The Ancient Faith

Home               Salvation               The Church of Christ               Acceptable Worship               Christian Ethics               Doctrinal Issues     The Holy Scriptures               Special Pages



E.H. Miller

[In this excellent study by E.H. Miller, you will find six Biblical reasons why Sunday School or church-sponsored “Bible classes” are unscriptural.  The numbered headings have been added for clarification and emphasis- P.M.]

I. Sunday School is unscriptural because there is no command or example for a divided assembly.

Sunday Schools cannot be supported by the Bible because there is not one command or example, in all the Bible for dividing an assembly into classes to teach God‘s Word.  But, we do read in Deut. 31:12, 13:

“Gather the people together, men, women, and children, and the stranger that is within thy gates that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord.”

Please, notice the children that had not known anything were to be gathered together with the men and the women. Now, that is a command, in the Old Testament, for gathering together, the people of all ages.

So, let us now notice an example of how they obeyed that command, Neh. 8:1-3:

“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra, the scribe, to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest, brought the Law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand.”

There is an example, as well as a command, in the Old Testament, for gathering together. We will now turn to Josh. 8:35,

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.”

Here we see the adults and the little ones all taught in one assembly.

Let us now see what the New Testament gives on this.

Heb.10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is”; so there is a command not to forsake to assemble. But where is a command not to forsake the dividing?

If the Sunday School brethren can find Bible commands or examples for dividing into classes as they do, I will gladly give up my argument and unite with them, and to show my joy in learning more truth I will give a present of one hundred dollars to the one who finds this for me.

Let us read 1 Cor. 11:17-18:  

“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you.”

Here we have example for coming together in the church. Now, let us read verse 20:   “When ye come together therefore into one place.”

Read 1 Cor. 14:23: “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place.”  Then, in Acts 20:7: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.”

We learn from these verses, the disciples came together in the church. Yes; the whole church came together into one place.

There are other verses in favor of one assembly such as Mt.18-20; 1 Cor. 5:4; Col. 3:17; Mt. 28:19-20; Heb. 12:1-2; John 6 and 9; Acts 11:25, 26; Acts 14:27; and Acts 15:25, 30, but we will not take time to notice them all as the ones noticed are so plain, and positively prove we should all assemble together. There is not one verse in all-the Bible that says one word about dividing an assembly into two or more classes with teachers teaching at the same time, as many churches are doing today.

II. Sunday School is unscriptural because it is of human origin.

Now, the question: If the Bible says nothing about Sunday School classes, how can we know when they were started? The preachers who condemn instrumental music in church, after showing it cannot be supported by the Bible, for the Bible says not one word in favor of instrumental music in the church, go to history and show that instruments of music were not used in church until the year 666, this being 633 years after Christ built His church, They say that is too late to be scriptural or apostolic, yet, we find Sunday Schools were started over eleven hundred years after instrumental music was introduced and 1750 years after Christ built His church. Do you want proof?

Here it is: First, we hear from the World’s Popular Encyclopedia, Volume 9—‘Robert Raikes of Gloucester, England, was the father of the modern Protestant Sunday School. The first in the United States was at Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 1790.” Now, turn to Volume 8, and we read, “Raikes, Robert, (1735-1811), the founder of Sunday Schools.”  Robert Raikes, the founder of Sunday Schools, was not born until 1702 years after Christ built His church.

From the “International Reference Work,” Volume 7, Page 2278, “Sunday Schools were first organized in England, by Robert Raikes.” In volume 6, page 2365, we read, “Raikes, (raks), Robert, the founder of Sunday Schools, born in Gloucester, England, Sept. 14, 1735.”

From “the American Reference Library,” Volume 6, Page 2793, “Sunday Schools, schools usually organized in churches for the purpose of Bible study. The origin of these schools is due to Robert Raikes of Gloucester, England. The first Sunday School in America was opened in Philadelphia, in 1790.” On page 2395, same volume, we read, “Raikes, Rakes, Robert, (1735-1811), the father of Sunday Schools.”

We will let Robert Raikes speak for himself. I have before me a book of 415 pages known as “Yale Lectures on The Sunday School,” for 1888. This is a book in favor of Sunday School yet it gives the history. of its origin and struggles, and from page 112, I read from a letter written by Robert Raikes in 1787; “My eldest boy was born the very day I make public to the world the scheme of Sunday Schools, in my paper of November 3, 1783.”

This was 1750 years after establishment of the church spoken of in the Bible.

Next, quoting from pages 127-128:

“Just a few illustrative instances of the work which has been going on in all parts of our country for the past three-quarters of a century may aid in bringing to mind the current of events during that period. In the congregation of the old first church in Norwick Town, Conn., some seventy years since, a young girl came out from her family—the first of its members to de so—and confessed her child-like trust in her Savior. Learning something of the Sunday School work of Divie Bethune, in New York City, she gathered a little Sunday School in the galleries of her home church. The church authorities deemed this a desecration of God’s house, and forbade her the use of the galleries. She withdrew with her little charge to a neighboring schoolhouse. Public sentiment, including the expressed opinion of her own pastor, secured her exclusion from that building also. When the old pastor of the church passed the schoolhouse where this young teacher had her Sunday School for a season, he shook his ivory-headed cane toward the building and said in honest indignation, ‘You imps of Satan, doing the Devil’s work.’ She tried again on the church steps; and she maintained a footing there until the gallery was again opened to her, and her Sunday School had gained its right to live.”

Next, quoting from page 114:

“Speaking of the early days of the Sunday School movement, Sir Charles Reed said at the Raikes centenary, in London, in June, 1880: ‘When Sunday Schools were first instituted in this country, they were fiercely attacked. It is not to be supposed that they had easy progress. They were attacked by prelates in the pulpit.’ The Presbyterians of Scotland and Congregationalists of New England were represented among the opponents of the Sunday School as it battled its way into deserved favor.”

You can see the Presbyterian church and the Congregational church opposed Sunday School at first, and although there were Baptist churches in this country in 1639 (see “International Reference Work,” page 228, volume 6), yet there were no Sunday School until 1790, as I have already shown. The Baptist church was in this country 151 years before Sunday Schools.

We will now let the Baptists speak for themselves. I have here the “Baptist Encyclopedia”, 1881, and on page 1121 we find these words:

 “The Baptists have been abreast with their brethren of other denominations in promoting the cause and establishing schools. Among the oldest Baptist schools having an unbroken history are the following: The school of the Séd8id- Baptist Church of Philadelphia, instituted in 1815; and of the Second Baptist Church of Philadelphia, founded in 1816.”

On page 918 we read, “Philadelphia, Second Baptist Church of, was organized in March 1803.” You see this church was organized 13 years before it had a Sunday School.

We read from page 576: “Indiana, the Sunday Schools of, were not general before 1850. Many churches, however, had schools as early as 1833.” How long was this after the first church there? We find the answer on page 575: “The original church was constituted in 1798.” This was 35 years before it had a Sunday School (according to the earliest date) and the Baptists say they have kept abreast with other denominations in establishing these Sunday Schools and their oldest only dates back to 1804 as I have shown, 21 years after Robert Raikes said he made “public to the world the scheme of Sunday Schools.” We can clearly see it came in far too late to have been taught by Christ or His apostles or any Bible writer. Let us stop trying to improve on God’s word and way of doing things (2 Tim. 3:13-17; and Eccl. 12:18; Eccl. 3-14; 2 John 6 and 9.)

We have already found that Sunday School classes are not in God’s word, and in order to learn when they were started, we have to go to history. We go to the Bible to learn when and where the church was started and how the people came together in one place and one spoke at a time, but the Bible was completed hundreds of years before the Sunday School classes were put in the church; but we go to history on when this was done and how, and we will use history by Sunday School men as they know, or should know, how their classes were first brought about. We turn to “The First Fifty years of the Sunday School,” a book in favor of Sunday School, by W. H. Watson. On pages 24-25, we read:

 “Many years ago, in one of the older cities of England two men might have been seen walking together, the one older than the other and leaning on the arm of his younger friend. When they reached a certain place, the elder of the two said, ‘Pause here,’ and so saying, he uncovered his brow, closed his eyes and stood for a moment in silent prayer. That place was the site of the first Sabbath school, and the elder man was Robert Raikes, its founder.”

Here we find who founded Sunday Schools and where, and that it was not by the Lord nor His apostles, neither was it in Jerusalem.

Let us read the newspaper report of the death of its founder. I have here before me the life of this man, titled, “Robert Raikes,” by Alfred Gregory, and on page 203-204, we find a copy of the newspaper report which reads as follows: “On Friday evening last, died suddenly, at his house in this city, Robert Raikes, Esq., aged 75; who in the year 1783, first instituted Sunday Schools.” Here we learn the year Sunday Schools were started, 1750 years after Christ built His church, many miles from that place. We notice the markings of his grave as revealed on pages 204-205 of this book, also on page 33 of the other book referred to above.

Of this burial, it states: “He was buried in the Church of St. Mary De Crypt, where the following tablet is erected to his memory:

 “Sacred to the Memory of
Robert Raikes, Esq.,
Late of This City,
Founder of Sunday Schools,
Who Departed This Life
April 5th, 1811, aged Seventy-five Years.”

We turn to page 208 of “Robert Raikes” and read: “He, himself, spoke of it as ‘an experiment, harmless and innocent, however fruitless it might prove in its effects.’” On pages 66-67, we read:

 “Gloucester, the birthplace and cradle of Sunday School, was fortunate in possessing, at the birth and infancy of those schools, two individuals admirably filled by divine providence to foster and train to maturity the institution—the Rev. Thomas Stock, a clergyman of the Church of England, and Robert Raikes, Esq.”

Here we find which church cradled the Sunday School when it was born in England, in 1783. On page 104, we read:

 “At the general meeting of the (Sunday School) Society in July, 1787, there was unanimously adopted the following recommendation which serves as another proof that at that time Raikes’ claim to be considered the founder of the Sunday School was unquestioned: ‘Your Committee, taking into consideration the humble zeal and merits of Robert Raikes, Esq., of Gloucester, who may justly be considered, as the original founder as well as the liberal promoter of Sunday Schools begs leave to recommend to the general meeting that he be chosen as an honorary member of the Society’.”

On page 105, from one of Raikes’ letters to William Fox: “I believe you were one of the first of my encouragers at the outset of the little plan I was the humble instrument of suggesting to the world.”

On page 27 we read, “The Sunday School system with which the name Robert Raikes will ever be inseparably connected, may be said to have originated in the Gloucestr Gaols.”

On page 209 we read, “Every Sunday School is a monument to his fame, every teacher and scholar a celebration of his work.” We will now read again from “The First Fifty Years of Sunday School.” Page 80, “Mr. Raikes. . .is therefore universally acknowledged in America as the founder of Sunday Schools. . .In 1790 the Methodist conference formally resolved on establishing Sunday Schools.” So you see the Methodist church did not have Sunday Schools before 1790.

Let us now have a word from Alexander Campbell concerning the early church and the Sunday School,

“The order of their assemblies was uniformly the same. .. their churches were not fractured into missionary societies, Bible societies, education societies: nor did they dream of organizing such in the world. The head of a believing household was not in those days a president or manager of a board of missions. . .and his little daughter, a tutoress of a Sunday School. They knew nothing of the hobbies of modern times.” (This is quoted from “The Christian Baptist”? Vol. 1, No. 1, Aug. 3, 1823.)

Here we find Alexander Campbell placed Sunday Schools among the hobbies of modern times! He was born five years after Robert Raikes made them known to the world.

Knowing that many people argue, “There were Sunday Schools before Robert Raikes.” Yea, even argue they had Sunday School classes in the Synagogues before Christ; I think it wise to give some attention to these Sunday Schools?  As they are spoken of in history. These histories quoted from are by Sunday School people who believe in such,

First, I will quote from “Yale Lectures on the Sunday School”.The following quotation begins on page 7,

“In Nehemiah 8:1-8 we have a complete exhibit of actual methods of Bible instruction, in the record of a great open-air Bible school in Jerusalem, after the return of the Jews from captivity. Ezra was the superintendent in this school. Tis assisting teachers are mentioned by name.”

Now friends, Task you to turn and read the Bible reference given and see how many classes were taught at the time, and how the classifying was done, etc. You can read of other such teachings in Josh. 18:1 and Josh. 8:35, also Deut. 31:12-13.

Let us quote again,

“We find Josephus claiming that, from the days of Moses, it was a custom of the Jews to assemble in their synagogues every Sabbath, not only to hear the law, but to learn it accurately. . .This certainly is evidence that these weekly gatherings for Bible study were not a very new thing in the days of Josephus.”

But did you notice there was nothing said about a plurality of classes and teachers? The evidence looks much more like a church assembly than it does Sunday School classes.

The following quotations begin on page 8,

“Eighty years before Christ,” says Deutsch, “Schools flourished throughout the length and breadth of the land;—education had been made compulsory’…it appears that even in the days of Christ, care was taken for the instruction of youth by the erection of schools on the part of the community. . .That the elementary schools of this Jewish system of public education were Bible schools, corresponding quite closely in their essential features with our modern Sunday School, in a demonstrable fact. . .The regular Sabbath services of the synagogue included a forenoon service of worship and an afternoon service of interlocutory Bible study for youth and old together.”

You see the young and old studied together in the Sabbath services of the synagogue.  It can also be seen from the foregoing quotations they had schools for educational purposes as we do today, and these schools were taught it seems in the synagogue just as some churches today worship in school houses, for I read on page 10 of this book,

“The only schools were those connected with the synagogues. The only school book was the Hebrew Scriptures.” Page 12, “Ordinarily they were in the synagogue building, or a building attached to it.” Page 16, “The sessions of the elementary Bible schools were daily, except on the Sabbath.”

There is not a Bible command or example, either in the Old or New Testament for dividing one assembly into two or more classes for the purposes of teaching the people, with different teachers teaching at the same time as is done in Sunday School classes today, neither is there to be found a history of any recognized authority that teaches that the churches before Robert Raikes “made public to the world the scheme of Sunday Schools [in] Nov. 3, 1783” ever divided into classes before this date as the churches are doing today that have divided the church over this question. Some churches have Sunday School classes, others fear to have them, thus the church is divided over them; if God does save people out of just one of them, which will it be? Will he send people to hell for obeying Heb. 10:25, Acts 20:7; Col. 8:17, Mat. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4; Heb. 12:1-2; 2 John 6 and 9; 2 Tim. 3:14-17: Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 3:16-17; James 1:21-25: Eph. 2:10; Eccl. 3:14; Eccl. 12:13-14; Rev. 20:12 and Rev.22:14-19?  If he sends people to hell over these differences it will be because they added to or took from what the Bible teaches; in this division one side is doing more or the other is doing less, which is it?

Sunday School before 1783?

I will now quote from other histories of the Sunday School by Sunday School people, and show, what Sunday School are referred to before Robert Raikes were not the kind found in connection with churches today, but were schools for educational purposes, First we will read from “Sunday School Movements in America” by M. C. Brown; published by the “Fleming H. Revell Co.” 1901. Page 23,

In 1790, we find the question asked, ‘what can be done in order to instruct poor children, white and black, to read?’ and the answer was, ‘Let us labor, as the heart and soul of one man, to establish Sunday Schools in or near the place of public worship. Let persons be appointed by the Bishops, Deacons, or Preachers, to teach gratis all that will attend, and have capacity to learn, from six o’clock in the morning until ten, and from two o’clock in the afternoon until six, when it does not interfere with public worship.

These schools become social and moral centers, and encourage intellectual life. Scores of young people graduate from these little country Sunday Schools, to enter academies, seminaries and colleges. (page 48)

 As a natural result of the increasing interest which the churches took in the matter, early in the nineteenth century there was a general reaction from paid to voluntary teachers, and from secular to religious instruction. This change, which has been attributed to Wesley, commenced about 1809, and was simultaneous with the transfer of the control of the schools from individuals to churches. (pages 23-24)

John Wesley it is claimed, instituted Sunday Schools as early as 1787, in Savannah, Ga. However, this may be, he no sooner heard of Robert Raikes’ Sunday Schools than he approved of them. (page 184)  

For more information concerning John Wesley’s Sunday School of 1787 let us turn to another history by Sunday School advocates, “The Sunday School In the Development of the American Church” by the Rev. Oscar 8. Michael, associate rector of Ascension Memorial Church, New York. Page 47-48,

“Much has been written regarding the reputed Sunday School in Christ church parish, Savannah, Ga., said to have been begun by John Wesley in 1737. The present school in that parish each year celebrates its anniversary, tracing it back to that date. But nothing in better authenticated than that the institution which has given rise to this chronology was the ordinary parish day school taught by one De La Motte. . .Various other so called Sunday Schools, said to have been begun before the eighteenth century, like that at Plymouth, Mass. (1669), at Roxbury, Mass.)1679), and others, have been identified with the day school which has no Sunday work.  .To trace the origin of Sunday Schools to these is but to mistake the nature and scope of such efforts and to transcend the function of the Sunday School. . .In many of the charity schools of the church and other Christian bodies, services were held on Sundays for children whose parents had no seats in the churches and did not attend services. . . But these had none of the characteristics of the Sunday School.”

From the foregoing it is easy to see those early so called Sunday Schools (all before Robert Raikes, and many later on) were not like the Sunday Schools of the churches of today, but, were schools for educational purposes, operated by individuals and not by the church.

But for added “proof?  Let us read from pages 68-64,

SUNDAY SCHOOLS UP TO 1814 NOT CONNECTED WITH CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS, It is to be noted, that up to the close of the war of 1812 on account of the popular opposition and also on account of their own structural weakness and disorganization, none of the religious bodies of America in their corporate capacity had as yet taken up the Sunday School. What successful work was instituted had been the fruit of private individual enterprise and of the order known as ‘undenominational.’ Meanwhile, however, the wonderful development of the Raikes’ schools in the church and the more liberal non-conforming bodies of England and Wales were impressing upon the ‘irreconcilables’ the deepening consciousness of their manifold benefits in the spread of the Gospel and was thus moderating the antagonism. . .In the fall of 1814, Jackson Kemper and James Milnor, Bishop White’s assistant clergy at Christ Church, began an afternoon Sunday School. . .This was the first school officially incorporated by any religious organization in America.

Brethren let us follow the Bible, and not the doctrine and commandments of man. Jer. 6:16; Jer. 7:22-24; Isa. 65:2; Mk. 7:6-9; Isa. 55:7-9; Prov. 16:25; Prov. 16:2; Jer. 10:23-?; Ps. 87:23; Ps.119-133; Ps. 119-105; 1 John 1:6-7; Prov. 28:26-?; Jer. 17:9; 1 Cor.8:17-?; Jer. 32-34-?; Luke 16:15.

Yes, the Sunday School method of teaching thought of by man, may be “highly esteemed among men” and thought to be the best method of teaching; but read again the Bible verses just given, and also Eccl. 3:14; Eccl. 12:18-14; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Heb. 10:25; Acts 20:7; Acts 15:30; Acts 14:27; Acts 11:26; Mat. 18:20; Neh. 8:1-8; Deut. 31:12-13; Josh. 18:1 and Josh. 8:35. Let us be satisfied with the ways of the Lord (Isa. 55:7-9), and not say, “Lord, I’ve thought up a better way to teach than the one you gave; so stand to one side Lord while we show you how!” (Jer. 6:16; Jer. 7:23-24; Job. 21:14; Ps.1:1-5; John 8:31-32; 2 John 6 and 9; Heb. 12:1-2).

Jesus said, “Follow me” (Mat. 16:24) and Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” And we can follow them everywhere they went and never go to Sunday School, because they never went to one. We can’t obey God’s Commandments (Rev. 22:14 and Eccl. 12:13) and not go to church; but we can obey all God’s Commandments and never go to Sunday School!

III. Sunday School is unscriptural because children can be led astray from God by Sunday School.   

I will now show some of the results of Sunday School, how infidelity is taught therein, and how children can be led astray from God by Sunday Schools. The following infidelity is found in the “Gospel Treasure Graded Bible Lessons”, published and sold and used by the Sunday School Church of Christ brethren; but before giving you the infidelity lessons taught therein, let me quote to you the praise by the brethren of these lessons, given in their advertising of same to be sold by “he Christian Chronicle’, “Coleman Overby publisher of Bible School Literature”, “World Vision Publishing Co.”, “Old Paths Book Club’, “Gospel Light Publishing Co.”, “Christian Worker”, Here 1 quote their praise of these infidel lessons found in said literature, “Gospel Treasure Graded Bible Lessons” have been prepared by consecrated Christians. From the editor-in-chief, Jesse P. Sewell, ‘on through the staff every writer and artist working on this series is a faithful member of the New Testament church—and these lessons are the result of years of experience in the church classroom.” (Now notice what they teach in this literature) “Are the results of years of experience in the church classroom?”

Example # 1

So, let us read what the little children are taught there:

“A long, long time ago everything was dark. Then God made the light. He made the land and the sea. In the earth He put little seed. He sent the rain and the sunshine. Soon the beautiful flowers grew” Now that causes disbelief in the Bible, for the Bible shows in Gen. 1:11-18 that God caused the earth “to bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself—and the evening and the morning were the third day.”

We see here that “the herb yielding seed” was produced the third day, but we find in Gen. 1:16-19 that the sun was not caused to shine until the next day “the fourth day’; in Gen. 2:1-5 we find “God made—every plant of the field before it was in the earth—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain”. Here we see the plant producing the first seed, and not the seed producing the first plants, and all these plants grew before God “sent the rain and the sunshine.”   I believe it best to teach children what the Bible teaches, but the worst is yet to come.

Example # 2

Now, turn to “Gospel Treasure Graded Bible Lessons Senior Students— Year 1, Book 1” page 28. “Matthew was written by Matthew, a lawgiver’, What law did he give? Next on same page, “Mark,” first written gospel, was written by Mark—he was Peter’s translator. So directly, it is more Peter’s work than Mark’s”. Where did these Sunday School teachers learn all this? Not from the Bible, I’m sure.

Example # 3

But I believe it gets worse on page 29: “John was written by Jesus’ close friend, John. It was written in the second century and was not at first accepted on a par with the other gospels. Why?’ Well, they ask “Why?”, so, I answer, because of such infidelity as just’ quoted, “It was written in the second Century.”  If written then there isn’t much chance that John did write it since it is generally agreed John died late in the first century, shortly after writing Revelations, or that he died very early in the second century.

Example # 4

We will now notice page 45, where the Bible is most positively rejected in the following words:

The geologists say that Mount Moriah is one of the two oldest parts of the world, the other being Mount Sinai, upon which Moses received the Ten Commandments. They prove this by the rocks, saying that when the world was thrown off by the sun and floated about in its nebulous state through the air the parts which first solidified were the summit of Sinai, and the rock which now stands inside the mosque on the top of Moriah.

So, it seems in order to prove the first denial of the Bible about the earth and plants being made before the sun they now deny God made the world, and tell us “the world was thrown off by the sun”, Where did they learn this? Tear them again, “These lessons are the results of years of experience in the church classroom.” Now, there is a confession of the results of Sunday School classes, let us take warning and not send our children to such places.

Now don’t say, ‘That’s not ‘Church of Christ’ Sunday School Teaching” for this literature was written, printed and sold by these brethren, yea, it was sold and used by them even after the infidelity was exposed in it. If this infidelity were taught in the assembly, parents would know of it at’ once and correct it, but when parents leave the teaching of their children to such teachers and teachings as this, in classes separated from the assembly, there is a great chance their children’s faith will be shaken before they know they are being taught such infidelity.

IV. Sunday School is unscriptural because it is church-sponsored.

Now, if someone says these classes are not separated from the church, just notice this quotation from a letter sent my home congregation by the “Fort Walton Church of Christ’ of Ft. Walton, Fla.:

“Dear Brethren in Christ— We are not asking for large donations from every church. We are asking for small ones from as many as will give. Not $100, $200, or $500 but rather only from $1.00 to $100—many Sunday School classes and individuals plan to do the same.”

Here, you see the church is expecting help from churches, and also from “Sunday School classes.” Yet, they claim they don’t have Sunday Schools, when in debate on this unscriptural practice; and they claim it is the church at work when we refer to their classes; yet you can see from this they do have “Sunday School” and it is not the church.

Now, let us notice a report quoted from ‘Firm Foundation” of Dec. 9, 1952, I quote it in full:

“Bill Thompson, Lufkin, Texas, November 24: Sunday School attendance averaged 299 for October. Contributions averaged over $425. One was baptized. November 16th we set a new record in Sunday School attendance with 309 present, four baptized, and two placed membership. Yesterday we baptized another man and his wife.”

Notice, the “Sunday School” is named twice and praised highly, yet the church is not named; it seems the “Sunday School” is doing the baptizing and having good attendance and contributions.

Next, I quote from “Childhaven News’, of Oct. 1952, another paper published by Sunday School brethren, “Shall I Force My Child To Go To S. S. and Church”? They answer, ‘Yes, definitely!” So, again we see two organizations, “S. S. and Church’’, and to prove more positively that the S. S. is an organization, we will read from another one of the Sunday School brethren’s papers, “The Gospel Guardian,” July 17, 1952:

“Then there was that central Texas church whose elders appointed one of the sisters to be Superintendent of the Sunday: school, only to have said sister promptly fire one of the elders from the class he was teaching.”  I might add here that the one who reported this continued to say, “We agree with the sister. Any elder who would show so little judgment as to make the original appointment has pretty clearly demonstrated his unfitness to teach a Bible class. The sister showed good Judgement in removing him.”

Here you see Sunday School is an organization with a “Superintendent” and in this report the Superintendent is a woman that not only usurped authority over the man, but over the elder.

We next turn to this same paper of Dec. 4, 1952, and read:

 “An elder in a congregation in Kentucky tells me that he decided to take a look at the pictures being used in the children’s classrooms, and among other Romish relics he found a picture of John the Baptist pouring water on the head of Jesus. Bro. Dyer, this was in ‘a classroom maintained by our brethren.’ ”

That is almost as bad as that infidelity that is in the Sunday School literature; teaching those little children that John baptized Jesus by pouring water on his head. I believe people can go to heaven believing John baptized Jesus by pouring water on his head just as easy as they can believing “the earth was thrown off by the sun,” but brethren, I do not believe people can go to heaven believing either of those things taught in the Sunday School classes of the digressive Churches of Christ, or any denomination, and 1 fear some people will go to hell for putting such infidelity in the hands of our young boys and girls to study in their church Sunday School classes or anywhere else.

V. Sunday School is unscriptural because it has women teaching God’s word in a public forum.

Now, for the sake of those who think that is all that is wrong with the Sunday School, I want to say, there are many other things that are wrong with them even if all this infidel teaching could be removed. I wish to quote from preachers who are in this division, or those who were, before passing into the great beyond. These preachers are widely known, and these statements are quoted from books published by Sunday School brethren. The first quotation is found in a 767 page book published by “Gospel Advocate Co.”, titled “Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell.”

These questions being asked by different people, were answered by these preachers, then published in this book. We will quote question one, and its answer found on page 736:

WOMEN TEACHING IN SUNDAY SCHOOL. Brother Lipscomb: I would be glad to have some information on the subject of women’s speaking or teaching in the church. Do they have the right to be teachers in the Sunday School, or not? If they do not, I would be glad to have all the information that you could give me. “As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church’ (1 Cor. 14:34, 85). I would not write that in plainer or simpler language. I would be foolish to attempt it. Read also 1 Tim, 2:8-15. Yet, women have the right to teach those who know less than themselves, Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). So, I am sure that a woman may teach the Bible to old or young, male or female, at the meetinghouse, at home, at a neighbor’s house, on Sunday or Monday or any other day of the week, if they know less than she does, if she will do it in a quiet, modest, womanly way.

Here we find a mighty good answer to the question of women teaching. The writer admits he “could not write-in plainer, simpler language”, even admits he “would be foolish to attempt it.” Yet, to justify their women who teach he tries to fix it so she can feel justified in so doing, but to see how this will read we will put Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 14:33-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and this brother’s statement in the answer together, and it reads like this in the A. S. V. that he quotes from: “As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Cor.14:33-35).  “Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).  “Yet, women have a right to teach those who know less than themselves if she will do it in a quiet modest, womanly way.”  Friends, it is not hard to see how odd and contradictory that looks; but someone may say, “Well he gave Bible where a woman taught.” Yes, but that was not in the church as you should know, for this man and his wife that taught Apollos didn’t teach him in public for the Bible says, “They took him unto them,’ The Moffatt, Goodspeed, Weymouth and 20th Century translations of the N. T. say, “They took him home”. So this is not contradicting any Scripture, but now turn with me to the 458 page book of “Queries And Answers”, by David Lipscomb, Editor of the Gospel Advocate, and let us hear more from this well-known man on this question, beginning on page 448 we read:

 “In Rom. 16:1, Paul commends unto them ‘Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church—’ Verse 3 adds: ‘Salute Priscilla and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.’ One way they helped was when they found a young man mighty and eloquent in the Scripture, knowing only a part of the counsel of God, and ‘they took him unto them, and expounded ante him the way of God more accurately’ (Acts 18:26). Prisca and Aquila did this in taking him unto them and privately teaching him. They also helped Paul by giving him a home and employment when he needed it.”

So, here it is agreed that said teaching was done “‘privately”’. Yes, notice the public was not invited to this teaching, as it is in Sunday School classes. Let us now read another question answered by this same preacher beginning on page 450 of this book:

All the teaching of the Bible is against women speaking in public. Paul said: “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, let the woman keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for women to speak in the church. … If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14-31-37). If that passage of scripture can be reasoned away so as not to mean that women should not speak in the churches, I do not know what command of God may not be set aside.  The Command to Timothy was given him to guide him in setting in order the churches of Christ. “Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:11-14). Here are two reasons given: (1) Adam was first created, and the precedence, the right to rule and lead, was given him; (2) the woman was deceived and led in transgression. Both reasons are universal in their hearing, showing clearly that the rule is universal. I do not see how God could have made it clearer and more certain than he has done.

If these commands can be set aside, I do not see what command of the Bible may not be set aside. The great majority of those who set them aside openly adopt the infidel rule; they are not to be governed by Paul. Sam Jones said, “God has blessed women’s preaching; and if God does this, who cares what Paul says?” —that is, he sees that women’s speaking has stirred up a religious excitement. He takes that to be a sign that God has blessed their speaking, and on that judgment of his he denounces Paul as unworthy of credence.”

 [Here, Lipscomb admits that 1 Timothy 2:11-14 ordains that women teachers are not allowed to teach God’s word publically (as is the common custom in Sunday School) – P. M.]

Now all crossing up of God’s word in trying to justify Sunday School classes with women teachers gets some people confused as you can see from the following question to this preacher, and his answer is same beginning on page 446 —

WOMAN’S WORK: “Can you not tell us just what work you think, according to the Bible, women may be permitted to do for the church as such? Once in a while you admit that there is work for women to do, but just what it is you never tell us. Of course we understand about home duties and rearing children, and all that, of which I, one of your ‘strong-minded women,’ certainly do my share. But what may we do for the church as such, besides?”

Answer: “Paul, after telling the men what they should do, says: ‘In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression but she shall be saved through her childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety’ (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Following both these negative and positive requirements is church work, because the work of Christ, and must be observed by women if they be faithful members of the church. Paul gives the works a widow must have done to entitle her to the support of the church: ‘Well reported for good works; if she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints’ feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work… I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling,’ (1 Tim. 2:10-14). That is church work. The church has no more important work than bearing children and training them for service to God. Women must do that work.

Paul tells Titus to teach sound doctrine. That doctrine, as it refers to women, is: ‘That aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.’ (Tit. 2:3-5) That is church work— the old women to teach the young women good things; to be sober; to love their husbands, their children; to be discreet, chaste, good housekeepers, obedient to their husbands. A Christian woman is doing church work when she keeps house well—when she properly loves her husband, her children. The word of God is blasphemed when a woman does not keep house well,—In these general admonitions: that might be multiplied it is stated that women must guide the house and relieve the afflicted. This imposes on her the necessity of teaching her children the way of the Lord, of visiting the sick, and in these ministrations it is her duty to teach the word of God— In Rom. 16:1, Paul commends unto them ‘Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchrea.’ This shows that she devoted herself to the service of the church. This service was in looking after the needy and sick of their own members, then of the world—there is always work of looking after the sick and needy men, women, and children that women can do much better than men. Phoebe did this work. In doing this, she taught the word of God to all who came into contact with her.

Here, it is aged women don’t have to be in the pulpit or Sunday School to teach God’s word. The church Jesus built (Mt. 16:18; Rev. 3:7-8) did not have Sunday School, or divide into classes by any name as some are doing today; neither did it have women teaching in the assembly, or in classes formed by dividing the assembly into classes, letting different teachers thus teach at the same time as I’ve proved already.

VI.  Sunday School is unscriptural because it causes division.

I have shown it to be a thing invented by man and brought into the church hundreds of years after Jesus built His church and now the church is divided over such, so the question comes up: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DIVISION?

In answering this question, let us turn back to Questions Answered By Lipscomb and Sewell’, published by the “Gospel Advocate Co.”, and see who the Sunday School people Bay is responsible for divisions; what rule shall we go by in deciding who is guilty of this great sin? Let us begin reading on page 337:

The party that is responsible for the division has never objected to any part of the original faith and practice of the disciples of the first half of the nineteenth century. They can all work and worship as those early churches did without a compunction of conscience. Their part in the matter is to introduce things they know and admit are untaught, and therefore unauthorized, in the New Testament, such as missionary societies through which to preach the gospel and instrumental music in the worship (And individual communion cups, Sunday School Classes, and women teachers—E. H. M.). They simply claim the right to introduce these on the plea of religious liberty and upon the claim that they are not forbidden in the word of God, and such like. All those who stand upon the original ground, or claim to live strictly by what the word of God says, and to regard things not required in the work and worship of the church as for that very reason forbidden, cannot accept anything added by human wisdom as allowable, either in faith or practice. But those that were not willing to continue to work and worship simply as the word of God directs have gone off into things they know the word of God does not require. So it may be truthfully said, as the apostle John says: ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us,’ (1 John 2:19). This is in reality the true state of the case.

They went away from the original ground, began to introduce things that no true and faithful child of God can accept and practice. This is what, forced the division. They generally wait and work till they yet a majority before they begin to introduce these innovations, so they can hold the house, and do not pay those whom they drive out accent for their interest in it. They could stay and worship as the faithful ones have done all the while without a single hitch on their conscience, But when they get their majority and strength to force in their desired innovations, those who confidently believe these things to be sinful cannot afford to remain with such things, to give them the encouragement of their examples, and in that way become parties to what they believe to be sinful, and so they go somewhere else, where they can live and work and worship just as the word of God directs. Thus the innovations force those who are determined to live free from innovations to go elsewhere to so live and worship then those that force in the innovations cry out in most sarcastic tone: ‘You have divided the church? But there is not a word of truth in that charge. Those who force in human innovations and opinions, which those who intend to be faithful to Christ cannot afford to participate in, are the dividers, and are fully and criminally will in the division thus produced, and they will be held guilty at the judgment. The guilt of producing these divisions as certainly rests on those who force in these divisive things (Such as cups, classes, women teachers, and instruments of music – E.H.M) as what the Bible is true, and they will have them to answer for.”

Notice, “The party that is responsible for the division has never objected to any part of the original faith and practice” (2 Jn. 6 & 9). Notice too, they “introduce things—unauthorized, in the New Testament—they simply claim—they are not forbidden in the word of God, and such like.”

Now, are: (1) Instruments of music, (2) Individual Communion Cups, (3) Women Teachers, and (4) Sunday School, or classes of any other name as used by some Churches’ of Christ authorized or “unauthorized” in the word of God? Notice what they say, “All those who stand upon the original ground, or claim to live strictly by what the word of God says and to regard things not required in the work and worship of the church as for that very reason forbidden, cannot accept anything added by human wisdom as allowable, either in faith or practice.”

These brethren now accept cups, classes, and women teachers; but reject the instruments of music; but, brethren, all these things will stand or fall together by the foregoing argument. They leave out one of these, disfellowshiping churches that have them; doing so by this rule, but then force in the other three where they can, and as I’ve just quoted from their own book.

They could stay and worship as the faithful ones have done all the while without a single hitch on their conscience. But when they get their majority and strength to force in their desired innovations (they do so— E. H. M.). . .  Thus the innovators force those who are determined to live free from innovations to go elsewhere. . . Those who force in human inventions and opinions—are the dividers—the guilt of producing these divisions as certainly rests on those who force in these divisive things as that the Bible is true, and they will have them to answer for.

Now remember they also admitted: “They generally wait and work till they get a majority before they begin to introduce these innovations, so they can hold the house—and do not pay those whom they drive out a cent for their interest in it.”.. Now, although I am among those driven out by the innovators, I do not believe I could make it any plainer what causes the divisions than they have made it—“The guilt—certainly rests on those who force in these divisive things”.

They don’t even claim we are leaving off any Bible teachings, “They could stay and worship as the faithful ones have done all the while without a single hitch to their conscience.” They have forced in things they know we don’t have to have to be saved, things they know are not taught anywhere in God’s word; therefore, Rom. 16:17-18 applies to them.

Brethren, you who read this on the side that have these innovations, won’t you stop and think? What if you and I live the same kind of life, our only difference being you worship at a congregation that has classes, women teachers, cups and instruments of music; and I worship where they have no classes (but teach in one assembly, the men do all the teaching) uses a cup (not cups), and no instruments of music. We have lived the same kind of lives, except in worship; how will we stand in the judgment day?  Bro. John, we will say, worshipped with a congregation like I worship, except they used cups instead of a cup, and Bro. Jim, we’ll say, worshipped with a congregation like you worship, except they didn’t use instruments of music. Here we are four brethren, who have lived perfect lives in our daily living, but we are divided over four things, and because of this division Jesus sends three to hell and saves only one. Now, who will He save if He saves just one? Will He send any one to hell for failing to go beyond the Bible way’ Out of these four congregations there is only one, and can only be one, that has not added to or taken from what the Bible teaches, yes, and the members of each congregation can all meet and worship together at only one of these four congregations “without a single hitch on their conscience.” Brethren, let us stand together in “The Way” that is right and cannot be wrong. As only one of these four can be “The Way” let us be sure and be in it (1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 8:16-17, 2 Tim. 3:18-17 and James 1:21-25).

[This study is a reduced version of E.H. Miller’s excellent, well-researched tract entitled Proof: Cups and Classes are Not Scriptural.]

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”