November 24, 2017

Review of Brother Baxter’s Second Article on the College Issue – No. 5

By J. P. Needham


It seems very evident that brother Baxter's effort to project the colleges into the church budgets was somewhat premature; that it has troubled the waters upon which he sails far beyond his expectations, and now, to prevent the sinking of his ship, he must seek to calm the threatening waves. He and the liberal party bosses failed to properly evaluate the thinking of their constituents, and the little storm they surely anticipated has turned out to be a full-fledged hurricane! The tempest in the teapot turns out to be a tropical storm! Evidence of this is gained from another document authored by brother Baxter, dated March 12, 1964, and entitled: "BACKGROUND INFORMATION RELATED TO QUESTIONS AND ISSUES OF THE DAY IN THE LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES." We have received this document with this note as to its use: "I thought you might appreciate having the enclosed material. It was handed to all the employees of D. L. C. at a faculty-staff meeting about two months ago." Following are some very significant quotations therefrom:

"For those who may be interested, I would like to provide a background of information out of which I preached a series of three sermons at the Hillsboro church in Nashville, Tennessee, in November and December, 1963. The Hillsboro church in a booklet entitled "QUESTIONS AND ISSUES OF THE DAY IN THE LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES" later published these sermons. The positions that I advanced were those that I have held for thirty years or more. These are the exact positions held by Alexander Campbell; Moses E. Lard; David Lipscomb; James A. Harding; A. G. Freed; N. B. Hardeman; E. A. Elam; H. Leo Boles; my late father, Batsell Baxter; G. C. Brewer; John T. Hinds; B. C. Goodpasture: J. D. Thomas; H. A. Dixon; and many others.

"It is my earnest prayer and hope that there will be no division of the brotherhood over these issues, or over any matter of judgment. I think division unlikely for two reasons: First, the use of funds from the churches to provide Christian education for young people, from among whom will come the elders, preachers, teachers and other workers sorely needed by the church, is something that has been done in a large section of the brotherhood for at least seventy-three years. Those congregations that have wished to support Christian schools have done so; those that have not wished to do so have not. No division in the brotherhood has resulted from this long-standing practice. I see no reason why one should occur now. Secondly, it is not my purpose, nor that of any one I know, to force the support of Christian schools, or of any other good work, upon any particular person or congregation. Each individual and congregation has the complete right to decide such matters. (Page 1)

"Finally, I would point out that brethren have disagreed upon other matters of judgment involving methods to be used in carrying out God-given responsibilities without creating strife of any kind and without drawing lines of fellowship and disrupting the peace and harmony of congregations. I plead that such brotherly love will ever be manifest. It is not my purpose, nor that of any one I know, to force any practice upon any person or congregation. The elders of each church have the unquestioned right to decide all such matters and are the final authority in all matters of judgment." (Page 7)

I. Questions

A. Why would the preacher at Hillsboro church in Nashville feel any obligation to provide his fellow employees at David Lipscomb College "a background of information out of which" he "preached a series of three sermons?" One person answered this question by saying, "Sounds as though someone at DLC kicked up his heels and Baxter is trying to quiet him."

B. Does anyone think brother Baxter's references to preventing division have reference to preventing division between the liberals and conservatives? All know that such division is nearly already complete. He is obviously trying to prevent division in his own ranks over the newly raised college-in-the-budget issue. It did not go over as well as they had planned.

II. Nothing New

The latest document contains nothing new. It only seeks to make some of brother Baxter's tract arguments more convincing, but miserably fails. It makes very clear which arguments will be used in the present effort to get church grants to the colleges. We think this is evident from this consideration: we would expect one of brother Baxter's intelligence and position to use what he considered to be his best arguments when he came to defend his position before the "faculty-staff meeting." He would just automatically use what he considered to be the most convincing in view of his knowledge of their thinking. We now notice these:


"The positions which I advanced were those which I have held for thirty years or more. These are the exact positions held by Alexander Campbell; Moses E. Lard; David Lipscomb; James A. Harding; A. G. Freed; N. B. Hardeman; E. A. Elam; H. Leo Boles; my late father, Batsell Baxter; G. C. Brewer; John T. Hinds; B. C. Goodpasture; J. D. Thomas: H. A. Dixon; and many others." (Page 1)

This argument needs but little reply in the minds of those who have any respect for the basic New Testament requirement that all things be done in the name of Christ (Col. 3:17). However, we offer the following comments:

(1) He gave no evidence that such a position was held by many of these men. All we have is his assertion. In our review of his tract, we showed how he simply asserted that David Lipscomb and James A. Harding solicited church contributions to Nashville Bible School. We think the following is the best summation on this point we have seen:

"I have made a check of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE during the years 1890 and 1891 (the date of the founding of Nashville Bible School) and 1892. 1 am unable to find one statement that confirms brother Baxter's statements that Lipscomb and Harding, 'in establishing the Nashville Bible School in 1891 . . . solicited funds from congregations all over Tennessee and surrounding states' and that 'these contributions were the means of starting this Christian school.' Maybe he has access to evidence I do not have but if the evidence he claims is not recorded in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE of those early days, where can it be found?" (James R. Cope, WHERE IS THE SCRIPTURE, p. 66)

Instead of proving his former statement, he adds some other names to his assertion, but gives proof that only a few of them (who are active in the present campaign for church support) hold such views (which we already knew). We think his lack of evidence is very significant. These brethren have long since been defeated in the realm of scriptural argument; hence they make almost no attempt to prove their position by the scriptures.

They use most of their time and space to build a historical argument, but they are doomed to failure there also. They cannot make out a solid historical case for their position. They can also be defeated there in any fair handling of the evidence.

(2) If brother Baxter succeeded he would fail! Yes, if brother Baxter could produce authentic historical evidence that all of the men named agreed with him on the college-in-the-budget issue, he would still fail to prove it is acceptable to God.

(3) Will brother Baxter accept these men as authority on all brotherhood issues? We can quote MOST of the men named in opposition to such arrangements as the Herald of Truth on which brother Baxter is the featured star. Will he accept them as authority on that issue? Why would he accept them as authority on the school issue, but not on the sponsoring church issue? Consistency is a rare jewel!


"Our practice at David Lipscomb College for the seventy-three years of the school's existence has been to ask churches and individuals to help us financially as we seek to help train the workers that the Lords church needs. We go to an eldership, explain the work we are doing, and ask their help in whatever way they wish to give it. If they cannot help, or do not wish to help, we go our way. This is no 'new innovation' since it has been practiced continuously for seventy-three years.

"As a child, I traveled all over Texas with my father, Batsell Baxter, hearing him preach to congregation after congregation on the theme of Christian education. For many years after its founding in 1906, Abilene Christian College both solicited and accepted gifts from churches. Not until approximately twenty years ago was this discontinued. The same is the history of our other older Christian colleges. For the past seventy-three years this has been the practice in a large section of the brotherhood -- without dividing churches over the issue." (Page 6)

The above quotation is quite interesting in the light of the following from the pen of brother Baxter's father to whom he has made repeated reference; and who, incidentally, served as president of David Lipscomb, Harding and George Pepperdine colleges:

"A number of religious denominations have their 'church colleges.' Such colleges are under the government of their respective denominations and are subsidiaries or societies of these denominations. 'Christian colleges' are not in any sense societies of the church. They occupy much the same relation to the church as is occupied by the religious papers. Denominations have religious papers that are run by their denomination and are under denominational control. Religious papers run by members of the church of Christ are not under church control and are not part of the church. They are not societies. Neither are collegessome people have the idea that the churches take money directly from the treasury and give this money to the colleges under consideration. They have the idea that money given in the general contribution is so used. This is an error. Individuals have been asked from time to time to help finance these colleges. The burden is too heavy for those who run the schools. In a few instances individuals in some congregations have given collectively for one of the schools. They have done this as individuals, and the purpose of the gift was known at the time of giving." (Batsell Baxter, Gospel Advocate, Nov. 12, 1931).

The reader can understand what we meant earlier when we stated that these men couldn't make out a solid historical case for their position. Brother Baxter's own father denies the assertions! It is also interesting that another former president of David Lipscomb College also denies what brother Baxter asserts. Notice:

"For your information I am glad to say that during the time that I have been connected with David Lips-comb College, and SO far as I know during its entire history, its directors and faculty have never appealed to churches for financial support. Our appeal has always been addressed to individuals, not to congregations as such. In a few cases known to me, congregations have made certain donations to the school, usually for the benefit of certain needy and deserving students. Such unsolicited contributions were accepted though not solicited. It is my conception, shared, I think, by all our directors and faculty members, that the church and the Christian college are distinct institutions. The Christian college, as we conceive it, functions mainly as a supplement to the home, aiding fathers and mothers to give their children an education that harmonizes with Christian faith, not as an adjunct to the church." (F. H. hams in a letter to W. W. Otey, June 30, 1938). (Emphasis mine. JPN).

And while we are quoting from FORMER presidents of David Lipscomb College, we would not want to overlook the following statement from the present one, A. C. Pullias. Notice carefully:

"Therefore, when any school, paper, or preacher announces the intention to fasten itself on the churches, or to direct and control the brotherhood, that fact is sinful and should be opposed as unscriptural and wrong by faithful Christian. Each school, paper and preach-does have the right to teach the word of God, and that is all" (Gospel Advocate, Feb. 23, 1950. p. 121) (Emphasis mine, JPN).

We could multiply such quotations as the above, but surely it is not necessary. Brother Baxter's "argument" has been shattered! His claim is a bold, unfounded assertion. He has misrepresented two former presidents of David Lipscomb College (one of them being his own father) plus the present one! His misrepresentation can be accounted for only on one of two grounds: (1) He either did not know the facts, (which would be bad); or (2) he knew them, but misrepresented them nevertheless (which would be worse). We prefer to believe the former!


"The Lord has not told us how to train leaders for the church. Until he spells out the method, we will simply have to leave it to the discretion of the elders in each congregation to decide which plan is best" (Page 4).

"Likewise, the eldership of each congregation has the unquestioned right to decide whether it wishes to use a Christian school to help train better workers for Christ or whether it wishes to use some other means. The elders are the final authority on such matters. Leaving the matter exclusively to the elders of local congregations for decision seems to me to make impossible any drawing of lines and disfellowshipping of brethren over the method to be employed in providing leadership training for those who will lead in the Lord's work tomorrow' (Page 6).

To understand the significance of this argument, one must also understand the general belief of the liberals concerning the authority of elders. Simply stated, it is this: "THE VOICE OF THE ELDERS IS THE VOICE OF GOD." We certainly respect the scriptural authority of duly qualified elders, but generally speaking, the liberal's concept of their authority is beyond the teaching of the scriptures (II John 9-il). This being true, brother Baxter is making a very strong point to the "antis" in his own ranks! In substance he is saying, "brethren, you will either go along with church support of colleges or be branded as rebels against God's elders."

This argument has helped the liberals' cause more than any they have come up with. They have brainwashed their constituents about elders having the final authority in matters of judgment. This has been bred into them for the past 15 years, and it is a basic tenet of liberalism. The next step is to place almost everything in the realm of judgment, such as: church contributions to colleges, orphan homes, old folks homes, gospel press, church provided recreation rooms, fellowship halls, boy scout troops, etc., etc. The sky is the limit! Then they are ready for the intimidating conclusion: REBEL AGAINST ANY OF THESE AND YOU REBEL AGAINST GOD'S ELDERS! It is a very clever argument, but not a scriptural one.

We do not deny that elders have the final say in matters of judgment, but we most certainly deny that misappropriation of the Lord's money is in the realm of judgment! The work of the church consists of: evangelism, edification, and benevolence (Eph. 4:11, 12). The church (not some human institution) is God's agency for accomplishing these (Eph. 3:10, 11, 21; I Tim. 3:15). Elders do not have authority to decide to funnel the Lord's money through some human agency for the accomplishing of these works, nor do they have the authority to use the Lord's money for works (recreation, etc.) other than these. The conclusion is very impressive, but the premises used to arrive at it are absurd and fallacious!


Brother Baxter is very clever in stating several times in this latest document that neither he, nor anyone known to him has any desire to force church contributions to colleges upon anyone. This is like a doctor who tells one that an injection is not going to hurt Those among the liberals who are not satisfied with everything they are finding in the package deal cannot help but feel the steam roller as it begins its course over their backs in spite of brother Baxter's humanitarian efforts to ease its pressure!!! Just look at the matter in its true light: "We don't want to force church support of schools upon anyone, but those among us who are not ready to accept it should be reminded that they are out of harmony with the great minds of the brotherhood for the past seventy-three years, are trying to change a time-honored practice in the brotherhood, and are rebelling against God's elders."

Let those among the liberals who cannot accept the church-support-of-schools part of the package deal know that they cannot return this part of the package to denominationalism from whom they ordered it, without returning all of it: church provided recreation and church contributions to human institutions of all makes and models, just like they cannot accept the orphans' home part of it without accepting the school part of it! This is a very strange mail-order house with which these brethren do business; one must either accept all of the order or reject all of it! Brethren, why not reject all of it, and return to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, (Jude 3) and let us be united again upon a thus saith the Lord?

Truth Magazine VIII: 12, pp. 8-11
September 1964