Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 4, 1964
NUMBER 5, PAGE 3,12c-13a

Minnows In The Baptistry

Robert F. Turner

Several months ago I talked with a young preacher about church support of colleges. He assured me that he believed this was unscriptural, and that he would never consent to such support from a church where he preached. I asked him, "What would you do if some well-known preacher was invited there for a meeting, and in the course of his preaching he insisted that churches should support the colleges from their treasury?"

And while he was thinking that one over, I added another; "If you spoke to the elders about the matter, and they told you to keep quiet — say nothing about the subject lest you caused trouble — what would you do?" The young man looked at me as if to say that such terrible things just could not happen — but he arose to the occasion by declaring "I would preach my convictions, even if I had to move to another church."

"Bully for you;' I replied. "Now, this is going to cause some friction, and when you are told to move, those elders are not going to give you a very nice recommendation. In fact, they may state that you are a hobby-rider (on the college question) and that the same argument you use against church support of the college would rule out church support of board operated institutional homes. They may even say that you have definite 'anti leanings'."

By this time the young man was sputtering, and avowed that he would stand firmly for what he believed was right. He further stated that he thought many good brethren would stand by his side, and that the great majority of churches would go right on down the middle of the road — whatever that is supposed to mean.

Well I hope he is right — about brethren standing firmly, and opposing the church support of colleges. I hope he is right about himself — that he would put convictions above popularity and desire for a job. But it may not work out just exactly as he has it pictured. There are other possibilities.

For example, he could decide that since the elders have taken such a "liberal" position, and are so unreasonable as to forbid him to speak on the subject, his "usefulness" is limited here, so he will move on quietly. He may inquire discreetly about the convictions of the elders in the next place, and be assured that they "have never supported the colleges, and have no problem along this line." They may even assure him that they are opposed to the practice. Everything seems lovely, and he may work in a sermon on the subject, or print a few articles in the bulletin. The brethren nod their heads in agreement, and he congratulates himself on having "saved the church."

Then the neighbor church invites this church to "cooperate in a giant "support the college" rally; or has Batsell Barrett Baxter for a meeting; or invites our preacher to speak on their lecture program with some one who advocates church support of the schools; or so, on and on. Confidently, our brave preacher declares his convictions, and states that the church where he preaches, with the elders, are solidly behind him. But when these elders find out that this means some conflict, and perhaps standing alone in the city, they are not so sure of their position. Now what do you do, preacher? Do you run again, or is this the time you stand firmly — and are accused of causing trouble in the church?

How long will you run? Or, if you stay to fight the fight of faith, and really begin to dig into the subject for the basic principles involved, will you apply those principles to the other points where application will be obviously demanded? Will you honestly face the problem of determining the work of the church? Will you face the distinction that must be made in individual and church obligations? Will you apply with fairness your conviction that the church is all-sufficient to do the work that God gave her to do? WARNING! While you are thinking these things through, be careful what you WRITE. Don't be too anxious to fire off an article to some editor. You are going to have to face every word, letter by letter, in the days to come. Stay up at night — walk the floor — get an ulcer — you are beginning to learn what it means to be a gospel preacher.

But someone says, "These things can never be. The church support of the schools will not become a major issue. We have had a few to so contend for many years, and that's as far as it has gone. Strong men will rise up and squelch any great attempt to push this matter before the brotherhood." Oh, my brother, you are engaged in unrealistic and wishful thinking.

Like things have been, and will be again. The board-operated orphan home had its beginning some twenty years ago, with nothing like the backing now seen for church support of colleges. In addition, it was opposed by many stalwarts of the day. But look at it now. Try opposing it, and you are "against caring for poor starving orphans;' and "don't believe in pure and undefiled religion."

Church support of schools is already a major issue — if for no other reason than the principle involved. True, many brethren oppose (?) it now, as a part of "orthodoxy." Bro. Foy E. Wallace, Jr., made a gallant fight against it in the days when to agree with bro. Wallace was considered one's symbol of strength. (And this is written with a feeling of nostalgia, not in derision.) But many who say they oppose such use of church funds, can not give solid scriptural grounds for their conclusions. Further, they have since swallowed "no difference in individual and church action" and church support of general welfare and evangelistic projects under executive "boards," so they are now in no position to object to church support of board operated institutions to "bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." And that will be and is the argument — make no mistake about it.

Yes, we have always had a few to contend for church support of schools. A little fire, under safe conditions, is not much of a danger. But the wind has changed, and board-operated brotherhood projects have dried out the timber. The fire is growing. In April, 1960, the Gospel Advocate ran a special issue on Colleges, with articles by Athens Clay Pullias, Batsell Baxter, H. A. Dixon, and others who believe in church support of schools. "Church-related colleges" was a common phrase. Willard Collins wrote of David Lipscomb and James Harding, pioneer educators, saying, "They believed that the Christian school should be in close relationship with the church." Pullias wrote, "In the tragic history of church-related colleges, almost without exception private colleges have been started by religious groups; and almost without exception these colleges have in time been lost to the group that started them. Why? Because they gradually received support and leadership from some other source."

In December, 1960, heads or representatives of twenty-two schools operated by brethren met in Henderson, Tenn., for a banquet. A. C. Pullias spoke, advocating church support of schools. H. A. Dixon, Pres. of Freed-Hardeman College, specifically endorsed the speech, and called for a standing ovation for Pullias, An over-whelming majority stood, with only a few school representatives remaining seated. Pullias contended Lipscomb and Harding believed churches could support schools. He said that if the church would control, it must support the schools. He ridiculed the idea that individual Christians could support, but churches could not. He said we had "gone out on the plains of Ono" and compromised with Daniel Sommers, in contending the schools such as David Lipscomb College were "secular." He said bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord was a matter of FAITH, and the Christian school was one of the best "Hows" for doing this.

Bro. Batsell Barrett Baxter, head of the Bible department in DLC, has preached three sermons at the Hillsboro church, Nashville, advocating church support of colleges; and these have been condensed and published as a tract. Bro. Lemmons says the Hillsboro church endorsed the material, and I understand B. C. Goodpasture, editor of the powerful Gospel Advocate, is one of the Hillsboro elders.

Brother Lemmons reviewed the tract in two Firm Foundation editorials (Feb. 18, 25, 1964); and in Denver, Colorado, in the presence of several who will bear witness, said he was going to throw away his script for the A.C.C. lectures, 64, and attack this church -support - of - colleges issue. I attended that lecture — to hear bro. Lemmons carefully read his script — with a lot of generalities and ridiculous statements thrown in — but not one word about church support of colleges. (Sample: "It is no accident that the word "gospel" begins with "GO.") Is this the kind of "squelching" the "strong men" are going to do??

Young preachers, and old preachers — get ready to shift positions again. A careful reading of bro. Lemmons' editorial will convince you that his arguments against 'Church support of schools (and, believe me, I appreciate him for trying) will, if consistently followed, condemn board-operated orphan homes, reduce church "cooperation" to sending alms and wages (no more "ante"), and unless bro. Lemmons classifies the elders of Highland, Abilene, as "resident forces" of churches all over the nation, it will rule out the Herald of Truth and like arrangements. Again, I say, I appreciate the effort, but bro. Lemmons' articles are full of holes (for one in his position) and the Gospel Advocate men are well able to find them. Will he retrench? Fight? Run? We shall see.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch — our young preacher who was going to take such a firm stand against church support of schools, is beginning to toy with the idea of selling insurance. And I am immeasurably sad....

— 1608 Sherrard St., Burnet, Texas