Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 22, 1961

The College Question


As we pointed out in a previous editorial there have been two divergent (fundamentally irreconcilable) views as to the place of a "Bible college" in the general stream of the Restoration Movement. One view is that such a school is simply a part of the work of the church, and should be supported and promoted by the church. The other view is that such schools are completely independent of the churches, are secular institutions, organized, operated, and supported by individuals, and have no connection with, or relationship to, the churches. They are as separate from the churches as are banks, hospitals, hog farms, and insurance companies.

The real problem now existing among the churches of Christ relative to the colleges is here because certain brethren professing the latter view are unquestionably moving more and more toward the first view. Such a shift is, we believe, inevitable as the process of centralization and "institutionalizing the church" keeps moving forward. There is little excuse for brethren not to realize this; for twenty years or more leading college men among us (such as N. B. Hardeman, for example) have declared without equivocation that "the colleges and the orphan homes stand or fall together." If one is a church obligation, so is the other; if one is worthy of church support, so is the other; if one is to be put into the church budgets, so should the other be.

In view of such clear and obvious intent on the part of college promoters it is little short of astounding to see such men as brother Reuel Lemmons striving so desperately to promote the church benevolent institutions" on the one hand and with equal fervor oppose the "church educational institution" on the other hand! Does not the church have an obligation to the mind of the orphan child as well as to his belly? Any attempt to divorce the two institutions will in the final analysis be as futile as it is illogical.

Meanwhile, what is the attitude of brethren who insist that the colleges are NOT "church related?" It is simply this: they will encourage and promote as they can or as they desire schools which are in harmony with the values they respect; and will oppose and refuse to endorse schools which do not foster those truths. It is that easy and that simple. The writer for several years has sent a modest contribution each fall to Florida Christian College; he has encouraged others, and will encourage others, to do the same. That does not mean at all that we ignore or fail to respect the warnings sounded by brother James A. Allen, brother Charles Holt, and others. We have many times both publically and privately given voice to the same warnings, and urged thoughtful study of all factors connected with the operation of the Bible colleges.

But the way to meet the problem is not to close down the Bible colleges; rather, it is to support those that are in harmony with the truth, and oppose those which oppose the truth, recognizing all the while that there are serious dangers inherent in any organization or institution (gospel journals as well as Bible colleges) which influences and molds public opinion. A responsible college administration will be aware of this, and will "lean over backward" to give full and ample opportunity for criticisms to be voiced and for opposing views to be presented. The same is true of a gospel journal. Any college (or any journal) which permits itself to become a "propaganda organ," permitting no expression of contrary views, is unworthy of anybody's support

— F. Y. T.

Brother Raines Answers Himself

Elsewhere in this issue we carry an article from brother G. F. Raines in which he "answers" the arguments made in a couple of articles we printed from him a few weeks ago. Brother Raines' memory is somewhat at fault as to the time — he changed views on the orphan home question and Herald of Truth; his request to us to withhold publication of his two articles was before the Birmingham debate between Cogdill and Woods, rather than following it. He did not "start reconsidering" his position as a result of that debate, but had already "reconsidered" before the debate began, as his letter plainly states. We did not know whether he had "switched again" or not; hence the offer to let him speak for himself.

It is distressing always to see a man turn from truth to error, and it is embarrassing to realize how thin and wavering the line between conviction and fanaticism.... even in the best and wisest of men. A touch of humility becomes a man, no matter how firm and unyielding his beliefs. It is no compliment to be able to say of a man that "he is often in error, but never in doubt".... a statement which in all sincerity might be applied to brother Raines.

For example that "box in the vestibule" item in which he states, "Brother Tant has said that legal homes may be scripturally supported if the contributions are dropped in a box in the vestibule of the church building instead of in the collection basket, but he is convinced that it would be sinful to put another box in the vestibule in which to drop contributions to the Missionary Society."

Now where on earth did our brother ever get such an idea as that? Certainly he never got it from reading anything this writer has penned! Several years ago we wrote an editorial pleading that brethren try to work out some arrangement to make it possible for all to worship together without a violation of anybody's conscience in which we pointed out that when contributions are made to an orphan home from the regular contribution this forces some members either to violate their conscience, or to withhold their regular contribution. And we suggested that in such cases the elders make some provision enabling all brethren to contribute into the regular contribution, and NOT forcing anybody to violate his conscience by such a contribution.

We would make exactly the same plea to any church supporting the Missionary Society, under the same circumstances! If the elders of the Muncie church where brother Raines preaches were to announce that they had become convinced that they had to contribute to the Missionary Society (or the Red Cross) and were going to take the contribution from the regular treasury to make such a gift, we would plead with them NOT to do that, but to make their gift in such fashion as not to involve the consciences of other members .... if they are determined to go into apostasy themselves, do not involve the congregation in such wrong doing! And this, of course, only as an effort to maintain unity while the whole question was being studied in the light of Bible teaching.

As to the Gospel Guardian accepting church contributions, this simply is not so. She does NOT do so; and never has done so. The labored effort to say that the electricity paid for by the church while someone commends the Gospel Guardian is "for all practical purposes" a church contributing Gospel Guardian is quite on a par with saying that when a preacher warns against electing a Catholic president, either in the pulpit or through the church bulletin, that congregation is making a contribution to the Republican National Committee! When a preacher warns against salacious literature, and urges instead that people buy a good Bible, the congregation is making a contribution to Thomas Nelson and Sons because the church paid for the electricity in the lights while the preacher was commending the Nelson Bibles!

The same right by which a preacher warns against false and salacious literature is that which justifies his commending and encouraging the reading of good literature.... in this instance the Gospel Guardian. When a Mason happens to park his car in the church parking lot so he can attend a gospel meeting, the church is NOT making a contribution to the Masonic Lodge; when a Catholic visitor steps inside the door and takes a drink from the drinking fountain, the church is NOT making a contribution to the Catholic Church; when a gospel preacher tells his audience that a Thomas Nelson and Sons Bible will provide them with good reading at a reasonable price, that congregation is NOT making a contribution to this publishing house. And when that same preacher tells his audience sound teaching is to be found in the pages of the Gospel Guardian he is clearly within his rights. If he can condemn the "Police Gazette" or "Play Boy" by name, he can commend the Gospel Guardian by name; and that congregation is not denying a contribution to the Police Gazette on the one hand, nor making a contribution to the Gospel Guardian on the other!

Brother Raines will not see the point, but perhaps our others readers can.