Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 4, 1951
NUMBER 34, PAGE 10-11

Faith Without Works Is Dead

L. R. Wilson

Happy are those who can discuss their differences without losing their heads—physical or otherwise. But few people, however, are able to do so. Free and open discussions are not permitted in many countries today. Some of the more powerful religious organizations—eves in our own land—will not permit such. Some of us who can discuss our differences without losing our heads physically cannot keep them mentally. Frank and honest discussions—which are all too rare—are hopeful signs.

There can be no alteration of anything God has said; neither can there be any deviation therefrom. Whatever God commands is right. No amount of controversy will alter it. When he commands our only choice is to obey with his approval, or disobey them with his disapproval. When he tells us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, to acknowledge him before men, to repent of all of our sins and to be immersed for the remission of sins, our only choice is to obey these commands with his approval, or disobey with his disapproval. When God tells us to worship him in spirit and in truth, by singing praises to him; teaching his word, praying unto him, partaking of the supper in memory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by contributing of our means, we have no choice but to do so with divine approval, or refuse to do so with disapproval.

Most of our discussions, however, are not concerned with what to do—they are over ways and means. That Christian education is right no one has any doubt. That missionary work should be done, both at home and abroad, goes without saying. Let it here be stated once and for all that everyone approves of both Christian education and missionary work. Our disputes are not over the what but the how.

That our colleges have all made many mistakes is freely admitted by everyone. It is also admitted that we have made many mistakes in our efforts at evangelization. In all probability we will make many more. We have made many mistakes in everything we have ever done. This goes for our congregational work, as well as all our activities in life. We should strive at all times to correct our mistakes and improve our ways.

Usually, we think of all missionary work as belonging exclusively to the church, while all educational activities belong to the home and the school. Actually this is not the case. A great deal of missionary work has been done by individual Christians with no thought of any congregational backing, support, or oversight. In fact, most of our missionary work in this country was done this way until a very few years ago. Many Christians moved to new locations and worked diligently as individuals for the establishment of the cause of Christ, without any thought of support or backing by a congregation.

Christian education is a function of the home, the school, and the church. Since all three of these institutions are engaged in teaching, then all should be engaged in Christian teaching. All teaching done in the home should be done by Christians—since all parents should be Christians; all teaching done in the school room should be done by Christians—since all teachers (in fact all accountable people) should be Christians; and of course, all teaching done by the church should be Christian. The religion of Jesus Christ is essentially a taught religion.

Other religions may be propagated by the sword, by rituals, or by emotional appeal, but the religion of Jesus Christ depends upon Christian teaching. The fact that the home teaches the Bible in no way usurps the authority of the church, or infringes upon its work. The same may be said of a school. All schools should be Christian, just as all homes should be Christian.

What, then, is the basis of the dispute over Christian education and missionary work? It certainly cannot be the act itself. It is primarily over the growing tendency toward organizations which endanger the autonomy of the church. That a congregation has a perfect right to do any missionary work it chooses no one can question. That an individual may go anywhere he chooses and preach or teach the gospel, with a view to making Christians and establishing the cause of Christ, no one can gainsay. It is only when groups band together with some sort of a central organization which threatens the autonomy of the local church that questions arise. Brethren often attempt a worthy work among themselves, with no thought of setting up an organization which will in any way interfere with the work of the individual congregations—and actually may never do so—but there is always danger in such things. Some of our brethren have seen bogies in everything we have undertaken to do. It is good for us to have some brethren always on the alert and pointing out our dangers. It often happens that what seems innocent today may lead to disaster tomorrow. That this has been true in the past goes without saying.

We have every reason to think that some brethren it the past would have tied the church and colleges together so strongly that within a few years the bonds could not have been broken. It is quite fortunate that this has not been permitted. It is quite evident now that the church and Christian colleges should be kept entirely separate. It is unfortunate, however, that many good brethren have not been able to see that Christian individuals have a right to establish schools where all the faculty members are Christians, where the Bible is taught every day as the inspired word of God, and where Christian influences prevail. Not only do we have a right, as individuals, to establish such schools, but a solemn duty to do so. A Christian home may do its work in the training of children, the church may do its work in making Christians of them, yet the wrong kind of schools may later destroy all that both have done. To prevent such a tragedy it is imperative that we, as individual Christians, establish schools wherein our boys and girls may further their education without jeopardizing their souls.

This has been the position of the writer for the past thirty years. So far, I have never known an individual yet to call this position in question. Believing with all my heart, as I do, that Christian people not only have the right to see that our young people secure the right kind of education, but that it is imperative that they do so, I have given the best that I have in service and in strength toward this end.

I fully appreciate the work some of my best friends have done in pointing out the ultimate dangers of over organization and institutionalism, but I could devoutly wish for more help from them in trying to promote what all of us agree to be right. These brethren have positively stated their belief in Christian education, and in schools that are run in the manner we are trying to operate at Central Christian College. In fact most of these brethren, who have criticized the manner in which some of our schools have been run, have sent their children to Christian schools. They have shown that they do believe in Christian education, but they have not given us the active support that we must have if schools, such as Central Christian College, are established and maintained. We simply cannot erect buildings, buy supplies, and operate on good will alone.

Some brethren have despaired of raising sufficient funds among our own people to establish and operate schools in the manner they should, and have turned to the world for support. This is unfortunate. There is an old saying that, "The man who pays the fiddler calls the tune." This is usually the case. When we have to turn from our brethren to the world for support I have grave fears that the world will soon be calling the tunes. Whether to despair of raising support from our brethren to do the work that all of us agree should be done, or to turn to the world, may be a hard choice to make. Personally, I think I would prefer to give up—which I hope I may never have to do. But brethren who argue that a certain thing should be done in a certain way certainly have some obligation to show us how—to actively support the efforts which they claim to approve. In spite of the assertions some of my best friends have made to the, contrary, many interpret their arguments and their efforts as being out right opposed to Christian education in our schools. This may be unfortunate, but it is a fact. The best argument against the use of mechanical instruments of music in the church is good singing. Just so, the best argument against the church supporting our Christian schools is for individuals to show that it can be done more successfully as an individual matter.

If all my friends who urged me to accept the invitation to head one of our schools in the first place, and who have complimented me on the way I have tried to do so, will really pitch in and help as a few are doing), I have no doubt about our success. But arguments without deeds carry little weight.