Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 3, 1954
NUMBER 5, PAGE 1,9b-11

Facing The Facts About Boles Home

Roy E. Cogdill

Brother Gayle Oler, Superintendent of Boles Orphan Home, is in a black mood these days, and has been for several months. Someone has really aroused his ire and stirred up his anger. He is pouring forth a stream of vituperation upon all of us in general who disagree with him about how dependent children should be cared for.

Brother Oler should know that as "loquacious" as he is, he does not "know it all," and as "vociferous" as he is, even he cannot calm the storm or drown out the opposition to his unscriptural practices, no matter how great the sluice of vituperative innuendo in the Boles Home News. His sneering references to his brethren as "lantern-jawed libel" and "liberal-lipped gossip" spreaders reveal a spirit that is hardly the kind we would recommend as the proper guidance and influence for tender, helpless children. As a matter of fact, Brother Oler himself comes as near to filling the description he gives his brethren as anything we've seen.

The same sickness troubles Brother Oler that is bothering so many others of our "institutional minded" brethren. He has an "idol" and he will go to any means or stoop to any kind of vile personal abuse to blunt the force of opposition to it. He cannot answer the scriptural arguments made against his "idol," and so he seeks by strong language, insinuations, and blustering abusive spirit to avert the force of truth. He and his cohorts have not been above misrepresentation and slander against personal character in an effort to discredit those who oppose the "idol." Anyone who has read or who will read what he has written over the course of the last several months can and does know what a long list of examples of such has come from him.

Brother Oler has gone to any lengths in his attempt of justify his "idol," excepting defending it by the scriptures in public discussion. Some months ago when Brother Charles A. Holt was writing on the question, he openly challenged Brother Oler for a debate on whether or not it is scriptural for churches to support Boles Home. Brother Oler ran for cover and took refuge in his Boles Home News, perverting its use, and hasn't come out of hiding yet. He continues his "sniping" however from behind such refuge because he knows that open and free discussion which will bring out the truth cannot be engaged in there. This is plain cowardice; it indicates that Brother Oler recognizes he cannot defend his "idol" by the Word of God. He would not run for cover if a Baptist preacher attacked his position on baptism or apostasy; but he scuttles for protection on the "orphan home" issue and acts like a full-fledged sectarian in doing so.

This writer has nothing personally against Brother Oler in spite of his pointed personal attacks on me. I taught him the truth. I baptized him into Christ out of the Baptist Church. I made a financial contribution personally toward paying for his first term in a college where the Bible was taught. I gave him encouragement and help toward getting started preaching. I have been interested in him all along through the years, and would help him now if I could. I am disappointed in him, that is all.

Brother Oler has not only refused to meet the issue fairly and squarely, but he offers some ridiculous answers to some questions, and leaves a whole lot of inferences in what he writes that are downright deceitful. Let us examine some of his "infamous" misrepresentations of the issue and the work of Holes Home:

His Questions 1. His question: "Is it scriptural to 'visit the fatherless and widows'?"

His answer: "Yes, for this is called 'pure and undefiled religion' in James 1:27."

Comment: Brother Oler is going to have to find himself another passage to prove that the church is authorized to contribute to Orphan Homes. This passage says nothing about the work or mission of the church, but rather is 'talking about the individual Christian. He has wrested it from its context completely and misapplied it. He should know better. Take a look at the passage:

"If any MAN among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not HIS tongue, but deceiveth HIS OWN heart, this man's religion is vain." (Verse 26) Brother Oler, is this talking about the individual or the church? Would a loose tongue in the congregation invalidate all of its religion?

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep HIMSELF unspotted from the world." (Verse 27) It should be obvious to all that the passage is dealing only with the individual Christian, and does not apply to the work or mission of the church as such at all.

2. His question: "Who is to do this work?"

His answer: "New Testament Christians, churches of Christ, whoever professes 'pure religion and undefiled'.'

Comment: Brother Oler, where is the passage that authorizes the church in its work to "visit the fatherless"? You have asked for the specific authority for how to do it, You should find first the passage that authorizes it to be done. That would be a good place for you to begin. When you find the passage that authorizes the church to do this work, you will find some things taught about how to do it 3. His question: "Is 'to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction' a church work and responsibility?"

His answer: "Yes, for in Jerusalem the widows received a 'daily ministration' of the church, Acts 6:1."

Comment: But, Brother Oler, this was in the day when none of the disciples said "that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." (Acts 4:32) The same passage goes on to add, "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." If this distribution of goods is your authority for the church maintaining Boles Home, are you willing to take the example all the way through as to the common possession of all things, and the selling of houses and lands, and putting it into the church treasury? Or do you just take the part of the verse you want, like the sectarians do?

This passage does not authorize what you are doing. Neither does it authorize what you say you are doing. Your present position is that Boles Home is an institution "outside of the church," through which the church may care for its orphans. What was done at Jerusalem was very definitely "inside the church," and would be all the example anybody ought to need for a congregation caring for its own needy through the sacrifice and service of its own members. You have selected a very unfortunate example of the church doing its benevolence for your position. This example shows you HOW to do benevolence very clearly; and that is within the congregation itself — even if the members must sacrifice their possessions to meet the need. Surely you can see that!

4. His question: "Is this work done with congregational support, 'out of the church treasury'?"

His answer: "It was so done in Jerusalem." (Acts 4:34-35 )

Comment: As we have suggested above the example proves too much for Brother Oler. This was an instance of one congregation taking care of its own needy through its own treasury, by its own deacons, and is NOT an example of what Brother Oler is trying to defend. Boles Home is an incorporation operating under a board of directors "outside of the church" yet supported by the church. What you need to find, Brother Oler, is a record of where Barnabas or someone else established a separate organization from the church (perhaps called "The Barnabas Home For Widows and Orphans"), selected a board of directors for it from various congregations, hired a superintendent, took into it all the needy in Jerusalem he could find, both widows and orphans, and began to solicit money from any source he could get it, including the church. Then you would have something similar to Boles Home.

5. His question: "Did the churches of the New Testament just take care of the poor in their own communities, and did their responsibility reach no further than their own communities?"

His answer: "No, for at Antioch in Syria, 'the disciples every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judea; Which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:29."

Comment: You need to look at this again, Brother Oler. The "churches of God in Judea" (1 Thess. 2:14) were suffering because of a famine. This emergency created a need among their own members which these churches could not meet. The brethren at Antioch sent them relief. To whom did they send it? To the elders. Where? Among the brethren in Judea. Wherever a congregation in Judea had such need, the relief from Antioch was sent and put into the hands of the elders of that congregation for distribution among its members. Here is your example, Brother Oler, of how the work of benevolence should be done — and how you are NOT doing it at Boles Home.

When a church like the one at Antioch sends relief today to Boles Home, is it placed in the hands of "the elders"? Do the elders supervise its distribution? You know they do not. Elders have nothing to do with the relief that is sent to Boles Home. Boles Home does not operate under elders. The relief sent to it is not received by elders in any sense. That relief is not distributed under the supervision of elders. Boles Home is not a church. It is an institution separate and apart from the church. But your example is the example of a church sending to a church — not some outside institution — delivering its relief by its members into the hands of 'the elders of that church for distribution by them among the needy members. You, Brother Oler, do not respect that example. It is not an example of what you are doing. You are not willing to follow it at Boles Home.

6. His question: "Did they send this support directly to certain individuals whom they knew to be in need personally?"

His answer: "No, Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2."

Comment: They sent this support to the elders of the churches in Judea to be distributed by them among the needy members there. (Acts 11:29) In 1 Corinthians 16:1,2 the contribution was sent to Jerusalem for the poor saints in Jerusalem. What you need to find, Brother Oler, is an organization "outside of the church" with a board of directors, a superintendent to receive the contributions from all the churches, and a program of caring for all the needy both in the churches and outside them. And while you are hunting remember that all these contributions were necessitated and occasioned by an emergency which these people had not created by scouring the earth for needy and dependent people, and which they refused to relinquish to any other's care once they had gotten hold of them.

7. His question: "What is the scriptural place for the people to live in while the church ministers to them?"

His answer: "The Bible is totally silent on this matter. There is no mention of any home, inn, boarding house, public or private, as the divinely appointed place for child or widow care. God makes absolutely no regulations as to the place the needy widows and children must live, whether in their own homes, relatives' homes, church members' homes, the inn, hospital, or any other place."

Comment: This is a profound utterance. What needs to be remembered is that God does "divinely appoint" that each congregation under its own elders shall minister unto its own members as they see best, and that when the burden of any one congregation becomes more than it can bear, other churches can and should contribute to it to enable it to meet its need. The distribution of the relief, the determination of where the needy shall live while being cared for, and many other items of like nature were left unnoticed by the Lord. In no instance was an "outside" or "inside" institution created other than the church, operated by a board of directors, under a superintendent. That is what Boles Home is. Whether "inside" the church or "outside" the church, it is an unauthorized organization trying to do what God said for the congregation to do. It is absolutely unscriptural as it is, and Brother Oler can see that it is if he will come down off his "super" perch long enough to get the dollar sign out of his eyes. The simple fact is that brethren have never been able to determine just what kind of an institution Boles Home is, or how to run it. Brother Oler has had an extremely hard time trying to decide how to justify it. I have a letter from him of only a few years back in which he says that Boles Home is under the eldership at Terrell, Texas. Recently he has said that it is just like any other private home; and, more recently, he has put it on the basis of an individually organized and operated institution like a hospital or a hotel. Anybody ought to know that it is not under an eldership — and neither could it be justified by the word of God if it were. Too many things done there and connected with it cannot possibly be the work of the church. Boles Home operates under a Board of Directors, and under its original charter the elders at Terrell had no control or right at all except to select new board members at the expiration of the regular term of service. Moreover, no man can rightfully be a member of the Board of Boles Home unless he believes that "the local church is the only medium through which the work and worship" of the Lord's church can be carried on. That is an enigma. A man cannot be a member of the Board of Boles Home according to its own charter unless he believes it is unscriptural for the church of the Lord to work through Boles Home! Can you imagine that? That is what brethren get into when they try to improve on God's ways of doing things. How utterly ridiculous and absurd!

Brother Oler implies that Boles Home is a refuge for "fatherless children — of tender and adoptable age — (who) are feeble-minded, or blind, or hopelessly deformed or handicapped." He says that people looking for children to adopt will not have children of this kind. If he had been honest with his readers, he would have said that neither will Boles Home take children like that. Our "Orphan Homes" have always screened their children. They do not take the blind, or feeble-minded children. Neither will they accept those who are hopelessly crippled or deformed. It was rank dishonesty for Gayle Oler to leave any impression and inference that they would take such children.

It is also manifestly dishonest and deceitful to leave the impression that churches are "buying service" at Boles Home like they do when they send a sick member to a hospital or pay a preacher's room rent in a hotel. Brother Oler knows better than this. He knows that dozens of churches contribute money regularly to Boles Home, many of whom have never sent any children there, have no children there, and have no obligation of any sort for any children there. It is not a matter of paying for service with these churches; they are making outright contributions, gratuitously, and such as no church ever made to any hospital, hotel, or other institution of service. Brother Oler does not give the brethren credit for much intelligence when he tried to deceive them by such sophistry as confusing contributions made out rightly with services bought and paid for.

Brother Oler impugns the motives of good Christian people who would like to adopt children into their homes, and says they are selfish. They are not interested in helping the children, he says, but are simply interested in satisfying their own "purely human desire to have children." He has no right to question and condemn the motives of others any more than they have the right to think that the only interest Gayle Oler has at Boles Home is the job and the salary he gets. Accuse him of no interest only in money and selfish ambitions for his job, and he would be highly insulted. He should remember that "with what judgment you judge, ye shall be judged."

We are willing to overlook all the personal jabs and ugly and unchristian attitudes Brother Oler shows, but we do wish he would deal forthrightly with the issue from a Bible standpoint, and quit his evasions and flounderings around. He should leave off his effort of trying to fool somebody into thinking he is doing something he is not doing.

Brother Oler suggests that "we will all appreciate more highly our critical `writin' brethren and their satellites when they open up their own homes to worthy families of children with proper consideration for the family ties and relatives, and a welcome to their mother to be with her children." From this are we to conclude that Boles Home is not only taking in children but their mothers as well? That is the implication — that Boles Orphan Home has now become Boles Widows Home as well.

If that is the case, Brother Oler, you had better read 1 Timothy 5 again, and be sure you are not asking any church to help support a widow who is not a "widow indeed." Do not take any of the "grass" variety to be supported by the churches. As a matter of fact, Brother Oler does NOT take the mothers into his institution either.

Brother Oler labels the opposition to his idol as "infamous" and says it will be "destroyed because it is of the devil," but he is anxious to hasten the day and help the Lord destroy it, so he "blatherskites and defames like this

"Never did a work of sterling character or integrity present itself for the glory of God but had to run the gamut of all the foul opposition that ignorance, jealousy, narrowness and covetousness could muster. And such opposition is characteristic of the lantern-jawed libel of liberal-lipped gossips of our day."

That, brethren, is a classic from Boles Home News, and represents the sweet spirit of the Superintendent of that "work of character and integrity" which has "presented itself for the glory of God." He cannot call us what he would like to without swearing, so he just comes as close to it as he can. That within itself is evidence that Brother Oler knows that he cannot defend his idol by the word of God .... even with all of his "writin'." If he had any Bible to justify what he is doing, it would not be necessary for him to stoop to "gutter-sniping" in his efforts at defense. We are of the opinion that not many who love and respect the word of God will be convinced by such tactics. Such ugliness has characterized Brother Oler in many articles of recent date, and brethren write me that his preaching is full of "pure propaganda," and that he seems "greatly angered and disturbed."

I pray that his conscience will smite him until he turns from his unscriptural course to once again stand upon the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and then he can stay in a good humor, and devote his ability to the "ministry of the word instead of waiting tables."