Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 16, 1964
NUMBER 49, PAGE 5,12a

"Church Relatives "(?)

Lowell Blasingame

Kinfolks may be acquired by birth, adoption or marriage. Often kinship is claimed when it doesn't really exist. One's rise to fame or fortune may result in new relatives about which previously the person knew nothing. Sometimes these relatives are legitimate but more often they are persons seeking to feather their own nests by cashing in on fame or good fortune of another, hence the claim of kinship.

One could hardly expect an institution with a background as glorious as the Lord's church to be immune from claims of such distant relatives (?). The church was built by the Lord (Matt. 16:18), purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28), and has Christ for its head (Eph. 1:20-23) and foundation. (1 Cor. 3:11) With such noble characteristics as these it is not to be wondered that it should attract "relatives" interested in furthering their own causes by aligning themselves with it.

By 1849 brethren had become dissatisfied with the progress of the Restoration Movement and began to look for new means to give it impetus. In October of the same year a relative, the Missionary Society, showed up in Cincinnati, Ohio. This new organization just had to be related to the church in some way so it would be responsible for its support so brethren began to search the family tree. Finally someone discovered that the Lord told the church to preach the gospel but He didn't tell her how, so this new organization just had to be one of the relatives that was to do it!

In 1909 another relative showed up. This time brethren decided that the Lord had given the church an obligation in — Benevolence that the church, as the church, couldn't perform so it needed a relative to help it. Up the family tree and out the limb of "how," there it is! The Lord didn't say how it was to be done so benevolent organizations had to be the "how." Brethren were undecided whether this relative belongs under a Board of Directors or the elders of a local congregation but they were sure that it was a relative and that the church was responsible for taking care of her relatives so out went the letters for the fifth Sunday contributions.

By 1947, brother N. B. Hardeman was sure that if the Orphan's Home, which was a human institution, was related to the church, then surely the college, which also was a human institution, was also a relative and entitled to support from the church, too! As late as January, 1964, in President's Report, brother George DeHoff was saying, "Magic Valley is 'church-related.' It is not owned, controlled, or operated by any church. It is Christian in the sense that it teaches the Bible and emphasizes Christian principles. The majority of its Board Members are members of the Church of Christ." There you have it! Magic Valley isn't owned, operated or controlled by the church but it is "church-related," you know, a kind of 'kissin cousin' and it wants in line for its share from the treasury of the churches since it's a relative. I guess if a laundry were started, with the majority of the board members of the church, and operated on Christian principles with a lesson in Bible being taught each day that it would then be "church-related" and the church would be obligated to make contributions to it.

The Lipscomb Alumnus, Vol. 3, No. 3, states, "Today Lipscomb is a church-related liberal arts college Brother B. B. Baxter, Head of DLC Bible Department, states in his sermons, Questions and Issues of the Day, that `the orphans' home and the Christian school must stand or fall together." He further tells us that for the schools to remain loyal to their goals they need to be made dependent upon the churches for their financial life blood (some relatives are like that), and he urges elders to contribute to the ongoing of these schools. Brother Baxter seems to think that since DLC is a "church-related" school kinfolks ought to help each other, so he argues that since the church has — depended upon these schools for years to train her preachers, elders, teachers, etc., it is only right that she should provide the school with funds for the training of these leaders.

None of these brethren that are telling us that the schools are "church-related" has had enough courage to go to court (debate) to establish the legitimacy (scripturalness) of their claims even though they are sure (1) that they are relatives of the church.

Here in Mississippi on April 3, 1962, a new relative was born. This new relative was chartered under state law and given the name "Mississippi Christian Foundation, Inc." It is composed of a-Board of Directors, an Advisory Board and a Sustainers' Club. I do not know what it takes to qualify for the Board of Directors but to get on the Advisory Board one must be a male member of the church of Christ, be in good standing, (I don't know whether that means with the Lord or the Board of Directors) and pay or raise a hundred dollars a year for the Foundation. The Sustainers' Club is for those who can't qualify for the Advisory Board but that doesn't mean that big things aren't expected of them. The Sustainers' Club is supposed to "activate the entire brotherhood in Mississippi in support of good works." This is expecting a whole lot out of brethren who aren't able to raise or pay a hundred dollars, but that's the way some kinfolks are!

This new relative was spawned because some of the brethren in the state decided that we were in a "vacuum" and they tell us that the "Foundation Fills Vacuum" for us. It ought to fill something because it proposes to be an incubator for other organizations. Its founders tell us that "it will be interested in the organization, establishment and operation of programs and institutions of Christian , service, such as Christian schools, orphan homes, homes for the aged, youth camps, Bible chairs, student loan and scholarship funds and the publication and distribution of Christian literature." It proposes to become "One of the most effective and dynamic agencies for good organized in this century."

Surely these brethren believe that Mississippi Christian Foundation, Inc., is a church relative because they have been encouraging churches to send contributions to it that it might hold them in trust until other organizations are formed to use them. The aims of Mississippi Christian Foundation Inc., related to evangelism, benevolence and edification make her look remarkably like the relative that Campbell wanted to see when cousin Missionary Society came in 1849.

And what kind of additional organizations will brethren in the future introduce? I have no idea but the practices of the past have established one fact. When they do come, they will be introduced as church relatives so she can be saddled with the responsibility of baby-sitting and supporting them.

— 163 Dean Drive, Grenada, Miss.