Are these schools in the “Spring of Hope” or the “Winter of Despair”?
Growth and Crisis
Christian education is on the move in our circles. The latest Annual of the National Union of Christian Schools reports 207 schools with a total enrollment of 40,754 pupils, staffed by 1500 full-time teachers. Everywhere new buildings are being occupied and others are being constructed. New societies are formed and schools begun. There is new enthusiasm, new purpose, and new energy.
In spite of this healthy growth and energy the cause of Christian education is involved in a crisis from which its healthy emergence in the years to come is much in doubt. It recalls Dickens’ famous opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….”
Christian education is truly in crisis. Internal problems of curriculum, teacher recruitment, building programs, and finances are but a small part of the total picture. There are increasing signs of internal dissensions over the nature, purpose, and even the basic reason for Christian education itself among our own constituency. Among Protestant Christians a serious cleavage over this issue is increasingly apparent. Subtle political, economic, and social pressures are building up and becoming more numerous in the actions of state legislatures, accrediting agencies, and social pressure groups.
The attacks and pressure on Christian education at first glance seem so widespread and divergent, so crosscurrent and perplexing, that many may be lulled into believing that there is no attack at all. The front is indeed fluid, but the enemy is very real. The first thing we must do is to recognize the danger, then analyze the situation and unify our defense.
This article, then, will attempt to show that dangers do exist, that they come from within and without, and that there is one Significant way to meet these various attacks. The enemy may not be united, but there is a unifying principle in his attack. The survival of our Christian schools in the second half of the twentieth century depends on how well we define and locate our enemies, and how well we prepare to defend ourselves.
I. INTERNAL TENSIONS Dr. John De Vries on Science in Educotion
Some of the internal tensions of Christian education were brought into sharp focus and conflict during the California Christian Teachers’ Institute held this past year at Redlands, California, October 24 and 25. The main speaker at the Institute was Dr. John De Vries of Calvin College.
In a series of three lectures Dr. De Vries explored the role of science in Christian education. Some of the current tensions and problems in this area were handled openly and honestly.
The dominant theme of Dr. De Vries’ lectures, however, was the sharp cleavage between the Christian’s and the non-Christian’s basic premises in the approach to science. Dr. De Vries clearly demonstrated that the non-Christian scientist, although loudly professing complete impartiality and open-mindedness, actually has twelve basic a priori prejudices in his approach to science. The so-called “scientific method” presupposes the nonexistence of God, and nature is used in a self-contradictory fashion.
In opposition to the non-Christian approach to science the Christian, according to Dr. De Vries, must clearly recognize that he begins with basic presuppositions. He presupposes the sovereign God of the Bible and a created universe.
Such refreshing concreteness from a scientific scholar, recognized in both Christian and non-Christian scientific circles, is heartening indeed at a time when covenantal Christian education seems threatened from within and without.
The Approach of Dr. James Daane In direct contrast to this concrete antithetical approach to epistemology and Christian education was a lecture given at the evening banquet of the California Christian Teachers’ Institute by Dr. James Daane, pastor of the Los Angeles Christian Reformed Church. Dr. Daane’s two main ideas both stood in direct contrast to the approach of Dr. De Vries.
In the first place Dr. Daane contended that one great danger of Christian education was that our schools lacked rapport with American society and that our children were losing their contact with the American scene. He implied rather directly that our schools were the result of immigrant isolationism, and were the products of fear the fear of contamination by American life, kept alive by the psychology of withdrawal.
The solution offered by Dr. Daane to this grave danger was for our schools to seek involvement with American society. Dr. Daane contended that when such involvement was accomplished we would then truly have a correct philosophy of education and our schools would be the finest schools in the country.
Dr. Daane was later questioned as to whether this involvement in the American scene could not be more easily accomplished by sending a child directly to the public schools. The reply was that this could very probably be true. Dr. Daane later admitted that perhaps Christian school teachers also could better achieve this type of involvement by becoming public school teachers.
What have we here? Is this involvement or suicide? Do we have here a distinctive Christian school philosophy with which to exert a tremendous influence on American society and education at a period when American education is being re-evaluated as to its aims, purposes, and accomplishments? Or do we have here a weak conformity and submergence for its own sake? Do we have here any real purpose to maintain our schools, or to propagate them where they do not exist?
Dr. Daane’s second point was that our schools should be further separated from our churches and left to seek their own “peculiar objectives.” Dr. Daane did not develop this point as specifically as the first, but he clearly implied that the school and church should be allowed to drift apart. The impression was clearly created that this point of separation should be far enough to relieve the church altogether of the burden and embarrassment of establishing or maintaining a Christian school.
It is painful to bring so personal a criticism to public attention. Yet I would feel derelict in my duty not to challenge publicly so insidious and also so public an attack on the principles of Christian education. It is also public knowledge that the Los Angeles Christian school has closed. Perhaps certain extenuating circumstances enter in. Yet one cannot help wondering to what extent the publicly expressed philosophy of Dr. Daane helped to bring about this sad fact.
School and Church
The contention that the school and church should be completely separated may relieve the embarrassment of defending our schools to liberal Christian friends. It may be equally distressing to some also to explain why our Church is so narrow-minded as to exclude lodge members from our communion unless they are willing to give up their lodge membership previous to joining the church. This seems, however, to be a sort of immigrant complex in reverse and is based on expediency rather than basic principle.
Our schools are not parochial schools, yet our churches aJ’e directly responsible for their establishment and maintenance. The reluctance of some ministers and churches to accept this responsibility is a continuing concern. Article 21 of our Church Order is very explicit as to the obligation of churches to support Christian schools. “Consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian schools where the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.”
Article 41 of our Church Order further states that at the regular meetings of Classis the following specific questions shall be asked by the president to the delegates of each represented church: “Does the consistory diligently promote the cause of Christian day schools?”
Our leaders are clearly obligated to support actively Christian education (Acts 1892, Article 23, p. 12). “All our leaders and people are urged to lend this cause their whole-hearted moral and financial support” (Acts 1932, Article 59, p. 42). Synod even went so far as to recommend that the support of lack of support of Christian education should be given weighty consideration in connection with determining a man’s fitness or qualifications for office-bearer (Acts 1934, Article 162, p. 167).
This clearly obligates ministers and elders vigorously to support our Christian schools, as demanded by our Church Order (Article 21). It is also clearly the obligation of Classis (Article 41) to be vitally concerned when one of its member churches seems to have taken a contrary position on the Christian school principle. Many ministers and churches have clearly accepted their responsibility towards the school, while others continue to drag their feet.
B. CLEAVAGE IN PROTESTANTISM
Let no one be deceived. The issue of Christian education is coming to a head. Protestantism in general is beginning to take sides. On one hand, American Fundamentalism is embracing the movement with vigor under the able direction of Mark Fakkema, Educational Director of the National Association of Christian Schools. The movement has the backing of the National Association of Evangelicals and emphasizes the evangelical approach. Although we welcome the enthusiasm and the evangelical warmth of this movement, we maintain with vigor the truly Reformed position of Christian education as being a covenantal responsibility owed to our sovereign God.
Dr. Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary has stated the issue with great clarity and distinction in his pamphlet The Dilemma of Education. On page 27 he states:
“The difference therefore between the Arminian position and the Reformed Faith is not limited to a few minor details. It is rather an all inclusive and all-persuasive difference. What is the significance of the difference for education? It means that the same criticism that we have made of the Roman Catholic position applies here. With Romanism, the Arminian view accepts a principle of interpretation for human life which comes in part from man himself. Then we have no fully intelligible philosophy of Christian education. We cannot clearly show that the non-Christian view is wrong. We cannot maintain that God must be active in education; we cannot show why education should be Christ-centered.”
Although we welcome with enthusiasm the sincere contribution of the N.A.C.S. and the N.A.E. in the field of Christian education, we must base our concepts of Christian education clearly on a distinctive Biblical foundation. Yet we must look on our N.A.C.S. friends as Christian brethren united with us in the defense of Christian education against such recent attacks as the official statements published by the Reformed Church in America’s Board of Education and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America’s Board of Christian Education resolution.
These two reports are in many ways parallel and similar. Both are of recent origin, and they constitute official statements proposed by the official Boards related to education and adopted officially by the controlling authorities in both churches.
Opposition to Christian Schools by the Reformed Church and the Presbyterian Church
The statement of the Reformed Church was officially adopted by the Synod of 1957 and this body directed that it be sent to every pastor in the Church for reading, reference, and study. It was similarly adopted by the Board of Education of the Reformed Church at its April, 1957, meeting.
The statement of the position of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America on education was first adopted by its Board of Christian Education and submitted to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church on May 14, 1957. It was officially adopted by the General Assembly.
It is hoped that these statements will be carefully studied and replied to in detail by leaders in the Christian Reformed and in other Churches as both reports so directly challenged our most basic convictions as regards the purpose of Christian education. Here one can only attempt to sketch the problem. Both of these statements require careful considerations and replies, but it is undeniable that they constitute a major attack on the purpose and nature of Christian education.
In content the material covered and the general conclusions of both reports are similar. The Presbyterian report is divided into five main headings. Part I, “Among Free Peoples,” deals with the public schools and attempts to define the mission and function of the public school in America. Part II is entitled “Religion in the School Curriculum.” Part III is entitled “Parochial and Other Weekday Schools,” Part IV, a “Two-Way Conversation,” and Part V, “Challenge to Presbyterians.”
The statement of the Reformed Church in America also has five major headings. Part I, called the “Problem Stated,” discusses private and parochial schools and church-related colleges. Part II deals with “Public Education.” Part III is entitled “Parochial Education in the United States” and considers the stand of Roman Catholic, Lutherans, Jewish, Christian Reformed, and the Reformed Church in America. Part IV is called “Theological Presuppositions of Education” and Part V is the “Summary and Recapitulation.”
Both documents, while acknowledging the right to establish private and parochial schools, strongly defend the public school as the legitimate means of education. Both statements do some quick adjustment in defense of their support of public schools as the appropriate mode of instruction, on one hand, and the demand, on the other, that the church and the home take up the “slack” and overcome the secularizing influence of the school, which neither will fully admit is present. Does not the great stress on the need of the home and the church to meet the shortcomings of the public school imply the recognition by both statements that such secularizing influence does exist?
Another inconsistency in these attacks is the attempt to justify Christian education on the college level where justification has been rigorously opposed on the elementary and secondary level. Under the heading of “Church-related Colleges” the report of the Reformed Church attempts to justify this inconsistency. “This means that many who feel no restraint in sending their children to public schools at the primary and secondary level are committed to the view that high education should take place within an atmosphere that is permeated by the Christian spirit.” The reason for this point of view is twofold. “First of all, the child during the years of attendance at primary and secondary schools is normally sheltered within the home. The parents and the church are therefore able to discharge their responsibilities in leading the child into a richer apprehension of God’s grace through instruction and example, the importance of which cannot be overestimated.”
The second reason for justifying Christian college education is as follows: “the primary and secondary education is for the most part concerned with giving the child basic equipment. It is desirable that attitudes, habits, and patterns of thought are established long before a youth enters college. However, the rational ordering of life, the relating of things to one another in a comprehensive scheme, ordinarily take place at a more advanced age”…“During the years of primary and secondary schooling the responsibility for helping the child to grow into a knowledge of these truths of the spirit belongs to church and home. With the advance into adulthood, the mind of the young person comes to grips with the claims of Christianity and of Jesus Christ who stands at the center.” Thus the conclusion is drawn that Christian colleges are warranted, but not Christian elementary and high schools.
III. CHRISTIAN REFORMED REACTION
In an editorial in The Banner of November 29, 1957, editor John Vander Ploeg analyzed this statement of the Reformed Church in a general way in an editorial entitled, “Van Raalte’s Anchor of Hope.” Editor Vander Ploeg’s comment on some of the reasoning of this statement was: “one finds it difficult to believe that the writers can really be serious about this. But apparently they are in dead earnest.” Those of us actively engaged in the Christian school movement as teachers, board members, or parents find the unbiblical reasoning of the Reformed Church statements on the reasons for rejecting Christian elementary and high schools while embracing Christian colleges difficult to take seriously.
The lines are becoming more apparent. The Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church have officially rejected the Christian school movement. Although the Christian Reformed Church is officially committed to Christian education on all levels, and the National Union of Christian schools has had a phenomenal growth in enrollment and in number of schools, we must recognize that our schools are under attack.
Even as we hope there will be many in the Reformed Church who do not accept the official position of their Church and who will continue to participate actively in the Christian school movement, so there are those in the Christian Reformed Church who essentially reject our basic stand on Christian education and who feel a deep-seated sympathy with the official position of the Reformed Church.
A Letter by Rev. Hugh A. Koops
Dr. James Daane has presented a position which comes very close in spirit to the statement of the Reformed Church. It is significant also to note that The Banner of January 10, 1958 published a letter in the “Voices in the Church” section by Rev. Hugh A. Koops. Rev. Koops was very disturbed by the editorial, Van Raalte’s “Anchor of Hope.” Rev. Koops challenged the editorial on grounds that it strained Christian charity. But any careful reading of the editorial confirms the impression that The Banner editor was extremely charitable and tactful, and if there be belligerency it was not on the part of Rev. John Vander Ploeg. A strange paradox becomes apparent in these discussions. Sometimes it seems as if those who would criticize our basic positions are allowed unrestricted license, while those who defend our basic principles are sorely criticized. Does the Reformed Church, I ask Rev. Koops, have the undisputed right to make so basic a challenge to our principles, motives, and practices in Christian education without the Editor of our official church paper, and all of us, coming to our own defense? To ask the question is to answer it. It is hoped that others, with charity but with devastating logic, will answer this specious statement and reaffirm Scriptural principles.
IV. ATTACK ON COVENANT AS JUSTIFICATION FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
But more Significant still is the basic reason for Rev. Koop’s criticism of our editor. He agrees essentially with the position of the Reformed Church, and he disagrees essentially with the position of the Christian Reformed Church. At the center of the attack of the Reformed Church and of Rev. Koop’s argument is the attack on the doctrine of the covenant as justification for Christian schools. Says Mr. Koops: “The second feature of the editorial which I found extremely disconcerting was the very weak argumentation for Christian education. Surely, the doctrine of the covenant alone does not demand a separate school system.”
This then is the central point, this matter of the covenant and its interpretation. This is the central point of the statement of the Reformed Church which concludes that, “we caution against the acceptance of any interpretation of the covenant which prescribes the type and quality of education. We cannot conceive of the covenant as yielding built-in patterns of education determining in a specific manner its method, form and content.”
The question is not whether the covenant has “built-in” patterns which demand Christian education, or whether the covenant “alone” demands a separate school system. These are negative distortions of a positive commitment. The question is this: Does our distinctive Reformed view of the Sovereignty of God, as borne out in the Covenant of Grace, and as reflected in our total world and life view, require a positive commitment to Christian education?
The traditional stand of such men as Professor L. Berkhof has been a resounding and unqualified yes. In a booklet published by the National Union of Christian Schools in 1934, entitled “The Cornerstone of the Christian School, or the Covenant of Grace and its Educational Implications,” Prof. Berkhof defends with great clarity the proposition: “Show me a person who believes in the biblical conception of the covenant, and I’ll show you a person who believes in the Christian school.”
The National Union of Christian Schools in its pamphlet, “Four Reasons,” states the following: “The two basic teachings of the sovereign Kingship of God over all of life and the Covenant of Grace require the Christian school.” Our Church Order also recognizes the demands of the covenant in requiring consistories to establish good Christian schools.
It would seem that the burden of proof falls on those in our circles who want to say, in agreement with the Reformed Church, that the covenant does not “demand” Christian education. Certainly they have complete freedom to discuss this matter thoroughly and to evaluate our conclusions. If they continue in their rejection of our position, especially as ministers pledged to our church polity as well as our creeds, then two honorable procedures are open to them. The first is to try by every legal means to change our position. The second is, after failing to achieve this, they fully commit themselves to our position or seek communion elsewhere where they can be entirely honest. At the same time we welcome into our communion all those who agree with Our whole-hearted commitment to Christian education as demanded by God’s covenant promises.
V. SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ATTACKS
Another consideration enters here. Unless our schools are clearly established from principles which are integral and basic to our religious commitment we shall eventually lose them by default; and if we should survive our own waning interest, we would finally succumb to subtle social pressures and even to political persecution. This is to say that unless we clearly establish our schools as being an essential outgrowth of our religious faith, and which would establish them as coming under the First Amendment, the religious freedom clause, we cannot indefinitely maintain them against increasing opposition.
Professor Jellema and Zylstra Versus Prof. De Koster
That such increased opposition is coming is obvious to anyone who is a careful observer. The opposition will develop along two lines. The first attack will be attempts to compel us to add a bewildering maze of life-adjustment courses under the pretext of conforming to standards. Holland Christian High School recently lost its accreditation with the North Central Association of Secondary Schools because it refused to water down its curriculum with certain vocational and life-adjustment courses. Fortunately editorials in the Saturday Evening Post and the Chicago Tribune and comments in Time came to their defense. There remains in our people a persistent belief that our secondary schools must discipline the mind. It was this “formal discipline” that the late Dr. Henry Zylstra and Dr. Harry Jellema expanded so eloquently in their writing and speaking. With their efforts our secondary schools have defined our educative tasks in these terms, and away from the life-adjustment, vocational readiness, schooling vs. education type of thinking.
It was somewhat distressing then to read the article, “Education for Freedom,” by Lester De Koster in the February issue of the Reformed Journal, which strongly advocated a return to the vocational approach to education. What Mr. De Koster said so eloquently would better apply to the trade school, the business college, the industrial arts school. But please let us not attempt to divert, transpose, or undermine our Christian secondary schools from their primary task, as defined by Drs. Jellema and Zylstra. We cannot run off two-headed in opposite directions and still do our primary task. I am happy this attack on the primary role of Christian education was adequately answered by Ronald Jager in the May Reformed Journal.
Witness the new school laws in Ohio and Pennsylvania with their restricting regulatory details with regard to procedures, curriculum, and facilities. The problem here seems to be one of conforming to impossible demands which radically alter the character and content of our schools, or threaten to put them out of business.
Again, it is significant to note that the parochial schools receive special considerations and exemption in Ohio and Pennsylvania under the new law because the legislatures obviously fear a violation of the First Amendment. Other “private” schools are thrown together, including private schools for religious purposes, for high-handed regulation. These, the legislatures seem to assume, do not fall into the First Amendment sanctuary.
In our own state, California, a constitutional amendment will be found on the next ballot in the general election in November which, if passed, will make it lawful tu tax any religious-sponsored and non-profit educational institution below the college level. A group which calls itself “Protestants United Against Taxing Schools” is fighting the issue for all the religiously-sponsored Protestant schools in the state. No difference is made in the proposed California amendment between parochial, or First Amendment schools, and other religious schools. However, were the law to pass, the job of getting it revoked by judicial review of the Supreme Court would be infinitely more strongly grounded in unassailable constitutional precedent if the First Amendment can clearly be invoked. “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” If this law is adopted here, and not set aside by the courts, more states may eventually expect the same. With the tax weapon over us we are putty in their hands. We can be tinkered with by officials, imposed upon by agencies, regulated by unseen and possibly hostile men. They could bleed us to death if this amendment to California’s constitution is passed.
VI. WHAT ABOUT PAROCHIALISM?
We are frightened by parochialism, yet our schools are necessary applications of church polity, as we believe they are of our distinctives in theology. We have nothing to fear by tying our schools closer to our churches. Personally I prefer the present society-control system. But I sincerely agree also with Dr. John H. Bratt in his address before the National Union of Christian Schools’ Convention at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, last summer. Dr. Bratt drove the issue home when he commented, “My personal preference runs in the direction of the present society-control arrangement, but should the movement be impeded by non-participation and hampered by lack of resources in its constantly expanding demands, I would concur in a return to parochialism, convinced that it is the better way to promote the Kingdom of God.”
Rev. Bernard E. Pekelder, in an article entitled “Church, Christian Schools, and Finances,” printed in the February issue of the Reformed Journal and originally given before the Eastern Ministers’ Conference, reaches substantially the same conclusions as does Dr. Bratt for the same reasons. Says Mr. Pekelder, “But does the church have financial responsibilities toward the school? I suggest it does. Let us not be frightened by the specter of parochialism. If the church must promote Christian education and encourage its support by the parents, then it cannot divest itself of financial involvement.”
VII . FIRST AMENDMENT AND PAROCHIALISM
To Dr. Bratt’s and Mr. Pekelder’s reasons for considering a possible return to parochialism could be added the serious possibility that we cannot maintain our schools politically unless they are tied closely and clearly to our churches where the First Amendment gives them sanctuary. The implications of our Reformed principles as touching the First Amendment was clearly and logically worked out by Rev. Leonard Verduin in his recent article in the Reformed Journal, “Reformed Theology and the First Amendment.” As Reformed Christians we can certainly give this article our unqualified support, but we must also use it to protect not only our right to worship but also our right to educate under our distinctive theology.
The famous “Oregon Case” is an illustration to the point. In 1922 the state of Oregon by initiative proposed and adopted a law which required that all children between the ages of 8 and 16 who had not completed the eighth grade had to attend public schools. Under this law private schools were practically abolished.
The Roman Catholics brought this act before the court, and in 1925 the United States Supreme Court unanimously set the law aside as unconstitutional. Note the lapse of time. Judicial reviews take time even when successful, and were we faced with a battery of adverse legislation, we could lose our schools in the process of getting these laws reversed.
It is also noteworthy to consider the bases for the Supreme Court’s judgment. The court decided that the law violated the substantive meaning of the “due process” clause that appears in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. These clauses state that the government may not deny anyone “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The 1922 Oregon law was reversed, not on the overpowering argument of the First Amendment, which protects religious freedom, but on the Fourteenth which protects life, liberty, and property. The court decided that this law violated the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. It also held that the law denied private schools teachers and administrators of their liberty to make a living in a vocation “long regarded as useful and meritorious.”
This decision was grounded on substantial reasons, but not on the reason that this law interfered with legitimate rights of freedom of religion as granted by the First Amendment. It is hoped that some attorney or political scientists in our midst will seriously study this question and advise us as to what our schools can do for protection. Perhaps the problem of legalizing payments of tuition as legitimate tax deductions for our parents can be actualized only through the First Amendment.
VIII. CAN WE DEFEND OURSELVES?
There is but one solution to the “gathering storm” of criticism, protest, and attack on our Christian schools. That solution is to ground our schools more firmly in our distinctive faith and all its implications. Only then can we face realistically the opposition from within the framework of Protestant Christianity as expressed by the official statements of the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church. These statements are all the more agonizing because they come from within the framework of the so-called Reformed Protestant community. We truly wish we did not need to walk a lonely road away from those whose creeds and doctrines have the same origins and basis as ours.
Even more alarming is the growing demands of those within our own denomination who would drive church and school apart, and who would challenge the presuppositions of our covenant responsibilities in subordinating this important sphere of life to the demands of God’s Kingdom. This is certainly the “unkindest cut of all.”
The answer to both these sincere but misdirected groups of critics is a reaffirmation of our joint purposes in our schools and churches. As the Rev. Mr. Pekelder explained in the above mentioned source, “Christian schools must go on, providing for tile education of our children whose parents are committed to Christian education, The churches must go forward, extending their witness and broadening their evangelistic program.”
Only this joining of hands by church and school will also give the protection of the inviolate First Amendment necessary to guard us against the growing attacks upon our schools from the society around us by restrictive and subversive controls, perhaps by abolishment itself.
Perhaps this joining of hands by church and school need not lead to outright parochialism. Perhaps adequate solutions may be found within the present framework of society control. But the church must act also. The embrace must be mutual, for mutual purposes and goals.
Just how we finally define our entire philosophy is important, but not compulsory. Our embracing the cause of Christian education is primarily an act of love, a total commitment to our total faith, as a Communist would embrace his commitment and his faith.
We must begin with the eternal sovereign God. We must by all means believe that the covenant “demands” our schools. But again here it must not be a watered down sovereignty, or a “dynamic” and fluctuating covenant. Such ideas are neither biblical nor will they sustain our churches, much less our schools.
There may be those who would argue, as does the Rev. Mr. Koops, that “It is not the duty of the school, even the Christian school, to lead this child to Christ. This is the duty of the church.” We would not greatly argue this point except to agree with Dr. Henry Zylstra who in the chapter on “Christian Education” from a Testament of Vision declares, “I honor the teacher who, when she has reason to suppose that a pupil or student is not a Christian, drops whatever she is doing, her arithmetic, or geography, or history lesson, to press the Gospel message upon him. That teacher has her values in the right order. She puts first things first.”
Nor can we escape the Covenant of Grace in defining our commitment to Christian education. This is certainly the “cornerstone of the Christian school,” as Professor Berkhof so majestically stated. Nor do we fall back on the covenant because our homes and schools are not doing the job, as our N.A.C.S. friends sometimes suggest, or as our Reformed Church friends do when they imply that the home and school are alone sufficient. Let the trilogy of home, school, and church stand, each fully itself, yet all united.
Neither may we neglect the commitment to our school as a Kingdom necessity. The mandate to build the Heavenly City, the civitas dei, must be given its rightful place. But none of these stand in abstract isolation. All are part of a unity, a whole.
Our schools need not succumb to the divergent and diverse attacks that are being directed against them. Having located the enemy we must draw together in a continuous closed circle as a group of Conastoga wagons of an immigrant train anticipating an Indian attack. This closed circle contains those things that we value most: our covenant concept, creeds, biblical theology, world and life view, Kingdom consciousness, and unity of purpose in church and home and school. Once our wagons are drawn together the direction of the attack matters little. Let the arrows fly!