Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 27, 1958
NUMBER 42, PAGE 4-5b

Special Issue Next Week


The next issue of this paper will be devoted to the study of one special theme — THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. Different writers will discuss the various phases of the subject. The articles are very good and should be read by every child of God. This is a follow-up to the special of February 6 on the theme — THE WORKS OF THE FLESH. Both "specials" should have a wide distribution. Place your order at once for any extra copies needed. — C. A. H.

"The Birmingham Debate"

In The Home Journal, the official organ of The Maud Carpenter Children's Home, Brother W. D. Rhodes, the Superintendent, writes under the above caption and gives a brief report of his "impression" of the Birmingham debate. First of all he tells us: "I don't know of anyone more concerned over the `Children's Home question' than those of us who are actively engaged in it." If this is a sincere sentiment it is certainly a worthy one and it is hoped that Brother Rhodes and those who stand with him will not lose any of their "concern" regarding this "Question." It is good to note that he does recognize and admit that it is a "question," for indeed it is just that.

In the same connection Brother Rhodes says: "If we are doing something we shouldn't be doing we certainly want to know it. There are certainly easier ways to make a living." This sounds like an honest expression of one who wants to do what is right regardless of the consequences — and I accept it as just that. Everyone of us should feel the same way about all matters. Perhaps if all of us really and truly felt this way, most of the problems would be very easily solved. Everyone who truly is moved by such a spirit will be willing and ready to study and reason with others concerning all questions confronting God's people. Brother Rhodes should, therefore, encourage and welcome more honorable discussions of this matter. Maybe he can encourage one there in Wichita.

Here is one of his statements that leaves me wondering: "There are certainly easier ways to make a living." This implies that he is engaged in his work in order "to make a living." It sounds like this is just one way "to make a living," but if that way of making a living is not right, then he wants to know. We have been told that this "Home, Inc." was a work of the Riverside church in Wichita and under the oversight of the elders of that church; just like the Bible school classes. Is it right for one to engage in such work with the avowed purpose of making a living? That would be pure professionalism and put the work of the Lord on a commercial basis. It may well be that there is more of a commercial interest in such projects than most of us realize. He says that there are "easier ways to make a living." Does his use of the comparative term (easier) mean that his is an easy way "to make a living?" For the most part I am inclined to agree that this is right. In most respects it does seem that these "Superintendents" of "our" orphan homes do vets well for themselves. From what I can learn about one of them (at least) they seem to really "live off the fat of the land." Yet they would have us think that they are really making great sacrifices in doing the work they do. Before making this statement, Brother Rhodes wrote: "I know of no work with greater emotional strain, more responsibilities or work that requires greater sacrifices of time, money, anxieties" than his job. Poor fellow! He here ranks the efforts of the orphan home superintendents as the most demanding and responsible of all works. It requires more than being a faithful preacher, elder, or any other faithful Christian who may labor hard for his living and give sacrificially to the Lord's work. Frankly, I do not believe a word of this. It rather reminds me of the Pharisees who did their righteousness before men to be seen of men. This is just an appeal for sympathy. There certainly ought to be some "emotional strain" in doing the work he does — a work that is causing discord and division throughout the church of the Lord!

Later on in giving his "impression" of the debate, Brother Rhodes turns prophet. He makes this prediction: "This discussion will, no doubt, end the major discussions on this issue. The antis have presented their best. Their crusade has proven to be even weaker than the anti-Sunday school movement." Maybe I am reading between the lines, but I think that I see between the lines of this statement a great big I Hope on the part of the writer. No doubt he does hope that there will be no more such discussions. I do not know just what he would call "major discussions," but I do know that we are most anxious to see debates on this issue just as long as there is division over such. As Brother James Adams so well put it in his review (see this issue): "Let it be everywhere broadcast that those who oppose present day benevolent societies and cooperatives such as the Herald of Truth are completely satisfied with the issue of the Birmingham debate and would endorse, welcome, and rejoice in its being repeated in every major city in the land." To use a crude expression, "Them's my sentiments exactly." Brother Cogdill is certainly willing — and I might add able! The only reason that there will be no more "major discussion on this issue" is that Brother Rhodes and those who stand with him are not willing to engage in such! If I may turn prophet for a moment, I join Brother Rhodes in predicting that this will "end the major discussions on this issue," and I hasten to add that the reason is that the advocates of these things have "had enough." If they really thought that they had actually won the victory and accomplished the good by the debate that they claim, they would not only be willing to repeat the debate anywhere and everywhere, but they would jump at the chance. Watch and see how eager they are for another such encounter. If there is any way to avoid it they will not have any part in another. (Incidentally, right here in the Tri-Cities area we have been trying desperately to arrange for a "major" or even a "minor" discussion of these issues; but as yet we have not gotten the first peep out of the local advocates of such projects.)

Brother Rhodes also made another prediction: "These brethren must have an issue. Since the Children's Home and Cooperation issues have been pretty thoroughly discussed, I'd like to make a prediction. The next issue for these brethren will be the old College question again. They must have an issue . . ." Our brother is right in saying that we "must have an issue." We always have had and always will have, and we make no apology for it. Gospel preachers have always had an issue. Christ had one! Likewise did his apostles. Paul handed the "issue" to Timothy in these words: "as I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus . . . that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine." (1 Tim. 1:3.) He also told him to "guard that which is committed to thy trust . . ." (1 Tim. 6:20.) Jude put it this way: ". . . earnestly contend for the faith." Yes, we must have an issue — the same old issue that has always been — the issue of truth over error. In whatever form it may appear (Institutionalism, Catholicism, worldliness, modernism, etc.), whether in the church or out, it is still fundamentally the same issue. When we lose sight of the issue we shall cease to be Christians, the church shall go into apostasy and be another sect among the sects, and error shall be victorious over the truth. God forbid that the day come.

His prediction that "the next issue for these brethren will be the old College question again," is wrong completely. That will not be the "next" issue, for it is still a part of the present one — Institutionalism! As long as men advocate that churches of Christ should build and maintain human institutions through which to do any part of their divinely-appointed mission; just as long as men seek to make the church treasuries the subsidizing agency for human organizations (schools or what not), just that long this issue will prevail and we will fight it. The battle will be fought wherever error raises its head sad in this sense there will always be an issue just as there has always been one. We will not be bluffed nor intimidated into retreating regardless of the form the issue may take.

— C. A. H.