Ephraim’s Idols: A Question For A Bible Scholar

By Ron Halbrook

The trickle of appeals for church donations to colleges is becoming a flood. Yet, many staunch (?) opponents of the practice freely mix and mingle among the advocates. Guy N. Woods is now holding meetings in which the audience is allowed to hand in written questions (as at the Camden Avenue Church of Christ, Parkersburg, W.V., 15-18 October, 1978). An ad says, “His scholarship and many lectures on Bible themes put him in good standing when extemporaneously answering religious questions. Rarely does the public get an opportunity such as this to study with a Bible scholar having the stature of Guy N. Woods.” Someone needs to submit the question, “Are church donations to colleges sinful and should gospel preachers cry out publicly against the practice?” Through the years, Woods has claimed to opose the practice as a violation of New Testament teaching. Whereas he was once a veritable lion, he has been quieter than the church-house mouse for the past two decades.

The problem is, some of our brethren are caught between an idol and a hard place. They maintain that the church can make donations to human institutions in benevolence (old-age centers, convalescence homes, orphanages) but not in education (kindergartens, schools, colleges). These brethren are constantly yoked with cohorts – growing in number daily – who agree with Batsell Barrett Baxter’s parallel:

Some who are agreed that the church can contribute to an orphans’ home are not convinced that the church can contribute to a Christian school. It is difficult to see a significant difference so far as principle is concerned. The orphans’ home and the Christian school must stand or fall together (Questions and Issues of the Day, p. 29).

About a year ago, we invited Fred Dennis to write an article explaining what the difference is and promised to publish it in Truth Magazine; we are still waiting! Then there is the Northridge church in the Dayton, Ohio area which admired Baxter so much that they mailed out his tract free – with pages 25-32 cut out – the heading on page 25 is “What About the Church Contributing to Christian School?”

The North Carolina Christian, which circulates among liberal brethren, carried Editor Howard Winter’s complaint in August, 1978 that the college-in-the-church-budget was winning the day because no one was crying out against it. Indeed! The Gospel Advocate, co-edited by Bible scholar Woods, carries the ads of David Lipscomb College appealing for church support. In a letter to the Knollwood church of Xenia, Ohio, dated 15 September, 1978, President Clifton L. Ganus of Harding College wished to meet with the “elders about the work that is being done at Harding Graduate School . . . . Enclosed is a card with which we hope you will respond to let us know that in January, 1979, we can expect to receive your support of $125 per month! Probably this is just a fraction of a dollar per month per member in your congregation . . . .” He quotes Ira North, editor of the Gospel Advocate, in the letter. We are sitting on the edge of our seat waiting for co-editor Woods to turn in a manuscript to editor North, crying out against these practices as idolatrous perversions of New Testament Christianity. (It will be a long wait, won’t it?)

Not to be outdone, President E. Claude Gardner of Freed-Hardemen College mailed out a letter dated 15 September, 1978 to churches. “We would be pleased for you-to join with us and with other congregations and individuals in support of the Bible Teaching Program Fund at Freed-Hardemen College by giving the Fifth Sunday (October 29, 1978) contribution to assist us in this wonderful work of teaching the Bible,” said the President of the school reputed to be a stronghold of conservative convictions. The July, 1977 F-HC News and Report greeted as a first the plans of a church in Kraaifontein, South Africa, “to send a monthly financial contribution.” For many years, Bible” scholar Woods has chaired an open-forum styled question period at the annual F-HC Lectureship. He is hand-in-glove with colleges. The October, 1978 David Lipscomb College Bulletin announced the “Annual Thanksgiving Campaign” goal of $200,000 in honor of Batsell Barrett Baxter. The Bulletin was addressed to the `Knollwood Church of Christ, 1021 Welford Drive, Xenia, Ohio 45385″ and carried a reproduction of a letter of appeal on letterhead of the Madison (Tennessee) Church of Christ, signed “Ira North Minister, Madison Church of Christ’ Editor of Gospel Advocate.” Woods writes a questions-answer column in the Gospel Advocate, But somehow the question has not come up, “Are church donations to colleges sinful and should gospel preachers cry out publicly against the practice?” Maybe Ira North will submit the question, and soon no doubt.

We suggest a special issue of the Gospel Advocate, a special forum period at the F-HC Lectures, and special question periods with Wood’s gospel meetings, devoted to the theme “Ephraim’s Idols.”

To Drink or Not to Drink

Editor Durham of Mission Magazine found it “sickeningly petty” than an African Christian should give up his life rather than submit to some thugs who demanded he drink a beer. Durham bemoans “puritanical” standards on drinking intoxicants “from the southern U.S.” and argues it were better to drink and live (October, 1978, p. 23). When the New Testament forbids Christians to use the intoxicating drug as a beverage (1 Pet. 4:3), a man faced with the choice to drink or not to drink under the threats of thugs has the same choice he would have with regard to any other law of God. How many beers should he have taken – what about a homosexual act – fraud – curse Christ – smoke pot – take LSD – commit adultery blaspheme God’s name – shout filthy slogans – bow to an idol? When will the liberals publish a bona fide list of big and little sins, important and unimportant laws of God, essential and non-essential commands of Scripture?

Truth Magazine XXIII: 28, pp. 460-461
July 19, 1979