J. David Lawrence
Charleston, Arkansas

A few weeks ago we commenced instruction of New Testament Greek in the congregation here in Charleston. We mention this not to laud our own efforts, or glorify ourselves, but to introduce a lesson and principle.

There are several religious subjects, such as Greek, evidences, church history, teacher-training, etc., which are important to a proper understanding of the gospel, and an effective proclamation thereof. The teaching of these subjects has been relegated to schools operated by Christians. Since the importance of these subjects cannot be ignored or denied, men who would learn them were forced to attend the schools. The great majority of the saints never became acquainted with them.

The schools, consequently, gained a prominence undeserving any human institution. Naturally, they would exert a considerable influence over churches, and centralization always leads to apostasy. Furthermore, a great many found it impossible to attend.

We do not mean to disparage schools. If organized and operated rightly, they will always have their place. However, the teaching of the Bible and Bible-related subjects belongs primarily to the church. When the congregation finds itself with the ability and opportunity to teach a subject that would lead to a clearer understanding of the truth, it needs to see the responsibility.

Denominations believe in an "educated clergy and ignorant laity." We have never subscribed to the theory that brethren should let the preacher do all the learning for them. If an evangelist, or teacher, or elder has knowledge in a certain field, and the ability to teach it, let him share his knowledge with others.

There is a movement afoot among faithful churches with which we are much in accord. It involves a recognition of the responsibility of the church, and an effort to accept it, rather than shove it off on a human institution. It involves the conviction that all brethren need to know as much of and about the Bible as possible.

Recently the Park Hill congregation in Fort Smith, Arkansas, initiated such an effort. Under the capable instruction of Brother Yater Tant, the congregation now offers courses in teacher-training, evidences, personal evangelism, and church history.

Of course, this kind of religious instruction must never supplant teaching of the text itself. A knowledge of Bible-related subjects would be useless unless the New Testament was thoroughly studied. But if such teaching accompanies textual study, the Christian will find his faith growing as he understands the language of the word, the evidences of its inspiration, the struggles of its interpretation, best ways to present it, etc.

It's the church's job to teach. God help us to see that! Rather than involve ourselves in worldly and unscriptural ventures, let us edify the body of Christ "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man" ( Eph. 4:13).

Truth Magazine, V:9, p. 24
June 1961