Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1960

Colleges And Local Congregations

James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee

The president of one of the "Christian Colleges" is quoted as saying that the best way to establish the church in a new field is to start a "Christian College" in that new field. Such a suggestion reveals an unscriptural and sinful attitude toward the church. No one known to me opposes a college or opposes Christians who teach in colleges teaching the Bible to their pupils. The thing we oppose is the college attaching itself to the church and taking over the work of the church. We oppose the college soliciting the church to prostitute its resources from its own work to the college. There is too much college and too little church with the great multitude of preachers swarming around the "Christian Colleges."

The great, important and all-embracive thing is to teach and preach the simple gospel. Jesus commissioned the apostles to teach and preach the gospel to all nations, to every creature, until the end of time. The apostles preached and taught the gospel. Preaching and teaching the gospel was all they taught and preached. They had nothing to do with anything else. Preaching and teaching the gospel starts a local congregation or church. It does not start anything else. The only thing religiously that ought to be started in this world is the local congregation. It is the only thing the apostles started. It is the only thing religiously that can be scripturally started. To start any religious enterprise, other than the local congregation, is presumptuous, wicked and sinful. Such a thing is a plant that the heavenly Father did not plant. "But he answered and said, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up," (Matt. 15:13.)

The local congregation, then, is the only religious institution, or the only Christian institution, in existence. If nothing is taught in the religious world except "the apostles' teaching," the local congregation would be the only religious or Christian institution to which Christians belong and through which they work.

All must recognize that the church of God is the only Scriptural, divinely authorized theological school on earth. Every local congregation has the right to teach the Bible seven days a week, and that is a Bible School, or a Christian College, giving a Christian education to its members. But no congregation has the right to establish a school, three-fourth secular, solicit funds from other congregations, put it under a Board of Directors, pay teachers and call it a "Christian College" for begging purposes. The apostles established congregations, not colleges. "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3:21.)

The influence and work of the local congregation is what makes the world better. When men and women are saved and begin living the Christian life, the result of their labors is the salvation, happiness and usefulness of all whom their influence reaches. Thus the Christian religion, not only blesses people spiritually, but also materially and temporally. It civilizes, refines and raises to higher ground every nation in which it is preached. It makes men and women better in every way. Not to mention the most important things, such as their salvation and the great spiritual blessings to which obedience to the gospel brings them, it leads them to a better way of living, such as better food, better houses, better clothing, better business, and to advancement and progress in every avenue of human endeavor. The Christian religion builds schools and colleges, just as it makes possible every thing else conducive to the elevation and uplift of human society.

Colleges are one of the blessings produced by the gospel. A college is a secular institution. It is unscriptural and sinful to change a college from a secular to a religious institution. The congregation is the only true religious institution. It is the only true "Christian College." The congregation, with Christ, the Great Teacher, as its Head, and the Word of God as its Guide, is the only institution on earth that can give its members a "Christian education." If a college has scriptural authority to call itself a "Christian" college, then it is a religious institution, other than the church, which is unscriptural and sinful. The church cannot operate a college, any more than it can operate a factory, a grocery or a farm. The work of the church makes these things possible, but the church cannot leave its own work to engage in such things. The work of the church is the greatest, grandest, most important work on earth. Its work makes possible the advancement and uplift of human society in every direction. No human institution can do this wonderful work. For men to presumptuously organize, without precept or precedent from the apostles, any human institution to take over any part of this wonderful work of the church, is wicked and sinful and brings catastrophe, temporally and eternally.

The Word of God, and nothing else, is the thing to be taught by the church. The church is the institution to teach the Word of God. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. 3:10.) "Might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." God created and established the church to teach and preach "the manifold wisdom of God." No human institution, or organization, is capable or fitted to so do. The church does this great work through its members. All of its members have a part in so doing.

"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2.) "Faithful men" are members of the church. Only "faithful men" are qualified to teach "the things" that come from the apostles. All others, even though ambitious to be teachers have no love for "the things" authorized and commanded by the apostles and refuse to teach them. The Word of God must be taught every where to every one. Yet "faithful men" are the ones to teach it. While the Bible should be taught and studied everywhere, a " "Professor of Bible", in a theological school or a "Doctor" in a School of Religion, is not a fit person to teach it.

I have before me the Charter of one of the "Christian Colleges." It says: "A charter is sought, in order that it may maintain and conduct a school for the purpose of teaching the Word of God and the various other branches of useful knowledge commonly taught in institutions of learning and for the following general purposes, the support of any literary or scientific undertaking as a college or university with powers to confer degrees, an academy, a debating society, lyceum, the establishment of a library, the support of a historical society, the promotion of painting, music, or the fine arts, the support of boards of trade or chambers of commerce, or other objects of like nature, the support of public worship, the building of churches and chapels and the maintenance of all missionary undertakings."

To establish a school "to teach the Word of God" is the same thing exactly as establishing a missionary society to preach it. Brethren fought with might and main against the missionary society to preach the Word of God and then, themselves, turn around and establish a "Christian College" to teach it. Both the missionary society and the "Christian College" are human institutions established presumptuously, without precept or precedent from the apostles, to do the work that God, in his wisdom, established the church to do.

We humbly submit in the light of these plain truth, that the college must be wholly and entirely separate and apart from the church. If it has "faithful men" on its faculty, as faithful members of the church, they should teach the Word of God to the students. The local congregation, not the college, is the School of the Great Teacher. The local congregation is the greatest, most wonderful school on earth. It is the only school that Christ, the Great Teacher, is the Head of. It is the only true, Christian College. The teaching procedure, the order of teaching, of the Great Teacher, through his apostles, in the local congregation has been borrowed by the greatest colleges and universities on earth. "Every creature" is welcome, without money and without price, in the School of Christ, which is the local congregation. Preachers, teachers, and all Christian workers should be taught, trained and developed in the local congregation, under its own elders, who are, or should be, "faithful men." The local congregation is not dependent on the "Christian College" for any thing. The work of the local congregations is infinitely more important than the work of "Christian Colleges." We are not opposed to colleges in their place. We ardently wish that the great multitudes of preachers who swarm around the "Christian Colleges" were out starting local congregations everywhere. No human tongue could tell the good that would be done.