Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 25, 1960
NUMBER 41, PAGE 9a-10a

Then And Now

Robt. H. Farish - San Bernardino, Calif.

It was about three thousand years ago that Solomon wrote, "That which bath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there a thing whereof it may be said, this is new? it hath been long ago, in the ages which were before us. There is no remembrance of the former generations; neither shall there be any remembrance of the latter generations that are to come, among those that shall come after." (Eccl. 1: 8-11.) The thought in this passage is expressed in current parlance as "history repeats itself." This principle expressed by Solomon is illustrated in the concept of "institutionalism" and "centralized control" which in our day is troubling the churches. With too many there is no remembrance of former generations. Many seem to think that these things are a "new thing under the sun", that they are things required by the church of the twentieth century. These ideas are not new, neither is the motive which lies back of the promotion of them new.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century the same motives, the same concepts and the same arrangements required by these concepts were present that are present today. As evidence in support of this the following quotations from Apostolic Times are given. Compare the pros and cons then with the pros and cons as presented in the present battle.

(Note: In the period from 1871-1877 a bitter battle was fought over the question of ownership and control of Kentucky University. The articles from which these excerpts are taken were published in 1873 and 1874.)

Quotation From Peter's Article Which Had Appeared In Ky. Gazette.

Dr. Peter on the University

"But the law which gives the Christian brotherhood two-thirds of the curators never made the board the legal representative of the churches. Had it been provided by law that they should be elected by the churches, this might be the case; but the charter provides that the Board shall fill its own vacancies. On consideration it will be seen that it would be undesirable, if not impracticable, to elect curators by the churches, even if the law permitted, because the Christian church in Ky., having no legal existence as a consolidated corporation, cannot, therefore, own any property, even in trust and as each congregation is a separate body, wholly independent of all the others, the question of electing the curators to represent them in the law might be a troublesome one."

Apostolic Times, Jan, 8, 1874 Kentucky University

Editorial — The Real Question — McGarvey

(5th paragraph)

"The question is not, whether a few men who have been designated by the contemptuous term of a "clique", shall obtain control of the University. The legislature is requested to give this control to the entire body of Christian churches in the state, and no man will have prominence in the exercise of this control, unless it shall be conferred on him by the free suffrages of his brethren".

"Finally the question is not, whether a single dollar of the donations to the University shall be directed from the original purpose of the donors; for it is the purpose of the petitioners to see that all trusts of the institution shall be faithfully executed, and especially that the object of the donors who gave their money to pro-moth the interests of the Christian church shall no longer be ignored as it has been. The petitioners request that all of these sacred trusts shall be taken out of the hands of a Board which perpetuates itself, and is held to account by no one, and placed in the hands of a Board which shall periodically give a good account of itself as a condition of re-election.

But the real question is: shall the Christian church of Ky., to which the University belongs, all of it except the Agricultural College, have the privilege of electing the curators?

Apostolic Times, Jan. 15, 1874 Kentucky University

Editorial The Regent showing His Hand

"Two remonstrance's against the proposed changes in the charter of Kentucky University have recently been printed in Lexington, and laid before the legislature.----"

1. They represent the petition sent up to the Legislature by the churches, as "praying for the disorganization of the present government of the University and for the virtual transfer of its property, general management and franchises to an unincorporated ecclesiastical body".

Apostolic Times, Jan 29Th, 1874 — Editorial Bro. Challen On The University Question (Paragraph 7)

"He (Challen) represents the petitioners as expecting the churches every five years to elect the curators, and he declares that "there is not one church in the state competent to do it intelligently." He ought to know that they expect no such thing; that the curators are to be elected by a body of delegates from the churches to be selected for this exclusive purpose, and that all the churches propose to do is to select these delegates. Will Bro. Challen declare that no church is competent to the selection of one of her own members to act for her in such a capacity?"

Challen said as quoted by the writer of this editorial, "This is the greatest move toward centralism, and indeed secularism, as yet known among us."

..It involves an entire change in our church policy."

Apostolic Times, Feb. 12: 1874

The University Question

James Challen

(paragraph 7)

"If the curators and donors shall consent to relinquish their rights in the University in favor of the churches of Christ or any delegated body to be appointed by them as their legal representatives, I suppose it can become their property. But no greater evil could be inflicted upon the churches or the University than such an act. It was to anticipate a movement "toward" this centralization of the churches in Kentucky for secular and theological purposes, that I wrote my article entitled "Old and New". I knew that the churches as such, could not hold the estate in "lands, money or other property by donation, devise and of gifts, or otherwise contributed to said University"; and that to hold such, they must place themselves in a legal status through a delegated body. But with our ideas of the rights, the duties, and the privileges of the churches of Christ we protested against it as fraught with evil and mischief to the churches."

The first quotation given above is from an article by Dr. Peter who was professor of chemistry at Kentucky University. His point that the church general or in any capacity greater than the local congregation, has no legal existence — that "each congregation is a separate body, wholly independent of all others" is a point that is evaded in the current controversy, even as it was evaded in Lexington, Kentucky in that nearly total apostasy which developed there nearly a century ago.

McGarvey's statement that "The legislature is requested to give the control to the entire body of christian churches in the state" is an admission that the work contemplated (i.e. the church operating a university) is impossible with the divine organization of the church. The "entire body" of churches must have an organization, no such organization is provided. For the church to own and operate a university the divine pattern must be violated in two areas: (1) Organization and (2) the kind of work done. Neither the action nor the organization for accomplishing the action has scriptural authority.

James Challen though long dead "yet speaketh" for the divine order of church organization — "It was to anticipate a movement 'toward' this centralization of the churches in Kentucky for secular and theological purposes, that I wrote my article entitled "Old and New." He shows that the ideas, to which McGarvey, Lard and many other "institutional" minded brethren of that day gave lip service, of "the rights, the duties, and the privileges of the churches of Christ" must be abandoned in order for the "churches as such" to own and operate a university, for they must "place themselves in a legal status through a delegated body".