Reprinted by permission Don Boys, Ph.D. No one denies, disagrees, disputes, or debates that we are here; but how did [read more]
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Word. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple.
– Psa. 119,9, 105, 129, 130.
BECAUSE WE ARE BAPTISTS, AND DESIRE OUR CHILDREN TO BE INTELLIGENT AND USEFUL BAPTISTS.
IS this not ”sectarian,” and even a little ”bigoted?” Do we not thus deprive our children of the liberty of choice? I reply that we regard our faith as Scriptural. So long as we believe this, we must desire our children to embrace it.
We do not prevent them from choosing their own faith, but rather encourage them to read the Bible and decide for themselves. We would, above everything else, have them make a decision, but would they not better be Baptists? The fear of ”sectarianism” should not lead us to educate them in schools of other denominations. A preference for our own faith is reasonable, and righteous. In particular the fear of ”sectarianism” should not lead us to educate them in un-Christian schools. Education in a Baptist school is a safeguard againstnarrow ”sectarianism” and bigotry. Besides, I have no sympathy with the hue and cry against ”sectarianism” heard in some quarters. Some of these broad, non-sectarian people are very narrow and sectarian in spite of their loud declarations to the contrary. We are Baptists from conviction, and intend to remain so till we get more light on a better way.
There are several good reasons why we should educate our children in Baptist schools.
- It is a good thing to educate them in our own historical traditions. We have an honorable and even a glorious history, and our children should know it. We keep them in touch with our family history, why not also with our denominational history?
Every young American should get his college education in America, among his own people. It is a great mistake to take him abroad for his early training. So it is a mistake for a western boy to go east for his college training. Let him get this part of his education at home, and go east or abroad for his university training. This will keep him in sympathy with his people, and he will thus get a better education.
A Baptist college is a center of denominational life. Our most noted names are associated with it. The portraits of these worthies adorn the college walls. It is good for our sons to breathe this historical atmosphere. They do not become vain, but they do gain a noble self-respect. A noble ancestry inspires us to noble deeds. What is more pitiful to see than the children of Baptists going about apologizing for being Baptists and seeking ”social standing” in other denominations! Nothing but ignorance could lead them to do so foolish a thing. If they knew their own history they would rejoice to belong to such a noble company.
- In the colleges our young people become acquainted with denominational enterprises. Ignorance as to the general scope of our work for the Lord is the great obstacle in the way of our progress. To know the great things we have planned for the world is to get inspiration to work to accomplish them, hence the organized ways and means to enlighten our people. These enterprises will never prosper as they should until the church life is brought into intelligent sympathy with them. It is a most difficult undertaking, the instruction of all our people in the Lord’s business. Life in our ordinary Baptist church is local, and often very narrow. The struggle for existence exhausts the time and energy of the members. They do not look out upon the broad, white harvest fields, because they are absorbed in home interests. How can our young people look beyond these narrow borders? In many churches they are almost ignored; they have no specific work given them at home, and where they are the Macedonian cry never comes.
But the college is a center of denominational activity. All lines converge there. Books and papers abound in the library. Professors and students are alive-they are acquainted with the various enterprises, and are interested in all. From time to time secretaries of our Boards and returned missionaries visit the college and deliver addresses on their work. A new world opens before the students; not only do they acquire knowledge of the work, but they also catch the enthusiasm of service. They realize for the first time that they belong to a vast army marching unto the conquest of the world. From that moment on, they are the ardent advocates and liberal supporters of all departments of the Lord’s work. Who will reckon the good that our colleges have done for the cause of missions? Of course we expect them to educate our missionaries, but this work is not so great as their diffusion of general missionary intelligence.
- The college course is a good schooling for church work. Of course our young people can learn to do many kinds of church work without going to college. I rejoice in all the efforts now being made to fit them for efficient service. Much good is being accomplished. But we shall reach a conclusion soon, and so will the young people, that this training is partial and inadequate. It can not take the place of the college course. The young Sunday school superintendent, or teacher, will feel his limitations, and wish that he had a thorough education. Perhaps a few of our young people can not go to college, but most of them can, and they would if they were encouraged. A college education is cheap, especially in the west and south. Any able-bodied boy can work his way through college. And why would it not be a good thing for a church to help a good boy or girl in getting a higher education? Money can not be spent to better advantage. Is there greater need in a church than a few intelligent and consecrated members-educated leaders in church work? Notself-appointedleaders, but pious, humble, educated leaders that the people can confidently follow.
Let the young people go to college for a few years, and they will return to bless their church, and community and the world. They will study the Bible there under competent teachers, and confident in their knowledge and in the Lord, will be able to fill the important places in church work. Send the young people to college in greater number and see what rich benefits the churches will reap.
Suppose we should educate our children in un-Christian institutions. They would learn nothing of our denominational work, nor would such education fit them for work in our churches, indeed it would unfit them. If there were no other reason for education in Baptist colleges, this one is sufficient; the preparation of our young people for denominational and church work!
- When we educate our young people in our own colleges, we secure their influence to our denomination. The college life decides many important questions. How old ideas perish and new ones rise in their places. Here the boy will perhaps find his life calling. Here he will form lasting friendships that will influence his whole life. Shall he be alienated from his own people? Everything in the Baptist college tends to holding him in the ancestral line.
It is a pity for a young Baptist, the heir of Baptist history and Baptist money, to drift away from the fold, and to squander his inheritance among strangers. It is a loss when he goes to another denomination, though we have no quarrel with him when he does it from principle. But when he goes into unbelief it is a real calamity! We desire to keep what the Lord has given us. We are not toiling and sacrificing for the cause of error. How many Baptist families have been broken up! How much Baptist money has been alienated ! Gone to the use of the evil one! We have seen Baptist families and fortunes go to pieces, and there is no sadder sight! It is unnecessary, too. As a rule this misfortune can be avoided.
Let Baptist parents bring their children up in the Lord, and educate them in Baptist institutions, and they will not depart from the faith. If they send them to school to the enemies of Christ, how can they expect them to follow the teachings of Christ? ”Establish thou the work of our hands!” This is an appropriate prayer. It expresses a natural and pious wish. But we must build well. Hay, wood, and stubble can not be established-they are poor building material. If we desire our children to continue in our faith, we must educate them in Christian institutions. The truth is, many Christian parents think too little of Christian education, and too much of money. A good Christian education is worth more to a boy than a million dollars !
How many Baptists believe this ? In the infancy of our children we should plan for their college education, and let them know that we expect them to go to this or that institution and that their education is to be their inheritance. Then if they depart from the faith, after a Christian training at home and in college, our sorrow will not be mingled with remorse.
- Finally, it is absolutely necessary that our young ministers be educated in Baptist colleges. An un-Christian school would be uncongenial to them, besides it would not afford them the sort of training that they need. Other denominations might take them into their schools. But we could not expect them to educate our preachers, even if they could.
Young ministers as a rule are poor. God does not call many of the rich to preach. The poverty of these men is an appeal to us from God for Baptist colleges. He could call the rich if He wished, and save us the trouble of helping these poor men. ”But is there not danger of helping them too much?” The Baptists have not yet approached the danger line in this respect. There is danger that we shall help them too little!
These young men must have college training, or cripple their influence. We dare not cast them off. God has given them to us, in their poverty and ignorance, and we must educate them. If we do not we shall betray our trust, handicap our churches, and dishonor our God.
Let us endow our colleges liberally and make education cheap for our preachers and for all our young people. No college can do good work and live without an endowment.
Even if our young preachers could get help in other schools, they would not get the sympathy they need. Why, in many institutions-in some calling themselves Christian-the divine call to preach is ignored and even ridiculed. Could our preachers find sympathy in such schools? Remember that these young men have gotten their consent to preach after much prayer and meditation. Some of them have passed through bitter struggles. They were not designated to the ministry by their parents, nor do they regard this calling as a mere profession. The hand of God is on them! Their hearts are tender and sensitive. Often they doubt their fitness for this holy calling, they are so poor and ignorant and inexperienced and weak. Can we compel them to go to a college where Jesus Christ is despised, or to one of another denomination where there is no special sympathy with their purposes? They would be miserable and discouraged cut off from the tender sympathies of their own people. The Baptists would not be worthy of these choice young men if they did not provide congenial schools for them.
Young preachers also need to be educated in a spiritual atmosphere. While they are growing in knowledge they should also grow in grace. Education alone can not make a preacher. Piety is indispensable. The college life should be intensely religious. Students become eager in their pursuit of knowledge, and easily neglect spiritual culture. Even the most pious need incentives to greater piety, and encouragement to holier living. All Christian teachers and students will bear me out in this statement. Would it be wise, then, to educate our preachers in a cold Christless atmosphere? Do you think that they ought to stand this test? They might. Could they grow in grace there? The lender plant may endure a great deal of cold, but the cold is not conducive to growth. Our preachers should grow in grace all the time. They should come out of college with glowing hearts as well as cultivated minds. A college that does not encourage and promote spiritual growth is not an ideal school for the lay-student, and certainly not a fit place for our young preachers.
Some of the friends of ”the new learning” think that preachers should be educated in secular schools, away from denominational traditions, and among young men of other callings. There is nothing in this. We would as well take a child away from his family, and thus save him from family traditions. This is hisfamily. God put him into it. Unless it is absolutely bad, why take him away from it? What is the matter with our denominational traditions? God gave us these preachers-they were begotten in these traditions. Unbelief is not producing any preachers, and therefore it is not competent, to educate ours. We will try to take care of what God gives us!
Again in our own colleges there are many young men preparing themselves for other callings. Our preachers are by no means isolated. They have all the advantages of association with young men of other callings that they would have in other institutions.
These same people also claim that the secular schools are the best. This is not true. Christian scholars are numerous. Every branch of learning can show a long list of brilliant Christian teachers. But if the statement were true, it would be no argument for secular training. We should make our Christian schools better, the very best in the land. We have the money, and we can get the teachers if we will. But look, at the work of these Christian schools. Their graduates are foremost among the best!
”But would it not be well to let our preachers get their college training in the secular schools, and then attend the seminary for their theological education?” This question is even now in the mouths of some Baptists. Well, our young preachers would not go to the secular schools, nor would their churches want them to go. This plan would force upon us an uneducated ministry. But if they should attend the secular schools, the result would be a cold, professional ministry which is worse than the uneducated. We do not want education unless we can have the right kind! Then what could the seminary do with such material? We must not forget that the college course is more important than the seminary course.
The young man goes to college at his most impressionable age. Will you at this time put him under the instruction of a godless man? Will you let the unbeliever put the first stamp on this man that is to be a servant of God? When the secular institution has done with the young minister, will the seminary want him at all ? No! Our colleges must be ”feeders” for the seminaries. This is the natural order: The Baptist college and then the Baptist seminary!
It is well to remember also that secular learning does not like a theological seminary any better than it likes a denominational college. It would abolish Christian education entirely. It would have a ”divinity school” of its own, divorced from creed and from the Bible.
The secular institution would give the young preacher his college training, and then retain him for his divinity course. Then what? The Baptists are not ready yet to sell their birthright for a mess of poisoned pottage!
WHY EDUCATION IN BAPTIST COLLEGES? BECAUSE WHEN WE OWN THE COLLEGES WE CAN MAKE THEM POSITIVELY CHRISTIAN.
The word ”Baptist” is dear to us, but not so dear as the word ”Christian.” We want our children to be Baptists, but Christians first. A Baptist college in name only will not please us; it must also be animated by the Spirit of Christ. The main reason for having our own colleges is that we may have Christian schools where we can educate our children. The friends of Christian education need now, perhaps more than ever before, to foster and guard their institutions. Many schools, founded by the gifts of pious people, are drifting away from Christ. And in many secular institutions, there is unconcealed and even violent opposition to our religion. Professors, supported by our taxes and the gifts of Christian people, do not hesitate to attack publicly, in class room and lecture hall, some of the most sacred and vital truths of Christianity. How shall we counteract the influence of these enemies of the cross? We must have Christian schools, support them liberally, and send our children to them for their higher education!
Most of our children get their primary training in our public schools. These are not Christian, but they are not un-Christian. Our public school teachers, as a rule, are Christian men and women. They come out of our best homes, and are in sympathy with our pious wishes to bring up our children in the Lord. It is not possible, perhaps not best, for them to give religious instruction. But they will not sow tares among our wheat. Besides, the children are at home under the religious training of parents and Sunday school teachers. It is a matter of regret that most of our young people go from our public schools into the business of life. Yet many-and may the number grow! – desire a higher education. Nearly all of these must go away from home to attend college. The day of the boy’s departure for college is an anxious one for the parents. This is natural. Yet parents should look at the bright side. The young bird must leave the nest some day, and must learn to fly with his own wings. And the boy must get out and make a place for himself in life. The college life is an excellent training for him – a good half-way place between home and the wide world. He will learn much of life, besides what he gets out of books. Only send him to a good Christian institution. Do not leave it to him entirely to choose his college. He may select one where many of the teachers are unbelievers, and where there is ”fast” living and too much of the sporting spirit. Do not allow him to be instructed by a sneering agnostic. Do not send him to college where life is extravagant. You may be rich, but you would better not teach your boy to squander money. In a good, plain Christian college he will be exposed to very few temptations. Such a college is the next best place to home for an innocent, inexperienced boy.
Baptists should have colleges of their own and make them positively Christian. What does this mean?
- The teachers should be pious Christians. No unbeliever should ever fill a chair in a Christian institution. He may be discreet, not a violent enemy of Christ, and yet he is unfit for the place, for he can not exert a positive Christian influence. Themanis more than the teacher.
But can we get pious teachers? Yes, for every department of learning even for biology! There are many such teachers who have had the best training that the world affords. We can get them if we will, and we will if we understand our business. They prefer to teach in Christian schools The ”liberty” there offered them is the kind they desire. In un-Christian schools they are fettered. Their unbelieving colleagues may assail the Christion religion, and be upheld on the plea of ”liberty of investigation,” but if they say a word for Christ they are called ”sectarian.” It would be a joy to their hearts to work with pious associates in a college where the Spirit of Christ reigns.
Sometimes even professedly Christian teachers depart from the faith, and teach things that subvert the faith they once professed.
If we control the school we can remove them. Of course they will howl about ”liberty;” all of them do when they are forced to go to their own place. But we should not mind that. We are conducting a Christian school-this is understood when we employ teachers-and we do not intend to pay men to pull down what we employed them to build up. They should have the manhood to withdraw; but if they should not, we should have the courage to ask them to. The trustees have a sacred trust, and they owe it to God and the brethren and the young people to keep that trust sacredly.
- The college life should be made both moral and spiritual. In some institutions no attention is paid to the morals of the students. Those in charge contend that it is their business toteach,not to watch over the morals of their pupils; they ask questions in the class room, but none outside! But the teachers in a Christian college realize that the parents have committed the morals of their sons to them, and that moral training is more important than intellectual. They know that it were better for a boy to remain at home and never get a college education than to go out of a college a moral wreck. So in the fear of God, they watch over their pupils, and by advice and warning and example try to guide them in the way of holiness.
Even more important than morals is the spiritual life in college, for the basis of morals is religion, faith in God, genuine piety. Christian teachers worship God, believe His word, and are faithful in all their religious duties. Thus they create a spiritual atmosphere. In the class room, on the campus, in all their intercourse with the students, their spirituality is uppermost. Who can estimate the influence for God of these godly men on the impressionable minds of the young men that look up to them for instruction and guidance from day to day for four years? All the book learning on earth can not equal it in power and blessing.
Is it possible for a college to have such a spiritual atmosphere? Why not? The teachers make the intellectual atmosphere, why not also the spiritual? Let us get rid of delusions. Brick and mortar and money do not make a college.
The teachers make it. If they are really good pious men, they will create a spiritual atmosphere in the college, and all the students will have to breathe it. And it is not a hindrance to learning, but a positive help. It quickens the mind. It also restrains the students-it is disciplinary force of great power. Yes indeed it is possible to make the college life spiritual, and it is the solemn duty of those that govern a Christian institution to see that it is filled with the Spirit of Christ.
- The college should be an evangelical agency-a missionary institution. Many young people enter college unsaved. We are not so foolish as to suppose that education will save them – they must be born again! And the saving of a soul is a greater work than the education of a mind. ”He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death!” Every Christian teacher believes this. But in some institutions conversion is ridiculed. President and professor go out of their way to speak and write against it as a silly and harmful superstition. This rage against the gospel can not blind our minds to the supreme need of a soul. In our Christian colleges we must and will seek the conversion of every unsaved student.
Soul winning is not generally recognized as a part of college work, but it should be. The young people are committed to us for the best preparation for their life-work. What is better than faith in Christ? To learn of Him is to learn the most important lessons. The Christian teacher must look upon his pupil with a longing for his salvation-hoping and praying for his conversion. And if he passes out of college unsaved, his pious teacher can but sigh to see him going away with his diploma but without a title to a mansion on high. This sadness is intensified by the fact that this is a sort of last chance. The boy has gone through the home training and church influences before coming to college, and now he is going out into an active, engrossing business life. He is drifting away from the most powerful influences of divine grace. But there is hope. This careless bright boy will soon be a man, and his thoughts may take a more sober turn. Often the wise words of his godly teachers will come back to him, and the pious influences of his college life may bear fruit in his salvation. Many times has this occurred.
In thus seeking the salvation of the student the teacher does not take advantage of him. He works in harmony with the wishes of the parents. They sent their boy to college with a prayer for his conversion, and they will rejoice over this more than over his graduation. And the boy himself will always feel grateful to his pious teachers whether he is converted through their efforts or not. But the highest justification of this evangelical work in the college is the approval of Jesus Christ. He expects it of an institution that was founded in His name!
- The Bible should be taught in the college. It can be taught in a Christian college. The teachers believe in it. They put it in the curriculum, not for its literature, and history, but for its ethical and religious teachings. None but pious people can teach the Bible properly. Neither can a pious teacher teach it effectively in an un-Christian institution. An unbelieving colleague can spoil all his work. A few sneers, and a little ridicule, and some high sounding phrases would destroy the respect of the students for the sacred book.
Some un-Christian schools realize that the exclusion of the Bible puts them at a disadvantage with some of the best people, and try in a feeble way to put it in the course of study. But the effort is a failure. The atmosphere is uncongenial to the Word of God. It must be taught and studied in a sympathetic way. They say it must be treated as ”literature,” as we teach any other book. But we all know that this is not so. Mother’s letter is not like any other letter. God’s book is not like any other book. It is a Father’s loving message to his erring children. Those that overlook this fact would better let it alone. Of course these cold, unsympathetic critics have done some good in an indirect way-not many thanks to them. But we do not believe in their way, and we will not support them in it. If they want to do this kind of work they should set up an institution for the purpose and so advertise their business.
God’s book in God’s college! This is the proper place for the teaching of the Bible. Here it will be taught by the people that love it, for the glory of its author, and for the good of His children. A Baptist college justifies its right to exist and claims the liberal support of God’s people when it lovingly and faithfully instructs the young people in the divine word.
And who can reckon the results of teaching the Bible to the young people of our land? Who can estimate the influence of our Christian colleges ? Thousands of young people devote themselves ardently to the study of God’s word, under able and pious teachers. They not only learn the letter of the word, but also catch the spirit of it. As a matter of culture the result must be great and blessed, but the influence on morals and religion will be tenfold greater and more blessed. These young people will soon go out in the world to fill important places in society. As they scatter abroad they will carry with them this precious knowledge, and put these holy principles into practice. In the home, in the church, in business, in the affairs of state, in the army, in the navy, at home and abroad, they will govern themselves according to the teachings of Christ, and will be His living epistles to all men ! The Bible has never had a fair chance. It has been pushed aside in many so-called Christian schools, to make room for creed or catechism or superstition. In others it has been taught in a cold, critical way that has rendered its teachings impotent. Give it a chance! Let it speak directly to the young people in its own plain, simple, loving way. Let them imbibe it as God’s word for the quickening of their own souls, and the inspiration of their own lives. Then it will do its blessed work. A new era will dawn, a new race will spring up. Jesus Christ will be supreme.
Christian people are awakening to the importance of Christian education. Every year millions of money are given by pious people for this good work. But there is room for improvement. Our denominational colleges are the hope of Christian learning. The secular institutions will not exalt Jesus Christ.
God’s people should rally around their colleges – send their children to them, and endow them munificently. No investment for Christ could be safer. In no other way can one do more good with his money.