Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 29, 1960
NUMBER 21, PAGE 1,14a

The College In The Budget

R. L. Burns, Fort Worth Texas

One of the greatest tragedies of the present controversy among the brethren is that thousands of brethren have been led to believe that the whole "fight" is about feeding "starving little children." Consequently, the benevolent societies (sometimes called "orphan homes") have received more attention than perhaps they really deserve. This writer is of the persuasion that the "orphan home" controversy will subside in the years to come, inasmuch as nearly all welfare workers now admit that these "homes" are an impractical medium of child-care. But other issues, not now so pronounced, will grow out of this question. One such question is whether churches will support "Christian" colleges from their treasuries.

It is worthy of note that church-support of colleges was relatively a dead issue among the churches until brethren began promoting the "orphan home societies" so freely. But by route of that bandwagon ("orphan homes"), the college question has returned with greater power and prestige than ever before. Reuel Lemmons, the "conservative-liberal" editor of the Firm Foundation, recently said, "When some of the present 'issues' were raised we predicted that they would be fought out on the 'orphan home level', and that twenty years later when the colleges make a play for the church budgets, advocates would say 'we fought the battle of church contributions to private enterprises twenty years ago.' It looks like we are a poor prophet — we over-guessed the time!" While we disagree with brother Lemmons on some points, we can appreciate the above statement, for those who defend the churches right to contribute to private enterprises for child-care must also contend for the churches' right to contribute to private enterprises for "Christian" education. And those who hope to hold on to the benevolent societies, if they hope to have the fellowship of the majority of the brethren, must also accept the educational societies.

For years now brethren have sung the praises of the college above the church. We have been treated to the idea that the strength of the church is somehow dependent upon the schools. The Official Bulletin of Fort Worth Christian College recently quoted Leroy Brownlow as saying: "If you doubt that a Christian College has the ability to bless and strengthen the church, I am suggesting that you take a little trip over the United States, and if you do you will convince yourself. You will find that in areas where we have Christian Colleges the church is strong and is making progress. But in areas where we do not have Christian Colleges, the church is weak and struggling. My brethren, that proves the point. You just cannot argue with a demonstration." I tell you, brethren, that these men have exalted above the church the schools operated by brethren. We have reached the point that a position in a college is to be desired above preaching the gospel, allegiance to some school is greater proof of faith than allegiance to Jesus Christ, and to some it appears that going to a lectureship at Abilene is next to going to heaven. Brother Brownlow says you cannot argue with a demonstration. That is right! And the rule is that the nearer the college you go the weaker the brethren are. As an example, in Abilene, Texas, there is only one congregation that has not been carried away with the departures of institutionalism. And beginning from Bethany College, begun by Campbell early in the Restoration Movement, on to the present, most of the schools have promoted digression of one kind or another among the brethren, except the school at Tampa, Florida. We agree that you cannot argue with a demonstration and this writer would not for all the world suggest, as Brownlow has, that the church derives any strength from the schools. They are usually stones about the "necks" of congregations.

It is not at all surprising that in recent months the battle lines have been drawn among the liberal-minded brethren over which institutions they will defend, and especially is the church-support-of-the-college becoming their battlefield. More and more brethren, who have heretofore looked with disfavor upon any suggestion of negativism, are now caught in their own traps, victims of their own devices, branded as "anti-college" because they oppose the churches contributing to them. In Fort Worth, as in other places, the tension is mounting and pressure has been brought to bear on certain preachers of large and influential congregations because they have criticized the evasive floundering and dodging of officials at Fort Worth Christian College on the very question of church support for the school. In a feeble defense of themselves and in an attempt to answer attacks against the board and administration of the school, the chairman of the board of directors recently wrote: "The board has not in the past, does not now, and does not intend in the future to accept funds from church treasuries." But what we would like to see is a statement disavowing the position of church-support for the school! The president of the school, Thomas B. Warren, will neither endorse nor deny the position, we are told, but is "studying the question" as set forth in the book, "We Be Brethren." This reminds us very much of the manner in which he "shifted" positions some years ago on the "cooperation question." In recent months in Fort Worth bulletins have been flooded with articles PLEADING for brethren not to put the colleges in the budget, as the result of developments at FWCC. We predict that brother Warren will either say nothing about the position to which he holds or will soon publicly endorse the position of J. D. Thomas in "We Be Brethren." We challenge him or the board of directors to issue a clear and unequivocal statement about their beliefs.

But the time has come when you must either endorse these schools, or else! Recently the "Associated Women's Organization for Christian Schools, Inc.," Dallas, Texas, put out a "Dallas County Directory of Churches of Christ" and NOT ONE CONGREGATION IS LISTED that does not go along with everything the brethren are doing in the way of organizing. When inquiry was made as to why these churches were left out, the reply was that they would be included "if the churches would underwrite the school." It cannot be denied, unless you endorse these and every other project that men invent and tie to the church you simply cannot enjoy their favor.

We believe that the congregation is the only organization God has given for any work in spiritual matters. (Acts 2:42; 20:28-32) If men desire to build and maintain secular organizations as adjuncts to the home, such as schools in which a Bible class is taught, let them. But let them extend to us the same privilege as they exercise in supporting or not supporting them. And let them not lay their unholy hands to attach to God's church anything not included in the Divine arrangement. (Hebrews 8:1-5; 2 John 9-11)