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Dub McClish

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Church Support Of Colleges Is Unscriptural

Jerry C. Brewer

It is not the function of the college to train workers in the vineyard of the Lord. Foy E. Wallace, Jr. addressed that proposition in 1948 and what he wrote in 1948 remains relevant today:

“The source of ‘Christian Education’ is not the college—it is the church. The edification of Christians is Christian education. The churches are engaged in Christian education in Bible classes on Lord’s Day and through the week, in prayer and study meetings, in gospel meetings, wherever the gospel is preached and whenever the Bible is taught. Christian teachers in various schools and colleges are merely (or should be) exercising their rights and prerogatives as individuals to teach the Bible in the schools they are conducting. But when these colleges are turned into seminaries, schools of theology, and become the organized agencies of the church for its work of “Christian education,” they do not differ from a missionary society either in principle or in practice. In so doing the very purpose of such schools is perverted, and they forfeit the right of even the individual support of those who ‘believe that the work of the church belongs to the church and cannot be delegated to boards or done through human institutions” ( ‘A Distinction With A Scriptural Difference,’ The Bible Banner, Vol. 10, No. 1, Jan., 1948, p. 7).

College officials are swift to point out that “the college isn’t the church,” when questioned about their school’s use of false teachers in a lectureship. That was the reply of officials at Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts (OCUSA) when faithful brethren objected to speakers on that school’s lectureship in 2004. While it is true that the college isn’t the church, colleges have a propensity to dominate and usurp the function of the church by considering themselves as adjuncts of it—or as OCUSA says on its website, ”At the very heart of this university is a desire to be a friend, ally and resource for churches of Christ.” On its website, Abilene Christian University calls itself a “church related” college, and Pepperdine University says it is “affiliated with the churches of Christ.”

“Abilene Christian University was established in 1906 by members of Churches of Christ and has been closely affiliated with this body for nearly a century. The university is committed to biblical principles. Historically we believe these principles were reaffirmed through the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement begun in early 19th-century America and expressed today through Churches of Christ. Defining ourselves as a “movement,” we are constantly in the process of articulating the basic elements of our biblically-based faith for our times—all without the involvement of denominational hierarchy. As an institution of Christian higher education within the movement, we are called to examine how our theological perspectives shape our educational philosophy. We also recognize that the churchrelated colleges in the Restoration Movement (and ACU in particular in the 20th century) have played a major role in forging our identity as Churches of Christ” (www.acu.edu/ faith.html).

“Pepperdine University is religiously affiliated with the Churches of Christ, of which Mr. Pepperdine, university founder, was a lifelong member. Faculty, administrators and members of the Board of Regents represent many religious backgrounds, and students of all races and faiths are welcomed” (www.pepperdine.edu/welcome/about/faith.htm).

By describing themselves as “an ally and resource for churches of Christ,” a “church related school,” or “affiliated with the Churches of Christ,” these schools deceive naive and gullible members of the church into thinking that they are adjuncts of the church. That continues to foster the false notion that colleges may be funded from the church’s treasury and that is absolutely false. Of this matter, brother Wallace also wrote,

“Back of much of this doctrinal softness is the influence of some of the colleges among us. They have harbored teachers of error; they have promoted a spirit of worldliness; they have manifested an air of superiority; they have conducted campaigns among the churches to affiliate church and school which will eventually, if continued, result in college domination and control in the church. The college domination danger is not imaginary. The current campaign to put Abilene Christian College in the budget of the churches of Texas is one example of it. When it is said that ‘the church that does not put the college in its budget does not have the right preacher,’ that is college domination. It means college control of preachers, with a threat. When the hint of boycott is placed on gospel preachers who do not ‘cooperate’ with the college, or who criticize anything the college does, and who oppose the church budget scheme of linking the church and college together-that is college domination with a vengeance. When the president of the college can sit in his office and dictate letters to young people in various churches who belong to ‘The Ex-Student’s Association’ and through them influence the policies of a congregation on certain issues, even to the point of who shall or shall not preach in certain places, that is college domination [This is equally applicable to schools of preaching, JB]. When these young people in the church, whether preachers or not, feel that they are obligated to the institution that graduated them, and they become virtually an auxiliary of that college in the church where they are that is college domination. In other words, when it comes to pass that ‘Our Alma Mater which art in Abilene’ can command the loyalty and devotion from alumni equal to the homage due ‘Our Father which art in Heaven,’ that is college domination plus. There are those who measure a man’s loyalty to Jesus Christ by his loyalty to the college. This attitude is tested by the fact that he may criticize the church and bring no censure from college devotees, but if he criticizes the college, let him be anathema!” (“Jehovah Nissi-The Lord My Banner,” The Bible Banner, Vol. 1, No. 1, Aug., 1938, pp 2, 3).

Things have changed little in the last two centuries. The historical road that churches of Christ have traversed on the North American continent for about 200 years is littered with the wreckage of apostate congregations, led away in large numbers by colleges that purported to be, and do the work of, the church without a scintilla of Scriptural authority. Those same schools, which began with high and noble purposes, became forums for the propagation of doctrinal error with the aid of many of those very churches they destroyed. Whenever congregations look upon schools as works of the church, they launch into a stormy voyage that will eventually dash them to pieces on reefs of error. Schools are adjuncts of the home, first, last and always. They are neither the church, nor a work of it.

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