Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 28, 1968
NUMBER 30, PAGE 3b,5-6

You Do Not Put Homes Under Elders

Gayle Oler

Brother Reuel Lemmons is my brother and my friend. No personal animosity exists between him and me. I respect, love and honor him. Let no one attach distrust or lack of love for Christ or for each other to either of us. Nor do I ever underestimate his ability and value as a gospel minister. I would never damage him as such.

I believe that he is wrong - dead wrong — in the contention that he has carried on for over ten years that elders as such should rule children's homes and that homes that maintain organizational distinction from the church are "benevolent societies," in the most evil connotation of that term.

It is time that we re-affirm the basic New Testament position relative to the place and posture of the church in the world and divest it of all alteration and connection with other organizations.

But it is also time to divest the homes of all entanglement. The home and the church each function under a singular purpose and mission. They stand as independent, yet helping each other fulfill their God-given ministries. They must always do so.

For these reasons I have been forced to reveal Brother Lemmon's errors, however reluctantly, but I emphasize that I do not and will not attack him personally. He is my brother.

In the September 10 issue of the Firm Foundation, of which Bro. Lemmons is editor, he complains that we published an article which answered certain charges and allegations he had made about such homes as Boles, Southern Christian, Tennessee Orphan Home, Potter Orphan Home, and many, many other such homes. He said the Boles Home News "should be used for a more noble purpose." Yet he asked us to publish in the News his entire last article which would consume all the space in our little paper! We cannot do this, but we refer you to the September 10th issue of the Firm Foundation for his article.

We had written an article, which the Firm Foundation published, entitled "How Shall They Return?"

Brother Lemmons editorially branded the article as "an attempt to sabotage the good done there" at a meeting in Arlington, Texas of anti-children's home and anti-cooperation preachers, semi-antis and others we have always considered true and faithful gospel preachers. We denied the charge, and pointed out that we never mentioned the Arlington meeting, never mentioned a person present at the meeting, nor a thing done at the meeting. Bro. Lemmons should withdraw his charge and apologize. He has not done so. Instead, he says: "What we said originally still stands," all the while affirming that "we agree on the terms of restoration."

He says in his article of Sept. 10, "Had it not been for the insistence of some for benevolent societies (he means by this term Boles Home, Southern Christian Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, Potter Home. Childhaven, Sunny Dale Home. Sierra Children's Home. Shultz-Lewis Home, etc.; G.0.) to do the work of the church, much of the church splitting would not have occurred."

Why cannot Bro Lemmons see that these homes are doing the work of the home and not of the church? Nothing is to do the work of the church but the church. These homes are homes, not churches, and they do the work the home does, not churches. What do these homes do in child care that the home does not usually do? There are many things the homes do that the churches do not do, because they are homes and not churches.

Brother Lemmons expresses deep concern over the "missionary society trend." and I am as opposed to any such trend as he is. But the thing wrong with the missionary society is that it proposes to do the work of the church, and is therefore wrong regardless of how it is organized or supported. But children's homes do not propose to do the work of the church, but of the home, because they are homes. Brother Lemmons' calling them "benevolent societies" is only prejudicial and reveals that he does not really know what is wrong with the missionary society.

The missionary society is wrong whether it is governed by a board of directors or by elders, or anything else, because it is designed to take over and perform the work of the church. It has no right to exist, regardless or organization. You could put it "under the elders" but that would not make it right. Nothing can make it right, for it is wrong in its very conception. Putting elders over it would simply be putting them over something they have no right to oversee or rule in the first place.

And putting the home "under the elders" and calling it a work of the church does not justify the act, nor does it make the home a "work", nor a church. It is a home, and if it is a home, no group of elders has any God-given right to rule it as if it were a church. Brother Lemmons cannot find a thirty-second cousin to anything in the New Testament that looks like elders ruling over anybody's home, and he never will. If it is anything other than the church, the elders have no right to rule it.

Surely anyone can see this. The elders over-see the church in its ministry to the world, but the world is not the work of the church and you do not put the world "under the elders." Ministry to those in the world is a work of the church, but the world is not. Ministry to those in the home is a work of the church, but the home is not. The church ministers to those in the home, but you do not put the home under the elders.

The elders over-see the church in teaching the Bible to some in the Bible School who are not Christians, but the elders are not over those who are not Christians.

Even so, elders direct the church in ministry to those in homes, but they do not direct homes. They direct churches.

Brother Lemmons alleges that Tipton Home is a work of the church, hence the elders must oversee it. And he even produces a syllogism to prove it! Look at it:

1. "All the WORK of the church is directed by the elders of the church.

2. Caring for orphans is a WORK of the church.

3. Therefore: this Work of the church should be under the elders of the church.- Would you not assume from his major premise that a church who has no elders could have no work! And that any work the church did which had no elders would therefore be sinful? Selah.

But his minor premise is obscure. If by "caring for orphans is a work of the church" he means providing the means or the money, or supervising the members in such care, we heartily agree. This involves the elders and the church in no alteration of the organization or function of the church. The church does not barge into the field of the home nor does it assume charge of those who are not Christians, which would be as reprehensible as the home trying to take charge of and control the church.

But if he means by "caring for orphans is a work of the church" that the elders extend their authority to rule over one home or one unbeliever, he is wrong, and his conclusion is wrong.

If, as Brother Lemmons alleges, the Tipton Home were a work of the church, under the elders, how does he explain the Tipton church receiving federal money to help it do its work? The home, which Brother Lemmons insists is only a WORK of the church, monthly receives Social Security and Veteran's Administration money, which helps the church do its work. And on occasion, from the State of Oklahoma, and from the courts, money has come to help in this WORK of the church. Is this not a governmental subsidy of the church in its WORK?

It is a violation of the constitution, of the laws of the land, and of the intent of our government for our government to contribute funds to any religion or religious body. And if anybody in the federal government ever finds out they are subsidizing the Tipton church in its WORK, there will be some changes made!

Why could not the federal government subsidize the WORK of evangelism of the Tipton church if it can subsidize the WORK of charity of the Tipton church?

But it is constitutional, lawful, and the intent of the government to help the home in its work of caring for children in need, and it does it constantly in both public and private homes, but it never proposes to subsidize the church nor a WORK of the church.

When the Tipton Home was incorporated under the name "Tipton Orphan Home" they put all men on notice that it is a home, governed actually and legally and properly as a home by a Board of Directors. Thus it could legally and properly receive what federal support as may be accorded it in common with all other homes of any nature whatsoever.

But now Brother Lemmons says, "Not really," but that the Board was just to satisfy the State! He has those brethren wearing two hats on the same job. When they talk to the State and the government with the money, they wear the director's hats, but when they talk to the brotherhood with its money, they wear the elders' hats. Brother Lemmons! They are not that kind of brethren!

The Tipton Home is an honorable home, and the people associated with it are honorable people. It functions under a board of directors as such a home should. It is not the church, nor within the church, nor under the church. It is a home, just as Boles Home and other homes are and as such it is entitled to receive support for its work from churches who "under the elders" are directed unto every good work.

They are also justified and entitled to receive whatever assistance as may be accorded them under the laws of the land from any part of our govern mental structure.

In spite of Brother Lemmons misunderstandings, erroneous reflections and mistaken allegations, the Tipton Home is on safe ground, common wound with Boles Home and some 50 other homes in the brotherhood.

Brother Lemmons alleges that when churches send support to the home under directors, that it is not the church providing the support, but board! And that the board is no part of the home! The Boles Home charter specifically states that the directors stand "in loco parentis" (in place of parent) to all children in the home. Brother Lemmons, when the church sends support to a mother for the support of her children, is it the mother instead of the church, providing the support?

The charter further states: "The purpose of this corporation is to provide a home for children." Does this mean that the corporation is no part of the home? When a man and woman propose to provide a home for their children, are they no part of the home?

Brother Lemmons tries to clarify his confusion at the Freed-Hardeman lectures when he was asked if he believed the Tennessee Home which is under a Board of Directors was scriptural. He affirmed that he did believe it. He has since affirmed it. Hear him: "We believed then, and we believe now, that it is perfectly scriptural for homes to exist under boards." But then he adds: "The thing we object to is the churches contributing to them from the church treasury!"

But did not Brother Lemmons know - was he not aware that the Tennessee Orphan Home was then and has always been receiving support from church treasuries for child care at the very time he was telling the good brethren at Freed-Hardeman College it was scriptural? Did he tell them at Freed -Hardeman that he thought it was unscriptural for churches to contribute to the Tennessee Orphan Home? Or was he revealing less than his convictions on the subject?

He has not yet made himself clear. And it appears that consistency has forsaken his position so that he cannot make himself clear. Brother Lemmons, tell us plainly.

— Boles Home News, September 28, 1968