Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 48, PAGE 12-13b

A Prophecy Fulfilled

Cecil Willis, Akron, Ohio

As a result of an article written in 1931 in the Gospel Advocate by Bro. Foy E. Wallace Jr., while he was its editor, Bro. W. H. Thorp, of Middleton, Kentucky, wrote to propose the following question: "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."

In reply to which Bro. Wallace pens the following paragraph: "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 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."

These statements are taken from the GOSPEL ADVOCATE of 1931. Yet some men have the audacity to say that the present institutional controversy began about 1947. Bro. Goodpasture often likes to reprint what some brother said a good many years back. I suggest that he reprint these articles of Bro. Foy E. Wallace, and then tell us if the GA still takes the same position.

In another GOSPEL ADVOCATE article in 1931, Bro. Wallace says, under the heading "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 function, 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 (His emphasis — CW) 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 . . . May Christians learn the divine mission of the church and realize the error of devising human agencies to supplant the church in fulfilling that mission. 'Unto him be glory in the church of Christ Jesus throughout all ages' (Eph. 3:21.)" (GOSPEL ADVOCATE, 1931). This also would make a good reprint Bro. Goodpasture!

Bro. Wallace reprinted these GOSPEL ADVOCATE Articles in THE BIBLE BANNER, January 1948, to which he appended a few paragraphs, in which he said, among other things: "Christian teachers in various schools and colleges are merely (or should be) exercising their rights and prerogatives as individuals to teach the Bible in the schools they are conducting. But when these colleges are turned into seminaries, schools of theology, and become the organized agencies of the church for its work of 'Christian education,' they do not differ from a missionary society either in principle or in practice. In so doing the very purpose of such schools is perverted, and they forfeit the right of even individual support of those who believe that the work of the church belongs to the church and cannot be delegated to boards or done through human institutions."

Many brethren have correctly maintained that missionary societies, church supported colleges, and institutional orphans' homes stand or fall together. The ones defending church supported colleges have long said that such colleges and institutional orphans' homes stand or fall together. The effort to institutionalize the church is not new. Bro. Wallace was fighting it through the pages of the GA in 1931. He later fought it through the GOSPEL GUARDIAN and THE BIBLE BANNER. In 1948 brethren endorsing church supported colleges were trying to turn the focal point of the battle from the colleges to the Orphan homes, as there were more emotional advantages to the orphan homes. As these brethren were trying to make everyone forget the church-supported-college question, Bro. Wallace was trying to keep attention focused upon it. In his effort, he expressed his opinion about what the future held — a prophecy if you wish to call it such.

He said: "But I want to repeat with emphasis, brethren, that we are in a fight 'against spiritual wickedness in high places!! It is no longer a tendency, a trend, or a threat. It is here. The church is being made a mere subsidy of men's organizations. We are fighting organized efforts to subsidize the churches of Christ to human institutions and private enterprises, and to keep it free of institutional domination. A few of us alone cannot continue to win this fight. It has been won again, BUT ONLY FOR A TIME." In 1948 there were very, very few preachers scattered over the country who had the courage to state they endorsed church-supported colleges. But Bro. Wallace correctly said the victory was "only for a time". He continued: "BEFORE 1958, IF HISTORY IS REPEATED, IT WILL COME AGAIN." And he was so right. The institutional fight has not ended for 100 years. It shows little sign of ending soon. However, the particular issues every few years have changed. In 1938-1948 the primary issue was church-supported colleges. This was primarily what Bro. Wallace had in mind when he made the above prediction. He was exactly right. Until 1958, no outstanding brother was willing to publicly contend for church-supported-colleges. But just before the year 1958 checked out, the church-supported-college question reappeared. This time, it was introduced by a prominent college professor, Bro. T. D. Thomas, through the pages of his new book, WE BE BRETHREN.

Bro. Wallace, anticipating such a renewal of the campaign, gave the following good and yet well needed advice: "It calls for the unified and consistent opposition of all faithful elders in the churches as well as preachers of the gospel, now and all the time, in order that members of the church may know the issues and be ready to stand against this spiritual wickedness in high places whenever and wherever it appears."

And I confidently believe that there are thousands of just such elders and preachers who are now ready to oppose this newest effort to "subsidize the churches of Christ to human institutions and private enterprises."