Debate About Magnolia Bible College

By J.F. Dancer, Jr.

During the week of March 7 1 heard a debate in West Point, Mississippi, where Darrell Holt defended churches making donations to institutions such as Magnolia Bible College. Brother Holt made the following arguments in the defense of his position: (1) The Bible teaches in four ways: (a) example, (b) implication, (c) direct command, and (d) expediency. He further said that “expediencies” were not spelled out in the Bible, that they were left up to the judgment of men. Since Jesus commanded teaching (Matt. 28:18,19) and we have an example of early Christians teaching (Acts 8:4) and since Magnolia Bible College teaches the Bible it is expedient for churches to make donations to it. And, (2) Paul taught daily in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9,10). Churches supported Paul while he was teaching in this school. Therefore, it is scriptural for churches to send donations to Magnolia Bible College for the support of men who are teaching the Bible daily in that school.

Roosevelt Johnson pointed out that while it is true that Paul taught in the school of Tyrannus for two years, it is an assumption that he was supported by the church while he did so. And, even if churches did support him while he taught in the school of Tyrannus, it is an assumption that they sent donations to the school for this to be done. He said that he (Roosevelt Johnson) taught a Bible class in the Mississippi University for Women at Columbus and that the church supported him as he did that but that did not mean they made a donation to the University for his support. His point was well made in that they sent the support to him!

It was also pointed out that in order for something to be expedient in the first place it has to be lawful and that brother Holt had not shown a church donation to a human institution was lawful. Brother Johnson pointed out that an expedient is simply an aid or method and that the Bible authorizes us to use aids and/or methods in carrying out the commands of God. But the command authorizes the aid and/or method! Thus, an expediency can be authorized by either an approved example, a necessary inference or a direct statement or command, but an expediency does not authorize anything!

In order to show it is expedient for churches to send donations to Magnolia Bible College, one must show it lawful for churches to make donations to human institutions. The church is to teach the Bible (1 Tim. 3:15). Individuals must go forth to do that teaching (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 8:4). They have the right to be supported by a church or churches as they teach or preach the Bible (1 Cor. 9:14; 2 Cor. 11:8). So far as I know few folks deny this. This authorizes churches to use an expedient method or aid to get the money to the preacher. But it does not authorize them to make a donation to a human institution so it (the institution) can pick a man to support, decide upon his salary, and then support him. This is not a matter of a church using an expediency but simply of a church making a donation to an institution that uses expediencies to support a man to teach the Bible in one of their classrooms.

To give a preacher a check for his support would be an expediency. To send this check to him via the United States Post Office would also be an expediency. It would also be expedient for the church to arrange an “electronic transfer of funds” from their bank to the bank of the man they are supporting. This is simply a church using means and/or methods (aids) in getting the support to the preacher. All such is authorized by the authority of the church to support a man as he teaches or preaches. But to make a donation to a human institution and then allow that human institution to choose the man, decide upon his support and then use some means and/or methods to get that support to him is another matter and is not authorized by the Scriptures. Brother Holt affirmed Magnolia to be a human institution but failed to show authority for church donations.

Maybe one of those in authority at Magnolia Bible College could do a better job showing where the Bible authorizes churches to send donations to them in order for them to do their work. If their work is based upon “assumptions” (assuming Paul was supported churches when he taught in the school of Tyrannus and assuming the. churches sent the support to the school instead of to Paul) and upon the idea that “the Bible teaches by expediency,” they need to take another good look at it! And if this is what they are teaching the men they are “training to preach” churches would do well to examine them well before giving them support or providing them a pulpit from which to preach. If brother Holt didn’t fairly represent Magnolia Bible College, will they do it themselves?

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 13, pp. 387-388
July 7, 1988