November 24, 2017

Reviewing Bro. Baxter’s Tract – No. 2

By J. P. Needham

INTRODUCTION: In our first article we showed how Baxter's tract is a new bold move to get the colleges in the budgets of the churches. We demonstrated from N. B. Hardeman's writings that the school issue was what originated the orphan's home discussion, and that the reason for switching the point of controversy was to prepare the minds of the brethren for the college in the budget at the proper time. They think that time has now arrived, and a very distinct revival of this movement is under way to push the colleges into the budgets of every possible church in the land. I think it is significant that David Lipscomb College recently published an article by A. M. Burton (a millionaire liberal and heavy contributor to David Lipscomb where Baxter is head of the Bible department) pleading for churches to put the colleges in their budgets. Following is his plea:

"When I first knew the Nashville Bible School under the direction of Brother Lipscomb, its primary support came from congregations throughout this area. I regret the fact that many congregations in recent years have lost sight of this opportunity and responsibility to advance the cause of Christ by providing young people with daily Bible instruction along with the other advantages of Christian education. I pray that both congregations and individuals will rally to this work as I have tried to do" (Lipscomb Review, Fall Quarter, Vol. XV, Number 3).

Brother Burton is a member of the ultraliberal clique of Nashville, and it seems more than incidental that his plea for church support of colleges appeared about the same time as Baxter's. It would be interesting to know the plans that have been made behind the scenes for a concerted effort to push the college issue. The last 15 or 20 years have changed the scriptural concepts of a large portion of the brotherhood, and these brethren know that the time is ripe for them to bed their human institution down in the budgets of many churches.

In the present article, I want to take up brother Baxter's defenses of the colleges in the budgets of the churches. So much is involved in the first one that I will have to deal with most of them in another article. I plan to show that his defenses are far-fetched, and are not based upon a true application of any scriptural principles.

1. RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH TO TRAIN THE YOUNG: This is the first argument for church support of secular schools. Here is the way he expresses it:

"The logical beginning place in answering the question is to recognize the God-given obligation for the training of the young. This obligation falls partially upon the home and partially upon the church. (Eph. 6:4 says, 'And, ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.' This places the responsibility upon parents in the home. The fact that the church must provide preachers, elders, teachers, and wives of such leaders places the responsibility for training and nurturing the young upon the church. Both of God's institutions have the responsibility to participate in this training program" (p. 25).

Brother Baxter's argument runs like this: (1) The church has the responsibility to train the young, (2) The schools train the young, (3) Therefore, the church can discharge its responsibility to train the young by contributing to the schools. The error here is in the blanket premise that the church has the responsibility to train the young.

Two things are wrong with this premise: (1) The church has no obligation to give the young or anyone else the kind of training brother Baxter is advocating. Notice what he says:

"What does the prospective preacher, or elder, or teacher, or average Christian need in his program of training? Is his need for spiritual training only? The answer is a resounding no, for the prospective preacher needs to study English; he needs to study speech; he needs to study history; he needs training in physical education so that he can live as long as possible and be in good health while doing so. In short, a student is a whole person and in order to train him spiritually the other elements of his personality must not be neglected" (p. 28).

It is easy to see the kind of training brother Baxter thinks the church is obligated to give the young -- remember, I said "Brother Baxter thinks" evidently. God doesn't think so, else he would have given the church some instruction along the line. The only authority we have for the church's engaging in this sort of training of the young is the ipse dixit of our liberal brethren. That is not quite good enough for many of us.

These colleges give training in the following fields: mental, moral, social, physical, and spiritual. Where, 0 where, is the scriptural authority for the church to train anyone in any field save the moral and spiritual? Brother Baxter failed to give it because he cannot. The only "proof" he gave is a vain attempt to parallel such training with certain items we provide in church buildings. Notice the following:

"This might be compared with the situation of the church building. While the church building exists for spiritual purposes, it is quite legitimate to include seats, fountains, rest rooms, heating, cooling, and other quite material matters. In order for the spiritual concerns not to be crowded out, provision must be made for the physical needs of the people. The same is true in training our young people in the school. The Christian school provides not only spiritual instruction, but the other instruction that is needed to make Christian leaders who will some day be elders, deacons, teachers or preachers" (p. 28).

These brethren sometimes become offended when we accuse them of advocating social gospelism. The above is a concrete example of it. Baxter has the church engaged in the business of developing the "whole person" --this is an integral part of the social gospel concept. He has the church engaged in teaching the arts and sciences, participating in physical education, and inter-collegiate sports, etc. We cast no aspersions on these activities as such, but flatly deny that the church has any responsibility in these fields. They are legitimate activities for the individual, and the home, but not of the blood-bought church of the Lord. Baxter has given the basis upon which more and more churches are entering the fields of recreation and physical education; the erection of gymnasiums, kitchens, etc, and employing "ministers of recreation" etc. This is purely and simply a facet of the social gospel.

According to Baxter, inter-collegiate sports, physical education, social activities, entertainment, etc. are parallel to seats, lights, drinking fountains, etc. in church buildings. This is about the most absurd thing in the whole tract, and is hardly worthy of a man of his position and education. Not a single thing he mentions as provided in church buildings is provided for recreation or entertainment. They are provided for comfort and convenience while people engage in scriptural acts, just as the building itself is so provided.

I do not deny that the church has the responsibility to train the young, but it also has the responsibility to train the old. But it has no responsibility to train the young or the old in anything that does not come under the heading of evangelism or edification. If this is not true, I would be happy to learn it. I would be glad to know where the church in apostolic times ever evangelized or edified anyone with anything but the gospel, or where any recreational means were ever used to reach these spiritual ends. If this is the way it was done, it will suit me all right, but I just don't know where it was so done, and it would be a great favor to me for someone to inform me.

(2) If we should admit that the church has obligations in these secular fields, Baxter would still need to show how the church would be doing these works by simply subsidizing separate human institutions that engage them. If the church is commanded to do these works, then THE CHURCH must do them. If churches cannot evangelize through a separate human institution, the missionary society, then certainly they cannot edify through a separate human institution, the school. If when churches contribute to a college the churches are doing their work, then the college is the church or at least a part of it, or else the work of the church is contributing to human institutions. Either conclusion violates the scriptures.

The Bible commands me to provide for my family (I Tim. 5:8). Could it be said that I would be doing what God told me to do if I should turn my family over to some human institution and send them a contribution while they provide for them? If not, then how can the church scripturally do this?

CONCLUSION: This is the way brother Baxter's first defense of the colleges in the church budget looks in the light of the truth. In our next article, we will take up some other defenses he makes. Look for it.

Truth Magazine VIII: 8, pp. 13-14
May 1964