Who Are The "Box-In-The-Vestibule" Brethren?
1. There are scores of congregations in which a considerable number of faithful and well-informed Christians are conscientiously opposed to the support of institutional orphan homes, Christian colleges, etc., from the church treasury.
2. In these 'same congregations there are other members who feel it their Christian duty to support such organizations. Their conscience compels them to make some sort of contribution.
3. If either group attempts to ride rough-shod over the conscience of the other, and force its will upon all the members, confusion and division are inevitable.
In what seemed to us a sane and sensible effort to resolve the problem, and to allow brethren to continue to worship God in peace and with a united congregation, we proposed a solution: let those who are conscientiously compelled to support the institutions do it as individuals, and not force these institutions upon the congregation to be supported out of the church treasury.
The present course of the "institutional" brethren is clearly dividing churches over the land. Not even the most rabid of them will be able to ignore that fact. For it is ONLY in the churches where agitation for support of the institutions is being pressed that division is in evidence. Let the institutional brethren point out, if they can, one single church in the nation which has divided, or is threatened with division, which was NOT contributing to the institutions, or in which no agitation or pressure was present for such a contribution. We believe such does not exist. It is only, therefore in those congregations where the institutional brethren have sought to over-ride and ignore the conscience of their fellow-Christians that division has come or is threatened.
For many years able gospel preachers such as Brother G. K. Wallace and Brother Guy N. Woods have vigorously fought against church contributions to colleges. They have urged that Christians support these institutions as individuals, and not try to force such institutions on the church for support. In our recent editorial we urged that these brethren be willing to follow the same plan in the matter of the orphan homes. In fact, since they regard the homes merely as an "expedient," it is our solemn conviction that they are morally, ethically, and scripturally bound and obligated to do so rather than divide the churches by insisting on church support for their projects.
Who, Then, Are The "Box-In-The-Vestibule" Brethren?
Is it not perfectly clear that Brother G. K. Wallace and his institutionally minded fellow-laborers are rightfully, logically, and undeniably the ones who are OBLIGATED to favor some such 'arrangement? With them it is a matter simply of "expedience"; with others of us it is a matter of faith and conscience. He can give to a "box-in-the-vestibule"; others of us can not so give. He has for many years practiced the "box-in-the-vestibule" for the support of Christian colleges, or at least the general idea of it.
When we pointed this out some weeks ago, suggesting that this might be a way to ease tension in the present fight, and to enable congregations to work together without dividing, we suggested that all of us ought to go "the second mile" in showing love, tolerance, and brotherly kindness toward one another, and that, with that in mind, those of us who are conscientiously opposed to supporting the institutional homes should be willing to practice forbearance and submit to the institutional brethren's "box-in-the-vestibule" arrangement for their support of their pet projects, no matter how much we might be galled by it and how much we might dislike the idea. We have done so when they promoted the colleges through the churches — having "pep" rallies in the church buildings, speeches promoting the schools, and taking up their "individual collections" at the door, sometimes even "passing the basket" through the congregation. Those who were opposed to the support of Christian colleges (among whom this editor is not one) were under no compulsion or constraint at all to give.
The result? The colleges have grown and prospered; churches have not divided, and peace has prevailed.
We proposed some such arrangement as this as "the lesser of two evils," and insisted that such a plan would enable brethren to continue in harmony and peace. However much we might dislike and disapprove Brother Wallace's "box-in-the-vestibule" plan for contributions to colleges, still it has prevented churches' dividing over the question. If these brethren will show the same consideration in their benevolence projects, supporting them as individuals, and not compelling their fellow Christians to support them, we believe the situation generally will be greatly improved.
And, remember, every man who argues that the institutional orphan home is an "expedient" is OBLIGATED to accept, endorse, and even advocate individual contributions ("box-in-the-vestibule") rather than divide the church with his adamant insistence that those of us who are conscientiously opposed to his "expedient" support it. We cannot support any such projects from the church treasury; we cannot support those we believe to be wrong even through a "box-in-the-vestibule." But the institutionally minded brethren CAN support their projects through the treasury, OR THEY CAN SUPPORT THEM THROUGH A "BOX-IN-THE-VESTIBULE."
Now, in view of that, what is their 'Christian obligation? What does the Bible teach is their duty? It is our sincere plea that when, and if, they are willing to view the subject dispassionately and with objectivity instead of with passion and prejudice, they will recognize their God-given obligation to find some way to support their projects without violating the conscience of their brethren. Their "box-in-the-vestibule" solution of the College support has worked very well in that field. Why will they not try it in the field of benevolence?
— F. Y. T.