Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 10, 1966
NUMBER 27, PAGE 8b-9a

Another Pillar?

John A. Welch

I know that this topic has been discussed many times before, and that far better men than I can ever behave engaged in this discussion. However, it seems that there is a sacred cow developing among us, while men take a divisive and unscriptural attitude toward it. Recently there has been a big drive in the Ohio Valley for a certain college operated by some of our brethren. Preachers have been cornered, and various business men, mostly in the church, have been asked to give to this institution. (Note before you start, I am not "anti-college", nor do I think that I even lean that way. I am indeed interested in attempts by the brethren to operate an institute of learning, and to try to teach the truth about the Bible, especially when they devoutly try to do it in a scriptural manner. So don't accuse me of that cardinal sin, if anything,) I am extremely worried because of the attitude that brethren are taking toward this institution. Once again, the friends who own this school have been very careful to see that it is operated in a scriptural manner, but their graduates and other brethren are looking at it, and campaigning for it, in anything but a scriptural manner, I recently heard of this conversation as brethren campaigned for funds for the school. "We have only one college to send our young folks to, and we must keep it to teach them correctly." The reply was simply this, "I thought the church was the pillar and the ground of the truth," Brethren, many of us ought to learn how to behave ourselves in and toward the house of God. Perhaps we have forgotten the entire quotation. It is from I Tim. 3:15, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

Many of these brethren have found it strange, as other brethren have expressed a desire to give everything they could, in excess of their own needs, to the congregation. Brethren, while I am sure that this college can do much good; there may come a time in the future when we will have no colleges, no papers, no radio programs, nothing aside from just the church and our own families to do the teaching, It is my sincere hope that then, just as it is possible now, the church will and can go on, just as it has always gone on, being the pillar and ground of the truth, If the statement that this is the only college we can send our children to, is correct, then it is a very sad commentary on the nation, However, more than that, it is also a sad commentary on the teaching that our families and congregations are giving their young folks, Since, apparently, they have not been morally, mentally, and spiritually prepared to withstand the temptations of sin and the devil in the world, but must be placed in an antiseptic environment (could I call it a monastery?). Brethren, I assure you that your children will behave and be, just what you have taught them to be by the time that they are 18 years old, and sending them to some faithful brother for two years will not significantly change their status.

I also heard another brother remark a few days ago, that this college was a matter of conviction with him. I want all to know that the church is a matter of conviction with me. I am convinced of its sufficiency and capability to do the job the Lord gave it. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph.3:10). I earnestly believe, brethren, that it is time that some of us stopped to think, and began to put things in their proper perspective. We do not need any of these extra things; they may be fine while we have them, but the church is the Lord's pillar and ground.

Did it ever occur to you that the time may come when you couldn't send your children anywhere to college. Our current logic runs in syllogistic form, thusly: 1. We must have a college education to live in this "modern" world. 2. Our children must be kept sound in the faith. 3. Therefore we must have a college operated by faithful brethren to maintain their Christianity. Before accepting this reasoning, many challenges rise to my mind. Do I become any better Christian by a college education? (I know many brethren with very little "education" who seem to be faithful). Is a college education absolutely necessary to either my physical or spiritual life? How many of us would be willing to forego an education, if it became dangerous to our faith or detrimental to our spiritual health and godly activity? Is it really necessary? It is entirely possible that there may be a time when we have to be content with ditch digging, sewing, truck-driving (or tent making).

I would anxiously like to see some Christians consider the church with an attitude that it is autonomous. I think it would help greatly to show other people that it can be operated that way. Instead, I see all around me people organizing combines to buy paper for church bulletins, loan companies to finance meeting houses, and I have even heard rumors of a contractor specializing in meeting houses for conservative churches of Christ. All this in addition to the colleges and religious papers already among us. Now all of these things are scripturally correct, as it is perfectly right for these brethren to operate these businesses, but are they all to be defended on the grounds of their necessity to the church? Now what have I been trying to say through all of this? Am I claiming that we need to abolish all these organizations? Not at all, for as I have stated they are all scripturally correct and perfectly within the realm of an individual Christian. I am saying that we need to realize that, in spite of many supposed claims, the church is still sufficient to do its job, and it can and will function without these other organizations. I am saying that we need to change our attitude toward the church. If we are going to say that the church is autonomous and complete, then we need to start believing it.

-224 Sterrett Covington, Kentucky