Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 10, 1955
NUMBER 39, PAGE 1,14b-15a

The Unconscious Metamorphosis Of A Self-Indicted Hobbyist

James W. Adams

(No. 3 of a review of Guy N. Woods' articles on benevolent organizations recently appearing in the Gospel Advocate.)

Let no one assume from our title that we regard Brother Woods as a "hobbyist." We propose to show from our brother's own writings that he indicts himself as a "hobbyist" and that he has undergone a metamorphosis of which he is blissfully unconscious. Between Brother Woods and this writer there has ever been the very best personal relationship, and it is our ardent hope that it may continue thus.

In this article, it is our purpose to evaluate the material presented from the pen of Brother Woods in our previous article "Brother Woods Past and Present." Also, we hope to cover substantially the material which was presented in Article I of the Gospel Advocate series.

Whence The Present Opposition To Benevolent Organizations?

Brother Woods raises a provocative question concerning "why?" the present opposition to benevolent organizations "among us." While we know that our brother is in error concerning the almost universal agreement of preachers with reference to the scripturalness of such in their organization until "5 years ago," the force of his question is recognized. It is acknowledged that the brotherhood is entitled to know why these benevolent organizations have been tolerated for the past thirty years with little opposition, and why they are now opposed by many.

(1) Let us note Brother Woods' contention that up until five years ago there was universal agreement among ninety nine percent of the preachers on the scripturalness of "our" benevolent organizations. This is not true. These organizations were tolerated by the preachers, but multitudes of informed men have known all along that in organization they were indefensible. The writer of this review has said from the beginning of his work as a preacher that should he be called to debate a "Digressive" preacher on the "Missionary Society" question, he would be forced to repudiate the orphan home organizations. Some of the very strongest men among "us" have from the birth of our present orphan homes strongly repudiated the organization of such under institutional boards. C. R. Nichol, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A. O. Colley, and Brother Woods himself, to mention only a few, have regarded such arrangements as being equivalent to missionary societies in organization. In 1939 — the time of Brother Woods' speech at ACC quoted in our previous article — Tipton Orphans Home, Tipton, Oklahoma, was, as far as we know, the only home in the brotherhood operating under an eldership. Brother Woods unequivocally affirmed, therefore, at that time that Tipton Home was the only scriptural home in the entire brotherhood. He said that any home established on any other basis than that of Tipton Home was similar in organization to a missionary society, and said he, "We here and now declare our protest against any other method or arrangement (than that of Tipton — JWA)." Now, Brother Woods says that until five years ago only "recognized hobby-riders, eccentrics, and cranks" opposed "our" orphan home work. He, therefore, indicts himself with being a "recognized hobbyrider" until as late as 1946. He says, "My position remains the same." (Letter to Yater Tant, Nov. 20, 1954.) If this be true, according to his own testimony, he is still a "recognized hobby-rider, eccentric, and crank opposed to every positive function of the church." However, in the Gospel Advocate series under review, he comes out strongly in defense of all of "our" benevolent work. He even attempts to prove "boards and conclaves unknown to the New Testament" scriptural. He does this by trying to find one in the New Testament undertaking to prove that Paul, Titus, and the messengers of the churches who carried funds to the poor saints in Jerusalem from the Gentile churches constituted such a board (more about this later). That Brother Woods has undergone a complete metamorphosis is obvious to any honest person who can read and understand English. Since he strongly avers that he has not changed, we styled our article, "The Unconscious Metamorphosis of A Self-Indicted Hobbyist." Apropos of the situation, is it not?

(2) Now, let us seek an answer to the question, "Why after thirty years of comparative silence is there vocal opposition to benevolent organizations such as orphan homes and homes for the aged?" Let it be observed that all problems surrounding such organizations are comparatively recent, for there is not an orphan home now in existence among the brethren which is more than thirty or thirty-five years of age. These organizations did not burst upon the church full-grown. They are creatures of evolution. They crept upon the brotherhood by degrees. It is only during the last few years that such a host of them has been spawned. Beginning with a small group of orphans at Canyon, Texas being cared for by the church in that place, whose responsibility they were, the orphan home situation has evolved to its present status. The brethren at Canyon could not bear the full responsibility of the children for whom they were attempting to care. Appeals were made for the help of sister churches. It came. Then, some of the churches began to send their orphans to the Canyon Church as well as their contributions. By invitation, according to the information we have, the Tipton, Oklahoma church assumed the responsibility of the work from the Canyon church and out of this small beginning have come our present orphan homes.

Preachers, many of them through the years, have recognized the unscriptural character of the organizations characteristic of these homes, but because of the nature of the work and because they could see little potential for harm to the church generally from orphan homes by way of corrupting her organization, they have been tolerated. However, within the last five years, many have learned that every error or unscriptural practice will ultimately bear its legitimate fruit. Like Johnson grass in a field, no sprig of error, however small, can be safely ignored. It will surely seed in the process of time and perform its corrupting and destructive work. In the last decade, the proponents of all the organizational schemes which have been born justified their brain-children by analogy with the orphan home. Contributions for the establishment and maintenance of colleges, high schools, and kindergartens from the treasuries of the churches, centralized control and oversight or the sponsoring church involving the evangelizing of whole nations and even continents, recreation centers, church hospitals, etc. etc, etc. have thus been justified. While orphan homes are not parallel in every respect to many of these, yet, certain fundamental principles involving institutional boards and centralized control and oversight are characteristic of them all. Justify one and all are justified in these respects. This is the condition that has given birth to the present "vocal" opposition to orphan homes and homes for the aged. Brethren have simply learned that even small and seemingly insignificant departures from the Divine order cannot with any degree of safety be tolerated. They certainly and surely come of age and produce their fruit of chaos. Brother Woods professes, even at this hour, to believe that it is wrong for churches to contribute from their treasuries to human institutions of learning existing for the purpose of training young men for the ministry of the Word. He considers such subversive of reason and revelation. May I ask him the question he asked his audience at ACC in 1939? By what process of logic, Brother Woods, do you profess to see grave danger in Missionary Societies, but scruple not to defend similar organizations for the purpose of caring for orphans and teaching young men to be gospel preachers? He disclaims the latter, but he does the former. This according to his own logic would make him even more inconsistent and illogical.

(3) It should be observed that those who are now opposing the orphan homes and homes for the aged as now organized are not unaware of the obligation we sustain to the children and aged persons already in these homes. The plea is not to turn these persons out on the world, but to restudy these matters and perform our obligation to them and others like unto them in a scriptural rather than an unscriptural manner.

Appeal To The Galleries

Brother Woods' appeals to emotion and prejudice which are so prominently displayed in his introductory articles are unworthy of a man of his ability. Why not appeal to reason and truth. As has been shown, the time was when he himself entertained the same views regarding benevolent organizations under institutional boards that those whom he by implication consigns to the ranks of hobbyists and cranks now entertain. Furthermore, his views concerning the support of Christian colleges from the treasury of the local church are identical with the views of those whom he thus stigmatizes while diametrically opposed to the well known position of the Gospel Advocate and its editor. Brother Woods well knows that his editor considers those who entertain such views as "Johnnie-come-lately Sommerites." Wherever one turns, he meets the question: "What has happened to Guy N. Woods?" Perhaps, our brother will tell us. We shall see.

Article number one is dosed with a touching appeal to prejudice and emotions by saying, "It is nothing less than tragic that from a single one of life's unfortunates even so much as a cup of cold water is withheld when it may be bestowed in the name of Christ." Need we remind Brother Woods that nothing is done "in the name of Christ" which is not done by his authority? The same kind of plea can be made by proponents of the missionary societies with reference to the salvation of dying souls.

Finding The Strays And Losing The Herd

It would be exceedingly unwise for a rancher to concentrate on finding his strays while losing the entire herd. This seems to be Brother Woods' manner of dealing with the issue before us. He deals principally with side issues and superficialities which, while they have bearing on our problems, in no sense constitute the real issues involved. A good example of this is found in his statement in article one, "The abuse of a practice does not carry with it a legitimate objection to its proper use." In this statement, I concur most heartily. Brother Woods may have read or heard somewhere at sometime from someone an argument to the contrary. We must confess that we never have. No representative man now opposing "our" benevolent societies has ever been guilty of making such an argument. Other instances in which Brother Woods avoids the issue to discuss trivialities will be noted as we continue.


It will suffice to say for this time that Brother Woods cannot camouflage his manifest metamorphosis by uncomplimentary allusions, implications, and sarcasms. Look for a continuation of this review under the title "Faith or Philology, Which?"