Modernism in "Church of Christ Colleges" (1)

Leo Rogol
Greensburg, Kentucky

The above heading may greatly surprise you but I feel certain that after you read this article you will agree that it is quite appropriate.

Nothing has done more to bring the church upon the threshold of modernism and skepticism, as well as contempt for the laws of this land, than the college-in-the budget promotion. While these promoters pay lip service to Christ, they are so desecrating the noble and exalted nature of His church that in many instances they have leveled it to the wreckage of as grossly perverted a system of religion as any witnessed in this generation. With cold and calculated deliberation they have so defiled the sanctity of His divine body that it is often paralleled only by the rank modernists of our day.

Their acts defy any reason from or appeal to scriptural authority, for they have gone even beyond the bounds of conservative Protestantism into the area of those who hold no respect or regard for authority originating with God. And this has been done by those who, for a pretense, still (faintly) speak of "the scheme of redemption," the "identity, of the New Testament church," the "organization and work of the church" that it is "neither Catholic nor Protestant." I am persuaded that in view of the extreme modernism and liberalism on the part of these men, some denominational groups would seriously hesitate to be placed in the same category religiously with them! Truly the words of Hosea fit their case precisely: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). Some day, perhaps too late, some brethren will see the tragic results of these promotions to place the college in the budget of the church.

For this reason I appeal to you, brethren; let's not simply be concerned that the college-in-the-budget promotion CAN make the church denominational in its nature. Let's realize that in many instances it promotes and fosters a climate far worse than that seen among many denominations of our day. It not only breeds a spirit of modernism, but it generates a spirit of open defiance against the Constitution of our nation in the hearts of many church members, as I shall point out. This scheme is a far cry from "We speak where the Bible speaks; we are silent where the Bible is silent."

I write about this matter primarily for two reasons: (1) I wish to warn honestly mistaken brethren, who endorse this practice, of the real dangers that perhaps are not known to you. I therefore write with the sincere desire and earnest expectation of arousing your minds and causing you to change your course and conviction with regard to this matter. I wish to point out to you who believe that churches should support the colleges because they are doing a "good work" and are a great blessing to the church, that behind that facade lies the greatest and most sinister evil ever thrust upon unsuspecting brethren. (2) I wish to warn those brethren who, after considering these facts, still insist on going along with such promotions. These willfully and deliberately pursue a deadly course. Knowing that rather than being a help to the church, the colleges that seek church support are perhaps the greatest factor in causing the church to fall into wholesale apostasy, they willfully are following the road of their own destruction. Thus I have stated my purpose for writing, and pray I will find words strong enough to prove justification for it.

Perhaps some of you may think that what I said is the result of an over-imaginative mind; that it is sheer fanaticism prompted by unsound thinking. But I am going to deal primarily with two things that will prove what I have just observed is true; in verity, that perhaps I have not spoken strongly enough! But before I deal with these matters, I want to impress upon your mind one indisputable truth which should make you even more aware of the gravity of this situation. These colleges are becoming more and more involved in the work of the church, which means they are steadily exerting a greater influence upon these churches. This means that at the same time many churches are becoming more dependent upon the schools to AID THEM IN THEIR WORK - and these church support promoters boastfully admit this. This means that the claim for the all-sufficiency of the church is well-nigh destroyed in this age.

The Church - A Subsidiary of the College

Before I present the facts to prove my charges of modernism against these schools as being a source of evil to the church, I wish to deal with this matter of influence these men and their schools are exerting over the churches in many areas. This will help us realize even more how serious this matter is and why it should be avoided. Many labor under the false impression that the school has actually been a great blessing to the church; that the church has greatly benefited from "services rendered" by these schools. Thus, since the church depends on the college to do its work, then it is obligated to support it. And I say "amen" to this! IF the school is scripturally authorized to AID the church in its work, then the church should support it. If this be scripturally correct, then the colleges are church-related and then we can rightfully call them CHURCH OF CHRIST COLLEGES! How long will it be before our brethren who promote church support of colleges will be honest enough to call their schools "Church of Christ Colleges?"

I will point out a few things that will prove the enormous influence and power these schools hold over some churches. First, let me say that the men on the faculties and staffs of these schools are also prominent and influential men among churches of Christ. Since they have the interest of the school at heart, we can see bow they can effectively wield their influence over the churches in the direction of their schools. Many times, what these "Great Preachers" say is considered authoritative and accepted without question.

The lofty stature of these men and their schools is greatly enhanced by various projects they promote in behalf of the church. "Elders' Workshops" are a must, else how will the church develop effective leadership? And without effective leadership (influenced by these schools), how will these churches be influenced in the direction of the colleges that sponsor such "church" projects?

Many of us know that the custom of these schools is more and more to send their students into far-off fields to do "mission work." Now it's commendable that our young folks are filled with zeal and aspire to noble endeavors in the work of the gospel. But these "mission trips" sometimes are sponsored and directed by the SCHOOL to do something for the church - a college-sponsored CHURCH WORK! Again the college "proves" to be a greatAlaid" and "blessing" to the church. Since when did the apostles designate ANY HUMAN INSTITUTION - anything apart from the church - to do its work in establishing new congregations in so-called "mission fields?" Nowhere do we read of any human organizations sponsoring Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Timothy, etc. as a mission group to carry on the work of evangelism. But that is not all!

I know several churches with 200-300 members that think they do not have enough "manpower" to effectively prepare for a gospel meeting in their locality. So what do these "on the march" churches do? Why of course - send the "Macedonian call" to DAVID LIPSCOMB COLLEGE to "come over . . . and help us." What a shame! To think that not enough interest was manifested among these churches toward promoting their own meetings, so DLC had to supply a good number of young men and women to go from door to door to pass out invitations. Just think! A church of that size without any number to prepare for its own work. Here are churches, 200-300 strong, yet so dead that a school had to revive their work. And do you know what? These preachers and elders of these "on-the-march" churches look in scorn and derision on the "do-nothing antis" who "don't believe in preaching the gospel!" This again proves how helpless these churches think they are without the valuable assistance from this school.

I am certain this proves invaluable to the propaganda of this school to get churches to align with their schemes. The church is helpless - it cannot go on with its work without the successful "aid" of the college. What a dreadful thought, should the church stand without the school. Perish the thought! And so, the "Great Preachers" among that institution (and others like it) are more and more guiding and leading the church in the direction of its interests. Make the church feel helpless without the school and you make the church feel obligated to support it. The image of these mighty institutions looms overwhelmingly large in the foreground while the church is lost in the background of its impressive shadow. More and more, elders and preachers are trained and developed, not in the work of the church as much as leading the church in the direction and interest of these mighty institutions.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 12, pp. 16-18
September 1969