Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 22, 1959

"Gone" On Expediency

Robert C. Welch, Birmingham, Alabama

Ignorance is to be pitied. Deliberate misrepresentation is to be despised. L. D. Harless falls in one or the other of these classes in his front page article of the Gospel Advocate, September 17, 1959. He may be ignorant of the matters under discussion; but the editor is certainly not that ignorant of the present issues, and he has placed the article on the front page of his paper thus giving endorsement to the misrepresentation therein, for he claims to permit on its pages only those things with which he is in agreement.

The article is an attempt to place a walking up to the table to make the contribution and a baptistry as parallels with church supported orphan homes and hospitals, in their relationship to divine authority. He places all of them in the realm of expediency. Then the article implies that there are those of us who insist upon one unspecified way or method of caring for widows, orphans, the poor and needy. That is not a correct representation of the teaching of those who oppose the church's contributing to such institutions as orphan homes and hospitals. The "Doctor" Goodpasture knows that such is a misrepresentation, even if brother Harless does not know it.

Notice this bit of veiled insinuation as he attempts to compare the "go" of the great commission to these church supported orphanages:

"Take, for example, the time-honored illustration that has adorned gospel preaching for lo these many years: We say, "The Bible instructs us to 'go . . . preach the gospel' but it does not specify the method of travel. We are privileged to select a way that suits our fancy and/or pocketbook." So far so good, but we seem to lose perspective when we attempt to apply this reasoning to certain aspects of the Lord's supper, caring for orphans, or feeding and clothing the Poor."

He fails to specify what he thinks is our trouble in connection with caring for orphans. If the article were not in the Advocate he could be talking about Guy N. Woods' "certain aspects" since he teaches that the church cannot care for them except to supply the funds for some other institution to provide the care. But, of course, the Gospel Advocate has a policy against including anything controversial within its own ranks; hence, he is not referring to Woods. The one objection raised in the matter is that of the church's contributing to another institution which does such charitable work. Therefore, his comparison is that of church supported human organizations to the method of travel in carrying out the great commission.

He talks about some losing "perspective" in this matter, but he has completely lost it. The "go" of the great commission does not include a human organization which supervises those who go and to which the churches make the contributions. Neither does the "relieve" or whatever term is used to describe the church's assistance to the poor include a human organization which supervises those administering the relief and to which the churches make contributions. The church may choose "ways and means" for doing both evangelism and caring for the poor; but in neither instance does it have the right to relegate its responsibilities and functions to some other institution of human origin which chooses such "ways and means."

The church's building and supporting human institutions is a violation of the organization which is specified in the New Testament. Expediency in "methods" of function cannot be made to supersede other specified matters pertaining to the church. He and all those of the Advocate trend either do not understand this, or deliberately refuse to admit it. Their arguments show that the only reason they do not agree to have a missionary society is that the church to which they are joined is traditionally opposed to it. Every argument they make will equally apply to the missionary society, and has been applied by the digressives, but were refuted by men who knew what was wrong. If these men today would take the arguments which were made against the missionary society they would be automatically opposed to every human institution doing the church's work.

Let us have one more sample of his misrepresentative insinuation against those who contend for the complete sufficiency of the church for doing its work!

"Who has the right to say it is proper to baptize in a creek, lake or ocean but not in a baptistry? Who can accept as a matter of faith (which comes by hearing the word of God — Rom. 10:17) a baptism performed in running water and reject baptism in still water? Who has the authority to instruct me as to one infallible way, to the exclusion of all others, that I may feed, clothe and house the widows and orphans or how I may minister to the sick and downtrodden?"

Sir, you have the ace writer and debater of the Advocate staff to thank for telling you that he has the right to tell you that. Guy N. Woods will tell you that you cannot do it within the church; that the only thing the church can do is contribute to other institutions which will do the work of feeding, clothing and housing the orphans. The title of his article is "Consistently Inconsistent." Surely he did not mean to imply that the Advocate fits his description; but it does; and this article by Harless is just another witness to the fact.

Since it appeared in the Advocate, however, it is evident that he and the "Doctor" editor intended it to be critical of those who oppose the churches' contributing to institutions of human origin. If he and the "Doctor" know anything, they know that a baptistry and a church endowed orphan home are not parallel with reference to divine authority. The baptistry and the building for the orphans are parallel because both are matters subject to choice of the congregation. To have a parallel with the institution called an orphan home, he would have to find a church endowed institution which does the baptizing. Surely even a man who has been blinded by the brilliance of an "honorary Doctorate" can sees that. If he and brother Harless cannot understand as simple a matter as that, maybe we can assume that they have nothing to fear from the judgment. But knowing, and deliberately continuing to misconstrue the Scriptures and misrepresent brethren, will bring them under the judgment of the Lord.