The Darkest Cloud On Our Horizon
What is it? It is the present attitude and resentment that the heads of some of "our" Bible Colleges take toward any one who would dare criticize any thing they may do. There is no doubt that for the next few decades the way "our" Bible Colleges go the Churches will go, and herein is the danger. For the President of a College, supposed to be run by Christians, to resent a just criticism of some of the doings of the college is on a par with copyrighting a religious paper, and such antics should be frowned upon by all lovers of truth. The student body usually imbibes the spirit of the faculty, and the resentment of criticism will ultimately lead to anarchy, as the following "United Press" dispatch will show.
Heresy Charged At Mercer University
Non-Baptist Teaching Laid To Five Professors
MACON, March 31, (1939)-The executive committee of the Mercer University board of trustees today submitted a report to the board on an investigation into charges brought by a group of Baptist ministerial students that five professors were teaching un-Baptist theories.
The trustees will submit their findings to the Georgia Baptist Convention, under which the university operates.
The 13 ministerial students testified before the committee, and later were threatened with physical harm by a group of "liberal" students waiting outside the chapel where the investigation was in progress.
Macon police were called late yesterday to restore order as the "liberals" milled around the ministerial students. Sticks and stones were hurled at an automobile trying to leave the crown.
As campus feeling became more tense, T. R. Smith, president of the student body, said, "If the teachers are prosecuted, the students won't stand for it.
Let no one think because this was a Baptist college that we are not subject to the same aberrations. We are men of like passions. The history of the Bible Colleges of the "Restoration Movement," has been the history of the cow that gave a pail full of milk and then kicked it over. This is not an argument against "our" Bible Colleges; but it is a reason for criticism that will keep them in their proper sphere, and true to the ideals for which they were founded.
The History Of Colleges
We will now study the history of "our" colleges. Bethany College, the first one of the "Restoration Movement," opened its doors November 1, 1841. In the Millennial Harbinger, 1840 pages 157, 158, Alexander Campbell, its founder, set forth the purpose and ideals for which the College was to be established. He said:
"The cardinal thought in this scheme is our beau ideal of education, viz. that the formation of moral character, the culture of the heart, is the supreme end of education, or rather is education itself. With me education and the formation of moral character are identical expressions. An immoral man is uneducated. The blasphemer, the profane swearer, the liar, the calumniator, the duelist, the braggadocio, the speculator, etc. etc., are vulgar, barbarous, and uneducated persons. But such is not the popular opinion. Why? Because, as De Fellenberg avers, the formation of character by means of schools-i. e., by means of systematic discipline and instruction, is a new thought. Schools were first established for other purposes; and when established, the formation of character was not an element in their system-nor is it so yet. This statement, which certainly is true, deserves the gravest reflections of the gravest man; and is, to my mind, a justifiable reason-on imperious demand for the new institution to which we are calling the attention of Christians and philanthropists of every name. We contemplate a scheme in which the formation of the physical and intellectual man shall not be neglected, but which shall be always held in subordination to the moral man. In which, in one word, the formation of moral character, then cultivation of the heart, shall be the Alpha and the Omega, the radical and all controlling aim and object in all the literary and scientific studies, in all the exercises, recreations and amusements of children and youth." No school or college was ever founded upon higher or nobler ideals than was Bethany College. While under the tutelage and influence of its illustrious founder, Bethany college, turned out such moral and intellectual giants as J. W. McGarvey, Moses E. Lard, C. L. Loos, John F. Rowe, B. W. Johnson, J. M. Barnes, J. A. Harding, and others, to plead the cause of Restoration. But Alexander Campbell made the fatal mistake in using the columns of the Millennial Harbinger, and his wonderful influence to raise an endowment for Bethany College. His manly form had hardly been consigned to the dust of the dead, by admiring friends, before the "eagles" began to gather not over his grave; but around the college. I will now let those who know better than I finish the history of Bethany, and the brood of colleges which have come from it.
The Standard's Lamentation
First we notice an editorial from the pungent pen of Edwin R. Errett, which appeared in the Christian Standard August 13, 1938. It follows:
We take a glance at our colleges-more than a cursory glance. In those years before the War they were most of them quite poor, from the financial standpoint. Their equipment was meager. But they were turning out hundreds of ministers and scores of eager missionaries. Their Commencements were primarily the times of launching ministers of the Word upon their careers. Then more generous gifts began to come for colleges. They began to receive gifts from Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. They began to covet standardized accreditation. The Bible ceased to have primary place. The professors began to cast doubt upon its authenticity. Documentary hypotheses, with doubt of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and scorning of John's authorship of the Gospel named for him, and scoffing at the Virgin Birth followed that notorious nonsense from the lips of Samuel Harden Church at Pittsburgh. The old college of McGarvey, Grubbs and Loos was manifestly in such hands. One after another the schools became general colleges. Their faculties were largely denominational men; their student bodies had only minorities of our own youth; their curricula gave no distinctive message on our behalf, and worldly amusements usurped the place of the Student Volunteers and the ministerial association. Where this was not true, the schools continued to produce the old fruit in ministers and missionaries.
The faculties of these impotent schools are members of the Campbell Institute, and the doctrines are the same radical theories discrediting the unique authority of the Bible. Again the line of force runs to Chicago.
So we may go on. A great Bible-school movement, developed by Herbert Moninger and state leaders of like temper, is bogged down with decreased enrollments, while the curriculum is secularized and the training camps are made the centers for disseminating dogmas about "building a new world" and about authority residing in experience rather than in Christ, Congregations are divided and their old-time local fellowship is poisoned by doubts growing out of the radicalism of preachers now in pulpits once made glorious by the New Testament message.
It is of no avail to talk of unity and good will and advance while at the same time being so unscientific as to avoid pointing our telescopes at Neptune from which the disturbing force emanates.
Who but a blatant infidel, or a digressive modernist would argue that it would not have been better for the cause of Christ if Bethany College had died with its venerable founder? The following letter from H. Leo Boles is self-explanatory and to the point.
April 19, 1939. Dear Bro. Lewis, I hereby hand you the statement that was made to me by Marion Stephenson, St. Louis, Mo.
He and I were in conversation in a Hotel in Chicago, Ill., and he said all the Colleges of the Christian Church are honey-combed with infidelity and there is nothing we can do about it.
At that time Mr. Stephenson was Editor-in-chief of the Sunday School Literature published by the Christian Board of Publication, St. Louis, Mo.
H. Leo Boles.
Let the churches of Christ ponder well Mr. Stephenson's statement-"All the Colleges of the Christian Church are honey-combed with infidelity and there is nothing we can do about it." Therefore within less than the span of years that the great emancipator, of the New Testament church and its worship, lived, Bethany College, the dream and idol of his heart, the child of his extraordinary brain-the institutions he founded and endowed, along with all the other colleges that have grown out of its influence, have spun a web of infidelity which has completely covered and smothered out not only the principles for which Mr. Campbell fought, but also the influence of such stalwarts as McGarvey, Grubbs, and Loos. What assurance have we that this will not be the history of David Lipscomb College, along with all other Colleges, that have come from its influences and example, and that too within the span of years that David Lipscomb lived? "Our" colleges have already set their course toward endowments, and "standardized accreditations," which ultimately means just colleges among other colleges. This is the course or current that swept Bethany College, and its like institutions, into the infidelity of which Mr. Stephenson spoke. No living man can control a human institution after his death.
What Lipscomb And Harding Stood For
I entered the Nashville Bible school at the beginning of its eighth year, and was there eight consecutive years, Three years of this time J. A. Harding was "superintendent" of the school. During those three years I had his memory work in the Bible and listened to his chapel talks every morning. He would not even let the school be incorporated while he was head of it. I sat at David Lipscomb's feet for eight years. I heard him say more than once that he did not want a college, he just wanted a school where boys and girls who were not able to attend college, could come, and along with other studies, be taught the word of God daily. Therefore I know that a college endowed, with "standardized accreditation" is positively foreign to the purpose and ideals of the co-founders of the Nashville Bible school. So you may debunk this present day buncombe about what Lipscomb and Harding stood for. If David Lipscomb were living today he could not teach in the College that bears his name. When, therefore, you see David Lipscomb's picture on a bulletin with the young men who are teaching the Bible in David Lipscomb College today, don't you think that he was ever a teacher in "David Lipscomb College," he was just a back number who taught the Bible in the Nashville Bible school-the school he founded, and controlled as long as he lived. After his death, the "Nashville Bible School" became "David Lipscomb College" quicker than a tadpole could shed its tail and become a frog. To be strictly honest, the trustees and president of David Lipscomb should say to the brotherhood: "A modern College cannot be run by the educational ideas and ideals of David Lipscomb and J. A. Harding." I have been told that David Lipscomb was "no authority." That depends on what you are talking about, David Lipscomb and J. A. Harding are absolute, and sole authorities upon the educational purposes and ideals for which they founded the Nashville Bible School.
The Two Ways For "Our" Colleges
Let no one think that I am an enemy of any of our colleges. I am not; but I am fearful of the ultimate end of the course they have chartered-Endowments, that will attract human vultures, and standardize accreditations, dictated by men who would not give a whoop whether the teachers were modernists, agnostics, infidels, or what not; but could whoop it up, if you got one of their tribe and wanted to fire him, or tell him what he could not teach. When the heads, or supposed friends of our colleges, assume a compromising, apologetic attitude toward the evils of our day, and anathematize any one who would dare to criticize them, it is evidence that "the mystery of lawlessness doth already work." That is the road that led Bethany College, and its satellites, through the wilderness of digression into the boggy swamps of infidelity. "We are men of like passions," and history repeats itself too often for us to feel sure of our footing wabbling down the same serpentine road.
A. Campbell and T. Fanning versus "Fergusonism"
When the "Restoration movement" was girdling the globe as a golden belt, there stood out two Giant Oaks, in the educational, and journalistic fields of the movement-Alexander Campbell, and Tolbert Fanning, each the founder, and editor of a paper, and the founder and president of a college. Campbell was the founder, and editor of the Millennial Harbinger, and also the founder and president of Bethany College. Fanning was the founder and editor of the Gospel Advocate, and also the founder and president of Franklin College. These were not rival papers or colleges. Neither Campbell nor Fanning was imbued with peanut jealousy. They admired each other and respected each other's extraordinary gifts, and were collaborators for a long time. From 1852 to 1854, Alexander Campbell, against the advice of admiring friends, joined Tolbert Fanning in his relentless fight against "Fergusonism" (spiritualism) advocated in Nashville, Tennessee, by J. B, Ferguson, one of the most popular young preachers of that day, who almost mesmerized the people of Nashville, by his pleasing speech, and fascinating manners.
We will let these three men speak for themselves. Mr. Ferguson says: "In 1852 Mr. Alexander Campbell assailed our published opinions-1 Peter 3:19-declaring them heretical and infidel. Soon after, Messrs. Fanning and Fall concerted a scheme to remove me from the pastorship, but met with signal rebukes. The church sustained my views, as also did the most respectable and worthy part of the community. On three occasions the congregation decided, by overwhelming majorities, its preference for us as a preacher above all others." Mr. Campbell said: "We were censured by a few old friends in Nashville, for our early expose of the apostasy of Mr. Ferguson, as clearly indicated to my mind then as it is now, so far, at least as principle is concerned. We saw as clearly then as we do now, the gulf of skepticism into which he had fallen." (Millennial Harbinger 1855, page 636). Mr. Fanning said: "Indeed, I have been insultingly told that, in as much as I am not a member of any one of the churches poisoned and degraded by the sensualism of spirit-rappers, it was none of my business. A still more mortifying insinuation, and on brought against older and better men than myself, is, that ambition and envy prompted the opposition to the daring encroachments upon our Zion in Tennessee." (Gospel Advocate 1855, page 110). These things were said and done at the beginning of the fight. Mr. Campbell arrived in Nashville on November 25, 1854, to deliver some lectures on the infidelity of "Fergusonism," and instead of Mr. Ferguson having his elders to meet, and pass resolutions not to announce, or attend Mr. Campbell's lectures, Mr. Campbell said: "On my arrival in Nashville, Mr. Ferguson announced that he had received a special communication, in form of a letter, from the late Dr. Wm. E. Channing, formerly of Boston, now in hades. In this letter from the elegant and fascinating orator and writer of sermons, Dr. W. E. Charming, Mr. Ferguson received a 'positive command' not to attend any of my meetings while in Nashville, and also to hold no nocturnal spiritual levees during my sojourn in that city." I relate these things for these reasons. To show how blindly the masses will follow a man, who has ingratiated himself into their confidence, into the most absurd positions. And how good people will often misrepresent, and hurl insulting insinuations against those who would dare raise their voices against "the daring encroachments upon our Zion." It also shows that Alexander Campbell, and Tolbert Fanning saw eye to eye, and stood shoulder to shoulder in their fight against those encroachments. The majority of those who followed Mr. Fergusons's nonsensical spiritualism made shipwreck of the faith. Mr. Ferguson himself was finally repudiated, and died with no one at his bier to sing of the praise and honor that once was his. It was Mr. Campbell's, and Mr. Fanning's fight, made despite the maledictions of misguided friends of the truth, that saved a remnant of the church in Nashville from the cataclysm of spiritualisms.
Fanning Versus Campbell On College Policies
Later in life, however, these two great men came to differ about how a college should be conducted. It is this divergence of ideas that is germane to our present discussion. However, every one who is familiar with Mr. Campbell's writings knows, that in the evening of his eventful life, he sheathed his sword, so far as his attitude toward denominationalism, and the "encroachments upon Zion" was concerned. It is said that he grew a long white beard in his last days, and was wont to say: "I have hung out the white flag." If Tolbert Fanning ever hung out the white flag, you couldn't tell it from his writings, and I have never heard him accused of it, Mr. Fanning took Mr. Campbell to task about some theories that Dr. Richardson was advocating. Dr. Richardson was "lecturer in the Biblical Institute," of Bethany College the year Mr. Campbell died, and later wrote "Memoirs of Alexander Campbell."
In the Gospel Advocate, March 18, 1858, page 70, Vol. 4, Mr. Fanning wrote: "My highest ambition is to plead for the truth as it is written, and I desire hot fellowship with men on other grounds. If I can have your friendship on the New Testament platform, I shall feel honored and happy, but if you are resolved to defend Dr. R's course, the sooner you avow it the better for all concerned. Suffer me, my beloved brother, to very respectfully suggest, that we should not be for the hills of Virginia, the plains of Tennessee, for Bethany, or Franklin College, but for the cause of our Master.-It is not positively certain that colleges are destined to be of service in the cause of Christ. Protestant Germany has endowed and settled upon herself a class of infidel schools infinitely worse than Roman usurpation; and I give it as my settled opinion, that it would be better for all our colleges to be blotted from existence than to permit them to cause serious differences amongst our great and good men. (The rift Mr. Fanning anticipated in the gulf between the Church of Christ and the digressives today. J. T. L) If Paul could say, 'All are yours, whether Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Christ'. We may say all schools are ours, whether in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, or elsewhere, and we all belong to Christ. Finally, it is possibly a misfortune that so many of our able brethren have given themselves to the work of building up schools for youth, instead of laboring in the school of Christ, and you, my venerable brother, must give me the liberty to say, that perhaps if you and I should not live to see the day, the time may not be far distant when myriads may have cause of regret that we have given so much of our time, talent and energy to institutions, certainly inferior to the Church of God, and in some respects of doubtful religious tendencies."
I will quote only a few extracts from Mr. Campbell's reply. He says: "We have, long since, adjured all such theories, and build on the well attested facts and documents of the Christian oracles. We believe and teach that no man can believingly say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit's attestations. If this satisfied not the philosophy of Prof. Fanning we make no farther attempt." Prof. Fanning was not asking Prof. Campbell about what he taught, but about his attitude toward Dr. Richardson's theories. Mr. Campbell seemed to understand the issue, so he said further on in his article. "Having already expressed our views of Dr. Richardson's 'Faith versus Philosophy.' We cannot afford to do it a second time on such a condition as that proposed." The point was this, Mr. Fanning, as president of Franklin College, thought that Mr. Campbell, as president of Bethany College, should take a definite and positive stand on such matters. Mr. Campbell thought he could not afford to do it "on such a condition as that proposed." Have you ever heard anything like that among the "Presidents" of "our" colleges? I have heard Brother Lipscomb say that Mr. Fanning could not understand why Mr. Campbell had become silent on some of the disturbing issues of that day, so he visited Mr. Campbell to find out; but was not permitted to have a conversation with Mr. Campbell out of the presence of his wife. Certainly Mr. Fanning understood then, it was because that "sagacious mind could no longer range at pleasure amidst the grandest subjects of human thought, and to find among these its natural and healthful sphere of action." But we go on with Mr. Campbell's evening ideas of a Bible College. He says: "A college that makes the Bible an everyday text book and study, in which the Bible facts and documents are exhibited and developed, in all their bearings on the government of God and on the destiny of man in this great universe of God, cannot but be a perennial fountain of multiform and multitudinous benefactions and blessings to mankind. Such an institution ought to have paramount claims upon the heart and conscience of every true hearted citizen of the kingdom of the author and founder of the Christian institution." Therefore, Mr. Campbell's idea of a college was, if the Bible was made an everyday textbook, the college would have to be a "perennial fountain of multiform and multitudinous benefactions and blessings to mankind." He failed to take in consideration the human element connected with the college. Mr. Fanning had no less respect for the power, and christianizing influence of the Bible; but he took in consideration the human element, and insisted that "our" colleges might become a curse to "man-kind," and especially to the church. Bethany College, with all the colleges that have come up under its influence, have shown the fallacy of Mr. Campbell's college philosophy, and they have proven the correctness of Mr. Fanning's contention. Not withstanding these revealing facts, Mr. Campbell's ideas are dominating "our" colleges today. The heads of "our" colleges today are bowing before the shrines of wealth, and telling brethren who have been entrusted with a goodly portion of this world's possessions, how much good their money will be doing long after their bodies have been sleeping amid the dust of the dead if they will endow "our" colleges, as though they could know that the colleges will always be in safe hands. A college, a religious paper, or the Bible itself, is like a gun, it depends on whose hands it is in, as to the good or harm it may do. Remember the noble purposes, and high ideals upon which Bethany College was founded. Remember also the galaxy of great men it educated during the first few decades of its history. But, alas! Where is Bethany College today? Not geographically, but in the fields of New Testament teaching. How many thousands of people, and churches, have its influence and teaching led into digression and infidelity during the last fifty years? Let us stop, think, and reason, before we erect a permanent incline, greased with mammon, down with the churches of Christ will ultimately slide into institutional oblivion.