Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 13, 1958
NUMBER 28, PAGE 8-9b

What Is A "Christian College" For?

Bill Fling; Long Beach, California

What is the purpose of a "Christian college?" This is a question that currently is in need of serious discussion. I have noticed a whole spectrum of opinions which our brethren entertain on this subject. Some of these views are creating active "situations" which directly and organically affect the churches. The status quo will not remain static either. So we must decide now as to what is the proper place of these institutions.

1. Some brethren, such as Leroy Garrett, have insisted that a college where the Bible is taught daily has no right to exist — regardless of the manner of support.

2. Most brethren are convinced that these schools have a right to exist as long as they are SEPARATE AND APART FROM THE CHURCH. Every time the colleges make a major attempt at getting their fingers into the church treasuries, sound preachers and elders "slap their hands". But the same brethren send their children to such schools, make personal contributions to them, and are generally looked upon as "friends of the school".

3. A third view, espoused and promoted by the late G. C. Brewer, holds that the colleges are of such value to the progress of the church, that elders may, if they desire, contribute money from the Lord's treasury to such schools.

These three views, with slight variations, compose the convictions of our brethren as to their right to exist and the means by which they exist. But basic to these peripheral matters lies the foundation question:

"Why Have A Christian College At All"

1. Not for general academic education. The public schools of this nation are of the very highest quality and within the financial reach of all. Except in the theoretic science and "pre-historic history" realms, the public school education is fine. (That the professors in the higher levels weave their agnostic and atheistic principles into their courses is an acknowledged fact. This is a point in favor of an education coming from brethren who believe God's account of creation.) Nevertheless, if the reason for Christian Colleges were the general education feature, we would have no need of them.

2. Colleges are not to be the agency for doing the church's work. Colleges are not an "edifying" channel of the church. Neither are they the church's preacher training institutions or missionary seminaries. The church of Christ is the fullness of Christ himself. (Eph. 1:22,23) If the church is not sufficient to develop its own preachers, teachers, and "missionaries" without leaning on ANY HUMAN INSTITUTION, then it is failing its work, and it is not the true church of Christ in the first place. It is right here that this scribe sees a very real danger. Many elders and preachers have the attitude that these schools are INDISPENSABLE. Others place their value so highly that they are just barely short of being indispensable. Brother E. W. McMillan stated in a recent Pepperdine lectureship, "We cannot be righteous before God until we shoulder and discharge our responsibilities to George Pepperdine College." This statement has appeared in print in two different papers, but no denial has been forthcoming from the speaker or the college.

In a recent Christian Chronicle report (9/30/58) there was this query asked by George S. Benson: "WHAT COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT in evangelizing the Northwest than this Christian college in the state of Idaho?" (emphasis mine BF). Brethren, I am a "friend of the schools". I graduated from ACC and spent one summer session in high school in Harding Academy, but I refuse to be carried away with such enthusiasm. There must be something MORE IMPORTANT than a college, because the apostle Paul never established one in Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, or anywhere else. I am afraid that in our preaching, the body of Christ is a "glorious church", but in our actions, we put the church in the rumble seat — and shut the lid!

3. Colleges are not to PLAN THE WORK of churches, speak for churches, or in any way unduly influence them. I received a letter the other day in an official George Pepperdine College envelope. Opening it, I was greeted with this announcement in big letters:


Area-Wide Chorus Now Being Formed By Audition Only Place:

Green Room, Fine Arts Building Pepperdine College (etc.)

Notice, a "Church of Christ" chorus! I wondered "which church"? Not the Vermont Avenue church; the announcement was not on their stationery or signed by their elders or preacher. It was signed, "Richard C. Palm, Director". At the bottom of the announcement there was this note: "We are interested in developing this chorus to have eventually a nation-wide church radio program which will originate from Los Angeles. The chorus will also give concerts from time to time." Did you observe that this is to be a "nation-wide church radio program"? When a college becomes a "sponsoring-church" type institution for another nation-wide church radio program, and brethren allow it, "we have drifted" verily. Some folks in these parts tell me "Pepperdine has changed!... The change has been that it is now popular, more brazen, and totally unashamed.

4. Furthermore, colleges are not to use their influence to alienate brethren. In the past few years the ACC lectureship has quarantined every man who opposes institutionalism or sponsoring elderships. I wrote Brethren Don Morris and J. D. Thomas about the matter over a year and a half ago. The reply from Brother Thomas was that they do not purposefully reject anyone; they just select the best men for the subjects ... the ones with the ability and qualifications to handle the topic. This is simply another way of saying that scores of faithful preachers, for many years sought and welcomed on these lectureships, have suddenly become "ignoramuses". What have become of such men as Homer Hailey, A. Hugh Clark, Cecil B. Douthitt, Yater Tant, W. Curtis Porter, Franklin T. Puckett, Foy E. Wallace, Mack Kercheville, Roy E. Cogdill, M. C. Cuthbertson, and many, many others who were formerly welcomed on these programs? Did they all suddenly lose their "ability?" (And ACC does not stand alone in this matter. Franklin T. Puckett used to be moderator at Harding's open forum, but not anymore.)

With this attitude prevailing, these colleges cannot be trying to promote peace and better feelings among brethren, but contrariwise, most of them allow public ridicule and cutting sarcasm against those who question the current practices among us. It could be happily different if everyone were 'not so eager to "follow a multitude to do evil". The colleges never were, and never will be, the Discipline Board of the Brotherhood.

Then Why Have A Christian College At All?

The schools can "live to serve" if they will stay in their proper place. They can serve parents and society as a place:

1. Where a clean moral environment will keep our young people from being laughed at for not dancing, drinking, etc.

2. Where Christians can meet and marry "those of like precious faith." John Bannister is quoted in the same Chronicle mentioned above as saying, "Our Christian colleges serve in bringing our Christian young people together to worship together, play together, and perhaps meet a Christian mate and build a solid Christian home. If the colleges do no more than this, they are well worth our support". To such most all of us would agree, I'm sure."

3. Where preachers and others could learn Greek, speech, and other desirables including special courses in Bible.

4. Where all may get a liberal arts education without fear for their faith. MORE THAN THIS, THEY DARE NOT BE, LEST THEY BECOME A SNARE TO US ALL.

As Brother Bannister said, "If the colleges do no more than this, they are well worth our support". (Emphasis mine. BF)