Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 19, 1982
NUMBER 49, PAGE 2,11b

Reviewing Brother Adam's Observations

Wilson M. Coon, Phoenix, Arizona

The October 19, 1961, issue of the Gospel Guardian carried an article of brother James Adams on the Editorial sheet in reference to an article of mine which appeared in the September 7, 1961, issue under the caption of News and Views, edited by brother Charles Holt.

My personal feelings toward brother Adams are mutual and I trust that they shall always be so. I have no ill will toward him because of his observations on my article concerning the college. Of course I disagree with his statements about several things and don't hesitate to say that I shall not go along with them.

I don't believe that my remarks about the president of the school were nearly so critical as the remarks, inferences and insinuations of brother Adams toward me. All that I said about brother Cope was that he knew the use of the word "Christian" in connection with the college (Florida Christian College) was not right. Brother Cope told me so out of his own mouth in the presence of witnesses. He has told other preachers the same thing. I may say, in addition to what I have already said, that brother Cope was desirous of changing the name of the school. I certainly did not misrepresent the president.

I should like to pay some respects to the line of reasoning submitted by brother Adams to justify the title "Florida Christian College." He quotes the sentiments of "sound, devoted brethren" for their ample justification of using the word "Christian" in connection with a private, secular college. Here are the sentiments he quoted, "The college is operated by Christians, its faculty members are Christians; perhaps 80% to 90% of its student body are Christians; it is subsidized by the contributions of Christians for the most part; it professes to be operated, in all its departments, in harmony with the principles which were taught by Christ; hence, we are justified in calling it Christian."

I fear that brother Adams has submitted too much, and that the sound brethren will not assume the consequences of their own logic. Please note the following parallels and conclusions: (1) The church is composed of Christians, overseen by Christians, sustained by contributions of Christians, and operates in harmony with Christ's teaching; therefore, we are justified in calling it "The Christian Church." (2) The football squad at Abilene is composed of Christians; supported by Christians, and overseen by Christians; therefore, we are justified in calling it the "Abilene Christian Wildcats." (3) If a few Christians owned a drugstore, all the overseers and employees were Christians; all operations of business were in accordance with the principles taught by Christ — then they would be justified in calling it "The Abilene Christian Drug Company." But of all things, brother Adams, after submitting such feeble contentions of some of his "sound brethren" turns right around and says that, ".... to affix the name 'Christian' to a college is to speak out of harmony with the plea to 'call Bible things by Bible names." He also admits that he would not affix the name "Christian" to a college if he were to establish one. Brother Adams, whose legs did you infer were not equal?

His bit of rationalizing on my expression "Church support" will not justify the use of the word "Christian" in connection with the college. Please allow me to withdraw my ill use of such expressions and stand corrected. As brother Cogdill would informally say, "I'll just take it back." Now, brother Adams, where is your proof to justify the practice of the brethren calling everything on earth "Christian"? Without any personal feelings, it seems strange to me that Adams could protest so earnestly the title of a paper edited by Thomas Warren and at the same time go along with brethren who are doing the same things in principle. It seems to me that the difference is in "whose ox is getting gored."

He says that my comments, concerning the dramatizing of the gospel by F.C.C., were based on misinformation. Not hardly! My information was correct, and I have letters on file from James Cope and Homer Halley to prove that my information was not misleading. Insofar as I am concerned, I should be happy to see both the letters published in the Guardian; however, I would not submit them without the consent of the brethren (Cope and Hailey) to so do. The letters are personal.

Brother Adams tries to justify the drama entitled, "The Life Of Paul" by saying that the play was not religious but rather a school activity, purely secular. If the play is purely secular, presented in a secular school for secular purposes, then why select religious characters and quote religious literature? I can say this, brother Adams, the school would have been much better off had they selected those not saints to dramatize. I am confident that they would not have been criticized had they used only secular themes in their drama instead of the Bible. I was not even interested in the affair until I was convinced that the college was playing with the truth and speaking of things "which seemed to be in keeping with inspiration." Just what does inspiration have to do with secular schools and secular training? Brethren should be able to see that Paul and Luke, separated from the Bible, would be of no historical interest whatever. Another thing, if the school is so secular, why call it Christian?

As to the brethren selling Dickson Bibles to members of the church, (no doubt James refers to me), one thing is for sure — I did not organize a "Christian Bible Company" to be subsidized by contributions of Christians for the purpose of teaching the Bible, and/or secular subjects to a body of Christians.

Brother Adams introduces the real Issue in his first paragraph when he spoke of "certain practices of the colleges operated by my brethren...." He alluded to the real issue again when he said, "This writer endorses FCC and the work it is trying to do." The issue is not whether or not an individual has the right to teach the Bible or to train young men to work. The issue resolves to the matter of a college, a human institution, a secular order, an entity separate and apart from the church, doing such a work that makes it an ally to the church. Brother Adams, just what is FCC trying to do? Is it not trying to do a part of the work of the church in teaching the Bible? Is it not set up for the real purpose of training men to work in the church? Where is the authority for a human, secular organization such as FCC to set itself up as a teacher of the Bible? I challenge the right of FCC to function in her present capacity and would ask you to cease to rationalize and to grapple with the real problem. Let's have some proof from the Bible that Christians can build and support a human organization for the purpose of training men for a spiritual work. That's the Issue, jump on it.

Let me say in conclusion that I have no objection whatsoever to the existence of a secular college or to the work of such an institution. I have no objection to Christians owning, operating or supporting them. It is not my disposition to say aught of the right of an individual to be connected with such a school. I have nothing to say about the unscripturalness of secular schools. But when brethren try to defend the right of such an order to wear the name "Christian" and to have its place in the field of training men for a spiritual work, then I am ready to debate the question and to contend earnestly for what I believe. One other thing, I will not go along with the practices of brethren that I myself will not endorse. In all my days as a preacher, I have never known a "Flanders Field" or a "Middle of the road" walk with men. If I don't believe what you practice, I shall not try to defend you.

It is not my purpose in life to compromise or to pull punches, whether the church is ready for a subject to be discussed or not. If I can make it plainer, I am not waiting to see which side wins or loses before I speak my sentiments. I reserve the right to preach what I believe and to call in question what I don't believe.

As James would say, This has been written with the kindest of feelings to all concerned and in interest of truth, with fairness to all. I perhaps shall have many more things to say about the colleges and their work.

Comment By James W. Adams:

Let it be noted by the reader that the delay in the appearance of Brother Coon's reply to my observations on the college question has not been because of any unwillingness on my part for Brother Coon's reply to be published. To the contrary, when it was first received, I urged that is be published with or without a reply from me. Brother Tant felt then, as he feels now, that a lengthy debate of the long-discussed "college question" in the columns of the Gospel Guardian at this time could serve no good purpose. Brother Coon's reply to me, if one may call it that, is so obviously beside the point in most of that which it contains that I am perfectly willing the matter should end with readers of the Gospel Guardian (1) reading the original article from Brother Coon's pen published by Brother Charles Holt with Coon's permission (a letter from Brother Coon to Brother Tant states that he had given his permission for Brother Holt to "print any article that I have written"; (2) reading my reply to Coon's article as published by Holt; (3) reading Coon's reply to my observations. I am quite willing to make no reply to Coon's garbling of that which I wrote relative to the use of the name "Christian." I do insist, however, that it be noted: Brother Coon's article clearly shows that he believes a school owned and operated by Christians in which the Bible is taught daily as a part of its curriculum and which is partially supported by donations from Christians is an unscriptural organization. This is the position so long espoused by Brother Daniel Sommer, and so often refuted by faithful brethren through the years. I regret to see it revived. I believe it to be without logical merit or scriptural foundation, and deplore the controversy and division which its revival might well bring. My reply to Coon's article as published by Holt was occasioned by several attacks made in the columns of the Gospel Guardian against colleges among the brethren in general and Florida Christian College in particular with little being said in reply. If such attacks are made, fair-minded brethren will not object when a defense is offered.