Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 3, 1959
NUMBER 30, PAGE 5a-7b

What You May Expect At A. C. C.

J. D. Tant, Clayton, Oklahoma

Are you considering Abilene Christian College as a part of the college education of your son or daughter? If so, and you happen to be one who still believes in the complete sufficiency of the congregation to do her work without the help of outside organizations, and if you should prefer to take an orphan child into your own home and give him a normal, happy home life rather than shipping him off to an institution somewhere, then you might be interested in knowing something of what your son or daughter might expect to find at Abilene Christian College.

This article is written with no malice or ill-will at all for that institution or for the members of the staff there. I want to be wholly objective in what I say, and as impersonal and detached as I possibly can be to deal with matters of my own personal experience. My own grandfather was one of the first to encourage brethren to build this school, and my own blood-relatives have been in its halls as students for a good many of the fifty-three years the school has operated. I spent six of my own school years there (three in high school; three in college), obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the school, and have done some work there in the Graduate School.

Those who knew me at A. C. C. will testify, I think, that it is not my disposition to be a "fire-brand". I kept my mouth shut about the issues of cooperation unless questioned as to my convictions; and when questioned, I explained my beliefs as simply and sincerely as I could, without heat and without bitterness. I had heard so much sharp criticism and so many epithets hurled at the "antis" that I was determined to show both students and faculty that at least one of those whom they dubbed "anti" could be a Christian gentleman, keep his mouth shut, and tend to his own business.

This article would be neither fair nor objective if I did not give praise to the thoroughly fair and Christ-like attitude with which some at Abilene, both students and faculty, treated me. Among the number I particularly mention brother Rex Kyker of the Speech Department. President Morris was unfailingly courteous and cordial, and was seemingly interested in my welfare. Carl Spain also treated me with respect, as did several others. The Journalism Department allowed me to write editorials and articles for the school paper (where I served on the staff with no strings attached. And, of course, I did not take advantage of the confidence they placed in me. Brother Fred Barton and Brother R. L. Johnson treated me as a brother in Christ, and so also did others.

But There Is Another Side To The Story.

Soon after my enrollment in college in September, 1956, I sought to get a list of all the Bible majors in order to put them on the complimentary mailing list of the Gospel Guardian. Brother Morris had been making this list available in previous years, and I assumed that policy would continue. The list was readily given me by one of the offices, and I happened to mention to Dean Walter Adams that I had the list. He quickly informed me that I could not have such a list; that the school did not want any student to receive any journal unless the student specifically requested it. He also refused me permission to place copies of the Gospel Guardian in a public place to be picked up by those desiring a copy — although the Christian Chronicle was circulated each week in this fashion.

It was only a few weeks later that Brother Thomas B. Warren began his mis-named "Spiritual Sword and the campus of Abilene Christian College was flooded with copies of this journal. I received the paper, as did a great number of my fellow-students, although we had not asked for it. I have no way of knowing, of course, how Warren got the list — the list that Dean Adams told me I could not have for the Gospel Guardian.

It soon became apparent, and more so as time went by, that some on the campus felt they had a real obligation to delve into my personal life. Pressure (and I mean real pressure) was put on my associates both by faculty members and by students, warning them not to become too friendly with an "anti"! More than one Christian girl has told me after we had had two or three dates that faculty members, other students, and her own family had warned her against "keeping company with an 'anti' ". Dormitory matrons felt it necessary to caution the girls not to date "anti" boys; and young gospel preachers, and others, were warned not to visit the Tant home! (My father lived only three blocks from the campus.) I was not alone in being thus honored with anathemas, but perhaps I got the lion's share of it since I happened to be the son of one of the "leaders of the 'anti' heresy".

Evidence was not lacking that the grades of the "antis sometimes suffered- because of their convictions. One example from my own experience comes to mind. One day I had a rather brief but fairly sharp difference with a certain professor over the use of the title "doctor". He contended that any man who had earned a doctor's degree was entitled to the respect and prestige such a title carried, and should always be addressed and referred to as "doctor" in church services. It was my contention that his "doctor" title should be used only in educational and academic circles, where it had relevance, but that in the church we were "brethren", and not "doctors". It was obvious that this doctor was nettled by my presumption in taking issue with him. Very shortly thereafter my room-mate and I worked out our notebooks for this class jointly, and handed in almost identical notebooks. He received a "B" on his book; mine was marked with a "D". (This is reminiscent of the well-known story of Roy Cogdill and Burton Coffman. Many years ago both of these men were students at A.C.C., and both had a class under D. L. Cooper. Toward the end of the semester, Cooper announced to the class one day that he was going to require them all to hand in their note-books for grading. Cogdill had kept a very careful, complete set of notes; Coffman had kept no note-book at, all. Coffman came to Cogdill and asked if he might borrow his note book to hastily "make up" one for himself. Cogdill told him he could if he would type the notes for Cogdill to hand in. Coffman agreed. He typed the notes — and, unknown to Cogdill, made a carbon copy of them. Cogdill handed in the notebook as Coffman had typed it out. Coffman handed in the carbon copy he had made of Cogdill's note-book. Cogdill got no grade for his note-book; Coffman got an "A" for his carbon copy! Of course, Cogdill had clashed with Cooper on several occasions over doctrinal matters; and Coffman had not.)

During my Senior year at A.C.C. unusual circumstances brought about an invitation from the Speech Department for me to speak in chapel. This was an honor not accorded to many students, and I was happy to accept. The opportunity to address 2,000 students is not an everyday event. I chose as my topic, "The Value of a Spiritual Education," thinking that surely no one could object to that. They didn't — but they did object to me! Dean Adams called me into his office and explained that "they could not afford to have me speak in chapel. There would be too much criticism if an 'anti' ever spoke in chapel!" Perhaps he was right. I did lead singing a few times, and read the scriptures for a chapel service or two; and I know that there were those, both students and faculty members, who were disgruntled and unhappy because of my participation.

It was during my second year at Abilene Christian College that the edict came forth that all girls enrolled in Physical Education courses must wear Bermuda shorts during their exercises failure to comply brought the penalty of failing grades. They really stepped on the lion's tail that time! The "must" was finally removed from the edict, but any girl not wishing to wear shorts had to obtain a letter of permission from the Dean of Women exempting her. And the modest girls who did obtain such letters were often the object of ridicule from their P.E. instructors and from other students for their "prudishness." But the instructors were careful to warn the girls NOT to wear their, shorts during Lecture Week. The school could not afford' to shock some of the staid old brothers and sisters who would be present, and who were either contributors or potential contributors to "Christian Education" at Abilene Christian College! I must commend Brother Milton Copeland, a graduate assistant at the school, for his unremitting attack against this school requirement that the girls wear shorts. Brethren Howard Norton and Ted Stewart, soon to be preaching in Brazil, as well as many others fought against the "shorts requirement". But it seems to be a losing battle.

During my last year at A.C.C. (I was in the Graduate School, I was called upon by two of the Greek teachers to teach their classes for them for a week as they were to be away in meetings. Since this was my major field and since I had studied the language for five years, I was happy to give this assistance. I taught one week before the administration found out what was going on. I supposed they had known all the time, but I was mistaken in this. The professor for whom I was to teach the second week called me into his office and told me the administration had asked him to get another substitute. This teacher, Brother Lightfoot, explained to me that it was not his idea to replace me, but that the "higher-ups" had instructed him to do so. He also said there was no objection at all either on his part or on the part of the administration to the quality of teaching I was doing or to my life and character. The only basis for objection was that I was an "anti", and the school would be subjected to too much criticism if it became known that an "anti" had taught a few classes. Dean Walter Adams was the administration officer who had demanded I be replaced.

This was not my last encounter with Brother Adams. During my last year there (1958-1959), I was working at some part-time jobs in order to meet expenses. This meant a curtailment of my class work — cutting my load to one-half the maximum. Upon learning of this, Brother Adams got in touch with my draft board, and told them that inasmuch as I was not carrying the required amount of school work to provide exemption, my status should be changed. Technically this was not a mis-representation of the facts; but Brother Adams did not explain to the draft board that there had been no change in my intention to preach, and that I was merely working part-time to gain sufficient funds to continue in school. If he had done this, I would have had no difficulty at all. But the draft board, acting as usual in acceptance of Dean Adams' decisions concerning students, quickly classified me as I-A, And told me I would be drafted into the army as soon as school was out. I appealed the decision, explained my circumstances to the Board, and was put back into my old classification. Then I learned that Brother Adams had sent a letter of appeal for another student (whose situation was identical with mine) to the board, pointing out that there had been no change in this student's intent to preach, and requesting that the board NOT remove his IV-D classification. The fact was this student HAD changed his intention to preach, and was at that very time preparing to teach, — and is now teaching in A.C.C.

But Dean Adams' master-stroke was yet to come. In March I was invited to North Carolina to talk to a little congregation over there about moving there to preach for them. We talked about the issues, and they, knowing myconvictions, thought we could profitably work together for the good of the Kingdom. They told me they felt sure we could work together, and that there was no objection to my coming. However, since I was a complete stranger to them, they wanted to write a few brethren asking about me. They wrote several, among them Dean Adams.' All the letters came back with good reports (including one from President Morris), except the letter from Brother Adams. He offered no unfavorable comment at all as to my ability, my attitude, or my character — but he did say that I "would stand in the way of saving souls' (his exact words). And his reason for so feeling? It was because I did NOT support Herald of Truth and certain other parasitical institutions which were attached to the church. A letter from Dean Adams gave the same unfavorable report to San Diego, California. He wrote in that letter that while I had ability and other favorable attributes he could sum it all up by saying that the College Church (he is an elder there) "would not use" me in any of their services because of my convictions on certain current issues.

This article might be lengthened almost interminably with simple factual statements concerning the indignities and ridicule heaped upon sincere students on the campus who do NOT support the Herald of Truth and the "brotherhood" institutions; but perhaps these will suffice. I have tried to be careful in my language so as not to overstate any point. If I have failed in any instance, it was not intended, and I pray that the Lord will forgive such. I do want to emphasize that Brother Adams, other faculty members who joined in his attitude, and the students who followed their spirit had nothing at all against me personally. Quite the contrary, I think. Until these issues came so sharply into focus they seemed to be genuinely fond of me, and I am confident they were not insincere in their expressions of esteem and friendship. Their latter attitude and actions resulted wholly from my inability to accept and get behind and promote the "brotherhood projects" for which A.C.C. has become the great defender and pusher. Let students who contemplate attending A.C.C. weigh carefully the things that are here written. Certainly, there are many fine things to be said for the school. But just as certainly the things I have stated are facts — facts that should be given long and careful study by any student planning to attend there, and by any parent planning to send a son or daughter to that school.