Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1956

The Unanswerable Argument

F. Y. T.

Our "institutional" brethren have at last come up with an argument that is unanswerable. The odd thing about this is that they make no claim for invincibility for this argument; but we've mentioned it to a number of brethren who write for the Gospel Guardian, and not a one of them claims to be able to meet it. Frankly, they all confess that there is no answer so far as they know. Champions of "centralized control" have come up with several arguments in the past that they claimed to be unanswerable. All of which have been answered completely. But this time they've really hit the jack-pot. This argument is one we frankly confess our inability to meet.

And what is this argument to end all arguments?

We will give it in the words of Brother Rue Porter, as he delivered a highly inflammatory sermon on the orphan home issue in the East Bakersfield (California) congregation last February. That congregation was having some difficulty over the orphan home issue ,and asked Brother Porter to speak to them a night or two, but specifically requested that he NOT speak on the issue that was then bothering them. It was the hope of the elders that Brother Porter might be able to promote love and goodwill among the brethren, and in that atmosphere they could work out their problem as Christians should. With that request before him, and having written the elders in such words that they thought he had promised NOT to speak on the issues, Brother Porter came.

He delivered one of the bitterest and most scathing harangues (no other word will describe it) to which this writer has ever listened. (We heard the tape recording of it.) It was vitriolic and unrestrained in its condemnation of hundreds of faithful gospel preachers and thousands of humble Christians who are honestly and sincerely convinced that the institutional orphan home arrangements are a violation of New Testament teaching. This was the speech which so inflamed the "pro orphan home" element in the church that the whole congregation was in danger of being torn to shreds. After the elders had disciplined the three men who were agitating the church, Brother Porter's name appeared on a letter which was widely circulated in Bakersfield, in which apparently Porter urged and encouraged the three withdrawn from brethren to sue the elders for the church property. The letter read in part:

"I cannot believe that any Court of Law would validate their claim to the title. I stand ready to help contest it to the last. Will give, and get others to give for the defense of the property as ours.

"A lawyer who is willing to dig in and work for the cause there can easily force their hand and bring the whole scheme and plan into the light where the public can see it, and know that they are simply a power seeking crowd .... They shall not get by with it. I am sure you fellows will not allow it to go unchallenged and without a real effort to get their position and intentions before the public . . . ."

Without Brother Porter's highly inflammatory sermon, there is every indication that the East Bakersfield would long since have resolved her problem peacefully and as Christians should. Without the circulation of this letter carrying his name, it seems certain that the shameful and disgraceful spectacle of a law-suit before the civil courts would never have taken place. It was his preaching that provoked and precipitated the trouble; it was the letter which threw it into the courts.

But what about that "unanswerable argument"?

In the course of his sermon on this matter, Brother Porter grew sarcastic and venomous in his condemnation of those who question the scripturalness of the institutional orphan homes, and said (this is taken from the tape):

"They say you can't do it — can't do it. But people just as well learn we are doing it. And we propose to keep on doing it!"

This last sentence, "And we propose to keep on doing it" was uttered with such force and emotion as to amount almost to a shout — perhaps "scream" would be the better word, for it was obvious that the speaker was almost beside himself with angry determination.

And that is the argument for which we have no answer. We freely confess we cannot meet it. When the tearful pleadings of brethren in Christ are brushed aside with contempt, when earnest entreaties for a prayerful study of Bible teaching on the question are laughed to scorn, when ruthless and determined action (even extending to the civil courts) is taken to eject humble Christians from the house of worship which was built by their own hands and paid for by their own dollars, and an angry shout of "We are doing it, and we propose to keep on doing it!" is the only answer to pleas for love and study — well, THAT, is an unanswerable argument.

Love and prayers

(Signed) Rue Porter Our fathers were unable to meet it when the digressives used it seventy-five years ago in defense of instrumental music. All over the nation their pleas that the organ be surrendered for the sake of peace and unity were met with 'the retort, "We like it and we are going to have it!" And hundreds of congregations were excluded from the houses they had builded.

Fortunately, and rightly, the Court in Bakersfield ruled in such a way that the church, and not the three excluded members, will have final and complete control of the property.