Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 25, 1961


Thomas G. O'neal, Jasper, Alabama

For some few years brethren have tried to defend human institutions through which to do the work of the church. These brethren have grabbed at anything that even looked like a good argument for their humanly formed institutions. They have twisted and perverted the plain teaching of God's eternal word in order to be able to say to some that human institutions like Childhaven, Inc., Tennessee Orphan Home, Boles Home, etc., are authorized in the scriptures. However, not one of them as of yet has come forth with the bold declaration that here is the passage of scripture that authorizes these human institutions, which they call "homes." Anyone who knows anything at all, knows that these human institutions are not "homes," but are the institution that provides the homes.

One of the passages that has been perverted by these institutional brethren in defense of their human institutions is James 1:27. We have been told scores of times that this passage authorizes such arrangements as are mentioned above. There are several good reasons why James 1:27 does not authorize the above benevolent institutions, one of them being that the individual is the subject under consideration in the passage and not the church!

When brethren contend that James 1:27 does not apply to the church but to the individual, these brethren reply by saying, "Well, the church can't practice pure religion." Hear G. K. Wallace:

"Neighbors and friends, I am glad you are here, but I am ashamed that some of my brethren think that the church of Jesus Christ should not practice pure religion. I am ashamed for you to know it, but that is the way it is. We have brethren who say that pure religion does not apply to the church of the living God. It just applies to the individual." (Wallace-Holt Debate, pages 39-40.)

This writer believes that James 1:27 was written to the individual; not to the church. Before someone says that I don't believe that the church should be kept pure, let them read Eph. 5:23-27.

Passages Mentioning Religion

From the word of God I have been able to find only six passages that mention religion. Notice them with me: (1) Acts 13:43, "Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." (2) Acts 26:5, "Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." (3) Gal. 1:13, "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:" (4) Gal. 1:14, "And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (5) James 1:26, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (6) James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." If there are more passages in the New Testament concerning religion, I have failed to find them.

Notice with me that these passages deal with the individual; not the church!! Religion is something practiced by the individual! I fail to find a verse that suggests that the church anywhere ever practiced religion of any kind, pure or vain.

So again James 1:27 is taken from the hands of institutional advocates because the thing they say is the work of the church, i.e., "To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," James calls "pure religion" which is practiced not by the church but by the individual!