In our last article in this column we called your attention to an unscriptural tendency in the present Christian School system, the tendency, namely, of a “social gospel”. There are other errors. We believe that the mixing of numerous denominations into a Christian School constituency is also an error. (Cf. Pamphlet by M. Fakkema, entitled, “New Christian Schools on the Pacific Coast”). It must lead to generalization of principles and finally to colorless instruction. There is more over the danger of opening the doors of our schools to the unchurches, against which also the last held Union Meeting raised its voice (Cf. Christian Home And School, October, p. 17). There is likewise the tendency to change our Christian Schools into mission stations, or at least use them in the process of doing missionary work. Present is also the danger of giving a good course in Bible study but neglecting to permeate all the branches with the Word of God. At the root of many of these evils lies the error of Common Grace, which has been adopted by the Christian Reformed Churches and is bearing its fruit.
When we mention these errors we do so, not in the spirit of fault-finding, for faults lie on the surface of everything which we do in this world. But we do it in the spirit of love for the type of instruction which we believe the covenant dictates.
There are certain definite principles at stake.
In how far these tendencies manifest themselves in any given community and in any local school depends to such a great extent upon the teachers, the board and the constituency of the society.
Of primary importance is first of all,
How Much Are We Parents Interested?
Yes, how much are we really interested in obtaining instruction which is covenant dictated.
How much are we interested in Christian instruction at all?
As a whole, not much.
This is the general complaint. The chilliness and the take-for-granted attitude which the pastor sometimes finds in his work among covenant parents is pretty well duplicated in the matter of the school. Catechism starts, and the parents take for granted that it will continued. Seldom does a parent visit the catechism class purely in the interest of the instruction which their children receive, Sometimes one discovers that the parents hardly know what their own children are studying. There are happy exceptions to this rule, but there are nevertheless many parents who manifest plain disinterest. Indeed they are concerned that their children go to catechism, but for the rest they let it to whomever it may concern. It is frequently even with great difficulty that one can get periodic visits from the consistory. In the Society life one often meets the same attitude. The parents as a whole are very little concerned about what goes on there. I suppose in congregations where there are Sunday Schools the same complaint holds good.
Now this some tendency seems to be still more pronounced when it comes to Christian instruction. We frequently talk with teachers and principals about these things, and the complaint always returns, the parents show so little interest. They perhaps do actually have more interest than they show, but this is slim comfort. The fact remains.
If the parents are not vitally interested, what will we do?
The interest of the parents should go beyond settling for the tuition. One can do that, even if one is very disinterested. There is such a thing as “obligation” isn’t there? Our interest ought to reach at least to that point where we attend the School Society meetings, the P. T. A. or the public programs. If we are absent from all these your thermometer registers near zero as far as interest is concerned.
But our interest ought to reach much farther than that too.
Do you as a parent show daily interest in the instruction which your children receive, and the progress which they make? Do you ever talk with the children about school, or take time to glance over the work which they do, the books they study and the notes they keep? A hasty glance at the report card is not enough. Do you ever go to see your teacher about your child or your children? Do you ever commend your teacher or speak a word of encouragement? (they are human). Or, if you find something wrong with their instruction, have you ever seen your teacher about it? Or have you ever been present at the board meeting, or have you contacted the board about the welfare of the school, where your children attend?
Perhaps some of us will call this silly. If you do, you only betray that you lack the proper interest and attempt to find an excuse for it. No, we are convinced that all these things which we have mentioned, and more, go into the making of an interested person.
Perhaps some of us would produce the argument that if we had schools of our own we would be interested, at least we would show more interest. That remains to be seen. We have only your past record by which to judge. A situation can become of that nature where reform is necessary, but at the root of this reformation must lie the genuine interest of a band of parents.
Genuine interest in truly reformed Christian instruction is basic.
If we have that interest we will show it right now, and in the present schools also. The attitude of postponing our interest until we get schools of our own is like that of the young man who refused to show interest in his lady-love until she found him a permanent position and built him a house. We are of the opinion that if we have schools of our own they must be the result of a conviction; a conviction concerning what Christian instruction really is, a conviction that in your local school such instruction is no longer being- given and is no longer possible, and a conviction that your interest in positive instruction requires a reformation. There are many and great difficulties involved in such a project, difficulties which we can meet only by faith and the conviction of faith. A school of our own is something which must grow on us, and it grows out of our interest in positively reformed instruction. I should hate to have it grow on us for any other reason.
Interest In Thoroughly Reformed Christian School
If we are interested in thoroughly reformed Christian instruction, I’m sure you are interested in schools where thoroughly reformed instruction is given, and where the Truth permeates all the branches of study. The truth of Scripture, as it is embodied and confessed in the Three Forms of Unity, as well as the Baptism Form, must permeate the studies which our children receive. Is that expecting more than we have the right to expect? Surely not. And should this fact not be expressed before and brought to bear upon our local schools? We have the right, have we not, and the duty as parent, to require that our schools abide by the truth of Scripture and the Confessions? The school belongs to the parents, and you are a parent. You are not a subversive element when you champion a strictly reformed type of instruction. You are not undermining the school when you seek to keep her on the reformed basis where once it began. The school belongs to the parents and you have rights there. But we also love our schools and seek their welfare. We regret any departure from the reformed conception. One may say a thousand times over that it is hopeless and futile to expect a truly reformed instruction from the present schools, but we have the right to require it. . . . on the basis of the Confessions.
But, an undeniable fact stares us in the face. And that is, that the Christian School system as a whole is permeated with the audition to the Confessions of the Three Points and the error of doctrine which they represent. In such a system we cannot expect a Protestant Reformed Christian instruction. Even if the system would allow it, what teachers would render it? In one locality the instruction which is given may be more nearly reformed than in another, that is true, but none of it reaches the goal which we desire it to reach.
And therefore there is no substitute for a school where distinctly reformed teachers give instruction according to a distinctly reformed interpretation of any application of that truth in the several branches of the elementary and high schools. And that requires schools of our own.
We urge our parents everywhere to exert themselves for the type of instruction which the Covenant dictates.
(To be continued)