The Church in the Education Business

By Lewis Willis

Good News! The South MacArthur Church of Christ is sending Skipper and Betty Shipp to Nairobi, Kenya. “Shipp will administer the polytechnic school at the Eastleigh church” (Christian Chronicle [June, 1992], 22).

I am confident that you feel much better about the future of the Eastleigh church as a result of the contribution this couple will make there. By the way, do you know what a “polytechnic school” is? Since the church is operating it, you might expect to read something about such a school in the Scriptures, don’t you think? Wrong!

“Polytechnic” is defined: “… having to do with or dealing with many technical arts and sciences: a polytechnic school” (Scott Foresman Advanced Dictionary 857). The aim of such a school might be multi- faceted, therefore, it is a poly (many) technical school. Here in the States it might be a school teaching engineering, computer programming and analysis, TV development/repair, radio technology, etc. Devry Institute is just that kind of school. A “polytechnic school” might also teach the arts of agriculture, well-digging and water system design/development, architecture for building/bridge construction, etc. These latter items are needed in developing nations like Kenya, and that is generally the kind of programs our liberal brethren set up when they go into those countries. Americans, like Shipp, are sent there as “missionaries” to set up and administer these programs. Many of these brethren argue that such works are necessary if the locals are ever going to be converted.

One has to wonder if Kenya is in any worse condition than the poor people of the Roman Empire. If you were numbered among the elite of ancient Roman society, you lived a good life. Otherwise, you would be numbered with the poor whose labors supported the rich. Good food and clean water would be critically short. You would be in need of the most basic of life’s necessities.

Into that world Jesus sent the apostles  not to set up polytechnic schools, but to preach the gospel. Hear Jesus in Mark 16:15: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” There is a remarkable difference in the way Jesus wanted things done, and in the way apostate brethren do them. That, of course, is why they are “apostate.” Their programs “sound good” to them, and that is as close to “scripture” as they are able to come in offering justification for their programs.

One is reminded of Solomon’s warning: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). While this is true,liberal brethren do not seem to mind at all launching out on a course without sanction from God. Apparently they think they know more about the situation than Godthey must think they know how to do the job better than he does! Before men start instructing God, they would be advised to remember that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Before men get too excited with their own wisdom about the conversion of the world, they might pause to consider the words of Paul: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). If God’s way  Go preach the Gospel  seems foolish, these brethren might remember that “… the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25). No matter how foolish and unrealistic God’s methods and means might seem to men, they are still better and more effective than anything else men might do. Following the plan of the Lord, the Gospel “was preached to every creature which is under heaven” before the end of the fast century (Col. 1:23). Those who were converted may or may not have known how to farm or put in water systems, but they had something far better they had the salvation of their eternal souls!

Isaiah wrote: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). Liberal-minded brethren seem incapable of appreciating this fact. For years they have clamored for new and better ways to do what God told the church to do. In fact, they have done so for so long that objections that their programs are without scriptural authorization are scarcely even heard  or, so it seems.

God gave the church its organization, with elders, deacons, preachers and members, and assigned to it its work of preaching the gospel to the lost, edifying its members and fulfilling benevolent duties to saints who are in need (Eph. 4:11-12). Either the church is sufficient, with that organization, to do the work God wants done, or God failed in one of his greatest endeavors  setting up the church.

We believe it is sufficient and adequate for its purpose. However, when you involve it in works that are not assigned by God  such as the operation of a polytechnic school  you will find that it is wholly inadequate. This is where men reject the authority of Christ and head out on their own, to their folly and damnation. Thanks, but we will not go with them!

Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 6, p. 15
March 17, 1994