Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 2, 1956
NUMBER 13, PAGE 2,12b

"Justifying Orphan Homes" -- Considered

Connie W. Adams, Decatur, Georgia

The June 12 issue of Firm Foundation carried an article by Brother Waymon Miller entitled "Justifying Orphan Homes." We read the article chiefly because it was written by Brother Miller, and because of the high regard developed for him in the reading of his excellent book, Modern Divine Healing. Since the article was such a disappointment to us, and since it contained matters which we believe to be wrong, we feel called upon to reply.

Not A New Issue

He begins by informing his readers that the orphan home question is not a new issue and asserts that for forty years "they have enjoyed the patronage of most of the churches among us, and of the most devout and stalwart soldiers living during this period." He then argues that opposition to the homes is of recent origin. In the first place, there were men recognized then and now as stalwarts who objected to the attachment of the institutional homes to the budgets of the churches. Guy N. Woods' speech at Abilene Christian College quite some time ago very well expressed his sentiment in the matter. His voice was not the only one heard to cry against it. It is a misrepresentation of facts to say that a "silent brotherhood gave consent" when there were many preachers of considerable influence who opposed it, and that before the recent past.

In the second place, what possible bearing could the practice of brethren over a forty year period have upon the scripturality of that which is under consideration. Have we advanced so far that we now seek to justify (and that's what the article was supposed to do) practices by the conduct of the past? Is it suddenly true that the "traditions of the fathers" determine the right or wrong of a practice? What difference does it make what "we have said and done" when it comes to discussing matters of such moment? Brother Miller did not rely upon what has been our practice in showing the fallacy of modern divine healing. He very clearly revealed the teaching of the Bible on the subject. Surely a man of his abilities could contribute considerably to the present controversy by a logical presentation of scriptural proof.

In regard to the "Johnny come lately" charge, he shows that he has succumbed to the same type of tactics employed by Totty and Watson. Such expressions sound catchy and do the same thing for adherents of these church supported institutions that the term "Campbellite" does for those who oppose the Lord's church. We wonder if Guy N. Woods was a "Johnny come lately" in 1939? He opposed then what Brother Miller says a "silent brotherhood" approved.

Tell Us How

The charge was made that the opponents of the homes are destructive critics and never offer a' better way in which to provide for the homeless. This is an oft-repeated charge. We have read with pleasure a number of fine articles on that very subject. Brother Bryan Vinson wrote a very fine article on the matter some time ago which was printed in the Guardian and reprinted in several bulletins we received. Brother John T. Lewis has described in several articles the means by which the unfortunate who become the responsibility of the church have been provided for in the Birmingham area, and that without the institutional home supported by churches all over the country. Such charges cause many of us to suspect that some who are willing to condemn the Guardian to abysmal perdition do not read it, yet they can speak with authority about what appears in it!

Some Admissions Considered

1. Brother Miller places the orphan homes on the same ground with the Bible classes and says they are without specific scriptural mention. The Bible classes simply are the church at work, carrying out the duty to teach. They are not separate organizations. Since Brother Miller has placed them in the same category, we wonder if it would be all right for the Bible classes to operate in the same fashion as the orphan homes? Would it be agreeable with Brother Miller, should there be formed a "Tennessee Bible Class Association" with its board and supported by funds solicited from the various congregations? It should be quite apparent to all that Bible classes do not constitute another organization besides the church. If they do, then they are no different from the organized Sunday Schools of the sectarians. Orphan homes (of the institutional variety) are separate, human organizations through which churches function. They are not parallel to Bible classes.

2. He admits that orphan homes are unknown to the New Testament. Some of the "writin' brethren" think they have found them there. We hasten to agree with Brother Miller's conclusion that "it is extreme folly to seek a defense of orphan homes in the area of Biblical example or precedent."

3. "Orphan homes, like Bible classes, are human institutions." We have already shown the difference between Bible classes and the orphan homes. The Bible class is simply a means employed by the church in teaching, but the orphan home, like the church, is a separate institution also employing means.

4. "Orphan homes are not absolutely necessary," Brother Miller states. He needs to be careful to speak that softly. We have believed this to be true for some time. The church is capable of caring for her dependents without the formation of a separate organization to do her work.

5. He next admits to imperfections in the homes. For his candor in these admissions we are refreshed. He states that many raise objections to them. We wonder if these form a part of the "silent brotherhood" of the past or of the "Johnny come lately's." It is refreshing to see a statement in the Firm Foundation to the effect that the homes are in need of reformation.

Instruments Of Division

We agree with Brother Miller that it is a shame for brethren to drive a wedge of division over the homes. In fact, it is a shame for brethren to be divided! However, the order of the day seems to be, "speak your piece as long as it is favorable to the homes." The insistence of brethren that the churches must support the homes or else be anathematized is as much responsible for the threat of division as anything with which we are acquainted.

The Issue

Brother Miller insists that the issue is one of judgment and expediency. We deny that such is the case. It is a question of whether or not the church as divinely conceived and set into motion is capable within herself to perform the mission she has been given. Must she have a human organization, which, like the church, employs expedients and means, through which her work is to be processed? We are confident that God intended for the distressed to receive due attention, but we are equally confident that the church is adequately arranged to provide for those who are peculiarly her charges.

If the institutional homes can be "justified" it appears to us that Brother Miller's defense will not do the job. It is easy to label anything under question an "expedient" and thus avoid a discussion of Biblical truths on the matter. Let us not forget that something must be lawful before it can be expedient "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."