Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1962

Revealing Confessions


For many years now peoples of the world have been amazed almost to the point of incredulity at the amazing "confessions" that come from those Russian court trials. For a long time it was thought they were faked, or were obtained under duress or threats either to the one confessing or to his family. Now, however, criminologists and psychologists have pretty generally agreed that such has not been the case; but, rather, the ones on trial have been "brain-washed" by a long series of subtle and effective "indoctrination" interviews, and have actually been brought to the point of believing themselves guilty of the atrocities they confess. Hence, they can give an aura of complete sincerity and true penitence when appearing in their public trials.

But the confessions of Russian prisoners have been no less amazing to men generally than have the "confessions" (not intended as such) of many of our own brethren through the pages of the Firm Foundation. We refer particularly to the "Classified Ads" department in which churches are advertising for preachers, and preachers are advertising for churches. It has become almost standard, stereotyped phraseology for such churches to state (usually ungrammatically) that "no hobbyist and anties need apply"; or "we support our orphan homes and Herald of Truth, and don't want any hobbyists or antis," etc. And the pathetic appeals from preachers hunting jobs are almost frantic in assuring would-be employers that these men "'are not hobbyists or anties," and that they "believe in and support our orphan homes and the Herald of Truth." Such statements are well-nigh standard procedure for churches hunting preachers and for preachers hunting jobs through the pages of the Foundation.

Such confessions reveal far more information than either churches or preachers think they are conveying. For one thing they show an almost typical denominational concept of the work of gospel preachers and of the relationship that ought to exist between a church and the preacher working with it. Can you imagine Paul or Titus or Barnabas out "hunting for a church" with which to work, and specifying that they will not consider any church that is "having trouble over anti-ism"; or that they "desire a church with a strong eldership, preferably in the southwestern part of the nation"?

Furthermore, this endlessly repeated phrase "we believe in and support orphan homes and the Herald of Truth" shows the resuIt of "brain-washing." Both churches and preachers mouthing such phrases reveal themselves as unconcerned and indifferent to the needs and best interests of suffering children, but anxious rather to be on the band-wagon of the institutional Juggernaut. Such statements do not come from them because they have made an honest and sincere study of the institutional care of children, and have become convinced that such is best for them. Quite the contrary! Most churches and preachers (and orphan home superintendents and employees) are quite frank to admit that they regard the orphan home as an inferior way of caring for children, and feel that a foster home is far superior to any care the institution can provide. (An occasional exception can be found to this, as witness the article in this issue by J. D. Tant). But the promoters and defenders of the institutions defend their practice by casting the vicious charge against their brethren that there are no Christian homes willing to receive and care for these helpless little ones!

What a falsehood that is? And how ungodly and uncharitable the attitude of a man who can charge his brethren with such cruelty and callous unconcern for suffering children!

The Lutheran Story

One of the most dramatic stories of growth among American churches is seen in what has happened to the Lutherans within the last twenty years. This church has always put a strong emphasis on family life, but for generations was confined pretty largely to the German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovak, or Finnish peoples in our nation. Now all that has changed. There has been an astounding growth of Lutheranism since World War II, and it is now the fourth-ranked church in size in our nation, following the Catholics, the Baptists, and the Methodists. New Lutheran congregations are organizing in our nation at the rate of one every 54 hours. In his book, "The Story of America's Religions," Hartzell Spence says of them:

"The Scandinavian Lutherans were a pious people who stressed family prayers, fireside Scripture readings, and grace at table. They were so honest that their handshake was enough security for any business deal."

Commenting on another feature of their life which has won the admiration and respect of thinking people, Spence writes:

"The laymen, intensely upholding the sanctity of family life, have also been leaders in Lutheranism's ultra-modern attitude toward social service. They early adopted the foster-home method of rearing orphans, and the care of the aged in their own homes rather than in institutions. They hold that the family is the foundation of human existence and must be preserved, even for orphans and old people. Traditionally, Lutherans have been concerned with the welfare of the individual."

Now, contrast that enlightened, humanitarian, and eminently Christian approach to the "orphan" problem with the selfish, bigoted, self-righteous boast of the preachers and churches advertising through the Firm Foundation that "we believe in and support orphan homes"! How much they confess by such a statement! How much they reveal! They obviously place party acceptance and sectarian conformity above the welfare of the innocent victims of their course. And the tragedy of it all is that they verily think they serve God in so doing.

But there is one ray of hope, there is one glimmer of sunshine through the dark picture. The promoters and propagandists for "our institutions" have fairly well demonstrated that they have little regard either for the Scriptures or for the peace and unity of God's churches — but they are keenly sensitive to anything that will enhance "us" and increase "our standing" in the eyes of the world. Perhaps the amazing growth of the Lutherans, far out-stripping even the most optimistic and inflated estimates of "our" growth) will cause our promoting brethren to take a long, searching, and critical look at the Lutheran solution to the "orphan" problem and compare it with their solution. And if they come to the conclusion that the Lutheran's common-sense (and scriptural) handling of the orphan children has been a significant factor in their remarkable growth, then we may see those Firm Foundation ads change to "we oppose the old-fashioned and ungodly orphan home and will not consider any preacher for our pulpit who endorses such!"