A Parallel: A Missionary Society and Souther Christian University

By Wayne Goforth

Recently, a paper was sent out by Southern Christian University (News and Notes, 1:2) to advise the brotherhood of their name change from Alabama Christian School of Religion. They had desired to put the word “Seminary” in their title, but feared they might lose some financial support if they did so (p. 4).

In an obvious attempt to justify the church support of the school, Rex Turner Sr., had a chart on page 22 attempting to contrast the school with a missionary society. Webster defines contrast as, “Unlikeness as shown when things are compared.” However, may I suggest that he would have spent his time better by writing a parallel between the school and the society. Webster defines parallel as, “Things moving in the same direction . . . something essentially similar to another.” Brother Turner could also have correctly written a contrast between church supported schools and the New Testament plan for preacher training and edification. Like most institutional brethren, brother Turner used for his contrasts the abuses of these societies which were never the aims or desires of the founders. This is plain dishonesty for all students of church history. We would like to hear brother Turner explain what was wrong with the American Christian Missionary Society of 1849.

Many through the years have attempted to show the parallel between church supported schools and the societies.

Many of these would be heralded as great champions of faith by both the faculty and administration of Southern Christian University:

Alexander Campbell said, “They dare not transfer to a missionary society, or Bible society, or education society, a cent or a prayer, lest in so doing they rob the church of its glory” (The Christian Baptist, 1823, pp. 11-18).

Foy Wallace, Jr. argued, “If it were permissible to have a Bible College as an adjunct to the church in the work of education . . . we quite agree that it would also be permissible to have a missionary society in the work of evangelism” (Gospel Advocate, July 2, 1931).

Guy N. Woods stated, “This writer has been unable to appreciate the logic of those who affect to see grave danger in the missionary society but scruple not to form organizations for the purpose of caring for orphans, and teaching young men to be gospel preachers” (Abilene Christian College Lectures, 1939 54).

J.D. Tant offered, “The church of Christ has its Bible College society with its president, secretary, treasurer, board of directors, etc. to collect money from churches to teach the gospel and do other good works. Then I asked by what process of reasoning could the digressive missionary society be unscriptural and our college society be scriptural” (J.D. Tant Texas Preacher 359).

If one wanted to start an edification society, what would be necessary that Southern Christian University is not doing? When truthfully examined, the only differences between the college and the society exist in the minds of these liberal brethren.

Since brethren now have the benevolence societies through which to do benevolence (orphan homes, unwed mothers home, retirement home, ad nauseum), and evangelistic societies thorugh which to do evangelism (Herald of Truth, World Bible School, etc.), as well as edification societies (Southern Christian University, Memphis School of Preaching, et al), one wonders what is left for the church to do but to be a fund raiser for the societies! Truly the “tail is wagging the dog.”

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 21, pp. 648-649
November 5, 1992