Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 30, 1953
NUMBER 51, PAGE 2,3b

The Church And The College

William E. Wallace, Hickory, North Carolina

In response to an article by me published the March 4 issue of the Gospel Guardian comes the following from a brother in Pennsylvania: "Do you object to a group of men forming an organization and calling it a Missionary Society to do the evangelistic work of the church... If it is wrong to establish a Missionary Society to preach the gospel what on earth makes it right to establish a Bible college such as the ones named above (Freed-Hardeman, David Lipscomb) to teach the same?"

I understand a missionary society to be an organization set up dependent on income consisting of donations or contributions from sources outside the society. The society is set up precisely to do the work of the church. In other words the society says, "You congregations send us your money and we will do your work for you." But suppose the "society" does not solicit or accept funds from congregations as such but solicits and accepts funds from individual Christians? It is still wrong because they are then saying, "Christian individuals, send us your money that you could and should give to the church for it to carry out its evangelistic work and we will carry out that work for you and for the church." That is your society. Yes I oppose any such organization.

An individual or family that is blessed with an abundance of this world's goods and wants to send money to different churches in weak areas or support preachers in "mission fields" has the right to do so. They would not be doing the work of the church but they would be giving to the church so that the church in said weak areas could do work. They are not doing the work of the church because they are not taking funds from churches or individuals that ought to go into the Lord's treasury. We have a few situations like this in the brotherhood often referred to as "funds" set aside by individuals or families to help weak churches. In this case the "fund" is not doing the work of the church but they are giving to weak churches in order that the churches may carry on a more efficient and effective work.

Now a college is not to be connected in any way with the church. The college teaches courses in liberal arts and some colleges include instruction in Bible in their curriculum. When they teach the Bible they are doing a work that the church does but they are not doing the work of the church — unless they accept funds from congregations. When the college receives money from the churches the "a work" they are doing turns to "the work" of the church. We often refer to the colleges operated by Christian personnel as "Christian colleges" or "Bible schools" because the personnel connected with the oversight of the schools are Christians and because Christian influence generally prevails. Christian influence and Bible teaching are good anywhere. I think that in referring to these colleges as Christian schools or even Bible colleges is misleading — not a misdemeanor as it would be to call them "church schools." The colleges teach more secular courses than they do Bible courses which is of course expected and right. Why not just refer to them as So and So college where Christian influence and Bible teaching is prevalent?

I recently noticed that a general merchandise store near Hickory which is operated by a Christian family has a rack in which they keep religious literature for their customers to take. Here we have a secular institution' preaching the gospel via the printed page. The proprietor has the Christian right to purchase said literature and distribute it through his business. Well now the business doing a work of the church but not the work of the church. If the church were to donate sums of money to the business to help support the business just because the business was carrying out a religious work, then the business would be tied in with the church. The church would be supporting a secular institution and the secular institution would be doing the work of the church. The store sells general merchandise for secular activities, the college sells liberal education for secular activities. The store does a good religious work in distributing tracts — teaching the gospel via the printed page, the college does a good religious work by teaching the Bible via oral instruction. If the store's sales are not sufficient to keep it going, it cannot rightfully seek support from the church, and if the tuition fees do not sufficiently support the college, neither can it rightfully accept money from the church: The church may patronize the store — buy nails for building purposes or food for needy families but it cannot make contributions to the store for its upkeep. The church may patronize the college in purchasing books from the college book store but it cannot contribute to the upkeep of the school.

It is the function of the family to provide an education for the children. Hence the family supports the child through grade school, high school and often sends them on to college. The family pays taxes to support the grade and high schools. If the young is sent on to college the family pays his tuition and often "well to do" families make liberal donations to the colleges. This is all well and, good for the schooling of the child is the family obligation. As one capable writer put it "The school is adjunct to the home, not to the church." It is not the churches week to support secular education. Now these so called "Bible colleges" are merely secular schools, ordinary educational institutions that include Bible teaching, hermeneutics, et cetera in their curriculum. The advantage of such schools is that they put emphasis on Christianity. The disadvantage of such colleges is that there is danger of use. That they can rightfully exist separate from the church I affirm. That there are dangers and problem involved I admit — but a problem does not necessarily change a fact.

Here is the point to grasp: There is a difference in doing a work of the church and the work of the church. For a secular institution to do the work of the church is for it to accept funds from the church in support of certain functions that the church must itself do. For an example: The congregations that send money to the "Bible college" are letting that institution do their work — then you have the college doing the work of the church, Of the individual congregation. But the college has the right to teach the Bible just as that general merchandise store does. They are not doing the work of the church unless: the church is contributing to the business but rather they are engaging in a work that is identical to a work of the church.

There are three divinely appointed institution. The church, the state, and the family. The church teaches the Bible. That is a work of the church. The family also teaches the Bible and that work while being a work of the church is also a work of the family. The family's work is not the work of the church unless the church as a unit is directly supervising and financing the teaching. This shows that a work that the church does can be done by another institution without it being the work of the church. Who can deny anyone or any institution the privilege of teaching the Bible on their own anywhere or anytime! Yea, let individuals and secular institutions teach the Bible but keep the institutions separate from the church.

Many attacks have been leveled at the colleges supervised by Christian personnel. Some of these attacks are justifiable; some are not Recent history has proven to us that dangers do exist because of the activities of some connected with these colleges. The thinker that has an Insight attachment can see that these colleges as such have the right to exist separate from the church but it takes men with foresight attachments to keep these institutions in line. That foresight is gained from a knowledge of what the church is, what it is for, and what it can do and how it is to do it. The big trouble seems to me to be just this. A good many of our brethren are regarding the church as just another denomination. Let the church do its work, scripturally. May individuals stand behind it and support it as they should. Can we not encourage the families to educate their children so that they can be of more efficient service to mankind by sending them to secular institutions that emphasize Christian living?

The setting up of colleges which include Bible instruction in their curriculum is not parallel to establishing a missionary society unless the college is to be supported by the church. The colleges do a work that the church does but the missionary society does the work of the church.

I do not read in the New Testament where the church as such must do all the preaching of the gospel that is done. But I do understand from New Testament example that the church is to do all of its work itself and not through some secular institution. Each congregation, seems to me, should carry out its own program of work and do its part to preach the gospel in all the world as it becomes capable of doing it.