Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 16, 1961
NUMBER 28, PAGE 6-7,14

News And Views

Charles A. Holt, 4662 University, Wichita Falls, Texas

What Is The Thing?

In recent years a "new creation" has been cropping up all over the nation. It is sponsored and promoted by churches of Christ in ever increasing numbers. Steadily and powerfully does the thing grow. Reference is made to what is being promoted under the name of "Bible Chair." So rapidly has their number increased and so active are these "Bible Chairs" in so many fields, that they pose the threat of becoming a real menace to the Cause of Christ.

Just what is a "Bible Chair?" What are its functions? Is it an entity, with organization, mission and character? If so, how has all of this been determined and by whom or by what was such determined? Is the "Bible Chair" a NT organization? Is it to be a part of some local church or is it an organization of separate character and function? These "Bible Chairs" appear to act and function as an organization, and in their own name and by their own direction. Yet I observe that most of them are said to be a "Church of Christ Bible Chair." Some serious attention and study of this "new creation" is long overdue. Like most other promotional schemes, the erection and promotion of these things has caught on like wildfire and hardly anyone has ever stopped long enough to study this practice in the light of God's Word, and whether or not there is scriptural warrant for such arrangements being sponsored and operated by churches of Christ. If such attention has ever been seriously given to this matter, then I have not heard nor read of it; and should be most interested in finding out who did it and where it was done, to say nothing of studying over the justification of these things and especially the justification for various activities in which they engage.

These "Bible Chairs" are very active and they seemingly operate in several fields. Nearly all of them now sponsor lectureships of one kind or another. Back in August, the "5th National Bible Chair Lectureship" was conducted by the "Church of Christ Bible Chair" at Eastern New Mexico University, in Portales, N. M. These lectures were advertised as "designed primarily to promote the Kingdom through increasing Bible Chair activity!" I hardly see how these "Chairs" could increase their "activity," as it is already pretty widely extended to several fields; but I have even more difficulty in seeing how "increased Bible Chair activity" can "promote the Kingdom!" What does this mean if it is not understood to be a means, medium, or organization through which the kingdom of God is to be promoted? Wonder if the apostle Paul advocated and helped establish a "Bible Chair" at all the schools and universities in the cities into which he went preaching the gospel? Is that the means the early church used in promoting the kingdom? Was it through a "Bible Chair" organization that they preached the gospel to all the world in his day? One thing is certain: It was POSSIBLE for the early church to set up such things in their day, for they certainly had schools and universities then, and there were churches in the cities where they were. Why did not some in the early church dream up some such idea and promote it? Well, just why did they not do it? Are we just more "advanced" and "smarter" than they were? For that matter, I have often wondered just why the apostles or some in the early day of the church did not think up the idea of starting a school or college — an organization — through which to promote the kingdom and preach the gospel; especially if these human institutions are of such value and so great an "asset" to the church and in promoting the kingdom as most people seem to think that they are. Did they not need schools then to preserve the character and faith of their young people the same as such needs to be done today? We have so many organizations and human arrangements today, all of which sail under the guise of promoting the kingdom, that the church is nearly obscured and needless.

Concerning the lectures mentioned above, the advertising says that "An attempt has also been made to have a dominate spiritual emphasis." Well, I should hope so since these lectures are "designed primarily to promote the Kingdom...." Yet in looking over the subjects and the material to be covered there is but little that touches on the side of the "spiritual." But less their statement concerning a "dominate spiritual emphasis" mislead or fails to appeal to all, they then add this statement: "So, whatever your interests are you are welcome and you will find something of value." Hence, we can see that it certainly is not intended that only things of spiritual value are needed in promoting the kingdom!

Take a look at some of the subjects discussed during these lectures: "Report of New Chairs;" "First Year Impressions" — a report from some of the "Chairs" after one year of operation; "Relationships With Area Churches" — which covers "Securing Support," "Public Relations," and "Advisory Board;" "Elders and Bible Chairs;" "High School Bible Chairs;" "Underlying Philosophy of a Student Program at a State School;" "Relationships With Other Religious Groups" — and I expect that this is quite a problem, for they have to learn how to get along "With Other Chairs" (those operated by the Baptists, Methodists, etc.), and the directors of these "Chairs" have to learn how to get along "With Other Directors," and then they have to learn how to conduct an "All School Devotional" so as not to be objectionable or offensive to their "Sister Chairs" and others! Then some attention was given to "State School View of Bible Chairs," "Accreditation," "Seminar On Courses," "Developing Vocational Missionaries (wonder what they have developed when they get one of these developed?) and Future Leaders," and "Formulating and Expecting Special Programs" — and here comes another of the situations which they must learn to handle with great delicacy and poise, for it includes "Religious Emphasis Week" in which all the religious groups take part.

In addition to the above there was some time given to "Relations of Bible Chair Director's Wives." Under this heading some of the women (did they preach publically?) talked on the "Relations" of these wives "To Her Husband," "To the Students," and "To the Church." Attention was also given to the laborious task before the "Bible Chairs" of "Taking Christ to the Campus." Of course, there had to be some instruction concerning "Recreation," for this is one of the main activities of any good, lively, wide-awake, "kingdom-promoting" "Bible Chair!" Now can't you see how "spiritual" all this must have been and how such increased activity on the part of "Bible Chairs" will really "promote the Kingdom?"

These "Bible Chairs" seem to be almost unlimited in the projects and works they undertake and promote. They conduct worship, devotionals, Bible classes, counseling, and such like. However, these "Chairs" are apparently more involved in recreation and social activities than in religious activity; that is, judging by the amount of time and attention given by them to this sort of thing. There is nearly always something of this sort taking place at or conducted by the "Bible Chair." If churches can build and maintain a social and recreational hall on a college campus simply by labeling it as a "Bible Chair," then the same authorization would allow them to build the same thing at the church building — even in the basement! Some seemingly think that there is some difference — that it is all right for churches to build, provide and sponsor social and recreational facilities under the guise of a "Bible Chair," but it is wrong for these same churches to do the same thing at the church building.

The above practice is more or less similar to some of the benevolent societies; the Lubbock Christian Home, for example. The Home is under the oversight of the elders of the Broadway church and it is conducted as a part of the work of that church. Yet this Home operates a farm and engages in other business activities for profit. This means that such endeavors are actually under the oversight of the elders of the church (and they supposedly function in their capacity as elders in all of this) and the farm and other business enterprises are a part of the work of that church. Yet most people would object to the Broadway church owning and operating a farm or any other business concern in their own name. Why? What is the difference in reality? Can a church do about whatever it pleases just so long as it sets up some other organization, which is supported and operated under the auspices of that church, through which to do it? Brethren are indeed gullible along this line.

This "Eastern N. M. Bible Chair" also publishes a monthly paper; as do nearly all the others. It is called "The Voice of the Bible Chair." This means that this "Bible Chair" is an entity, with organization, and that it has a "voice." Apparently all the "Bible Chairs" have some kind of federation or cooperative set-up, because "The Bible Chair Journal" is "published by Bible Chairs of Churches of Christ." It has its headquarters in Austin, Texas, and is more or less the official organ for all the "Bible Chairs."

There are now at least twenty-seven "Chairs offering accredited Bible courses." There are eight "Chairs with student programmer only," and there are eleven "Chairs in formative stage." So this "Chair" business is getting to be quite the thing.. As is the usual case with such affairs, the liberals have more or less taken it over and seemingly without any thought as to the scriptural or unscriptural aspects connected with such a promotion, they are pushing it for all it is worth. To most of them there can be nothing wrong with such a thing in any way, and they do not have the time nor the disposition to be bothered with a matter of such trifling importance as to whether such work is or is not conducted in harmony with the scriptural teaching. So long as it gives another project to promote and it gets the "job" done, why should they concern themselves with whether there is scriptural authorization for this "Bible Chair" and all of its activities and operations? They are not concerned with this point in any other realm nor regarding the multiplicity of other human organizations and arrangements, so why expect them to give this matter any consideration with reference to this practice? The excellent opportunity afforded to teach the Bible to students in state schools is being exploited by ambitious men and another grave danger faces the churches on this new front.

These "Bible Chairs" need some attention and study on the part of those who do care about things being in harmony with the scriptures. Let me urge your sincere and honest appraisal of this growing practice, in the light of God's Word. Some objective articles concerning them would be very much in order and I invite and urge the preparation of such for the information of the readers of this paper. How could such a work be carried on in a scriptural way?

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Jimmy Thomas is soon to move from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Columbia, Tennessee, where he will work with the Mooresville Pike church I note in the Riverside bulletin, Fort Worth, that Sunday, October 29, was "Prove Your Love Day." Wonder if that is something like Mother's Day, Grandfather's Day, Sweetheart's Day, etc.? ...... From The Defender, bulletin of Westside church in Irving, Texas, I note that "The Love Field church (in Dallas) is having a congregational Christmas party! Their bulletin has a special notice that the 'Date for the annual Christmas Party for the congregation this year will be Monday, December 18.' A Church of Christ Christmas Party! But rather than be branded a 'troublemaker' I suppose one should encourage them to have a 'Church of Christ Easter Party,' a 'Church of Christ Halloween Party' (and the churches are already having these in some places. Holt), and a 'Church of Christ All Saints Day Party.' Then to top it off, have a big 'blow-out' on the Pope's birthday! When will the brethren learn that the church is not a glorified Country Club?" — Jerry C. Ray.

* * * Elders' Workshop

Brother Omer Stice, of Brownfield, Texas, has sent me a number of interesting papers and clippings during the years. He recently sent me a copy of Vision, the ACC Lectureship Publication, in which there was an announcement of an "Elders' Workshop" to be conducted by ACC. In a later issue of the paper, we are informed that the workshop has been conducted and something of the results. It was said to be "inspiring and helpful," and "the general tone of comments were that `it was the finest thing I have ever attended'." It is reported that one man was so worked up and elated with the affair that he said, "It should have happened to me fifteen years ago." The poor fellow evidently realized that merely depending upon the NT' and its teaching concerning the elders and their work just will not suffice and is greatly lacking when compared to this new propaganda medium of ACC — their "Elders' Workshop." This human institution is molding the thinking and destiny of so many men and churches that there is apparently no way to stop it. This school is the most powerful influence there is over the churches of Christ in general; yes, even more powerful than what the NT teaches! ACC lacks but little if any being the recognized headquarters of the church! With their lectureships, teacher workshops, preacher "incubator" and "training factory," their influence through the alumni, elders' workshops, and all the other avenues of preparing the minds of people, this school has reached the place of virtual control over thousands of churches. No, it is NOT organic control, but it is control never-the-less.

It was the "unanimous decision that the workshop be repeated each year." An all-out effort is to be made to get all the elders of every congregation to attend and learn how to "elder" as ACC suggests and approves! Not only that but they are going to promote the idea of elders bringing their wives next year. The wives need to attend this workshop also. Wonder if this training will better qualify them to serve as "she-elders?"

I have heard the report from very reliable sources that one of the ambitious and promoting-type elders of the Southside church in Fort Worth got carried away with this elders' workshop at ACC, so he went back home and undertook to have the Southside church sponsor some sort of elders' workshop for Fort Worth and vicinity. Of course, he wanted to import the ACC experts (naturally, they are likely the only ones qualified for such a task!) to conduct this affair also. This elder made all the plans, got the scheme going, and prepared the advertising. But, alas, he ran into trouble! The preacher at Southside, Eldred Stevens, balked at such an affair and refused to have any part in it. Just how it turned out — if indeed it did — I have not yet heard. Stevens is not yet so far gone into liberalism as to swallow all the clap-trap and modernistic undertakings and schemes promoted by ACC or even all such in Fort Worth. However, he is so afraid of being dubbed an "anti" or put in with the GG crowd that he dares not open his mouth (very wide, anyway) in protest. He, and a few others like him, are having a very hard time living with their conscience, the truth of God, and at the same time going part of the way with the liberals and trying to maintain their company. It must be pretty rough for them — and it ought to bet Digression and modernism cannot be stopped by compromise, pussy-footing, or silence!

As a further note on the Elders' Workshop at ACC, I lift the following from the pen of E. Paul Price, of Levelland, Texas:

"Last Monday I was in Abilene, Texas. While there, I was asked if I would like to attend an 'Elders' Workshop' out at ACC. I was interested in finding out more about such as I have never read of anything like that in the Word of God. So, we went, or thought we would, to the 'Workshop.' Just inside the door of the College church building, we were stopped and told to register and to pay our $5 fee! Now, did you follow me? Elders (?) were paying $5 to learn front a human institution what they should already know in order to be elders; and this was being conducted in the College church building. I suppose that if Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, Peter, and the other apostles had been present, they would have had to pay also. Such, my brethren, is an abomination before God! What right does a college, which is a human institution, have to put on such a campaign? Who gave them the right to train (really brain wash) elders of the church?

"In observing other activities of this college, I saw grown men, brethren in Christ, walking around half clad in public and before young ladies. Parents will not allow this in the home, but you can have it in the school. There is a sign on the yard which states, "Ladies can not appear on the courts in shorts." But, of course, we have another gospel for the men. Or do we?

* * *

OLIVER MURRAY will move from Clute back to Lufkin, Texas, in January, where he will make his home. Murray plans to give full-time to meeting work. The Timberland Drive church in Lufkin will provide him with a house and utilities, and assure him of support during the months it may be difficult to secure meetings. He is already booking meetings and would be happy to hear from any who desire to use him. For the present, he can be reached at Clute, Texas.

Jim Sasser, Chiefland, Fla., P. O. Box 424, Phone HYatt 3-4560. I have resigned my work with the Chiefland church effective by the first of the year. I would like to hear from any sound church that might be needing a preacher by then or between now and then. Also if there might be any sound church that wants to support a man out in a mission field. I have had quite a lot of experience along that line. 'I can offer references concerning my stand for the sound doctrine of Christ. I am known by such men as: Gardner S. Hall of Birmingham, James P. Miller of Tampa, Paul Brock of Jacksonville, Edd Holt of Birmingham, Harry Pickup, Sr., of Tampa, and many others if need be. I stand firm against any innovations that might be brought in to do the work of the church.

Donald Ames, P. O.Box 469, Aurora, Illinois. Sunday, October 22, the Lord's church began meeting for the first time in Sycamore, Illinois, meeting in the home of brother Del Bassett (1210 Commercial). Though a small group, these brethren are dedicated to the truth and willing to work. I will be working with them for the present. If you know of any wayward members in the Sycamore area, or that are possibly attending Northern Ill. Uni. in DeKalb, we would appreciate hearing from you. When in that area, stop and worship with us.