In Bruce Catton’s fascinating civil war histories (This Hallowed Ground and Mr. Lincoln’s Army) a general who gets an unusual amount of attention is George B. McClellan. A good administrator who knew how to dramatize army service and to inspire loyalty in his men, he seemed to have everything that was needed to make a good commanding officer except the willingness to fight. In crises he always over-estimated the power of his opponent and again and again shied away from seizing the initiative that might have gained decisive victories. Accordingly his career is a story of missed opportunities; of vast resources that were frittered away to little purpose and of lost battles that threatened the whole Union cause with defeat.
Evangelical Christendom is handicapped by the same kind of leadership today. It has far too many leaders like McClellan who never gain victories in the cause of Christ because they will not fight. “Fight the good fight of faith” was Paul’s indispensable counsel to an early church leader who needed that reminder. Christians and churches who will not fight face certain defeat. Victory is promised to believers who will fight.
PETER DE JONG
Whenever things proceed according to pIan, little comment is made. Whenever the opposite occurs everyone looks for reasons, offers explanations, and even tries to place blame at someone’s doorstep.
This is exactly what has happened regarding September enrollment at Calvin College. As is the case in most schools, Calvin predicted that a certain number would enroll in September 1967. But when the actual figures were tallied there were 170 fewer students than predicted. When this fact was announced, the search for explanations began.
The administration initiated a survey, directing its attention to two groups of students: “those who were admitted for the first semester but did not register, and those who were students at Calvin last year but did not return” (Calvin College Chimes, Jan. 12, 1968, p. 2). The result of the survey was “that nothing conclusive could be known” (Chimes, p. 2).
An editorial in Chimes also gave its reaction to the less-than-expected enrollment. In an article entitled “A College is Known by the Students it Keeps,” it was stated that contact was made with about twelve students who had transferred to other colleges and universities. On the basis of these contacts, and other incidents relating to administration policy, it was concluded that the enrollment drop was due to “the college’s excessively paternalistic attitude toward its students” (Chimes, Oct. 27, 1967, p. 2).
Without claiming to have the answer, I would like to add my opinion, an opinion which is not based on a survey but upon a comment which I hear with increasing frequency. The comment, made primarily by parents, is this: “What’s the difference? What’s the difference between Calvin and another college or university?”
The obvious implication is that, if there is no difference, why not send Our children to another college at less expense.
Now I recognize that the “I hear people say” approach is often insignificant and unworthy of consideration. And yet it has convinced me that we, as Church and College, should unite in promoting and maintaining the Christian and Reformed distinctiveness of Calvin College (and all of our institutions of Christian education ). Further, we must put forth a greater effort in she wing our parents and young people precisely what is the difference.
Admittedly, this is one man’s Viewpoint. But that’s what it was intended to be.
JOHN B. HULST
Rev. John B. Hulst is pastor of the 12th Avenue Christian Reformed Church of Jenison, Michigan.