Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 26, 1959
NUMBER 29, PAGE 8-9b

Impure Motives For Preaching?

S. R. Tipton, Hope, Arkansas

This article is addressed to gospel preachers all over the country who preach that it is contrary for churches of Christ to build and maintain Old Folks Homes, and Orphan Homes, such as Southern Christian Home, Gunter Home, etc. etc.

Do you know why you preach these things? Do you really know? Have you been preaching against such things because the Bible is silent on such things, hence no authority for them? Have you been preaching against such things in an effort to preserve the purity of the Lord's Church? Have you been preaching as you do because we are commanded to "speak as the oracles of God?" (I Pet. 4:11). If the foregoing is the motive and the reason you have given for preaching such, let me tell you that you have been sadly mistaken!

Just exactly one week ago today, October 12, 1959, the other gospel (?) preacher in town made this statement on a daily radio program supported by some of the churches of Christ in Southwest Arkansas: "There are gospel preachers all over the country preaching that it is wrong for money to be sent from the church treasury to our orphan homes FOR THIS REASON- So they can keep the money in the church treasury where it will eventually get into their own pockets, and then take their boats to the lake and have a high-heeled time!" So, brethren, there is our impure motive for preaching as we do! I had thought all the time that it was a matter of authority, but I have been wrong. Andy McElroy said sot Upon learning of his statement, I called him and told him that I was coming over to see him that night, and that I was bringing the two elders from the Walnut St. Church of Christ with me. I further told him that since we were coming he was privileged to have anyone there that he wanted. I hurriedly typed out two propositions on the Benevolent Society question and signed them. When we arrived at their meeting house Brother McElroy had called in four other preachers and had six or eight members from that congregation there. We assembled in their auditorium, and the proceedings was opened with a tremulous prayer by Brother McElroy.

Brother McElroy made a few opening remarks, among which was his statement that "he had called in a Brother Henderson from Murfreesboro, Arkansas, to take his part in the discussion because he had only been preaching for a few years, but that Brother Henderson was an experienced hand in things of that nature." He then had me to say what I had come to say. I told the people there of the statement that had been made that afternoon on the broadcast, and charged Bro. McElroy with impugning, not only my motives for preaching as I do concerning those things, but every other gospel preacher in the brotherhood who is of the same persuasion. I asked him if he had ever asked, or had ever been told, by one of us as to why we are preaching on the Benevolent Societies as we do. He said that he had talked with one preacher about it, but that NO PREACHER had ever given that exact motive for preaching on that subject. I then pointed out that the apostle Paul said: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him . . .?" (I Cor. 2:11), and that no man knew my motives for preaching anything unless I had expressly stated. He refused, of course, to make an apology or to retract his statement.

The brethren who were there demanded of me that I get up and preach my convictions on the subject. However, before I did I asked Bro. McElroy to sign the propositions that I had typed out. He refused to do that. I then asked him if he would come to our building and preach his convictions, and then in turn give me the opportunity to speak in their building to the congregation. He said he would not do that. I then asked him if a Baptist preacher were to offer him the same opportunity, would he accept. Again he replied, "NO." He then made the statement that Bro. Henderson was going to speak for him, so I asked Bro. Henderson to sign the propositions. He too refused.

About this time in the proceedings Brother O. H. Painter, the former preacher for the other congregation in town walked in. Bro. McElroy then said: "Brother Painter will now take my place, and speak for me." (He had by this time given up hope on his previous defender, Bro. Henderson.) Brother Painter agreed that he would answer me, and he signed the propositions without quibbling.

I stepped into the pulpit and started preaching. I had no sooner started than Bro. Henderson started "popping off" from his seat. I told him that I had given him the opportunity to debate me, and that he had refused, but now since I had started preaching that he was ready to debate me from his seat, that, if he was ready to debate for him to sign the propositions. He refused to do that, so I suggested that he be quiet since Bro. Painter had agreed to answer me.

I preached for one hour setting forth, from the scriptures, my position. I pointed out that it as a matter of authority. Where in the Word of God did he authorize churches of Christ to build and maintain benevolent societies to do the work which He gave the church to do? I pointed out that it was not a matter of "how" the work was done, that the "how" didn't enter into the discussion at all, but rather it was a matter of organization. I read, in its entirety, the charter of the Southern Christian Home. After reading this I pointed out that the very name proved that it was an organization separate and apart from the church usurping the function of the church. These points stand out in the charter: (1). That the association known as the Southern Christian Home is human in nature; (2). That it is chartered by the state; (3). That it is regulated by state law; and (4). That it's overseers are a board of directors. In contrast to that the church (local Phil. 1:1) is (1). Divine in origin; (2). Authorized by — Christ; (3. Regulated by the scriptures; and (4) Has elders as it's overseers.

Brother Painter then got up and preached for an hour making sixty arguments, the most of which were reading from the Old Testament scriptures dealing with helping the poor. He contended throughout his speech that the "Lord simply told us to help the poor, but didn't tell us how to do it" He cited such examples from the New Testament as the "Good Samaritan," Dorcas (Acts 9), the benevolent work of the Jerusalem church, and labored long to prove that the passage in James 1:27 belongs in the realm of church activity, but that the Lord didn't say "how." He further said that he cared nothing for the organization, that he knew nothing of the organization known as the Southern Christian Home, etc. etc.

After he had finished with his hour's speech, I again had the opportunity to speak. I preached for another hour, pointing out to the best of my ability, that although Bro. Painter contended that it was a matter of "how" that I, nor my brethren, were concerning themselves with the matter of "how." Brethren, I don't care "how" the work of the church is done, just so long as the church does it. But, when the church begins turning it's funds over to some society, and lets the society do the work, then it ceases to be a matter of "how" and becomes a matter of "what" what organization is to do the work that God gave the church to do!

Brother Painter also brought into his speech the Herald of Truth, so I told him that we could sign propositions on that subject as well. He agreed to this.

I have written to him suggesting the week of the 22nd of November, this year, for our discussion; four nights on the Orphan Home question, and two nights on the Herald of Truth proposition; three nights of the debate to be conducted in the church building at 819 S. Walnut, and three nights to be conducted in the church building at Fifth and Grady St., here in Hope, Arkansas.

Since the proceedings that night I understand that there have been five or six preachers putting pressure on the brethren at Fifth and Grady, trying to force them to cancel the debate, telling them that it is unscriptural and sinful for men in the church to debate one another. Some of the brethren at that congregation expressed their desire that night for a debate, so I don't know what the outcome will be. We pray that we may have the debate, for that is about the only way some people in this section will hear both sides of this issue. I close with this admonition, brethren, watch your motive!

Also, may I commend the elders of this congregation for their unrelenting stand against the forces of unrighteousness. They are men who love the truth, and desire to see it prevail. They have stood firm against every foe for the forty four months that I have been laboring here, and were doing so long before I came.