Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 27, 1958
NUMBER 30, PAGE 9a-11a

"On The March" -- But To What Destination?

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

On the front page of the Amarillo Daily News, Oct. 15, 1958, under Crossroads Report, there appeared the following, headed PROGRESS:

"Dear Editor: I see where some good people are building a fine new church in North Carolina and plan to have ten bowling alleys and a swimming pool in same.

"My orthodox neighbor says this goes to show how we have progressed in wisdom through the centuries since King Solomon built his famous church house.

"Says Solomon was a wise old bird, but his Temple was soon put out of business, probably because he didn't know it takes bowling alleys and ping pong tables to keep people interested in religion.

"D. E. Scott Wellington"

I don't know what church Mr. Scott is a member of, or whether he is a member of any, but this much he knows, the function of the church is not to provide recreation and entertainment for people. Furthermore, I gather that he recognizes that should the church provide such, it will not "keep people interested in religion." Would to God that some of my brethren knew as much!

That recreation and entertainment are being engaged in as a part of church activity, no informed person will deny. That projects of fun and frolic for the church to carry out are authorized by the word of God, no one so far has had the courage to affirm.

The function of the church is not recreation and entertainment, fun and frolic, church camps and picnics, feasting and banqueting, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and swimming — even if some do not think the gospel of Christ is powerful enough to keep the young people from going to the devil. In a word, the book of God does not authorize the church to function as a YMCA or USO.

In a recent newspaper advertising scheme of six pages by some overly ambitious soul(s), featuring the "Golden Anniversary Week at Central Church of Christ" (whatever that is), during which "charter members" were honored in some special manner, churches of this area, Youth Camps, and Christian (?) Schools and Colleges all were advertised in such a manner as to leave the impression with impartial observers that to speak of one implied the others, or at least that they are vitally connected in some fashion. Witness the following:

"CHURCHES OPERATE CAMP HIGH IN NEW MEXICO'S MOUNTAINS." This was the heading of one article. Camp sites for adults are for lease on a 99-year basis, we are informed. In the body is stated, "A Christian Church camp is also located in the area near Blue Haven." Of course, only "Church of Christ members may obtain camp sites near the youth camp" at present; but if you are not a "Church of Christ member," perhaps the Christian Church will take a broader view of the matter and lease you enough land to pitch your tent.

If someone objects to the above on the ground that the re-write man, or whoever wrote the article, is not a member of the church and therefore conveyed erroneous impressions by his statements, I reply that that in itself is prima-facie evidence that the distinction between the churches and their activities and the camps and their activities is not clearly enough drawn and sharply enough focused.

Has there been or will there be an attempt to correct these "erroneous impressions"?

If the errors cannot be corrected, it points up the danger inherent in such promotional activities; viz., that errors of this nature cannot he corrected and will fasten themselves upon churches of Christ for years to come and generations yet unborn.

If responsible brethren make no attempt at correction, though they shout from the housetops that there is no connection between the churches and the camps, it will belie their true feelings.

The promoters of BLUE HAVEN YOUTH CAMP claim the churches have nothing to do with their project. But in their efforts to succeed, church bulletins and pulpits are utilized; elders, deacons and preachers are enlisted to assist; assemblies for worship and classes for teaching are propagandized; the foyer and bulletin boards of meeting houses are used to advertise; money is solicited by church leaders from members for support; teachers are furnished by the church; the name of the church is frequently employed for publicity; and the claim is made that the camp is doing a great work for the church, if not for the Lord. In a word, all the facilities, services and members of the church are utilized for the success of the camp. When the denominations do this, they claim the result to be a "church camp." When we do the same thing, some blindly claim the camps have no connection with the churches.

Whom do we think we are fooling?

Others openly acknowledge that such camps are "church camps."

In NEWS, published by Church of Christ, Sixteenth & Decatur N. W., Washington D. C., Vol. 7, No. 4, June 13, 1958, the following statement appears:

"CAMP WA-MA-VA OPENS NEXT SATURDAY. Plans are progressing nicely for the best planned and best staffed camp which the area Churches of Christ have sponsored." This is more than an admission, it is an affirmation that "Camp Wa-Ma-Va" is church sponsored.

NEWS continues: "There is an immediate need for vegetable serving bowls, platters, casseroles and tea towels. Please contact church office if you have a surplus of these items and would like to donate them to the camp."

At Camp Wa-Ma-Va there is "a commodious kitchen, dining hall, and administrative offices." There are a "lake where supervised swimming takes place, the ball field and recreation areas." They have an "educational head" and "the staff" and "adult counselors."

We are assured that "the food will be good and wholesome." And I reckon it will, because the "meals will be planned by the camp dietitian . . ."

No parent need be apprehensive regarding the welfare of his child for, "Every precaution is being planned for the safety of the campers, with nurses and lifeguards on duty ..."

As an inducement to help build up the camp, we are told: "This is truly God's work and all Christians are urged to assist in whatever way they will." (Above emphasis mine, J.P.L.)

There you have it, and the whole thing — swimming, ball playing, recreational activities; dietitians, nurses, and lifeguards — "sponsored" by "the area Churches of Christ."

Well, it 'pears like the campers should have a "wonderful time up there, up there."

If such is "truly God's work," I am wondering why the passage from God's book was not given urging "Churches of Christ" of any "area" to "sponsor" it.

The function of the church is threefold: (1) Evangelism, (2) Edification, (3) Benevolence. The purpose of the church is the salvation of souls. Recreation, entertainment, fun and frolic do not fall within the scope of the church's divine mission. One must find scripture authorizing the church to furnish or "sponsor" entertainment and recreational programs before the church can lawfully engage in such. If no scripture can be produced, it is transgression of divine law for the church to participate. The silence of the scriptures must be respected.

The purpose of the church is set forth in the following passages: Eph. 3:8-11; 3:1-7; 2:11-22; 3:21; 4:1116; etc.

Inasmuch as there is no divine authority for projects of fun and frolic in the work of the church, the following scriptures sound a terrible warning to men who promote such: Gal. 1:8,9; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18,19; 2 Jno. 9.

We should not mix the "holy and profane." We should make a difference between "the unclean and the clean." We should not mingle the sanctified and the common. We should learn a fearful lesson from Nadab and Abihu. (Ezek. 22:26; Lev. 10:1-3).

The infallibly safe course is to follow what is revealed (Deut. 29:29; Gal. 1:11,12), refuse to act where the word of God is silent (2 Cor. 5:7 A.S.V. cf. Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17), and "speak as the oracles of God" speak (1 Pet. 4:11), holding "fast the form of sound words" which fell from inspired lips (1 Tim. 1:13).

The divine standard by which we are to test any religious doctrine or practice is set forth by the apostles. (1 Jno. 1:1,6). Let us, therefore, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21).

If we will do this, heaven shall one day be our happy, triumphal home. (Rev. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Matt. 7:21-27; Rev. 22:14).

No open attempt is being made at present to place the colleges in the budgets of the churches, but a more subtle and disarming effort is being employed.

In the recent concentrated effort of newspaper advertisements by some of the churches of this area, schools and colleges, miscalled "Christian," from various parts of the nation were quick to see the advantage to themselves in such an advertising scheme and placed their advertisements. One ad carried the heading "GROWING TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND." It read in part: "Like the Church of Christ, Abilene Christian College has been growing and serving the Southwest for many years."

I, as a member of the church of Christ, strongly resent their linking the name of our Lord's church to that of their human institution. It was obviously done for advantage — advantage for ACC.

Who invited the colleges to run advertisements in conjunction with an avowed effort to advertise the church? They would have known nothing of it if someone had not notified them. What did such advertisements add to the history and glory of the church as God would have it?

The above referred to advertising appeared in the Amarillo Sunday News-Globe, October 5, 1958. Just ten days later. October 15, there appeared in the same paper pictures of six men — all of them on ACC's staff. The picture heading ran, "Speakers in Special Series." The column heading read, "College Officials Due in Amarillo." A portion of the article is reproduced below:

"Churches of Christ in Amarillo have invited six Abilene Christian College staff and faculty members to occupy pulpits here Sunday, to speak in a special series on 'The Values of Christian Education.'

"Each man will speak at the regular Sunday morning worship hour for a different Amarillo church. The speakers and the places where they will appear are:

"President Don H. Morris, Southside Church of Christ; Vice President W. R. Smith, San Jacinto Church of Christ; Asst. President John C. Stevens, North Amarillo Church of Christ; Dr. Rex P. Kyker, head of the ACC speech department, Central Church of Christ; Dean Walter H. Adams, South Lawn Church of Christ, and Carl Spain, associate professor of Bible, East Amarillo Church of Christ."

Is anyone so naive as to imagine that six ACC faculty members' being invited by six churches of Christ in Amarillo to speak on the same subject, "The Values of Christian Education," at the same time, on the same day, in the same city — is anyone so naive as to seriously think that it was pure chance and blind coincidence? And this just two weeks after the six page church advertisements? Do you suppose that it had any relation to the reported quarterly meetings of the elders of most of the Amarillo churches?

What was the purpose of inviting these six school teachers? Was it because the six churches inviting them have no preachers? Was it because the elders of these six churches are not qualified to educate Christians in the words of life? Was it because the members of these six churches do not recognize "The Values of Christian Education"? Or could it have had some connection with the drive ACC is beginning to raise a half million dollars for the construction of a new campus building?

It "ought to be obvious to the most casual observer" that the purpose was to build up Abilene Christian College in the minds, hearts — and pocketbooks — of the members of these six churches of Christ.

"Each man will speak at the regular Sunday morning worship hour for a different Amarillo church" — church of Christ, that is. Does anyone think for a minute that the schools and their work — particularly ACC and its work — will be absent from speeches made by these six school men on "The Values of Christian Education"? It would seem that a period which should be devoted exclusively to worship unto HIM who so loved us that he gave his only begotten son to die for us will be used to promote an institution of academic learning, founded and propagated by man's wisdom, that the ambitious vanities of conceited man may be satisfied.

Indeed, there is a mixing of the sanctified and common, holy and profane. In this fashion the church and its worship and work are profaned.

Yes, we are definitely "on the march," but where will we be when we arrive? (See: .2 Jno. 9).