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Rev. VanBaren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Loveland, Colorado.

“What’s Happening to Education?”

It is becoming ever clearer that the education of children in our country has fallen on bad times. One hears much about what ought to be done about this. In an article on “Outcome Based Education,” some serious proposals of a disturbing nature are treated. The article claims that the state is attempting nothing less than to control the training of our children from cradle to the grave. Reference is made to certain proposals introduced by legislators in Colorado.

Recently, the State of Colorado has been attempting to entirely rewrite its children’s code. As a part of the proposed changes, language was introduced by pro-family legislators to protect parents’ rights and prevent unwarranted state intrusion into family life. This legislation was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In undoing the provision, state Senator Dottie Wham, chairperson of that committee, stated that the Colorado Children’s Code was no place for parental rights; the Children’s Code was there to protect children and it needed to remain for and about children. 

Who owns the children? In Senator Wham’s view, parents do not have the best interests of their children at heart and the state has a better idea of how children should be raised, even if that means defending children from their own parents. If Senator Wham’s views were unique, it might raise a few eyebrows, but in reality it represents what is a major philosophical contender for raising the minds and hearts of children in this country. Indeed, the concept of guarding children from their parents is one of the major themes drummed by the educational establishment. Take, for example, the words of Kathy Collins, a former legal counsel to the Iowa Department of Education: “Children . . . are not ‘owned’ by their parents…. The Christian fundamentalists who want the freedom to indoctrinate their children with religious education do not understand [that] the law that prevents them from legally teaching their kids prevents someone else from abusing theirs.”

There is a proposition on the ballot in the State of Colorado which is supposed to guarantee parents’ rights – something the legislature has thus far refused to do. That issue will have been decided in the November 5 elections. There has been much “scare” advertising about the “terrible” consequences of the passage of this proposition.

The same article quoted above states more about the goals of educators in this country. After pointing out that private school and home-schooled students score well above the average on SAT scores, the article states:

This creates a problem for the educrats, because their dream of socialism is all-encompassing. As a result, there will be incessant increasing legal pressure to force home schoolers and private schools to conform. The most salient of these will be through the CIM (Certificate of Initial Mastery), mentioned above. If plans go on schedule, and they are to date, it will be impossible to obtain a job without a CIM. A student will not be able to obtain a CIM until he or she meets the outcome standards required by the state. As a result, home and private schoolers will be forced into the system because they will have to “teach to the tests” to achieve the acceptable outcomes.

The implications of all of this for the church are staggering. The new global values are in opposition to much of what Christianity teaches. Since the global values are now being adopted by law and curricula, it is an easy jump to see where the state can just as easily declare the teaching of certain forms of politically incorrect religion to be a psychological disorder. If parents then manifest this “disorder” by teaching it to their children, this would constitute child abuse and at that point the state, in the “best interests of the children,” would step in and remove them from their parents to prevent further “abuse.” In the United States it would be ludicrous to consider this if it weren’t already happening. 

This is important that the reader understand: The radical changes in education, which will totally transform this culture, are under way; they are not part of some future possibility. The shift to relative values affects how people will view “freedoms” and “rights” as well as how Christianity will be viewed in just a few years. Consider what it will be like for you to live in a culture which doesn’t believe in absolute values, where all rights are based on the feeling of the moment and what seems right, which deems tolerance as the ultimate good but which is mercilessly intolerant of things it deems in opposition to itself. 

In other places and times, the church called this persecution.

That presents a serious picture of what the future holds for the church and for Christian parents. Surely it is the calling of the Christian to show opposition to the attempts of many to take away “parental rights.” That must be done by way of the vote, as in Colorado on November 5, but also by way of informing those legislators who represent us of our opposition to these attempts of the state to control our children.

Development in the CRC

Darrell Todd Maurina reports on the first two women ordained into office in the Christian Reformed Church. The first was Ruth Hofman, a minister in the First Toronto CRC on August 24. The report stated:

Hofman’s evening ordination service lasted over two hours and included messages from Joan Flikkema, former head of the Committee for Women in the CRC, Rev. Gordon Pals, reporter for the 1992 synodical advisory committee whose recommendation that women be allowed to “expound” paved the way for Hofman’s call to First Toronto, and Hofman’s father, Rev. John Hofman, retired pastor of Ideal Park CRC in Grand Rapids.

….Other themes raised in the ordination service pointed to more difficult times ahead. Mary Antonides, pastor-elect of Eastern Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, noted that Hofman had been a role model with whom she had discussed how to handle difficult church problems. Pols’ message noted the difficulty of dealing with false doctrine. Hofman’s own Sunday sermon on Jeremiah 29:1-14 noted the difficulty of false prophets confronting the Israelites. At least one of those difficult problems will include the issue of homosexuality, an issue at First Toronto CRC that long predates Hofman’s arrival at the church….

The second woman ordained into the office of ministry was Mary Antonides at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. Her ordination was on September 29.

The report stated:

For Classis Grand Rapids East, as well as for the Christian Reformed denomination at large, Antonides’ successful passage of ordination exams in a classis that has led the way in advocating the ordination of women marks the successful completion of years of struggle. Antonides’ successful exam means that her scheduled September 29 ordination will make her the second ordained woman in the 292,000-member denomination since its synod legalized the ordination of women to all offices of the church…. 

Later in the exam, Rev. Morris Greidanus of Grand Rapids First CRC recounted the story of a woman who had remarried after a divorce produced by spousal abuse but continued to be troubled by Scriptural injunctions in Matthew 19 specifying that divorce could occur only on the grounds of adultery. Greidanus asked Antonides how she would interpret another passage: I Timothy 2:12’s specification that “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.” 

“Do you wake up at night and hear Timothy saying to you, ‘Woman, be silent’?” asked Greidanus. Upon hearing Antonides’ “no,” Greidanus commented that “you probably wouldn’t listen to him anyway” – eliciting loud laughter form the audience. Antonides then explained her view that the underlying principles of the text such as modesty in dress and propriety in worship were still binding on Christians today, even though its specific prohibitions on women wearing braided hair, pearls, gold, and fine clothes, or teaching and having authority over men were not.

The repercussions to the decision of Synod on “women in office” continue to be felt through the denomination. Bethany Christian Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois has voted to secede from the denomination. There were only 14 of over a hundred votes cast opposing the separation.

In another vote, the Franklin Lakes CRC in New Jersey also decided to sever relations with the CRC. This small congregation was concerned not only with the issue of “women in office,” but also with the question of the authority of. Scripture which, they believed, was being eroded in the practices of the church.

In another development, Classis Hudson, on September 25, decided to refuse to seat Rev. Casey Freswick of Newton because of “schismatic activities and statements.” The classis minutes noted that “a document is quoted in which Rev. Freswick calls for his church to leave the denomination.” All of this took place without any sort of “trial.” The action of the classis made it likely that the congregation of Newton will also secede from the denomination.

So the sad consequences of synodical decisions taken in violation of Scripture and its own church order are evident in churches and individuals who continue to leave that denomination.