Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 27, 1960
NUMBER 25, PAGE 10-11,13d

Beyond The Horizons

By Wm. E. Wallace, Box 407, Poteau, Oklahoma

Bible Reading In Public Schools

(NOTE: This article is taken from The Messenger, published by the Seventh Avenue congregation in Miami, Florida. Robert M. Atkinson wrote the article.)

Attention has been focused on religious practices in public schools in Dale County by two law cases against such being put before Circuit Court here this week. The suits attack: daily Bible reading, prayers, hymn singing, use of religious symbols, observance of religious holidays, etc. The cases have been instigated by an agnostic, a unitarian, and three Jews. Defendants are the members of the Dale School Board. They are supported by various local residents, including sectarian church officials, who have entered the case as interveners. Spectators have included Bible-carrying Baptists. A Presbyterian Church has begun 24-hour-a-day "prayer vigil" to uphold the Bible reading law.

A few have asked what the church should do in this matter. The answer is simple, if not popular....nothing! The public school is a state institution. Civil suits have been filed. The church of Christ is a divine institution whose work is to preach the gospel. We have no authority to meddle in affairs of state, and as a religious organization, attempt by civil law to force a state institution to share in this work. The outcome of these cases will not change the divine nature and work of the church.

As a Christian individual who is both a parent and citizen, I am interested in the proceedings, and the verdict, but I am not alarmed. I would like to see Bible readings continued, without sectarian comment. Only good could result from this. But there is always the danger of unscriptural comments and practices being slipped in with the scripture reading. But in any event, as a Christian, I fully accept the responsibility of bringing my children up " the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4) Every parent in the Lord should work unceasingly to make the influence of Christ first in the home, and in the lives of children thereby, and it will make little difference what the public schools do. Educational thought and policy are dominated by arrogant infidels and their "this-world" philosophy of Pragmatism. Children are early subjected to false theories parading under the guise of science. Teachers are many times the unwilling or unwitting tools of this minority group of self-styled intellectuals.

But does the fate of our children depend on public school policy? Are the powers of the gospel and influence of a Christ-centered home so pathetically weak that they cannot cope with error in the school? Of course not: (Rom. 1:16) The Christ-centered home can successfully resist any attempt by any institution to usurp its rights and responsibilities. I am interested, not concerned.

We have pointed out that the current law cases on religious practices in the schools were matters with which the church of Christ could not scripturally concern itself. It is the infidel social gospel which leads certain religions to meddle in civil affairs. The gospel of Christ should not be blamed for the spectacle.

Moreover, we saw that a Christ-centered home would successfully overcome any false religious doctrine or practice taught by the schools. I might add that Christian parents will forbid their children to engage in any practice which is contrary to the Scriptures, regardless of whether or not the school board has given permission to not participate. Loyal and submissive citizens of the state (Romans 13) still, if a choice between God's commandments and the state's commandments become necessary, "ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) In wonderful America, such a choice is rarely forced upon us.

Concerning the school board, it must be said that if simple Bible Readings ONLY had occurred, as the law specifies, perhaps there would be no suit. The introduction of sectarian "holy" days and practices does violate the law.

Concerning the Agnostic, unitarian, and three Jews who sued the school board, it is evident that they are aware of the weaknesses of their own beliefs, the weakness of infidel home influence, and they are afraid of the power of God's truth.

An agnostic is usually one who says that all knowledge is relative (opposed to John 17:17), and that God is unknowable. Actually, agnosticism is atheism but this is my assertion, not that of the agnostic. Knowing atheism to be contrary to reason, the agnostic prefers to say, "I just don't know," he doubts. The agnostic says God is absolute, perfect; knowledge is relative, subject to circumstances, etc. But in trying to avoid atheism, agnosticism contradicts itself by affirming, in substance, "I know that there is an unknowable."

Question: May later developments and discoveries show that Bible Reading in schools is a good practice? If the agnostic states "no," then he must affirm that he knows something for sure, something that will never change; it other words, he is in possession of an "absolute," eternal truth, and of necessity he has abandoned the agnostic position that knowledge, all knowledge, is relative. But if the answer to the question is "yes," then he doesn't know whether Bible Readings are good or bad, and since( he is in doubt about this question, he ought to withdraw his suit, because he doesn't know what is right or what is wrong with regard to Bible Reading or any other matter Agnostics have the conviction (or is it doubt?) that agnosticism is the result of intelligent thinking and centuries of human experience. Thus, they say that only the ignorant and gullible believe in eternal truths. Agnosticism affirms: (doubts) that the really intelligent person is the one who doesn't know anything.

Agnosticism is a hopelessly confused system of thought. In saying that man cannot know anything about God, agnosticism contradicts the Bible (which we know to be inspired and will so affirm), because the Bible claims to reveal God to man. It also contradicts the Lord Jesus who declared "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." According to this philosophy David was wrong when he declared that the heavens declare the glory of God. It takes God out of the picture and thereby makes man the highest being in the universe. And proud man soothes his ruffled feelings while going about to establish his own righteousness, better known as confusion and immorality. Agnosticism leaves unanswered many questions: Who made man (including Mr. Agnostic)?; who or what or how was the world made?; has man a soul?; is there an afterlife?; etc. The agnostic draws upon the wisdom of ages past, leans on the scientific advances of this enlightened age, sweeps aside the cobwebs of "religious superstition," and sagely replies to these questions I DON'T KNOW! So be it, but that doesn't mean the answers are unknown to others. Ignorance is bad enough, but boastful ignorance, disguised as wisdom, is extremely dangerous and deceitful.

Actually, no agnostic will admit to being uncertain. This is a case in point. How can a "doubter" be so sure that he is right as to file suit and claim that others are wrong? By whose standard or set of morals has he determined what is right and what is wrong? His own, of course. And rather than remove his child from the religious practices (which he is free to do), he is so sure of his doubts that he seeks a court judgment which will prove that he knows that his doubts rest upon the darkness of human wisdom, and that they dare not be exposed to the light of God's Word lest the evidences and truths therein expose and dispel the darkness of doubt.

As for the Unitarian, what is said concerning agnosticism, applies equally well to unitarianism. The creed of the "creedless" Unitarian Fellowship binds upon all who would be one of them, the belief that there is no eternal truth; man must work out "the good life" himself.

Brethren and sisters in Christ, friends, I implore you to take a long, discerning look at infidelity, hopelessly contradicting itself in its own error. I beg you to consider the two side by side. Our faith, which is based on evidence, gives to everyone in Christ; a knowledge of God, His nature and plan for man; knowledge of whence we came, the creation of all things; assurance of immortality with eternal bliss for the faithful, torment for the ungodly; a life of peace without fear of man, spiritual blessings in abundance, etc. The infidel offers only boastful doubts, arrogant theories concerning man's origin, purpose and destination. In this life he offers confused and constantly changing moral codes. He offers no hope, no knowledge of eternal value, no personal God — nothing which is truly worthwhile.

There are certain times when errors and inconsistencies of infidelity and human religions are more clearly shown than at other times. In this series of articles we have shown that the court cases over religious practices in public schools is one of those times. Accordingly, we have used the opportunity to expose the errors of infidelity and false religions, while upholding the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Having dealt with agnosticism and unitarianism, we turn our attention to Judaism and denominationalism.

The Jews involved in the case are being backed by the American Jewish Congress which would indicate that they are of liberal persuasion. If they are liberal in views, then what was said' concerning the agnostic and unitarian necessarily applies to them as well. If God has not revealed Himself and certain absolute, eternal truths, then nothing is really known to be true, and they have no basis for such positive action as a legal suit. After all, this don't-know philosophy logically must be extended to civil matters, as well as religious and moral matters.

If the Jews believe the Old Testament to be inspired, and consequently believe themselves to be God's people (those involved reject the New Testament, I know, in spite of the evidence upholding its inspiration), then they should be concerned with keeping themselves separate rather than be concerned with the separation of church and state. Actually, the weakness of Judaism, of whatever brand, is demonstrated here. What is wrong with children hearing the reading of the New Testament? They will learn that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Israel's Messiah. They might learn that the Israel of God is spiritual Israel, the church (body) of Christ, in which both Jew and Gentile are reconciled unto God by the cross of Christ. (Eph. 2:10-22; Rom. 10; Gal. 3:10-14) "That indeed a notable miracle hath been done...." they cannot successfully deny, but "that it is spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name." (Acts 4:16, 17) As their "fathers did...." so most of them still "always resist the Holy Spirit...." (Acts 7:51) And if it were not for the powers that be, some who believe in Christ would suffer the same fate as Stephen.

Regarding the "white-shirted, Bible-carrying" sectarians who attend the trial, and the "prayer vigils" to operate as the trial progresses, we wonder that anyone takes such displays seriously. The truth is that these displays are mockeries! Most sectarians agree with the infidels that truth cannot be determined. They teach that we can't all understand the Bible "alike," which is just another way of saying that no one can know anything for certain. (God says we can know the truth. (John 8:31, 32; Acts 2:36; and many other passages.) Some of the very preachers who attended the court sessions (before their interruption), have refused requests from their own members to meet with me and others to kindly and earnestly discuss God's Word! They refused on the grounds that it makes no difference what one believes; therefore other things are more important than studying and discussing the Bible. The Bible command to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21) means nothing to them. They will not undertake to prove their doctrines by the Bible, God's truth, (John 17:17) because according to them, it makes no difference what one believes, which is equal to saying that error will save just as well as truth.

Now, if the Bible can't be understood, why all this fuss by these "intervening pastors" over Bible Reading? If it makes no difference regarding what the Bible means then it ought to make no difference whether it is read or not. If the Bible isn't important enough to study and discuss, then it is not important enough to be read every day in schools, and certainly not important enough to go to law about. Where is all this "tolerance" we hear so much about when sectarian preachers are challenged to prove their doctrine? It is evident that their use of the word is just something to hide behind so they won't have to defend sectarian beliefs and practices. When challenged to discuss and defend their views, most sectarian preachers piously declare that they don't believe in discussing religious matters and fussing about Bible teaching, in debates. The true spirit of sectarianism, with all of its hypocrisies and errors, will be on display through the duration of these court cases.

Certainly if our eternal welfare doesn't depend on knowing and obeying the truth of God's Word, it has no importance to the school, a state institution, or to our civil life.

And, by the way, infidels, if all knowledge is relative, you don't know what the constitution means.

Sectarian preachers, if you can agree on the meaning of the constitution, why not agree and unite on the Bible? Can man write plainer than God? For shame!