Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 7, 1957

Are They Parallel?

Jere E. Frost, Newbern, Tennessee

Misrepresentations are despicable, and when they are deliberate they are undeniably damnable. This is true concerning the representation either of a person or a doctrine. Diligence should always be exercised to be sure that only honorable representations be made either of those with whom we differ or of the doctrines against which we struggle. To that end it is my disposition to set forth the doctrine to which I am opposed, not in my words, but in the words of him who made the argument.

It has been contended, and such is my persuasion, that the arguments presented today in defense of institutional projects parallel the defense made years ago for the Missionary Society. The scope of this article is to focus attention upon the similarity and parallelism in the defense offered for such societies and brotherhood orphan homes, and for that reason the reader will observe in some of the quotations that there is a choice to be made as to whether a term that would reflect on the homes or society should be used. If a paragraph will adequately defend the homes but not the Missionary Society, I would sincerely appreciate the reader making a note of it as he reads and to write me of it. On the other hand, if the reverse is true it would also be appreciated if brought to my attention. But in any event, please mentally underline, in the statements where a choice is to be made, either one or both of the terms to which the argument made provides a defense.

Some Parallel Arguments

"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 principle laid down by Paul in I Corinthians 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."

"We cannot act decently and in order unless we act systematically. There must be some order as will be most promotive of the purpose in view, and of the thing to be accomplished. Now, the method, I repeat, of doing this is not specified, and as I said in the first place, if a number of Christian men get together, and conclude that by establishing and conducting a school for the purpose of educating young men and women to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and send them out into the world to engage in this great work, they are to act under their liberty, to make use of their best judgment and discretion as to the means of accomplishing the end in view."

". . . . and I hold that under the silence of the Scriptures in regard to ways and means and methods, this is an organization, and that it is saturated with the spirit of the living God from center to circumference, and I have an idea that the being that is most alarmed at and most opposed to the work of such an organization is the prince of the power of the air, who is always grieved when he sees at work an enterprise for the promotion of the Gospel of the Son of God, that proposes to overturn the kingdom of Satan."

Select The Term That Fits

"I allege that where the Scriptures require this to be done, and are silent in regard to the method by which it is to be done, this silence authorized these men, whether they be many or few, whether it be one congregation or a hundred congregations, to meet in the name of the Master, and under the commandment to (visit, go), inaugurate such a work and carry it on; and whenever you have that, you have (an orphanage, a missionary society)." '

"I ask my friend how small congregations that are not able to (support an orphan, send a missionary) each are to cooperate? How are they to take part in this work? Now, the (orphanage, society) provides for that. They cooperate. They send their mites, as it were, to men who will see that their contributions reach (the orphans, the men) ...."

"Now, here is a congregation, we will say, one yonder and another there, in a dozen countries and a dozen states and more, each one able to contribute something, but not one of them able to sustain (an orphan, a man) for ten days scarcely. Now, how are these different congregations that belong to this one body to get together so as to take part in this work? We think we have solved it in the (orphanage, society)."

"It is authorized in the New Testament, and then it is pleasing to God. I was showing what the (orphanage, society) proposes to do, and then what it is doing. Its purpose is certainly pleasing to God, and he admitted that. Well, then, is what they are doing pleasing to God? And it is under this head that I showed what it is doing in an imperfect and inadequate way. I hold that that is legitimate, perfectly legitimate, and I would be glad if my brother would come up here and tell where he is at work and what he is doing, and what are the results."

Conclusion In response to the arguments herein advanced and identified, it is my persuasion that the defense has vainly argued for that which is not denied. Namely, the right to employ methods. It should be apparent to all careful observers that the point of contention in the day now past was: what organization shall employ the admitted freedom of methods? Today, the question is still: what organization shall employ the admitted freedom of methods? The church or a missionary society? The church or a benevolent society?

As for the quotations, the one from whom they were taken used them, not in defense of orphan homes or benevolent societies, but for the missionary society. In every instance where there is a suggested "choice" of terms in a parenthesis, the author used the latter which invariably referred to the society or the one supported by the society. They may be found in the speeches of J. B. Briney of the Christian Church recorded in the Otey-Briney Debate of 1908. These same arguments, identical with the lone exception of saying "orphanage" where once was heard "society," are now being used. Purchase a copy of the Otey-Briney Debate and read a more complete account of the arguments to which institutional brethren have resorted.

(Quotations constituting the seven paragraphs of such were from the following pages respectively: 162, 162, 171, 169, 199, 211, and 215.)