Even though we have much respect for Rev. Bernard J. Haan, and though we admire his enthusiasm in regard to Christian education in general, but especially in regard to a Christian Junior College in the Mid West, we however beg to differ with him in regard to his article in Torch and Trumpet, Vol. 3, No. 1 under the heading “Organization and Administration.”
Rev. Haan refers to a controversial matter, which, as we see it, need not be so, and therefore cannot see why it should cause a struggle. If we had the courage and faith to construct and build on a society basis it would leave out all controversy. But lacking in this courage and faith, as has been admitted by many in regard to Calvin College which is a church owned college and which has time and again been opposed by the generally esteemed Rev. I. Van Dellen, why then continue in that same direction in regard to our junior colleges?
According to Rev. B.J. Haan, God’s Word is not clear on this issue. We, however, believe it is. God’s Word teaches that the Church of Jesus Christ shall be spiritual in nature. As to its teaching in schools and colleges that which is secular, is that not unscriptural?
The writer also contends that unless close cooperation exist between church and school serious consequences could develop doctrinally and morally. We agree most heartily. Yet we would ask whether our schools are not under the observation of our watchers upon the walls of Zion. And do they not receive that mandate from King of the Church? Or shall this be allowed by a school board? Or do our watchers upon Zion’s wall only observe while serving in an official capacity?
We do not believe this to be so. Therefore we do not believe this to be an argument in favor for church related colleges. Rather do we believe that those who favor church related colleges do so for financial reasons. Which also is not a valid reason, for if we had faith like a mustard seed we would not care to organize on a church-related basis and neither would it be necessary.
And is it not true that when a number of years ago cooperation was attempted with the Reformed Church of America in regard to Northwestern Junior College at Orange City that the answer they received was that we did not wish to cooperate with a college on a church-related basis? Yet we are contemplating to have a church-related Junior College within a stone’s throw of it. It is humorous but rather inconsistent, is it not?
That conditions here are different than in The Netherlands is correctly stated. Yet the Free University was started under the able leadership of Dr. Abraham Kuyper on a society basis and under a economy which could not compare with that of the State subsidy was not obtained until years later, when Dr. Kuyper was prime minister. I wish our steering committee had a little more of such courage.
We believe the writer fails to make proper distinction between the church as an institute and the church as an organism when he refers to having church quotas for missions. Does not the mission mandate come to the instituted church of Jesus Christ? And can Rev. B.J. Haan point out one scriptural quotation which has the same mandate in regards to secular education? Yet the writer states that “it borders on the imaginary.” Furthermore, the writer claims that church control is so necessary in order to obtain recognition from proper accrediting associations. Does not Western Christian High have such accreditization? Even though they may not have obtained it by following the road of least resistance?
Furthermore the article states that in the light of a cursory study (which according to my dictionary means something done in haste) it was unanimously adopted by almost 600 men. In order to put this in the proper light, should it not have been mentioned that the constitution which was adopted was provisional? With the emphasis on the provisional?
Then again the writer says that the church is to have a friendly guardianship as though it would not have it without the permission of the college board. Much rather would we refer the readers to an article by Principal Walter A. De Jong in The Christian Home and School Magazine of March, 1953, Vol. 3, No. 73. We were very happy to note when it comes to Reformed principles that he seems to be walking in the footsteps of his late father, that educator esteemed by all who knew him, the late principal A.S. De Jong.
With charity towards all and with malice toward none, but for the sake of free Christian Schools and the purity of our beloved Christian Reformed Zion the above was written.
It has become rather apparent that the matter of Christian Junior Colleges has become for our people a problem that cannot be brushed aside by a mere negation. It has also become apparent that the opposing forces are either purposely avoiding to consider the main issues involved, or are minimizing them, or are placing them in the light of the absurd and the ludicrous.
It is not merely a question of idealism, but of realism. It is not a question of mimicking the educational fad of the Progressive-educational-philosophy; it is a question of whether our Christian Reformed youth in the various areas of our country are going to be able to receive a college education from the point of view of a Calvinistic, God-glorifying philosophy. It is not a question of a “laizzes-faire” attitude in behalf of those who favor the establishment of Junior Colleges, in order to avoid economic sacrifices by sending all of our young people to Calvin College; it is a question which has for its ultimate purpose the extension of God’s Kingdom, the goal of maintaining the Reformed identity of the church, and the glory of God.
It has been admitted by one writer on this subject that it is absurd to speak of a Junior College without sacrificing the true idealism as to what constitutes the real character of a college. The claim that even Calvin College has not reached this ideal should therefore deter us from the main objective. The veracity of this statement from a secular point of view may be correct. The facts are, however, that in spite of this inadequacy, Calvin alumni must have received an education which is not only on a par with colleges and universities which have academically reached the ideal of a college, but also have received an education which excels that of many of these well qualified institutions. Must Calvin apologize for what it has been able to accomplish by God’s grace? This same argument may be maintained against our Christian elementary and high schools. If we compare our physical plants, our equipment, our often inadequate teaching staffs, our training institutions with what is catalogued and categorized with the ideals of Progressive Education, we might just as well cease even trying to educate our covenant youth. The question may indeed be asked: What constitutes a Christian school, a Christian High school or college? Shall we adopt the thinking and the criteria of the secular educational institutions? Would it not be more in harmony with our Reformed-world-and-life-view to state our criteria and labor toward the most ideal in this respect? Roman Catholicism has already reached that stage. When Calvin had its beginning·, it certainly was out of gear academically with the criteria of the existing secular institutions of learning. Is it true therefore that according to the then popular standards, that Calvin has failed in its purpose and has forfeited its “raison’ d’être?” Must the Christian Reformed constituency assume an apologetic multitude for supporting Calvin or the Christian elementary and high schools?'” If there is no reason to apologize for these educational institutions as they exist today, why should we apologize for even thinking in terms of a Junior College which may soon be called into being. On the other hand to maintain, as some do, that Calvin College alone can give a proper education and that every Junior College among us must necessarily be attached to and be dependent upon Calvin’s rather far fetched.
It seems strange that when mention is made o[ a Junior College that there are some who claim that such an institution is merely established to help Christian school boards give their teacher candidates merely two years of training. This type of thin king as manifested in various articles has many disparaging implications against the teaching profession, and also manifests an insolent attitude against the school boards. It must become evident to everyone that most of the prospective teachers desire very much to receive a complete four year college training course and some go even far beyond that: stage. Then, too, every school hoard practically without exception prefers to employ only teachers that are well-qualified from an academic point of view. It should be rather evident to anyone who is not afflicted with wishful thinking that there are not any proponents of a Junior College who have such a mediocre conception of a Junior College, nor of the teaching profession, nor of the idealism of Christian school boards. We are full y aware that no Junior College could answer that purpose as so ludicrously reported. From the point of view of the Christian school teaching profession the Junior College may be a very necessary and essential step. Just too many of our high school graduates who live far distant from Calvin would like to attend some Christian college, but the opportunity for that just is not there. Calvin College is out of consideration in most instances, and a Christian Junior College is not available. It is extremely short sighted to maintain that the parents of these prospective college students are doing an injustice to Calvin. The facts are in the reverse. Every opponent to the Junior College movement is making it impossible for a host of these young people to attend a Christian college. It is economically impossible to send these young people to Calvin College. We must become realists. There are no accidents in the divine program. It is not accidental that California is about 2,500 miles from Grand Rapids. With a Junior College in these remote sections of our country a large number of these young people might see their ideal of a college education at least somewhat realized. At least that might have been a beginning toward their goal.
Junior Colleges simply are not called into being for the sale purpose to satisfy the school boards with an inadequate teaching profession.
The main objective must be to give a cultural training from the Christian point of view to many of our young people. This may spread into the various areas of education. These two years of preliminary training may be the inducement for many to continue their studies to become adequately trained for whatever profession they may desire or wish to enter.
There are also a number of young people in these remote sections of our country who do attend some secular college because it is impossible to attend Calvin. This condition is realistically pathetic. These very same young people receive a college education based upon a secular educational philosophy. Is it not true that these young people also constitute the future leadership within our denomination? This leadership has been, is now, and will in an ever increasing manner show its effect upon the religious life of the denomination. This type of leadership may become a retarding force in the development of Reformed truth. No one can blame these Christian parents for giving these children an opportunity to receive a college education in their own geographic proximity. It was either this or not a college education at all. Again it is an economic impossibility to send all these young people to Calvin.
From all this it must be extremely evident that if the Christian Reformed denomination is to retain its heritage then it is very essential that we approach this problem from a realistic point of view. By not establishing Junior Colleges based upon a Calvinistic educational philosophy and available for all of our young people, it seems that we are betraying these young people, are betraying our Reformed heritage, are betraying the Christian cultural milieu of our constituency, are betraying the various areas of our denominational existence. And are we not doing a gross injustice to the extension of God’s Kingdom in general? Again we must be realistic and not extremist in our approach to this problem.