Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 22, 1955
NUMBER 20, PAGE 8-9a

The Best Way

Floyd Embree, Ontario, California

When instrumental music was first introduced into the worship of God after the restoration of the New Testament church in the nineteenth century, the arguments were made that it was an expedient, that the Old Testament authorized it, and the New Testament didn't condemn it, and that it was an aid in the singing. These types of arguments were pursued for years. But now, there are some who advocate the use of the instrument in the worship of God who are willing to affirm that it is commanded in New Testament worship.

Just so, the arguments have been for doing benevolent work by the church. It has been argued that the Lord left the method to our own judgment in that he didn't specify the method, thus when we use an institutional children's home to do our benevolent work, it is just a method that the church has chosen to use, and the Lord has not bound the method. The same argument was made by advocates of the Missionary Society. Note the following: "When a thing is commanded to be done, and the method of doing it is not prescribed, those commanded are at liberty to use their best judgment in devising ways and means to carry out the command, and they are to act under the principles laid down by Paul in I Cor. XIV, 39 and 40: "Wherefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order." (Otey - Briney Debate, P. 162). This was the argument made by J. B. Briney to justify the Missionary Society. It is made by brethren today to try to justify institutional homes for children and the aged. There is only one thing wrong with this argument in regard to the Society or the Home. Neither the Society nor the Home is a method, they are both INSTITUTIONS. They are both institutions which are "not the church and cannot be a part of the church."

But now comes a brother with all the answers to the problems of the institutional homes. Here are his words:

"One proposed solution is that Christians can take such boys and girls into private homes, but this leaves much to be desired. Most of us are unable to bear the financial strain. Too, it is unwise to associate children from broken homes with our own. They realize they are outsiders, and their unhappy presence has an adverse effect on the family. We aren't equipped, physically or mentally, to deal with the special problems such youngsters face. Dwarfing these reasons, however, is this basic fact — many of us are unwilling to try it. Those who favor this method would be, in many cases, slow to welcome little ones into their homes. As one who has cared for 35 such youngsters I can say this is not the solution."

This was taken from an article in the Church of Christ Children's Home paper, which home is located in Ontario, and whose directors are elders of the church at Broadway and Walnut Street in Santa Ana, California. The article was written by Bro. Joe M. Lyon, minister, LaHabra Church of Christ.

Just to look at the paragraph is enough to see that the arguments presented will not stand up. First, the statement, "Most of us are unable to bear the financial strain" just isn't so. I preach in a congregation of about 225 members, and there are a number of homes represented in this congregation. There are no wealthy people in the congregation. Most are moderate wage workers. Yet, there are very few, if any, homes represented who could not "bear the financial strain" of taking care of another child or two. In fact, there are more families than one who want one or more children but who are unable to obtain them.

Second, the brother said, "It is unwise to associate children from broken homes with our own." Who said so? Do not our children associate with said children about six hours a day in the public schools? Or does the brother think we should take our children out of the public schools because they have to associate with such? Then what about the ORPHAN children who have no father and mother? These children are not from broken homes, yet the brother, and all the homes, argue that when orphans are placed in the institutions, that they are better off than in private homes. Yet these orphan children have to associate with these children from broken homes whose influence is so adverse. THEY HAVE NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER! Yet, these brethren go right ahead and put them in these homes with children from broken homes, where they claim the influence is not what it should be! Consistency, thou art a jewel!

Then the brother asserts, "We aren't equipped, physically or mentally, to deal with the special problems such youngsters face." Ladies and gentlemen, that is an insult to every member of the church of Christ. I can show you men and women who want children, and who are just as well equipped both physically and mentally to take care of these children as any who are doing so in our institutional homes! Just what peculiar characteristics physically must one possess to care for these children? What characteristics does he have to possess mentally to take care of them? What characteristics physically and mentally does our exalted brother possess that enabled him to care for 35 such youngsters, that we do not possess that would enable one of us to care for one or two? Let the brother tell us.

Then the brother goes on to say, "Majority experience of those actually in the field, both in public and private work, shows that a correctly maintained Children's Home is the best answer to the question." I stand ready to deny that statement and prove the opposite if the brother wants to meet me on the question.

But the climax of the whole thing is in the last paragraph of the article. Here it is:

'Brethren, I am convinced the Children's Home is not only the best — it is the only way we can discharge this duty — and it is at the same time, in complete harmony with the Word of God."

Now, we have it. It is not only the BEST way, but it is also the ONLY way we can discharge this duty. You can't discharge this duty by taking such children into your own home and caring for them, even though you have no children that might be adversely affected! You can ONLY CARE FOR THESE CHILDREN in one of our INSTITUTIONAL HOMES where the personnel is equipped physically and mentally to care for such! They can't be cared for any place else, or in any other way! That is sophistry gone to seed!

Let us note a syllogism or two:

Major Premise: "The Children's Home is the best way we can discharge this duty." (Statement of Joe M. Lyon).

Minor Premise: The church in New Testament times had no such institutions. (If so, where is the proof of it?)

Conclusion: Therefore, the church in New Testament times could not discharge this duty in the best way.

That is the inescapable conclusion if the statement of Bro. Lyon be true.

But again:

Major Premise: "The Children's Home is the only way we can discharge this duty." (Statement of Bro. Lyon).

Minor Premise: The church of New Testament times had no such institution. (If so, where?)

Conclusion: Therefore the church in New Testament times could not discharge this duty.

Can we not see the fallacy in such reasoning as is done by Bro. Lyon? And why would the elders at Santa Ana want to use an article with such fallacious reasoning in their Home Bulletin? Do they concur with Bro. Lyon in this reasoning? If not, why would they allow such an article to appear in their paper?

Now, Bro. Lyon affirms that such an arrangement is in "complete harmony" with the word of God. I stand ready to deny the proposition if Bro. Lyon will affirm it. Two elders from Broadway and Walnut who are over the home, seemed to think last February when I spoke there upon the home, that a formal debate was in order on the thing. I offered to debate the issue then, and submitted them propositions on it on Feb. 23, 1955. To date, they have not so much as acknowledged my letter. Since Bro. Lyon is so positive in his statements, and since he is equipped physically and mentally superior to the rest of us, and since he has cared for 35 such youngsters, perhaps he is the man to debate the matter, and the church in Santa Ana at Broadway and Walnut will endorse him. If so, let them answer my letter of Feb. 23, 1955.

Lest some think I wrote this article without first conferring with Bro. Lyon, I wrote him 47 days ago. The letter was never returned, so I presume it was received, and to date I have heard not a word from him.

Now, just as those who, when they are hard pressed for a scriptural argument for an unscriptural practice, namely, instrumental music in the worship, began to affirm that the New Testament DEMANDS the instrument, just so our brethren who try to prove that such institutional homes are scriptural, revert to the same type of argument that the scriptures DEMAND such institutions which are "not the church and can be no part of the church." Let us awake to the danger that now confronts the church. Brethren, it is later than many of us think.