Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 19, 1956

A Speech On The Orphan Home Issue

Charles A. Holt, Franklin, Tennessee

Brother A. C. Pullias, president of David Lipscomb College, spoke for the Antioch church in Maury County Tennessee last Friday night, December 17, on the subject of orphan homes — at least, that was supposed to have been his subject! He was invited by the elders to show why such institutions as Tennessee Orphan Home are scriptural and should be supported by the church. A few weeks before, at the invitation of the elders, I had spoken there on why such is wrong. The elders and the church have been studying the matter and wanted to hear both sides. I was surprised that Brother Pullias would speak on the question.

I heard the speech. Brother Pullias was very pleasant and manifested the best attitude of anyone I have heard speak on his side of the issue. He spoke for one hour and never even touched the points at issue! Most of what he said could be accepted by all and did not deal with the question under consideration. He used only one scripture, James 1:27, and asserted that this proves the church is to take care of widows and orphans, evidently without any limitation or restriction whatever. He then asserted that there is no method or plan given for doing such, therefore, just any way will be acceptable. He said we should oppose any wrong way, but in view of his position, it is hard to see how any way could possibly be wrong. As far as the real issue is concerned the speech was one of the weakest I have ever heard.

The old argument that the New Testament tells us to do it, but does not tell us how is threadbare with age and use. The digressives of by-gone days wore it out. Here it is: "When a thing is commanded to be done, and the method of doing it is not prescribed, those commanded are at liberty to use their own judgment in devising ways and means to carry out the command." This quote is NOT from Pullias, but it is exactly what he argued in almost the identical words. The quote is from J. B. Briney, ardent defender of the missionary society, in his debate with Brother W. W. Otey! The similarity between Pullias and Briney is not accidental. Both were seeking to justify the same thing in principle — a human organization to do the work of the church. It was upon the assumption that the Bible does not deal in "methods" that J. B. Briney justified the existence of the missionary society. Upon the same assumption Pullias seeks to justify Tennessee Orphan Home.

It was effectively shown in days of yore, by such men as Lipscomb, Sewell, C. R. Nichol, Otey and others that the missionary society is not a method, it is an institution — an organization separate and apart from the church created for the purpose of doing the work of the church.

The organization of the New Testament church is simple, not complex. It is the local church with elders, deacons, and members. No other organization is known in the New Testament. The local church with elders and deacons is a complete and perfect organization through which to do everything God had commanded the church to do. It, therefore, follows that any organization larger or smaller than the local church, designed to do the work of the church, is an infringement upon the divine arrangement and is unscriptural. The truth of this principle is soevident as not to require proof to one who is familiar with New Testament teaching.

In the application of the above principle, however, some have failed to discriminate between methods and organization. The church may use any expedient method of doing anything God has commanded so long as it is a method only. The protracted meeting is a method of saving souls. Class teaching, sometimes called "Sunday school," is a method of imparting instruction, whether pursued on Sunday or some other day. But there is a vast difference between methods and organizations. It has been claimed that the missionary society is only a method of evangelizing the world. That is not true. The missionary society is an organization, an established institution, and uses methods of its own.

In the same way and for the same reasons Tennessee Orphan Home (and like institutions) is not a method — it is a human organization set up to do a work for the churches. It is not the church nor any part of the church. Tennessee Orphan Home is an organization, an established institution, that must employ methods of its own!

The churches may employ methods in doing their work, to be sure, hut there is absolutely no authority for their setting up and maintaining a human organization to do the work for them! Can anyone fail to see this? Here is the issue! This is the fundamental error in such a practice and Brother Pullias missed it a "country mile." He can not justify a benevolent society (human organization) to do the work of the churches any more than he can justify a missionary society (another human organization) to do the work for the churches. To prove one is wrong is to prove the other is wrong. To justify one is to justify the other. They stand or fall together. It does look like the president of a college could see these facts! Is it any wonder that the defenders of such modern societies refuse to discuss the missionary society? Also, is it any wonder why there is no preacher in this area who is willing to step up and publicly debate such matters? It should not be! Will Brother Pullias or any man at D.L.C. publicly meet the issue? They will not and the reason is evident. Think, brethren, think!