C. D. Plum
Paden City, West Virginia
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (Gen. 11:1-9).
This proposed tower built by man, like all human schemes and inventions, was a disappointment to God. This tower of Babel like all other human towers and inventions, was built around the idea: "Let us make a name for ourselves". This tower was started on a "plain", a convenient place to build. Present day human exploits were started on plains. God knew they had power in their "oneness" even in their "wrongness". Because of this: "The Lord came down to see". God "confounded their language" and broke up their unity. They could not understand each other's speech. May this be a solemn lesson to us, as with fear and trembling we now call your attention to:
Some Towers Today
Worldly institutions are towers today. The humanly organized missionary societies and benevolent societies to do the work of the church in preaching the gospel and in caring for the needy are modern towers of Babel (Confusion). God has delegated the task of preaching the gospel to the world, to the church (Eph. 3:10). Even if there were "oneness" in this "wrongness", it is still a departure from the divine order, and betrays an ego that man thinks his plan for evangelizing the world is better than the Lord's. Earnestly and effectively have we opposed these missionary societies, these human octopuses, from reaching to the church of Christ and becoming more powerful among us, and larger than the local congregation.
Are we now to lose the fight that has been won? Are we not now digressing ourselves when we submit to one large "sponsoring" congregation, which becomes the clearinghouse for smaller and larger congregations for a special work? We thus lose that directness between the church and the preacher being supported (Phil. 4:15-17). Does it not savour of: "Let us make us a name".
My brethren, turn back, oh turn back, before our spiritual identity is lost in confusion and we become separated and scattered. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Many smaller operations (local congregations) doing what they can do is greater than great combines. Remember the great combine at the tower of Babel.
Educational societies are towers today, towers for weal or for woe so far as the church is concerned. I am sure I have no objections to any brother, or a business combine of brothers, establishing a college where the Bible is taught as a part of the daily schedule of work. This is their sole business as long as the school is supported by tuition and individual contributions. But when brethren are asked to give money from the church treasury to support such a school or take a collection for the college on a regular Wednesday evening church service, that is something else. If the church does this she is working through another organization with officers from the president down, a much so as she is when she contributes to the missionary society with its officers from the president down. And when the church thus contributes to the colleges, the Lord's money is being spent for much that is secular, and to support athletics, which any right thinking person must know cannot be right. These educational towers, who accept support from church treasuries, are like the tower of Babel, a source of confusion in the church. And if colleges continue to accept money from the church treasuries there will be a scattering of the people of God, as of the people at the tower of Babel. Already we see this sign among us, as a result of church supported schools: "We can't understand each others' speech." The "oneness" among God's people over this matter is already showing signs of cleavage. Shall we let the desire to "make us a name" divide the body of our Lord? Shall we have a divided brotherhood? Are we again to be scattered as when the Christian Church forced her unscriptural ways upon us? The answer to these questions rests with those who are pushing the church into this secular school business.
Then there is the recreational tower that is fast growing up as a root of bitterness among faithful brethren. Recreation has its place, and in its place we have not one word of protest to offer here. "Bodily exercise profiteth little" (I Tim. 4:8). As long as this bodily exercise is not conducive to immorality or immodesty, both of which are condemned in the Scripture, I do not think any one will oppose it. That the parents are responsible for the recreation of the children, even as they are for the education of their children, Bible students surely will not question. As to what sports the children may compete in, and as to how much time they may spend in these sports, is a problem for the home, not the church.
Losing sight of the fact that the church is responsible for the spiritual food, and the spiritual exercise of Christians, there is a clamor for the church to take over the recreational activities of the members. Some preachers are advocating the spending of huge sums of money from the church treasuries to buy buildings, and to turn them into recreational centers, with the church exercising the oversight of the recreational activities. Besides a waste of money, the result of which is that many may die in their sins from a lack of preaching the gospel, this places upon the church the duty of parents who are to look after the training of their children (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4).
When the church assumes this unscriptural recreational program, it will not be long till some one will suggest that we engage in competitive sports with another church of Christ team. We may even take on the Methodists and Baptists. Now aren't we going places? Yes, we are going places all right. Going right up in the air. It's another tower of Babel (Confusion), another source of trouble, caused by another departure from the faith. We are making a "name for us" alright, but what kind of a name? We have "left the word of God" to serve that which is secular and worldly.
The "Plains" where such towers may be built are in the minds of those who have ceased to clamor for "the things above," but have lowered their eyes to "the things of the world." My hope is that it may not yet be too late to "leave off to build the tower."
What I have written here, and all I ever have written, has been written with a prayer that the day- not yet be too far spent but what we may rally the soldiers of God before the night cometh, and we may yet wage a united warfare with our feet upon ground that is undisputedly safe. May God help us all through Jesus our Lord, for, in this united condition, as at Babel: "Nothing will be restrained from them."
Truth Magazine VII: 4, pp. 4-5