Build Up The College To Save The Church
If you have read one of the articles which appeared in the January 1964 issue of the NICE bulletin (Northeastern Institute for Christian Education, Villinova, Pa.), you may be under the impression (as I am) that more and more of our liberal-minded brethren have come to the point where they totally depend upon these "Christian colleges" to promote the work of the church. According to this article, the church owes the school a "vote of thanks" for its existence because without it the church could not prosper.
For many long years brethren have fought the battle over institutions doing the work of the church. It now appears that the latest goal of some is to place the church in subjection to the college. Gradually these institutions (human) are becoming more bold and daring. There was a time when everyone maintained that the church should be separate from the college and that the church has no business in the work of these schools and vice - versa. But little by little certain colleges have been "dipping their fingers" into the treasuries of churches, not by soliciting for funds, but by gently hinting and accepting them if by chance an offer comes by. I do know personally that NICE accepts funds from churches; for, in the presence of many others, I heard the vice-president so state. Mind you, these schools still at that time maintained the principle that the school does the work of the school and the church the work of the church. Yet at the same time they were "accepting" money from churches to help them in the work of secular education. It has now come to the point that some of these colleges have become bold enough to beg for contributions, and especially since Bro. "Dr." J. D. Thomas emphatically stated in his text-book, WE BE BRETHREN that: "It is the thesis of this present author that churches can scripturally make gifts to the support of Christian schools." (page 186) Since when can the church "make gifts" for support of human organizations?
His argument for this statement appears in the following: "Further, the Christian school, used as an expedient method of teaching Christianity...means that we have the opportunity to teach true Christianity to many who would otherwise go to state or public schools and would never learn it, The school, then, is not only an optional expedient, but it is definitely an 'aid' to teaching God's will. With it we can get teaching done that otherwise would not be done. And everyone accepts the principle of using an 'aid' in doing God's will...." (pg. 189) So build the college to save the church! It's doing more than the church can do!
Brethren, what about the all-sufficiency of the church in teaching and preaching God's will we used to hear about? Is that all forgotten? By the same reasoning of this man, we may get into the automobile selling business because the command to "Go into all the world" makes travel necessary, and an automobile is an "aid" or "expedient." Never did our Lord authorize the church to be "aided" or to work through a human organization "to teach true Christianity to many who would otherwise go to state or public schools and never learn it."
Further: "The athletic programs of the Christian schools are important factors in the total aspects of the school's work...The Christian school budget can justifiably include appropriations for these things that meet definite needs of the personnel just as much as the preacher's salary should be enough to allow him to buy a new 'rod and reel', or take a vacation trip, or even purchase a TV set." (pg. 190)
If we follow this line of reasoning, we may come to the place where churches might buy farms, for after all, it is "expedient" that people eat, and Jesus upon at least two occasions fed the multitudes. But of course, many churches have their kitchens, so this at least to an extent solves that problem. The "athletic programs" are well cared for by many churches which sponsor recreational activities. The next thing to do is to set up a sporting goods store so that churches may furnish preachers with "rods and reels" and a travel agency to plan their vacation trips. But of course, some churches already have built summer lodges and are supporting "Christian camps" to take care of this need. Then the next thing to do is to build a factory to manufacture TVs. After all, why pay stores their profits and commissions when the church could make more money to donate to these colleges?
Mind you, this book was not written by a young "preacher-boy," perhaps too young yet to shave, but by a "Bible professor" and the head of the Bible department of one of "our" schools, Abilene Christian College.
But let us get back to the NICE bulletin referred to at the beginning of this article Each step astray makes it easier to take still another bigger step (and that more boldly) to "launch out into the deep." Whereas Bro. Thomas stated that it is "expedient" for churches to contribute to these schools, Bro. Elza Huffard, who wrote this article and is the president of NICE, gives the impression that the church is more and more dependent on these schools for its survival. And the sad truth is, the church in that area, and many areas is becoming more and more dependent upon these schools because they have given up a greater portion of their work to them. Many churches can no longer, or will not teach, train and develop their leadership and preachers. Churches call upon these schools to train their boys, and then when they are trained to send them out to these churches to preach. They depend upon "elders workshops" and other means to develop and do their work for them. I have been in the northeast for several years and do know that at least several of the churches are directly involved with the work of NICE. Thus the long arm of that school is ever reaching out more and more to take a firm hold upon many of the churches of that area.
One statement that struck me in particular is the following in the NICE bulletin: "Many of them (students) would not be in the church today if it had not been for NICE. So, one answer to your question is: You should give to NICE so that this record can continue." Seems like this tune carries the same refrain of Bro. Thomas' which was quoted earlier.
How sad indeed it is when the work of soul-saving, of conversion of men and women, has fallen into the lot of schools. If the reason that so many students are Christians today is because of that school, it is not a credit to that school, but rather a discredit to the churches in the area! Had the church and individual Christians been more mindful of their duties, and had the church been more zealous, it would have been said: "Many of them would not be in the church today had it not been for the church doing its work of preaching the gospel."
I have read articles and debates over Christian colleges, and the defense given in their behalf was that the school is not an "aid" to the church, but an adjunct to the home. It helps parents, to bring up their children in the "nurture and the admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:9) Now, if the school is an aid to the home and the home is not in the work of the church, why impose these colleges upon the church when they (schools) are to be helping the home and not the church? But, of course, this has been in yester-years when some arose claiming that these schools were "church-related," doing the work of the church, and thus had no right to exist. Yet some of the very same ones who denied this charge are showing its truthfulness by their present-day practices. They are making them "church-related" schools!
The next step, then, taken by Bro. Thomas to "launch out into the deep" was in stating that these schools are an "aid" to the church. So do you see the transition? First, a denial that the school was an aid to the church, now a definite stand by Bro. Thomas that it is; and still further, the last step to "launch out into the deep" which plunged him and others over their heads is the view held by Bro. Huffard. That is, that many of these students would not be Christians had it not been for certain schools (as also Bro. Thomas contends), thus putting the church entirely in the background in regards to the mission of preaching the gospel under the command of the Great Commission.
Notice again this statement: "The church has been and is greatly blessed by the influence of NICE. This blessing has come through the direct teaching and Christian influence."
This is entirely in contradiction to the word of God. Any fruits or blessing the church received in New Testament times, came not through the efforts of a human organization, but through the efforts of the church itself and its individual members. The church did not depend upon human wisdom and organization for its "blessings," but depended upon the wisdom of God's arrangement reflected by the faithful and diligent exercise of that work by every individual Christian in the church.
In order to make my comment still more clear upon this point, allow me to make a few remarks pertaining to that school. I have been there myself upon different occasions and thus am well acquainted with it. NICE is located in one of the beautiful and aristocratic suburbs of Philadelphia. I have been informed that the cost of that place, when built (including land and buildings) was in the neighborhood of $1,500,000. The main feature of attraction upon entering the grounds is "Boone Hall." centrally located and dedicated to "Bro. Pat" in appreciation of his great and many contributions to that school. He has given his profits to NICE from his book, TWIXT TWELVE AND TWENTY and that greatly helped the school get on its feet. It is common knowledge that Pat Boone has been closely associated with NICE, and that has attracted the attention of many members and non-members alike. I need not elaborate upon the sad and shameful lot which befell Bro. Pat after he became the victim of Hollywood's vice and corruption. It is common knowledge that one of his recent movies didn't even pass the censorship due to its lewdness. Now, since Pat's name is closely associated with NICE and his influence has helped it to get on its feet, how can it be said that "The church has been and is greatly blessed by the influence of NICE"?
Further this comment: "The church of the New Testament is exalted." (emph. mine - LR) I believe that if anything, the New Testament church in that area that uses Boone's name for promotional purposes has been greatly degraded! It is--my personal conviction that as Pat Boone went, so went the churches that used his name for publicity, and also NICE. Influence-wise and otherwise, that is.
Concerning giving contributions to the school, again the following: "it helps the growth of the Cause through the influence of Christian education." Again I ask, where is there, in view of this statement, the place of the church in the "growth of the Cause"? What other scriptural cause is there but the one given by God to the church? Is the church no longer considered as God's only ordained organization to advance the "growth of the Cause"? "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). "To the intent that now... might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God" !Eph. 3:101. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house...that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9). Nowhere do I gather from the reading of these passages that "it" (schools) "helps the growth of the Cause." I am now speaking of the attempt of some to make the school have a direct bearing upon the "growth of the Cause." I do read that men and women went everywhere preaching the word, that the church made up of "lively stones" helped the Cause by their influence when they "shewed forth the praises of him who hath called..." The church was given the credit of the growth of the cause and not any man-made organization. It is a sad state of affairs when the churches fail to "shew forth" and depends upon the school for its influence for the "growth of the Cause."
Once more notice this: "It would be difficult to know where a Christian's missionary dollar could per- form a greater service." Since when is a "missionary dollar" intended for the development of a school? I have been under the impression that "missionary dollars" are intended for the "mission" of the church.
It is sad to know, as I personally do, that many churches in the northeast are struggling so desperately for survival that they have to constantly appeal to churches in other areas for aid. Having been in the northeast myself, one of the greatest problems I confronted was securing financial support, not to work for a college, but to preach the gospel in order to widen the borders of the Kingdom, Many churches cannot carry on their work as they would desire, all because they lack funds. Many churches there are simply "drift-ing along." And many preachers cannot answer the need because of a lack of "missionary dollars." Yet Bro. Huffard in his article boldly states that "it would be difficult to know where a Christian's missionary dollar could perform a greater service." Where? In the "mission-field," of course, and the school is not a mission-field of the church in need of "missionary dollars." Yet, when "missionary dollars" are sent to churches in that area, those funds are sought by that school because "it could perform a greater service."
The following quotation strikes at the very root of this evil problem:
"The work of Christ through the church to evangelize the world was carried out through the influence of the local church in its community. Even in apostolic times the church felt no need of an organization, devised by human planning through which the church could cooperate to evangelize the world. They had a fervency and zeal, and the history of the church has well shown that the less zeal and devotion there is in the church, the more Institutionalism and human organizations are needed." (emph. mine - LR).
THE SEARCH FOR THE ANCIENT ORDER, Earl I. West, (pages 169-170)
In conclusion, and lest I give the wrong impression, allow me to say that I am not arguing that schools have no right to exist. I do say, however, they should exist with the original purpose in mind, i.e., that they are private, individual enterprises without any connection or relation to the church. They do not work for or through the church. They are not intended to make the church secondary, to influence, or dominate the church. We need not to build up the colleges in order to save the church!
— P. O. Box 491, Hopewell, Virginia 23860