Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 5, 1958

Congregational Orphan Homes


In this issue (front page) we publish the second article in the series recently run in the Firm Foundation together with Brother Reuel Lemmons rejoinder to it. Brother Lemmons says, " ... after looking over his three articles, I am persuaded that we are much closer in our views than one might think." This is encouraging, and is quite in harmony with previous statements of his that the teaching done by those who oppose the institutional orphan homes is "much less dangerous" than the teaching being done by those who are promoting the institutions homes and insisting that the church, as such, is not capable of giving "care" to the needy, but must employ song other agency or organization to do the job. Brother Lemmons correctly says that this contention "can very easily destroy the church." He was speaking particularly of the Gospel Advocate position, so recently adopted and so vigorously pressed by Brother Guy N. Woods.

In the three articles published, we tried to point out what we believe to be the scriptural position relative to orphan homes in the present controversy, defining each of the three major types of homes now in operation among us:

(1) the institutional home under a board of directors

(2) the "brotherhood home" under a local eldership, and

(3) the congregational home — the last being the orderly arrangement made by any congregation to care for its own needy, whether orphans, widows, or other destitute.

Brother Lemmons feels that the "congregational home" is open to most of the objections we leveled against the other two types. He says:

.... if a 'congregational home' operated a dairy, hatched chickens, or leased its land for oil, it would have every ill condemned in the other two

"May we suggest that if his 'congregational home' ran a dairy for the children, he would have to register the same objections . If a church can buy milk for its orphans, it could surely buy the cow. If it can buy the milk, it can surely buy the milk plant without sinning. Incidentally, we suppose a church could run a dairy for milk for its orphans as scripturally as it could rent the preacher's home out or lease its grounds for oil."

But of course! Brother Lemmons has described one of the very reasons why we object to these "Brotherhood orphanages under a local eldership!"

The 'congregational orphan home' must not only be scriptural in FORM, but in FUNCTION as well. We would register exactly the same protest against 'congregational orphan homes' engaging in secular profit making businesses as we would against "brotherhood homes under an eldership" engaging in those activities. And for the same reason: The Lord's church is not to be supported by engaging in businesses, but by the free will contributions of her members.

Frankly, we can see a considerable difference between a congregation buying a bottle of milk for a hungry orphan and that same congregation buying a dairy, setting up a milk plant, and operating a commercial business to pay the expenses of the church! We believe a congregation can buy grape juice to use in the Lord's supper; we believe it would violate God's law for this same congregation to buy a vineyard, set up the necessary processing plants and sell bottled grape juice and raisins in the markets of the world to get money for her churchly activities whether benevolent or evangelistic. We believe a church can buy lumber to erect a meeting-house; but we do not believe she has the scriptural right to go into the lumber business, buy and sell tracts of timber, operate a saw-mill, curing plant, and lumber yards to get the money needed for her work.

Has Brother Lemmons so quickly forgotten (or was he never aware) that one of the major points of division between loyal brethren and the digressives arose over the "money-making" projects of the digressive brethren — pie-suppers, raffle sales, church fairs, and the like? And the "brotherhood orphan homes under a local eldership" as now operated have surrendered the whole ground so valiantly defended by our fathers. What is the difference in principle between a congregation putting on a pie supper and making money off it and that same church buying a cotton farm, selling $6,000.00 worth of cotton from it, and using the money under the direction of its elders in benevolent work? Don't try to tell us the cotton farms are "merely for the orphan boys to have some work to do." This is not so. Because in most of these homes (not all of them) the children don't even work the farms! They are managed and worked by hired laborers. They are commercial ventures, secured for the very purpose of making money! That is one reason why the churches simply cannot scripturally operate such projects.

Again our brother protests that so long as the congregations voluntarily participate in these ventures, it would be utterly impossible to "activate the church universal." He declares, ". . . under such a set-up, the church could never, under any circumstance, be activated without the consent of every congregation, and every Christian in every congregation, in the whole brotherhood."

Just How Naive Can A Man Get?

It is an historical fact that Catholicism "activated the church universal." In fact, it was the very process of "activating the church universal" that was responsible for the apostasy. Does Brother Lemmons suppose that in those trying centuries of the early Christian era every congregation and every Christian consented to what was being done? But the apostate Catholic church came into being because thousands of Christians and thousands of congregations VOLUNTARILY consented to the gradual departures from the New Testament pattern — and then "quarantined" (and later burned at the stake) their "anti" brethren who opposed them! Does he not understand that the digressive brethren in the last century "activated the church universal" in the formation of their various societies and agencies which they provided as means, ways, or methods for the "church universal" to become a functional organization? Is he so completely uninformed as to think that every congregation and every Christian consented to what was being done? Does he not know that the Society brethren rode rough-shod over their "anti" brethren, quarantining them, ostracizing them, lying about them, misrepresenting them as being "opposed to preaching the gospel," stealing their church buildings, and permanently splitting the body of Christ?

Does he think it CAN'T happen again? Well, just let him have the courage to make a real fight against the monstrous evil which he believes "can very easily destroy the church" (the new heresy recently espoused by the Gospel Advocate) and he will see what we mean! The brethren who are trying to promote outside organizations to do the benevolent work of the church, and seeking church contributions for Christian colleges, will be as ruthless in their fight against him as were ever the digressives of the last century. Once a man leaves the doctrinal purity of New Testament teaching, it is inevitable that his moral character and his personal integrity will be compromised. And with such men "brotherly love" has little or no meaning.

— F. Y. T.