Campus Advance-A New Organization With an Appropriate Name
James W. Adams
Students at Stephen F. Austin State College in Nacogdoches, Texas were favored (?) recently with an introduction to a brand new, religious organization. This within itself is not unusual. We live in a time of super-organizationalism. Americans are the most avid "joiners" of any people on the face of the earth. Even the birth of a new, religious organization is hardly shocking, for America has been the spawning ground for as many of these as any nation in history. The startling thing about this organization is the source from which it emanated. The announcement of its beginning came from a local "Church of Christ" which publicly professes to be identified with the so-called "Restoration Movement" - an effort to restore original, apostolic Christianity to the world.
The name of this new "organization" is "Campus Advance." The announcement of its beginning in Nacogdoches came from the "North Street Church of Christ." It is sponsored in Nacogdoches by this church. It's "leaders are members of this church." Its Director is a member of this church. He has been brought to Nacogdoches by this church for the purpose of heading up and popularizing this new "organization," and he is supported by and amenable to the "North Street Church of Christ." Throughout this article we shall be enclosing certain words and expressions in quotation marks. For the most part, this will indicate that they are direct quotations from a letter circulated recently among students at SFA by "Campus Advance" and the "North Street Church of Christ." The following is a reproduction of a portion of that letter:
September 20, 1967
Welcome to SFA!
Remember all those information cards in your IBM packet that you had to fill out during registration. Well, now you know what happened to your religious information card. Because you indicated the Church of Christ as your religious preference, we wanted to say "hi" and offer two things: some information and an invitation.
First, let us introduce you to Campus Advance.
Campus Advance is an off-campus student organization which is a part of a national Campus Evangelism Movement.
Its purpose is to mobilize and motivate Christian students to deepen their faith, and to share their faith with those about them.
Campus Advance is open to all SFA students and faculty members who are members of the Church of Christ; it is sponsored by the North Street Church of Christ, 3914 North Street. We urge you to become a member of Campus Advance.
This letter was signed by the "Director of Campus Advance, Gerald Gafford." It was printed on stationery with the letterhead: "Campus Advance, the campus today; the world tomorrow." A footnote on the stationery read, "sponsored by the north street Church of Christ (sic JWA), 3914 North Street, Nacogdoches, Texas 75961."
Analyzing the Character of Campus Advance
Sometimes, when we receive mail of this kind, we toss, it carelessly into File 13 thinking "That's just another abortive, religious, Publicity stunt." We do not allow the full import of what it says to sink into our minds. Many students have told us this is exactly what they did. However, a careful analysis of the material contained in the letter from "Campus Advance" and the "North Street Church of Christ" will reveal to one some challenging and shocking facts. Let us note the character of "Campus Advance" as explained by the "North Street Church of Christ" itself. Surely, all will agree that these people know the character of that to which they have given birth and which they propose to sponsor, hence will admit that their explanation is eminently correct and reliable.
FIRST: "Campus Advance" has organic entity. It is, the letter tells us, "an off-campus student organization." This means that it is not a campus organization - that it has no official connection with Stephen F. Austin State College. Obviously it is not a local church not the "North Street Church of Christ" for she sponsors it. It is a "student organization" which is an integral "part of a national Campus Evangelism Movement."
SECOND: "Campus Advance" is a religious organization. Its functions are evangelistic and edificational. The letter says it is "a part of a national Campus Evangelism Movement" - that its purpose is to "mobilize and motivate Christian students to deepen their faith," and to "share their faith with those about them." The slogan, "the campus today; the world tomorrow," suggests that this organization proposes to implement the fulfilling of the "great commission" of our Lord Jesus Christ (even though the name of Christ is printed without capitalization on the bottom of the "Campus Advance" stationary).
THIRD: "Campus Advance" is an open membership, religious organization. The letter tells us that "Campus Advance" is open for membership "to all SFA students, regardless of religious preference or background." Students of diverse religious faith are "urged to become members of Campus Advance." Necessarily inferred from the letter is the fact that "Campus Advance" and its sponsor recognize as Christians" persons of diverse religious faith and practice and propose a "deepening and sharing" of faiths among the members of the "Campus Advance" organization. There is no indication whatsoever that, antecedent to membership in "Campus Advance," the student must change his religious faith and practice to conform to New Testament truth; the converse is rather indicated. We do not err, therefore, in describing this new organization as an open membership, religious organization.
FOURTH: "Campus Advance" is a "Church of Christ," open membership, religious organization. It is "sponsored" in Nacogdoches by the "North Street Church of Christ." Its "leaders are members of the North Street Church of Christ." Its "Director" is a member of, engaged by, supported by, and amenable to the "North Street Church of Christ." Since the letter describes "Campus Advance" as "a part of a national Campus Evangelism Movement" (note the capital letters-JWA), we are logically compelled to conclude that like organizations will be formed by "Churches of Christ" in all the college communities of the nation. This gives the entire matter denominational identity with inter-denominational overtones and ecumenical thrust. We happen to know that this so-called "national, Campus Evangelism Movement" is an outgrowth of "Campus Evangelism Seminars" spearheaded by the Broadway Church of Christ of Lubbock, Texas and participated in and publicized by other so-called "Churches of Christ." We have material in our files to substantiate this statement.
"Campus Advance" Appropriately Named
Apostasy is not a Twentieth Century phenomenon. It has characterized the people of God from the earliest times. Hardly had the church of the Lord begun in the world before many members of that blood-purchased, spiritual body began to fall away. John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, wrote late in the apostolic period saying, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9 ASV).
The expression, "goeth onward," in this passage is a translation, according to the oldest and best manuscripts, of the Greek word, "proago." According to Arndt & Gingrich's Greek-Englisk Lexicon of the New Testament, proago means "go before, go forward, anyone who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching" (pp. 708, 709.) Joseph Henry Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says, "Proago, to proceed, go forward: in a bad sense, to go farther than is right or proper ...to transgress the limits of true doctrine (cf. our colloq. 'advanced' - views etc.)" (p. 537). Groves Greek-Englisk Dictionary says, "Proago, to advance." (p. 484.) The Confraternity Version of the New Testament (official Catholic Edition) renders proago, "Anyone who advances and does not abide in the doc trine of Christ, has not God." Phillip's Modern English Translation renders the verse: "The man who is so 'advanced' that he is not content with what Christ taught has in fact no God."
The doctrine of Christ knows nothing of any religious organization except a local church (ekklesia) of Christ. The doctrine of Christ recognizes only "one faith" (Eph. 4:5.), not "our faith, your faith, their faith," Such is the language of Ashdod. The doctrine of Christ requires an "uprooting of every plant not planted by the Father" (Mt. 15: 13). Only plants which find their origin in the Divine seed, the word of God (Lk. 8: 11), have been "planted by the Father." The doctrine of Christ knows nothing of a "sharing of faith" among his people and those of diverse "religious preferences and backgrounds." This is the dialogue of ecumenicism, not the doctrine of Christ. The idea of Christians being joined with members of religious bodies unknown to the New Testament in an evangelistic and edificational organization sponsored by a professed "Church of Christ" antagonizes every principle taught in the New Testament relative to the relationship of Christians to the doctrine of Christ and the religious errors of men.
For these reasons, we affirm that "Campus Advance" is appropriately named. It represents one of the most flagrant and shocking examples which we have yet encountered among professed "Churches of Christ" of advancing beyond the teaching of Christ. In this regard, it is interesting and provocative to observe that a little more than one hundred years ago when our "digressive" brethren (now known as Disciples of Christ or Christian Churches) gave birth to the missionary, society and other extra organizations and thus split the so-called "Restoration Movement," they prided themselves in being known as, "Progressives." The word, "progress," means, as does the Greek, proago, "to go forward, advance." It is even more significant to note that "advanced" Christian Churches of our day proudly practice open membership and maintain the most intimate affinity with modern ecumenical movements.
If a "Church of Christ" may sponsor a religious organization which practices open membership, why in the name of reason, logic, and Scripture may she not do so herself at the same time? The North Street brethren are obligated to explain this contradiction, unless, of course, they practice open membership at North Street. Surely, these brethren should be able to see that "Campus Advance" represents one of the most "far out, extreme left" practices among "Churches of Christ" in our generation. There is absolutely no scriptural way in which it can be defended. It constitutes a flagrant evidence of apostasy. However, should the North Street brethren feel they can offer scriptural evidence for the right of the "Campus Advance" organization to exist and function, we shall be most happy to give careful and sincere attention to whatever they have to say. Surely men of the intellectual stature and extensive Biblical training of -Bill Sherrill (evangelist at North Street) and Gerald Gafford, "Campus Advance Director," can provide adequate scriptural defense of their practice if such can be found. A paper from the pen of either or both of these brethren (and we respect them as men and love them as brethren) offering such a defense would be received with interest and read prayerfully. It is our conviction that, if these men will attempt such a defense, they may be led to see the pernicious error in which they have involved themselves and the North Street congregation.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 5, pp. 4-6