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

Church And School

Jack Meyer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

(Editor's note: A life long friend of Christian schools, graduate of two of them himself, having a son now attending Abilene Christian College, the very able preacher of Tenth and Francis Streets church sets forth some fundamental principles on the church and school relationship. This article deserves a very careful study.)

The New Testament teaches that the church promised in Matt. 16:18 was established on the first Jewish Pentecost after Christ's ascension, as recorded in Acts 2. That institution is "the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:14, 15.) Paul says, "Unto him be the glory in the church." (Eph. 3:21.) The New Testament reveals that the church is the only institution for executing Christ's program: It also reveals that during the lifetime of the apostles no organization larger or smaller than the congregation was ever used for that purpose. Though congregations "cooperated" by sending money to support evangelists in different places, as well as in relieving distress, even then there can be found not one trace of any organization tying the churches together, over the churches, separate and apart from the churches, directing either the churches or their work. Nor is there any record of any congregation sending money to any organization except another congregation, as in Acts 11:27-30.

An Adjunct To The Home

A school giving secular education is an adjunct to the home, not to the church. It is the business of the family—not the church—to provide a secular education for its children. The family is admittedly a divine institution, ordained by Jehovah. So is human government. But the business of the human government is not the business of the church. (John 18:36; 2 Cor. 10:3, 4.) The family is charged with the responsibility of providing proper training for its children to handle themselves in the world. When the child enters high school, that high school supplements the work of the family. When the son or daughter goes away to college, the college supplements the work of the family. But the family is still responsible for placing son or daughter in the proper college, retaining sufficient interest and supervision to see that son or daughter is acquiring the correct education. That still is the responsibility of the family, not the church. A secular education, provided by the family, cannot be confused with the mission of the church as "the pillar and ground of the truth."

Individuals, then, may support Christian schools, to provide secular education under Christian influence. They —individuals—will thus carry on family responsibilities, and the schools will supplement the family's work; it will be an adjunct to the family. But if the church as such supports the Christian school, then there is the school, secular in nature, tied to the church, spiritual in nature, and actually an adjunct to the church. On the same basis one could justify any other organization—missionary society or what-not—as an adjunct to the church. But the school is an adjunct to the family; it carries on the work of the family in providing a secular education.

What Is An "Adjunct"?

Webster's dictionary defines "adjunct" as "Something joined or added to another thing, but not essentially a part of it." The place of the school is that of an institution not essentially a part of the family, but joined or added to it, in that it carries on the work of the family in providing a secular education. But if the school becomes an adjunct to the church (which certainly happens when the church contributes to the school), there is an institution not essentially a part of the church, but joined or added to it, in carrying on the work of the church. This would be a plain violation of every scripture teaching the fact and sufficiency of the New Testament church for carrying on the Lord's work according to his pattern. The New Testament would forbid connecting the church with any such institution, separate and apart from the church, or as an adjunct to it. Christian schools are, after all, predominately secular in their curriculums, and could lay no claim to being exclusively spiritual, or religious.

It is clear, then, that individuals may support Christian schools—primary, grammar, high school and college. Let us so support Christian schools that they may grow and prosper, while remaining sound; but let no secular institution be joined to the church, and let the church as such keep itself separated from any secular institution. Let Christian schools stay in their proper place as adjuncts to the homes, and thus be consistently, properly, and liberally supported by individuals, not by congregations.

He who keeps these principles straight learns the lesson of the exaltation of the church, the sufficiency of the church, and avoids the definite danger of the church being controlled or unduly influenced by the secular institution which it supports. Christian colleges, then, will not become "church schools," for they are not church schools. They will remain Christian schools, owned, operated, and supported by Christian individuals. Those who cross the line here, either directly or indirectly encouraging churches as such to contribute to their campaigns, either yield simply to the temptation of financial opportunism, or else do not clearly see the difference in the functions of family and church, according to the New Testament pattern.