By Bill Cavender
In conversation a few days ago with a young man who is a member of an institutional church of Christ (a congregation which supports human institutions from its collective, congregation treasury), we began discussing local congregational support of (sending funds to) so-called “Christian Colleges. ” This young man is of a newer generation in Christ and in the church, one who is not familiar with the controversies of the forties, fifties and sixties, and the strife, divisions and alienations which were caused by human institutions and their advocates insisting that these agencies be subsidized and maintained by monetary contributions from congregational treasuries. Some of the matters I tried to teach him were these:First of all, there is no such thing as a “Christian” College! The word “Christian” is a proper noun, a name, given by God to His redeemed children in Christ. The name identifies one who is a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, one obedient by faith to the will of our Heavenly Father (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:15-16). It is a God-given name, the whole family of God being thus identified with Jesus Christ (Isa. 62:2; Eph. 3:15). It is not scriptural to take this name, a noun, and use it as an adjective, a modifier, descriptive of something a Christian (or Christians) may do or own. To speak of a “Christian” home, “Christian” man, “Christian” nation, “Christian” college, etc., is incorrect – an unscriptural usage of the word which is the distinctive, proper name of a child of God.
Secondly, Christians may engage in any gainful work, job or profession which is in itself “good” and “.honest,” and in which one can do his work in quietness, dignity, and in all godliness and honesty (Eph. 4:28; Rom. 12:9-18; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 2:1-3). Teaching in schools and operating schools, to instruct all who will learn of God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom, are such works. Secular education devoid of the knowledge of God and His wisdom and ways and will, is no real education at all. A person can only be an educated fool who knows not God and/or who would deny the existence of the Almighty (Psa. 14:1-3; 15:1-3; 10:1-18). In any work we do, in any employment or occupation we may have, we are to teach by word and precept, and by a godly life, the word of the Lord. If a Christian owns and operates a farm, a hardware store, a hamburger haven, or drives a truck, he is still to teach the Bible as he has opportunity or can make an opportunity. A Christian is not separated from God and His word and work when he goes to work or when on a vacation. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we are to have God, His word, His work and His way uppermost in our hearts and mind, words and deeds. We do not turn God and His word and His influence in us off and on as we do a water faucet.
Schools and colleges owned and operated by brethren are not “Christian” colleges and schools, nor are they “church” schools. They are fundamentally and essentially human agencies and institutions, operating in secular, human affairs. They exist by and are regulated by civil laws and authorities. They are governed by boards of directors who are authorized under terms and conditions of civil statutes. Such schools and colleges have no legitimate and scriptural financial, legal or organizational ties with true churches of the Lord. True churches of Christ will not cultivate or permit any such relationships with any human, secular institution, whether it be a school, college, childrens’ home, hospital, aged home, youth camp, etc. Into this area of unscriptural relationships many churches have digressed from the New Testament pattern of the local congregation and its independent, autonomous and self-sufficient nature.
Jesus built only the church, not any school, children’s home, unwed mothers’ home, camp, etc. God is glorified in Jesus Christ and in the church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:18-22; 1:22-23; 3:20-21). The church, God’s saved and redeemed children, exists as evidence of the eternal purpose of God having been accomplished, completed for the redemption of lost souls (Eph. 3:8-12). Only the church of our Lord exists by Divine purpose, planning, and perfection. All other agencies and institutions are human in purpose and organization. We must keep the divine and the human separated. To think that the local congregation, conceived in the mind of God, purchased by the blood of Christ, and regulated by Divine will and authority, is to be subservient to, and the maintainer and subsidizer of the human agencies of men, no matter what their function, is absurd.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 7, pp. 193, 212
April 5, 1984