Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 17, 1958
NUMBER 49, PAGE 2-3a

Church And College Separate

James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee

A brother gives me a copy of a letter received by the congregation of which he is a member from a "Christian College" asking for a copy of their latest Membership Directory. When the brethren met to consider the business of the congregation they were not happy to receive this request, nor did they comply with it.

Not that there is anything wrong in getting directories of different congregations for the purpose of making mailing lists to advertise for students, or to advertise good books, or other legitimate things. Much good can he done by such advertisement.

The danger signal comes from the great influence that "the Christian College" exerts over the churches. When members of the college faculty hold the position of "the minister" in the largest and most influential churches, and when an area of one hundred or more miles around the college is scouted for churches to employ "ministerial students" as their "minister," it becomes most obvious that the influence the college exerts over the churches is almost absolute. Brother E. R. Harper is quoted as saying that as Abilene Christian College goes, so goes the churches of Abilene. A few thoughts on the church and the college seem appropriate The church is the divine institution. It is the only divine institution and can have no affinity with a human institution. It was established by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is governed and guided by the Bible. It is the only institution or organization for which the Bible furnishes guidance or that is governed by the Bible. All of the functions and activities of the church are normal and successful only as they are guided and governed by the precepts and the precedents given by the apostles, as they are laid down in the Bible for its guidance and government. The church will accomplish its mission most gloriously. It will stand forever.

The college is a human institution. It is established by uninspired and fallible men and is governed and guided wholly by their wisdom, as is any other legitimate enterprise in which men may rightfully and beneficially engage. The college is established and operated to do a vital and necessary work and is called into being by the needs and necessities of those whom it serves.

The church cannot be married to a college, or assume any part in controlling it, or in supporting it. The church and college cannot be joined together in any way, nor can their work be fused, combined or consolidated. Neither the church nor the college can assume or take over any part of the work of the other. It would be presumptuous and sinful, indeed, for a college to assume or take over any part of the work of the church; and it would be a repudiation of all that the Word of God says about the effectual working and perfection of the church for it to depend upon a college to teach and train its members for their work, or to assume any part of its business. Such a sin would be proclaiming the falsehood that the divine institution is dependent upon the human institution.

We certainly are not opposed to schools or colleges of any kind or character. We are aware of the fact that many schools are under the influence of bad men and as a whole do more harm than good. But saying this does not mean that we are opposed to schools, but only that we oppose falsehood and evil introduced into some schools by men unfit to teach.

We kindly submit that running schools and colleges is not the work of the church. No more is it the work of the church to run a college than it is to run a farm, a factory, a grocery, or a clothing store. And it is just as incongruous to call a college a "Christian College," as it would be to call a farm a "Christian Farm," or a clothing store a "Christian Clothing Store." It is obvious that those begging money call a college a "Christian College" for begging purposes.

The church is the one and only "Christian College." It is the only "Christian College" that can give its members a "Christian education" and thus prepare them to live the life that honors God and does good to men, and that fits and prepares them for heaven. Any thing that does not do this is not a "Christian education." Every member of the church is commanded, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." Any one who so does is a good teacher and preacher, whether man or woman. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." (Col. 3:16.) Luther said any one well acquainted with the Scriptures is a good theologian. Such is every Christian, man or woman, who obeys this divine command. And every Christian rejoices to contribute liberally to the support of those who are giving their time to preaching. "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (1 Con 9:14.)

We wish to also kindly submit, that taking a "ministerial course," in a theological seminary is not the kind of preparation necessary to be a gospel preacher. Obviously it is about the worst preparation any man could have to preach the gospel. The main thing hurting the church today is that many of our preachers are products of a theological seminary and that they are almost devoid of any knowledge of what actually constitutes the work of a gospel preacher. Young men, whose limit of ideas concerning preaching are restricted to those coming from a "Professor of Bible" in a Theological Seminary, are not the kind of evangelists to take the gospel to the people, "publicly, and from house to house." The church is not dependent upon a theological seminary for its teachers and preachers. Men who are the products of theological seminaries have always been a liability to the church and have always led the church into apostasy. It is a most obvious and outstanding historical fact that the establishment of the first theological school, in the second century, at Alexandria, Egypt, to teach and train preachers was "the grave of Primitive Christianity."

No human institution can rightfully be established to teach the Word of God. The teaching of the Word of God is in the hands of the church and is under the supervision of its elders or overseers. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2.) The things that came from the apostles must be taught by "faithful men." This prerequisite can be met only by Christians under the supervision of the elders of the congregation to which they belong. If a "faithful man" is engaged in the business of teaching secular subjects in a college, he should teach the Word of God to his pupils and to everyone else with whom he comes in contact. He does it as a member of the church, not because teaching the Word of God is the business of the colleges.

While, in no sense of the word, are we opposed to colleges, we only call attention to the fact that the church cannot divert its resources from its own great work to any other institution, or organization. It cannot divert its funds to colleges. The work of teaching and preaching the gospel, which wonderful work constitutes giving a "Christian education" to "every creature," not to mention the great work of the church in "visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction," is of infinitely more importance than financing any school or college. The church has never been indebted to any college for any thing. It has always been the other way around, colleges perpetually riding the churches and hindering and retarding them in their wonderful work by continually bleeding them of their resources. We only say that the colleges must be made to stay away from the churches and to keep their heavy hand off of them.

The church is the school of the Great Teacher. It is the greatest and most wonderful college on earth. The highest and most advanced methods of teaching in the world's great universities have been borrowed from the church or college of the Great Teacher. The school of Christ is freely open to the whole, wide world, without money and without price and teaches and trains all who wish to enter for a life of the greatest usefulness and of the highest happiness. The best minds of earth are amazed at the infinite limitlessness of the breadth and height and depth of its curriculum and yet the illiterate and, the unlearned, "the wayfaring men, yea fools," rejoice to find it completely and perfectly adapted to them. There is not another school like the school of the Great Teacher and any infringement upon it, or tampering with it, by ambitious and presumptuous men is a tragedy for all mankind. The teaching of the things upon which the welfare of the world depends is wholly in its hands.

The power of God is in and works through the local church. It is the only institution that the Word of God guides and governs and in which every member is thoroughly furnished by the Word of God for the accomplishment of every good work. The New Testament churches, which constitute the pattern to which all churches until the end of time must conform, evangelized the whole world in thirty years and their care of the fatherless and widows, and of the poor and needy in general, is still the amazement of the ages. There is a sleeping giant, so to speak, in every local church. If its elders can be induced to actually elder, and its deacons to actually deacon, and its every member be caused to realize that he or she has an office to fill, a work to do, it would revolutionize every neighborhood in the whole world, as it did in days of yore. We so much desire to see every blood-sucking human institution kept off of its back and to see it be aroused and really do its work.