Concerning Colleges

Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

In the current controversy among the brethren over the sphere of the school, the college and the church, certain colleges are themselves the aggressors. The controversy will be just as easily stopped as it was started—just let the schools abandon their departures, discontinue their objectionable practices, reform their worldliness, cease to infringe on the divine principle of the independence of the church from all human institutions, and quit imposing on congregations, and all will be well. In short, let the college stay in its place, and let the church alone.

For an example of the aggression mentioned, one of the leaders of the campaign to put the college in the budget of the churches closed an article with the statement that if it is not right to put the college in the budget, then he would join Daniel Sommer and be done with it. In other words, he will have it this way or no way! It is that “this way or no way” spirit that has always driven the wedges, forcing issues upon the brethren, then blaming those in honest opposition to their schemes for resultant dissensions. It was so in the digressive movement that split the church. It has been so in the “Boll movement” which says “we will have our theories.” It is now so in the present controversy with the colleges whose leader and mouthpiece says “we will have the budget or nothing.” In that case the brethren should see to it that it will be nothing-from the churches. With this announced attitude the colleges can blame no one but themselves for the growing opposition to them, or for any division or alienation that may arise over the discussions.

We are charged with having attacked the colleges, with being anti-college, and withal of an attempt to destroy these institutions. But to the contrary this editor himself attended one in early life, has for several years had his children in them at intervals, and if when his younger children grow up there is yet one of the colleges true to the principles we believe he will likely continue his patronage.

Nobody engaged in the present controversy is fighting the college, Neither The Bible Banner nor its editor is. The Firm Foundation and its editor are not. We are simply opposed to the extremes to which the colleges in question have gone, to their worldliness, to their tendency toward ecclesiastical control, to their doctrinal weakness, and to their general departures. We are not alone in this. Some of the trustees of these institutions admit the things that have been charged, recognize the conditions as they exist and have expressed themselves as desiring to perform the needed reforms. If all those in the high places were of the same mind, and others upon whom they have apparently depended for leadership, were of the same disposition, the institutions could speedily win back the individual confidence and support of that great host of brethren who are now set against their practices.

Since it has been charged that the present writer is creating an issue and his convictions on this question are of recent origin, it will not be considered amiss, perhaps, to reproduce some editorials which appeared in the Gospel Advocate several years ago while the editor of the Bible Banner was then editor of the Gospel Advocate. That all may know that no change in positions has been made, and in refutation of such charges as are going around that “thou art mad” and “thou art beside thyself,” and to show that the attitude held now toward the colleges is precisely the same as the attitude held then, the following editorials are resubmitted.

The Church and the School

The subjects of man and education are very intimately related, if not inseparably connected. The interrogation of David, “What is man?” has become the question of the ages and the problem of the sages. But David did not leave it for the worldly-wise philosopher, by his own ratiocination, to determine; for he answers: “Know ye that Jehovah, he is God: it is he that hath made us, and we are his.” Man is not the creature of chance or evolution. Made in the image of God, he possesses reason, affection, and conscience. Lifted above the creature of automatic instinct, he is more than a creature; he is a child of God. What, then should his education be? And here, alongside the question “What is man?” is presented another of but little less importance—What is education? The word signifies complete development. It does not consist merely in the art of learning to read and write or to cipher. It is not the acquisition of languages, living or dead. It involves the development of the whole being-body, mind, and soul.

This view of man and his education leads to the subject of the “Bible colleges”—their place and work in the field of education. If education consists merely in the training of the intellect, we need have no concern for the establishment and maintenance of such colleges. But it is the keenly felt need of heart training that has brought the “Bible college” into existence. Education has its degrees; and, grammatically speaking, physical culture is the positive degree, intellectual culture is the comparative degree and moral culture is the superlative degree. Hence the demand for schools that will give emphasis to the moral above every other line of human development. The Bible being the greatest textbook of morals in the universe, it is but a matter of simple reason that it should be prescribed in the course of study by a school seeking to reach the heart, as well as the mind. Because the Bible has thus been adopted by such schools, they have been denominated “Bible colleges,” while in fact, every other branch of learning found in all colleges of arts and sciences is also taught.

But the name “Bible college” has caused so much confusion in the minds of so many that it becomes necessary to discuss the relation of the school and the church. Let us compare the work of the church with the work of the school in seeking to obtain the correct answer to the questions involved. The Bible teaches that the work of the church is two fold. First, missionary, pertaining to the spread of the gospel—the salvation of souls. Hence, the church is called “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Second, benevolent, pertaining to the care of the poor, orphan, or aged. This is referred to as “pure religion.” The Bible further teaches that the church is all-sufficient to carry out this divine mission without the aid of human machinery. Any organization larger or smaller than the local congregation is an unscriptural organization through which to do the work of the church, and takes away from it the praise and glory. Therefore, we condemn the missionary society as an auxiliary to the church, a human machine seeking to do the work that God has commanded his church to do. We pronounce it, without further argument here, unscriptural.

What, then, is the “Bible college?” It is an auxiliary indeed, but not to the church. Let us observe in this connection the mission of the home and the duty of parents toward their children. Solomon said: “Train up a child in the way he should go.” Paul said: “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This is the solemn obligation of the parent and the sacred mission of the home. But when the child reaches a certain school age, when it must pass from the home into the school, does the responsibility of the parent cease? Is it not still the serious duty of the parent to select the school where the influence of the home is continued? In this matter, then, the school simply takes the place of the home and the teacher assumes the responsibility of the parent. So the “Bible college,” or the “Christian college,” or whatever you may please to call it, is no more than auxiliary to the home. It supplements the work of the home. Some who have not made proper discrimination have wrought confusion by associating the “Bible college” with the work of the church. Others have, therefore, opposed it on the ground that it is a “church school,” while others think it is wrong and sinful to teach the Bible in school. Such a conclusion should drive the Bible from our homes also and force the conclusion that it can be taught only in the meeting house on Sunday!

These principles are fundamental. Let us draw the lines clearly. We have pointed out the central thought of the subject—namely, the school as an auxiliary of the home. This being true, it is not the business of the church to run it. The church is not in the school business. The only way the church can Scripturally do its work is through the elders of the local congregation. Appeals made to churches, therefore, in behalf of schools are wrong-fundamentally wrong—wrong in principle. Let the school stand where it belongs, apart from the church, as an aid to, and adjunct of, the home. Let parents and individuals realize their duty and feel their responsibility in the support and maintenance of them, thus making it possible for our children and our neighbors’ children to have the training and influence they so much need and deserve. (Editorial, The Bible Banner, Sept., 1938).

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