The Guardian of Truth Foundation and Florida College
As an amateur historian of long practice as well as a preacher of the gospel, I by discipline observe the inception, evolution, and result of many things, often without any intended effort. I have been fascinated at beginnings and various impetus in the initial inception and then evolution of various things. In the secular sense, we are living in a rich, full age, there are so many things happening for the trained observer to consider. I do not mean to be an alarmist , but our world is changing faster today than I have heretofore witnessed. The New World Order now has more vestige and presence than I have ever before witnessed, for instance.
Many changes are occurring
among my brethren, as well. One matter that has of late occupied more of
my focus has been the privately funded societies to offer the climate and milieu
for brethren to pool their resources in and through which to collectively preach
the gospel, institutions while not local churches, are doing the work God has
assigned to the local church (I Tim. 3: 15). I saw a resurgence of such
institutionalism among us during the seventies, but we addressed and challenged
it, and it went away, some thought. In actuality, those who had the
mentality of preaching the gospel through human
institutions with their own oversight, treasury, president, etc. simply pulled
back and waited. So called neo-institutionalism is now here in full force
and there will be no pulling back this time, I predict. Already, it is
evident that the promoters of such societies have their heels deeply positioned
and they intend to keep their entities, notwithstanding the resulting division
and disruption of unity. "We Have A Right" (Guardian of Truth Foundation
publication) say they. It is we, those of us who believe in simply doing
what God has said, doing the collective work of preaching the gospel in and
through the local church, with its oversight and treasury, who are being labeled
as the divisive ones (I Tim. 3: 15, Heb. 7: 14).
How did this recent development happen, what is behind it? This is a valid question and one that I shall attempt to briefly answer.
For a number of years, there has been friction between two influential groups among so called non-institutional Christians. The two groups, if you will, were Florida College and the then Guardian of Truth Foundation. While there were extant and definable doctrinal issues, I believe, based on my observation, there were also some power struggles already in place, at least, regarding the Guardian of Truth Foundation, perhaps more precisely worded, on the part of some of the foundation members (later designated simply as G.O.T.F.). I might also inject that a number of men who had manifest loyalty and attachment to the G.O.T.F. correctly challenged some of the modernistic teaching emanating from Florida College, such as teaching that the days of Genesis one constituted ages and not literal days, etc.
Without burdening the reader with detail, the thinking that resulted in the formation of Florida College became serious about the time of the end of World War Two. Brethren wanted a school to which to send their children, a school that maintained and practiced the spiritual values that they had. Hence, in 1946 Florida College became a reality. One determination the school had was to distance itself from churches of Christ relative to financial support and proximity and be unlike most other colleges that brethren had started. Hence, the original resolve was to keep the college separate from churches. Not trying to provide dates, the college progressed and has, to date, become a school academically competitive, at least, on the lower levels of academia. Notwithstanding the apparent sincere efforts on the part various ones, past and present, Florida College (later referred to as F.C.) has exerted a lot of influence on churches, indirectly so. Rather than just academically include the Bible as part of their curriculum, F.C. developed a special Bible Department and offers a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Along with the Bible Department came the image of "Church of Christ Seminary," such was inevitable. More brethren began to look to F. C. for their preachers and even elders. F.C. often has represented a melting pot and circumstance of convergence, young men and women coming together from all sorts of backgrounds and often brining to the school their divergent doctrinal views. In the climate of academia, views are often aired and discussed, sometimes more philosophically than with an aim to biblical solution and closure. The school decided to include an annual lectureship program and this effort evolved to include many members of churches of Christ representing a large number of states (I have never attended the F.C. lectures). The lectureship involves the assignment of different Bible themes to various men, usually preachers. It is elementary and without debate to the common observer that F. C. is a major player when it comes to impetus and influence among especially non-institutional churches of Christ of any given time period.
When one considers the history of the Guardian of Truth Foundation and all the surrounding stimuli, one sees a number of foundations, again, I say this without wanting to immerse the reader in detail. Some of the original positioning of these foundations involved legal matters and the effort to prevent those believed not originally intended from having access to the monies contained in the foundation treasuries. Foundations compose a separate study and reveal the developing and often merging thinking of the supporters of these special orders. One sees in such research, gradation as to the viewed design of some of these foundations. Some of the simple, initial impetus, in one historic case worthy of mention, was for a man of wealth to have his estate after his death used to preach the gospel. In another case, the forming of a publication entity that would especially favor the publishing of books by brethren, but would engage in such as a business for financial profit. In the embryonic state, some orders had no desire to become vehicles providing brethren the opportunity to pool their resources to expressly and collectively preach the gospel to the lost, having their own treasury for said purpose and overseeing president and board of directors, I believe. Foundations "among" churches of Christ as well as schools have for the most part, been very problematic, to say the least. At best, there has been struggle and a fine line to keep these entities separate from churches. At different points, brethren involved in foundations are seen to allow their love for these orders to misguide them.
Roy Cogdill, a man who stood opposed to church supported foundations allowed his affection with one foundation to cause him to inconsistently act. In the Gospel Guardian Magazine (Vol. 29, Number 7, April, 1977), brother Cogdill made the following appeal for the Akin Foundation directed at individuals and churches:
Addendum: Related articles to read are as follows:
"The Society System"
"Individual or Collective Action, Which?"
"Working Together in Business, Really?"
"The Foundations are the Same as...."
"Authority, Misunderstood Today"
"The Foundations are not Churches, So...."
"Are the Guardian of Truth and Florida College Lectureships the Same?"
"If the College is an Adjunct of the Home, Then..."
"Rationale in Favor of Privately Supported Foundations"
"What An Imagination!"
"Non-Church Organizations and 'Liberals'"
"Human Institutions, an Unimportant Issue?"
"Let's All Agree To Disagree"
"A Review of 'May Only the Church Teach the Gospel?'"
"The Pillar and Ground of the Truth"
"Neo-Institutionalism, are we Splitting Hairs?"
"Why Have Privately Supported Preaching Institutions?"
"A Look at Religious Journals Among Brethren" (This and the next article are not linked back to the above article.)
"The Party Spirit"