Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 18, 1970
NUMBER 7, PAGE 2b-3a

A Building And A Book

James D. Bales

Mrs. Alexander Campbell, in speaking of Bethany College, said, "It was an object so dear to my husband that this fact must be my apology; his hopes were so strong in the good it could do when he would be laid in the dust, and surely it has, and will, I hope, still continue to bless humanity by sending many strong and loving hearts, well instructed in the Bible, to proclaim its power to a sin-stricken world" (Selina Hinton Campbell, Home Life and Reminiscences of Alexander Campbell, p. 472).

Would Alexander Campbell think that many of the graduates of Bethany College today are believers who are well instructed in the Bible?

J. W. McGarvey is buried in Lexington, Kentucky, where he taught in the college of the Bible. J. W. Mc.Garvey long fought that which, years after his death, has invaded and taken over the college where he taught.

This has not only happened to colleges in the past, but it will happen to them in the future unless greater diligence is exercised than was in the past. It also happens to congregations. Money has been put in years past, by believers in Christ, into meeting houses which now are occupied by those who repudiate the inspiration of the Scriptures. The buildings still stand but the gospel is not preached in them.

This is discouraging to one; but one must recognize that in his own generation he can only do what he can, and he cannot guarantee a congregation or a college throughout the time which follows him.

We are not discouraging putting money into congregations and colleges but we do want to call attention to an area which has been sadly neglected among us. This is the area of books. A book once written wrong will never go right, but a book written right will never go wrong. The author may later in life apostatize, the building in which he wrote may be occupied by those who deny all that he taught, but the book will go on teaching the message of truth which he wrote. A building may decay or it may be taken over and utilized for purposes foreign to its builders; but a book may never decay. It can be reprinted throughout the centuries and it will not depart from the message it proclaimed the day it was published. Since my teens, I have been convinced of the importance of conveying the gospel through the printed page. This conviction has deepened throughout the decades.

However, churches in most cases have not learned to utilize those who are interested in research and writing. Even when something is published, many brethren who might think of buying the book of the month, or taking a daily newspaper, would not dream of buying a religious book to read or to read and give away. And certainly the vast majority of them have never given consideration to the fact that a tremendous service could be rendered through the support of writers and the arranging for the publication of books for mass distribution. One of the tragedies of our generation was that arrangements were not made to see to it that G. C. Brewer had at least half his time free for writing. I do know that some thought of trying to do this. I do not know what kept this from being carried through to completion. It may have been partly that Brother Brewer was so interested in pulpit preaching that he did not want to take off half time for research and writing. Be that as it may, it is still true that Brother Brewer passed on without writing a number of books which he was capable of writing and which could have continued to serve the brethren today. Long after the building in which he preached has crumbled in the dust or been torn down, Brother Brewer's voice through the printed page will continue to serve.

A million dollars put into a building may do a tremendous amount of good. But somebody also needs to put a million dollars or more into the support of writers and into publication of the books which they produce. A few thousand can make a start. Long after the building will have to be replaced the books will continue to preach through being circulated in the original editions or in reprints. Some may suggest that men in colleges, who have specialized in certain Biblical fields should write. Some of them do. However, before one is too critical of those who don't let us remember that many of them are laden with a number of responsibilities even in addition to a full teaching load.

It takes time to write. It also takes money to write. It takes money for books, secretarial help, for typewriters, for paper, etc. Someone needs to pay half the salary of a number of men, whom they believe to be qualified, so they can teach half time and spend the additional time in research and writing; or other arrangements such as leaves.

We are not critical of those foundations, for example, which put money into the building of buildings. We need buildings, but buildings finally fall or may be taken over by others. Thus we need some people who will put money into a foundation, or through other channels to produce books which will never fall.