Compendium Of Issues
There are always things that need to be said regardless of who likes it or who does not like it. And there are always good people who will not like it, because they lack discernment and do not sense the seriousness of the issues. Preachers need to be situated to say the things that ought to be said and still be able to eat; but whether they do or do not eat — they should say them. Discussion of the means and methods of doing the work of the church is necessary to keep the members of the church sensitive to deviation and alert to ever-present threats to the virtue of the church. A general review of these issues will not be amiss.
No one has claimed that these man-made organizations are divine institutions; no one denies that they are secular enterprises in human affairs; yet they would bed them up in the treasuries of the churches and thereby subsidize the churches to human organization. The argument has been made that the churches depend on the colleges for preachers and leaders, and should therefore support them, which in turn makes the colleges depend on the churches, and that puts the church directly in the school business. If that does not make colleges "suckers" on the stalk, what would or could?. One writer has declared...that "no one can doubt the contribution the schools have made to the church." There is a serious doubt on that point, but suppose it were true, it is true of the publishing companies and of every successful business enterprise of any Christian, all of which are directly or indirectly a contribution to the church. Shall they all be put into the budgets of the churches? Such lack of discrimination is pitiable. The method of reasoning represents the common mistake of ignoring completely the nature and mission of the church. It ignores also the organization of the church and puts the churches at work through the man-made boards of human institutions. It further ignores the church as the divine teaching agency in that it assumes that "Christian education" is synonymous with the Christian College, as though the church itself is not engaged in the work of Christian education. If that is the right idea of Christian education, the Bible missed the point. The very definition of Christian education has come to mean a college. But the activities of a college are not the work of the church, so it means that the program of a church apart from that of a college is not Christian education.
Most of the speeches made on Christian education in the lectureships of the schools for the past twenty-five years have been misapplied. These brethren have become so institutionally mindset they do not know what the church, is, nor what it is for. They are awed by the size and influence of these institutions, and are reduced to mere pigmies before them. The schools have taken their independence away from them, they will not go against the colleges. They are slaves to institutions, without independence enough to criticize one of them. The schools become all powerful, feared, worshipped, and revered above the church. Schools dominate the preachers who control churches, and the campaign goes on. Periodically defeated in the deliberate plans to get in the budgets of the churches, as in 1935-38 and again in 1945-48, already we are hearing post mortem gasps with threats to try again. Which of the old established schools has made a statement of convictions against churches contributing to the colleges? Some have announced a policy, but only as a resolution that they will not solicit contributions from the churches, but never a word as to whether such contributions from churches will be rejected and returned, statements of policy can only be regarded as mere diplomacy and cannot be respected. This is why the schools have lost the confidence of so many members of the church, and forfeited the trust of brethren who were able and willing to help them on the right basis. But they will never learn, and in less than a decade it will be necessary to fight the battle all over again, for some are saying already that they will win it in the next campaign. Yet with many there is no cause for alarm. Any threat to the schools alarm them, but a threat to the church does not. As it now stands, instead of the schools exerting a good influence for the church, it is becoming more and more evident that the church must be saved from the influence of the schools.
The Rule Of Expediency
Somewhat has been said of a New Testament law of expediency. Where is any such law found in the New Testament? Expediency is not a law, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient," is the way it reads in I Cor. 10:23. Of course, Paul was not making the blanket affirmation that everything is lawful. Obviously it means only the things that are lawful can be expedient, but some things are lawful are not expedient. Therefore, to prove that anything is expedient, it must first be proved to be lawful. The brethren are in reverse, attempting to prove that a thing is lawful by trying to prove that it is expedient, which is an inversion of the New Testament principle. Nothing is expedient that is not lawful. To assume that anything is expedient before proving it to be lawful is simply begging the question at issue. But now when authority is wanted for a practice for which no authority exists — presto! the "law of expediency" is invoked! If it can be called a law at all, it is a human law altogether, it is not divine. How can anything be permitted if it is not lawful? How can it be lawful it it is not authorized? Why plead expediency if it is authorized? Take some examples:
Assembly is authorized, the meetinghouse is expedient.
Teaching is authorized, arrangement in classes is expedient.
Giving is authorized, collection baskets are expedient.
Baptism is authorized, the baptistry is expedient.
Singing is authorized, hymnbooks are expedient.
But classes could not be expedient if there were no authority for teaching. Collection baskets could not be expedient if there were no law on giving. A baptistry could not be expedient if there were no command for baptism. Hymnbooks could not be expedient if there were no instructions for singing. On the same principle, the employment of mechanized music in the church not being authorized, instruments of music are not expedients; and cannot be paralleled with songbooks. Mechanical music is not authorized; therefore instruments for that kind of music cannot be classed with expedients. Anyone who can see through a ladder, can see that, and make the applications of these principles on the present issue.
Before arguing the "law of expediency" for putting colleges in the budgets, of the churches, let the authority be cited for the Church to support human organizations and institutions, working through man-made boards, showing such to be lawful, and it will then be time enough to discuss whether it is expedient or not,'
The once famous Henry Ward Beecher said, "infant baptism is like an ox yoke, it works." So it is now argued that a thing is expedient if it works! A missionary society works, therefore it is expedient, on that premise. Instrumental Music works, Christian Endeavor Societies work, pie-suppers work, and Methodism Works (organically), therefore all of these unscriptural things are expedient! The whole institutional proposition has been predicated on a law that does not exist — the so-called, but non-existent "New Testament law of expediency."
Another miss in the logic of those seeking sanction for unlawful practices is in the assumption that orphan homes furnish a premise without fault or criticism which to draw the conclusion that any, and all other institutions may be included in the budgets of the churches. Some who have drafted propositions for debate did not distinguish, and apparently did not know, the kind of benevolent work a church can Scripturally do, and the kind of a school a church can scripturally conduct. Most churches operate their local schools every Lord's Day, and through the week and carry on a consistent program of "Christian education" under the direction of the elders of the congregation. But no distinctions are made between these proper activities of the church and the propositions demanding the support of the church for human institutions, ignoring altogether the vital points of organizations and boards through which the church would be compelled to work in order to do things these brethren are determined to make the churches do. The "stipulated conditions of the New Testament" reveal nothing of that sort, nor is there anything like it in the New Testament that is not stipulated, not even a hint at a "law of expediency (whatever that may be) that will authorize such things.
The astute editor of the Firm Foundation is on record that even a home for orphans must be under the elders of the local church to be scripturally supported by the church. What then can be said for the schools, waiving other proper obligations, claiming a place in the budget of the church? All of this stress on human institutions, after all, is a misplaced emphasis. Brethren need to learn the place for human organizations and keep them there; and they need to learn all over again what the church can do. The vocalization now being accorded the schools in many congregations at all their services, including the Lord's Day worship, makes us wonder if people who are baptized in some places know they are being added to the church or think they are joining some college.