Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 31, 1951

Orphan Homes

A. M. Plyler, Jasper, Alabama

In the Gospel Guardian, of February 22, 1951. I have read a very fine and lengthy article on the scripturalness of orphan homes. Other articles have also appeared in this paper on the same theme; by Robert C. Welch and Pride E. Hinton. I am very glad to notice that many of the brethren are waking up to some of the dangers that lie ahead, in things that pertain to institutionalism in the church. The article referred to is by brother Charles A. Holt, Jr., of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Brother Holt has pointed out some thought provoking questions to which we will do well if we will give heed.

It is the purpose of this article to point out other facts that we should ponder well as we travel on our journey from the cradle to the grave.

First of all let us remember that God has but two divine institutions in this world today, the church of our Lord, and the home or family. God's purpose for the home and family is to propagate the human race; in a decent, lawful and legitimate way. The supreme purpose of the Church is primarily to SAVE SOULS; and secondarily to CARE FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY of the community.

Since the soul of man is far more important than the body, it must then follow that the work of saving souls, is far more important than the work of caring for the poor and needy. God can be honored and glorified only in his appointed way. His word is everything or it is nothing. Please read Num. 20:11-12; 27; 14; and 1 Sam. 15:22-23.

God's work of saving the world, and caring for the poor and needy is to be done by and through his church as an organization, and by individual men and women as his humble and devoted children.

Every institution and organization that has come into existence since the last apostle laid down the pen of inspiration, is as human as the man or men that started them.

The work that God has designated for the church to do is in no way dependent on any human organization to be done. The arguments that are being made to defend orphan homes today were made more than half a century ago for the missionary society; these arguments were met then, and they will be met again today. Yes the friends of the missionary society can just as boldly and as truly declare that the work of the society, is "KINGDOM BUSINESS" and THE CHURCH AT WORK."

I do not need a Bible to point out that the orphan home is wrong and unscriptural; no, the man who advocates and seeks to defend such is the one who needs the Bible to show that it is right. We propose to follow the Bible, and speak where it speaks, and be silent where it is silent.

Now my brother read your practice from the book of God, and you will be getting somewhere. But all this sympathetic and emotional talk to play upon the sympathy and emotions of the not too well informed members of the church to support these human institutions that men have started to attempt to get God out of a tight, and show him how much better we can do the job with human organization than we can with his divine blood bought, spirit filled, and heaven born church. Brethren I declare these human born institutions will get us nowhere, when we come to the final day of accounts.

Here is a list of passages that show that this work of caring for the poor and needy of the community is a work of the church. Acts 4:34; Acts 11:28-30; Rom. 15:26-28; 2 Cor. 8 and 9; 1 Tim. 5:9-16. There are also other passages that clearly show that there is an individual responsibility, in taking care of the unfortunate and distressed of the land around about us. The following references show this to be true: 1 Tim. 5:4; 16; Jas. 1:26-27; Eph. 4:28; Lk. 10:33; Matt. 25:33-45 and 1 John 3:17. No man can be a Christian while he lives and go home to heaven when he dies, and turn his eyes, and stop his ears to the cries of the poor, when he is able to relieve them.

The work of caring for the poor and needy of the land must not be neglected, but these passages are no Bible authority for starting a human organization, to do the work that God in his word demanded that the church must do.

To do a thing in the name of the Lord, is to do it by his authority; Every institution that has been born since the Apostles John laid down the pen of inspiration, is fraught with frailty, and when we use these human organizations to take over the work that is intended for the church, we are but gathering material for a fretful day, when we stand before the judge of all the earth.

To argue that the church cannot and will not do this work is to impeach the wisdom of God, and work done by his instructions in the days of inspiration.

There has never been a day since God made the earth, and hung the stars up in the sky, when there were more people in distress, and need, than in the days of New Testament times. The work was done then by the church without such organized boards and groups, and the work today can be done in the same God authorized way. I know to do any work that God has commanded, implies the essentials of doing it, but organized board operated orphan homes were not essential then, and neither are they necessary now to fulfill God's appointed work.

There seems to be two plans of operating these present day organizations, to do "KINGDOM BUSINESS" and for THE CHURCH AT WORK. One is to select a group of brethren who live and worship in various parts of the country, band them together in an organization, with chairman, secretary, and treasurer, with their respective board members. Now brethren there is as much authority in the Bible for the Salvation Army, or Red Cross, as for that kind of organization.

Another plan is to put orphan homes under the care and oversight of some local group of elders; donations are asked and received then from other local churches and individuals, anywhere they can get it.

Well I wonder, does that make it scriptural? I wish some one who is not afraid to read his Bible, would read it a little and tell me where God ever set a group of elders over anything except the baptized membership of a local church over which they have been appointed. If such information is in the New Testament, I have never found it, and until I do the Sword of the Spirit, in my hands is unsheathed, against every effort to corrupt the simplicity and purity of the divine plan of Almighty God.

Brethren I sometimes wonder what we will be doing next? Can we not stop and think a little? Where did this orphan home business come from anyway? I know one place that it did not come from; it did not come from the book that God had the Apostles to write. Now I suggest that we got it from the denominations, and that we are patterning after them, with these organizations. I say this because I know that it did not come from the Bible; and I have had those who contend for them to say to me, "just look what the Catholics are doing, or look what the Baptists are doing, and the Methodist, they have all got homes to take care of orphans, and we are just not doing anything." But I will not look at the denominations and what they are doing; I want higher and better authority, for what I do. Because I will some day have to face my maker to answer for what I have done; and the way I have lived and the way I have treated his word.

Brethren go back to the pages of history and we find that every time the divine system is mixed and mingled with the systems of men it brings on digression, corruption, and apostasy.

The church is God's divine institution, let us be content to work through it; and speak where it speaks, and be silent where it is silent.