Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 25, 1961
NUMBER 4, PAGE 4,13b

Concerning Colleges


The Gospel Guardian for quite a few years now has provided a medium through which sincere brethren could express their convictions and beliefs on various "brotherhood problems" which all of us are trying to solve. Certainly it is right and proper that the "Christian college" problem should be a matter of study and discussion. The venerable brother James A. Allen (who was the respected editor of the Gospel Advocate when this writer was a high-school freshman) has warned repeatedly of the dangers inherent in any movement or organization other than the Lord's own church by which brethren seek to further New Testament Christianity. An article in this issue of the Gospel Guardian repeats and emphasizes once more those warnings. Other writers have urged the same caution; and for every faithful Christian who has publicly expressed apprehension, there are perhaps a hundred others who have felt the apprehension, but have not expressed it.

We feel there is certainly room for concern. The long history of "Christian" colleges, beginning with Bethany and coming right on down through Lexington to the present, gives a pretty gloomy picture. These schools, started with such high hopes and noble aspirations, have over and over again broken faith with the ideals of their founders, and have become hot-beds of innovations and false teachings. We all know it has happened. If Alexander Campbell were alive today he could not teach his convictions as to the inspiration of the Bible in Bethany; John W. Mc-Garvey could not teach his convictions on instrumental music and verbal inspiration in the College of the Bible; David Lipscomb could not teach his convictions on congregational relationships in David Lipscomb College. And as for Abilene Christian College it has been many a year now since any man has been permitted either on the faculty or even in a college lectureship to seriously set forth any position contrary to the liberalistic trend of "promotionism - with which the administration of the school is so distressingly ill.

What shall we say, then? Is opposition to ALL colleges that teach the Bible the proper solution? Certainly not! Such a course is sheer defeatism. The idea of a college in which the Bible is a part of the curriculum is right, not wrong; it is in harmony with the scriptures, not contrary to them; the very fact that such colleges in the past have been (and many of them in the present are) a calamitous thing for the church only emphasizes their tremendous power — a power that has been, and is in the case of many schools now operating, malignant and destructive. But, by the same token, that potential could be, and ought to be guided and channeled into lines of constructive and beneficent activity.

Perhaps it will help us all to remember that historically there have been two concepts of the place and function of a Bible college within the general stream of the Restoration Movement. Alexander Campbell, W. K. Pendleton, and generally those who favored the Missionary Society always looked upon the schools as "church related" — i.e., organizations primarily concerned with religion. Contrary to this, David Lipscomb conceived of such schools as having no "church" relation at all, but simply as being private enterprises in which individual Christians engaged in the secular business of teaching school — and because they were Christians, taught the Bible also along with their secular subjects.

The sad story we have seen in our day is this: hundreds of conscientious brethren have developed a scholastic schizophrenia — while giving lip-service to Lipscomb's ideal, they have in actual practice adopted Pendleton's concept! The development in educational circles has paralleled the development in congregational circles. The brethren who give lip-service to the ideal of congregational independency while in actuality following the Missionary Society concept are the identical men who venerate Lipscomb by words, and are dedicating their lives to promoting the very concept of schools which Lipscomb abhorred.

What should thoughtful Christians do? eschew all such schools? openly oppose and condemn them? We think not. Why surrender the enormous potential for good in such endeavors to men who are committed to the teaching of error? Why abandon the field just because some have betrayed the trust and confidence reposed in them? On the contrary, this is the very time for brethren to bend every effort toward encouraging, helping, and sustaining the right kind of school. And they can surely do that without anyone's thinking they are committed to defend every practice of such an institution — just as they can defend the New Testament church without undertaking to defend every practice of any single congregation.

We take it that most readers of this journal know that there is one college "among us" which has been made the particular target of those who are striving so mightily to promote the Pendleton-Campbell concept of "church related" schools. This college (Florida Christian College at Tampa, Florida) stands firmly and unequivocably opposed to the liberalistic trend which like a malignant cancer has seized upon the brotherhood. Because of her courageous stand, this school has become (next to the Gospel Guardian) the favorite receptacle for the sluice of slime and slander which periodically breaks out in print on the pages of the Gospel Advocate (now becoming widely known as the Gospel Apostate).

Let the "school question" be discussed freely, openly, and at length; but let the problem be explored rationally rather than emotionally, realistically rather than with mere rhetoric and recrimination, sympathetically rather than with sophistry. Let it be freely admitted that the history of "Christian colleges" of past years is not encouraging. But let it also be understood that the failures of the past have been failures of men, and not failures because the ideal was wrong or unscriptural.

— F. Y. T.