Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 27, 1955

Is The Orphan Home The Church Or Not?

Troy M. Cummings, Prineville, Oregon

Regardless of who is right in the present discussion about orphan homes, it is important to notice that at least two of the leading defenders of the present set-up contradict one another. This shows of course that at least one of these defenders is wrong. If learned and able brethren on the same side contradict one another, something is seriously wrong.

Repeatedly the Boles Orphan Home paper has stated that the orphan home is NOT the church itself, but is rather "an institution or facility serving the church." Issue of October 10, 1954: "An institution or facility serving the church, or doing a good work as the church's servant, is under no obligation to prove itself 'scriptural,' authorized in the scripture as to organization, origin, or practice, i.e., hospitals, utility companies, banks. Even so as of orphan homes."

Letter of March 8, 1952 from Boles Home: "... Boles Home is not a part of the church any more than any other home. It is not an organization of the church. It is separate from and independent of the church as an organization ...."

Many other similar quotations can be given from the same authoritative source.

In recent issues of the Gospel Advocate has been featuring, with front-page articles, a series of discussions on the orphan home subject, written by one of our leading preachers and debaters. He is attempting to defend the present orphan home arrangement. But the remarkable thing is that he takes exactly the opposite position from the official paper of the orphan home itself!

From the Gospel Advocate of November 25, 1954: ". . . . But, it is charged, the orphan homes and homes for the aged are separate organizations, organizations usurping the functions of the church, additional bodies and thus in competition with the 'one body' — the church. We have long listened to this libel; .... In answer to the objection that the Sunday School, such as is conducted generally by our brethren, is an organization, separate and apart from the church, and thus in violation of the principle of the 'one body,' we have shown (and many anti-orphan home brethren agree with us) that the Sunday School is merely a systematic medium through which, or by means of which, the church functions. The Sunday school is not in opposition to, nor in competition with, the church; it is the church in action. Similarly, the church performs a portion of its benevolent activities in an organizational capacity because this has been found to be the most expedient method .... The orphan homes do not supplant the church or act in its stead; they are simply the church itself acting in cooperative fashion ...."

Clearly, then, brethren, these two leading defenders of the present arrangement are squarely contradictory in their basic position. The orphan homes are either the church itself, or they are not. The orphan home itself officially declares that it "is not a part of the church ... it is separate from and independent of the church as an organization . . . ." But the other defender says just as emphatically: the orphan home is NOT a "separate organization," but is rather "the church in action .... the church itself acting in cooperative fashion ...."

Whom shall we believe? This indeed is an embarrassing situation for that side of the discussion. But far more important, such confusion among the defenders cannot keep from casting extremely serious doubts as to their plea, in the minds of the many sincere, earnest seekers after the real truth of this issue. When two such good and highly capable brethren as these men contradict one another in trying to defend the same position, something is seriously wrong.

But one more point to show still further confusion: The Boles Home News of November 25, 1954, has an article headed: "A Fact Well Put," which is an excerpt from the Gospel X-Ray by J. D. Tant. Part of the article says: "So the Sunday School is not the church, but it is a church work to teach the Bible to all our people." The Gospel Advocate writer says: "The Sunday school .... is the church in action."

Brethren, let us all study this issue with true love for one another, and pray continually that God will lead the brotherhood as a whole into the truth on this and the many other grave issues with which the church is struggling.