The good accomplished through colleges operated by Christians, and their potential for the future are settled facts, taken for granted. The sacrifice and pure motives of those responsible for ex istence and maintainance of such schools are remembered with appreciation. But surely not even the most zealous worker for such a worthy project can with good reason object to caution and criticism that is set forth to them. If we contend for the right to build and maintain such institutions, we must respect the right of those whom they affect to investigate, analyze, and criticize their movements. It would be a good sign if some in the administration, faculty, or among the distinguished supporters of such colleges would themselves point out some dangers and questionable tendencies that inevitably develops in anything that men build and maintain. Thev are in the best position to know the facts, and see these dangers in their earliest stages. In fact, there was a time when such questions and criticisms were indeed raised from this very source.
The purpose of these articles is not to oppose the existence of colleges of course, but to point out some of the dangers we are facing here now, and suggest some safeguards we should observe.
Church Dependency - The growth of colleges and their number, and the good accomplished by them in the past, is resulting in an increasing sense of the opportunity they can utilize. The false notion is becoming more general all the time that the colleges are a vital factor in building the church, that the church is dependent on them and obligated to them. I can remember when it was contended that colleges were designed to aid the home and extend its work, but now much is being said of how the college helps the church. One brother said the college is not church owned but is "church related." He didn't explain what he meant by this, but it certainly isn't the way brethren a few years ago would have described the status of the college.
One of the outstanding marks of distinction between the church and denominations has been its complete separation from human and secular institutions, and its reliance on its own resources for its growth and accomplishment of God's purpose. Are we in the process of destroying this difference? There is nothing colleges can do for our children that we cannot do for them ourselves, if we would do it, other than give acedernic credit for Bible, and shield them from the world - partially, and only temporarily. Far too many parents, even leaders in the church, are not giving their children the training, guidance, and spiritual direction they should, and much of the value of colleges is projected on this neglect. The church too is falling down, for with the organization God gave it, it could do much in training and developing its potential, but is depending on the college to do it. Even though the college can fill its place well, it is wrong, contrary to scriptural principles, for the church to look to the college for help, and depend on it for growth. Too many Christians have the idea that interest in the church and interest in the college is identical. If colleges must have the liberty to exist, they should also accept the responsibility to declare themselves entirely free and separate from the churches in every respect.
Raising Money -- One of the first considerations in the beginning and maintainance of "our" colleges is raising the money. Our sense of the importance and worthiness of the work, the tremendous amount of money required, and the difficulty of raising it, all combine to create a temptation to use means of soliciting funds that we otherwise would not favor, and thus set a precedent for later departures more serious. The use of the church building, and even services, to promote the interest of colleges may well make it difficult for many to keep the distinction clear in their minds between the divine church and the secular school. Very frequently brethren are prevailed on for contributions to a college as though it were their duty as a Christian. I have even heard scripture quoted, urging people to give. It is a tragic error into which we have fallen, to bind upon brethren, obligations to a secular institution, that God bound upon us only in regard to the church.
There is a compromising attitude in "our" colleges toward issues of controversy among brethren that arise from time to time, that is not good. The perpetual need for money makes it the "wiser" course to stay "neutral" and please everybody. Even though spiritual values are featured as a need for "our" colleges, the material too often becomes far more important than it should.
The support a college receives from its community is considered a valuable source. Is there the danger the college may be inclined to put too much stress on the importance of community good will, and to the compromise of the truth? It is significant that the church, God's institution, does not need the favor of the community to grow and prosper, but the college does!
The expense of operating a college is beyond description, on our present basis. Even besides the expense of attending being so much greater than other colleges, the appeal for financial aid continues without end. Of course the good accomplished cannot be measured in money, but the same is true of the church, yea even more. How can a brother give to the Lord as he is prospered if he gives so much of what he has to give to the college? Few would deny an individual liberty to make a contribution of his own to any good cause, but he should realize his first and greatest duty to God is in the church and not in the college.
I know little about operating and financing a college, but I do know enough about the Bible to know that the church is divine and able to accomplish all God wants accomplished, and that the college is human and no part of the work of God. If we had more faith in God's wisdom and His church, we would strengthen its usefulness, and bring its potential into reality, and recognize there is truly a power for good that can be exerted to the glory of God. We would not only be honoring God in His institution, but we would realize less the need of those made by men.
Truth Magazine III:1, pp. 14, 23