More Questions For Brother Guy N. Woods
Dear Brother Woods:
You say in your "Childhaven" article: "But it is charged, the orphan homes and homes for the aged are separate organizations, organizations usurping the functions of the church, additional bodies and thus in competition with the 'one body' — the church. We have long listened to this libel; we have heard it under many different circumstances, and with reference to many matters. We heard it in each of the twenty debates we have conducted with anti-Sunday school preachers — heard the Sunday school described in this fashion — and they made out just as good a case for themselves against the Sunday school as those who allege the same objection against the benevolent organizations."
You speak of the Sunday school as though it was spoken of in every epistle written to churches in the New Testament. There is not a verse in the New Testament that mentions "the Sunday school," and there was no mention of a "Sunday school" in the "Restoration movement" prior to 1845. In the Millennial Harbinger, 1847, pages 198, 199, we have a letter from A. W. Corey to Mr. Campbell. I quote some extracts from the letter: "I am laboring under a commission from the American Sunday School Union, with instructions to endeavor to establish a Sunday School in every neighborhood in the State of Illinois where there is a population. You are not ignorant, I presume, of the grand principle of that Society — to take the Bible as a text-book, and from it to teach and inculcate only what is common to all Protestant evangelical denominations, leaving what is peculiar to be taught by the denominations themselves . . . This is the ground that is cultivated by the American Sunday School Union . . . Now respected sir, the object of this note is to inquire of you whether I erred in my opinion of your liberality in regard to this matter, or, shall I still give such assurances, and thereby secure the cooperation of your friends, and the instruction of their children in our Sunday Schools?"
Mr. Campbell's reply to the above is on pages 200, 201. I quote a few extracts from his reply: In the absence of a practical and actually existing scheme of universal education, adapted to the genius of human nature in all its intellectual and moral characteristics, the Sunday School system is one of transcendent importance, having claims upon every friend of God and man in the whole community .... Our brethren, as the burned child dreads the fire, dread sectarianism. But this is, I doubt not, carried too far — especially when it prevents them from cooperating in teaching, or in sending their children to teach, or to be taught, in Sunday Schools.... My dear sir, I wish you all success in your Sunday School operations, and I do hope that our brethren will bid you God speed in this great and good cause." If Mr. Campbell were living today, he would not have to worry about his brethren in Sunday School matters. Would he, Brother Woods?
The Ensley church, where I labor, has eight class rooms, four sisters teach some of the young people in four of those rooms, four men have classes in the other four rooms, and I teach a class in the auditorium. I have been teaching and building up congregations like this for fifty-five years, and I have never written a line, nor made a speech in behalf of Sunday Schools. I have never seen any more sense in calling Bible study on Lord's days, Sunday Schools, than calling Bible study on Wednesday nights Wednesday Schools, and I don't do either. I try to impress upon parents the importance of bringing their children to the Bible study on Lord's days; but I tell the mothers if they think two hours is too long for their children to stay at church, to leave them at home during the Bible study and bring them to worship, and teach them reverence and respect for the New Testament worship.
I think, Brother Woods, it is an injustice to our young people to haul them around to "Sunday Schools, such as is conducted by our brethren," then turn them out to run the streets, play ball, or do anything else they want to do, with no thought of, nor respect for the Lord's day, or the Lord's day worship. Now Brother Woods, if you want to call me "anti-Sunday School" that will be all right; but I hope you have enough consideration for truth not to call me anti-Bible teaching and study. You say: "The principle which justifies the Sunday School and the orphan home is precisely the same, however much they differ otherwise." Therefore if you want to accuse me of being "anti-orphan home" that will be all right; but if you accuse me of not believing, and teaching that it is the imperative duty of churches to care for their needy, that is what John says will keep you out of heaven.
You asked several questions about orphan homes. I will be glad to answer some, the others are so simple they need no answers. You asked: "To whom do the orphan homes belong?" Childhaven, the home at Cullman, Alabama, the one that has caused all the discussion in Birmingham, belongs to the trustees, selected from different parts of the country, by the organization itself. The next question: "To whom are they answerable?" Childhaven is answerable to the trustees, and to no one else. Again you asked: "How much control do the homes exercise over the churches?" Childhaven does not exercise any control over the churches, neither do the churches exercise any control over Childhaven. Churches and individual Christians send their money to Childhaven, and the ones whom the trustees have selected to run the home spend the money as they see fit, and neither do the churches or individual Christians have any say as to how their money is spent. Neither do the churches have any say in hiring or firing the help they use.
Brother Woods, you say: "The homes are the servants of the churches; not their masters." Now, Brother Woods, have you ever read, in any history of the world, where the masters turned their money over to their servants to spend as they saw fit? You say: "Were the elders to designate two members to carry the basket, and two sisters to prepare the meal, these would be an organization apart from the church, and therefore, sinful, in this ridiculous concept!" I have respect for your profound wisdom, and logical acumen, Brother Woods, and would hate to insult your dignity; but I think it is the author of the above, that is "rediculous." and not the "concept." However I have gotten a new idea of organizations from the above, and I wonder if you would mind estimating the number of organizations the average congregation among us would have in carrying out the work and worship of the Lord? I think it would be an eye opener to the "anti-organizational brethren among us." And it might surprise the Lord himself, as he only thought of elders and deacons.