Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity

A Proposed Solution


Reading the David Lipscomb editorials on "Christian Unity, How Promoted, How Destroyed," the third of which appears in this issue, is an amazing and eye-opening experience. Many of us have realized for a long time that current issues and problems are running a close parallel to the course of events of sixty years ago; but it is simply astonishing to find out how close and how remarkable is that parallel. It is almost uncanny! We most urgently plead with every reader of the Guardian to read these Lipscomb editorials carefully, and then pass them on to others. Lipscomb's mighty pen was perhaps the greatest single influence of that former age in stopping the tide of digression and keeping the southern churches relatively free from the blight which withered the cause in the north. Perhaps once again the clear simple logic, the profound faith in God's word, and the unswerving loyalty to a "thus saith the Lord" of this great saint will cause brethren to stop and consider their course.

As we have read and studied Lipscomb's editorials, we have tried to apply the simple Bible teaching in them to current issues, and to determine what would be the truly Christian and wise course to follow in meeting present problems. We want to offer one constructive suggestion which we believe will go a long way toward relieving tensions and working toward a scriptural solution of some of the difficulties now before us. To have the proper appreciation for that proposed solution, let us consider

The Present Situation

In nearly every congregation in the nation there is now a divided sentiment, differing convictions, as to the scripturalness of the orphan homes now being conducted among us. Probably the majority of brethren think they are permitted by Scripture, and there are a few (a very few apparently) who now take the position that such homes are demanded by Scripture. But that a considerable, and growing, minority are firmly convinced that the homes, as now operated, are contrary to Scripture is too obvious to be denied. These brethren are made up largely of men who were once favorably inclined toward the homes, but who have been forced to revise and modify their attitude by a close, careful study of the Bible. They oppose the homes not as a mere matter of opinion or judgment, but because they think such arrangements are contrary to the word of God. It is a matter of conviction and conscience. These brethren, however tender their solicitude for orphan children and aged widows, simply cannot get consent of their hearts to accept and countenance an arrangement for the care of such which they believe subversive to God's order. Many of them have spent and are spending thousands upon thousands of dollars yin caring for the orphaned and the aged in their own homes, making incomparably greater sacrifices in doing so than the few dollars per month that some big churchesare doling out to the orphan homes. These brethren cannot conscientiously endorse, countenance, or condone church contributions to homes for the orphaned and the aged such as are now in operation among us.

When The Congregation Contributes?

But what is happening? In scores of congregations a majority of the elders have authorized monthly contributions from the church treasury to the orphan homes, knowing that there are people within the congregation whose conscience will be violated by their participation in such a contribution! Every time such a contribution is authorized by an eldership, the good brethren who cannot conscientiously participate are forced (1) either to contribute to something they believe to be wrong, or (2) to refuse to contribute at all and thus violate the scripture, or (3) to cease worshiping with that congregation and seek fellowship in a congregation where they can contribute in good conscience.

Do the godly elders in the land want to force that kind of unpalatable choice upon the members who are under their oversight? Do they want to compel divisions and strife and alienations within the flock? We believe not.

A Suggested Solution

There is a very simple and obvious solution to this problem: Let all those who feel that they would be condemned by God for a failure to contribute to the orphan homes send their own contributions directly to such homes — and let no contributions be made from the church treasuries! Surely any eldership which is at all fit to be such can find ample opportunities for the placing of every dollar coming into the church treasury in activities which are agreeable and acceptable to the entire membership as being SCRIPTURAL. By using the church treasury only for that which all accept as scriptural, they will unite the congregation, promote peace, and foster and encourage the right kind of feeling between and among brethren. Nobody will feel that any opinion is being forced on him, one way or the other. Those who want to support the institutions individually should be allowed to do so without criticism or censure while the entire question is studied in the light of God's word. Those who believe the homes are unscriptural will not be forced to violate their conscience by making a contribution to them.

We knew a congregation once in which an elder wanted the church to make a contribution to the Red Cross. Suppose the other elders had agreed with him, and that a contribution from that congregation had gone to the Red Cross. There would have been a considerable number of members there who would have resented such a contribution, and would have felt they could not conscientiously give their money to the church treasury knowing it was going to be turned over to the Red Cross. But if these elders had adamantly refused to change their course, and had insisted they had the right as elders of the church to make church contributions to any cause they deemed worthy (be it orphan home, Christian College, missionary society, or Red Cross), would they not have been over-stepping the bounds of their authority? Would not their unyielding insistence on such a contribution have forced a division within the church? Indeed, in the sad history of the digression it happened more than once that the elders of a church were united in support of the missionary society, or in bringing an orphan into the worship — and faithful Christians were compelled either to violate their conscience by accepting the innovation, or else pull out and start a new congregation.

We plead with all elders everywhere to read the Lipscomb editorials as they continue in the 'Guardian. Let peace and good-will and harmony be encouraged and promoted in every congregation. This is God's way; this is God's desire.

— F. Y. T.