Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 16, 1954

Benevolent Work

- Pryde E. Hinton, Dora, Alabama

I think that we are all agreed that all work or worship is either individual or congregational. Two or three make a congregation, that is, may compose a whole church. Also, I think we will all agree that the church and the home are both divine institutions, and the only God-ordained organizations, or institutions, in this world. Also, I think we will all agree that a church, or an individual, may buy, or hire, the services of individuals or institutions which are no part of the church — even non-Christians. Among the latter are radio companies, publishing houses, plumbing companies, hospitals, etc.

But let us stop comparing the home with orphan homes, publishing companies, etc. The home is divine, and is, therefore, not comparable to any such institution.

Let us also stop classing orphan homes, etc., with business institutions, whose services the church and individuals sometimes purchase. Nobody ever heard of any Christian calling Brother Jones' hardware store "our store." Nor does Brother Jones ask for fifth Sunday contributions for his store. One can no more compare such a business with orphan homes, homes for the aged, and like institutions, than he can truly compare, or select, corn seed by potato standards.

Brother Guy Woods strains James 1:27 to the point of distortion just to prove that it means a congregational activity, as well as individual. I did not see his point; I thought everybody believed that our benevolent work is either individual or congregational. The point to be proved is that trustees, president, secretary, treasurer, and superintendent may scripturally be selected (by someone) from different congregations to operate a completely independent, outside, organization, to which the churches and individuals must contribute, or be labeled at least indifferent to the cries of the poor and fatherless.

Acts 11 gives examples of congregational activity in both missionary and benevolent work. I still think that an organization exactly like orphan home organizations to do missionary work is just as acceptable to God as the present orphan homes.

I wish we all would stop calling each other names, and stop casting ugly insinuations at each other. Can't we discuss a difference without losing both our manners and our "fervent love" among ourselves? Also, I wish we all would stop holding up consistency as a virtue and mark of strength, and stop accusing each other of teaching things today that we did not teach ten years ago, and conversely. What of it? Don't the brethren continue to grow as directed in 2 Peter 3:18, as long they live? Has any reached the point at which 1 Corinthians 8:2 is not applicable to him? Then shall we not change our positions as soon as we learn we have been wrong? A popular saying is, "Consistency, thou art a jewel"; but it is quite right, sometimes, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."