Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 17, 1952
NUMBER 49, PAGE 4-5a

"Absolute Parallel" Vs "Identity"


Some months ago we made the statement that there was an "absolute, deadly, and undeniable parallel" between the institutional orphan homes and the missionary societies.

The following two letters have been received, and since they are both to the same point, and both indicate some confusion on that point, we publish them, and make a few comments. Here are the letters:

Sheffield, Alabama January 8, 1952

Dear Yater:

I imagine you think I sit around and look for something to criticize, but I assure you such is not my disposition. The reason I write you about such things is that I've had, since DLC days, an abounding confidence in your integrity, as I also had in your illustrious father before you.

What I am going to call your attention to now, I do not believe you have done purposely; but in the terrific rush which must characterize your present activities, you must simply have overlooked something.

I refer to your recent "Editor's Note" attached to the beginning of D. Ellis Walker's article in January 3, 1952, issue of Gospel Guardian. You quip to the effect that "parallel" does not mean "identity." You are correct, but you didn't use the word "parallel" by itself; you qualified it with the word "absolute," and an "absolute parallel" means an identical, exact parallel. Whether you intended it that way or not the term you used indicates and signifies identity. Either you DO believe these things are identical or you used the wrong terms to describe your belief, and it would help if you would clarify your meaning. The terms you have used, and those used by Herschel Patton with your editorial endorsement are divisive terms; carried to their logical and necessary conclusion they mean the division of the body of Christ. I still think you fellows are duty-bound to clarify and be specific. If you intend to carry this to its frightful conclusion, I for one would like to know it.

Sincerely yours,

A. E. Emmons, Jr.

And the other letter:

Jacksonville, Florida January 15, 1952

Dear Yater:

Will you please publish the following article and answer the question: ATTENTION BROTHER TANT: Please explain why an "ABSOLUTE, deadly, and undeniable PARALLEL" "does not mean identity"? Thank you.


D. Ellis Walker


We appreciate these two letters from brother Emmons and brother Walker, former schoolmates (Walker was a room-mate) of the editor. The ties of those early years are tender and lasting. The bond that holds us together now (our brotherhood in Christ) is even stronger. And however sharp may be our discussion of differences, we anticipate no kind of break in that friendship and fellowship.

Brother Walker and brother Emmons are not alone in confusion over this point. Several writers for the Gospel Advocate including the editor of that journal seem to be troubled by the same perplexity. The church, the institutional orphan home, and the schools, all seem to be viewed as the same. Even brother Brewer made the same egregious error when he wrote that "Whatever Christians do as Christians, the church is doing." Having so completely identified the church with these activities, it was indeed difficult to admit, or even to recognize, that the institutional orphan home was an "absolute, deadly, and undeniable parallel" to the long discredited missionary society.

"Parallel" Versus "Identity"

Frankly, we are astounded at the foggy thinking that contends that "parallel" means identity. The very word itself precludes and prevents identity — and that is so regardless of how many modifiers are used to strengthen and sharpen the parallel! Parallel literally means "side by side" (para) and "of one another" (allelon). How, in the name of heaven, could things be "side by side of one another" if they are the same thing!

In southern New Mexico there is a distance of fifty or sixty miles where U. S. Highway 80 and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks are "absolutely and undeniably parallel" — but who would contend they are "identical"? Numerous differences can be pointed out: (a) the railroad tracks are of steel; the highway of asphalt, (b) the railroad tracks are privately owned and maintained; the highway is publicly owned, and maintained by taxes, (c) the railroad tracks are used for revenue producing purposes; the highway brings in no revenue, (d) the tracks are designed for traffic of vehicles on steel wheels with flanges; the highway would be destroyed by such vehicular traffic, etc. etc.

But The Tracks And The Highway Are Absolutely Parallel!

Institutional Homes And The Societies

Certainly there are many differences between the institutional orphan homes and the missionary societies. But in all essential features there is an "absolute, deadly, and undeniable parallel." Consider these points of similarity: 1. Purpose: Both exist to do a work of the church (one evangelistic, one benevolent).

2. Organization: Both are controlled by a board made up of members from various congregations. Neither is under the eldership of any congregation; neither is answerable to any congregation.

3. Support: Both are supported by free-will or voluntary contributions from congregations.

4. Relation to churches: Neither claims any authority whatever over any congregation, but each claims simply to "provide an opportunity" for churches to work together in a good work."

These are essential features; there are many other similarities between the two which are revealing, but which are not perhaps of the same importance as these. But it is certainly interesting to note that both the societies and the institutional homes (1) are promoted by reams and reams of publicity emphasizing the end objective (a highly worthy and emotion stirring one) while minimizing the methods for obtaining that objective; (2) arose out of a background of inactivity and lethargy on the part of many churches in the fields of evangelism and benevolence; (3) have promoters who insist that anybody who objects to their methods simply does not believe in preaching the gospel, or is opposed to caring for helpless orphan children; (4) are subject to the same possibility of abuse in putting pressure on the churches for support. No doubt other similarities could be pointed out.

So, once again, we repeat our statement that there is an "absolute, deadly, and undeniable PARALLEL" between the institutional homes and the societies. And we patiently explain to brethren Emmons, Walker, Douthitt, Brewer, and Goodpasture (and to any others suffering from the same confusion) that "parallel" does NOT mean "identity."


As we have written and repeatedly stated both privately and publicly we do not think this question is likely to bring a break in fellowship in the church. We believe it is a time for careful, prayerful, and earnest study on the part of everyone. We have full confidence that the brethren who are promoting and supporting the institutional homes are as anxious and as concerned as any of us for the purity of the church. And once it is clearly evident to them that anything they are doing violates New Testament teaching, there will be an immediate change. And since nobody (including every single person who writes or has ever written for the Guardian) is infallible, it just could be that we ourselves are mistaken. At least, we are open to conviction on the subject. Will somebody undertake to point out to us the essential DIFFERENCES between the missionary society and an institutional home? What makes the one right and the other wrong? We KNOW the missionary society is wrong. Now will somebody affirm that the institutional orphan home is scriptural, and point us out to the passages that authorize such an organization? It's a time for study, not for talk of disfellowship.

— F. Y. T.