Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 31, 1958

The Disputer And Current Issues

Brooks C. Webb, Steele, Missouri

The June 19, 1958 issue of the Gospel Advocate carried an article entitled "The Cripple at the Door", written by one called The Disputer, and intended to be a defense of present benevolent organizations.

A disputer is one who engages in controversial discussion; argues pro and con, and opposes by argument. This person who is the author of the article under consideration is a self named controversalist. But all who are familiar with the current problems before the church know with whom this person is contending. He is contending with a straw man which was built by himself and some who stand with him. He has not touched top, side nor bottom of that which he is supposed to be treating. If he is going to appoint himself as a defender of the modern day human institutions, let him come up to the lick log and deal with the issues fairly. Especially is this expected since he wishes to be anonymous. Let us notice some things in the article.

First, our friend says, "Yes, the church is God's benevolent society." Behold, a revealing statement! A statement that has been argued by those opposing benevolent societies, which do the work of the church, from the very beginning of the present controversy. But get it please, The Disputer says that the "church is God's benevolent society". And this statement appeared is the Gospel Advocate. One might ask, "What is unusual about that?" Just this, the famed editor of Old Reliable (?) is pledged to print nothing with which he does not agree, and everything which appears in that publication is the sentiment of the editor. Yet the statement has appeared in the Gospel Advocate, "the church is its own missionary society, but not its own benevolent society." (Dec. 26, 1957.) Now we would like to have this matter cleared up by the Disputer, and more especially by the confused editor. Brother Goodpasture claims to print nothing with which he does not agree, but these statements are as far apart as the poles. The Disputer is correct in saying, "the church is God's benevolent society". But will the editor tell us just what is the truth on this matter seeing that he has printed contradictory statements, yet claims to print only the truth?

The Disputer further in paragraph one, says of the church, "Her mission in the world by Divine Appointment, is to go about doing good — to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to provide shelter for the homeless." This is indeed a part of the work of the church, but he who is familiar with the book of Acts knows that this is only a secondary work of the church. The primary duty of the church is transcendently higher than providing for the physical needs of mankind.

Paragraph two says, "No, the orphan home is not a benevolent society — it is only an object of benevolence." This merely reflects the fact that The Disputer is ignorant of the very purposes of the corporations. Please read Art. II., the Charter for Boles Home, "The purposes of this corporation are to provide a home for destitute and dependent children, and to secure possession and control of such other like children from time to time as said corporation may deem proper, for the purpose of providing them with a home and sustenance." Does that sound as if it is merely the "object of benevolence," or does it say in fact that it exists for the purpose of PROVIDING benevolence?

The next statement is simply an effort to confuse the issue and play upon the sympathy of honest folk. `Who has little enough gumption," says The Disputer, `to call a group of unfortunate children — some of them infants, some of them lame, all of them dependent — a benevolent society?" Now Brother Disputer, you are not going to get away with this effort to muddy the waters. Surely our controversialist is familiar enough with the issues to know that it is not the children which make up the BENEVOLENT SOCIETY, just as the lost souls who hear the gospel do not make up the MISSIONARY SOCIETY. It is that organization between the church and the needy. He asks, "How could we expect them (the children-BCW) to function as a benevolent society?" We don't, Brother Disputer. It is that board of Directors, that human organization, that function as a benevolent society. We might as well ask concerning the millions of lost souls, "How could we expect them to function as a Missionary Society?" Let us keep the rubbish cleared away, and deal with the issue fairly. We are contending for the care and support of the needy, but we are opposing the human organizations which have usurped the work of the church.

"Like the cripple at the door of the temple", says the Disputer, "the orphan home is laid at the door of the church — God's great benevolent society. Let the church arise and fulfill her mission, else be placed on the left side when the king comes to make separation." We will agree that in some cases the needy are placed upon the mercy of the church, but this is a far cry from saying that the wealthy men who are many times on the boards of directors — claiming to be the parents of the children, are to be "objects of benevolence". The GA has consigned to hell those who do not contribute to the societies among us. But, those who, to the very best of their ability, care for the needy, yet refuse to contribute to the human machines, will receive the smiles of God rather than being placed upon the left side.