Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1967
NUMBER 16, PAGE 1-2a

The "Church Of Christ Bible Chair"

Leslie Diestelkamp

(From West Side Bulletin, Feb. 24, 1966)

Some readers may not be aware of the "Bible Chair Movement". It is, ostensibly, an innocent and even a fruitful program in which a church arranges to provide a Bible teacher for students in some college or University under conditions permitting the students to receive college credit for the courses.

No one could properly criticize a church for providing a Bible teacher for any people. It is not the intent of this writer to oppose such Bible teaching. However, I do see a grave danger and even a sharp departure from scriptural action in some such movements, and I propose to discuss such herein.

The Carbondale Case

A letter has come to the church here, from the "Church of Christ Bible Chair," 1400 West Sycamore, Carbondale, Illinois. It says:

"Dear Brethren:

"At the last business meeting of the Bible Chair Board, which oversees the Bible Chair at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, it was decided to send letters to sister congregations who are interested in spreading the borders of the Kingdom in this area, inviting them to be represented in business meetings which will be held quarterly on the campus of S.I.U.

"There are many ways a congregation may be represented, but we feel that the best way is for each congregation to select a man to serve with us in the capacity of an Advisory Board..."

Without malice or hatred, but indeed with love for God's people and for truth, I would like to consider this matter as follows:

1. It is obvious that the "Bible Chair" is an entity separate from the church. It is self-governing. Its directors determine its action.

2. At the same time it is evident that the "Bible Chair" pretends to be a function of the church. It is even designated. "Church of Christ Bible Chair. You can be sure that throughout the campus the "Chair" is known as an arm of the Lord's church.

3. If the chair were just a self-governing entity within one church it would be altogether unscriptural — just as much so as a "Ladies Aid". But it is not content to be a self-governing entity within a congregation but it also involves many churches in its organizational structure. If representatives are sent from various churches to serve as an Advisory Board, the "Chair" is certainly then an inter-congregational organization. It is completely unscriptural just as much so as a Missionary Society.

Clarifying Questions:

Perhaps the problem regarding the "Chair" can be made clearer by use of a few questions:

1. Is the "Church of Christ Bible Chair" a function of a congregation?

2. If it is, then by what authority does it function under a Board of Directors?

3. If it is not a function of a congregation, why is it called the "Church of Christ Bible Chair?"

4. If it is a function of a congregation, by what authority does it seek representatives of many churches to serve in guiding its affairs? (Will anyone dare to affirm that functions of one church may be guided by representatives of many churches?)

5. If it is not a function of one congregation, but if it claims to be a function of many churches, by what authority can such function of many churches become an organized entity under representatives?

Constructive Suggestions:

Some may criticize me for objecting, unless I show a better way. I suggest the following:

1. A Bible teacher and the facilities for his work to be supplied by one congregation or by many acting concurrently (II Cor. 11:8).

2. The New Testament authorizes churches to send directly to the teacher, and not to some other congregation nor to a human society. (Phil. 1:5; 4:16)

3. Any work that is truly the function of one congregation may be fully accomplished under its own scriptural organizational structure, without any human governing board. (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1-3.)

4. Any work which needs the cooperation of many churches may be accomplished scripturally when each church does its own work under its own organizational structure (without any inter-congregational conclave.) Many churches cooperated with the needy saints in Jerusalem but without any inter-congregational board. To provide things honest in the sight of all men each church sent messengers to deliver the gifts, but no organizational board was arranged. (I Cor. 16:3.) Any effort at inter-congregational organization is a step toward universal church organization which is completely unscriptural.) (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; I Cor. 4:6)


The organizational arrangements are not the only things wrong with the "Bible Chair" fad among some brethren. With money from church treasuries, facilities are provided, purportedly to teach the Bible, but actually to be a general social center for college students. By such action churches are deeply involved in support of strictly recreational and entertainment functions. This does not constitute scriptural use of church funds.

I am surely sympathetic with any proper action to help college students keep their faith. But if the churches are led into unscriptural action to accomplish this, we will have failed to lead the students correctly and we will have caused the church to drift toward complete apostasy.

Let's remember: We help no one when we cause any departure from truth.

Specifically, we have not helped the students unless we present to them the Lord's church in all purity with regard to its nature, its organization and its functions.