Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1952
NUMBER 45, PAGE 1,5b-6

Fulminating Factionists Or Thanksgiving At Harding College -- No. 4

James W. Adams, Longview, Texas

Webster defines "a faction" as, "A number of persons having a common end in view; especially a party within a party seeking to further its own ends, often by unscrupulous methods. 'By a faction,' I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.' (Madison)." "Fulminate" is defined, "To thunder; to make a loud noise; to issue ecclesiastical censures, as if with the force of a thunderbolt; denunciation by censure or threats, as by papal authority." Therefore, if one disagrees with brother G. C. Brewer on the institutional orphan home question, according to the indictments of his Thanksgiving Lecture at Harding College, one belongs to a party of self-seekers within the church who, actuated by passion and selfishness, arrogate to themselves papal ecclesiastic powers and send forth thunderous denunciations and threats as they seek to promote that which violates the inherent rights of citizens of the kingdom of God and is adverse to her permanent and aggregate interests.

It would be amusing if it were not so serious to note how completely brother Brewer's general strategy conforms to the Digressive tactics of the past 100 years. Note the branding of the opposition with the odious title, "Faction." Observe the whimpering implication that Christian liberty has been violated along with the charge that there are aspirations of papal or ecclesiastical powers. Such charges have always been characteristic of those who promote that which does not have foundation in truth. If that for which brother Brewer contends could be shown to be based upon unquestionably scriptural ground, he would not feel called upon to engage in such a tirade of bitter accusation. The weakness of his cause is manifested by the spirit of his defense. It is to be hoped that proponents of his views can produce someone who has more confidence in the principles for which he contends. The brotherhood is certainly entitled to a more rational presentation of matters than he seems capable of delivering.

Let us hasten, with these words of introduction, to a continuation of our review of the Thanksgiving Lecture of our accomplished brother. Hear him: "But An Orphan Home Is an Institution Separate and Apart from the Church, Wail the Caterwaulers!"

"Certainly, an orphan home is not the church or even a church, if we are considering only the organizational aspect. (Those who operate the home and many of those who live in the home being members of the body of Christ compose a church. Without question, they do.) Any effort to make a home — any home, as an institution, a church or even part of a church is vain and hypocritical." (Tract p. 12)

Brother Brewer assumes that someone argues that an orphan home is a church. I have never heard anyone argue that an orphan home is a church, nor is such implied in the argument to which reference is made, so the charges of "vanity and hypocrisy" are made to no purpose.

A Missionary Society is not a church nor any part of a church. It is a cooperative association of the churches for evangelistic purposes and is controlled and directed by an institutional board. Brother Brewer has opposed it on the ground that it is "an institution separate and apart from the church." An institutional orphan home is a cooperative association of the churches for benevolent purposes and is controlled and directed by an institutional board. Can we not on the same ground oppose it as an institution separate and apart from the church? More later on this point.

Next, our brother seeks to make parallel orphan homes under institutional boards and publishing houses. Ah! This is a gem.

"Your publishing house is an institution separate and apart from the church also! But it is not unscriptural because it does not displace the church and act in lieu of the church! It is merely a method of doing the thing commanded: it is a means or an instrument in the hands of the church, (that is, of church members; the church itself is not an institution or an organization in any denominational sense), for the doing of the will of the Lord. This is precisely true of an orphan home or an old people's home." (Tract p. 12)

Note the effort to make institutional orphan homes and publishing houses precise and parallels. Brother Brewer overlooks the fact that "our" publishing houses are business institutions operating for profit, are not supported by the churches as such from their treasuries, and are not controlled by institutional boards made up of members of various contributing churches. They are individual enterprises in their respective fields and are utilized by the church to be sure, but on the basis of paying for services rendered. The church utilizes many human institutions on this basis operated both by members and non-members. Hospitals, grocery stores, contracting companies, etc, etc. are thus utilized by the churches. Shall we start church of Christ hospitals, contracting companies etc. and support them by contributions from the treasuries of the churches? Why not consolidate all of our little publishing houses into one great publishing house, all of our little papers into one great paper; support them with contributions from the treasuries of the churches; and place them under the control and direction of an institutional board made up of members from the various contributing congregations? Brother Brewer seems so afraid of someone's denominationalizing the church and yet blindly runs into what is tantamount to denominational homes, publishing houses, hospitals, etc. ad infinitum. The difference between what he contends for and denominational institutions of like character is the difference between six and one-half dozen.

Note, too, that such institutions are justified on the ground that they "do not act in lieu of the church or displace the church." Brother Brewer further describes them as "means or instruments in the hands of the church, (that is, of church members; — )." If, as the gentleman contends, members of the church constitute the church, anything that members of the church do separately or in conjunction with one another the church does. If this is true, how could members do anything in conjunction with one another that would constitute "acting in lieu of the church"? If members of the church do it, the church does it. But members of the church form the mission board of the Missionary Society. Hence, the Missionary Society does not act in lieu of the church. This would be the logical conclusion from brother Brewer's premises. If a publishing house is "a means or an instrument in the hands of the church" to perform her mission and like the institutional orphan homes can be supported by the churches and controlled by a board made up of members of various contributing congregations, on what ground could brother Brewer deny the right of a mission board to exist as a "means or instrument" for the use of the church in cooperative evangelism.

Our brother says, "The church is not an institution or organization in any denominational sense." Who said it is? But is it an institution or organization in any sense? What about it, brother Brewer, is it? The local congregation is the only earthly organization of the church universal. Its peculiar organization of elders, deacons, and members is of divine origin. All of the work which the church has been commanded to perform can be accomplished within and through the framework of this organization. Does brother Brewer deny this?

Next, the argument is made that "a home for the homeless takes the place of the home of which they are 'less' or lacking." The orphan home is not a home in the true import of that term; it is an institution. Brother Brewer would like very much to be able to create a gloss of this kind but we are unwilling for him to establish his contention by means of such sophistry. The orphan home is a cooperative benevolent enterprise of many churches, not a home in the divine sense, but an institution purely human. We shall establish this fact by brother Brewer himself under the next topic. Following this, an appeal to prejudice is made based on the assumption that the only way one can care for the aged and orphans is through an institutional home. Brother Brewer needs to learn that there are other and better ways, ways more consonant with the pattern of life of Him whom we profess to serve, of caring for the aged and the orphan. I personally give at least fifty times more money for the care of the aged and orphan individually than is given by the average member of the church through all of the homes of every kind supported and controlled by members of the churches of Christ. Suppose there are one million Christians in America. I doubt sincerely that more than two millions of dollars are given for this work through all of the homes by all of the members of all the churches. Allow three millions and the average would be twenty-five cents per month per member. One preacher known to me who is opposed sincerely to the institutional orphan home is supporting in his home three orphan children. Three thousand dollars per year would be a conservative estimate of his contribution to the care of orphans. This is probably more money than six or seven large churches would spend for such work. Is it true that he who opposes brother Brewer's views is a "crank, critic, Pharisee, betrayer of the Savior, and one who has forfeited his right to salvation?" Is such true of a man who spends thousands of dollars each year in such work in addition to the care, anxiety, physical exertion, and love and affection in a real home, not an institution? These are personal considerations introduced only to show how unworthy of our brother and how unfair and un-Christian are his bitter denunciations.

"But An Orphan Home Is. Parallel to the Missionary Society, Fulminate the Factionists"

Under this topic heading, a great play is made on the distinction between the words "home" and "society." Here brother Brewer introduces his gloss again. He seems to make the comparison on the basis of "your home" implying that the orphan home under an institutional board is precisely parallel. I propose to show by his own reasoning in his book, "Contending For the Faith," that such is not true. To the contrary, he clearly shows that an orphan home is a cooperative benevolent enterprise of many churches. Of the organization orphan homes, he says:

"These institutions may be established and operated through a cooperation of churches, and at the same time receive individual or general donations — " (Pg. 213, "Contending For the Faith.") "If a local church puts up all the money that goes into the establishing of the institution, and if the ministration or the benefits of the institution are confined to the needs of the local church and its vicinity, then it is entirely proper that the local church should exercise complete ownership and control of the institution. But if the money that builds and supports the institution comes from churches and individuals scattered over a wide field; if those who enter the institution come from widely scattered places and are committed by localities, churches, or individuals who have a responsibility in their care, then the institution becomes a general public servant. It is an institution of common interest, of common benefit. It serves the needs of many people, of many churches. It is, therefore, in every sense a cooperative institution, except in ownership and management. It was cooperatively built; it is cooperatively supported; but it must not be cooperatively managed! On what principle are people expected to put money into an enterprise and to hold other interests in it, and yet not permitted to have a voice in its management? Is "taxation without representation" a fair principle? Would not a board of directors consisting of worthy, capable, and interested men from different churches that support the institution, and from different parts of the territory that it serves, be a wiser and more equitable way to manage it? — They share mutually in the responsibilities and the benefits of the institution. They all together built it, and they all alike support it; but it would be unscriptural for them to manage it together! — Oh, we can do things together, but we must not say that we do them together! Brethren, some of us reason as if we thought hypocrisy were heroic, camouflage praiseworthy, evasion a virtue, and nonsense angelic! (Pages 214, 215. Ibid.)

Need I say more! Brother Brewer affirms in the strongest language in these selections that the orphan home is a cooperative benevolent enterprise of many churches and should be managed by an institutional board. His strictures on "society" versus "home" are, therefore, completely beside the point, He argues in "Contending For the Faith" that orphan homes are societies in every sense of the legitimate import of that term. It bears repeating that the institutional orphan home "is a society — an association of churches." The Missionary Society is an association of churches for evangelistic purposes. The Institutional Orphan Home is an association of churches for benevolent purposes. To this extent they are perfectly parallel.

As usual, brother Brewer makes a grandstand play on the fact that Missionary Societies themselves own and operate colleges and orphan homes, assesses members of the association etc. These are abuses of the principles on which the societies were first launched. There are many abuses connected with orphan home work too, but the question is: What does brother Brewer believe concerning the principle of churches of Christ associating themselves together for evangelistic purposes and functioning in that field through an institutional (mission) board made up of members of various contributing congregations? Is such scriptural or is it not? If it is not what difference is there between doing evangelistic work after this fashion and doing benevolent work after this fashion? If it is scriptural, why does brother Brewer oppose the Missionary Society?

It is assumed by our talented brother that because missionary societies and orphan homes are not parallel in all respects, they are parallel in none. This is purely gratuitous on his part and does not logically follow. If it can be established that institutional orphan homes and missionary societies are parallel in one unscriptural particular, it will suffice to show that neither should he utilized by the churches in the performance of their divine mission.

Our brother is anxious to raise the question of fellowship. As far as I am personally concerned, the question of fellowship with those who believe in and support institutional orphan homes should be the last to be raised. It is assumed that my brethren who differ from me on this point are completely sincere and that if and when they are convinced that they are violating scriptural principles, they will cease so to do. It seems to me more reasonable and more consonant with the spirit of Christ for us to continue to probe for an answer to our problem in the form of an unquestionable and universally acceptable basis upon which we can function in discharging our benevolent responsibilities. It is the conviction of this writer that the longer we delay in reaching such a solution and the more we complicate the situation by establishing new institutions and by harsh and bitter personal attacks on those of opposing views, the greater will be the danger to the peace and unity of God's people. May God help us to work and pray for common ground and unbroken fellowship!