Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 20, 1956
NUMBER 33, PAGE 11,14b

"Brother Lewis Didn't Answer"

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

In this issue of the Gospel Guardian you will find an article from Brother E. W. Stovall of Pocahontas, Ark., under the above heading. Please read it before you read my reply.

In the Gospel Guardian of July 19, 1956, I had an article on "Pure Religion." Brother E. W. Stovall reviewed my article in "The Noble Searcher" on July 20, 1956. I had never heard of "The Noble Searcher," and Brother Stovall did not do me the honor of sending me a copy. However, a brother from Texas sent me a copy of "The Noble Searcher," and after I had written my reply, a brother from Tennessee sent me another copy. If it had not been for these brethren, it is possible that I would never have heard of Brother Stovall's review. Why didn't Brother Stovall send his first review of my article to the Gospel Guardian, instead of publishing it in "The Noble Searcher"? Was it because he was afraid the Pocahontas elders might get the right idea about "Pure Religion" from my article, and he used "The Noble Searcher" to muddy the waters in Pocahontas?

Brother Stovall says he is at a loss to know why I called his article a "Solomonic review." Well, "Solomonic" means "characterized by wisdom," and after reading his "review," I am myself at a loss to know why I used it, so I withdraw that expression and substitute his confusion. The appropriateness of this designation will appear as I review his article.

I supposed Brother Stovall thought he answered my article in the Gospel Guardian of July 19, 1956, in "The Noble Searcher" of July 20, 1956, but now he is asking you to read it again. While you are reading it, I will try to penetrate Brother Stovall's confusion because it is as thick, on this subject, as the darkness of Egypt. I believe and have always taught that there is a close relation between the elders and the members of a local congregation. James 1:27 is telling the individual Christian what "Pure and undefiled Religion" is. First Peter 5:1-4 is telling elders what their duty and field of operation is.

Now to illustrate, and make the illustration so Brother Stovall can possibly understand it. Suppose a brother in the congregation at Pocahontas, Arkansas, should die and leave a wife and children without means of support, and the widow had no relatives able to care for them, there would be no question about the duty of individual members visiting them, but could an individual member go to the widow and assure her that the church would see after her and her children? If Brother Stovall does not know that that would be the duty of the elders, I am sure the elders would know it. Now, Brother Stovall, would there be any difference in the elders telling the widow that she could keep her children together and the church would provide for them, and in telling her she would have to send her children to an "orphan home" where they would be cared for? Now, Brother Stovall, you not only "have the right to question even Brother John T. Lewis," but you have the right to "even" answer his questions. Will you do it? If the church at Pocahontas was not able to care for the widow and her children, she could ask other churches to help care for them. Read Acts 11:27-30 and 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

Brother Stovall says: "Then in paragraph two of his article of July 19 he said: 'If the congregation wasnot able to do that, then other congregations and individual Christians should help them'." Yes, Brother Stovall, and I have gone and said it again. Brother Stovall continues: "At this point I raised two — questions: (1) `What does it matter whether the orphan or widow is far or near when you have helped relieve their want — affliction?' and (2) `Is it not visitation in either case?' This Brother Lewis didn't answer." I hope I can answer this time, Brother Stovall, so you can understand. It is absolutely not "visitation in either case," Brother Stovall. One is by visitation and the other by proxy. I think your trouble, Brother Stovall, is, you do not know what "visitation" means. So I will tell you. "Visitation — the act or fact of visiting: a visit; also, the state or circumstances of being visited; as, a pastor's visitation." Now, can't you understand how elders could make that impossible for the individual members by sending the orphans off to an orphan home, controlled by trustees selected from different parts of the country, not by elders, but by the organization itself ?

I quoted Matthew 25:40 to show that Jesus said we served Him by serving our brethren. Brother Stovall says: "Does he not here say that visitation is confined to the brethren? If not, his language is superfluous." I only quoted what Jesus Christ said, and if there is any superfluity in it, Brother Stovall, give Jesus the credit for it, and not John T. Lewis. Brother Stovall then quotes Galatians 6:10 and makes a big ado about it. lie says: "Brother Lewis is dangerously close to refusing this passage of scripture to sustain his point relative to the orphan home." Now, Brother Stovall, does Paul show in Galatians 6:10 that Jesus Christ was wrong in Matthew 25:40? Does Paul teach in Galatians 6:10 that the church has the same obligation to care for the indigent of the world that it has in caring for its own members? Remember, Brother Stovall, that you have "even the right" to answer John T. Lewis? Will you do it? I am absolutely surprised that a gospel preacher with even a smattering idea of the teaching of the New Testament would quote Galatians 6:10 to show that the church has the obligation to build orphan homes to care for orphans of the world. Lest Brother Stovall should tell us what the Greek means, I will say that the most illiterate member of the church understands Galatians 6:10. You can go into any community of farmers and if 'one is sick and cannot plant his crop the neighbors will go and plant it for him, and you will never hear some crack pot asking if he is a member of the church? They understand what "doing good unto all men" means.

Brother Stovall asked: "Have the Birmingham congregations cared for all their needy widows and orphans?" I said they had, and if Brother Stovall knows they have not, let him tell us what congregation has failed to do it. Finally, to show his utter confusion, he asked: "Why was it that the children of Mrs. Grace Richardson of Estill County, Kentucky, were not placed in some of the many Christian homes that asked for them?" Why should he ask me that silly question? There was nothing in my article about "Mrs. Grace Richardson of Estill County, Kentucky." What business does he think I would have nosing around in Estill County, Kentucky, asking about widows and their children? However, if the church in Estill County, Kentucky, had been caring for Mrs. Grace Richardson and her children, and found they were not able to bear all the expenses, if they had let the churches in Birmingham know about it I am sure some of them would have sent them help. That is the New Testament way of doing it. I hope, Brother Stovall, this will clarify the issues, and your institutional brethren will quit trying to make laws where God has made none.