Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 21, 1961
NUMBER 20, PAGE 4,13b

Concerning Schools Again


Elsewhere in this issue we have an article submitted by brother Roy Loney of Lawrence, Kansas. Brother Loney has for many years been a regular contributor to brother Carl Ketcherside's paper, "Mission Messenger," and has, we presume, for the most part shared in the general convictions of those brethren who felt that the very existence of a "Christian College" was a reflection on God's plan (the congregation) for the extension of the kingdom. In sending in this article for publication, brother Loney writes:

"I am enclosing an article .... (which) I would be glad to have printed in the Gospel Guardian. You are at liberty to make any comments thereon, as you deem best. In your paper you have repeatedly emphasized that both sides have a right to be heard — not to incite controversy, but to incite a spirit of real investigation on this subject."

We ask a careful and brotherly reading of brother Loney's article. It sets forth clearly the basis on which he objects to the existence of "so-called Christian schools or Bible Colleges." He states that all such schools "originated in the wisdom of men and not in the wisdom of God. If of men, then do they not fall under the condemnation of Matthew 15:13? 'Every plant which my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up'." Again, brother Loney quotes the words of the venerable W. W. Otey: "Everyone admits that they are human institutions, originated in the wisdom of men, managed and controlled by the wisdom of men," and declares, "This would make them purely human institutions, guided and controlled entirely by human wisdom, and yet organized for a divine purpose."

It is in that last clause that we find the very crux of "the school problem." Brother Loney quotes from defenders of the schools to substantiate his indictment that the schools are indeed organized and supported "for the sole purpose of teaching the Bible." (Guy Woods, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1954.)

If this be truly the ground upon which such schools are to be defended, we find ourselves substantially in agreement with brother Loney that they have no right to exist. But we deny that Woods correctly understands the basis on which the schools exist. Through the years, other brethren, more scholarly than brother Woods, and certainly much more interested than he in following exactly the scriptural pattern, have repeatedly rejected the idea that the schools exist "for the sole purpose of teaching the Bible." It has been the consensus of those faithful brethren of the past that the "Bible school" is simply a secular institution established and maintained for educational purposes, but providing Christian men and women rather than unbelievers as a faculty, and offering students the opportunity of studying the Bible along with other subjects. Such a school indisputably originates "in the wisdom of men;" it is not ordained of God. It does not exist to do the work God gave the congregation to do. It has no relationship to the congregation at all.

All secular schools "originate in the wisdom of men." Does that make them, therefore, "plants which (the) heavenly Father hath not planted?" All over the nation there are various kinds of schools — schools of electrical engineering, beauty colleges, business colleges, law schools, cooking schools, dental and medical colleges, music schools, etc — which have originated in the wisdom of men. If one of these schools is operated by a Christian (and many of them are), is he prohibited from teaching the Bible to any of his students? By what reasoning? And if he can not teach his students, is he also prohibited from teaching the Bible to his employees, the cooks, janitors, yardmen, and others who may work at the school? Can he teach the Bible to the parents of his students, or are they also eliminated from his field of prospects?

This is simply another way of saying that brethren (including brother Loney and brother Woods) miss the mark when they try to think of the schools as "religious" institutions, existing "for the sole purpose of teaching the Bible." They do NOT exist for that purpose; they exist for the purpose of providing a secular education under conditions friendly rather than inimical to moral values and truths. Even if a Bible were never permitted on the campus, would it not be better to have ones children taught biology, for instance, by a man who believes the Bible than by one who holds it in contempt and ridicule?

Santayana says: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We fear that is what is happening with many today. They have forgotten, or are ignorant of, the great controversies that raged around the idea of Bible colleges in past generations. Consequently, the same arguments are being made, the same mistakes repeated, and the same tensions aroused in our generation as plagued our fathers before us.

We do not think the colleges are blameless in this matter. Some of them in recent years have certainly done nothing to alleviate the fears brethren might be entertaining as to their threat to the church — even their designs on the treasuries of the churches. Reports persist that attempts will increasingly be made in the years ahead to "bring the churches into line" — that is, to get them to undertake the support of the colleges and scores of grammar schools and high schools which brethren are now undertaking to promote. With the general acceptance of the scripturalness of church support for such projects as "Gospel Press" and institutional orphan homes, we see no basis on which there can be a logical rejection of church contributions to such schools. Dr. George Benson and brother Clay Pullias and Dr. J. D. Thomas are RIGHT in defending such contributions — if their own contentions are right concerning the institutions now dividing God's people.

Brother James A. Allen's article contends for the scriptural right of brethren to organize and maintain such schools, but the history of the past has left such a bitter taste in his mouth that he seems practically to oppose all such endeavors. We are fully aware of that history, but we do not, therefore, oppose all such schools. When sincere and honorable men, fully recognizing the dangers inherent in their task, are still willing to make great sacrifices necessary to operate the right kind of school, we would like to encourage them rather than discourage; we want to see that endeavor succeed rather than fail. That others have perverted the purposes of the schools does not argue at all that all will pervert them. Let each school be judged on its merits, not on the mistakes of others.

— F. Y. T.