Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 23, 1953
NUMBER 50, PAGE 3,8b-12a

"An Open Letter ---" Reviewed

Charles A. Holt, Jr., Mt. Pleasant Texas

It is my hope that you will read Brother Oler's article carefully. His article is a reply to my invitation or challenge to him for a written discussion as to the scripturalness of Boles Home. I thought that such an invitation was in order. Was I wrong in thus seeking to "prove all things"? My challenge was not prompted by personal bitterness toward Brother Oler or Boles Home. It was not prompted by a desire for a "fuss." It was prompted simply by the desire to study the matter and let the truth stand out clearly — whatever it is and wherever it may be. Much has been said in recent months on the matter of orphan homes and it seems to me that a good way to clarify and "pin-point" the discussion would be a debate. I knew of no one better qualified in all respects to defend the homes than Brother Oler. There has never been any question in my mind as to his honesty and sincerity in operating Boles Home. It is not a personal issue nor a personal battle. I do have serious doubts as to the scriptural right of Boles Home to exist as it does and function in all capacities as it does. I was, and still am, willing to debate the matter.

After reading Brother Oler's article, my first impulse was to make no reply. I was surprised and keenly disappointed in him and his manner of reply. He has decided to do that of which he accuses me, and rather than come forward in a forthright defense of the Home, he has chosen to conduct his answer "on the level of sniping, innuendo, and calumny." He has based his answer in the main on personalities, and the destruction of the critic's character. I am sorry that he has pursued this course. This sort of thing always beclouds the real issue and hinders the good that can be accomplished in such discussions. Perhaps this is the thing Brother Oler intended to do. This is always the defense of one who can not meet the issue. Frankly, I do not like to engage in this sort of controversy. When one makes personal attacks on another, even if his charges are true, it does not prove he is right about the matter under consideration. The age-old way of men in error is to destroy the man if they can not meet his arguments. Remember that it is Brother Oler who started this sort of attack.

Holt Is An "Anti"

In paragraph two, Brother Oler says:

"You have identified yourself with brethren who are unified only on one point as relates to Boles Home. You are agreed to oppose it, but your reasons for opposing it are contradictory."

He says further on that "you have quite well identified yourself as an anti." I suppose he means that all those with whom I am supposed to be identified are all "anti's." Frankly, I do confess to being "anti" some things. Is Brother Oler professing (or confessing) to being "anti" nothing? Surely he is "anti" some things, even if it is nothing more than the Gospel Guardian and Holt. His "anti" feeling in this is well-evident in his article. I am "anti" everything that I believe to be contrary to the scriptures. If this identifies me with certain brethren, then I am with them. I will stand with any and all who stand for the truth and against error, and I will not be ashamed of my company. The Lord himself was "anti" many things. I want to be "anti" everything that He was. I have never knowingly tried to identify myself with any group, "click or clan" in the church. I want only to identify myself with truth and righteousness, and thereby with the Lord and all others who stand for the same.

Brother Oler seeks to leave the impression that we were, as the old saying goes, "born in the objective case and the kickative mood," and that we are opposed to Boles Home just merely for the sake of opposing it and because we like to "fuss." In this way, he seeks to reflect on our honor, sincerity, and conviction. I can assure Brother Oler that we do not object to Boles Home just because we like to "fuss." It is a lot easier to go along with Boles Home and every other "project" and "plan" set forth by brethren. At least we could try to ride down the "middle of the road," or "straddle the fence." It is not popular to be "anti." Our reason for objecting to Boles Home is that we have serious doubts regarding its being a scriptural set-up and pushed off on the church to support. Boles Home holds forth as a "Brotherhood" work — "Kingdom business" — and as a part of the "Brotherhood" we are involved more or less. In some instances, the congregations to which we belong send money to the Home, and we believe we are within our rights to examine the Home and its work in the light of facts and the Bible. It is our desire to stand for the "ancient order" of things. Shall we just accept, without question, any and every work that someone (or group) starts for the "brotherhood," "line up" and support it? Yes, I confess to being "anti" some things.

Where Is The Plan

In paragraph three, Brother Oler says:

"I have never heard of your producing a plan for caring for the fatherless and widows that you are willing to state is the Bible way, and producing scriptural proof therefore."

He then goes on to say that if I can give such a plan in all its details, there will be no need for a debate. He says that by producing such a plan, I will render a great service to the brotherhood and all will be grateful to me. Now I have never thought of myself as one able to greatly awaken the brotherhood about anything. However, if there is such a dearth of information about this matter as Brother Oler indicates, perhaps in this instance I can help by setting forth a scriptural plan to care for the fatherless. I am quite sure that Brother Oler will admit that such a plan is proper and scriptural. The fact that he has never "heard" of me producing such a plan doesn't mean that I have not or can not. Perhaps Brother Oler has been too busy looking after his institution — the "Big Business For Christ"; getting the choruses out to raise money; helping people make out their wills so the Home will get their money; looking after the farm, the dairy, the buildings being constructed, or the recreation center over on Lake Texoma, to know about the many cases where an unquestioned scriptural way of caring for the fatherless goes on. In hundreds of instances, all over the country, Christians are engaged in the scriptural work of caring for the fatherless in a quiet, yet admirable, way. There is no fanfare, no big campaigns to raise money from any and everyone, no "brotherhood project," and not even a chorus to tour the country advertising the work. There are many instances of where Christians have taken orphans, or part-orphans, into their homes to love and care for them. Many examples of this could be cited. Surely Brother Oler will not deny that this is scriptural and right. This is practicing James 1:27, a verse often misapplied to the church. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." This is instruction to the individual Christians and not to the church as a great "brotherhood" or denomination.

There is no doubt in my mind but that there has been a serious lack of teaching regarding our obligation to help the fatherless and widows. We are too selfish in most instances to really practice "pure religion" and look after the fatherless. The many institutions that have arisen among us make it easy for us to neglect this work. When faced with the problem of helping the fatherless, the usual disposition is to rush them off to some institution and let others practice the "pure religion" for us. These institutions have discouraged Christians from doing their duty in this respect. They gather up and hold all the orphans they can, and it has all but become the accepted practice among us that the way to look after the fatherless is in some orphan home institution. This is very unfortunate and not the best in any sense. Why not individual Christians provide them a home? This can be done by legal adoption in many instances. In all cases, it can be done on the "foster home" basis. If there is no couple willing or able to provide such a home, then let the congregation provide such in their own community and under the oversight of the elders. The congregation can assist some couple financially as the couple provides a home for the homeless. There is no justification for the organizing of any other institution to do this work, or through which the church can do it. The church, each congregation, is sufficient to do everything God wants His people to do when it is to he done on a "collective basis." The, church does not need a "crutch" or an "aid" of any kind, whether it be an orphan home institution or a missionary society. Furthermore, it is not the responsibility of a local church to care for all the orphans in the world, the state, or necessarily, in her own community. There must be some limitation as to the extent of her work in this field. There is no limit to the extent of her responsibility to preach the gospel. It is to "all the world — to every creature." There is no record in the New Testament of the church assisting any but the "poor saints" and their families. The primary work of the church is to preach the gospel. All else is incidental and secondary.

Brother Oler has admitted that the foster home is the next best place for children to their own natural home. He should be willing to see the best done for the fatherless. There is no doubt but every child in all of "our" orphan homes could be adopted out or placed in a foster home within a few months. Hundreds of couples without children are seeking such. Many couples with children would take others. Just think of the influence for good that the church would have if we, as Christians, really practiced "pure religion" in this respect. The local churches could assist those in their number who may need help. This would make a profound impression on the world. But remember this: Our failure to do our duty in this does not justify the erection and maintenance of an unscriptural institution to do our work. Our failure to preach the gospel to all the world as we should does not and did not justify setting up a missionary society to do this work. The missionary society is not "the church at work" and neither can the church do her work through it. If we would practice "pure religion" as we should, there would be no need for a human institution to do it for us.

Brother Oler, in his demand for me to produce the plan, is trying to shift the responsibility and put the "laboring oar" in my hand. It is his practice that is under question and not mine. I invited him to discuss Boles Home, which I assume he believes to be a scriptural way to care for the fatherless. This he refuses to do. Why? Does he believe it is scriptural? If so, why hesitate to defend it? Is he not ready to give a "thus saith the Lord" for Boles Home? If Boles Home is "Kingdom Business" as he has claimed in the past, he should have no trouble defending it. As the superintendent of an institution through which and upon which thousands of dollars of the Lord's money is spent, there should be no question as to its scripturalness. Surely he can not honorably refuse to defend such. Whether I can present a "plan by the word of God" or not has nothing to do with the issue. The issue is, the question is: is Boles Home scriptural?

Is The Bible Silent On The How?

Brother Oler seems to say in his article that the scriptures are silent about how this work should be done. He says:

"This one thing I believe earnestly: If God has specified some place where the church should look after the orphans, and some manner in which they should be cared for, we should contend for that place to the exclusion of all others. But since God has not specified the place or the manner ... and since he has not, you certainly are without authority or right in prescribing what is right and what is wrong."

This argument should be carefully examined. I am surprised at Brother Oler. This is the same argument that has been advanced by the digressives for years. When a man goes to the "silence" of the Bible to prove his practice, he is hard pressed for proof. But the question is: Is the Bible silent about the care of the fatherless? Are there no principles that should govern us in deciding about the "place" and the "manner"? If it be decided that the care of certain fatherless children belongs to some congregation of the Lord's people, are they at liberty to proceed as they please as to "place" and "manner"? If the place doesn't matter, they then can put them in a Masonic home, a Methodist home, or a State home. The congregation may then send a monthly donation to the Home they have selected, and in this "manner" care for orphans! Why not? What would forbid such? By the same logic and principles of scripture used to prove such "place" and "manner" wrong as the way for a church to care for orphans, one may prove Boles Home to be the wrong "place" and "manner." Boles Home is not the church, nor a church; neither is it the church or a church "at work." It is a human institution arranged to handle a part of the benevolent work of Christians. It is on a par with the missionary society. The same principles forbidding the church to work through the missionary society, forbids the church to work "through" Boles Home. The scriptures are not silent about this matter.

Help From Roy Cogdill

Brother Oler says that I might get some help from Brother Cogdill. He then tells of five children being placed in the Home from Lufkin, and that Brother Cogdill signed the applications. Brother Oler refers to this for only one reason and that is to try to show that Brother Cogdill is inconsistent and thereby embarrass and discredit him. What does this matter have to do with the issue? Absolutely nothing. If Brother Cogdill is inconsistent and in times past gave full endorsement to Boles Home, that would not mean it was right. The truth about the matter is, and Brother Oler knows it, that Brother Cogdill acted only as "an agent for the father." The father wanted the children placed in Boles Home. Brother Cogdill tried to get the elders of the church in Lufkin to provide for the children and keep the children with the father. As an "agent for the father" he could recommend that the home receive them. He signed the application simply as a matter of form. Brother Cogdill explained this case fully in the Guardian. Brother Oler knows this. In any case, Brother Cogdill is fully able to take care of himself in any discussion relative to this or any other matter.

Talk It Over Personally Brother Oler Says:

"You for a good many months, have evidently entertained the idea in your mind that I am engaging in sinful and un-Christian work here at Boles Home. You have long known that I was a brother in Christ, but not one time have you or any other of your fellow critics ever come in the name of Christ to explain to me what your might think was the error of my way."

He seems to be laboring under the delusion that I was obligated to come talk the matter over with him personally before ever saying anything about it. I can not but believe that Brother Oler is pleading for sympathy here. He knows better than to teach that I was obligated to do this. I am under no obligation to go to him personally and register my objection against Boles Home than I am to go to all the employees, all the directors, and the thousands contributing to the home. Boles Home is set forth as a "Brotherhood" work — as a public institution. Would Brother Oler contend that we are obligated to go talk personally with everyone who teaches error before you publicly correct such? Brother Oler does not believe this and neither does he practice it. Must we talk personally with an exponent of error before we correct his teaching? When Paul withstood Peter to the face "before them all" in Antioch, and exposed his hypocrisy, did he do wrong because he did not talk with Peter personally first? (Gal. 2) Paul says that when he "saw that they walked not uprightly according to the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all . . ." This is the divine order. I can remember many of the "sweet-spirited" premillennialists crying the same way when their false teaching was exposed.

Yes, I am interested in Brother Oler's soul, the souls of others with whom he has to do, the directors of the Home, the children therein, and all the churches contributing thereto. That is why I have been forthright in stating my objections to Boles Home. I have done so in a public way that all concerned may know.

A Personal Attack

Brother Oler makes a deliberate and subtle attack on me personally. He would seek to thus discredit and embarrass me. He tries to nullify in this way the effect of what I have said and will say. I hope that all will notice this carefully, for usually it is the "objector" to certain practices that is accused of making personal attacks. In no public utterance or writing of mine have I ever made a personal attack on Brother Oler or anyone else connected with the Home. I regret that Brother Oler has stooped to such.

Before Brother Oler sent his article he wrote us requesting assurance that whatever he wrote would be printed and just as he wrote it. Brother Tant and I gave him this assurance, neither of us thinking that he would resort to such a personal attack. However, we would have printed it anyway. I am glad for the brotherhood to see the defense of Boles as made by Brother Oler. His article shows he is guided more by anger and contempt than by reason and scripture. It shows he feels the weakness of his cause. To the honest thinking person, the article will do harm to both Brother Oler and the Home.

Brother Oler charges:

"You evidently have preferred to conduct your affairs on a level of sniping, innuendo, and calumny."

This I deny as a base and false charge. He reprimands me severely for doing something of which he is as guilty as can be. He accuses me of slander, standing off at long range and engaging in false and malicious accusations. He questions my honesty and conviction. He says, "Try as I may to avoid it, I can not but be impressed that you are probably more interested in a fuss than you are in the salvation of my soul." Again he says, "and while I am writing, I might explain that there is another reason why I can not quite understand you or your motives . . ." I hope that Brother Oler feels better after getting this "off his chest" and making his feelings toward me known publicly. Suppose everything he has charged against me is true, does that answer my objections to Boles Home and prove it scriptural? He seems to reason in this way. This is a poor defense. I say to you as Paul said to the Jews, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, 0 man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."

Misused Funds Brother Oler Says:

"Some months ago, you made a statement in a business meeting of the church at Mt. Pleasant before the church divided and you took a group to the courthouse, that the accountant at Boles Home had taken money that had been sent in for a swimming pool, and had bought himself a personal car with it."

First, I want to notice his subtle allusion to the church trouble here. Do you see how he went out of his way to refer to it and leave the impression that I divided the church? Why did he do this? Only another effort to discredit me. This matter has no bearing on the question even if it were true. Brother Oler knows nothing about the church trouble here except what he may have heard. His statement that I took a group to the courthouse is a base falsehood. The church here did come to an open division (it had been divided and troubled for years) and a new congregation was started. The two congregations are in fellowship now and I prefer to leave it that way. It will help if "outsiders" who know nothing about it will keep out of it.

As to the statement about the misused funds, I did make the statement in a private business meeting when the support of Boles Home was being discussed. I made it clear that such had come from a reliable source, but that I could not vouch for the truthfulness of it. I was urging the elders to get a financial statement (not just a list of contributors) from the Home. Incidentally, this is something I have never seen from the Home, and something that I have never known of anyone getting, even though many contributing churches have tried. One of those present at the business meeting passed the thing on to Brother Oler.

The accountant wrote me about it. I gave him the facts about it as it happened. I was later at the Home and talked with him personally about it. What I reported was not intended for general information, but for the elders. Heretofore, it has been a private matter, but now Brother Oler makes it public. Why?

Since he has made it public, let me say this: The original source of the information was one of the Boles Home board members! Suppose you ask him about it! Why was he telling it? I am not especially interested in whether the matter is true or false. It has no bearing on the issue. I have nothing to retract in the matter. I deny that I slandered the accountant or that I was wrong in what I said or did.

I apologize to the readers for having to go into such matters. It is wholly beside the point. It confuses the issue and disgusts the readers. I am sorry Brother Oler chose this course. I had hoped he would come forward as the Christian gentleman I believe him to be and meet the issue squarely. I am persuaded to believe that he did not because he can not.

Boles Home On A Par With Hospital!

In the third paragraph from the close, Brother Oler says:

"Our entire brotherhood recognizes the right of the church to care for a sick person in a hospital, a preacher in a hotel, or a child in a home, whether the sick-caring, preacher-caring, or child-caring facility be public or private. God tells us to care for each but withal provides no regulations as to how, where, by whom, or how long they are to be cared for."

In this, Brother Oler is advocating that caring for children in Boles Home is like caring for a sick person in a hospital or a preacher in a hotel. That upon the same basis a church cares for one sick in a hospital the church cares for children in the Home. Is this really his position? Will he be clear about this? He owes it to all of us, especially the churches supporting the Home. Is Boles Home simply a "service institution" where the church may pay for services rendered? Is it a private institution like a hotel? In an issue of Facts, Brother Oler set forth this idea. If this be the case, let it be known. Cut the Home loose from the church and quit begging the church to support it. Advise the churches to take the Home out of their budgets as it is like a hospital or hotel, unless you can advise them to put hospitals and hotels in their budgets and thus support them. Just let the church pay the Home for services rendered, and if a congregation has placed no orphans there, then they are no more obligated to send to the Home, than they are to a hospital wherein they have no sick, or a hotel wherein they are providing for no preacher! If the church can support one private institution, why not any and all of them?

Furthermore, if this be Brother Oler's defense of the Home NOW, then let him retract his statements that Boles Home is "Kingdom Business" and "the church at work." Surely he is not willing to say that operating a hospital and a hotel is "Kingdom Business" and "the church at work." If Boles Home is a "service institution" like a hospital or a hotel, it is certainly not "Kingdom Business" or "the church at work," and is no more entitled to support from the churches than a hospital or a hotel! Brethren need to realize this. Brother Oler has tried to defend the home in too many ways contrary to each other to debate it.

Is Boles Home a privately-owned and privately-operated institution comparable to a hospital? If so, who owns it? What private individuals own it? Is this NOW Brother Oler's position regarding the Home? If it is not his position then why allude to such and infer that Boles Home is owned and operated on the same basis as a hospital? Was his purpose to mislead and confuse? He certainly needs to clarify this matter. He owes it to the whole church to do so, especially the supporting churches. Tell them, Brother Oler, if they are helping to support a private institution with the Lord's money. If Brother Oler believes that Boles Home occupies the same position to the churches as a hospital or a hotel, then he would also have to contend that churches not only have the right to purchase services from such privately-owned and privately-operated institutions, but that the church has the same right to contribute to a hospital or a hotel as such. If these are parallel, then let's parallel them! If this is not Brother Oler's position then he was insincere in his argument. If this is NOW his position, HE HAS CHANGED POSITIONS! WHY THE CHANGE? Has he decided he can defend the Home on this basis? Did he give up his former positions because he believed them wrong? If one of the churches in Dallas may pay the Baker Hotel for the keep of a preacher during a meeting, may the same church contribute directly to the hotel for its maintenance? Is this Brother Oler's position? Brethren over the country who are supporting the Home should demand an answer. Besides it is time for Brother Oler to decide the basis upon which he will operate and defend the Home. We anxiously await his clarification of the matter. The pages of the Guardian are open to him to set forth whatever he pleases about it. It is my hope that he will respond soon.

A Touching Close! Brother Oler Closes With:

"We shall wait for the plan, and we shall see. However, while we wait, we shall also be caring for the fatherless in their affliction, and try to keep ourselves unspotted from the world."

That sounds nice, doesn't it? Why say that he is waiting for "the plan"? It occurs to me that he has adopted a plan of great proportions, involving many persons, hundreds of congregations and thousands of dollars. Is it right and scriptural? That is what the brotherhood wants to know. Let's examine in the light of God's word the "brotherhood plan" under which he is operating.

So I close adapting Brother Oler's words and say, we shall wait for your defense of your plan, and we shall see. However, while we wait for the proof of your big brotherhood institutional project, we shall also be caring for the fatherless in their affliction, as individuals and as congregations, in a way that all agree is right and sufficient to do the job, thereby practicing pure and undefiled religion, and try to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.