Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 18, 1954
NUMBER 28, PAGE 3,5b

The Church Versus The Individual

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

This is another in a series of articles on the difference between church action and individual action of the Christian. It is supposed that an article by W. L. Totty, to which this is a reply, will be found elsewhere in this issue. Some brethren appear incapable of telling the difference between the church and the individual when they desire to bind some educational or charitable function upon the church since such function may be right for the individual. On the other hand, if it is something which they do not want the church to do they can see that the individual action is not the church in action. It is pretty certain that they do not think that what I write is the writing of the church. And they are dead certain that the Gospel Guardian is not the work of the church. A few of the proponents of church supported secular schools, church supported charitable societies and church supported radio preaching societies become vociferous and rabid in their puerile attempts at reply to the truth, as does the writer of the article to which reference has been made.

Continued False Charges

He wants to leave it to the readers to judge whether or not he misrepresented me in a former article. He knows that he misrepresented me, but instead of being forthright enough to confess his misdeed he wants the readers to judge the matter. The readers cannot answer for the misdeeds of Brother Totty, he must answer for himself. If he did it in ignorance could he have deliberately done it? Certainly, in his ignorance a man can deliberately commit a deed. Such a case is referred to in Acts 3:17.

He wants me to apologize for having said that an individual can support one of these church-supported institutions. I shall do so when the quotation is presented where such a statement is made by me. It is not to be found in the quotations he presents in his article. The quotation says, "Some people seem to think that anything which can be supported by a Christian can be supported by a church." Brother Totty is one of those persons, but not this writer. Secular education is honest and honorable and to be supported by the Christian. The Catholic Church provides such secular education, but I am not to support their system because the system is wrong. For the same reason I do not make a practice of supporting those secular schools among our brethren which claim to be church supported, because the system is wrong. The education is not wrong, but the system providing it is wrong.

Brother Totty says of me, "In 1949 he contended that churches should support orphan homes." Then he quotes some statements of mine which emphasize the necessity of churches supporting orphans. The trouble with most of these men, who want to build institutions besides the church for doing church work, is that they cannot tell the difference between an individual and an institution. In his article, Brother Totty shows that he does not know the difference between the orphan and an orphan home. If he knows the difference he refuses to admit it. This is another case of deliberately mis-applying my former statements, and misrepresenting me. It would appear that ink antagonist in this exchange is rather adept at this unscrupulous practice. There are things in which the orphan home and the school are not parallel, and there are things in which they are parallel. I have always recognized that, and have so discussed it with Brother Totty, but he refuses to deal with the issue in such honorable fashion. The quotation of mine which he presents does not say that it is lawful for a church to support a separate institution for orphans. The "right practice" of an orphan home has not been discussed thus far in this exchange. In many articles of mine in former issues of the Guardian the kind of support of orphans by churches has been pointed out. No need is seen of repeating it in this exchange.

The Ketcherside Stigma

He seeks to categorize me with Ketcherside and Garrett. Brother Joe Cox has already shown in recent articles that Brother Totty does not know the doctrine of Daniel Sommer. If he knows no more about the teaching of Ketcherside than he does of the teaching of Sommer, then how does he know that I have the same position as Ketcherside? I have not been aware of the similarity.

It would appear, however, that Brother Totty is trying to engineer the same train as Daniel Sommer, except that they are trying to drive in opposite directions. The readers may remember having seen in history books a cartoon depicting the presidential race between Breckenridge and Douglas just prior to the Civil War. They had a double headed locomotive representing the democratic party, and each candidate was trying for dear life to go in his own direction. Totty and Sommer have the same locomotive, the theory that there is no difference between individual action and church action in religious affairs. Sommer took the position that the individual can do nothing which the church cannot do. Totty takes the direction that the church can do anything which the individual can do. No wonder they get nowhere with their puffing, steaming and blowing. They need to get off such a monstrosity and travel together on the truth.

His Quibbles On The Arguments

Will Brother Totty attempt to prove that the church hired the widow to wash the saints feet in 1 Timothy 5:10; hired her to perform her good works; hired her to bring up children; hired her to use hospitality to strangers; hired her to have been the wife of one husband? Brother Totty knows as well as anyone that these things are individual's deeds, and not the church's, representatively or in actual performance. He knows as well as anyone that as the passage continues it instructs certain women to provide for others that the church be not burdened, positively distinguishing between the individual and the church in performance of this good work. I wonder why he does not tell us how this woman was representatively the wife of the church. Why does he not tell us how the church is to be in quietness because the woman is to be in quietness? He knows that when he does this he will force himself to remain in Quaker silence.

It is amazing that a preacher of the gospel will contend for a representative democracy in the church. That is exactly what Brother Totty does in his article, comparing the church and its elders to the United States and its congressmen. If that is the conception these institution-minded brethren have of the church then there is no end to the departures they will contend for in the church. It still remains true that the elders are individuals. They have the function of overseeing the work of the church, the church works under their oversight. The church is not the overseer nor the elders the overseen. Brother Totty tries to make a distinction between the elder and the individual, using the term individual in the sense of the term laity. The elders are individuals and have their individual special work of overseeing, the church has her function of obeying them.

In his paragraph next to last he tries to tell me what the issue is. The article was written by me which started this exchange, so it seems that I should be qualified to know just what issue I raised. The article dealt with examples from the New Testament which show that there is a difference between acts done by the individuals and those done by the church as a whole; that individuals have work which is not given to the church as a whole. The parents at Garfield Heights where he preaches need to be on their guard concerning their children, for Brother Totty contends that the church can send him or someone else to spank their children, just like he argues that a matron may be selected to spank children in an orphanage and it be supported by the church. If that is not his contention, the paragraph has no meaning. He may deny but he cannot refute the truth that individuals may do things in religion which the church cannot do.

Will Willie Affirm A Proposition?

If he intends this to be a debate as he implies, then let it be suggested that he present a proposition which contains the issue and that we discuss the issue. What difference does it make if Bob Welch has changed? What difference does it make if W. L. Totty has changed? If he cannot find anything to talk about except that someone has changed, then let him be on with it, he may eventually get to the point where he will condemn Peter and Paul for changing. But I shall not waste my time nor the readers' time over such trivialities. I shall be happy to respond so long as new matter is presented on the issues. Nothing new was added by him in this article.

If he considers this his debate, then I have done no challenging, he replied to an article of mine which in no sense was presented as a challenge. I did ask him to work out a proposition, and still do, if he wishes to debate. Otherwise, I do not care to continue an exchange which only deals in personal reflections.

When he finds a church that wants to hear us, I shall accept his challenge, and try to work out arrangements for an oral discussion with him, on the issues upon which we differ.