Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1956
NUMBER 18, PAGE 8-9a

Charter Of Nashville Bible School -- (II.)

James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee

A school, other than the church and separate and apart from the church, established and organized "to teach the Word of God, and for the support of public worship, the building of churches and chapels, and the maintenance of all missionary undertakings," stands upon the same presumptuous, unscriptural and sinful ground as all other human institutions and organizations organized and devised by the wisdom of men, to do the work that God, in His wisdom, established the church to do. "A body politic and corporate," other than the church, "to teach the Word of God" is the same thing exactly as the missionary society, other than the church, to preach the Word of God.

No one opposes the right kind of school. The Bible builds schools and colleges, just as it builds homes, farms, factories, stores, good roads and every thing else conducive to the betterment of the human race. The thing we oppose is the theological school. Such a school, by conducting "ministerial courses" creates a preacher-class, as distinguished from all other Christians, and thus brings on the distinction between the clergy and the laity, so foreign to the teaching of Christ and the apostles.

The church, composed of all Christians, and with the Word of God as its perfect and all-sufficient Teacher and Guide, is the only divine institution on earth, and is the institution that God has established to teach His Word, to preach the gospel to every creature, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to abound in good works of every character and kind. Every church, in its own neighborhood, and under the over-sight of its own overseers, or elders, and with the Holy Scriptures in the hand and heart of every member, making him or her complete, completely furnished for the accomplishment of every good work, is the divine institution that God has established to teach the Word of God and to accomplish every good work. The local church is the only divinely instituted and divinely guided organization on earth. Every local church is completely and perfectly furnished to do any and every good work that Christians can engage in. If a famine or any misfortune makes the care of the needy in its own neighborhood beyond its ability, other churches are guided by the Word of God to send assistance directly to it. Every local church cooperates completely and fully with every other local church in every part of the world by all of them being guided by the Word of God. All such churches, guided by the Word of God, enjoy a perfect union, and a full and complete cooperation that no human organization, with its human by-laws, can imitate or duplicate.

Any general organization, unknown to the Word of God, because of being without precept or precedent from the apostles, to tie the local churches together, for the accomplishment of any thing, is unscriptural and sinful, and is the death-knell to the success of the work of every church in its own neighborhood. The failure of the local churches brings on the universal failure that has retarded the advancement of simple, New Testament Christianity, and that has been a curse to the world since the great apostasy from the apostolic order of things.

It is obvious, then, that there can be no general organization, other than the local churches, to teach the Word of God, or to do any other Christian work. If a member of the church is teaching in a college, it is a part of his work, as a member of the church, to teach the Word of God to his pupils and to every one else he can contact. But he so does as a member of the church, under the supervision of its elders, and not as an employee of a "body politic and corporate," other than the church of which he is a member. Both in supporting those who preach in its own neighborhood, and in "sending once and again" to those evangelizing in regions beyond, and in the distribution of supplies, by its own deacons, to the needy of its own neighborhood, every local church attends to and manages its own business, as it is guided in so doing by the Word of God. Any organization larger than the local church, or that seeks to pool the resources of two, or more local churches, is unscriptural and sinful, and hinders each local church in doing its own work in its own neighborhood. Every such organization is a long step back towards popery.

With these factual and incontrovertible Bible truths before us, let us look further at the Charter. "To teach the Word of God," and to establish new churches, (not "building churches and chapels" (meeting-houses), because meeting-houses are no part of the worship or services, and are not necessary to them, but are merely a convenience to the members), "maintaining and supporting all missionary undertakings." All these are clearly things that God has appointed the church to do. It is plainly sinful, because presumptuous, without precept or example from the apostles, to organize any sort of human institution, "a body politic and corporate," or otherwise, to do these things that God has ordained shall be done by the church.

The apostles established no colleges to teach any kind of secular subjects. No college has ever been, or can be, any help to the church in its work. The church is the college to teach the Word of God. It is the best college on earth and is the only college on earth that is able and qualified to teach the Word of God as it should be taught. Every church is God's college to teach it to every one without money and without price. It is the responsibility of the overseers, or elders of the church to see that it is so taught.

The church teaching the Word of God brings on all the spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical growth, and all the advantages, advancement and improvement necessary to carry the human race to the highest development of which it is capable.

"Teaching various branches of useful knowledge," "the support of any literary or scientific undertaking," "power to confer degrees," "a debating society lyceum, the establishment of a library, the support of a historical society, the promotion of painting, music, or the fine arts, the support of Boards of Trade, or Chambers of Commerce, or other objects of like nature," — all this is clearly and plainly not the work of the church. The church violates the Word of God and betrays its trust when it diverts either its time, talent or means from the work that God has committed to it and prostitutes them to such things.

"Shall have the right to determine what amount of money paid into the Treasury shall be a prerequisite for membership." Thus, "a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of the Nashville Bible School," now the David Lipscomb College, is founded, not on a precept or a precedent from the apostles of Christ, but upon "the amount of money paid into the treasury," "prerequisite for membership." And thus "a body politic and corporate," composed only of men who have the money to pay, "prerequisite for membership," is the human organization that proposes, without precept or precedent from the New Testament, to take over the church's work, of "teaching the Word of God," of establishing new congregations, and of "supporting all missionary undertakings." Jesus, who had "not where to lay his head," and Peter, who said, "Silver and gold have I none," and all the penniless apostles, who led the New Testament churches in evangelizing the whole world in thirty years, would have been ineligible for membership in this "body politic and corporate by the name and style of the Nashville Bible School," now David Lipscomb College, established to "teach the Word of God" and for "the support of public worship, the building of churches and chapels, and the maintenance of all missionary undertakings," bemuse of not having the money "prerequisite for membership." "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5.) "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence." (1 Cor. 1:27-29.)

"Expulsion shall be the only remedy for the nonpayment of dues by the members." If a man does not have the money, he cannot be a member. And this sort of organization managed and controlled only by a small group of men who have the money to buy a voice in controlling it, is the thing that proposes to teach the Word of God and to take over other work of the church. How could the churches be in any other state than what they now are? College-ridden and minister-ridden, and impotent to conduct their own worship and services or to manage their own work! Such institutions, in their nature and character, can only exert a corrupting influence on the plain, simple churches of Christ in their effort to adhere to the Christianity of the New Testament.

It will be noted that the second amendment, or "Resolution," provides for the stock-piling of millions, by the accumulation of moneys, real estate, stocks, bonds, endowments and various other properties, and that it thus gives impetus and momentum to the building up of institutionalism, with all of its baneful and deadly evils. Institutionalism is the building up of any institution, through the power of money, to where it becomes self-perpetuating, and in which weak and self-seeking men can step into the shoes and exert the influence built up by the founders. And this, combined with the fact that it is impossible for huge concentrations of money not to breed corruption and apostasy, makes it imperative for those engaged in using their money to build up such self-perpetuating institutions to consider if generations yet unborn will not rise up, not to bless, but to abhor their memory.

We kindly submit that there should be a complete divorce between the colleges and the churches, and that the colleges should completely eliminate all "ministerial courses," and all general gatherings of "the ministers," and the elders of the churches, annual or otherwise. We also kindly submit that the clouds of preachers that continually swarm around the colleges should all be "scattered abroad," and that they should go "every where preaching the Word." Christians do not need a "ministerial course" in a theological seminary to enable them to tell of Jesus and His love. They need to obey the divine injunction, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." (Col. 3:16.) All in whom the Word of Christ dwells richly are complete, completely furnished to teach and to preach and to do every other good work.