Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 15, 1954
NUMBER 48, PAGE 8-10

The Care Of Orphan Children - "Accusations Answered"

Charles A. Holt. Franklin. Tennessee

The above is the caption for an article by Brother W. W. Tynes, minister of the Main Street Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It appeared in the paper, OUR CHILDREN, published by the Turley Orphan Home in Turley, Oklahoma, which is "under the oversight of the elders of the Main Street Church." I have received several copies of the paper. One copy I received had this note attached: "These accusations were brought against the orphan home by Mr. Charles A. Holt, of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. He turned the Turley Church against the home." Of course, no name was signed to the note. The writer of the note has the idea that Brother Tynes is answering some accusations that I made against Turley Home, and others are of the same opinion.

Last October I assisted the splendid group of Christians who make up the Turley Church (Turley is on the outskirts of Tulsa) in a gospel meeting for seven days. A finer group of people I do not know. On the Saturday night of the meeting I preached a sermon on INSTITUTIONALISM, as I do in every meeting that I hold. During the course of the lesson I spoke about the place of the colleges, the Missionary Society, and the ways of doing "mission" work, and also dealt with the principles involved in the arrangement and work of the various orphan homes among "us." I am nearly positive that I did not mention any orphan home by name save Boles Home. The lesson was announced well in advance and the things to be covered were specifically mentioned. I especially extended a personal invitation to Brother Tynes to attend that night, as well as the elders at Main Street. Brother Tynes found it very convenient NOT to attend. I am happy to say that the attendance during the meeting of Brother and Sister Carpenter and the children at the home was very good. I know that no one can say that I in any way mistreated them or failed to show appreciation for their coming. Brother Carpenter was present on Saturday night, and by his own choice and wisdom, and with my suggestion left the children at home that night. Such children are in no position to reason about and understand such matters. In fact, a large percentage of the church is not able to reason calmly and candidly about such.

Thus we have some of the background and circumstances leading up to the lesson. I pointed out with reference to the orphan homes among "us," that they are all in violation of scriptural principles in one way or more. There is no authority in the scriptures for the formation of a "Benevolent Board," which then forms an institutional orphan home, through which churches may care for their orphans. The same reasoning used to justify such a "Benevolent Board" will also justify the formation of a "Missionary Board" and Missionary Society. I showed the parallel. I dealt extensively with this matter. Then I turned to deal with the fallacious reasoning, such as is used by Brother Tries and others, that the orphan home Will be scriptural if it is just put under the oversight of a local eldership. It was shown that a group of elders have no more scriptural right to form themselves into an official board to run an orphan home for the brotherhood. than do seven men who come from different sections and from different congregations. This is exactly what has been done at Turley Home. They throw up to the brotherhood the specious plea that we are "under the oversight of a local eldership, therefore, this makes our work scriptural." Surprising it is that such a dodge is accepted by good and able brethren. There seems to be a tremendous swing in the brotherhood to this idea as a means of giving acceptability to these institutions. More and more brethren are abandoning the defense of the arrangement and set-up of homes under a "Board of Directors" like Boles Home has. Brother Oler cannot be persuaded to defend such as scriptural. I note that in his recent issue of FACTS, Brother Oler is bewailing and at times demeaning the brotherhood for allowing Boles Home to run a deficit of $2,391 per month last year! Of course, he cries that the brotherhood does not love and care for orphans and threatens to take drastic steps unless the need is supplied. His institution is failing to receive all the money it needs. While I do not know that such would help, Brother Oler and his Board of Directors might do better to shift positions (Brother Oler has done this several times and in several ways) and put that institution "under a local eldership." Perhaps this will gain for it favor and make it look more like it is scriptural! They need to get on the bandwagon! The "picking" seem to be good now for an "arrangement" that is just "under a local eldership." The trend now is to put everything under a local eldership. No doubt in the minds of many the Missionary Society would have been scriptural and accepted if only some brethren had started the clamor to put it "under a local eldership."

Today, as never before, there is the need to restudy some of the basic principles for which we have stood through the years. The fight with the digressives has been too long ago for those of our day to realize the issues involved. We cannot, it seems, learn from history and the mistakes of the past. Rapidly today we are traveling the same road that led to digression before. It is time to stop amidst the onslaught of high-powered, high-pressure, movements among "us" and be sure where we are going. Have we forsaken the ancient order in respect to the organization and work of the church? Let us be certain. Everything is at stake.

Basic Principles Involved

Have we lost sight of the basic principle, that the local congregation, with elders, deacons, and evangelists, is the only organization authorized by Christ, the head of the church? The local congregation is the LARGEST organization in God's plan and it is the SMALLEST. There just is no other arrangement through which we may scripturally work and worship. "Every scriptural work assigned to the church by the Lord, has been. and is now being done, and still can be done in any land on earth, without any agency other than the church. Every work undertaken by the members of the church that is not assigned by the Lord to the church, must have unscriptural methods and agencies." (W. W. Otey) The fact that in so many quarters brethren are undertaking a work for the church that is not the work of the church is responsible for so many human institutions among us today. Do we really believe as we have preached through the years, that the church as designed by the Head is ALL-SUFFICIENT to do all it is commanded to do?

It is because of this basic principle (the local congregation is God's ONLY, God's LARGEST, and God's SMALLEST organization for work and worship) that so many think that these orphan homes can be made scriptural by putting them "under the oversight of a local eldership." The idea is then that they are simply the work of a local church and the elders are simply acting as elders doing their official work. The New Testament plainly teaches, and we have universally held, that THE OFFICIAL DUTY AND WORK OF ELDERS BEGINS AND ENDS WITH THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE LOCAL CONGREGATION IN WHICH THEY ARE ELDERS. While elders may go outside their congregation to preach, teach, or perform any Christian duty, they DO NOT perform any work outside of, and beyond, the limits of the local congregation AS ELDERS. They simply do this work as individual Christians. The elders of the Main Street Church in Tulsa, and the elders of all the other congregations who profess to oversee such homes and works like Turley Orphan Home, are not doing this "brotherhood work" as elders of the Main Street Church! It is not solely the work of the Main Street Church. It is a work of many churches as they attempt to do it "through" these elders. They take orphans from various churches and "oversee" them, and receive support from any and all churches. This is a brotherhood arrangement larger than the local church and her work. It is on a par with the Missionary Society, save the claim of being under a local eldership. The elders are no more than a society, a group of men who have voluntarily associated themselves together, and are performing a work no way related to the oversight of the local congregation. The fact that they are elders of the local church does not in the least give them scriptural authority to band themselves together into a board to perform a work for the whole brotherhood or any portion of it. When they thus do, they constitute an association, or group, performing a work outside of, and far beyond, the scriptural limits of their official authority to act as elders — the limit set by God Himself. It does not help the case in the least that they are elders, and that they are all in one congregation. Suppose the deacons of the Main Street Church had banded themselves together to undertake and oversee such a brotherhood work. Would Brother Tynes endorse such? I doubt it; and no doubt the protests against such would kill it. But the fact that the Main Street elders have stepped out of their scriptural bounds of work as elders seems to have given it sanctity in the eyes of Brother Tynes and others. Also, it does not change the principle simply because there is no formal organization of these elders, for the principle of organization is there and functioning. Will Brother Tynes deny this?

Two Kinds Of Organizations

As already mentioned indirectly "our" orphan homes are set up under two kinds of organizations. One kind is like that of Boles Home, Potter Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, and Childhaven. These are governed by an institutional board — Board of Directors — made up of various individuals from different places. This arrangement is no way connected with any particular local church, but purports to be the work of churches in general — a method or means by which and through which any and all churches may care for orphans. These orphans may be those that have become the responsibility of some church, or just any orphan placed in the home. The idea is to take care of orphans, any orphans, all orphans, everybody's orphans! In well over three-fourths of the cases the children are not actually orphans. This is true of all the homes. In some instances both parents are living and are abundantly able to care for the children. In some of these cases the parents or other relatives, do pay for the upkeep of the children. Yet churches are besieged to support these orphans! It simply amounts to the fact that churches are urged to support these human institutions under the guise of supporting orphans.

The second group of homes is under an organization such as Turley Home. Into this group fall Tipton Home, Sunny Glenn, Lubbock Home, and the Maude Carpenter Home. These homes are "under the oversight of a local eldership." As before stated, the trend of thinking seems to be away from the wisdom of the first, and to the acceptance of the second. Many able brethren oppose the arrangement and set-up of the first, yet they profess to believe the second group is perfectly scriptural. The difference amounts to this: The second group of homes is "under the oversight of a local eldership," so we are told. This is only a very technical difference. They all receive support from the churches, take orphans from any and everyone, and offer about the same results.

Now the thing that needs to be decided is: Do the elders of a local church have the scriptural right to undertake and oversee such a work for the brotherhood or any part thereof ? Do they have the scriptural right to solicit support from all churches to carry on this work? If one "local eldership" can undertake such work, why cannot EVERY "local eldership"? Does putting such an arrangement "under the oversight of a local eldership" make it a scriptural work? These and other basic matters need some serious study. To me there is no difference between the two groups of homes. One is as scriptural as the other and neither one is scriptural! Not any more so than the Missionary Society which was formed as a result of the same sort of reasoning.

Brother G. C. Brewer Speaks

Perhaps Brother Brewer is in the forefront as the champion of any and all these institutions that have risen among "us." However, he is very plain-spoken in his condemnation of the thinking that just putting such homes under an eldership will remove its "institutionalism." Of course, he thinks that all the homes are right and scriptural, but hear him rout such foolish thinking along this line as is done by Brother Tynes, and even the able and esteemed G. K. Wallace. In his tract, "CHILDHAVEN," in which he is supposed to review Brother John T. Lewis' discussion of CHILDHAVEN, Brother Brewer says:

"It must be noted, however, that some of these critics against the orphan homes insist that they will be taken out from the condemned practice of 'institutionalism' if only such orphan homes are governed by a board of directors composed of the elders of the church in the town where such a home is located. Their contention is that the orphan home will not then be an institution and, therefore, will not fall under the anathema of those who are opposing 'institutionalism.' Their argument leads to the conclusion that a home governed by the elders is a part of the church and, therefore, it falls under the regular duty of the overseers of the church to govern and control this portion of the church which, nevertheless. as an organization that is no part of the church, has its superintendent, its matrons, its cooks, its kitchen, its playground, its bathrooms, its sleeping quarters and everything else that would have constituted it an institution, except that it is under the elders, and is therefore the church!! And in some of the places those who equipped the church of the Lord; it is the only divine religious institution in the world. It is true that the family is an institution ordained of God, but to accomplish the work of saving the lost, to do religious work, the church is the only divine institution in the world. One who questions the all-sufficiency of the church is questioning the all-sufficiency of the Architect of the church. This New Testament teaches that God planned the church and brought it into existence in keeping with His eternal purpose. The church therefore, is not only the medium through which the knowledge of God is made known but is itself a demonstration of "the manifold wisdom of God." Sometimes it is suggested that the church is insufficient today because we have problems now that they did not have then, and that circumstances and conditions now are different from those of the first century. Those who make an argument of that kind overlook the fact that God Almighty who is the Architect of the church, who designed the church for a specific purpose and work to last "throughout all ages world without end," knew the needs of the people of the twentieth century just as well as He knew the needs of the people of the first century. God's power was (and is) just as sufficient to solve the problems of the twentieth century as it was to solve the problems through the church of the first century. Therefore, to question the sufficiency of the church to do its work today, because things are not what they were then, is to question the all-sufficiency of the God who planned the church.

Sufficient Organization

God has provided sufficient organization for the church. So far as the church universal is concerned there is no earthly ecclesiastical organization. Christ is the supreme and sufficient head of the church. In Ephesians 1:22,23, we read, "He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body?' In Hebrews 3:5,6, we learn that, "Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant . . . . but Christ, as a Son over his house." Christ Jesus, therefore, is able to direct, protect and rule as king of the kingdom, as the head of the church. The scriptures teach that the organization of each local congregation consisting of elders, deacons and other Christians is sufficient for the church to fill its mission on earth. The Philippian letter (1:1) is addressed "to all the saints .... at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." In Titus 1:5 Paul said, "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou mightest set in order the things that are wanting and appoint elders in every city." From Acts 14:23 we learn that as Paul and Barnabas returned on their first missionary journey elders were appointed in every church. In 1 Timothy 3 we have the qualifications of both elders and deacons set forth. Therefore, the Lord's church properly organized has (each congregation) its elders and deacons, elders to oversee and deacons to serve under the direction of the elders.

Now, let us turn to Ephesians 4:11-13. I want us to notice some things in these verses that may sometimes be overlooked. First of all, in verse 11 it is said, "He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers." From the connection and the things said here it is clear that these men were endowed with the Holy Spirit in a special way, for a specific work. In verse 12 we are told what the work was and something of its purpose. "For the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ." I am told that the word used here, perfecting, carries with it the idea of placing the parts in their proper order, putting parts in the whole and uniting them in such manner as to make the body complete. So it was the work of these men endowed by the Holy Spirit to perfect the saints in their work and make the body complete. Notice in verse 13, "Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." The work here mentioned, that of perfecting the saints and building up the church was to result in, and last till, we come to (attain) the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God and a full-grown man. Therefore, the church was full-grown, completely developed, so far as the frame-work and organization were concerned, when the work of these spiritually endowed men ended. To say that the church is not properly organized now and that the Lord's church was not fully equipped at that time is to argue that those men especially qualified by miraculous gifts of the Spirit still exist, for their work was to continue "till" these things were accomplished. Some people seem to have the idea that the church was established by the Lord in a very loose and careless manner so far as its organization is concerned. The idea seems to be that some general and loosely jointed principles were given by the Lord by inspired men that were to be taken and put in place and cemented together by uninspired men.

People often say, "The Lord established the church and gave it a work to do, but he did not say how to do it. Now, since he did not give the details as to how it is to be done we may use any method that we deem wise?' Well, the church is sufficient in that the frame-work through which the work is to be done is given all the organization necessary is provided. Those who ignore that principle and feel that because we are not told in detail how to do it that we are left free to use any method we see fit, even to use other organizations, are overlooking an important fact. God did give sufficient organization; He did at least, give us the tools with which to accomplish the work. Suppose some person assigns me a work out here. He does not tell me in detail how I am to do it, but he does tell me that the work must be done in this locality; and says to me, "Here are the tools you are to use in doing that work." Now, suppose I argue that because he did not tell me exactly how to do it, I may move over here in another place and use other tools in doing the job. Am I following the directions given? Certainly not. So, if we follow God's directions we must do His work within the frame work and with the tools He provides. — (To be concluded)