A Word Of Warning
The apostle Paul was quite a preacher. He exhorted others to follow him. (1 Cor. 4:16). "Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me." Again, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). For a preacher to imitate or follow Paul in the work of preaching the gospel he MUST WARN people (Acts 20:31). "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I CEASED NOT TO WARN every one night and day with tears." This and the many other statements in the Bible point out that a preacher must warn people. I'm sure there will be some of our "sweet-spirited," "Soft-pedaling," "sugar-coating" brethren who will say that I should not warn against the things which shall be mentioned in this article. The above scriptures will show that I am in good company.
You are ready to ask, "What is your word of warning?" I am warning the brethren of California and others of an institution which will become the instrument of Satan to overthrow and destroy the faithfulness of many congregations in the West. This institution is George Pepperdine College. Just a short while ago most of the loyal churches and preachers knew this institution as a liberalistic and modernistic agent of error. However, recently, there has been "a change at Pepperdine." This "change" is that Brother M. Norvel Young has been selected to serve as president of the school. This has been publicized as the most momentous action in this century so far as the Cause of Christ in California is concerned. Many brethren who formerly opposed Pepperdine College now are ardent proponents of the college. Brethren who formerly would not think of sending their children there are now either doing so or plan to do so. That George Pepperdine College is now, and will continue to have untold influence on the churches in the west cannot be questioned by any thinking person. The question is just what kind of influence will it be? Will it be good or bad? I ask you dear reader, to consider the following in a prayerful way. Please do not cast this aside as the "ravings of a radical." Read it and file it away. In a few years read it again and be impressed with its truth. Let me say that I have nothing personally against any who shall be mentioned in this article. My association with Brother Norvel Young has always been pleasant and if ever we chance to meet again it will continue to be the same. The fact that I believe him to be in error has not one thing to do with my friendship for him. I have many friends and brethren who are in error. Our feelings of friendship and brotherly love should never deter us from "warning" against error.
Just what is "the change at Pepperdine" supposed to accomplish? Remove Modernism? Eliminate Sectarian teachers? Many other things could be pointed out as goals to reach. However, Brother Norvel Young put it this way in the Broadway Bulletin, June 27, 1957, page one in "A Personal Note from Brother Young." Paragraph 2, "The board of Pepperdine College wants to make that school a Center for the Training of Christian Leadership Which Will Influence Thousands of Homes Throughout the West and the Nation" (Italics mine, L.M.). Pepperdine College's aim and goal is to become "a center for the training of Christian leadership." I have always been under the impression that the church was supposed to train her own for "leadership" (Eph. 4:15-16). Any college which becomes "a center for the training of Christian leadership" dominates the thinking and the actions of the church. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. The 'leadership" of the church "throughout the west" will have been "influenced" by the "training" received at Pepperdine College. Therefore, the KIND of "training" given at Pepperdine will determine the KIND of "leadership" the church "throughout the west" will have in future years. I do not believe any institution other than the CHURCH OF CHRIST has the right to determine the thinking actions of the future leadership of the church. However, since the above is true, I am vitally interested in what will happen at Pepperdine. You may think that we cannot know what will happen there. I believe that we can determine, in a large measure, what will happen by looking at the work of the one who has been selected 'to lead the college in implementing the Founder's goals."
Brother M. Norvel Young was preacher for the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, over a dozen years. Whatever his training and influence did there is indicative of what it will be at Pepperdine. I believe I can truly say that more liberalism, worldliness and outright error developed at Broadway while Norvel was there than at any other church in the brotherhood. I do not recall his ever raising his voice against any of these things. Why do we suppose that he will at Pepperdine? Let us look at some of the things developed under Brother Young's leadership and preaching.
The church engaged in secular business in order to accomplish the work of the church. Farming, oil-wells, stock raising. The Lubbock Children's Home is said to be "under the elders of Broadway exactly as the Bible Classes are under the elders." Yet in Broadway Bulletin, March 14, 1957, page 4, there is a picture of some boys and a fine "Duroc sow," with the headline of the article "Interest in Livestock at Children's Home Grows." We are told the home has made available "sheds and yard space" "for about one dozen calves and 300 baby chicks." Please remember the "home" is like the "Bible classes" so far as being under the elders. Now, what would be wrong with the Bible classes going into the stock raising business and the elders secure and provide the money for the project exactly as they have with the "children's home"?
The Broadway church led the way for "sponsoring church" type of cooperation in evangelism and benevolence. Here MANY churches pool their resources into the treasury of ONE church and that ONE church does the work.
The Broadway church has spent thousands of dollars of the Lord's money for "fellowship halls, youth-centers, (I hear they have THREE of these) and banquet rooms." They have "ball teams" and compete with the denominations of the town. They have their "camps," "Puppet-shows" and "school." Special "prayer room," "Sunday meals," "This meal was prepared by the Pioneer Park Church of Christ," (bold mine, L.M.). "Meals will be served nearly every Sunday from now on for the Tech students" (Broadway Bulletin, March 14, 1957, page 3). I'm sure that I have not exhausted the list but this is enough for our purpose.
There were many churches and preachers in and around Lubbock that opposed Broadway actions. However, through a complete "mailing list" and "pressure tactics" and feeding the ego of preachers and churches, Broadway gradually overcame most of this opposition. They would ask the preachers of the area to come and speak at Broadway. (This was the "livin'-end" for some preachers.) Many times have I heard some member of a congregation in that area say, "Our preacher, Bro preached at Broadway recently." They would usually add, "You know, Broadway is the largest Church of Christ in the world." Other preachers were solicited to write for one of the magazines, teach in one of the many "special training" classes, etc. Finally, when just about every way possible of gaining favor was used and the opposition became small in number, the "quarantine" was used.
Brethren, do you want the future "leadership" of the church "throughout the west" to be of the mind that the church can do all the things I have listed? If you do, then send your children to Pepperdine and encourage the school. However, if you do NOT wish to see this condition then you had better OPEN YOUR EYES and see what is happening at Pepperdine NOW.
The SAME tactics are NOW being practiced by Pepperdine College that were practiced at Broadway for years. Pepperdine is now holding out sweet morsels for egotistical preachers. These sweet morsels being the blessed privilege of speaking on a lecture program at George Pepperdine College. Some preachers think this is the last step before heaven. Any time Pepperdine can get the preacher of a church to appear on their lecture program that preacher and church are forever silenced so far as opposing anything that Pepperdine does. That is exactly why so many "editors" and preachers are appearing. I noticed where preachers such as Brother Joe Gilmore, Hayward, California, are appearing this year. The first time I ever met Joe he told me how he was being treated because of his opposition to Pepperdine College. Now he throws all the influence he has behind the institution. Further, all the young people of Hayward congregation will be led to believe that all is well at Pepperdine because "their" preacher appeared on the program. By repeating this in many congregations, Pepperdine will spread her influence and gain a hold on congregations and preachers that cannot help but lead the church away into digression. It has been proven that even for ONE Church of Christ to have so much influence over other churches leads to digression; how much more is it likely with a HUMAN INSTITUTION able to wield such influence? No eldership can oversee Pepperdine. She can do as she well pleases and no one can stop her. The ONLY restrictions on any of "our" schools have been the opposition of faithful brethren. When the school fails in her purpose or infringes upon territory not her own, brethren MUST raise their voices against such. However, if the school can silence these voices there is NO restraining voice at all. And this spells the doom of any school as being acceptable unto God. It is understood that by "appearing on the lecture program" I mean to appear and not criticize or condemn anything the school does; of course, if a preacher appears and does protest against the error of the school he would not be throwing his influence behind the school. However, Pepperdine is NOT going to allow a preacher to appear who will raise his voice in opposition.
Brother Vance Carruth, who is the debate coach for Pepperdine, had a debate arranged on the cooperation issues. It was thought that it would be good to have the debate at Pepperdine and thus let the brethren know that the school would allow free and open discussion of all matters. But Brother Young did not think so. I believe it is impossible for any school to retain the respect of the brotherhood without an open discussion policy. Otherwise it will hold the respect ONLY of those who agree with her and lose the respect of those who do not agree.
I should much prefer Pepperdine College as it was before "the change" than as it is now. Why do I say such a thing? Here is why: Brethren recognized it then for what it was — i.e.: a modernistic and digressive institution. But now, many brethren are deceived into thinking because Brother M. Norvel Young is such a fine man that nothing contrary to scripture will be allowed. That is why I have asked you to take a look at his past work that you may see that he does allow many things which are contrary to scripture. I would not for one moment question Norvel's honesty. I'm sure he believes all these things to be in harmony with the teaching of God's Word. But the fact still remains that if his work at Pepperdine follows the pattern of his work at Broadway, the future "leadership" of the church "throughout the west" will have the church in every kind of legal business they desire. And the church will become the servant of the physical desires of man. Also, the financial power, oversight and direction of the work of evangelism and benevolence may well be centralized in only a few of the larger churches. I see no way of stopping short of these things if the schools continue to turn out preachers and elders and teachers who insist that these things are scriptural. That is why I do not believe that the large segment of the church which has embraced "institutionalism" and "the sponsoring church" type of cooperation will ever turn from the error of their ways. I see no salvation for these congregations. However, I do see a possibility of saving many of the members of these congregations. It is simply a matter of getting them to OPEN their EYES and see what is happening and then encourage them to manifest enough courage to take a stand against digression. The greatest danger to the church is people who know that things are not in harmony with God's word and yet have not the courage to protest against error and take a stand for the truth. They just drift along with the crowd. What price peace! Brother, heed my word of warning.