"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.VI No.V Pg.7
December 1943

The Church And Education In Arkansas

Early in 1919 a few brethren got together in Conway Arkansas, and looked with regret upon the educational situation so far as the church and the children of the parents of the church were concerned. We saw our children going to other educational institutions and coming out with their faith shaken and with but little, if any, interest in the church. As we viewed this situation we also faced the truth that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ could not undertake to operate any organization or institution but itself. If we were to have such a school it would have to be an independent institution independent of the church. The church was to have no control of the school, nor could the school control the church.

To have such an institution, as we saw the need, we realized it would have to be under the control of Christian men capable of operating an educational institution, just as christian men would operate a business.

These men began planning and soon presented to the brotherhood of the state a plan endorsed by a great majority of them. An architect was employed, building plans were adopted, and bids were asked for from towns interested in the location of such a school. The city of Morrilton, Arkansas, offered one hundred thousand dollars, ($100,000.00) and forty acres of land as a site for the school and this offer was accepted and the school located there. Then came the depression of 1920 and the school was not opened until the following year. In a few years this school and the one at Harper, Kansas, were consolidated and the college at Harper moved to Morrilton. This consolidation was not effected in full agreement with the original promoters of the Morrilton school, and out of this consolidation came the discharge of the late faithful soldier of the cross, John T. Hinds, who was at that time teacher of Bible in the school. It was generally understood this action was the result of Brother Hind's opposition to the premillennialism taught by those who came down from Harper. When this discharge was announced three members of the board announced their resignation as members of the board and walked out also. Then began the teaching of the speculation known as premillennialism in the State of Arkansas with the influence of the school behind it.

From the beginning of the school it had experienced financial difficulties and the consolidation gave very little relief to this situation. The policy that "the end justifies the means" was adopted and many practices followed in keeping therewith, among them the soliciting of funds from the brethren of the church with the promise that they would be used for definite purposes, or returned if not thus used, and the use of the funds thus ear marked for other purposes dealing in cotton futures for the purpose of obtaining funds and the using of such monies in the operation of the school; the collecting of funds from the members of the church and turning them over to some one who was not a member of the church and had no interest in it, to be administered by him for the school; the selling of bonds never paid; the promising salaries to teachers and never paying them; the gathering of young men in the school and sending them out to preach for the churches, without regard for qualification or faithfulness, thus sacrificing the welfare of the church. The Scriptural qualification of being "faithful men and able to teach others also" was ignored.

Out of this institution and this kind of an effort, there has gone a number of very fine young men who are preaching the gospel. There have also gone from there some who are not sound in doctrine, with the endorsement of the school, Much boasting is being made of the number of young men thus sent out, and the stress thus given them would lead one to think the church of Christ never had any real preachers and never would have had if it had not been for this school. In the working of the school, loyalty to the school is one of the first lessons every student is forced to learn, and many of these youngsters go out of the school in such a state of mind that if you are not for "this school" then they are against you. They measure the standing of all others, so far as they are concerned, by the attitude you take toward this school.

All this is given as a matter of history and fact to get the setting for what I want to suggest. Through this kind of working the school has fastened itself on the church. If a church is not for the school, then the school is openly the "doctrine taught" by the school and lets that fact be against that church, and if a preacher does not agree with known, then the school is against that preacher and tries to kill his influence, regardless of his "faithfulness" to the cause of Christ and his ability to preach the gospel.

The churches must be for the school and the preacher must subscribe to its manner of teaching and operation, or the school will "denounce" them.

A divided church is the outcome of this situation as we now have it. In most of the congregations in the state of Arkansas there are some pro-school and some anti-school members to be found and this causes disagreement in the working of the church and this is all because of the attitude the school is taking toward the church and false doctrine. If the church suffers in order for the school to prosper, then let the church suffer, seems to be the policy now.

Let me say that I think we need a school. I am for a school according to the original purpose and I have no desire to interfere with the operation of such a school. What I would like to see and am praying for, is for the school to be operated according to the original purpose, and to see the church of the Lord Jesus Christ free from entanglements with the school. Let the church attend to its own affairs. Likewise let the school attend to its own affairs, stand for the truth, quit defending those in error, and stop trying to kill the influence of those fighting for the truth. Then the school could be a great help to the cause and the brethren would supply more students for the school.

Brethren, what do you think about it? Who is to be head of the church, Christ or the school? Are you ready to sacrifice the church? Remember the school cannot be expected to lessen its hold on the church. The church will have to free itself from the school.

-J. C. Dawson (The only living member of the original group that met in Conway, Ark., and planned the school at Morrilton).