Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 8, 1956

The Authority Of Men

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

The writings of uninspired men are authority on what they believed and taught, and nothing else. On the front page of the Gospel Advocate, August 23, 1956, W. L. Totty had an article under the caption, "Their Works Do Follow Them." He says, "If David Lipscomb were living today, he would be classed as a digressive by those who are trying to adopt his influence. Brother Lipscomb was one of the trustees of the Fanning Orphan Home." I wonder if W. L. Totty does not know the difference between a "home" and a "school" David Lipscomb was a trustee of the Fanning Orphan School from the day it was organized till his death, and in all the writing he ever did for or about the school he never one time called it the Fanning "Orphan Home." And that is not all. He was editor of the Gospel Advocate for fifty years, and he never wrote one line in it in defense of an "orphan home." However, nobody but an idiot would argue that David Lipscomb did not believe in caring for orphans. The churches in his day were evidently caring for their own orphans as the churches should do today. I doubt that such a blatant misrepresentation of a man's teaching ever appeared on the front page of the Gospel Advocate during the half century that David Lipscomb edited it.

Brother Totty also says, speaking of David Lipscomb, "He was also Secretary of the Board of the Educational Association of Tennessee, an organization to enlarge the educational program of the church in the South. This organization called upon the churches to cooperate in its work." I confess my profound ignorance of any such "association" ever being organized and urged upon "the church in the South" by David Lipscomb in the Gospel Advocate. I would like for Brother Goodpasture to deliver himself on this "association" and whatever became of it.

On the editorial page of the Gospel Advocate, May 24, 1966, Brother B. C. Goodpasture says, "Elders and congregations do well to investigate preachers who have established themselves, their reputations as troublemakers and church busters. It is always wise and well to give an ear to the divine injunction, Mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling contrary to the doctrines.' (Rom. 16:17.) To do so may provoke a lugrubious and bitter wail from some quarters; but, remember the old saying, 'The hit dog howls.' The length and loudness of the howl may indicate the weight of the blow." (mirabile dictu)!

This does not sound like the scholarly Christian gentleman that I used to know as B. C. Goodpasture. It would have been bad enough for him to accuse his preaching brethren of putting up a lugrubious and bitter "wail"; but when he accuses them of causing division he must be exceedingly mad against them. If the elders of the churches today had never read anything but the New Testament on caring for orphans they would know what is contrary to "the doctrine," and therefore would know whom to mark. For example, a few years ago, Brother Guy N. Woods, in a lecture at Abilene Christian College, made a bitter attack upon all benevolent institutions under a board of directors. Now, since he has become so prominent in the Gospel Advocate, he has become a champion of all benevolent institutions. Will Brother Goodpasture advise elders as to which one of these Woods' "to mark"? I have never read or heard where Brother Guy N. Woods has said that he knows more about the New Testament teaching on benevolent institutions now than he did then.

A few years ago Brother G. K. Wallace debated with Brother Gus Nichols, at Freed-Hardeman College, against Childhaven, a benevolent institution at Cullman, Alabama. He argued that the "Maude Carpenter Children's Home" at Wichita, Kansas, under the supervision of the elders of the church, was scriptural; but Childhaven was unscriptural, being under a board of directors selected from all over the country.

Some time ago I heard Brother Jack Meyer, Sr., of the Homewood church here in Birmingham preach on benevolent institutions, and he was showing the difference between an orphan home and a missionary society. He said a missionary society was controlled by trustees selected from all over the country, and an orphan home was controlled by the church. I told him after the sermon that he had made Childhaven a missionary society, and he replied, "I had rather it was under the control of elders." Now what advice will Brother Goodpasture give the elders of churches over the country concerning these two brethren? While we are waiting for 'Brother Goodpasture's brotherly advice to the elders concerning these two writers for the Gospel Advocate, I will let you read a statement of these matters from Brother G. C. Brewer, whose body is now sleeping amid the dust of the dead.

"As stated above, this charge made by Brother Lewis is the same charge that is being made by all who are shouting 'institutionalism' today. It must be noted, however, that some of these critics against the orphan homes insist that they will be taken out from the condemned practice of 'institutionalism,' if only such orphan homes are governed by a board of directors composed of the elders of the church in the town where such a home is located. Their contention is that the orphan home will not then be an institution and. therefore, will not fall under the anathema of those who are opposing 'institutionalism.' Their argument leads to the conclusion that a home governed by the elders is a part of the church and, therefore, it falls under the regular duty of the overseers of the church to govern and control this portion of the church which, nevertheless, as an organization that is no part of the church, has its superintendent, its matrons, its cooks, its kitchen, its playground, its bathrooms, its sleeping quarters and everything else that would have constituted it an institution, except that it is under the elders and is therefore the church!! And in some of the places those who are operating homes have yielded to the force of this quibbling and have gone so far as to make the elders the supervisors of the home and then let the elders select a board of directors to do the work that the elders are named to do! This type of evasion and camouflage and hypocrisy is not endorsed by Brother John T. Lewis. However far he may have strayed from the straight line of reasoning in his indictment of Childhaven, he is not far enough gone mentally to endorse such caviling and nonsense as the above method involves."

The above quotation is from page seven of Brother Brewer's review of my tract on "Childhaven." A review that brother Gus Nichols scattered among the churches by arms full. The strongest argument (?) that the Gospel Advocate makes against those who oppose institutionalism is that they cannot agree among themselves. Enough said,