Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 15, 1958

Lanier Answers Woods -- III.

Roy H. Lanier

Unscriptural Positions

1. Benevolent homes are the natural homes restored. The first thing I will say about this is that it is another one of your statements for which you give absolutely no proof. What do you do with Jackson, Johnson, et. al. when they make such barefaced statements as this? Well, whatever it is, just consider it done to you right now! How do you have the face to make such oracular pronouncements and expect thinking brethren to accept them in little bird fashion?

Next, who is authorized to restore the homes for the aged and orphans? There are two classes of these as I have already suggested. Those who have relatives or are financially independent are in one class. For these anybody may provide a home and charge for services rendered. But those who are wholly dependent upon the church must look to the church for help and whatever help is given must be given through the church that God may be glorified. And a few brethren getting together, organizing a corporation and asking congregations to finance them is not doing this work through the church. If so, what church? You cannot say that any one local church is doing the work, and you cannot say the universal church is doing it. So what church is doing it? And through what church is the Lord being glorified? It is my position that only the church is authorized to build and maintain a home for such aged and orphans. Certainly individuals may take into their homes all they are able to keep, but that is not the establishment of a home for their care; that simply is taking them into a natural home which is already established. You have proceeded on the assumption that God has authorized a group of brethren to build a home to restore the home these aged and orphans have lost. This is another one of your oracular pronouncements which you seem to think you can make without need of proof. I need a little proof that God has authorized the establishment of such homes by such groups.

But your oracular pronouncements are not as harmonious as such statements are naturally expected to be. In GA 1954, p. 936, you say, "The orphan home does not take the place of the church; it is a means by which the church restores, as far as possible, the home which the child no longer has ... They are an effort on the part of the church to re-establish, as far as possible, homes which no longer exist." Here you say it is the church which restores the home for these aged and orphans; I say, Amen!! But in GA 1957, p. 226 and 247, you say that it is a "group of Christian men." Now, Brother Woods, which time did you tell the truth, which time did you say what you actually mean and believe? Both statements cannot be true. The truth of the business is that you have evolved a position here in 1957 which you did not hold in 1954. My guess is that this position of 1957 is a child born of necessity. But more of this later.

Since you contend that the orphan home is the natural home restored, you must also say that the board members are the parents of the children. And you take this position very cautiously. In GA 1957, p. 228, you say the board members are "acting in loco parentis." But if these children are adopted into these homes, and the board members are the head of the homes; and if these homes are the natural homes restored, as you contend, it follows that the board members are the fathers of these children and they are no longer orphans. And I have the best authority in the world for this statement: "It is impossible for an orphan to he a member of a Christian home! A fatherless child, adopted into a Christian home, ceases to be parentless, and is thus no longer an orphan." (GA 1954, p. 882) Yet you go right on talking about taking care of orphans in these homes. If these homes under boards are actually the natural homes restored, as you contend, why do you still speak of them as caring for orphans? or even fatherless children? When the church feeds and clothes a family of poor children whose parents (natural parents) are in poverty, do you speak of that as caring for orphan children? I'm quite sure you do not so speak of them.

But, now, if the board of a children's home becomes the father of the children to do for them what their natural fathers would do, what is the relationship between the board of a widows home and the widows cared for in that home? Does the board become the husband of the widows to do for them what the natural husband would do? I think your position needs a little mending here!

But, let us look a little more into this "in loco parentis" business. If the board only serves "in loco parentis," they are not actual parents of the children. But in a natural home an adopted child is the child of those parents, the husband and wife are the actual parents of the adopted child. There are two ways of entering a family, by birth into the family and by adoption; and the adopted child is as truly a child as the one born into the family. Now if the board only serves "in loco parentis" and is not the parents, then it follows that the home under this board is not the natural home restored, but is only serving in the place of the natural home. That which serves in the place of something cannot be the thing in the place of which it serves. Only the natural home is a divine institution. Since the home under a board is not the natural home, but only serving in the place of the natural home, it is not a divine institution. So you have a divine institution concerning which the Lord spake exactly nothing. He did not even authorize a group of good men to organize an institution to take the place of his divine institution. But he did authorize his church to build and operate a home for dependents, as you so well argued in GA 1954, p. 845. More later.

But you say that elders cannot be over two separate divine institutions at the same time. I agree! And according to your 1954 position they do not have to be over two at the same time. Are elders over two institutions when they rule both the church and the Sunday School? We both agree they are not, since the SS is simply the church organized for the purpose of teaching. Now you say in GA 1954, p. 935 that the SS is the church in action. Then at the bottom of the page you say, "The truth is, all of these — the orphan homes, the homes for the aged, the Sunday Schools — are servants of the churches, functional organizations by which the church acts." A functional organization is a part of a thing, so you are saying that all these are parts of the church. That is what I believe. The home (natural) is not a functional institution by which the church acts; it is a separate institution. Now, if the homes for aged and orphans are functional organizations of the church, they cannot be the natural homes restored, since natural homes are not functional parts of the church. But if an orphan home is under the oversight of elders, it is a functional organization of the church; it is the church in action, as you said in 1954, and elders who oversee the operation of the home are no more over two separate organizations than they are when they run the church and the SS.

But now you are bothered about articles of incorporation. That's peculiar; I thought I am the one to be bothered about such things. You think there are two separate institutions if there are two sets of articles of incorporation. What of it, if one is within the framework of the other? What if such laws were, by the state, passed regulating our teaching of the Bible that it becomes necessary for us to incorporate our Sunday School? Would it be unscriptural for us to comply with the regulations of the State in such case? And if we incorporate the SS, would the Sunday School and the church be two separate institutions? and could the same elders, as elders, oversee both? For very obvious reasons, homes for orphans must be incorporated and must submit to certain supervision by the State, but their being incorporated does not make them in the sight of God another institution.

2. Your next unscriptural position is that the only responsibility the church has "to the needy" (but I'll not hold you to this word needy) is to furnish the money to supply their wants. In GA 1957, p. 227, 228, 229, you make statements such as: "We shall not allow him a shift in position here with the allegation that by the word `work' he merely means to designate the responsibility which the church sustains to provide financial support by which child care is accomplished." And, "It is, of course, the function of the church to supply funds for the care of the needy." Again, "Did these elders, on receipt of the funds thus provided, take over and operate the homes of the destitute saints; or, did they merely supply the funds for the families to spend?" Putting these statements together I conclude that you take the position that the only duty the churches have is to provide the funds for your boards to use in operating these homes for aged and orphans. Well, this is another one of your oracular statements without one bit of evidence to support it. And it is crying to high heaven for support!

No, no, Brother Woods, I shall not even ask you to allow me to shift in position here with the allegation that by "work" I mean that the only responsibility the church has is to provide the funds. You can have that position; I don't want it and I'll not even allow you to shift it off on to my shoulders. And I think you will not think much of it when you take a good look at what you have fathered! Now, first, let us see how this contradicts your statement of 1954, GA, p. 845. There you said, "The early church operated a home for destitute widows . . . If we may rely upon the affirmations of sacred writ the early church operated a home for aged and destitute widows ... These, the church must care for. The church, as an organization, is obligated to provide for widows." Twice you say the church operated a home for widows: then you say the church, as an organization, must provide for widows, so I conclude that provide means to operate a home in this connection. Now, Brother Woods, what church? What church as an organization? That simply cannot mean anything but a local congregation. Did a local congregation operate a home for widows? Was the operation of the home under the oversight of the elders of that local congregation? Were they serving as overseers of two separate divine institutions? You have affirmed in 1954 that the church organized and operated just exactly what I think is the middle of the road position in this controversy. Why can't we just settle on that as the scriptural way of providing for the destitute aged and fatherless? By this I mean that the church is to do the work; the church is to operate the home; and all the work of the church is to be under the oversight of the elders of the church. And, of course, churches can cooperate with each other where they are not able to do the work alone.

(To be concluded)