Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1961
NUMBER 30, PAGE 5,13-14a

Concerning Orphan Homes And Colleges

Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

(Editor's note: About fifteen years ago Abilene Christian College announced a fund-raising campaign with Robert M. Alexander as the director, and frankly stated that contributions would be sought from churches. This precipitated an intense battle over the question, and the college receded from its position; Alexander was relieved of his post as chief money-raiser, and was made the scape-goat of the fiasco, although he certainly was no more to blame than others. Now, fifteen years later, the same battle looms again. And this time it will be more bitter; for many of those who stood firmly for the truth in that previous encounter have now so fully compromised themselves in 'supporting the "institutional benevolent society" that they cannot speak out against the college-in-the-church-budget drive. We think this fifteen year old article by Foy E. Wallace, Jr., first appearing in the Bible Banned, is worthy of serious study.)

Regarding the effort to justify the college in the budget by the orphan homes, we are not obligated to defend any questionable way of doing a thing that is otherwise right and proper to do, or to attempt to justify an unscriptural way of doing a scriptural thing. The church is commanded to do benevolent work within certain restrictions, but the doing of it through an institutional board raises the question of the scriptural way of doing a scriptural thing. It churches are doing a scriptural thing in an unscriptural way, it certainly does not justify doing something that is not even a scriptural thing — namely, having the church to engage in the works of secular education through a board of college directors. The church is commanded to help the poor and needy; and for that we have precept and example in the word of God. But the church is not commanded to teach arts and sciences, and other branches of secular education; and for such there is neither precept nor example — and certainly not through a college board.

There is therefore some difference — enough to keep the issues from being parallel.

First: The church can scripturally contribute to the care of the needy. The thing is right, and the issue is in the medium of so doing. But secular education is not the work of the church at all, and the issue is in the thing itself. The church cannot scripturally contribute to education in arts and sciences, conservatories of music and elocution, athletics and gymnastics — none of which is in any sense the work of the church.

The matter of orphan homes involves the question of doing something scriptural, if done right; or a scriptural thing done in an unscriptural way, if done wrong. While the matter of the college is wholly outside the realm of church work, being wholly secular, and in no sense the work of the church.

Second: The orphan home does not offer the threat of power or danger of domination that exists in the colleges; the orphan home is quite a passive harmless thing in that respect, whereas the potential power of colleges to dominate the church cannot be denied. The colleges have in fact been a constant and continuous threat to the church, so much so that repeatedly the issue has to be thrashed out and the Colleges put back in their places.

The college campaigners are always saying that they do not intend to dictate to the churches, but to allow the churches to select their own method of supporting the school! Now that is very generous of them — but does it not tacitly imply that they have a potential power to dictate should the time come when they elect to do so? How long will it be until the churches are so full of the ex-students of the colleges, led by the "college trained leaders" they so proudly claim, and served by preachers loyal to the college, that the colleges will have the very condition favorable to their dictation? It is then that they will dictate to the church in the "method" by which "the church" shall "support" the college. And why all the talk about the church supporting the college by any method; either its own or the school's, if they are not tying the church and college together? The church this, the church that, but it is not a church school! I don't like the way they talk any better than I like the way they do.

Third: There has always been a question about the operation of an institutional orphan home. If the church can do its benevolent work through a "board of directors" — a benevolent board; why not its preaching work, or "missionary work," through a missionary board? And certainly if the church can do education work through a board of education, there can be no logical reason why the same church could not do its missionary work through a board of missions. If it is argued that the missionary board "selects" the preachers, and the preachers are responsible to the board and not to the church, and the church loses direction of its own funds — the, same is true in the college case. The college board "selects" the Bible teacher, and all the other teachers, and they are all responsible to the education board of the college, and the church that contributes to the college has no control of their own funds nor of the teachers selected and paid. As boards and mediums through which the church may operate they stand or fall together. The board of missions, or the board of benevolence, really has the advantage — for preaching the gospel and helping the needy are within the sphere of the mission of the church, whereas the teaching of arts and sciences, athletics and gymnastics, is not.

The institutional home should be a private thing like operating a boarding house or a hospital. If the church did anything about it, on the same basis as paying a sick person's expense at the hospital (if and when proper), it would not justify putting the hospital in the budget of the church, nor would the church be contributing to the hospital. But the president of Freed-Hardeman college said that if a church could help a young preacher, it could as well just give the money to the college and let the college help him! In which case, the college and not the young preacher would get it — he would still be rustling for help.

On the same principle if the church can scripturally help a sick person, the church can just as scripturally give the money to some hospital and let the institution pick out the sick person to help. Just let the institution do it! One of the catches in that is that in case of the college, what young preacher would get helped? They would all still have to continue getting the help somewhere else, while the college would be getting contributions of the churches for its coffers. The other catch is that if the church can give the money to the institution in that case, and let the institution do it, then the church can just give the money to other institutions in all other cases and let all the institutions do it. And men at the head of "our" colleges are not thinking any clearer than that! It is a let-down. The redeeming thing about it is that the brethren see it, including many young preachers in the colleges, even if the college presidents and some partisan devotees do not.

Fourth: In reference to the question of expediency such as churches building meeting houses, paying railroad fare for preachers to come to hold meetings, their hotel bills and meal tickets while they are there — the argument is too puerile to be worth the distinction of an answer or "galvanized into respectability" by a reply — but since the president of the supposedly soundest college in the whole brotherhood has called it up, it should be "put in its place" too. In the matter of meeting houses, the point of expediency is not the house itself but the amount of expenditure. The command to assemble requires a place, whether rented or owned, whether already built or to be built. The thing (a place to assemble) is an essential, not an expedient — the particular place of space, inside or outside, and the amount required to provide it, whether to rent, lease or buy — whether to spend $1,000, $10,000 or $100,000 — the amount, not the thing, is the expedient. So it is with going various distances to preach. It is not the going that is expedient — that is commanded. But the distance, means of conveyance, and costs of doing what is done are the matters of expediency. The question of expediency is not in the thing done, but in amount spent in doing it. But in the matter of the church contributing to a secular college, the issue is not in the amount or extent, but in the thing itself. We insist that the thing itself is outside the work of the church, and is therefore wrong, in any amount, whether a dime, a dollar, a thousand or a million.

For the college presidents and representatives to resort to the old threadbare expediency argument (?) is a mighty weak and unworthy thing, especially so when it is done by men who have had to meet the same old worn-out sophistry in debate with the digressives all through the years. It is surely a disappointment to many of us who find it hard to believe that these men would ever have manifested such weaknesses.

The college presidents and their campaigners have not been forthright and fair, nor honest and ethical, with the brethren individually, or with the churches. For instance, in 1938 brother James F. Cox made a public statement that he was opposed to soliciting churches to support the colleges, and that while he was president of Abilene Christian College he had never authorized any one to do so. But brother Wallace Layton testifies, in a statement which may be read on the back page of this issue, that while he was a student in Abilene Christian College he was among the young preachers who were instructed by the authorities of the college, including brother Cox, to do that very thing. When brother Layton protested, he says they attempted to convince him that it was all right.

It is now known by everybody who is keeping up with the current controversy that N. B. Hardeman made the public statement in 1938 that he did not agree with G. C. Brewer's position on this question, that he was opposed to churches making contributions to the college and that "such" had "ever been" (which means had always been) his "sentiments." But now, nine years later, it is not only evident that he sides with Brewer, saying that it is all right for the churches to contribute to the school if they want to do so (wrong, I suppose, if they didn't want to), but the information has come to us from an official source that previous to 1938 churches all over the country adjacent to the Freed-Hardeman College were solicited for contributions. Brother I. A. Douthitt was field representative for the Freed-Hardeman College, and he tells us that churches not only made contributions to the Hardeman College, but gave notes for thousands of dollars, payable to the college, signed by the churches, with a notation on the note that notice for payment should be sent to a certain elder. Brother Douthitt not only cited in private conversation the above facts but repeated the terse statement of H. Leo Boles, who said in reference to the colleges soliciting support from the churches, according to brother Douthitt, that "they all do it, and they all deny it.'

Brother Douthitt is responsible for these statements, and he ought to know, as he was field representative for Freed-Hardeman College in those days, as Robert Alexander is for Abilene Christian College in these days. I do not doubt brother Douthitt's testimony at all. The presidents of the colleges have not been straightforward in these matters. While they now retreat under fire, it is my own belief that their convictions remain unaltered and at the first favorable opportunity, or such time as they believe to be opportune, whether five years or ten years in the future, they will renew the effort to fasten their institutions on the church. The brethren have certainly had the right to expect better things of these men, to whom many of the members of the church, and in a measure the church itself, has looked for leadership, but it is evident that they cannot expect anything better of them in the future than has been witnessed in the past.

Brother G. H. P. Showalter while committing himself and the Firm Foundation to a firm stand against the churches putting the colleges in their budgets or a church making contributions to the colleges, at the same time makes allowances for the "mistakes" the presidents of the colleges have made, praises them for a willingness to rectify their "mistakes" and yokes his confidence in them as "safe leaders." Some observations are in order on this point. These college presidents are not novices — they are experienced men in church and school work. Nor is this issue a new one — it has been thrashed out before. Why make and repeat such mistakes? Their present course and attitude reveals clearly their lack of conviction on this point. The president of Freed-Hardeman College is 73 years old — has been in school work 50 years — and president of the school bearing his name for thirty-five years. Why should he have to "study" the question now to decide where he will stand? There is no excuse for such a "mistake" on his part. Many of us have defended his college as the soundest school among us — and he has advertised it as the one school which has never been accused of being unsound on anything, but it is turning out to be no safer than the others and, on some things at least, as weak as any of them.

In reference to what the editor of the Firm Foundation calls his own "fair" policy toward all in this matter, quite a number of discriminating brethren have remarked to us on the difference between brother Showalter's apparent belligerent attitude on the athletic program of the schools some time ago and his present conciliatory spirit toward the colleges on this issue. The colleges were embittered toward the Firm Foundation because of its stand on football and other athletics, and accused brother Showalter of making "vicious attacks" on the colleges. Is it possible that the Firm Foundation regards the athletic issue more serious one than tying the churches up with the schools through their budgets? I am only asking a question that we have been asked by many discerning preachers and brethren.

It is entirely possible therefore that the schools may in the future become a menace to the church, and those brethren who think they are aiding the Cause of Christ by giving large sums of money to endow the schools, may find that they have instead only given a human institution the potential power to lead the church into another large scale digression. The brethren should think on these things seriously. After all, the best place any man can put his surplus money is in the church of the Lord, to be used through the divine institution, for the preaching of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than the building up of powerful human, man-made institutions which should he operated as a business like any other business. The colleges are, at the best, not more doctrinally safe nor spiritually secure than the men who head them — and men die, then what?

As for all the talk of the Brewer challenge for a debate on the question, better styled the "Brewer bluff," it has been properly suggested that the place for such a discussion is in the papers where the brethren usually thrash out such issues as these. If brother Brewer wants to debate with his brethren for some "distinction" he needs in his advancing years, or if he merely wants an opportunity to show off on the stage, I doubt if he should be furnished an audience for his J. Frank Norris variety of showmanship — and it has come to us that the Gospel Advocate, manship — and it has come to us that the Gospel Advocate, brother Otey, which appeared in the Firm Foundation, because of its "personalities." He is an editor of the Gospel Advocate but seeks the columns of another paper for his personalities! But if brother Brewer insists on "arguing the question" further in the paper, I am entirely willing to turn him over to the tender mercies of the gentle pen of Cled E Wallace, for a discussion to be printed in the Gospel Advocate and the Bible Banner, and if the McQuiddy Company will not put it in book form the Roy E. Cogdill Publishing Company will be more than glad to do so.

His challenge is accepted provided he and brother Cled can "frame the proposition," and he can get the suggested endorsements, and the Gospel Advocate will agree to give it equal space with the Bible Banner. If his challenge is not just so much bluster, we will see what we see.

Since the college presidents have come out in the open as being not only now, but having always been, contrary to their public utterances, in agreement with G. C. Brewer, we know where they are and simply say to them all — THEY SHALL NOT PASS!