Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 19, 1958

Concerning Brother Tant's Solution

Reuel Lemmons

In this issue appears the third, and last, in a series by Brother Yater Tant on "The Present Issues." Today we have the "solution." Without doubt the gist of the trouble is presented in these articles. They were prepared for that purpose.

We have been forced to take notice of them, and hope we have matched Brother Tant's spirit in our review.

The complete non-existence of grounds for division is demonstrated most clearly by this third article. We believe that will be evident even to Brother Tant. We love him and our hearts are grieved at the feeling existing between brethren. Earnestly we pray that this exchange will result in unity. Neither do we despair that the final solution to our problems is even far away.

Last week Brother Tant wrote: "The 'under a board' home, as I see it, is a denial of the all sufficiency of the church. It impugns the wisdom of God, its very existence being a declaration that the church, as such, is not capable of doing the work God gave it to do." This week he says: "It is my conviction that those homes in the land which are operated under a board of directors, as `service institutions' have every scriptural right to exist." Then he says, they "could well serve a great and useful service, and receive the endorsement and support, I believe, of every Christian in the land for such work if they would follow the example of the Christian colleges and cut themselves loose from church support." Please note that if these "under a board" homes would change a single PRACTICE, that of soliciting contributions from churches, these homes which, he says "impugn the wisdom of God, and whose very existence is a declaration that the church, as such, is not capable of doing the work God gave it to do" can "receive the endorsement and support of every Christian."

Brother Tant's solution is (1) Relegate the six "under a board" homes to the position of commercial caretaking institutions, possibly paying "dividends to their stockholders"; (2) Take the twelve "under elders" homes away from the churches and place them on this level too. My ONLY OBJECTION to "under a board" homes is that they receive contributions from churches. His ONLY OBJECTION to "under elders" homes is that they receive contributions from churches, and sometimes orphans. Now let us examine these objections: Board homes would be all right if a church brought its orphan and paid for its care. Some do. Some can't. Some won't. He says, "It is as clear as the noon-day sun" that if some can't others should help supply their "need." Therefore, his only objection boils down to an objection not to the home, but to the church that could, but doesn't, contribute enough to supply the need of its own orphan.

Consider Objection Two: It is based upon the extent of the oversight of elders. Yet, there is absolutely no difference in the extent of the oversight of elders where a "brotherhood home" and a "congregational home" is involved. We agree that elders oversee a local church. They ALSO oversee the work done by the church. When a congregation cares for orphans, the elders are overseeing a work done by the flock. It is illogical to teach that a church can preach the gospel in various communities, but cannot care for orphans from those same communities. If elders can supervise the work done by a church in preaching the gospel, they can supervise its charity work also. Some say, "we have a command to preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Yes, and we have a command saying, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). When you start to aid non-Christians (as practically all orphans are) whom among us did God choose to set the parish lines?

Brother Tant suggests that these homes are congregational in form but brotherhood in function. May we humbly suggest that preaching is, too. It is congregational in form but worldwide in function (Mark 16:15). Benevolence is congregational in form, but worldwide in function (Gal. 6:10). If not, Mark 16:15 and Gal. 6:10 are empty, meaningless verses. And elders oversee both the form and the function. Number Two and Number Three are exactly alike, and the only objection boils down to a private opinion of the extent to which elders should extend the work of the church. In matters of opinion, we have every right to differ.

Brother Tant is now in the position of making it right for a church to take its orphan to a commercial institution, "possibly paying dividends to stockholders," and a sin to take that same child to another congregation of Christians. Is this the sin of cooperation? Is it right to cooperate with a commercial institution but a sin to do so with another flock of Christians?

If the elders' taking a child to another congregation and contributing to its care surrender their autonomy to that congregation, do they surrender their autonomy to a "commercial institution" if they follow Brother Tant's "solution" and take their child to it?

If a local congregation operating a home becomes an agent for a hundred other congregations administering the funds of those churches in benevolent work, wouldn't the boards of the "commercial institutions' be acting as the agent in administering their same funds in doing the work the Lord gave the church to do?

What strikes us for forcibly is that Brother Tent says we can practice nothing that is not authorized, and every one of these suggestions, including the box in the vestibule, has no higher authority than his own opinions of what others ought to do in order not to violate his (Tant's) conscience. The Bible never mentions, much less authorizes, a division in the Lord's treasury; neither does it authorize elders to run the church to suit the conscience of the members. We have so many different "conscientious" opinions among our members that if a box were placed for each of them, the vestibule would look like a pigeon loft. Brother Tant occupies the unenviable position of praying for unity while advocating division.

Brother Tant first declares the all sufficiency of the church to do what God commanded it to do, then with one fell stroke excommunicates all eighteen of our homes from church fellowship. Then he offers to absolve us from all our sins and to restore us to a greater degree of fellowship with congregations of the church than he will permit between his "congregational home" and sister congregations; and restore our right to exist, even though he says that our very existence impugns the wisdom of God, if we will only cut loose from church support. Not only that, but he will face about and advise churches to support us by sending children to us and paying entirely for the support of each, which is far more than most congregations have contributed up until now. AND THAT WAS WHAT HE WAS OBJECTING TO IN THE FIRST PLACE. All we can see to be gained by all these changes is that all eighteen homes would have kissed someone's big toe.