I met my wife at a summer camp in Arizona that conducted twice daily worship assemblies called “devotions”, and taught daily Bible classes, as well. I estimate I went eight years to this camp and ten years to one just like it in California. Between the two, I met many lifelong friends. Each camp was operated by a booster club promoting a college in Florida that “offers a rigorous higher education, taught through the lens of a biblical worldview”, where daily chapel attendance is mandated, whose areas of emphasis as listed on the institution’s seal include the “spiritual”, and which hosts an annual lectureship full of gospel preaching. My father-in-law graduated from this college, as did my nephew, my eldest sister, and countless friends. Not only I, but all of my siblings met their spouses at either this college or one of its affiliated summer camps. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Notwithstanding the benefits afforded me and my loved ones through the above referenced institution, I have arrived at the studied conclusion that such an arrangement is without divine approval.
The entity under consideration has made it its mission to uphold and disseminate the word of God. This may seem a noble purpose for an academic institution, but it fails under scrutiny, for the One we serve already established a structure for the propagation of the gospel. “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11). Had God wanted some institution other than the church to make known His manifold wisdom He would have purposed it in eternity, but He did not. “The church of the living God” is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1st Timothy 3:15). If supporting and upholding divine truth is the function of God’s church, there is no need for a man-made institution to carry out that work, be it a college, a camp, a retreat, a publishing company, or otherwise.
Jesus promised, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). He did not build anything other than the church to share the gospel and what He did build cannot be overthrown. In contrast, religious institutions established by men will be shut down, and God is the One who will terminate them, as Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13).
Assigning the work of the church to man-made organizations bypasses the rules set in place for the church by Christ. For instance, fundraising in the church is limited, specifically, to freewill offerings (2nd Corinthians 9:6-7) taken up in a collection on the first day of the week (1st Corinthians 16:1-2); fundraising in a college, though, is done through tuition, bookstore sales, donations from alumni and sponsors, and grants from the government, with few limitations whatsoever. Leadership in the church is limited to qualified (1st Timothy 3:1-7, 11; Titus 1:5-9) men (1st Corinthians 14:34-35; 1st Timothy 2:11-12) overseeing those they are among as shepherds (Acts 20:17, 28; 1st Peter 5:1-3); leadership in the college, however, is accomplished by a President and Board of Directors, assisted by a faculty and staff. Music in the church amounts to congregational singing for admonition toward one another and praise toward God (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16); music in the college, on the other hand, is provided by a chorus with competitive auditioning, solo parts sometimes sung by women, spiritual songs mixed with secular, and the singing referred to as “performances”. Discipline in the church is carried out by the majority (2nd Corinthians 2:6) against immoral brethren (1st Corinthians 5), against false teachers (Romans 16:17), and against the rebellious (2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14); discipline in the college, by contrast, may be carried out by a single dean without the consent of the majority, against those who violate arbitrary rules, not universal in application, nor divine in origin, all while discipline may be withheld from faculty members teaching gross error pertaining to creation, divorce, or other divine topics twisted to suit human preferences. It is shameful to attempt the church’s work without the church’s rules.
God set forth a plan for the proclamation of His will. According to that plan, the church is the agency whereby the gospel is proclaimed. Attempting to improve on that plan implies dissatisfaction with His perfect arrangement, and may endanger the souls of those involved, for “anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (2nd John 9 NASU).
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
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