Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 16, 1950

The Church And The Schools

Luther G. Roberts, Clovis, N. M.

(Editor's note: We are happy to give our readers the following article from brother Luther G. Roberts. When a man gives close and earnest study to a problem and comes to the conclusion that his former teaching on that subject has not been in harmony with God's Word, he can take one of two courses: (1) he may for the sake of "consistency" refuse to make any change in his teaching, or (2) he may honestly and frankly admit that he believes his former teaching was in error. If he pursues the first course, he is not worthy of any man's respect; if the latter, he finds himself in company with the highest and noblest men the earth has known—from the great Paul right on down the line through Luther, Campbell, Stone, Scott, Franklin, and others innumerable. Brother Roberts' fine statement will speak for itself.)

This is not a "sop to Cerebus." It is a statement in connection with the question of the relationship of the church and the schools. It should no doubt have been made some three years ago when the question was being discussed through the papers at almost the beginning of the present controversy over the subject. However, regardless of the reason or reasons why that was not done; it was not done. So, I am making these remarks at this time.

In the Dallas Lectureship of 1947, at the invitation of the Sunset Church, I made a talk on the subject of Institutionalism." At that date (January, 1947) the articles and advertisements which were to focus attention on the matter of the relationship that should exist between the church and the schools were just appearing, or were to appear soon thereafter. Although I had talked to brother Don Morris about the speech to be made, and had also talked to brother Robert Alexander about the churches as such contributing to the colleges, I was not consciously affected by what they had to say in the speech which I made. It was after the speech, however, that the issue came to the fore, and the many articles were written on the matter.

Although it has been stated that there was a conspiracy at A.C.C. to put the college in the budget (and my speech was used as evidence of such conspiracy), if there was any such conspiracy, I was not a party to it. In other words, I did not "conspire" with anybody at any time under any circumstances to put the college in the budget, or to persuade churches to contribute from their treasuries to the college. Had the speech been delivered a few months later, after the controversy over the question led me along with many others to a more careful study of the whole question, it would have been different. Even at the time it was given, I did not intend that it should be used by anybody (nor did I have any reason to anticipate such) to encourage churches to contribute from their treasuries to the college. And though I neither expected nor intended such use to be made of it, it was nevertheless used for this purpose.

The speech was not delivered with a view to being printed, and I had no idea of printing it at the time. But when I was asked for it that it might be printed, I consented and gave a draft of it to brother Olan Hicks. It was not my intention that this speech should be used to further the idea that the churches should support the college from their treasuries, nor to try to prove that it was Scriptural for such to be done. However, I can see how one could get the idea that I was attempting to defend this practice from the reading of the printed speech. And under the later developments in the controversy, especially in view of announcements authorized by representatives of the colleges and articles written by them, it was a just conclusion from the speech that I was attempting to defend the practice. I did mention some of the suggestions made as to the consequences of churches contributing to the colleges, and offered some counter suggestions to show that these arguments were not sound. I knew that from the time I was old enough to know anything about the colleges conducted by members of the church, such schools had accepted contributions from churches as such. I was morally certain of this although the only specific example that I knew about was the one mentioned in the speech.

An offer was made (as I recall, in the fall of 1926) that if a church would contribute $50.00 to Freed-Hardeman College, a student from said church could attend the college from January, 1927, to the end of the school year without paying any tuition. The church where I worshipped at the time accepted the offer and insisted that I go to the school, which I did. At different times it was announced at the school that money was given to the college by the church at such and such a place. It did not occur to me whether that meant that the church from its treasury gave the money, or whether it was made up by individuals members of the church.

However, regardless of what was said by me in the speech or what use was made of it and the purpose of the use, in view of the discussion that followed later in the controversy, and after a careful and earnest study of the whole question from every angle, I here and now disavow any belief in the scripturalness or soundness of the practice of the churches contributing from the church treasury to the support of the college. I came to this conclusion very shortly after undertaking a real study of the question. When the question was being discussed, and I made an examination of the matter in the light of the discussion being waged, it took only a short time for me to see that the truth was that the church could not scripturally contribute to the schools. That very summer (1947) I made a speech in the Vermont Avenue Church building in Los Angeles, in which I stated that, "I would oppose the college demanding, or the church accepting the idea of regular contributions from the church for the support of the college." Of course, if they could do it occasionally, they could do it regularly. My objection to the church contributing from its treasury to the support of the college is based on the fact that the work the colleges are doing is not the work of the church. The church cannot maintain her New Testament character and contribute her funds to that which is not within the scope of her mission. And the colleges, worthy as they are, and deserving of every support that individual Christians may give them, are clearly not the work of the church. So I believe; and so I teach.


Judson Woodbridge, Mulvane, Kan., November 8: "Had a good meeting at West Union, Granby, Mo. Five were baptized. A. C. Williams is to be with us November 27 to December 8 in a meeting."