Roy E. Cogdill
The Christian individual is a part of the community of individuals where he lives and as such and in that relationship has some responsibilities and obligations to his fellowmen or neighbors in that community. He is to be directed in this relationship with his fellow man by the principles of righteousness as revealed in the teaching of the Lord so that he may be pleasing to the Lord. Certainly proper conduct toward one's fellow men affects his spiritual status and relationship with the Lord and is therefore spiritual or "religious" in its implications, but these duties cannot be performed by the church and are in no sense church activity.
The same thing is true of citizenship under the government that is over us wherever we live. Jesus taught, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Christ lays upon the individual the obligation to be law abiding, respect civil authority, pay his taxes, and fulfill his obligations to the government in civil matters, but this is not the relationship or function of the church in any way. It is a part of the duties of the righteous, and it certainly affects one's relationship with God. No man can be a good citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and fail to be a law abiding citizen of his government, ( Rom. 13: 1-7; I Pet. 2: 13-17) It, of course, should go without saying that if there is a conflict between civil law and the law of God, we should obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29)
The same principle holds true of the family relationship. It is essential for a Christian to do God's will in his home, but this does not put the church in the "home business" any more than is true of the other individual relationships of life. Paul taught that if any "provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, (family) he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.'' (I Tim. 5:8) So it is my spiritual duty to provide for my family, but the fact that I will be condemned if I do not do it and it thus affects my relationship (religion) with God does not mean that it therefore becomes church activity. The church does not and cannot function as a home in any sense. It cannot rear our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It cannot make a living for our families. It cannot "love our wives and children" for us or fulfill any other responsibility for us. These are individual Christian duties and it would be silly to argue that in this, or any other personal or individual relationship, "What the Christian can do or does the church can do or does." Yet that is exactly the concept that many individuals have of the matter and this ridiculously absurd argument is often relied upon to prostitute the church for which Christ died by turning it aside from its divine mission and work to serve human causes.
Sometimes people say, "Well, name just one thing which a Christian is obligated to do which the church cannot do." We could name many. The church cannot discipline my children and I would not advise even the elders to try. The church cannot love my wife for me and I am certain that they had better not try. Yet these admonitions are addressed to Christians universally and are to be found in letters written to churches. According to the contention of a good many men in the church today that should know better, that would make them church duties and responsibilities. Why cannot people use at least nearly as much good common sense in Bible study and religious matters as they do in other matters?
Along this line a great percent of the brethren who have perverted the church into becoming human institutions and serving human will and purpose are even contending today that the church of the Lord should provide institutions of learning where our children should be educated under Christian influence and by Christian teachers. They are advocating again that the churches of Christ support such schools as David Lipscomb College, Freed Hardeman College and Abilene Christian College and others out of the Lord's treasury and the resources of His Church.
An attempt was made along this line in the middle and late "forties" by campaigns to raise money from the churches for the schools and through the papers such as the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation. But they were not successful in getting very far. The opposition to these schools being "church institutions" had been too strong and too recent then for it to succeed. The brethren had not come to think then of the Bible as just a "book of principles" in which we are granted the liberty of making our own applications according to our own judgments and preferences.
So for two decades these liberally minded brethren have gone under cover, or should we say under ground? They have come in through the back door by promoting the emotional and sentimental "orphan home" issue and contending that the churches of Christ can and should build benevolent organizations other than the churches to do the work of caring for destitute children and destitute saints as well. Even on this they met unexpected opposition and their persistence in pushing this project of putting the church into the child care business and of seeking to do the benevolent work of the church through humanly organized "boards" or institutions which they facetiously called "homes" has succeeded in splitting the churches all over the world, just like instrumental music in the worship and the missionary societies did more than a hundred years ago. But being determined in their purposes they have not been daunted by this and still prosecute their course to the disruption and destruction of fellowship with brethren who refuse to surrender their convictions or violate their consciences for the sake of peace.
For some time in their under-ground movement they even denied that they solicited or believed in church support for these schools. But finally they are coming out into the open. They feel sure that the brethren that have been willing to tear the body of Christ asunder over the "orphan home" question will undoubtedly follow them now in the further departure of putting the churches into the school business. In all likelihood most of them will, for it is either a case of ignorance of what the Bible teaches or a willingness to disregard what it teaches that has brought the disgraceful situation to the church that now exists because of such human promotions. Those who have under emotionalism and sentimentalism over "poor little orphan children" sold out their regard for scriptural authority will have to go along in church support for the schools, or desert their "blind leaders of the blind" and come back to the point of their departure from regard for scriptural authority and begin again to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent."
In a recent book by A. C. Pullias, President of David Lipscomb College, the plea is made for church support for such schools. Of course, this is nothing new for Pullias for he has argued all along that the scriptures do not furnish any pattern for doing what God has said do in such matters as benevolence and teaching. It has just been commanded without any information about how to execute God's will in the matter.
A number of years ago Pullias said, according to George Dehoff, that "David Lipscomb College does not need the church but the church needs David Lipscomb College." That is the way most of these fellows feel about their idols. They think the church of the Lord would be a failure without them.
Brother Pullias justifies the church support of the college on the ground that the school is doing a good work. In this he substitutes his judgment for God's. The word of the Lord tells us that we are created in Christ Jesus "for good works" "which God hath afore prepared that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:8-10}
When Bro. Pullias wants to convince people who have respect in their hearts for the authority of the scriptures that a school like David Lipscomb, in all of its activities, athletic and all, is a good work which "God hath ordained or afore prepared" for Christians to walk in, he is under obligation to give us something besides his own judgment; in fact, if he has any respect left in his heart for the word of God, he will offer a little scripture to teach that it is the will of the Lord.
His only other proof is a series of quotations from preachers who agree with him. What the brethren say and have done and are doing is a mighty poor way to prove anything, for that is just what it will prove --anything! Will Brother Pullias affirm that it is scripturally right for churches to contribute to David Lipscomb College? If he will, I will be glad to deny it anywhere at any time.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 9, pp. 8-10
January 8, 1970