on benevolence

“The New Testament churches cared for the poor, not only the fatherless and widows, but the poor in general, and the unfortunate.  Every New Testament church abounded completely and perfectly in so doing.  The New Testament churches took such good care, and made such ample provisions for the fatherless and widows that they won the admiration of the pagan world, and every New Testament church is thoroughly furnished to do likewise.  Do you mean to tell me, friends, that a whole congregation, under the supervision of the elders, with its deacons, cannot minister to its fatherless and widows, but that they must be shipped off to a far away, general, outside, human institution?  It insults one’s intelligence to think that would be done.  Every member should obey the Saviour’s command, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’  (Matt. 5:16.)  The neighborhood needs to see the church, personally and individually, at work in ministering to the poor.  All the eloquent preaching on earth will prove to be ineffectual if this is lacking.”

— James A. Allen, from a sermon titled “When Should One Change?”, preached October 1959,  in Franklin Road Sermon Series, Volume XI (Russellville, AL: Norris Publishing Co., 1960), 6.

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One response to “on benevolence

  1. Allen was right. For example, most orphan’s homes were obviously not good for orphans, but because of their emotional appeal, were sometimes useful tools in the efforts to get churches to support the denominational machinery of the brotherhood. And, of course, that support salved the conscience of many that they were fulfilling their duties as far as benevolence was concerned.

    Of course, things have gone far beyond church supported orphan’s homes today. It is amazing how aggressive national “Church of Christ” organizations have become dominant in many Latin American countries and places like Nigeria. Brethren in those and other countries have taken “institutional” principles promoted by good men in the 1950’s and 60’s into areas that the old debaters could have scarcely imagined.

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