Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 28, 1969
NUMBER 17, PAGE 1-2a

"He, Being Dead, Yet Speaketh"

C. R. Nichol

(Editor's note: In clearing out some old papers the other day, we ran across the following. It is a copy of a letter written more than forty years ago. Brother Allen, recipient of the letter, was at that time Editor of the Gospel Advocate. Through the letter, the voice of one of the greatest Bible scholars of this century is heard on a current subject.)

Clifton, Texas May 15, 1929

Mr. James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee Dear Brother Allen:

I am glad you are making a study of Orphan Homes, old Women's Homes, etc., and will read with interest what you may have to say on such subjects, that is, if you make any observations on them.

That such institutions as we now have (Orphan Homes, etc.) did not exist in the days of the apostles or early church, I think, is not a matter of question with those who have made a study of the Scriptures. Too, that it is the duty of Christians to care for those in need is too clearly taught in the New Testament to need comment. The one question is: How is such work to be done?

I am tied to the view that the church of Christ — the local congregation — is the only organization which can exist by the authority of the Lord for the accomplishment of ALL work he would have Christians do in service to him. That the congregation as such should function in the work he has commanded.

Orphan Homes, or any other society, which may be brought into existence by Christians, with a Board of Directors gathered from different section of the country (even though they be men and women who are members of the church of Christ) which proposes to function FOR the local congregations, and which have in their hands the matter of determining what they will do with monies sent them by local congregations, is as much a "society" as is the "Missionary Society"!

It is claimed that the Orphan Homes belong to "US." Just what is meant by such statements, I am certain I do not know. I am positive that the Lindsley Avenue congregation, in Nashville, Tennessee, cannot tell what tangible assets they have in the Orphan Home at any place. And, more, I am very positive that the bishops of that congregation have no voice in the matters of government of the Home, control of the children there, what they shall study, to whom the children may be "given."

In short, the local congregation where you worship has nothing to do in matters of determining policy, etc., of the home. And more, the question may be asked: Does the local congregation where the home is located have any voice in the matter? I am persuaded that a local congregation may care for orphans, and if they are unable to care for the orphans which may become their charge, they may ask some sister congregation to aid them in that work — the work of that local congregation. Such contributions as may be sent then become the assets of the receiving church and may be used as the congregation directs, under its bishops, in the work for which the monies were sent.

I am certain that it would be far better for each congregation to care for the orphans — the orphans entrusted to them — right where they exist, rather than sending them to some place where they will have no voice in their management. The influence would be better for the local congregation; their "good works" would be seen by those in the community. But when the child is sent to some other town, the people from the place whence the child was sent know nothing of the work of the church in caring for the orphan.

I am inclined to the view that one congregation could, without violation of any divine principle, place a child in the hands of the bishops of another congregation where the bishops would have the oversight of caring for the child. But when the church of Christ places a child in the hands of some human society and then, as a church, contributes of monies, etc., and places such in the hands of a Board gathered from different sections of the country, they have laid the foundation for the "Missionary Society." The church then functions through a Board — an institution which does not exist by God's authority.

That certain widows were to become the charge of the church, is a matter of record. I am persuaded, though, that few have a conception of just what widows were to be included in the number. A widow "indeed." Just who, or what, is a widow "indeed"?

I will be glad to discuss any phase of the subject you may wish to submit for my thoughts. I trust all goes well with you; command me when I can serve you.


C. R. Nichol