Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 31, 1958
NUMBER 13, PAGE 8-9a

God's Love And Our Benevolence

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

It is amusing — as well as amazing — to watch the brethren, who are promoting human organizations to do the work of the church, as they endeavor to create prejudice against those who oppose such human promotions. They will lambast and ridicule anyone who would dare say the church is not obligated to care for all the needy of the world. They will play on the emotions of the audience or the reader by declaring how heartless and cruel men are who would take such positions. And yet they cannot agree among themselves as to the extent of the obligation of the church, when they are put on the spot about it, and many of them may be forced to back up and disagree with himself.

We have some examples of this in THE SPIRITUAL SWORD of March, 1958. This is the paper started by Brethren Thomas B. Warren and Roy Deaver in an effort to destroy the opposition to human organizations and sponsoring church arrangements to accomplish the mission of the church. In the third issue of the paper, which bears the above date, Bro. Warren writes a report of the "DEAVER-PORTER DEBATE" that was conducted a few months ago at Dumas, Texas. In giving arguments that Bro. Deaver made, involving the "constituent element" and "total situation" type of procedure, Bro. Warren lists some of the "elements" that Deaver presented. Element No. 4, as listed by Warren, is as follows:

"Recognition that God's love extends to all men. Deaver pointed out that some oppose the homes because some of the children there are not Christians. He showed this is a ridiculous doctrine, contrary to Christianity: Gal 6:10; Matt. 5:43-48. Deaver emphasized that God's love extends to all men."

The statement from Matthew 5 contains the commandment to the disciples to "love your enemies" and "do good to them that hate you" for the Lord "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.' This was what Bro Deaver called God's universal law of love. We are bound, according to his argument, to render benevolence to every one whom God loves — to every one upon whom the sun shines and the rain falls. Since the sun shines on evil men as well as good men and the rain falls on the unjust as well as the just, then we cannot draw any lines on our work of benevolence. Our benevolence, according to Warren and Deaver, must be as broad as God's love. Therefore, we cannot limit our benevolence to our own brethren but must extend it to all. Since the sun shines and the rain falls on the board, the personnel and the inmates of Buckner Home operated by the Baptists in Dallas. Texas, then our benevolence must be extended to them also, and churches of Christ are thus obligated to support Baptist Benevolent Institutions. Any other position, according to Warren and Deaver, would be "a ridiculous doctrine, contrary to Christianity." for remember that they are emphasizing the fact "that God's love extends to all men.'

Yet in the same issue of THE SPIRITUAL SWORD Bro. Bill L. Rogers, one of the staff writers, is in direct conflict with Warren and Deaver. He is making an effort to justify their feeble efforts to deal with the Buckner Home problem. It is a problem that has given them no little trouble, since I introduced it in the debate with Bro. Woods in Paragould, Arkansas. They would like to get it out of their way, but it keeps coming up to haunt them. The following is the way Bill disposes of the case:

"Does the anti-element believe that it is right for Christians to contribute to an institution, EXACTLY PARALLEL in organization except started as a benevolent work by a group of Baptists? According to the position given, Christian individuals may scripturally organize such homes and Christians may scripturally support such. Can Christians support one JUST EXACTLY like the one he outlines which is a benevolent work of individual Baptists? If no, then we reject Buckner on the same grounds that he rejects this home! If yes, then the antis are in the peculiar position of affirming that we may extend fellowship in religious works to individual sectarians, but wrong for churches to extend such fellowship! I repudiate BOTH. But this does not militate against the position that individual Christians and churches may contribute to those homes which are a benevolent effort (result of labor expended) of other Christians and faithful churches of Christ."

Thus Bill declares he is against "extending fellowship in religious work to individual sectarians" by either individual Christians or churches of Christ. He "repudiates both." And the only kind of benevolent work that either Christians or churches may contribute to are those homes established by "other Christians and faithful churches of Christ." Now, just what is Bill doing? He is limiting God's universal law of love, as introduced by Warren and Deaver. Brethren Warren and Deaver should get Bill straightened out on this — they ought to let him know that God sends rain on the just and the unjust and that our benevolence must extend as far as God's love. It would be a fine thing to have a debate on this between Bill Rogers and Tom Warren. They are as far apart as the poles — Warren claiming that we must not limit our benevolence any more than God has limited his love, but Bill claiming that we can perform benevolence only to homes established by Christians and "faithful churches of Christ." This would be an interesting debate.

Another interesting thing is the conflict between Bro. Rogers and Bro. Deaver about the "organization" that renders care for the orphans. Deaver, in the same issue of the paper in which Bill's article is carried, claims there is no "organization" that stands between the church and the home and provides the home for the needy. He calls it a "non-existent evil." And in our debate in Dumas, as reported by Warren in the same paper, Deaver claimed that this "organization" was "simply a figment of Porter's imagination." He admitted that Buckner has such an organization but claimed that Boles does not. Yet Bill says that the two are "exactly parallel in organization" except that Buckner was "started as a benevolent work of a group of Baptists" and Boles and others of "our homes" are a "benevolent effort of other Christians and faithful churches of Christ.' He further claims that such homes started by the Baptists are "just exactly like" the ones that are operated among us. So another debate might well be staged between Roy Deaver and Bill L. Rogers.

It is amazing to see so many of these conflicts printed in the same issue of THE SPIRITUAL SWORD. But there is even more than this. Is this very same paper Bro. H. A. Dobbs throws himself into the "conflict." Note the following statement from him:

"Some present day law-makers tell us that the orphaned children of a Christian couple may be provided for by the church even though the children are not old enough to be members of the church. However, these law-makers go on to decree that orphaned children of a non-Christian couple are not benevolent wards of the church even though the children themselves have not reached the age of accountability. Those who decree this unrighteous decree either overlook or do not care that these children in their immaturity and innocence are acceptable to God and should they die would be received into Paradise. They are acceptable to God but not to God's church! If these children should die before becoming accountable they would rest in the bosom of Father Abraham but while they live they may not rest at Boles Orphan Home! Both classes of children are pure, sinless, and hungry. The church may feed one class but not the other."

Thus you see how he throws himself into conflict with Bill. Bill claims the church is obligated to render care for only the children that are in the homes that are established "by faithful churches of Christ." But Dobbs declares the children of the "non-Christian couple", such as are found among the denominations, are also "benevolent wards of the church" because they have not reached the age of accountability. He believes the church is required to care for all children, who, if they should die in their immaturity and innocence, would be "acceptable to God" and would be "received into Paradise." Is it not true that the children in Buckner Home — orphaned children of non-Christian couples — who "have not reached the age of accountability" — are acceptable to God? If they should die in their "immaturity and innocence" would they not "be received into paradise"? Is it not true that they would, if they should die, "rest in the bosom of Father Abraham"? But while they live will they help them to "rest at Buckner Orphan Home"? Is it true that they are "acceptable to God but not to God's church"? Is it not true that they are "pure, sinless and hungry" as well as those that rest in Boles Home? Can the church "feed one class but not the other"? According to the argument made by Dobbs, all of this must follow, but Bill says the church cannot feed those children in Buckner Home. Bro. Dobbs needs to let Bro. Rogers know that the children in Buckner Home are just as "immature and innocent." just as "pure, sinless and hungry." just as acceptable to God" and as "sure for Abraham's bosom" as the children in Boles Home.