Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 18, 1952
NUMBER 20, PAGE 12-13b

Is It Confusing To Some??

C. D. Crouch, Trumann, Arkansas

I think it goes without saying, that not every one who is considered a preacher, can debate. I have attended some debates when it was painfully evident that the brother who was supposed to be contending for the truth was totally unprepared for the task in hand. But, even so, I have heard some sermons (?) that were calculated to confuse more than to enlighten. And all who are close observers have seen articles in the religious press, when a blank page would have been an improvement in the paper.

In discussing religious topics it were very far better to leave out of the discussion all personalities if that were possible. Sometimes the reader is made to wonder whether the writer is trying more to teach something than he is to discredit a brother, or a paper.

I am therefore wondering if there may not be a vast number of the readers of our papers who are more or less confused by the manner in which some of the discussion has been carried on, relative to "Christian colleges," "orphan homes" and "sponsoring churches." Many people who do not read the papers are confused about religious matters. One preaches one thing and another preacher will preach another thing to the contrary. The hearer is not as learned as the preachers; or so, he admits. He is not as well read in the Bible. He has not had the time to devote to such study. And after hearing the preachers preach conflicting doctrines, he is confused. Why shouldn't he be? We all know that such is the case, regarding those who are confused by the preaching of the conflicting denominational dogmas of today. I am persuaded that it is also true regarding many of our brethren of today on account of the conflicting ideas being presented regarding "INSTITUTIONALISM" today. And, no doubt, some are wondering if it is possible for them, and for the churches to pursue a course that is infallibly safe in the face of all the confusion existing.

I think, perhaps, no informed brother will contend that the church is dependent upon such institutions as "Christian colleges" and "orphan homes" (the institutional variety for its existence, or its continued existence. One will write, so as to impress the readers at least, that the church derives great benefit from such institutions. Others will write for the papers, contending that the church of Christ needs no such institutions to perpetuate herself, and that she has never benefited directly from such. One will insist that since the college is such an asset to the church, the church ought to contribute funds from the church treasury to help sustain the college. Another insists just as strongly that it is not any part of the mission of the church to contribute to such institutions. There can be no disputing the fact that confusion is likely to result from such situations. Is there a course we can pursue in a situation like this in which we will be infallibly safe, even though we may not be able to decide which of the preachers may be correct in his contention?? We can never determine the right course, or the wrong, by the character of the disputants. If one side should establish as a truth, beyond a peradventure, that his opponent in such a discussion, is a hypocrite, a fraud, and a scoundrel, he would prove absolutely nothing concerning the truth or falsity of his teaching. If all would only realize the truth of this, less effort would be made to discredit the opposition. All such effort is worse than wasted anyhow, with people who think.

It is a fact so fully revealed in the word of God that it only needs to be stated, that the church exists to glorify God. This is the whole mission of the church. Jesus said: "Herein is my father glorified that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples." But Christians are disciples of Christ. We glorify God as Christians, as members of the church, by doing the will of God. The church is composed of Christians. It also goes without saying that God is glorified through His appointments. He is not glorified through the appointments, doctrines, and commandments of men. "His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us unto his own glory and virtue." But he called us through the gospel. (2 Thess. 2:14) The gospel is God's own appointment. For man to reject the appointments of God, substitute his own appointments instead, is to reject the wisdom of God and to substitute human wisdom, and is therefore to worship God in vain. These truths are stated in the Bible and so often repeated in various words, they may be considered axiomatic. They are self-evidently true.

I maintain that God's appointments are all very closely revealed in his word to us. Everything that pertains to life and godliness is revealed — "granted unto us, through the knowledge of him who called us," and it is through that same "knowledge of him" that he granted unto us his "precious and exceeding great promises." In that same divine volume where we find those "precious promises," we also find "all things that pertain to life and godliness." They are God's appointments. Man's appointments in matters religions, can not glorify God. Nor can man's appointments be accepted and observed by men, except by rejecting the appointments of God. Man has never been able to invent anything that will glorify God.

God has appointed the church as his own institution through which to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the lost world. (Eph. 3:10) The church is the only institution divinely appointed to that end. The churches, in the days of the apostles, did all the work that God requires or expects of the churches, without working through anything like a "Christian college," an institutional "orphan home," or a "sponsoring church" of the present day variety, or any other appointment of men.

I maintain therefore, that the churches today can do all the work God requires or expects of them, and at the same time stay out of all such human institutions. Since the early churches did that very thing, present day churches can do it.

I think no one will seriously contend that such human institutions are essential to the life of the churches, or that the churches are divinely authorized to support them.

Then notwithstanding all the specious reasoning, and consequent confusion that has come about as a result, I think it ought to be clear to all that there is a course the churches can pursue and be infallibly safe. I am therefore set for the defense of the right of the churches to stay out of all such human institutions. I'll leave it to other brethren to show that it is wrong for the churches to support them. Some of them are doing a pretty good job along that line. I maintain the right of the churches to stand aloof from them.