Speak For Yourself Don
In a recent article in the Firm Foundation, Brother Glenn L. Wallace, who preaches for the College Church in Abilene, calls our attention to a decision made by those directing the campaign which is in progress for A.C.C. at the present time. In a sort of apologetic tone Brother Glenn tells us that he is afraid that Brother Don Morris, president of Abilene Christian College, and the present administration, have been misrepresented, and says that "honesty demands that we permit the leaders of Abilene Christian College to express themselves in this matter." He then quotes from an article which appeared in the Firm Foundation from Brother Don Morris, and the quotation is as follows:
"When the campaign for the two buildings was started in 1943, it was decided by those directing the campaign not to ask any congregation of the church to contribute to the campaign as a congregation or to place the college in its budget".
He tells us also that Brother Morris made it "clear, that, despite any advertisement that appeared to state otherwise, the school administration did not endorse any effort to connect Abilene Christian College with the church".
It can readily be seen that this statement does not meet the issue that is under discussion. It announces belatedly a matter of policy and states no position or principle that is recognized. They could easily have rescinded such a decision as this and decided to ask for contributions from churches later on in the campaign. At least they have asked for such contributions whether or not they decided to do so. Such a change of policy could easily have taken place, especially since they had not announced their first decision.
There are several things about Brother Glenn's article that perhaps have occurred to others just like they have occurred to me. "Honesty" would demand that notice be taken of recent articles, utterances, and advertisements that do not agree with the decision which Brother Morris says was made in 1943 and made again in 1946. If any notice of this decision was ever given to the churches until the recent article by Brother Morris, I have not heard of anyone who heard of it. Isn't it rather singular that such a decision was kept private and secret while so much publicity has been given to so many things contrary to it and completely out of harmony with it? Why didn't the present administration of Abilene Christian College go on record definitely and positively at the beginning of the campaign to such an effect? Why did they permit so much advertising and letter writing and speaking out of harmony with their purpose and intention?
Brother Wallace is more afraid of the influence of dictatorial papers and preachers than he is of the influence of Colleges upon the churches. This is sort of a general "scarecrow" which is being raised. Why don't some of these insinuators tell us what they are talking about? Are they talking about the Firm Foundation or the Bible Banner? Do they mean Foy E. Wallace, Jr.? If so, why not have the courage to say so and name the scarecrow they seek to erect so someone will recognize him?
He is afraid another Daniel Sommer will arise and another "Christian Review." From what source does he think this danger will arise? Surely he does not have the Bible Banner and its Editor in mind here for he wrote in a personal letter to him some time back.
"I have just read the last issue of the "Banner" and appreciate what you have to say in it...I do not believe you are an enemy of any school where men are attempting to do the right thing. I am positive that as long as men conduct any sort of undertaking such as a paper or a school that there are times when they should be willing to listen to others and accept criticism. Many people here have not been in harmony with some of the advertisements made of A.C. C. for some time. I have objected to it and have talked with Brother Alexander about it. I told him that I thought it was wrong in principle and that it would cause harm to the work that A.C.C. is trying to do. —Glen L. Wallace, minister of the College Church, Abilene, Texas."
When the Board members, faculty members, and others connected with our schools carry on what is supposed to be a private correspondence with a Gospel preacher over a point in controversy and without giving the preacher any chance to adjust any matter whatsoever if a mistake has been made, begin the correspondence by sending a copy of their letter to one of the Elders of the congregation where the preacher preaches, it appears that schools at least seek to use some pressure methods that are not so commendable. This reference is to a very recent incident of this kind.
Again Brother Wallace refers to "efforts to wreck the schools." Once more we ask what is he talking about? Does he mean the "campaign" in the Bible Banner against the schools soliciting and receiving contributions from the church? He said in his recent letter that he opposed such an attempt. Was he trying to wreck A.C.C. when he made such objections? When he recently joined rather positively in the criticism against George Pepperdine, was he trying to wreck that school?
He preached against the "College in the Budget" at the College Church. Was he trying to "dictate" to the church about the matter? If not why would others be when they oppose it? Was he showing a "rule or ruin" spirit in preaching on it? Was his effort to wreck Abilene Christian College? If not, then why impugn the motives of others and insinuate such unsavory things.
Brother Glenn knows that this is not a fight between the "school crowd" and the "anti-school crowd." All others know that likewise who will stop to reflect upon the facts. The cry of "Dictator" has too much of a political "rousement" tone to be effective on brethren who are interested in the Church remaining loyal to the truth. Davidson tried it on the Bible Banner, Brewer has shouted it, Harding College has shouted it and now some of the other school men have joined in the chorus. Well, if preaching and writing the truth in plain, positive, fashion on any and every issue that confronts the church in an earnest, honest effort, to provoke faithfulness is dictating, we will have to plead guilty and let them make the most of it.
Brother Glenn was clear enough in the statement made in his letter to the editor with reference to his own position. He surely knows though that even though he is preaching for the College Church he should not try to straddle the fence by bobbing up as a mouth piece for the "present administration" of the College in Abilene. If he does not agree with them in their practice, then he should keep his voice in its natural tone by letting it be known instead of helping them in their shout of "Dictator."
If it was the avowed purpose of the present administration to not solicit contributions from congregations, then why did such advertisements appear in our papers as that on the back page of the Firm Foundation, issue of January 21st, 1947? This ad was over the name of Don H. Morris, President, and Robert M. Alexander Campaign Director. Here are three statements from the ad:
"If This Endowment Is To Be Raised, Congregations Must Volunteer To Raise And Send In Regular Sums For This Purpose.
Any Amount Which A Group Of Brethren Will Pledge Themselves To Raise Will Be Accepted As Endowment.
Several Congregations of Brethren Have Already Pledged Themselves to Assist Us in This Campaign".
How does the purpose of the present administration appear in the light of such advertising? Will Brother Morris repudiate this kind of advertising? Why did he permit his name to appear in connection with it? Both Brother Wallace and Brother Morris must admit that such advertising certainly is not in harmony with what Brother Morris says was decided upon when the campaign started. Did the President not know what was going on? Or was he just willing to permit it as long as someone did not raise too much fuss about it? How would Brother Wallace explain all of this or would "honesty" demand that it be explained?
Another thing to be noticed is that the article from Brother Don Morris which Brother Wallace quotes from appeared in the Firm Foundation of May 6, 1947, but the "campaign" of the Bible Banner against making the schools a church institution began with the March issue of the Bible Banner almost two months before Brother Morris announced what the purpose of the school administration had been since 1943. So when Brother Wallace says, "even before the Bible Banner appeared with its campaign, the president of Abilene Christian College had an article in the Firm Foundation", he is incorrect in that statement.
And even before that the issue had been raised by Brother Will M. Thompson in the Firm Foundation in some criticisms leveled at some advertising of the A.C.C. program.
Of course, that is incidental for the statement by the president of Abilene Christian College should have been made public at the beginning of the campaign and not just recently. How would the statement look in such an advertisement as the one quoted above?
Why doesn't Brother Don speak for himself? Does he personally believe that the work of Abilene Christian College is the work of the church? Does he believe that the churches should support such institutions as Abilene Christian College? Would he defend it as a scriptural practice or does he teach that it is unscriptural? Does Brother Morris agree with Brother Brewer that Abilene Christian College should be put in the budget of such churches as Cleburne and Sherman? If not, why doesn't he say so? Is the president of Abilene Christian College out of harmony with the Campaign Director of Abilene Christian College who thinks that it is all right for the school to be supported by the churches? Did the present management of Abilene Christian College decide in 1943, as Brother Morris says they did not to solicit contributions from churches as congregations because they believe it to be wrong or just as a matter of policy? Why don't they tell us in language definite and plain, so they won't be misunderstood?
If the present management of Abilene Christian College believes that it is wrong for congregations to support Abilene Christian College, why do they accept such contributions? Are not they as guilty of wrong when they accept it as the congregation is which gives it? When a man knowingly receives stolen property he is guilty in the sight of the law. Wouldn't the same principle apply?
Why have they put the campaign on a congregational basis all the way through when it was their purpose not to do so? Can it possibly be that they are more interested in getting the money than they are in what is right? Are they more interested in the school than they are in the church? Does financing the school mean more than standing for what is right?
I wonder when Abilene Christian College has adhered to the policy announced by Brother Morris. They were not adhering to such a policy in 1938 for in that year they awarded a "Certificate of Honor" to the Southside Church in Fort Worth for contributions received from that church. C. A. Norred took it down off the wall and into the pulpit and preached against such a practice. The elders of Abilene Christian College did this while the stool was still under the presidency of Jas. F. Cox and about the time he made his statement denying giving Brother Brewer any authority to advocate churches putting Abilene Christian College in their budgets.
It seems they have been good at saying one thing while their representatives were doing another.
They were not adhering to such a practice and purpose when they gave circulation to the Luther Robert's lecture advocating the right of the church to support schools.
They were not adhering to such a purpose and practice when they wrote their advertising in the Firm Foundation.
They have never adhered to such a purpose and practice in the work of Robert Alexander. He as consistently advocated it, announced that he believed it, advertised it, and encouraged it has as their representative. Why do they have such a hard time practicing what they purpose to do? Is the money too attractive?
What Don Morris and the Board decided to do before the campaign started and what they have done and have permitted to be done are evidently two different things. "Honesty demands" that they explain the lack of harmony and tell us what their convictions are on this issue. There is a way out that is right and honorable if they are looking for one. Why don't they speak for themselves? Why don't they announce to the whole brotherhood that A.C.C. isn't the work of the church, doesn't come within the scope of the mission of the church, should not be supported by the churches and that church contributions will henceforth not be accepted? If they will make that kind of statement and adhere to it as a principle they will certainly clear themselves and we will all be glad.
From Volume Two Of Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons
"THE CHURCH—ITS WORK"
On Benevolence: "They sent it by the hands of Barnabas and Paul unto the elders of the church—not to some receiver, or to some treasurer, or to some board; but they sent it to the officials of the church of God by the hands of Barnabas and Paul."
On helping organized charities: "But I know one thing, the Bible is as silent as the stars about any kind of slumming work characteristic of the church of God.'
"The church is not intended to be a social organization for social betterment and for temporal advancement." "The function and work of the church of God is not primarily for the furnishing of temporal help, or assistance."
"Whatsoever the Lord has said, that is the law governing the people under the Christian dispensation. What the law has not said and the Lord has not declared is absolutely not binding; and it would be an act of presumption to insist upon the incorporation of the same into the rules, regulations and practices of the church."
On Luther's doctrine: "I want to stop here long enough for you to get it so that you can say it on the way home, say it after you lie down, say it tomorrow morning when you rise up. The principle is (according to Luther) that we will accept into service and worship of God anything and everything not directly and specifically forbidden by the Bible."
"On the other hand the great Swiss reformer (Zwingli) said: 'My platform is that in the matter of worship to God and service to the Lord we accept nothing unless the Scriptures authorize it.' God must ordain it or it will have no part in his service. I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that if you will subscribe to either of these principles I can tell you the rest the question is settled once and for all as to where you will drift Now, as a matter of fact, I have subscribed 100 per cent to the last principle (Zwingli's)."
"But some one says: 'Now, Brother Hardeman, the Bible does not forbid it; and, therefore we are at liberty to use it, and it is permissible.' Well, is that a safe principle, friends? are you willing to subscribe to that statement—that whatever the word of God does not forbid in direct statement, that is acceptable. It would involve every man on earth in wonderful complications."
Excerpts From Volumes Iii, IV. V, Of Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons
Under the heading of "Authority" in Vol. 3, Hardeman labors to show what is and what is not authority in religion, and closes with the following statement:
"Christians are fundamentalists to them, the Bible and the Bible alone is the source of authority. Whatever it teaches, demands, or commands they are ready to accept. Beyond its declarations they dare not go, it is either the sum of all authority or it is none at all they claim to be nothing, preach nothing, practice nothing, for which there is no authority in the word of God. When any matter is presented, they ask: 'Does the Bible authorize it? Does God demand it? If so, they are ready do accept it and make it a part of their religious program."
Under the heading of "Essentials and Non-essentials" in Vol. 4, Hardeman labors to show that riding on a train is a part of the command, included in the Generic word "go" ; and he labors to prove that certain things not mentioned are nevertheless "in the command, as things necessary to doing the thing that is commanded, such as the use of literature, riding in whatever conveyance is available—and then he heads toward a hard fall—by showing that a baptistery is a part of the command to be baptized. Hear him:
"Suppose you dam up a branch and dig out a place of sufficient size and baptize a man in it? What have you done? Only that which the Bible demands."
Then, he says, "Friends and brethren, a failure to see that, just so long as we do only what God says, all is well, is responsible for many cranks and hobbyists among us."
That was in 1938—but now he says the baptistery is a thing not "demanded,' no command for it at all! Verily, the legs of the lame are unequal!
Under the heading of "All-sufficiency of Scriptures" in Vol. 5, Hardeman says:
"Bear in mind that the word 'good' is a relative term. A thing may be good as determined by one standard and bad as measured by another. In all matters of religion the Bible is our standard . . if the Bible is absolutely silent regarding any matter, proper respect for God's word demands that it be not in the worship or work of the church."
FROM THE BOSWELL-HARDEMAN DEBATE — PAGE 147
Hardeman had been dealing with the argument made by digressives that instrumental music is not among things forbidden, not specifically forbidden.
"A thing is right, ladies and gentlemen, upon one basis —namely, does God want it or not? If God says have it, it is right; if God does not say have it, it is wrong. But notice again. He (Boswell) says: Hardeman, the Bible does not forbid instruments." Well, that's a bright idea. Neither does the Bible forbid, in so many words, babies being baptized"—and Hardeman then proceeds to mention a lot of things the Bible does not forbid—after which he concludes: "Would you permit me to bring these things into your meetinghouse? Answer next week."
Hardeman On "The Law And The Principle'' And Things Forbidden
"One idea of government was championed by Alexander Hamilton, and the other by Thomas Jefferson. "Hamilton insisted that the government establish a national bank, in which it should be the chief stockholder. Just at that point Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, interposed objections, and the first great fight in the new government began, with these two champions on either side.
"Now I want you to get the arguments put forth by these great leaders . . . Jefferson said that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land," and "if we launch our ship of state on the Constitution we have adopted, we cannot establish a national bank, because there is no provision for it."
"On the other hand, Mr. Hamilton said: 'There is nothing in the constitution prohibiting the establishment of a national bank there is not a line in it that says: Thou shalt not have the government engage in the banking business."
"These two ideas laid the foundation for the two great political parties, which were known as Federalists and Antifederalists. But as time went on other names characterized these parties., Mr. Hamilton's party came to he known as "loose constructionists"—that is, to construe loosely the Constitution, on the ground that we are at liberty to do anything that it does not specifically prohibit. Jefferson's party was known as "strict constructionists"—that is, they proposed to be governed strictly by what "was written," and declared there was danger in "going beyond."
"In the heated discussions that grew out of these great differences the question became: 'Shall we be governed by what the Constitution and the law of the land says, or shall we be at liberty to provide any measure, inaugurate any system, or engage in any kind of business, just so the constitution does not specifically forbid it'?" . .
"But I have made a political speech long enough. I want to pass from that to this: I think, my friends what I have said is an honest, fair, unbiased, and unprejudiced discussion of a difference that exists tonight between many of us with respect to the word of God . . . Friends, what shall be my conception of the word of God Almighty? Do I look upon it as a law granting me the liberty to do anything not specifically forbidden therein? Or, on the other hand have I accepted God's constitution and do I propose to be governed by what it says rather than by what it does not say? We have drifted into this kind of an idea, and it has generally come into popularity—namely, that the Bible is a book of broad, general principles that in the main ought to be respected just as a kind of general proposition and guide. But with reference to details—with reference to the establishment of the "banking business," or the organization of any kind of a society or corporation not specifically forbidden—we are at liberty to be guided by our "sanctified common sense.'
"Well, it is just a question of how we shall construe God's book and heaven's constitution. How do I view the Bible? Does God want me to be a "loose constructionist" or a "strict constructionist?" That will settle, ladies and gentlemen, all of our petty and minor discussions. It was not a question with Hamilton and Jefferson as to whether there was anything wrong in a national bank or the establishment thereof. I presume Mr. Jefferson would have said there is no harm in it. That was not the issue. The question was: Are we going to respect the Constitution?"
"Just so in matters of religion. We have wandered away on far-off discussions of petty differences. What is the principle? Go back of all these and it resolves itself into this: "Shall I construe God's word strictly, shall I be governed by what God, says, or shall I be privileged to do anything under heaven just so God, in so many words,' does not declare: 'Hardeman. thou shalt not'."
Mark you, if there is no harm in it, God does not prohibit it, and it strikes your fancy, then what? Are you at liberty to do it just because God has not specifically forbidden it?"
"My obligation toward the Bible is the obligation that Mr. Jefferson felt toward the Constitution . . . I must do what the constitution says, and not presume to go beyond it'. . . worship according to his decree, and practice those things, and only those things, for which there is authority in his word anything commanded by God, authorized by the scriptures, that we do not preach and practice, we will introduce it on the other hand, if there is one single thing preached or practiced that is not authorized by the word of God, I stand individually pledged to give it up I do not want to be responsible for sowing seeds of discord or division outside of that which God commanded."
(Taken from address on "Federalists and Antifederalists" in Tabernacle Sermons, Volume I, Pages 76 to 86.)