Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 29, 1964

The Constitution And The Bible

Luther Blackmon

When Colonel Davy Crockett was making the race for a second term in the Congress, he stopped one day where a man was plowing. When he introduced himself, the man said, Yes, I know you Mr. Crockett. I voted for you the last time, but I will not vote for you this time. Crockett asked if he might know the reason. "Yes," replied the man, "I will tell you my reason. You either do not understand the constitution or you do not respect it. In either case you are not a good man to send to Congress." This was quite a shock to Crockett, because he did respect the constitution and thought he understood it. He asked the farmer to please explain himself.

"Well, the farmer said, "you voted to appropriate $20,000 for those people over in Georgia whose homes were burned." This was even more puzzling to Crockett. He said, "Surely you are not opposed to helping our unfortunate citizens in such a time as that." "Oh, I am not opposed to helping the needy and unfortunate," replied the farmer, "but there is nothing in the constitution that allows appropriations for charity, Mr. Crockett. If so, where is it?" Crockett could not answer. If I remember the story correctly, he went home with the farmer and spent the night with him. Far into the night they talked, and Crockett said the man explained his criticism in this way: "That money you fellows handle was paid into the government by the people. It is their money. They elected you to use that money according to the rules laid down by the constitution. The constitution is the only safeguard and guarantee that their money will be properly spent. Twenty thousand dollars is not a lot of money, and the cause for which you spent it is a noble one. But it is a violation of the constitution for Congress to appropriate money for charity. And when you fellows take such liberties with our constitution, no matter how small the amount or worthy the cause, you set a precedent that will destroy the meaning and power of the constitution. Once this is done, there will be no safeguard. The amount could have as easily been twenty million and the cause not so worthy. The constitution must be respected, Mr. Crockett, and I will not vote for a man who does not respect it. We should help our unfortunate citizens, but we can find a way to do it without violating the rules of the constitution."

Crockett said the longer this well informed man talked, the more he could see he was right. He admitted to the farmer that he had done wrong, and promised that never again would he be guilty of reaching beyond the limits of the constitution to make appropriations for anything, however small the amount or worthy the purpose.

Would it not be nice if all of us preachers were as honest as Davy Crockett, and all the brethren as well informed in, and had as much respect for the scriptures as that man of the soil had for the constitution! This story has its parallel among us.

About fifty-five years ago the first "orphan home" among our brethren was established. No doubt, those responsible for starting this home were men who loved the truth. But, like Davy Crockett, they allowed the nature of the work they were doing to cause them to overlook the fact that there was no provision in our spiritual constitution for such human organizations supported by the church. For at least thirty five years sound gospel preachers have occasionally call attention to the unscripturalness of these institutions, but no sustained opposition was offered. Because most people do not read the religious papers anyhow, some others do not care, and a lot of people just sorta tolerated these institutions like an obnoxious relative with a lot of money, the institutions grew and grew and grew. One prominent preacher summed up the thinking of a lot of people when he said he knew they were unscriptural, but that more harm would be done, in his estimation, by opposing them and causing trouble in the church than by letting them alone.

There was one thing, however, this preacher and those of like mind with him overlooked, and that was the thing the farmer said to Crockett in the long ago: "Once you let the bars down on the constitution (Bible) you set a precedent that will eventually destroy authority as far as the people are concerned." The harmless little (?) child-care institutions opened the door. Through that door, ambitious promoters and over-zealous and under-taught brethren are dragging in every kind of institution they think will "do good and tying it onto the church. And the tragic thing about it is that some people who would have rebelled at such things a few years ago are so intoxicated with "our importance and cared of brotherhood scorn that they are trotting along like a bunch of docile oxen with the whole abominable affair. And why? Elementary, my dear Watson! They have accepted the premise that "we don't have to have scripture for a thing if it does good.

We need "orphan homes" today like an elephant needs an abscessed tusk. But they have become big, lucrative business. Just like the man said to Davy Crockett, we can take care of the needy without violating the constitution (scriptures) and should have done it from the beginning. Like someone said of garlic, there is no such thing as a little digression. They always get bigger, or they open the door for bigger ones. Baby tigers make cute pets for a time — but they have a way of growing up.

— LaPorte, Texas