Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 27, 1961
NUMBER 12, PAGE 4,13b

Hobbyistic Literature

F. Y. T.

Several brethren have mentioned to us from time to time that the "church orphan home" enthusiasts are increasingly stressing their hobby in the Bible school literature which they distribute — particularly in the literature of the Gospel Advocate Company. Such, of course, could be expected. And as time goes on it may well be taken for granted that such hobbyistic teachings will be increased rather than diminished, and that gradually the range will be broadened to include defenses of church recreational facilities, church operated schools, and the whole gamut of agencies, projects, institutions, enterprises, and organizations which a fertile denominationalism may devise. Evangelistic associations, such as the original American Christian Missionary Society have been always but the initial wedge; the full harvest of "societyism" comes later. "

Some little time will yet elapse, no doubt, before we find as full scale an endorsement of institutionalism as we found condemnation of it in the G. A. Annual of 1946. The absolute reversal will be only slowly developed, step by step. But that it is well under way (and, ironically, by the same writer) can be observed in such quotations as the following:

"Our lesson text for today (I Timothy 5:3-16) reveals that the church is very definitely obligated in the care of the destitute widow; and, since James included 'the fatherless' in the same passage in which he mentions the widow, and since Paul teaches that it is the duty of the church to care for the widow (1 Tim. 5:16), it follows that it is the responsibility of the church to care for both the fatherless and the widow." (Gospel Advocate Adult Gospel Quarterly, May 4, 1958.)

That paragraph looks innocent enough at first glance. But study it carefully, and note the syllogism:

Major premise: "The church is very definitely obligated in the care of the destitute widow."

Minor premise: The church's obligation for "destitute widow" extends also to the orphan, "since James includes the 'fatherless' in the same passage in which he mentions the widow."

Conclusion: "It follows that it is the responsibility of the church to care for both the fatherless and the widow."

It needs no great thinker to realize at a glance that the minor premise in the above is completely false. All that is required to demonstrate that is an understanding that James and Paul were writing about different things — Paul of the church's obligation toward a very limited group of widows, and James of the individual Christian's obligation toward all widows and all fatherless! We have not a doubt in the world that the writer of this quarterly has no difficulty at all in differentiating between the "faith working through love" of which Paul writes and the "faith apart from works" of which James writes. Both men write of "faith"; but one taught of the faith that saves, the other of the faith that destroys.

In like manner, both men wrote of the "widow". One wrote of the church's obligation to a certain kind of widow; the other wrote of the individual's obligation to widows and fatherless generally. It is that simple.

We think churches would be well advised to take a long and searching study of the literature they are using in their Bible classes....whether on Sunday, or in Vacation Bible Schools, or otherwise. And the old, old adage that "one does not have to eat the entire egg to find out it is rotten" might well apply here. If instances of false teaching are found on "the orphan home issue," however subtly concealed and camouflaged they may be, it may be well understood that the other (and less palatable) hobbies of these brethren will also gradually be introduced into their class books — church support of hospitals, colleges, youth centers, Gospel Press, and whatever new agencies may be formed from time to time. Elders of congregations have a God-given obligation to guard the flock against false teachers, whether those teachers come in person or in the guise of "Gospel Advocate literature." It is only within the last few years that these brethren have begun to feature their hobbies in their literature; but that such pressing of these false ideas will increase rather than diminish is too obvious to need comment.

And what is the solution? Well, clearly the first step is the total elimination of the literature that teaches falsely; or, if that literature be retained, a most careful analysis of every statement in it, ferreting out the false teachings and warning the students against them. We believe there is evident difference between using the writings of men like Adam Clarke or MacKnight or J. W. McGarvey, all of whom taught error on certain points, but who were open and above-board in their advocacy of such, and using the literature of men who cunningly seek to conceal their hobbyistic heresies and take the unwary by guile — as cited in the quotation above from the Adult Quarterly. The hobbyistic teachers profess a great belief in the "all sufficiency of the church," while seeking in every way to promote movements destined to undermine that concept; they profess a bleeding heart of love for poor, orphaned children, and simultaneously seek to snatch these children from the arms of loving foster parents and confine them in institutions; they decry the "missionary society" from one side of the mouth and spout endless words of propaganda from the other side to build up the kind of organizations they are bemoaning.

Such teachers are false. Their literature is dangerous and destructive. Their writings are constantly open to suspicion. Thoughtful and God-fearing elders will be on guard against such.