Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 4, 1958

The Education Of Preachers


Elsewhere in this issue is an article by the venerable W. W. Otey, "Read It And File It", which calls attention to a problem which will become increasingly important in the years ahead. There can be little question as to the tremendous influence exerted by Bible colleges in shaping and determining the thoughts and attitudes of leaders in the Lord's church. This power is even more in evidence when the schools deliberately and designedly set themselves the task of doing that very thing. In the days of Lipscomb and Harding the old Nashville Bible School was thought of as a school to help Christian boys and girls obtain an education. There were no special efforts made to train preachers who, in turn, would influence congregations one way or the other. The Bible was taught daily to all students, boys and girls, preachers and non-preachers alike.

But today many of the Bible colleges are seeking purposefully to influence the thinking of the brotherhood. Their lectures and other propaganda agencies are planned and tailored with that end in view. It is not sufficient for them to be merely teaching institutions to train and equip their own students; there must be prodigious efforts put forth to influence public opinion, to bend and sway masses of non-students into a particular line of thought.

Brother Otey's apprehensions as to the future are well grounded. But we believe there is a very promising approach being made to this problem over the nation in scores of congregations which have developed highly productive "training classes" for the men of the congregation. We have seen this kind of work growing for the last ten years. And the "men's training class" has become almost as much a regular feature in many congregations as the mid-week Prayer Meeting or the Sunday morning Bible Classes. We know of one congregation in California, which is less than ten years old, but which has already sent out nearly a dozen fine young gospel preachers who are now working regularly with various small congregations (several of which these young men themselves have started). Only one or two of these young mes have attended any "Bible college"; the others have gone to various state colleges, or other institutions of learning. Some of the most effective and capable preachers in the church today are men who never studied a day in a Bible college; but who are well educated and well trained. Indeed, there is a distinct advantage often in the fact that they are NOT turned out in the pattern of a Bible college. There is an originality about them that is all too often stifled and stultified in the product of the Bible schools.

Then, too, as so many of the Bible colleges are increasingly teaching and featuring error in their classrooms, there will be less and less incentive to urge young preachers to attend them. When faculty members of a Bible college, for example, are openly and publicly teaching churches the scriptural right to contribute to colleges; that every congregation should have a "banquet hall" for festive activities of the members; that it is right and scriptural for churches to engage in secular business activities; (like the Mormon and Catholic churches); that dancing and social drinking are acceptable. Christian recreations — well, how long can that sort of thing continue before Christian parents will turn from the Bible college to other institutions for the education of their children? In a state college the Christian boy or girl would be on guard against such teaching; in a Bible college he is disarmed and unprepared to cope with it. He would expect to find error and false teaching in a state college; he does not expect it, hence is unprepared for it, in a Bible college.

We believe there may be a solution found to the problem posed by Brother Otey in an increased emphasis among the churches on the "training classes" for men — with a particular effort made to establish strong teaching programs by churches located in towns and cities where state supported colleges exist. Then we can encourage our young men to attend the state college — and at the same time to participate most actively in the "training class" of the congregation in that town. We are favorably impressed with the possibilities of a modified form of "Bible chair" in connection with such state schools — a simple program of Bible classes without the extra-curricular aspects of the socialized "student center" now being promoted and supported by churches in several places. We have seen highly productive classes taught by qualified brethren in connection with various state colleges — classes in the Bible, church history, Christian evidences, and various other subjects related to Christianity, and for which college credit was obtainable.

As the Bible colleges become more and more secular and worldly in their emphasis (which we consider simply inevitable), if good congregations all over the land will step up their "training classes" and investigate the possibilities for teaching Bible classes in connection with the state schools, we believe there will come a leveling off time, when the influence of the Bible college element will be compensated and matched by the influence of the well-educated, well-trained, and truly consecrated young men who have received their training in state schools — and their religious training in the congregations adjacent to those schools. On the whole we believe this will be a healthy and desirable trend for the future. But we'd be interested in getting the reaction of our readers to the idea.

— F. Y. T.