This open letter is addressed to all members of the Protestant Reformed Churches and to all others who have a concern for the instruction of the children of the covenant in all aspects of earthly science on the basis of the truth of the Reformed Faith as set forth in the Reformed Creeds.
It concerns Reformed higher education, i.e., college-level instruction.
It is sent on behalf of a group of Protestant Reformed men that calls itself the “Conference on Reformed Higher Education.” At a meeting held in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 4, 1983, the group decided “to have a committee of Rev. D. Engelsma, J. Lanting, and L. Lubbers draft an article for publication in The Standard Bearer and other periodicals.” It was stipulated that, among other things, the article should outline “the purpose and provisional structure of our Conference group.”
The history of the “Conference” is quickly told. The immediate cause was conversation among men who were gathered for a meeting of Classis West, mostly laymen. Contact was made with other laymen who shared the concern for Reformed higher education and who would be able to attend meetings, for a day or two, to explore the idea and its possibilities. The result was that a number of Protestant Reformed men from the eastern and western sections of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the U.S. and from Canada met in South Holland, Illinois on January 12, 13, 1982. A second meeting was held in Grand Rapids on June 8, 1982. The third meeting was held in South Holland on March 4, 1983; a fourth September 6, 1983.
These meetings reflect a longstanding concern of Protestant Reformed people for Reformed higher education, especially the training of prospective Protestant Reformed schoolteachers.
The Conference has no official standing, whether ecclesiastical, educational, or otherwise. Nor does it seek this. It has been a free association of some who thought that the possibility of giving Reformed instruction at the college level, especially to prospective Protestant Reformed teachers, was worth looking into. As part of its investigation, the Conference has studied the history of Reformed higher education; curriculum; accreditation; organization; finances; and other areas. We have conferred with our teachers. It is this purpose, this cause, and some of the fruit of our study that we now lay before you and ask you to consider.
The purpose of the Conference is indicated in the brief, working “Statement” which the participants drew up and signed at their first meeting: “We believe that higher education based on Reformed principles as set forth in the Reformed Creeds is a legitimate concern for Reformed people. We resolve that in order to preserve Reformed higher education in our age, especially as it relates to teacher training, we will promote the cause of a Reformed teacher education program. We agree to form committees to study the possibility, and the ways and means, of reaching these goals.”
The Conference has concentrated on realistic beginnings. An able, interested Protestant Reformed teacher could be called, full-time, to give instruction to college students in certain, fundamental subjects. These courses, although of special value for the would-be teacher, would also be beneficial for other college students. Investigation has shown that such courses could be accredited through existing Christian colleges. While giving these courses, the teacher could also work at developing a more complete program. In time, yet another teacher could be added to the staff.
It is our conviction that college-level instruction of prospective Protestant Reformed Christian schoolteachers in the truth set forth in the Reformed Creeds, as maintained by the Protestant Reformed Churches, is part of our calling in the covenant, to the extent that God enables us to provide it. This Faith is God’s own truth that must be the foundation of all teaching.
The education of our teachers in State universities and colleges is unsatisfactory, since the Word of God is not the light in which these students teach the students to see light. The teaching of existing Christian colleges is widely and seriously weakened by the errors of the doubt and denial of the infallible inspiration and full authority of Scripture (‘‘higher criticism”); of theistic evolution; of the philosophy of the A.A.C.S.; of common grace; of socialism, if not Marxism; of the current “liberal” dogmas of revolution, feminism, pacifism, and sexual permissiveness; and of the lack of zeal for godliness of life.
No one ought to dismiss the matter out of hand as no concern of his, on the ground that it is a matter of college-training and his children do not attend college. Since it is training of those who will be teaching Protestant Reformed children in the grade schools and the high schools, it is a concern of us all. Those without children as well as those with children can embrace and support this cause, as a cause of God’s covenant and truth. Nor do we see even the first courses that might be offered as limited to prospective teachers. Other college students would benefit as well. Indeed, students from churches other than the Protestant Reformed might well enroll, if they are desirous of the perspective of the Reformed Faith.
It is the intention, now, of the Conference to hold public meetings in various areas of the U.S. and Canada, where there are Protestant Reformed Churches, in order to present this cause to our people, and to others who may be interested, so that they may take steps, if they are so inclined, to organize as an association, to carry out this work. We ask that you attend the meeting that may be held in your area and give the matter a careful hearing. Our hope is that Consistories, School Boards, and others will promote the cause, as they have opportunity. All who desire more information, have suggestions, care to comment, or desire a meeting in their area can write the Conference in care of our secretary;
Mr. James Lanting
South Holland, IL 60473
The task is large; the cost is high; our resources are small. But the need is also great; and the benefits are precious—the welfare of the children of the covenant and the glory of God’s Name in the knowledge of His truth. Let us make a beginning, trusting in the Lord, Whose we are and Whom we serve, to bless the small beginning, as He has done before.