Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 16, 1957


John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

Every institution organized for carrying out the work and worship of the New Testament church, except the local congregation, is of human origin, cast in the same mold, and heated, or animated by the same dictatorial spirit. Of course, there are exceptions to all rules. Moses E. Lard was a defender of the missionary society, not on the ground that it was scriptural; but that it was right because of the work it was doing. His statements in defense of the society were forthright; but not imperious. In volume 2, page 134, 135 of his Quarterly, he states the facts about the apostolic age, and the early period of the "Restoration" movement. He says: "That the first Christians preached the gospel with unparalleled success without the aid of Missionary Societies is indisputable. While the fact that they never formed such societies, spoke of them, or even by implication provided for them, and that, too, in a day when the church was in its initial and formative state, must be conceded to lie with tremendous force against the assumption that they are even in any sense necessary. That these societies could have been formed then as well as they can be now, no one will doubt. Moreover, if any real necessity exists for them now, that necessity existed for them then. Why, then, were they not created? Or did this necessity exist, but did the apostles not see it? This will not do. Or if it existed, and they saw it, did they still feel that it existed in so low a degree as not to justify the creation of a Missionary Society? If so, how can we justify the creation of one now? But the same necessity existed for these societies then that exists for them now; I will not say in a higher degree than now, for this can hardly be. They had the heathen then, to whom they owed it as a duty, as much as in them lay, to preach to them the gospel; we have only the heathen now. They had their countrymen and kin; we have the same. They had the gospel for the proclamation of which they were under obligation to provide; we have no less. Yet they created no Missionary Societies; we do. There is a difference; whether against them and for us, or against us and for them, we shall not venture to decide.

"Again: in the outset of the Reformation, for which we plead, and even long afterward, our preachers certainly labored with eminent success. Indeed, in proportion to the men then in the field, our success has never exceeded, of any period in our history, the success of those days, if it has even equaled it. Yet the men of those days formed no Missionary Societies; they neither worked for them nor worked under them."

Moses E. Lard was my idea of a scholarly, Christian gentleman. He simply stated how the gospel was carried to the world in the apostolic age, and also during the early part of the Restoration movement, without a Missionary Society, and left it with the readers to decide whether those opposing the societies, or those defending them were right. He did not try to misrepresent, and slander those who were opposing the societies, by charging them of not believing in having the gospel preached.

What Moses E. Lard said about the success of preaching the gospel during the apostolic age, and also during the early years of the Restoration movement, without "Missionary Societies", can be said with emphasis about the church caring for its indigent members during the apostolic age and during the first hundred years of the Restoration movement, without institutional orphan homes.

In Acts 6:1-4, we read: "Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, it is not fit that we should forsake the word of God, and serve tables. Look ye out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will continue steadfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word."

This was the first time that certain men, in the apostolic church, were appointed to look after the needy in the church. They of course were what we call deacons, because they were to be servants of the church. These men had to be "of good report, full of the Spirit and wisdom" and they had to be "selected from among you", that is men from the Jerusalem church. Those seven men were not selected to appoint trustees from all over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria to establish a home for the widows in Nazareth and put the widows where the church would where did they find them, who are running "Childhaven" today ?

In Acts 11:27-30, we read: "Now in these days there came down prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great famine over all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius. And 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." Again, it is not a question about how the elders administered the fund; Inn to whom did the disciples send the relief? "The disciples" all over the State of Alabama send thousands of dollars every year to Cullman, Alabama, to care for the orphans there; but to whom do they send it? There are two churches, or congregations there, and I suppose both of them have elders; but I have never read where a dime was ever sent to the elders there to care for the needy. How come those orphans in Cullman anyhow? Did the church there have more orphans than they could care for, and are calling on other churches to help them?

I read the bulletins of many of the congregations in Birmingham; but I don't know of a single congregation in Birmingham that has "Childhaven" in its budget; but there are lots of disciples in Birmingham who send money to Cullman to help care for the orphans, and it is not a question as to whether they send their money through the mail, or whether they select men from the congregations to carry it, as they did in New Testament times when they had no mail; but to whom do they send it ? Of course, you would say they send it to "Childhaven", the orphan home. That is the issue, did you ever read in the New Testament where either an individual, or the church, ever sent a dime to an orphan home? (More to follow.)

not be bothered with them, and accuse every church that did not contribute to the home of not believing in caring for widows. I know they did not have an old ladies home in Nazareth when Christ was crucified, because on the cross He committed the care of his mother to John, the disciple he loved. "And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home." (John 19:25-27.)

Therefore the question is not how the widows in the church at Jerusalem were cared for; but who did it. The apostles said: "Look ye out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men." Who looked the men out, and