October 22, 2017

A Package Deal

By Roy E. Cogdill

It should come as no surprise to brethren anywhere who have kept themselves informed to learn that those who call themselves "Great" in Nashville believe and advocate church support for colleges. This has been true all along. This alignment of forces in the professed "Headquarters" of the Churches of Christ is nothing new.

The President of David Lipscomb College, Athens Clay Pulias, and those gathered about him have always believed in the college as a church institution and that it should rightfully have a place in the budget of the churches. Some time back he is reliably reported to have delivered a speech to a gathering of brethren connected with these "Bible Colleges" in which he declared that the schools had given way long enough in this matter, that they are entitled to support by the churches and that the time had come for them to fight to get it. David Lipscomb College as a whole has been committed to this position for a long time and those who opposed this ''institutionalizing'' of the church have long since been eliminated both from any direct connection with the school and from any participation in its activities.

Years ago when Clay Pullias was fighting (pre-millennialism supposedly) in order to get the school under his control after he himself had failed to take any stand in the thick of the battle on this system of infidelity and had been soundly criticized for not doing so, this writer was invited again and again to speak at their school functions, but when the battle to put the schools in the budget of the churches developed and I took my stand against them being made "Church Institutions" and being supported by the churches, Pullias sent me word not to come back on the campus. I have accommodated him by not doing so.

The Gospel Advocate was the chief instrument through which the school promoters waged their fight to take over the churches. This was the direct object they sought then to obtain. Of course, the "Middle of the Road" Firm Foundation swerved under such pressure during this battle in 1947 and 1948 and lent its columns in a good many instances to the advocates of church support for the schools even though its management professed to stand against it. This, we have learned, is what they have meant by the "Middle of the Road" -- that is, be "strong on both sides."

We are simply saying that all of the schools among us that we know about, save one, will accept contributions from churches~ and while some of them will not openly commit themselves to defend seeking church support, there will be no opposition from them to the campaign for it. Abilene College is no exception. The "Great Men" on its faculty are committed to such a position and have met no opposition among the officials of the school, though there is some token opposition among the members of their Board of Trustees.

These institutions, under the guise of service to the Kingdom of God, have quietly labored in every possible way to extend their influences and control over the churches. They have courted the favor, not only of influential moneyed men in the church, but have dined and wooed the elders and preachers who were weak enough to be vulnerable because of their desire for recognition and popularity. They have brought the Bible schoolteachers in the churches under their training and influence, and in every conceivable way have strengthened their influence and control over the churches.

Many of us have known that when they thought their positions were well enough fortified they would again make a frontal attack to obtain their objective. From all appearances they may think that time is about here. However, from more recent news received, they may think it wise to make their overture in soft sweet tones and avoid another open battle on this issue.

Batsell B. Baxter may have "jumped the gun" a little. They do not want to widen whatever breach of difference between the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate and get engaged in a battle among themselves. This difference, and in reality it is a wide one, would do their cause much harm if an open fight developed between them and they know it, so they have squelched and smothered this disagreement as to how to operate the benevolent institutions and whether the schools should be supported out of the church treasuries. This difference flared up in 1958 between Lemmons, FirmFoundation Editor, and Guy N. Woods of the Gospel Advocate, but was not allowed to run its course. The same difference caused Roy H. Lanier of the Gospel Advocate to withdraw from its staff when Editor Good-pasture refused to allow him to write his views on these same questions because they were not in harmony with the views of the Editor.

Apparently this difference has been squelched again and will be smothered down. Baxter, the real darling of the institutional crowd, preached three sermons on these matters and a condensed tract containing his views has been given wide circulation. He not only tried to defend benevolent institutions run by a board as the work of the churches, but advocated church supported colleges and church hospitals.

Editor Lemmons got real excited about this and wrote two editorials and threatened to "blow the lid" off this issue, viz, doing the work of the church through human institutions separate and apart from the church, in the closing speech of the Abilene lectures. But the lid stayed in place and the Firm Foundation Editor went into "orbit" in his speech, and in his customary manner scattered a lot of "star-dust" around with his phrase making. It was reported by one of his most intimate co-workers that he had received word from East of the Mississippi to "hold his hounds" in check until the Nashville crowd could get things in hand, and now the report comes that Baxter has been restrained from pushing his view further at this time.

So policy and politics stifle convictions and consciences into squelching truth and subduing boldness of would be champions of these opposite views. Yielding to political pressure is the path of least resistance, and peace at such a price is not worth having. Baxter offered in his tract nothing but the same old sophistry already advanced by Brewer, Hardeman and others years before. His observation that the orphan homes (under a board) stand or fall together with the schools as church institutions was stated by Hardeman more than fifteen years ago.

Many of us have said through the years that the whole deal is a "package deal." If Churches of Christ can build and support human organizations to do their benevolent work, they can build and support the same kind of human organizations to do their work of edification, viz, schools. And if they can build and support human organizations to do their work of benevolence and edification, they can build and support human organizations to do their work of evangelization -- hence missionary societies.

There is no way to swallow one and strain out the other. Even compromising will not alter this fact. Hospitals, aid societies, youth organizations and all the rest will follow exactly as they did in the major digression more than a hundred years ago. Why can't brethren be honest enough with themselves to see this?

Truth Magazine VIII: 9, pp. 6-7
June 1964

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