Correction: In the next to the last paragraph of the last installment of this department a glaring error appeared. There you read, “And what is it but the worthy activity of our Protestant Reformed parents in this vicinity. . . . to protect our children from the dangerous world and life view of light and darkness, election and reprobation and of righteousness and unrighteousness.” It should have read thus, “And what is it but the worthy activity of our Protestant Reformed parents in this vicinity. . . . to protect our children from the dangerous world and life view of common grace which more and more seeks to deny the sharp antithesis of light and darkness, election and reprobation and of righteousness and unrighteousness.
Since that is the historical background of our school movement, it is to be understood that the Reformation of 1517 has significance for this school movement. In general of course the Reformation of 1517 explains the existence of all present Christian schools. Without that reformation we would all still be under the lie of Rome and have no Christian schools of our own. Now that God has realized this reformation, we have protestant churches all over the world, and we have protestant Christian schools likewise.
Yet the Reformation of 1517 has special significance for us as we seek ways and means to establish a new school for the defense of our own world and life view and for the instruction in the doctrine as taught in our churches. The reformation of 1517 says two things to us in this movement. First of all it encourages us and tells us that God’s blessing truly rests upon such movements which seek to defend and promote the old truths of Scripture over against new heresies that arise. Time fails to show this blessing of God upon the churches of the Reformation. Let me simply call your attention to one thing. It is in the churches of the reformation that by the grace of God and His blessing upon them those three monumental works, The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordrecht were brought into being. These churches of the reformation were led so deeply into the truth because they had not departed from it. Where in the Roman Catholic church today will you find anything to compare with these three works? Through all these years since Luther’s day where is there one piece of work produced by Rome that can stand in the shade of these three works of the protestant churches? It is not difficult to see where God’s blessing rests. So let us today not look at numbers and size, but let us be assured by what God accomplished in the churches of the reformation in the ages past that God will also bless our school movement as well as our churches. He will lead us ever more deeply into the truth, if we do not forsake it.
Therefore the Reformation of 1517 also speaks to us and tells us to go forward. We may believe that our stand in 1924 meets with God’s approval because of the blessings He bestowed upon the churches which took a similar stand in 1517, but by virtue of that very same thing we have the calling then to go forward. To establish our own schools for the defense and development of the truth is the only thing left for us*
You may say that it is quite different today. We have not been put out of the present Christian schools as Luther and his followers were put out of the Roman Catholic church. That is true, but I assure you that if Luther and his followers had been willing to send their children back to the Roman Catholic church for instruction, they would not have been rejected either. I am quite sure that even today, if you were willing to pay the tuition, you could enroll your child in a Catholic school. Our children are not put out of the present Christian schools; but after twenty-three years of struggle to protect our children in these schools from that dangerous world and life view of common grace what have we accomplished? After twenty-three years of protest and struggle we still find our children coming home and asking whether it is true that the two murderers on the cross had an equal chance to be saved. Thus they had been taught in school. After twenty-three years of fighting against Arminianism our children still come home singing glaringly Arminian songs. And on the positive side how much have we accomplished to get those who believe another world and life view to teach our children our own world and life view? As far as the doctrine is concerned, we were put out of these schools also in 1924. In them we may not and cannot have our world and life view taught. No matter what we may do to the present Christian schools, they will never become Protestant Reformed Christian schools. Even if the school board would be one hundred percent Protestant Reformed, the teachers would still be incapable of teaching from the world and life view which recognizes total depravity, election and reprobation and the antithesis of Genesis 3:15. Their acceptance and belief in common grace prevents this. Thus the Reformation of 1517 tells us to go forward. Even as it would have been folly and tremendously dangerous for the reformed people of Luther’s day to send their children back to the Roman Catholic church for instruction, so it is folly and tremendously dangerous for us to send our children back to those who put us out because we held on to the old scriptural truths of election and reprobation and of the total depravity of man. The Reformation of 1517 says to us, “Go forward, and never go backwards!”
Our school movement then also has significance for the Reformation of 1517. You ask whether it is not a conceited stand to take to maintain that our little school movement to build an eight or ten room school has significance for the Reformation of 1517? Not at all. Indeed our little school movement can in no way exert any influence upon that which has happened hundreds of years ago. It can neither add to nor take away from that important historical fact. Yet we would have you consider what we said at the very beginning. We may speak of the Reformation of 1517 as The Reformation because it was the greatest reformation in history, but there were many reformations which followed and continued the good work begun in 1517. Our reformation of 1924, together with our present school movement which grows out from it, is a continuation of that reformation of 1517. It also is a return to the old truths of Scripture which were being denied and rejected.
Our school movement then signifies that the love for the truth which manifested itself in 1517 is still alive. It signifies that the Reformation of 1517 was not in vain. It signifies that the Spirit, whose work resulted in the Reformation of 1517, is still working in His church. It signifies that there still is, by virtue of the operation of this same Spirit, a people who appreciate the truth and the deliverance He wrought in 1517.
I would like to leave that last thought with you as I bring this brief talk to a close. We, especially as we are active in this school movement of our own, are the only ones who can and do properly appreciate the Reformation of 1517. Other denominations may celebrate it and do celebrate it, but they cannot appreciate it as we can. Those who practice hierarchy themselves may celebrate the reformation which delivered the church from the hierarchy of Rome, but they cannot appreciate that deliverance. Their hierarchical practices show that they do not appreciate the principle of the autonomy of the local church. Their return to Rome’s error shows lack of love for the principle that was violated, and such cannot appreciate what took place when the church was delivered from Rome’s hierarchy. The same can be said in regard to the appreciation of the truth maintained by the Reformers. Those who themselves teach the lie cannot” appreciate the fact that the church was freed from the lie in 1517. They may celebrate that fact, but they cannot appreciate it. The particular form of the lie may have been different in 1517 than in 1924. The degree of departure may not be as great. But those who take only a step in the wrong direction, by that very step show less appreciation for the right direction than those who have not taken this step. We have held on to the truths of total depravity and of election and reprobation which are the truths of Scripture. And as long as we do, we are the ones to appreciate the fact that God brought the church back to the truth in 1517.
And so let us go on in this school movement. Let us be assured that it meets with God’s approval. Let us hold on to that which God has given us to defend and maintain. Let us continue the good work of the Reformation of 1924 and provide our children with instruction that is based on the truth we have been called as reformed churches to defend, maintain and proclaim.