Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

Why a Teacher Shortage?

Because of a teacher-shortage problem the League of Canadian Reformed School Societies in Ontario commissioned a study “to examine those factors which influence men and women to enter into and to remain in, the teaching profession in our schools.”

The results of this study are interesting indeed! The study found that the teachers have a “deep commitment to teaching in a Christian manner and setting, but that there are some major obstacles to having a true sense of satisfaction while performing this demanding task.” The major obstacles as perceived by the teachers are 1) Lack of adequate salaries and 2) Lack of appreciation for the work of teachers. In this connection the study found that “teachers often receive negative comments only, and parents tend to interfere with their work.” Responses from Board members indicate that these have a “deep sense of appreciation for the dedication and commitment teachers bring to their tasks.” (Clarion)

Our Protestant Reformed Christian Schools are also beginning to experience a shortage of teachers. Some of our schools, especially in the Western U.S., annually struggle to find qualified people to teach in their schools. A number of teachers, many of them men and many of them quite capable, have in the last few years left the teaching profession. If the Federation of Protestant Reformed School Societies were to conduct a study similar to the one done by the Canadian Reformed League, one wonders what the results might be. We are certain that there would be no lack of commitment to Protestant Reformed Education on the part of the teachers. We are also certain that there would be no problem in relationships between Boards and teachers. But we do think that inadequate salaries, especially for the men teachers who are heads of households, might very well be a problem. What does the reader think about all this?

Baptist Seminary in Trouble over Inerrancy

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina has made biblical inerrancy a criterion for hiring faculty. The Seminary may be placed on probation by an accrediting agency on account of this. The seminary was issued a warning last December by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The seminary must show improvement within the next two years in areas of planning and evaluation, faculty selection, the role of faculty on committees, and the role of trustees, says SACS, or it may lose its accreditation. It is the position of the SACS that maintaining biblical inerrancy as a criterion for hiring faculty is to have no “. . . regard for due process, institutional traditions, and principles of academic freedom.” (The Banner)

We hope the seminary will not change its stand on this critical issue. Compromise on the truth of the inerrancy of Holy Scripture is far too great a price to pay for accreditation. If maintaining biblical inerrancy is to violate the principles of academic freedom, so be it!

Mega Churches

It is estimated that there are well over one thousand mega churches in the U.S. and the number is growing. To qualify as a mega church a church must have a worship attendance of at least 3,000 per Sunday. Among the ten largest churches in this country, the largest is First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, with as many as 30,000 worshippers on the Lord’s Day and the “smallest” is Chapel Hill Harvester Church, Decatur, Georgia, with 7,500 in attendance at worship services.

Part, a large part, of the appeal of these churches, according to Lyle E. Schaller who did a study of this phenomenon, is that they provide ministries to a wide variety of needs. There are ministries to singles, to divorced persons, to alcoholics, etc. Another reason why these churches are growing is that many people, especially those born after 1930, have lost their loyalty to their denomination. (Christianity Today)

If the Word of God is being faithfully preached and taught, if the sacraments are being exercised according to the institution of Jesus Christ, and if church discipline is being exercised according to the teaching of Holy Scripture in a church, will not that church be meeting the “needs” of its members? Will not that church grow spiritually into its head, our Lord Jesus Christ? Will not the fruit of faithful preaching and teaching, the use of the sacraments and church discipline, be a membership that “bears one another’s burdens, and so fulfills Christ’s law?” (Galatians 6:2). Will not God in Christ use those means to gather, defend, and preserve His elect to the glory of His Name? (Heidelberg Catechism, L.D. 21).

Westminster Seminary

Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California has appointed the Rev. Joseph A. Pipa to its faculty. Pipa will be the seminary’s Director of Advanced Studies. Dr. Jay Adams, the former Director of Advanced Studies, will continue to teach in the Doctor of Ministries program. Pipa is currently the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. Pipa received his Ph.D. from Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia in 1985. (Christian Observer)

Dr. Pipa is known to some of our ministers and people. We congratulate him on his appointment to Westminster West and wish him well in his work.