Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 17, 1959

The Bible Chair

Kenneth Marrs, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The clearest and most complete statements I have ever heard or read concerning the Bible Chair are given by brother Mont Whitson in the July issue of The Minister's Monthly. No doubt the author is in position to know whereof he speaks; however, he finds, "To identify or to accurately explain the nature and functions of a Bible Chair is no easy task."

The difficulty of the task clearly springs from the intermingling of the wide range of things done in the Chair and church support. The position of the college appears to be very clear concerning the Chair: "Its total life is extra-curricular in connection with the college, having a similar status to the honor and service clubs". The relation of the chair to the church, however, is where the difficulty exists.

The Chair must be considered from different viewpoints to determine its relationship to the church. On one hand, "It is a part of the church dedicated to young people, but at the same time not the church itself. In this connection, it is a teaching arm and a fellowship medium. (Did anybody ever read of an organization so situated in the New Testament? KM) From another point of view, the Bible Chair is a small Christian College ... it can be so organized as to contain all the necessary functions of a Christian College."

Whenever such an organization is church (congregationally) supported is not the church then committed to the support of Christian Colleges? Like the colleges, "A Bible Chair is as narrow or as broad as the vision of its leaders." The Bible Chair supporting congregation then finds itself financially supporting any and every program and activity which the leaders of the Chair believe would be good as a service or activity of, or beneficial to, the Chair. Every limit which Christ placed upon the work of the church can be completely disregarded in the work of the Bible Chair because the Chair "is not the Church itself." We should not deceive ourselves. The Chair is no part of the church; actually it has no scriptural relationship to the church. The maintaining of a Chair (or any other organization) was neither the function nor a work of the New Testament church. Through the Chair the Lord's money is released for any use to which the leaders of the Chair see fit to put it. Does anybody even suppose that this excludes their promotional suppers, ping-pong, volley-ball, basketball, planned parties and picnics? "Through a Bible Chair organization comes good, clean recreation and fellowship". Truly, "There is no limit to the reach of a Bible Chair." Through the Chair a Church will find itself supporting things beyond its faintest intentions.

College youth are presented as the opportunity for the church; the Bible Chair as the method of reaching them with the Gospel. And I am exhorted to, "Plan to serve them through the church." You will please pardon if one seems a bit confused trying to serve through the church, but not through the church itself. Many things however, have their obstacles, "Being limited in the number of students reached in the actual accredited courses, a Bible Chair is handicapped in its influence if other areas of contact are not made . . . To counteract this insufficiency other areas of association are developed." In other words, the Chair finds that its Bible classes and devotionals are not sufficient to attract and hold students, therefore, it employs recreational avenues. Then the Chair imbibes the spirit and responsibilities of the "total person", social gospel concepts and, "Each of the different activities complement one another in supplying a well-rounded program for the college student." All of these, "Might be classified as extra-curricular, or additional aids in developing a worthwhile work."

Why? Why, Brethren, if a church supported Bible Chair is right, and if the Chair can honestly confess the insufficiency of its spiritual attractions and imply recreational maneuvers to attract and hold and build up people, why cannot the church do the same? Church support of Bible Chairs is not right, and it would be blasphemous to call or to confess the church insufficient. The church never was and never will be insufficient for the Lord's purpose but only for man's purposes. Unless churches recognize this how can they withstand a plea for church support of Bible Chairs, Colleges, or any other good work?

What then? Should Bible Chairs be closed? No. Are Bible Chairs wrong? No. Do they do a good work? Yes. Are they worthy of support? Yes. What is wrong then and, what is suggested?

1. Attaching Bible Chairs to the Church for support is wrong.

2. They should be separate from the Church as should every organization "not the church itself."

3. Chairs and Colleges should be regarded, governed, and supported as an adjunct of the home.

The potential field for Bible Chairs is great, there being a field at every publicly supported college. And the increasing number of them is note-worthy. This magnifies the importance of a brotherhood determining, understanding, and defining the Chair's place. I submit that what is here presented will prove no hindrance to the Chair or to any other organization which might be affected by the same principles. It would prove a great blessing to the church and to brethren. The difficulty of explaining the nature and functions of a Bible Chair would be removed. The Chair's liberties separate from the church would be undisputed.

I sincerely appreciate brother Whitson's article and commend it to your reading for facts and information on the Bible Chair. Let us always examine and study things together in an objective and brotherly way.