"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IX No.VIII Pg.5b-8
October 1947

Here Lies The Issue

Roy E. Cogdill

In the current controversy over the matter of whether congregations of the Lord's church can scripturally support schools in which the Bible is taught, there are a lot of people who think that perhaps the issue is not a great or important one, and therefore they do not need to give it much attention or concern. Still others are of the disposition to dismiss it with the wave of the hand, and say that it is only a lot of "personalities," and if we all loved each other as we should there wouldn't be any question raised. They forget that brotherly love cannot decide whether or not a man should be baptized for the remission of sins, whether the Lord is now King, or will become King when He comes again, and whether or not the Church has the right to go into the school business. Such things must be settled upon a scriptural basis for all those who regard the Word of God. Ambiguity, sophistry, downright dishonesty in dealing with the issue at hand, insincerity and a number of other things cannot be overlooked. Keep your mind on the issue and search for the truth on it that you might be well pleasing to God. Remember that the cause of truth and righteousness is more important than any man.

As far as men are concerned, there are some who will not know where they stand, nor will anybody else know, until the weight of sentiment is so pronounced that they cannot fail to sense it. It has always been that way. Sentiment has forced many a man to take a position on an issue vital to the Church, after the fight was largely over and won. There are those in certain quarters now who are shouting against "Premillennial" teaching who in the thick of the fight did not lift their voice against it. They have simply climbed on the bandwagon. Then there are those who "knuckle down" to the weight of the sentiment because they think it is the advisable or political thing to do. Give them confidence in their own "bigness," and they will not even "knuckle" to the Lord. The time will not come when men who are interested in the truth and the right will not have to battle for it. We need to examine our own convictions and their foundation, struggle to know the truth and then with all the courage and strength of our souls, stand for only that which is right.

What Has Changed the Attitude of the Schools?

We have asked before and we ask again, what has changed the attitude of the school men toward the matter? What new truth have they discovered that men like Srygley, Lipscomb, and others did not know and could not find out? The schools are asking for millions where they were just asking for thousands. There is a race on to expand, and in their thirst for money and growth, it is altogether likely they are easily convinced that any way they can get it is justifiable. They seemed to he controlled by policy rather than principle. If the right of individuals to maintain a school where the Bible is taught was a principle with them in the early days of their existence, and they were sincere in such a contention, then it is still a principle that should be recognized for principles do not change.

Have They Changed?

This must be accepted as a fact, they have changed. Brother G. C. Brewer was among the first in my recollection to advance the idea that congregations have the right to contribute to human organizations such as schools. He championed the cause as far back as 1935. No one paid too much attention to him then because it was not a known fact that the schools were of the same sentiment, and had been practicing it to some extent for some years. The situation now indicates that they have converted each other on the matter for Brother Brewer and the schools have swapped positions. Whereas he now disavows that he favors putting the schools in the budgets of the churches, he formerly contended for it as witnessed in the Gospel Advocate of August 1, 1935. The schools that as recently as 1938 disavowed advocating their right to church support are now opening soliciting it, and there isn't an exception perhaps to the fact that they are receiving such contributions when they are offered.

In response to a public question which I asked Brother N. B. Hardeman in a service at the Edgefield Church during the Dallas lectures just a few short years ago, he replied: "Freed-Hardeman has never asked the congregations for contributions." Of course, Brother Douthitt, who was for years the financial agent for the Freed-Hardeman College says for years both he and Brother Hardeman had asked the churches for support, and had actually taken notes from churches made out to the school. He still has several thousands of dollars of such notes as evidence. He is at least one who, "doing it did not deny it." I guess Brother Hardeman just forgot what they had been doing for years when he replied to that public question.

Brother Hardeman thinks because we taught school here in Lufkin last winter with subjects directly related to the work of a preacher they have the right to put all they teach at Henderson in the same category. He can't be serious about that. But that isn't the only issue involved in this discussion. If everything taught at Freed-Hardeman or at the other schools came within the work of the church, they would still be doing it through human institutions. They ignore that issue—they can't deal with it. Can the Church do its work through a human institution? If their work isn't the work of the church, then the Church can't do it rightly. If it is the work of the church, then the church should be doing it instead of human institutions trying to do it. Which position do they occupy? Where do they stand?

He is now contending for the right of the churches to contribute to the school, and he is so wrought up about the matter that he has shown about the ugliest spirit of any one involved in the present discussion. That indicates that the weakness of his argument is recognized even by him. Just how weak it is, nearly every one can see. His primary contention so far is that no principle of law is involved in the Church doing its work through a human institution, but that it is altogether a matter of expediency. That is a complete reversal of almost everything he has preached and written on the subject through the years. What has converted him?

Brother Don Morris and the Board of Abilene Christian College decided in 1934 that they would not ask churches for contributions in their campaign for new buildings. At least they have recently announced that was their decision though they did not let it be known then. It was evidently not a matter of conviction with Don then, for about two years ago in a meeting with the preachers in Houston, Brother Don told us that he was not fully settled about it. They adopted it as a matter of policy, and have practiced exactly the opposite to that since. They changed even their policy. What changed them?

Abilene Christian College has called a state wide rally for this next Sunday afternoon (October 5th). They invited brethren from all over the state, including one of the elders of the Lufkin congregation, to leave their work at home, and come to the school for a meeting on the Lord's Day afternoon. What they intend to decide upon as a matter of policy I do not know. If such a meeting has anything to do with the present controversy, then they are no more justified in calling such a meeting trying to politic they way out of the situation they are in than the Bible Banner has to call such a meeting of the brethren to try to build up sentiment for the position that we occupy. Talk about "Dictatorship"—wouldn't they howl about us trying to dictate to the brethren if we were to hold such a convention. There isn't any question about the opposition we would get to such a move as that if we were to try it, which we won't. Neither is there any question about their trying to control the churches and preachers through appealing to the brethren, and particularly the brethren who are men of considerable means financially. When any preacher raises his voice against Abilene Christian College, and most of the rest I presume to be of about the same disposition, he is put on the black list as far as any recognition by them is concerned, and there are instances of them using their influence in other ways, too. Rallies can not change principles and they will not find their way back into the good graces of the brethren who are opposed to the Church working through human institutions until they renounce such even as a matter of "policy" and correct their practice. I firmly believe they are in the process of finding this out.

Of course, as far as David Lipscomb College is concerned there is nothing astonishing about their softness in this matter. They have decided upon the course of judiciously keeping their peace until the matter blows over. They count themselves so big and strong now that they do not have to listen to the voice of any one in such matters. They have grown until they are making the pattern now instead of "knuckling" to the point of following one. They long ago gave their endorsement to the practice of raising money from any one who would give it for any reason. Two years ago last January, their official family gave their unqualified endorsement to the proposition of the schools being the work of the Church and the Church therefore having the right to support it as such. They have followed it as a matter of practice without openly advocating it for some time.

Brother Athens Clay Pullias, the recently selected president of the school, has not announced his attitude on the matter, and if he follows his usual course, he will not do so until the voice of the majority has been heard. Scarcely any one knew where Brother Pullias stood on the premillennial fight until the smoke of the battle had about cleared away, and the victory was assured. He made it then the vehicle upon which he rode into control of affairs at David Lipscomb College, and he has been shouting about "Premillennialism" ever since. He has even been joined in such shouting by S. H. Hall, who by many of the brethren had almost been "quit claimed" to the "Pre-mill" brethren until his voice was recently raised on the matter. If we can win this fight on the school issue, it may be that we will get both Brother Hall and Brother Pullias on the right side of it eventually. They may even become as "strong" against church support for schools as they have against the false doctrine of Premillennialism. We can rejoice with Paul even when brethren have to be persuaded to preach the Gospel and stand for the truth: "Whether in pretense or truth, Christ is preached."

The Issue in Demonstration

In the following quotations we are able to see the matter in actual demonstration. Here is the picture of two congregations of considerable size, and their convictions as well as their practice concerning the issue of the church contributing to human institutions.

From "The Visitor," published by the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ, which reputedly has 1300 members, where Brother Athens Clay Pullias preached for twelve or thirteen years, and where Brother Willard G. Collins, vice-president of David Lipscomb College now preaches, we clip the following:

"All the contribution last Sunday was given to THE EXPANSION PROGRAM OF DAVID LIPSCOMB COLLEGE. This was in keeping with our custom of giving the fifth Sunday's offering to one of our institutions. The amount given was $558.79, which was considerably more than the average contribution. Wouldn't it be interesting to watch the influence of this money during the next hundred years?"

From another line in the same bulletin:

"The auditorium was well filled Sunday, August 31, when Brother Pullias taught an inspiring lesson on 'Christian Education,' stressing the obligation of the church and the home in the training of our young people."

Brother Pullias must have stressed the place of David Lipscomb College in the obligation of the church toward training the young people for the whole contribution, which was more liberal than ordinary, was given to the school: "In keeping with our custom of giving the fifth Sunday's offering to one of our institutions." There the matter is in demonstration. David Lipscomb is one of Our Institutions—that is, it belongs to the church, and should be supported by the church. That is the practice of this church, and of course the fruit of the preaching they have had through the years and are getting now. Wonder what other institutions we have that they support? Do they support Brother Morehead's one man missionary society? If the benevolent work of the church can be done scripturally through a benevolent institution other than the church, and if the educational work of the church can be done through an institution other than the church, why can't the missionary work of the church be done through some other institution than the church? In that case the church could do all of its work through something else, and all the church would need to do would be raise the money to support these other institutions. Isn't that a pretty picture? Let Brother Pullias break his silence and tell us why that couldn't be done just as acceptably as what he is doing, if he can. If he doesn't want to undertake the job, then perhaps his man Friday, Brother Willard Collins, will.

Now in sharp contrast notice the following statement from the Old Hickory, Tennessee, church which is just a few miles outside the city limits of Nashville:

"The elders of the Old Hickory Church of Christ decided in a business meeting held the night of September 5, 1947, that no representative of David Lipscomb College could raise money from even individuals in the Old Hickory Church with the approval of the elders of the Old Hickory Church, until such time as the matter of colleges asking for and receiving from church treasuries funds for the support of colleges is corrected. Signed: Rufus R. Clifford."

This is a picture of a congregation whose stand for truth and right has never been called in question. These elders who made such a decision are men of deep conviction and a clear conception of New Testament teaching. They have ever been interested in only what is truth and right, and have always had the courage to stand for it. Their influence is far reaching. Other congregations in Tennessee have taken and are taking the same stand. The time has come for both churches and preachers to let their convictions be known about this matter.

What Is the Evidence Offered?

Just one glimpse through the contentions that have been made by those who are in favor of the churches supporting the schools is revealing. They are almost an exact parallel to the arguments that have been offered to justify instrumental music and the missionary societies all the way through. They work no better in the support of the schools as church institutions than they do in support of instrumental music and missionary societies in the church of the Lord.

1. They have argued that if the congregations want to contribute they have the right to do so, and you are dictating when you teach them that they have no scriptural right to do it. This is the flimsiest kind of nonsense scripturally and otherwise. When did it get to be dictating to teach the church its duty? If that be true, any gospel preacher that does his duty is a dictator. You would be dictating when you preach that unless a man obeys the gospel he will be lost according to that kind of reasoning. The church has the right to decide nothing through its elders or otherwise when it comes to the truth of any proposition. Whether a thing is right or wrong cannot be decided by a popular vote of the congregation or in the council of the elders. God has decided that, and His Word is the law. Every Christian is bound by it, and no one has the right to decide it any other way. Can a congregation decide whether or not it is right to use instrumental music in its worship? Would I be dictating to the church when I condemn and teach against it? If not, then the contention fails. We are capable of better thinking than that. Such a rule would destroy the authority of the Bible, and would leave the standard of right and wrong to be determined by each congregation for its own locality.

2. Others have argued that if an individual can support the schools, then the church can do so. This is on a par with the digressives' argument that because you have music in the home, you should put it in the worship of the church. When you answer one you will answer the other. Whoever cannot see that there are a multitude of things that an individual can do that the church has no business trying to do, doesn't have his eyes open. Because I am a member of the Church of the Lord, does not mean that the church can take over my responsibilities and position in all the other relationships of life. The church cannot make a living for my family as long as I am able to do so. The church cannot run my business—not even if I am in the school business. The church would have the right to underwrite the business of any individual Christian, and help direct its affairs on just the same basis that it would have the right to underwrite a school someone started, and a group of brethren are interested in maintaining.

3. Others have said, "Show us where the Lord condemns it?" They need to learn to respect the silence of the Bible. That is what we have preached to the digressives on instrumental music and the societies. We have argued for the divine mission of the church, its all-sufficiency for its task, that its mission is scriptural, doing God's work in God's way, that the Bible is a perfect revelation and furnishes a man unto every good work, etc., until it appears we should have convinced ourselves on such matters. If the principle of the silence of the scriptures is conclusive on instrumental music, and if the principle of the all sufficiency of the church is conclusive on human missionary societies, then why wouldn't such principles forever determine that the church has no scriptural right to do any of its work through an organization that is no part of God's arrangement, and is human in its every part?

4. We are told further that there is no principle of law involved in the practice of the churches supporting the schools, but that it is altogether a matter of expediency. Here is about the weakest suggestion that has been made, and it comes from one of our school presidents. Brother Hardeman in a recent article even takes the position that in order for a thing to be expedient, it does not have to be lawful. Paul states exactly the opposite as the doctrine of expediency. Among the "some seem to think that in order for a thing to be expedient it must be lawful," is the Holy Spirit and Paul. I rather think that they are right about it, and Brother Hardeman wrong. Certainly all should know that an unlawful thing cannot be a matter of expediency. It is an unlawful thing for the Church of the Lord to do its work through a human institution, and all the twisting and squirming that can be done will not put that in the realm of expediency. Instrumental music is unlawful, and that is the reason it cannot be expedient. Societies, to do the work of the church, are unlawful, and therefore do not belong in the realm of expediency, whether missionary or educational.

5. But we are told there is no comparison between the missionary society and the school, and any mention of the missionary society is only for the purpose of arousing prejudice. Of course, they wouldn't use the cry "Sommerite" to arouse prejudice at all. They are all above a thing like that. There is but one point of difference that any one of them can show between the missionary society and the schools as they are operating today. That point of difference is only a matter of plan for organization. To all practical intents and purposes they are both doing the same kind of work, and the work of both, so far as it pertains to religious matters is work that God has delegated to His Church.

Here is a matter for study: Could the congregations of the Church of the Lord support a Missionary project in Germany or Japan if it were organized exactly after the pattern of our schools? If they couldn't support one in Germany or Japan, then tell us how they can support one in Henderson, Nashville, or Abilene?

This business of the church supporting the schools is nothing short of a new invasion of digression. The spirit of digression has simply Chosen another vehicle to get into the churches. Nothing short of a fight to the finish will stem the tide again. We need to look to our defenses, and "stand fast in the faith."