Brother Wallace Does Not Know
Brother Glenn Wallace had an article in the Firm Foundation, Dec. 24, 1957, entitled: "By This Shall All Men Know." This is taken from John 13:35: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another." If there is any connection between what he said and the text he uses in his title, I missed it.
Brother Wallace says a good many things with which all his brethren, as far as I know, will agree. For example, "the church is obligated to care for orphans." He quotes from Brethren G. H. P. Showalter; Reuel Lemmons; R. L. Whiteside; Guy N. Woods and G. K. Wallace, to show that these men believed that the local church is the only society authorized by the New Testament, to do the work of the church. I find nothing in any of the quotations with which I dissent. I do not believe that Brother Wallace will find one among those he stigmatizes "modern Sommerites" who will not accept verbatim the quotations he submits. But if Brother Wallace is seeking to give the impression that all these men still hold to the position set forth in their quotations, he is lacking either in information or integrity. Brother Guy. N. Woods will not thank him, I allow, for the use of his name and quotation in this catalogue of great men. I have heard Brother Woods in two debates in the last year; one at Paragould and one at Birmingham. In both he vehemently denied that he had in mind such homes as Boles and Childhaven when he made these statements. In Indianapolis, He said he was talking about the organizations of the Christian church and such like. Of course he never did tell who it is in the Christian Church who "effect to see grave danger in the Missionary Society," but anyhow that is what he said.
Proves It By Tradition
Brother Glenn joins the "It is right because we do it" chorus and appeals to what "has been expressed by most of our brethren for years." He says we "would narrow this question down to the ONE question of 'cooperation' if we would follow the plan that has long been followed and advocated by most brethren."
While Glenn was quoting from what his Brother G. K. said in the May 24th, 1951 Gospel Guardian, he should have read the first paragraph in that article and he would have seen what his brother thinks of those who try to prove things by what the "brethren" have said. Brother G. K. said: "A great deal is being written these days about orphan homes and how they should operate. The appeal has been largely to tradition. Catholic priests say that tradition is equal in authority with the word of God. Many of my brethren today are much like the Catholic priests. The priest tries to prove his point by tradition without reference to the word of God. The appeal made by many preachers today is to Larimore, Lipscomb, Harding and the pioneers. The Catholics appeal to the church fathers and these preachers appeal to the pioneers." I don't think some of the men quoted by Brother Glenn are in the class with Lipscomb and Harding, but they are just as authoritative as far as divine truth is concerned.
When Glenn is trying to convert a Methodist, and the Methodist tells him that his brethren have practiced sprinkling for more than two hundred years, I wonder what Glenn says in reply. No, I don't wonder either, unless he is a lot worse off than I have any reason to think he is. He tells him that matters involving the salvation of our eternal souls cannot be settled by what his brethren have done for two-hundred years. Then he proceeds to show by the Bible that immersion alone meets the scriptural requirement in baptism.
Now if Glenn can do just that well in showing that the operation of orphan homes like Tipton and Sunny Glenn, which he defends in his article, are scriptural, I for one will gladly join hands with him and all who are supporting these homes. I might have some reservation or doubts as to whether this is the best way to care for homeless children, but I will certainly cease opposing such homes. Brother Wallace says this is a "way that has proved to be both possible and scriptural." Well, I'll go along with him on the "possible" but I have not been persuaded that it is "scriptural."
I understand that to be scriptural a thing must be taught or authorized in the scriptures. I object to such homes as Sunny Glenn and Tipton on two counts: (1) I cannot find any Bible authority for the elders of one church becoming the overseers of the benevolent work of hundreds of other churches. I agree with the sentiment expressed by Brother Glenn Wallace when he was questioning the scripturalness of Herald of Truth. In the Gospel Guardian (December 17, 1953), Brother Wallace wrote: "There is within the mind of many today a grave doubt as to the scripturalness and effectiveness of any program of work that reaches such proportions as to become a 'world-wide brotherhood activity' and wholly beyond either the support or the supervision of any one congregation." Then he continues by quoting Brother Earl West. "Earl West, one of the most brilliant students of the restoration movement today, says: `So a local congregation obligates itself to spend a half million dollars in one year for a national radio broadcast or a benevolent institution (emp. mine. L. B.). Is anyone so naive as to suppose that this is the work of a local church? A local congregation has obligated itself to become the agency through which the church universal can act." Then he asks, "Does God intend the church universal to act in any kind of combination?" I agree with Brother Wallace and Brother West that one eldership cannot receive the money of a thousand other churches and spend it in preaching the gospel. But what principle is violated in the operation of Herald of Truth that is not violated when one eldership receives money from many churches to care for the needy of many churches. Brother Wallace, as you said to Brother Logan Buchanan in 1953, "I am sincere." Answer this question for me. Believe it or not, I too am trying to please the Lord.
My second objection to such homes is that the operation of such homes by the elders of the church puts the church and its elders in business. Secular business, that is; business for profit. Brethren who support these homes justify this because they are caring for orphans with the profit from this business. But ponder this thought for a moment: Does the fact that there is an orphanage on the plot of ground which is being farmed under the oversight of the elders make it scriptural for the church to run a farm? Suppose you take the orphanage off the plot of ground. Does that change the relationship of the elders to the operation of that farm? The report from Sunny Glenn last year showed, I believe, that they made $6,000.00 dollars on cotton, or that they harvested that much. Now suppose we take the orphanage off the plot at Sunny Glenn and let the elders still run the farm and send that money to some orphans elsewhere. What is wrong with that? If they can run a farm to raise money for benevolence, why can they not run a farm or a bank of a dry-goods store or a blacksmith shop to raise money for preaching the gospel? I am sincere. I would like to be right. Tell me. Don't tear into your straw man again. No one questions the "right of one congregation to make a gift of money to another congregation." I have always accepted what Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-26; II Cor. 8 & 9; I Cor. 16:1-4 say about this matter. I believe that these passages teach that many congregations sent money to other congregations. But they sent it to the congregations who had more needy than they could care for, Brother Wallace. They did not send their money and their needy to Jerusalem or to the other churches in Judea. This is what you need to find. And calling some of us "Sommerites" is a far cry from the stature of the man I have always thought you to be. I am not a Sommerite any more than I am a Campbellite. I am trying to be a Christian only, and I sincerely believe that I am. If I am wrong in opposing these homes I will make an apology as public as I can when I am shown that I am wrong, but epithets and name calling will not convince me.