed by Pullias and Good-pasture, to drive from the churches all who oppose putting the orphan home into their budget. For many years, the college has failed disgracefully, except in comparatively few instances, to get itself into the budget of the churches. There is great pity for little orphans, even among those who know little or nothing of the way the apostles and New Testament churches cared for them. If they can capitalize on this great sympathy for orphans to get the orphan home into the budget, then, on the same ground, the college goes in behind it.

To innovate any human institution, such as an orphan home, missionary society, or theological college, not established by the apostles, is to give up the ground occupied by the churches of Christ. The Christian people stand on peculiar ground. They take "the Bible, and the Bible alone" to be their all-sufficient Guide. All other religious bodies admit this is the infallibly safe position. No other religious body takes "the Bible, and the Bible alone." They cannot exist on that ground. If all took the Bible to be their Guide, all man-started churches, unknown to the Bible, would instantly go out of existence. The Christian people say, "Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent." This binds them to, "Preach the Word," to adhere to a "Thus saith the Lord, either in an apostolic precept, or in an apostolic example." When anyone among us innovates anything, such as a theological college, missionary society, or orphan home, that did not come from the apostles, he gives up the ground occupied by the church of Christ.

The apostles are the chosen and appointed teachers of the Christian religion. Jesus said to them, "Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you." (John 15:16) They were inspired by the Holy Spirit to guide them in their teaching. (Luke 24:49; John 14:26, 16:13; Acts 2:4) "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28:19, 20) The apostles taught "all things" that Jesus commanded. Any thing, any teaching, any practice, any organization, any institution, such as a missionary society, theological school, or orphan home, that did not come from the apostles, did not come from Jesus and is not a part of the Christian religion.

The apostles established churches. They established churches in every place. They did not establish anything else. "The apostles' teaching" will not establish anything but a church. The church is the divine institution for man's salvation. It is the only divine institution on earth. Any institution, or organization, other than the church, is unscriptural and sinful. To innovate any human institution to do any part of the work of the church is to depart from the teaching of the apostles.

The Bible uses the word church in two senses, local and universal. In its local sense, it means all in every locality who have repented and been baptized. In its universal sense, it means every one in every nation who has repented and been baptized.

The church, in its universal sense, never assembles. It is not functional or operational. It has no universal elders, and no universal deacons. It never meets, and, having no elders, takes no action of any kind. The local church, assembling in every place, is the only divine functioning, operational institution on earth. Any institution, or organization, other than the local church, is unscriptural and sinful.

The church operates universally by operating locally in every community. Local congregations all over the world cooperate perfectly, even though unknown to each other personally, by all being guided by the Word of God. All who are so guided speak the same thing and are of the same mind and of the same judgment. Division cannot come until someone introduces something not in the Bible.

The local church, being the only divine institution on earth, is the grandest, most wonderfully efficient, all-sufficient, and perfect organization in existence. In thirty-five years, the New Testament churches evangelized the whole world. "But I say, Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world." (Rom. 10:18) The apostles instituted no missionary societies, no institutions or organizations of any kind, other than the local churches. They had no parochial schools, but every local church was a complete, perfect, all-sufficient theological or Christian College, thoroughly furnished to give all its members a "Christian education," under "faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." The New Testament churches fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and visited "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," with such thoroughness and efficiency, that it excited the admiration of the Pagan world and commanded public sympathy and respect as they preached the gospel "publicly, and from house to house."

Not one of these three grand objectives has ever been accomplished since. Before thirty-five years from Pentecost had passed, "the mystery of iniquity" was inwardly, secretly, seductively permeating the churches with that attitude of mind toward the Word of God, that would prepare them to "fall away" from it as their all-sufficient Guide and be willing to see ambitious men introduce things for which it gives neither precept, nor example. Until the churches return to "the apostles' teaching," as in New Testament times, the nations cannot be evangelized or "the fatherless and widows" properly and rightfully cared for.

The New Testament churches were triumphantly and victoriously successful because they worked in God's way. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching." They did not preach on "Where There Is No Pattern," or claim that "God has not told us how to do it and we may do it as we please," but, instead, they "walked by faith" in doing "the things" for which the apostles gave the command, or set the example. They were taught, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (1 Peter 4:11) "That in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (I Cor. 4:6) "The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil. 4:9) "So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours." (2 Thess. 2:15)

The churches of Christ stand on "the Bible, and the Bible alone." The only way to stand on "the Bible, and the Bible alone" is to teach and practice the things for which the apostles give the command, or set the example. If the churches depart from this ground by introducing something that the apostles did not introduce, such as the missionary society, instrumental music, or the orphan home, they surrender the true ground that is the reason for their existence. If they give up this ground by ceasing to adhere to "the Bible, and the Bible alone," there is no reason whatever for them to exist. They melt away into becoming a sister-denomination among the denominations guided by the wisdom of men.

An institution, erroneously called an "orphan home," is not the place in which to bring up orphans. An institutionalized child is a pitiful child. A study of welfare work and child care shows that an "orphan home" does not have the right environment for children and that it cannot give them the outlook on life necessary to their well-being. A child needs personal, individual, domestic attention that is impossible in an institution. Its routine, regimenting and atmosphere is not suitable for children.

All idea of benevolent work, the strong helping the weak, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and visiting "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," comes from God. There is no thought of such things where God's Word has not gone. People without God never think of it. It should be remembered that God's revelation is not partial and incomplete, but that it is complete, full and perfect. God, in his Word, not only commands that such benevolent work be done, but gives examples of it being done, thus teaching it by both command and example.

God, in his wisdom, established the church of Christ — the local congregation — to be the divine organization for the accomplishment of all work that he would have Christians do in service to him. The local congregation is the only organization that can exist by God's authority for the accomplishment of this work. The local congregation, as such, must function in the work that God commands. They did function under the apostles, in New Testament times, with the triumphant and victorious success already noted.

The local congregation, established by divine authority, and guided by "the apostles' teaching" is the perfect organization for all benevolent work. It is the divine institution. It is unlike every other institution on earth. It is the most perfectly joined together, and the most completely, thoroughly efficient organization on earth, though there is nothing about it of what the world calls "organization." Every member is active, has an office to fill, a work to do, and works in perfect unity and cooperation with every other member of the body, all under the control of the Head of the body, who is Christ, who controls and directs every member through "the apostles' teaching." "For even as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another." (Rom. 12:45)

We repeat that the local congregation is the perfect organization to provide for orphans. No other institution can do it as can the local congregation. The congregation in the wisdom of God, is completely, perfectly, thoroughly furnished to do it. It has elders, who are the overseers, and who "Watch for their souls." They see to it that the orphans have every spiritual care. The qualifications of the elders, as shown in 1 Tim. 3:1-7, show what kind of men they are. They are family men, have children of their own, and understand child-care. No hired "superintendent," "patron" or "matron" can equal the elders in their personal care of attending to the spiritual needs of the orphans under them.

The church also has deacons. The kind of men they are is shown by their qualifications, as given in 1 Tim. 3:8-13. They are the kind of men to direct the care of the church's orphans. They, too, are family men, each has a wife and children of his own, and understands childcare. They are "appointed over" the work of ministering to the orphans. They, under the oversight of the elders, direct the use of the finances of the church in such care. They also direct the participation of every member of the congregation in personally so doing. It is a wonderful thing. There is no other such benevolent organization on earth. Such personal, individual, thorough and perfect attention, as God has ordained, through the apostles, in the congregation, cannot be found elsewhere.

The wonderful benevolent work of the local church, together with the pure and blameless life of its members, is the vivid and shining back-ground from which the church commands the respect of everyone as it "sounds out the gospel, not only in its own community, but also unto regions beyond." Jesus said: "Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16) The members of the church seek, like their Master, to "go about doing good." They personally and individually seek to "abound in good works." The apostles teach them that, "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

This is a very different thing from shipping the fatherless off to a far away, big, general institution, that collects money from thousands of churches on the pretext that it is going to do their work for them. Not only is the big, general institution a departure from "the apostles' teaching," and hence sinful in the sight of God, but it is a flat, dismal, though well-camouflaged failure. In the nature of things it cannot do the work of the thousands of local churches from whom it collects money.

We earnestly and kindly submit that the thing we plead for is, that, instead of apeing the Man of Sin, who is the father of general institutions to take over the work of the local churches, every local church shall function, as God ordained it to do, both by command and example from the apostles in the New Testament churches. We plead that to adhere to "the apostles' teaching," and to "the things" that came from them, is the only course that is acceptable to God, and that will instantly eliminate the sad division that already exists, and that will insure the oneness of all the disciples of Jesus, for which he prayed. Only by so doing can we all "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."