Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 27, 1958

Some Very Versatile Verses

H. O. Hutto, Russellville, Alabama

In the recent Birmingham debate Brother Guy N. Woods came up with a new argument to prove that churches of Christ may build and maintain such benevolent organizations as Childhaven. This argument was based on Gal. 4:1-2. Bro. Woods read the argument so rapidly that I and perhaps others did not hear clearly all that was said but the argument ran like this:

Gal. 4:1-2 reads: "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father." From this Brother Woods concluded that Paul "accepted and endorsed the Roman civil law touching the control and management of minor children." Since Paul accepted the practice of putting minor children under "guardians and stewards" we may do the same today, and the Board of Directors of Childhaven occupy the same place as the "guardians and stewards" here mentioned. Hence, churches of Christ may build and maintain benevolent organizations 'such as Child-haven!

Yes, Gal. 4:1-2 was given as proof that "churches" may build and maintain such organizations. But if you will notice, Gal. 4:1-2 says absolutely nothing about "churches" doing anything! It talks about what "fathers" did, not what "churches" may do. Yet Brother Woods used this as proof that Childhaven is scriptural.

Notice some things that Gal. 4:1-2 does NOT say:

1. It does not even state that the "heir" under consideration is "fatherless," much less that he is the responsibility of the church!

2. Even if it should be granted that the "heir" is an "orphan," it does not necessarily follow that he would be the responsibility of the church. Why? Simply because that this heir under consideration is an "heir" of some "all" of which one day (the day his father appointed) he will be "lord." Furthermore he has guardians and stewards" who can administer his estate until he reaches that "day" which his father has appointed. Really, is the church responsible for fatherless children who have estates and who have guardians and stewards to administer these estates and care for them till they reach maturity?

3. Furthermore, there is coming a time when the "heir" will not be "under" the "guardians and stewards" neither will they be "over" his estate. On the day the "father" appoints the child will become "lord" of the estate." Is this true of Childhaven? When the children reach maturity do the children become "lord" of the "estate"? You know.

All in the world Paul said was that a father may entrust his child and the child's estate unto the hands of guardians, stewards, tutors, governors, or trustees until he reaches an age which is determined by the father himself. Now if that proves that churches of Christ may put such organizations who act as guardians and stewards in the "budget," then we will have to put some Banks in the "budget" too. Oftentimes a father will leave his child an inheritance or estate and this will be administered by a Bank or Trust Company until the child reaches an age which the father appointed. What say ye, shall we put Banks and Trust Companies in the "budget"? If Brother Woods' argument has any merit, we could.

But here is what really takes the cake. In 1954 Brother Woods debated Leroy Garrett on the "school question." In that debate Brother Woods introduced this very same passage of scripture to prove that Christian schools have a scriptural right to exist! That's right. He said, "the work of the Christian School is IDENTICAL WITH THE WORK OF TUTORS AND GOVERNORS MENTIONED IN THIS PASSAGE (Gal. 4:1-2) so far as the training and instruction is concerned." (Gospel Advocate, July 29, 1954, page 586) In 1954 the "tutors and governors" are the same as a Christian school; in 1957 the "tutors and governors" are the same as the Board of Directors and Superintendent of Childhaven. In 1954 Gal. 4:1-2 authorizes a school; in 1957 it authorizes what Brother Woods calls a "home." Brother Woods can eloquently distinguish between a church and a home I wonder if he can not distinguish between a school and a home. Is a school a home, and is the home a school? Evidently Brother Woods thinks so or else he has changed. I wonder if he has really at last changed on something? And notice that he says "the work of the Christian school is IDENTICAL with the work of tutors and governors" . . . not merely that it is similar; it is IDENTICAL!

But then Brother Woods not only introduced Gal. 4:1-2 to prove that Childhaven and the "guardians and stewards" are the same, he also introduced it to prove church support. Now if he did not introduce the scripture to prove church support of it, why then did he introduce it at all for the very thing under consideration was what "churches" may do. But if Gal. 4:1-2 authorizes not only an organization such as Childhaven but also authorizes "church support" of it, then when Gal. 4:1-2 authorizes a "Christian school" it will authorize "church support" of this too. If not, why not? If it proves one it proves the other. And down goes Brother Woods' opposition to church support of "our" colleges, "world without end." Still Brother Woods hasn't changed!

Yes, Gal. 4:1-2 gives us some very versatile verses but even at that it does not give one vestige of "authority "for churches of Christ building and maintaining benevolent organizations such as Childhaven for the care of the needy. The local church is still sufficient for that.