Florida College Articles #1 Thru #5
1. The Family Argument
2. The Publishing Company Argument
3. The Service Organization Argument
4. The Meeting At My House Argument
5. The School of Tyrannus & Synagogue Argument
THE "FAMILY" ARGUMENT
By Bob W. Lovelace
When men practice something first and seek to establish authority for their practice afterwards, when challenged, they often use the scriptures in such a way that it is evident that they do not have authority for what they practice. We've seen this repeatedly over the years as some have offered "the family argument" in order to bolster their willingness to build human organizations for worship and evangelism.
God planned the local church so that it is completely sufficient to accomplish all God authorizes Christians to do as an organization, with no need or authority for them to build "human" religious organizations. Efforts of men (Christians) to plan and activate some other "human" organization to do the same things God authorized the church to do are very presumptuous. God's ways are not man's ways, nor His thoughts man's thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9). The local church is God's organization for Christians to work through in particular locales: Acts 14:23; Phil.1:1. Through the local church they can accomplish the work God gave them to do both in the area contiguous to their local work and abroad.
No church's work is limited strictly to the community contiguous to it. The elder's oversight can include the support of preaching of the Gospel elsewhere wherever they have opportunity (Philippians 1:5; 4:15-16). The church at Philippi is known for its work abroad in the support of the Gospel. It had a "universal" work in the sense that it could support the preaching of the Gospel anywhere in the world where the opportunity presented itself. Does that mean the church "universal" was organized to do that? No! The burden of proof lies with those Christians who presumptuously choose to build and work through "human" religious organizations. One supposed "proof" is the "family". The argument often goes something like this: To argue that the local church is the only religious organization is not true. The home or family is as well. The family is mandated to teach the Gospel, Eph. 6:1-4; mandated to do benevolent work, I Tim. 5:16. It is by divine definition a corporate unit, Matt. 19:5-6. So look! There is another organization besides the local church for evangelism. If we have the "family" and the family is not a challenge to the all-sufficiency of the local church then why can't we have the "College" and it not be a challenge as well? Or why can't we have the "Foundation" and it not be a challenge either?
According to Ephesians 6:1-4 which do we have here? 1. Do we have instruction given to fathers who are Christians? 2. Do we have instruction given to a "human" organization formed by Christians to provide teaching and worship for our children? Note also that the mandate in I Tim. 5:16 is "any man or woman that believeth."
One would be "bats" to say that we have #2 above, i.e. "instruction given to a 'human organization' formed by Christians." The truth is we have instruction here to "individuals" (fathers) to train their children. The truth is that the mandate in I Tim. 5:16 is "any man or woman that believeth." With regards to a passage addressing the "individual" one would certainly be "twisting" the scriptures to use such that pertains to the "individual" Christian as authorizing Christians to build a human organization. If the "individual" teaching authorizes Christians to build a "human organization" (individually supported) for teaching and worship, and it is simply to be construed as individuals teaching, then why doesn't the "local church" teaching authorize the building of a "human organization" (church supported) which is to be construed as just local churches teaching?
We can go even further. It would be presumptuous to say that either of these (the family or the local church) authorizes or corresponds to a "human organization." Why? For the simple reason that the "family" unit is a "divine" institution (Matt. 19:5-6). Also the "local church" is a "divine" institution (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1). Both are divine institutions! God authorizing a "divine" organization is "not" authority for building a "human" religious organization.
If the "family" (Divine organization) authorizes Christians to build a "human organization" for teaching and worship (family supported), and the "human organization" is just to be construed as the "family teaching" then why doesn't the "local church" (Divine organization) authorize Christians to build a "human organization" for teaching and worship (church supported), and the "human organization" is just to be construed as the "church teaching"?
Some seem to think if you admit that the family is a divine collectivity and operates as "God ordained" the family to operate, then you have to agree with them to let "their" human organization operate in another realm than the local church. Such is ludicrous!
Look at the logical conclusion. Where does that stop?
1. Family (Divine organization) ---> Teaches, Provides
THEREFORE WE CAN HAVE
2. College (Human organization) ---> Teaches, Provides Worship,
THEREFORE WE CAN HAVE
3. Foundation (Human organization) ---> Teaches,
THEREFORE WE CAN HAVE
4. Another Kind of "Human Organization" ---> Teaches, Provides Worship,
THEREFORE WE CAN HAVE
5. Another Kind of "Human Organization"----> Teaches, Provides Worship, Supports Local Churches.
THEREFORE WE CAN HAVE
Etc., etc., etc.
If you want your children working in someone's World Wide Evangelistic Society someday just keep that kind of thinking up!
A word of warning: The aim of the "family argument" in years gone by has been to destroy any pattern in doing the Lord's work. And that is exactly what it is accomplishing. It seeks to make the "local church" (Divine organization) just one of many tools (organizations) Christians may build and through which Christians may work in worship, teaching, and evangelism.
You need to make up your mind. Many Christians prefer to stay in limbo on this for convenience sake. To do so is to make arguments like the "family" argument which contributes nothing to helping saints preserve the New Testament patterns, and it only lends support to successive steps in building "other kinds" of "human" organizations for teaching and worship.
You ought to be wise enough to see that in this digression. Remember what the Liberals did with the "family" argument. It is not a new argument. It is an old Liberal argument! It led them to church supported human institutions built to do the work of the Lord. It is leading us in another direction to individually supported missionary societies.
A LIST OF FALLACIES:
1. The "individual" teaching and worshipping authorizes Christians to build a "human religious organization" (individually supported) for teaching and worship, and it is simply to be construed as individuals teaching and worshipping.
2. The "local church" teaching authorizes the building of a "human religious organization" (church supported) which is to be construed as just local churches teaching.
3. The "family" (a Divine organization) authorizes Christians to build a "human organization" for teaching and worship (family supported), and the "human organization" is just to be construed as the "family teaching".
4. The "local church" (a Divine organization) authorizes Christians to build a "human organization" for teaching and worship (church supported), and the "human organization" is just to be construed as the "church teaching".
5. To say that the other (not Divine) "human" organization Christians build functions in a "dual role," i.e. it was built and exists as an organization that functions in both secular and religious work, therefore that (a "dual role") makes it OK.
THE PUBLISHING COMPANY ARGUMENT
By Bob W. Lovelace
For some time now a response in favor of Christians building human religious organizations has been to refer to a Book Store. Some say, "Well, if you purchase a book from a company that Christians have built that sells religious books, Bibles, etc. then you've given your consent to man's right to build human religious organizations." This is not something I made up. This is what some say. In their mind a Book Store that sells religious books is justification for building human religious organizations that provide for worship, edification, and evangelism.
But let’s start with the publishing company that produces a product for sale. The "income" for the company comes from the sale of the product not from contributions. The motive is profit. The purpose is "profit." It ought to be obvious that a "missionary society" or a "religious society" is not the same as an economic enterprise. If the publishing company produces a product for sale that is religious in nature such as Bibles, books, tracts --- that does not change the fact that it is an economic enterprise and not a religious organization. God did not assign the church the responsibility of publishing Bibles for profit.
We've been warned in such analogies not to confuse "motive" with "mission." Two men may have good motives in wanting to establish a business, viz., to publish Bibles or tracts ---they may be motivated by a love of truth. That doesn't make it a religious organization whose mission is to teach the Gospel the same as the church. For example, Zondervan publishes Bibles and sells them for profit. It is not the product but the "nature" of the organization, its mission or stated purpose, its means of support, its organization, etc. that determines whether it is a secular institution or a "religious" organization.
However, should the organization that sells the product for a profit incorporate "other things" into its structure that are "religious" then it would become more than just a publishing company. What would you have if Zondervan established a treasury and asked for donations out of which to publish tracts and distribute them, have a national television program, establish a teaching program, build the Zondervan chapel for worship in a particular locale, and out of which to support preachers? You'd have a Missionary Society pure and simple! If it had individuals contributing for that purpose, even while it was still selling books for the other purpose, then its "dual role" makes it a "missionary society." Should Christians donate to their treasury? No, every dime they "donate" should be given to the Lord's church, God's missionary society for the teaching of the Gospel. If Christians donate for that purpose then they depreciate the church, God's missionary society.
Can the church buy tracts from a publishing company? Yes. As a business, a company sells its product to the customer and the customer "oversees" its use. Either an individual or a church may purchase material for teaching. In either case the purchaser has "control" and oversees the use of the product. However, should the company seek individual and or church contributions to the company, the company then using the contributions to produce, purchase, and disseminate teaching then the company functions in the role of a teaching society. Then what you have is a "missionary society" functioning under the name of "publishing company."
Obviously the same thing goes for a Book Store. Again, when one "buys" a book, tract, etc. from a Book Store they do such on the "outside", i.e. they make the purchase and retain control over its use. The "purchaser" certainly isn't in the same category as the "owners" or "workers" attached with the organization when he makes his purchase. Are the "workers" in the publishing house buying the product? The "workers" in a Book Store are not "buying" the book, I am. The workers are a part of the organization. It is wrong to equate the "purchaser" of the book with the role of the "owners" and "workers".
I stand amazed at times when some want "my" purchase of material to equate with them "belonging to" or "bringing themselves into" a human "organization" that is "religious" in nature and their participating in the "religious" aspects of that human organization; or to equate with their willingness to build a human organization for worship, edification and evangelism.
Since this argument is to justify the College let’s talk about the College functioning in a dual role which it most certainly does function in. In times past some have chosen to separate out class room instruction when "paid" for as being a "role" which would define the nature of the organization as different the role of the church in propagating the Gospel, therefore acceptable. They say what makes it acceptable is the "class room" as part of an academic program wherein religious subjects (New Testament teaching on the church in all of its aspects) are presented "solely" as academia, i.e. the subject matter is academically oriented, and no different than presenting other religious subject matter -- for example on the tenants of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Such presents the idea that "instruction" paid for is not "edification" but rather "academia". Some feel justified in this. They admit though that it would be wrong if Florida College was designed to propagate the “subject” (Gospel) for then it would occupy the role the Church does. They admit that if Florida College is a "dual purpose collectivity," i.e. an educational institution "and a missionary society supported by individuals" then Florida College is wrong. Calling "a missionary society" a "college" no more makes it right than calling it a foundation or publishing company!
The "dual role" applies to Florida College as to any other organization. The same thing can be said for the College that is said for the Foundation or Publishing Company: if Florida College is a "dual purpose collectivity," i.e. an educational institution "and a religious society supported by individuals" then Florida College is wrong. Calling "a missionary society" a "college" no more makes it right than calling it a foundation or publishing company.
When one looks closely at the "stated purpose" or "design" of the organization and "sees" with eyes wide open that it does function in the "religious" realm then honesty demands disapproval. When a College establishes an agenda that includes a mandatory chapel service then worship paid for is "still" worship. Who can argue that worship is not "worship" just because it is "paid for"? While some brethren choose to separate "class room" instruction when paid for from "edification" and "instruction" not paid for, one thing's for sure --- "devotion" is an act of worship! "Devotional" at F.C. is a religious exercise.
The truth is that F.C. is a "religious" organization and it does function in a "dual-role."
Here it is right from their own Florida College 1996-1997 Catalog:
Because of the devotional (emph. mine, B.L.) aspects of the daily assembly, the College hopes that each student will consider this the high point (emph. mine, B.L.) of the work day. Also in this assembly both students and teachers present programs of varying nature for the edification and entertainment of the assembly.
In this assembly both students and teachers receive inspiration which tends to unify all personnel into one big family. Usually consisting of two periods, the first is devoted to congregational singing, Scripture reading, prayer, and a brief devotional talk (bold emph. mine, B.L.), and the second to varied programs. ...Attendance at these exercises is required (emph. mine, B.L.) and a daily record of attendance is kept. ... ."
2. The “Philosophy” of this organization:
“It stresses the necessity of one’s growing in spiritual understanding without becoming warped in thinking or sectarian in practice (emph. mine, B.L.).” (ibid, pg. 21)
NOTE: This is not just “academics” folks! I'd say that goes somewhat beyond mere "academics” wouldn't you?
3. Add the Florida College Lectureship which contains gospel preaching.
Will Florida College say:
1. They never teach the Bible for the purpose of propagating the Gospel? How many teachers there say that?
2. They do not accept contributions because they are a "religious" organization?
3. They are not a dual purpose collectivity?
THE SERVICE ORGANIZATION ARGUMENT
By Bob W. Lovelace
For a long time now some of our brethren have tried to justify Christians building and then individually supporting colleges where the Bible is taught, and where edification and worship is provided, by describing the institution as a "service organization."
Not long ago I received a letter from a brother who argued from Acts 5 (Ananias & Sapphira) that Christians had the right to support an organization other than the church, built by Christians, that would provide his children with worship and edification. He denied the church could support such an organization, but contended that individuals could. He first "assumed" that Christians had the right to build human religious organizations, and then cited Acts 5:4 as his authority for individuals to support the organizations. He felt Acts 5 permitted him to do as he wished with his own money! “Giving” as taught in Acts 5 is not authority for doing that which is not authorized for Christians in God's word.
Peter's statement "While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?" cannot be made "more of" than is there. Some read this and see their own personal "right" to do just about anything their imaginations can dream up. This statement of Peter's is not "unlimited" freedom to do what you wish with your own money that you control. Can you give or donate to the Catholic Church? If the Pope asked you to donate to his church would you argue that you could because it’s “my money to do with as I please”?
In Acts 5 what organization was Ananias and Sapphira contributing to? Were they contributing to a "human" religious organization? If Acts 5 is to be used the way this brother used it (and he's not the only one who uses it that way) then let him and them find a human religious organization built by Christians being supported by Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5!
Acts 5 (Ananias & Sapphira) shows "individuals" acting not an organization acting. There is nothing in the individual Christian’s responsibility to "give" to the church that
authorizes Christians first building, and then donating to a human religious organization. Remember now we're talking about what Christians are authorized to do. We have no control over what the world chooses to do, but for Christians to use their "own money" to support human religious organizations built by Christians you have to have authority from the Word of God for Christians to build religious organizations other than the local church to begin with. The issue before "us" today is not whether churches can support human religious organizations. This has nothing to do with it. The issue is the right of God's children to build human religious organizations when God gave them His organization, the local church. The divine organization does not authorize the human. The human depreciates the divine.
Oftentimes when one states that individuals and churches may utilize human service organizations they simply mean that the service is not in the realm of worship or edification. In other words it doesn't do the work God gave the church to do. For example, the church can hire (buy the services of) a plumbing company to come and fix its water line. And the individual often has to do the same thing. The fact that the plumbing company restored the water line which contributes to or enhances our opportunity to assemble as a local church doesn't put the plumbing company in the work of the church. Should Christians own the plumbing company that fixed the water line for the church that doesn't put them into the work of the church either. Should Christians own the wood-working shop that built the pews that we sit on when we assemble that doesn't put them in the work of the church. The motive that the Christians have who make up the plumbing company might and probably will be that they desire to help the church restore its physical plant, and to see that it operates efficiently. That "motive" doesn't change the mission of the company from being a business to being both a business and a religious organization.
Don't confuse motive with mission. The purpose of a plumbing company is to make money. The end result of buying its service might be that on occasion the church is benefited by using its services. For some strange reason some seem to think if a company built by Christians renders a service to a church such as construction work, plumbing, etc., the end result being that the "church" operates or continues to operate in the area of edification, worship and evangelism --- then that company is operating in the same realm as the church. That "kind" of service can be purchased anywhere. When Christians own companies and provide such services that benefit even the church, that doesn't place them in a higher category and make them a "religious" company whereas the agnostics down the street who do the same thing are just a "company". Plumbing companies, construction companies, loan companies, etc. are there to make a profit. The church Christ built is not in the money making business.
However, there is something wrong with Christians building an organization and incorporating the work of the church into that organization. Motive aimed at being some benefit to the church is one thing. Making the work of the church the actual operation of the organization is quite another!
If Christians own a plumbing company, and they decide that besides plumbing they'll have a chapel, provide worship, edification and evangelism then they're no longer just in the plumbing business are they? No, they're now a "religious" organization involved in the work of the church. They aren't "like" the construction company that builds for a profit or the plumbing company that plumbs for a profit. They're "more" than those are.
Let's make the organization that Christians build a College. At first let's make it only a college that provides a secular education. One built by Christians. That's Ok. What happens, though, when Christians desire that the College provides both a secular education and edification, worship and evangelism? Is the argument that it's "just a service organization" therefore it has the right to exist valid? Has its "dual-role" changed anything with regards to its scriptural right to exist? Because it has a legitimate role as a business enterprise does not make Scriptural its dual-role which "now" has it functioning as an organization that exists to teach and preach the gospel, and provide for collective worship and edification. This is not like the individual buying a book from a bookstore from the “outside,” or the individual buying the plumbing service of the plumbing company (above). Both student and faculty are on the "inside" so to speak and are a functioning part of a human religious organization built by Christians. All students, faculty, and staff answer to the organization's rules.
Two questions arise: 1. Where is the "right" (authority) for Christians to build human religious organizations when God gave His sufficient organization the church? 2. Where is the “need” for such as God gave His organization for edification, collective worship, and evangelism?
Florida College is a religious organization that has been built by and maintained by Christians. It does function in a "dual-role" and is engaged in providing through the institution itself collective worship and edification.
THE GATHERING AT MY HOUSE ARGUMENT
By Bob W. Lovelace
Those who support Florida College will often ask, “What’s the difference between what they do at Florida College and some Christians gathering at my home after worship for singing, prayer and study?
There’s a world of difference between these two “actions” and every Christians needs to learn about them. It seems that most brethren have had little if no teaching on the difference between an “individual” being commanded to and doing something, a “group” (two or more) of individuals concurrently acting together to do something, and Christians building an “organization” in order to do something. I believe that the lack of teaching on this is directly related to the result it would have on exposing the unscripturalness of human organizations brethren desire to build and maintain that function in the religious realm.
There are different types of “action” that can be identified in studying the worship and service of Christians as recorded in the New Testament. For example, James 1:27 is addressed to the individual. He is to practice pure and undefiled religion and keep “himself” unspotted from the world.
At Christmas time one year I publicly criticized the Salvation Army church organization for panhandling the community for donations so that it, the Salvation Army Organization, could do benevolent work. The Major here replied that they were fulfilling the “inasmuch as” ministry of Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:40. Look closely at Matthew 25:40. “Inasmuch as” who? It says “inasmuch as you” — the individual. Jesus isn’t talking about “organizations” being judged based upon what the organization did. And that passage isn’t a passage that authorizes an “organization” to do anything. Nor is it authority for building human religious organizations. But for him, like most today, what is said about “individual” responsibility is so far as he is concerned authority for “organizational” action.
In some people’s mind a passage such as 2 Timothy 4:2 (or practically any other similar to it) becomes authority to build a human religious organization for evangelism. Paul did not authorize Timothy to build a human religious organization for teaching and evangelism. He told “him” to preach the word.
At times our brethren will try to use Ephesians 6:1-4 to justify Christians building human religious organizations. Herein the argument and transfer of individual responsibility simply repeats itself. Ephesians 6:1-4 is not instruction given to a human religious organization built by Christians in order to teach our children. Simple!
Individual action may also be “concurrent,” i.e. two or more may teach together, pray together, study together and sing together without losing individuality in their association together.
When Florida College advocates say “What’s the difference in what Florida College does and some coming over to the house after services Sunday night?” the correct reply is “concurrent individual action” (two or more together) is not the same as “organizational” action.
Let’s look at this kind of action where you do not have the “control” factor that you have in the organization. Just because you find a “group” in the New Testament that does not mean you have authority to build a human religious organization.
We find that sort of action in passages such Acts 12:12 which shows “many gathered together praying.” Would anyone like to say that is the same as building a human religious organization? Even Florida College admits to the difference between the voluntary worship of individual Christians who choose to gather at a particular locale for worship without answering to the "organization," and worship provided by the organization itself.
From the Florida College Academic Planner 1996-1997 Student Handbook, pg.23, under Evening Devotions:
“On Sunday and Thursday evenings from 9:30 to 10:00 students who WISH TO DO SO (emph. mine, B.L.) gather in Sutton hall, the Recreation Room, or on the river bank for a period of singing, praying and studying the Bible together. These periods are organized and conducted by students voluntarily."
Another example from the scriptures would be Aquila and Priscilla who heard Apollos and recognized his lack of understanding. They studied together. (Acts 18:26) Apollos didn’t “buy” a service from them. He wasn’t a student at the A&P Academy. Can a husband and wife teach others as they taught Apollos without anyone thinking of building an organization? Yes, my wife and I have done the same thing. Perhaps you and yours too.
A great example of concurrent individual action is Paul, Barnabas and John on Paul’s first journey. (Acts 13) John was there to “assist” them. Did that make John Mark a part of the Paul & Barnabas Evangelistic Society? No such concept is presented here. When they came to Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13) John left them and returned to Jerusalem. John wasn’t “fired” by an organization. He didn’t cease getting paid from an organizational treasury. There is no evidence of a treasury belonging to the association. His leaving violated no person’s or organization’s rule or authority. Paul’s personal preference in this whole matter of John Mark returning to Jerusalem had no bearing on John’s acceptability “in Christ.” Later, Barnabas would choose to go with John while Paul chose Silas. (Acts 15:39) Even later Paul would commend John. (Col. 4:10-11) Often in the book of Acts we read of Paul with some companions. Some don’t understand that you can make the “group” as big as you want and still have concurrent individual action. I know of gospel preachers in third world countries right now who preach with co-workers who do so according to the New Testament patterns. Each shares in the work, but each remains in control of his own personal participation. When they seek support they don’t ask for the support to be sent to the “treasury” for their organization. Each, individually, receives support as they labor in preaching the gospel. Why are they doing it this way? Because the Scriptures teach that! (Phil. 4:14; II Cor. 11:8)
What organization “did” Paul and those who traveled with him establish? Paul and those who traveled with him in preaching the Gospel established the local church (Acts 14:23). Paul spent three years at Ephesus. (Acts 20:31) Did he have an evangelistic society then or did he do what he did in Acts 9:28 and join himself to the church? Like I said, if you want to do what Paul and Timothy did then do it! Did others buy a service from Paul?
In the New Testament we find “individual” duty and action, “concurrent individual action” in “groups,” and “collective organizational action” through the local church. As the apostles and preachers went out to spread the word the “organization” that was the product of their preaching and teaching was the local church. (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1, et al.) The desire to build, work through, and support human religious organizations is a reflection upon God’s wisdom in giving the church.
View the local church as an organization. That’s what it is. God gave it organization (Phil.1:1; Acts 14:23) thus providing for the oversight necessary to accomplish its goal. It has a common goal. There is a collective treasury. It has a common oversight. Member agree to worship and work together. It disciplines unruly members. We find all of these things.
Let’s identify these things:
1. There is an agreement to worship and work together to accomplish a common goal. (Acts 9:26-29)
2. The individual places himself as a part of the local church under a common oversight. (Phil.1:1; Acts 14:23)
3. The church (collectively) can discipline those who are unruly. (I Cor. 5; 2 Th. 3:14) Each church is responsible for those they accept into their fellowship (Acts 9:26-29) and for those they retain (I Cor. 5). We can see that the church is not just a “togetherness” or “loose” structure of some kind. It is not just a “congregating” i.e. coming together of individual Christians with no duties or obligations to the whole. Each member surrenders volition to the collective will. Members were not to forsake assembling themselves together. (Heb. 10:25)
4. Members were responsible for contributing as God had blessed them thus enabling the church to do its work. (Acts 4:34-37; I Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 9:5-7)
5. Its goal is to bring the members to perfection through edification and worship, and to provide for and support the teaching of the gospel at home and abroad (Eph. 3:14-19; I Cor.11,14; Phil. 4:15-16).
The church local is the product of divine wisdom. (I Tim.3; Eph. 4:8-16) There is but one place in the scriptures where you find Christians organized like this and that is in the local church organization! It is in the local church that we find “collective organizational action.”
THE SCHOOL OF TYRANNUS & SYNAGOGUE ARGUMENTS
By Bob W. Lovelace
As I bring to a close this series of articles concerning Florida College it needs to be said that there are many now who jump to unwarranted conclusions when they read about Paul and others going into the synagogues to teach, or Paul in the School of Tyrannus.
In Acts 19:8 it says Paul “went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.” When Paul spoke in the synagogue did that mean he was a part of the Jewish “faith” there? The Jews weren’t teaching the Gospel and conducting pure worship each Sabbath. If Christians joined the Jews then Christians could join denominationalists. New Testament worship wasn’t set aside so Christians could go join the Jews on the Sabbath day. Christians must worship God in spirit and in truth. (Jo. 4:24) Paul was taking advantage of the opportunity to teach the Gospel to the Jews. What he did made them angry for the most part. They didn’t see him as “one” with them! A preacher could go into a synagogue today and speak boldly about things concerning the kingdom of God and do exactly what Paul did there.
In Acts 19:9 Paul “departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.” From references to the synagogues, and this, some have concluded that Paul “used” human religious organizations and human organizations that were not religious. By “used” I mean some conclude that Paul taught the Gospel “through” (as belonging to, being a part of) a human organization, and this allows Christians to do the same today. From there they reason that Christians can build human organizations for worship and edification through teaching. To utilize a “place” that allows you to come and teach, or worship, is not teaching and worshipping “through” i.e. as a part of the human organization that might provide the place. Paul plus the Jews in the synagogue did not constitute an “organization” (a body acting as one). Paul did not “join” a false religion. There is a vast difference between meeting “in” a place (geographic) and preaching “through” i.e. “by means of” and “as a part of” (i.e. belonging to) a human organization! Christians met “in the Temple daily” (Acts 2:46). They had no part (were not a part in any way) of a false religion when there. The Jews still under Moses provided them a place to meet for a while. The place was “gratis” and the opportunity taken advantage of. Could Christians do the same today? Yes.
Likewise Paul taught “in the school of Tyrannus” for two years and many heard the Word. This does not say that Paul was “employed” by the school of Tyrannus. There is no evidence that Tyrannus was even alive. There is nothing here that even suggests that Paul belonged to Tyrannus’ organization. This is what’s wrong with many today. They read this and picture in their minds something like the “School of Tyrannus” with a Board of Directors, President, Staff, and Paul employed and teaching as part of the faculty! I wonder why they get that picture? In fact there is no evidence that there is anything here beyond a “place” where Paul was allowed to come and teach the Gospel.
Paul, an individual Christian, taught in the school of Tyrannus. Read it ten times and you won’t get any more than that. Put disciples there with Paul while he’s teaching and that’s still all you’ve got. Paul says later to the Ephesian elders that when he was in Ephesus he taught them “publicly” i.e. in public places. (Acts 20:20)
When you put all of these supposed justifications for Christians building human religious organization together it gets even more ridiculous. Supposedly there was Paul’s Evangelistic Society teaching in Ephesus, while Paul himself is “one” with the School of Tyrannus. I suppose Paul deserted his evangelistic society for two years to teach for the school of Tyrannus!
What organization were Christians a part of in Ephesus that was responsible for worship and teaching? The church at Ephesus. (Eph. 1:1; Rev. 2:1) When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus did he say, “You’re doing a great job there teaching through human organizations such as the School of Tyrannus”?
In conclusion to this series of articles something needs to be said about this oft repeated reply: “What is the difference between Florida College and attending a State College?”
The “difference” is what is heralded by the College and by those promoting the college. The “difference” is that it “is” an organization built by Christians. The difference is that it is an organization run by Christians. The difference is it is an organization built by Christians the stated purpose of which is to provided worship and edification! The difference is this organization’s aim is that those associated with it not be “sectarian” in practice!
My daughter presently attends the University of Arizona. Can you envision U.of A. telling her “Our goal is that you, Sandy, grow spiritually and do not become sectarian in practice”?
Consider what they say about their daily Bible classes:
Daily Bible Classes
“The study of the Bible as the Word of God and as our guide in daily living and faith is central to a college dedicated to the education of the whole person. Not only are students at Florida College required to attend an academic course in the Bible every day, but the study of biblical principles is integrated into the total liberal arts curriculum." (Florida College Academic Planner 1996 /1997 Student Handbook, pg.24)
Notice “here” the purpose of the Daily Bible Class is bible study as our “guide in daily living and faith.” Daily living and “faith” brethren! Maybe we missed something but isn’t “that” the purpose of teaching the Bible as stated by Paul in Romans 10:17? By the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:3? Since when is teaching the bible for “daily living and faith” mere academics? Now, if my daughter took a class in “religions” in a state college do you suppose that the aim of that class would be “for daily living and faith”? Is “for daily living and faith” teaching the Bible just as a “religious topic” just like you’d teach about the Muslim religion, Buddhism, or the Mormon religion, etc.? Obviously not! In the letter from the Director of Admissions (referred to earlier) addressed to a young man about to graduate from high school he says, “Our Bible classes are academic courses aimed at teaching students to study the Bible for themselves. This ACADEMICALLY-RICH SPIRITUAL EDUCATION (emph. mine, B.L.) will serve you all your life.” What organization did God give for Christians to teach the bible for “daily living and faith”?
Another quote: “Because of the devotional aspects of the daily assembly, the College hopes that each student will consider this the HIGH POINT of the work day.” (F.C. Cat. 1996-1997, pg. 37) “Devotion” is worship. And some Christians say, “What’s the difference between Florida College and a state college?” Christian friends, where’s your faith in God’s ways when you don’t have the faith that the local church is a sufficient organization to “serve” your children when they are away from home?
In conclusion I’m compelled to say that what we suspected all along has really come to pass. There are brethren now who “do” see the church as just “a” tool among other “tools”; some are willing to promote the idea that Christians are free to build human religious organizations to provide for worship and edification through teaching the Gospel of Christ.