"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.I Pg.4b-6
January 1948

The Issues — Then And Now - Part 2

The Home And The School

The following from W. H. Thorp, Middletown, Ky., touches some vital principles. It manifests sincerity and the questions indicate thought. We are glad to insert the criticisms with further remarks on the subject.

In an editorial in the Gospel Advocate of June 4, 1931, on the subject. "Man and Education," I find some statements and reasoning that seem to me not to be above criticism:

You say that the Bible teaches that the work of the church is twofold—first, missionary; second, benevolent; would it not be more exact to say that it is threefold—missionary, benevolent, and educational? The work of the missionary is primarily the making of disciples, which requires only such teaching as makes known the, terms of discipleship; but "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" is a service of the church which requires Christian instruction through the years.

Now, it seems to me that the Bible college is auxiliary to the church in this very work of Christian education, since the Bible is the central subject to which all others are subordinate and subsidiary.

But, granted for arguments sake that the Christian college is an adjunct to the home instead of the church, is it not then auxiliary to a divine institution? The church and the home are both divine institutions, and your plea is that such institutions need no auxiliaries, but are complete in themselves for the work for which they were organized.

If, then, it is permissible to have a Bible college as an adjunct to the church in the work of education and an orphans' home in the work of benevolence, why not a missionary society in the work of evangelization?

It seems to me the same principle which allows the one will allow all.

The foregoing represents a common failure to make proper discrimination. Innovation in church work and worship has often found impetus in the erroneous idea that whatever is proper in the home is permissible in the church. On that fallacy some have sought to justify the use of instrumental music in the church. When Paul heard that the Corinthians had turned the Lord's supper into a church dinner, he scathingly asked: "What? have ye not houses to eat and drink in ?" What would have been entirely proper in home life was not at all permissible in the church. The same principle will apply to the work of the church as well as its worship.

To grant that the home is a divine institution does not warrant the conclusion that everything related to the home may have the same relation to the church. The state is also a divine institution. (Rom. 13). Shall every auxiliary of the state be made adjuncts of the church?

The home and the church fill distinctly different spheres. One is the sphere of moral right and privilege; the other is the realm of Scriptural authority. In the home, anything right, right in itself, is permissible; in the church, only what the New Testament authorizes, a "Thus saith the Lord." Christ is not only head of the church, but he is head over all things to the church. (Eph. 1:22-23.)

Secular education is not the work of the church. But Christian men and women have the same right to conduct such schools as they have to engage in the mercantile business, farming, banking, publishing houses, or any other honorable business. They also have the right as individuals to teach the Bible in such schools as in any other sphere of individual life. Such schools should not derive their names from the Bible any more than from science, mathematics, philosophy, and other knowledge it imparts. In choosing the atmosphere in which to educate their children, it is not only the right of parents, but their duty, to choose schools in which the influence of the home will be continued. The teacher assumes the responsibility of the parents and the school supplements the work of the home. It furnishes no parallel for institutions and organizations which supplant the church.

Whatever the church, as such, is commanded to do can be done only through the church. And the only way to do anything through the church is to do it through the local church, which is the only organization known in the New Testament. The missionary society performs the functions of the church. It stands between the church and the work being done. Its organization supersedes and usurps the organization and work of the church. The missionary society, therefore, supplants—displaces—the local church.

But individuals have certain rights and privileges. Individuals may publish papers or establish schools. They do not have to bar the Bible and religion from such in order to have the right to operate them. But such endeavors thus conducted are private enterprises, and the individuals conducting them have no right to "adjunct" their own enterprises to the church.

If it were "permissible to have a Bible college as an adjunct to the church in the work of education and an orphans' home in the work of benevolence," we quite agree that it would also be "permissible" to have the "missionary society in the work of evangelization." But the question assumes the point to be proved. Nothing is "permissible" as an auxiliary of the church which is not Scriptural. And it is not Scriptural for the church to delegate its work, either missionary or benevolent to boards and organizations other than the church. Bible colleges and institutional orphans' homes cannot be made adjuncts of the church, Scripturally. The only way the church could Scripturally run a school or a home would be for the local church to undertake such work through its local organization—elders and deacons—in which case it would be the work of that congregation.

Institutionalism has been a menace to congregational independence as taught in the New Testament. It has wrought havoc in the church in the past, and growing tendencies present hazards for the future. The truth of this has been seen by the more conservative element in the Christian (Digressive) Church. They are trying to swing back. But they cannot "swing" without swinging all the way back, and the spirit of digression which led them away forbids their return. But not until complete reformation can there be restoration.

We should study more carefully and fully the simplicity of the work and worship of the New Testament church and resolve to follow apostolic teaching and example. —(In the Gospel Advocate 1931)


Special attention is called to a particular statement in the foregoing, as follows: "Institutionalism has been a menace to congregational independence as taught in the New Testament. It has wrought havoc in the church in the past and growing tendencies present hazards for the future." The writer has never at any time, in capacity of editor of THE BIBLE BANNER, or any other capacity, said anything more direct on the subject than the above statement. It precipitated no fight then, brought no accusations, and the writer was not charged with attacking the colleges. Why should such be done now? There must be a reason.

In response to still further inquiries and requests a third article on the same subject appeared almost in successive issues of the paper, and it is also reinserted here as proof upon proof that the position maintained by THE BIBLE BANNER now is not a late creation of an issue by the editor. We ask of the reader this further indulgence.

A Distinction With A Scriptural Difference

The letter inserted below is from a man who is true to the word of God, who is interested in every good work, but concerned about a certain tendency in the church to drift from New Testament principles:

Have re-read your editorial in the gospel Advocate of July 2, and received new encouragement in my feeble efforts as well as an increase of interest in the Advocate.

Now, may I ask you to go a little further with the subject under consideration, as there are a few points I am unable to clearly settle?

Since Bible colleges and institutional homes for orphans are not adjuncts of the church and since the church holds funds in its treasury contributed as a part of its religious duty as a church can the local congregation spend such funds to build up the educational and benevolent institutions? Is there a distinction with a Scriptural difference in contributing money to these institutions and contributing money to the support of an orphan? Can a church not pay the hospital bill of one of its members in an institution of which it dare not become a stockholder or contributor to its building program? Is it not also true that a worthy boy or girl may be educated in our "Bible colleges," and yet wrong to use treasury funds of the church to aid in buildings?

1. The Mission of the School. It has been previously set forth that the school is auxiliary to the home, not the church. It is not the duty of the church to teach sciences, mathematics, history, economics, athletics, etc. Individuals may establish such schools and by the same right teach the Bible along with other courses. Wise parents choose schools that furnish such teaching that the religious influence of the home may not be counteracted, but continued. But such schools being on a par with other secular and individual enterprises, such as religious papers and publishing houses, it is n4 the mission of the church to maintain them. There is certainly "a distinction with a Scriptural difference" between the mission of the home and the mission of the church, though they may touch at certain points affecting right teaching and Christian living.

Since to establish and maintain such schools is not the mission of the church (such schools not belonging to the church, and therefore not "church schools"), the church should not be called upon to support them nor church funds diverted to maintain them any more than religious publishing houses and numerous other things an individual may have a perfect right to do.

Another letter, from my long-time friend and co-laborer in the gospel, Austin Taylor, of Texas, makes the proper distinction:

It is plain enough to see that the church is to support the truth—the teaching of the gospel of Christ. But if the church is to support the teaching of athletics, mathematics, geography, etc. I would certainly like to know it. I am sure schools do not always make enough money to satisfy those who are running them; neither do papers receive enough money to satisfy the publishers. I have worked for months on songbooks that did not pay me anything. Should I call on the church to contribute monthly to me while I am in such work? I believe the work of the church is one thing and the Christian's life in dealing with individual affairs is another thing. There are many good things people may do as Christians that the church is not instructed to engage in.

If the foregoing statement does not represent sound reasoning, I am ready to admit confusion on the point.

2. The Mission of the Church. It has also been previously set forth that the mission of the church is twofold—missionary and benevolent.

Any organization that supplants the church, takes over its functions, and as an organization does what the church is commanded to do, is in violation of a plain New Testament principle. Such organizations cannot be defended on the ground of system or method. The missionary society is not a method. It is an institution with its own working units and organization, and uses methods, or system. It usurps the functions of the church, taking the oversight of the work and the management of the funds out of the hands of the elders and deacons of the church and placing them in an entirely different organization.

The missionary society, therefore, supplants the church in that phase of the work the church is commanded to do.

But the church as such is also commanded to do benevolent work. It is, therefore, on a par with missionary work, and for the same reason the church cannot Scripturally transfer the work of benevolence to any agency or institution that takes the work out of the hands of the elders and deacons of the church—the local church. Such organizations would supplant the church in benevolent work exactly as the society does in mission work.

This does not mean that a church cannot provide homes for the orphans and aged. The Charlotte Avenue Church, in Nashville, has several cottages built on their own property and is providing for several fatherless families, keeping each home intact, and it is all being done by the church through the divine arrangements of elders and deacons. Other churches can do the same. And if the burden of one church is too heavy, other churches can relieve the burdens of that church (Acts 11:29,30); for anything that one church has a right to do, another church has the right to help it do, provided that in so doing the elders of one church do not become agents for all the churches in certain undertakings that extend beyond the limits of the local church.