Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 24, 1952
NUMBER 50, PAGE 6,15b

School And Church Connections

By Robert C. Welch

Brother Gus Nichols, in his speech on church support of schools at the winter lectures of David Lipscomb College this year, said that the fallacy "they all make" is to suppose that if churches contribute to colleges it will join the schools to the church. He further thought it fallacious to suppose that if churches contribute to schools the schools will gain control over the contributing churches. He began his defense of the practice and his charges against those who oppose such practice by reading and commenting on some long statements from Brother Otey's book, Living Issues. He said that the above conclusions were fallacious positions of Brother Otey, and then said it is the "fallacy they all make." He seemed to be smarting under the weight of the material which Brother Otey presents.

Why is it that so many of the college lectureships must include speeches in defense of church support of the various institutions? If, as they sometimes imply, such a great percentage of the brotherhood is favorable to the practice, why do they feel it so necessary to bolster up their position by so many speeches in its behalf? They either feel that they must persuade many more people and preachers of the righteousness of their practice, or they feel the weight of the evidence which has been presented against the practice. Of course, the college representative who introduced the speaker and commented on his speech afterward said that the school had nothing to do with suggesting material for the speech, that it was the speakers own presentation; and Brother Nichols assured us in his speech that what he said was, "My conviction." One hears it said so often in support of the practice of church contributions to institutions, "It is my conviction." It lacks the ring of the challenge of so many renowned preachers, "The Scriptures teach." It sounds too much like they know that they cannot prove the practice by the Bible, so must put the argument on the basis of their own conviction.

I am sure the Baptists have their convictions about their practices, but that is far from proving that they are scriptural. The Catholic has his convictions, too, about Catholic doctrines and practices, but that is no proof that the things which they do and teach are pleasing to God. The Catholic is convinced that education is a part of the function of the church. A school is carried on by every Catholic church. The Catholic church builds the institutions of learning and supports them from contributions. The Catholic has no qualms about putting the two together, making the one a part of the other. His practice is based upon conviction. Now, some of our church-supported-institutions brethren think the Catholic's conviction is all wrong. Brother Nichols thinks that there is no connection whatsoever between schools and their contributing churches. The Catholic's conviction that the school is a part of the church is worth just as much as Brother Nichols' conviction that the church should support the school; neither of the convictions came from the Bible. The final result will be that Brother Nichols or his successors will have the same conviction about the matter as does the Catholic, unless the liberal trend is stopped. He has started on the same road, just has not reached the destination.

It was obvious that the man who commented on the speech in no way implied that brother Nichols had spoken contrary to the position of the school. It is just possible that the school knew the kind of speech brother Nichols would make when they selected him for the topic. Otherwise, to make a speech on "Christian Education," would they have selected a Foy Wallace, or a Roy Cogdill, whom they once selected when they had another kind of fight to wage? Does it seem strange that these schools which are known to be begging churches for money always select the right man to make such speeches in behalf of their practice? Certainly not, they are not going to get a man who will oppose their practice. It has the appearance of dissimulation when the master of ceremonies comments on such a speech saying that it is not necessarily the position of the school, that the school is not responsible for what was said.

That is the kind of teaching they are giving the visitors and the students. Those students and visitors will be going back to preach and teach in the congregations. What will they teach about the support of schools. If they believed what they heard, they will teach the churches that it is their responsibility to give to the schools. Yet they say that the school cannot have any control of the churches. There is control in this very practice of teaching the students that when they return to the churches they must be true to their Alma Mater by obtaining support for it from the churches. Thus, in one simple procedure there is both connection and control between the school and its contributing churches — the very thing brother Nichols was establishing by such a speech, while trying to deny its existence. With respect to the control of churches who contribute to schools, some seem to think there can be no control except despotism. Certainly they do not exercise tyrannical control. But there is control as long they are allowed to teach and tell the churches through their students what to do about contributing to them.

In his same lecture Brother Nichols insisted that there could be no more connection and control than a needy family has over the church when the church contributes to its need. There may be no connection by Brother Nichols' definition, but what will you call it when some of those needy families keep coming for more and will do nothing to support themselves when they find that the church will help them? There is no end to helping some indigents, once it is started. If they are worthy, it is right to help them, but there is connection in the giving. Sometimes the connection can be broken because such unfortunate people have very little power anywhere: but such is not the case with an institution of learning; it is not unfortunate; it has the intellectual, social, and financial means to make its continued demands upon the church. It is hard for a congregation to give these institutions an effective hint like one of those who came continuously to the church for help. He had been coming again and again for food, clothing, and fuel, until finally one of the elders gave him an axe. He has not been back since. What kind of an axe could be given one of these secular schools after it has become so deeply imbedded in the collection of the churches?

Besides all this, the connection, or control, that the school might have with the church that contributes is not the fundamental error in the practice. That is merely one of the results of the practice; one of those things cited to make us ponder before launching on such a program. The fundamental question is that of the right of the church to use its contributions for the support of a secular institution and work. This writer cannot remember Brother Nichols' giving one Scripture, or one single argument, to prove that the church should contribute to a school engaged in secular education. The first part of his speech was made up of showing the advantages of a school where the teachers are Christians, and where the Bible is taught daily. But that is not questioned. The latter part was an attempt to show that the school and church are not connected. Even if they are not connected, it is yet unproved that the church has a scriptural right to use its funds in contributing to a school for secular learning, or any other secular business or profession. Perhaps they will get around to dealing with this matter in their lectures next winter.