Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 18, 1955
NUMBER 15, PAGE 1,11b

"Orphanages And Homes For The Aged"

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

In recent issues of the Gospel Advocate Brother Guy N. Woods has had seven articles under the above heading. I have been surprised and distressed at the audacity with which Brother Woods has used and defended the terms, "the benevolent organizations among us." Such language would have been considered the language of Ashdod fifty years ago by the old timers. The vauntings and yappings of all the "hobby riders," "the eccentrics," and "cranks" in the world could never drive me to even intimate, much less to insinuate that they did not believe in caring for "the fatherless and widows in their affliction." In his articles, Brother Woods referred to James 1:27 seven times, and says: "Thus, this writer of the 'gospel of common sense,' as the Epistles of James has so well been described, sets out the practical aspects of pure and undefiled religion as consisting of the following particulars: (1) to visit; (2) to visit the fatherless and widows; (3) to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction." Surely the simplest of the simple, in the church, can understand James 1:27; but Brother Woods' explanation, trying to get a "benevolent organization" out of it, would confuse the wisest of the wise. He says: "The word widow, in the phrase under study, is from cheras, feminine form of the adjective chera, that which is sterile, barren, without provision. It is a term indicative of want; it designates the status of those who are to be 'visited,' i.e., who are to be supplied that which they need."

Brother Woods' explanation of James 1:27 is about as clear as a tar bucket. I am sure there is not a single reader of the Gospel Advocate that does not understand the terms "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," and I am equally as sure that there is not one in a thousand of its readers that know anything about "chera" or "cheras." So Brother Woods hail confused rather than explained James 1:27.

Brother Woods says: "Chera, that which is sterile, barren, without provision." Chera is the word used in Mark 12:40, 42; Luke 18:3, 5; I Corinthians 7:8; I Timothy 5:3, 4, 5; and figuratively, Revelation 18:7. Since nearly all congregations have widows in them, it might be safe to have Brother Guy N. Woods come and tell the elders just which widows are "sterile, barren, and without pro-vision," and whether the word "widow" is used "figuratively" as in Revelation 18:7. It is unfortunate that the Greek scholars (?) among us will make their arguments (?) upon Greek words instead of the English translations.

I said in the beginning of this article that the terms "the benevolent organizations among us" would have been considered the language of Ashdod by the defenders of the faith fifty years ago. If the statement is not true, it is not worth the paper it is written on. Since these terms are used and defended in the Gospel Advocate today, I will use the editor of the Advocate fifty years ago to prove my statement. I hope some peanut will not hop up and say: "David Lipscomb was no authority." I will quote David Lipscomb to prove what the Gospel Advocate taught on "the benevolent organizations" fifty or sixty years ago, and nobody but an ignoramus, would deny that he was authority on that.

In "Queries and Answers," edited by J. W. Shepherd, page 80, he says: "Christ never ordained any organization except his churches. In these, as members of his body, his children must work. No Sunday school or missionary or charitable organization outside of his church has ever been authorized. No Christian has a right to work in any of these human organizations." Was Brother Lipscomb against the churches caring for the needy among them? And did he oppose churches teaching their children the word of God? Or was he opposing the "organizational features" of the work?

In the Gospel Advocate November 25, 1954, Brother Woods says: "We heard it in each of the twenty debates we have conducted with anti-Sunday school preachers — heard the Sunday school described in this fashion — and they made out just as good a case for themselves against the Sunday school as those who allege the same objections against the benevolent organizations. In answer to the objection that the Sunday school, such as is conducted generally by our brethren, is an organization, separate and apart from the church, and thus in violation of the principle of 'the one body,' we have shown (and many anti-orphan home brethren agree with us) that the Sunday school is merely a systematic medium through which, or by means of which, the church functions. The Sunday school is not in opposition to, nor in competition with, the church; it is the church in action. Similarly, the church performs a portion of its benevolent activities in an organizational capacity because this has been found to be the most expedient method."

Any preacher that would hold twenty debates defending the "Sunday school" is not only wasting his time; but he is giving "the anti-Sunday school" hobby-riders a potent club with which to fight teaching the Bible in classes on Lord's days. I have been establishing congregations for more than fifty years, and I have vigorously defended teaching the Bible, in classes, on Lord's days either before, or after, the public assembly for breaking bread. That puts "the hobby-riders" in the attitude of fighting Bible teaching, and they have never made any headway in my neck of the "woods."

This article shows that the paths of Brother Lipscomb and Brother Woods are running parallel on "the benevolent organizations among us"; but they are going in opposite directions. Brother Lipscomb going from, and Brother Woods toward the denominational swamps from which the pioneers extricated the church more than a hundred years ago. Any preacher, writer, or teacher that would argue that David Lipscomb ever advocated, or defended any organization in carrying out the work and worship of the Lord, other than the churches with its elders and deacons, just does not know what he taught. No human being can quote one sentence from David Lipscomb's pen showing that he defended "the benevolent organizations among us." Let us deal fairly with the writings of the dead.