Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 26, 1951

An Uncertain Sound

Luther Blackmon, Lufkin, Texas

I have a copy of a recent bulletin put out by the Central Church of Christ in Cleburne, Texas, which carries the budget for that congregation for the year 1951. It is certainly heartening to notice that they are spending almost twice as much money in preaching the gospel in other fields that they are spending at home. Not enough congregations have this evangelistic spirit. The example of the Cleburne brethren in this respect is worthy of following.

There is one item in the budget, however, that has me wondering. It simply reads, "Abilene . .. $1,000.00." There is no explanation, no effort to tell what that means. It might mean that Central Church is contributing to some worthy work in or near Abilene; it might mean that Central is sending to one of the Abilene congregations to assist them in some project. Not too long ago the College Church in Abilene was seeking help to erect a building there adequate to provide for the hundreds of A.C.C. students who come to them each year. Is Central helping in this matter? Or does that item mean that Central is contributing to Abilene Christian College?

Nothing New

Of course, if the contribution is to A.C.C., it would be nothing new. Brother G. C. Brewer once preached for the Cleburne congregation, and later, when writing on the advantages of a "budget," he said, "At Cleburne and at Sherman we put Abilene Christian College in the budget for $1,000.00 a year." So whether the present contribution is intended for that goal or not, it is certain that Cleburne has contributed to A.C.C. in the past.

This particular item in the budget is especially interesting to me in view of some recent experiences I had with brother Otto Foster, one of the elders of the Cleburne congregation. Brother Foster and I were both speakers in some special meetings at the East Side Church in Phoenix, Arizona, a few weeks ago. During the course of my speech, I had occasion to mention the matter of church supported schools. I emphasized the value of the right kind of education for young people, and said that if I had someone to send to college, I would certainly much prefer to send him to a college operated by Christian men than to a state supported school. I then went on to say that the church of the Lord is a divine institution, and contrary to the conclusions of some brethren, does not depend for its existence on any human institution. I tried to warn against the unscriptural practice of supporting schools (no matter how good a work they may do) out of the church treasuries.

Brother Foster seemed to take exception to what I had to say along this line, and after I sat down, he took, or was given, the liberty to reply to my talk. In his speech, two things were said that were significant; he declared (1) that in his fifty-seven years in the church he has changed his mind about very few things, and (2) that he knew more about Abilene Christian College than anyone present that night (except possibly brother Collins of Big Springs, Texas, who was in the audience) and that Abilene Christian College did not receive support from churches.

Now brother Foster was an elder in the Central Church in Cleburne at the time brother Brewer was preaching there. And brother Brewer says that when he was at Cleburne, "we put Abilene Christian College in the budget for $1,000.00 a year." In view of brother Brewer's statement, and the additional statement from brother Robert Alexander a few years ago when he was heading the drive for support of A.C.C. to the effect "if this money is to be raised, congregations must make regular contributions"— in view of these statements, I challenged brother Foster's statement that A.C.C. did not receive support from churches. I said, "They have done so in the past." To which brother Foster responded rather tartly, "I guess you know more about it than I do, then." I thought it was time to let the record speak for itself.

The Present Budget

Anyhow, in view of this little exchange, I was interested and puzzled when I saw in Cleburne's budget an item, "Abilene . . . $1,000.00." What does it mean? I am hoping, of course, that support of the school out of the church treasury is one of the few things about which brother Foster HAS changed his mind, and that that $1,000.00 is going to some church work in Abilene rather than to the support of a secular college. It is, in a way, none of my business where Cleburne spends her money; but, in another way, it is the business of every Christian on earth. If a principle is being violated, if God's truth is being set aside, then I most certainly do have the right, and the obligation, to speak up.

Brother Brewer and brother Foster are clearly at cross-purposes in their conflicting statements as to the practice of the Cleburne congregation in the past. But whether she has received money from Cleburne or not, A.C.C. has certainly accepted contributions from churches in the past, and that is so well known that we were astonished that anyone connected with the school would deny it. Let us all hope that this item in Central's budget does not mean that the school is undertaking another campaign to gain support from the treasuries of the churches. We suggest to the Central brethren that they clarify this particular item so that there will be no uncertainty about it.