Of all the arguments and would-be arguments the opponents of the movement for schools of our own wherever possible adduce for their position, that concerning the moral obligation to the existing schools, is the weakest of all.
As far as I can see, it is in this argument that they reveal that they are not interested in school education of our children along strictly Protestant Reformed lines. They do not admit the necessity of Protestant Reformed instruction also in the schools. They cannot see that the school has anything to do with Protestant Reformed principles. That the principles adopted by the Christian Reformed Churches, because of which adoption and consequent action against us we have become separated, are so serious that they affect the basis of education, they do not see. Whatever may separate us as churches, in the sphere of education we can unite again, which means that we can safely submit our children to the influence of a Christian Reformed education in the schools.
That the opposing brethren are not Protestant Reformed I do not state here at all.
That they are not interested in strictly Protestant Reformed instruction for our children and youth also in and through the medium of the school, and that, therefore, they do not see the seriousness of the difference and separation caused by the “Three Points” with respect to education,—this, as I see it, is the clear implication of their argument of our moral obligation to the existing schools.
Consider the argument for a moment.
It runs as follows: We have no moral right to organize our own school movement and to establish our own schools as Protestant Reformed people, until we have done our utmost, and exhausted every means at our command, to improve the existing schools.
According to this argument, let it be noted, we not only have a moral obligation to the existing Christian schools, but this obligation makes it impossible for us in the meantime to establish our own schools, or even to make preparations for the establishment of our own schools. Until the situation has proved to be absolutely hopeless, we must continue to cooperate, and refrain from organizing our own school societies. And until the hopelessness of the attempt has become quite plain, our children must continue to attend the existing schools.
Now, I deny this entire argument, I deny that, apart from the question whether the existing schools can be improved or not, a Protestant Reformed group of people does not have the moral right to establish schools of their own, or that there can possibly rest upon them any moral obligation to the existing schools that must restrain them from organizing their own movement.
Why may not the Protestant Reformed people, pray, have their own system of education from top to bottom, something for which undersigned has argued almost from the very beginning of our separate existence as churches?
What moral obligation to any existing schools could restrain them from striving for this ideal, at least?
But to this I hope to come back later.
The point I want to make now is that, apart from all other considerations, the above argument of the opponents of the movement to establish schools of our own wherever possible tacitly denies that our Protestant Reformed principles have any real significance for school education, and proceeds on the assumption that a Protestant Reformed school education is not necessary.
Cooperation as long as possible, is their slogan.
But what does this cooperation mean, as far as we, Protestant Reformed people, are concerned?
It means that we may, perhaps, protest against certain evils found in the existing schools, such as the singing of Arminian hymns, the introduction of plays and drama’s, the teaching of evolutionistic conceptions or of grossly Arminian tenets, encouragement of movie attendance, etc. Perhaps, if we are strong enough we may even demand that the doctrine of common grace shall not be taught or mentioned in the particular school with which we cooperate and to which our children are sent. We may request that the “Three Points” shall be carefully avoided.
But granted that all this might be done, and might be done successfully, which in by far the majority of cases would be impossible, this would surely be the limit of the influence we might exert on the existing schools.
It is plain that we could not possibly ask that the instruction in the existing schools shall follow Protestant Reformed lines.
And this is impossible, not merely because we are usually but few in number, and must suffer defeat if the matter were brought to a vote, but because we have no right to make such a demand. It would be contrary to the idea of cooperation.
This is quite important.
It means not only that in Biblical instruction all questions concerning particular and common grace, concerning total depravity and the ability or inability of man to do any good before God, must be carefully avoided; but it also implies that the same attitude of neutrality be assumed in the instruction in many other subjects that pertain to our view of the world, history, civil government, the unions, and other matters.
It should be quite plain from all this, that the opponents of the movement to establish schools of our own, by their argument as to our moral obligation to cooperate with the existing schools, do not care for, are not interested in, do not see the need of specific Protestant Reformed’ education for our children.
This is the very least that can be said.
At the very best they consider the schools institutions that may be satisfied with some general Christian instruction.
As soon as we are not satisfied with this, but look upon the school as a matter of specific principle, the sole conclusion anyone can possibly draw is that we must establish our own schools.
And as to our moral right to do so, I hope to make a few remarks next time, D.V.