Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 22, 1956
NUMBER 29, PAGE 6-8a

Judah And Simeon: "Orphan Homes" And "Sponsoring Church"

Billy W. Moore, Pryor, Oklahoma

The September issue of "Our Children", the official publication of Turley Children's Home, features a front page article by Lloyd Connel entitled "Who Shall Go Up". Brother Connel comes forth with some new scriptural arguments in an effort to justify "orphan homes" and the "sponsoring church" cooperative programs such as Herald of Truth or Tulsa's own cooperative work. The scripture cited is Judges 1:1-4, "Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up; behold, I have delivered the land into his hands. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, come with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. And Judah went up; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men."

Brother Connel reminds us of the fact that the things written aforetime were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4), therefore concludes that from the cited passage we can learn many things about co-operation. He then gives three points: (1) The Lord said "Judah shall go up"; (2) Judah asked Simeon his brother to go with him; and (3) Simeon went with him and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into THEIR hand. Brother Connel's argument is this: Since Judah and Simeon cooperated without losing their independence as tribes, congregations of the Lord's church may likewise cooperate without losing their independence.

Question, Brother Connel: Do you know anyone who teaches that congregations cannot cooperate without losing their independence? Please answer. Personally, I know of none who thus teach. I have not yet met the preacher or elder who taught it was wrong for congregations to cooperate, or who taught that if two or more congregations cooperated they lost their independence. Brother Cannel infers that those who oppose orphan homes and Herald of Truth (sponsoring church) are opposed to church cooperation. 'Such is not true, and I think brother Connel surely knows it.

Granting that brother Connel's application of the cooperation of Judah and (Simeon is proper, what has he gained? His only point is that Judah and Simeon cooperated without losing their independence. But all informed brethren know that two churches may cooperate without losing their independence, therefore, brother Connel gained absolutely nothing.

After citing the example of Judah and Simeon, our brother endeavors to apply the principle to the churches of Christ. He says: "Churches of Christ are independent of each other, yet they are all of one nation, one priesthood, have the same Lord, the same king and the same Law. Now, I know of none in the church who believe that the church can act in the aggregate; therefore, the work must be done by the local church. The Lord has told us to go up, to preach the gospel to every creature. Some local church decides that it wants to do as much of this work as it can, but feels it needs the help of one or snore of its sister congregations, so this local church says to other congregations: 'will you go up with us?' These churches decide that they will help out with the work. Now, what can be wrong with such a program of work? Have any of the churches lost their independence?

Brother Connel, nothing is wrong with churches working together to preach the gospel. Several churches cooperated in supporting Paul (2 Cor. 11:8), and those who contributed had fellowship in the preaching of the gospel (Phil. 1:5-7). They were cooperating without centralizing their forces. They did this by sending support to the preacher, Paul. Churches may so cooperate today. Further, every local church should have already decided that "it wants to do as much of this work (preaching the gospel) as it can", since preaching the gospel is the primary work of the church. Each congregation should always strive to do as much of this work as it possibly can, and each church CAN DO as much as it possibly CAN without calling upon anyone to help it. When it calls upon other churches to work through it is then trying to do more than it can do. One church may encourage another church to do more of the work of preaching the gospel and if through such encouragement that church does more preaching the two churches will be cooperating in preaching the truth. In fact, when I preach in Pryor and brother Connel preaches in Tulsa, forty miles away, we are cooperating in the warfare "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12)

Brother Connel infers that churches are not cooperating unless they are working through one eldership. Such is a sad mistake, for if his example of Judah and Simeon serves to authorize two congregations working through one eldership, then the example of all 12 tribes working together (such as in taking Jericho and Ai, Josh. 6, 8) would authorize all congregations of the Lord's church to work through one eldership. If not, why not. Of course some brethren would not object to this either.

Brother Connel, is it possible for churches to cooperate without having a sponsoring church? If each church is determined to do as much of the work of preaching as it has the ability to do, would not all be cooperating in preaching the gospel? If not, why not?

Now to answer our brother's question: "Have any of the churches lost their independence?" NO, not if they have cooperated as the New Testament teaches, — by sending to the preacher. YES, if churches send to a "sponsoring church" which has asked churches to send us your money and we will do this work for having assumed the oversight of this work it has rightfully become our work (so the promotin' brethren reason). Under these conditions all contributing churches lose their independence. CONNEL'S ILLUSTRATION:

"Church "A" decides that it wants to start an orphan home, but is not able to do so by itself, so church "A" invites other congregations of the city and community to help. Other congregations voluntarily accept the offer. They furnish some of the finance. My friends, what is the difference in this to what Judah did when he said to Simeon, "come up with me into my lot"? Personally, I can see no difference..."

Brother Cannel, what made this congregation decide to start an orphan home? Was it because it had more orphan children than it could place into homes, or otherwise provide for? If this be the reason, then I know of none who objects to the congregation building a house in which to care for these children which it has, and if congregation "A" is unable to bear the financial burden then other congregations should assist her. Then when the orphan children of congregation "A" are all cared for she will no longer receive contributions from her sister congregations. BUT WHO OBJECTS TO THIS? However, if congregation "A" just decided to start an orphan home when she does not need such to do her work, then she is starting a work when there is no need. What right has congregation "A" to decide to start an orphan home when she does not have orphans who are her responsibility? If congregation "A" has a right to do this then by the same logic congregations "B", "C", "D" and on through "Z" would have the same right, which if exercised would only lead to confusion.

Brother Connel asks, What is the difference in several churches going together to build and maintain an orphan home and what Judah did when he said to Simeon, "come up with me into my lot"? Then he says, "Personally, I can see no difference." However, I think I can see a difference and perhaps can help brother Connel to see it. Notice:

1. Judah had a work to do.

2. It was expressly Judah's work.

3. Simeon co-operated with Judah to help him do his work.

But lets take a look at the system that brother Connel is attempting to defend.

1. Congregation "A" has a work to do.

2. It is not expressly her work (all contributing churches B, C, D, have the same relationship to the work.

3. Congregations B, C, and D contribute to congregation "A" to help her do a work that is not her own. Surely Brother Connel and others can see that this is not as the cooperation of Judah and Simeon, for that work was Judah's work.

But let us notice the New Testament pattern of church cooperation and compare it to the example cited by brother Connel.

1. Jerusalem had a work to do (caring for its needy).

2. It was Jerusalem's work.

3. Galatia, Achaia, and Macedonia cooperated with Jerusalem to help her do her work.

Brother Connel, you gave the wrong example. It doesn't justify the "sponsoring church". If your example justifies one congregation to build an orphan home it will justify another congregation to build a missionary society. Now let's notice the Herald of Truth arrangement:

1. Highland church in Abilene had a work to do, preaching the gospel.

2. It was not expressly her work (the 1080 contributing churches had the same relationship to the work that Highland had.)

3. 1,080 churches contributed to Highland to help her do a work that was not her own.

A further difference, which brother Connel did not mention at all, is the fact that Judah said to Simeon, "come with me into my lot ... and I likewise will go with thee." Thus Judah was saying, you help me now and when you need help I'll help you. This is what Paul taught regarding church cooperation (2 Cor. 8:12-14), that such was only in time of need to bring about equality. Question: When are the sponsoring churches going to start helping those who have been sending to them?

Our brother continues, " . . those who claim to hold so closely to the 'divine pattern' in church independence are the first to make it their business Ito say what another church other than the one they are a member of, can, or cannot do." Certainly brother Connel, those who are most interested in holding to the divine pattern would be the first to speak out against a departure, and why not? But he continues, "A local church has the right to refuse to enter into planned work of other churches, but so does it have the right to enter in. But whichever it does, its elders or preachers have no right to tell another church what it can or cannot do." Question: What part of the planned work of congregation "A" does congregation "B" have the right to enter into, is it the mission work? the work of edification? or the benevolent work? Does congregation "B" have this right at all times, or is it restricted to the time when congregation "A" is in need? Please cite scripture references, command, necessary inference, or an approved example. Brother Connel is sure to make a hit with all "sponsoring churches" for he says no elder or preacher has a right to say anything about their planned work. Therefore, the sponsoring churches may "sponsor" anything they desire, get a preacher who doesn't object, or one that will sell out his convictions, to move to work with them and nobody has a right to say anything about their work. I wonder if Peter or Paul would be allowed to speak! ! Yes, brother Connel, you'll make a big hit.

Connel says he believes that each congregation in the world is independent just as Judah was independent of the other tribes. Certainly so, and congregations may cooperate just as Simeon cooperated with Judah, helping to do a work that was expressly Judah's, without losing their independence. But hear our brother again, "The church has the commission today to 'make known the manifold wisdom of God'. Who has the authority to step in and tell the elders of congregation "A" 'you cannot invite any of the other congregations in the community to help you'?" Cannot brother Connel see that the work of making known the manifold wisdom of God is not the work of congregation "A" anymore than it is the work of congregations B, C, D, etc., but the work that Simeon assisted Judah with was the work of Judah. Brother Connel asks. "Who has the authority to step in and tell the elders of congregation "A", 'you cannot invite any of the other congregations in the community to help you'?" The thing our brother needs to show is, who gave the elders of congregation "A" the authority to "assume" that the work of preaching the gospel to the world is "their" work? Will he tell us?

Another error in our brother's reasoning is seen in this statement " ...churches are being divided because men outside of local churches are coming in through various means and saying the work of the church can be done only one way, that you cannot ask other congregations to help you." Are churches being divided by the brethren who oppose the innovations, or by the brethren who introduce them? I am sure that brother Connel has preached that the brethren who brought the instruments of music into the worship were guilty of causing division, not those who opposed such. He further misrepresents his brethren when he says that some are dividing the church by "saying the work of the church can be done only one way". I want to know who preaches that the work can be done ONLY ONE WAY. You made the charge, now tell us who teaches that!! Now if our brother means that the work of the church is to be done by only one organization then he will have many to agree with him. For the organization of the church is sufficient to do all the work of the church.

Brother Connel concludes his article by assuring the brethren that "...the Lord is going to bless the efforts of churches of Christ, who join together to go up and fight against the Ole devil himself . . . I call upon Brethren, everywhere: Let us join hands and go up into the lot'; let us bind ourselves together against the Devil and his forces and work together, as did Judah and Simeon". It seems that our brother thinks we cannot "fight against the Ole Devil himself" unless we "bind ourselves together" and "join hands" through a sponsoring church. Brother Connel, if a congregation preaches the gospel with all of its power is it not fighting the Ole Devil, even though it has not joined hands with 1000 other congregations to work through one eldership? Why not let each congregation preach the gospel, as it has ability, take care of its own orphans and widows receiving help only in time of need? Wouldn't this work? Wouldn't this make for unity in the church? Then why aren't you and other brethren following this plan which makes for unity, instead of pressing your own opinions to the dividing of the body of Christ?