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The following article is a condensation of a speech given to the Mother’s Circle for Protestant Reformed Secondary Education, a few months ago. I have been asked to write this as another in a series of the speeches being printed by the “Beacon Lights”. The general topic of the speech dealt with the role of a school psychologist or counselor in the elementary and secondary schools of today and what role he could play in our Christian schools.

A discussion of psychology must of necessity begin with the distinction between psychiatry and psychology, or with the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized. In the same way that a podiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in the treatment of feet or a pediatrician, a doctor specializing in treatment of children, so the psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in the treatment of mental problems. They have very little formal training and acquire their abilities “on the job”. They are trained in classical analysis during the three years that they are serving their internship. Classical analysis was, as you may or may not know, initially set forth by Sigmund Freud. The psychiatrist was the one to give psychology its bad name due to the claims and assumptions they made for their “theory”. They have explanations for all behavior which tended to frighten people because they had the unfounded feeling that the psychiatrist was able to “see into their soul”. I guess everyone realizes how wretched they really are and become extremely threatened by the prospect of someone seeing through and behind their façade. In any case, psychiatry was and still is the object of many vicious jokes and stories. This results in a loss of the realization that they do have a value in addition to their shortcomings. The primary value is the prescription writing. Because they are licensed medical doctors they have the power to prescribe drugs which can often clear up symptoms immediately. Enough of the psychiatrist.

The psychologist is quite different from the psychiatrist. He attempts to look at the student more objectively than the psychiatrist. Any opinions or conclusions that he may form are based on objectively standardized and scored tests. In the same way that an arithmetic teacher knows that the student does not know arithmetic when on his test he says that 2+2=5, a psychologist can know why that child will never be able to learn arithmetic. On the basis of tests that were constructed in the same way as the arithmetic test he is able to draw valid conclusions about the students.

The above refers to a particular type of psychologist. There are many different types of psychologist including consulting, clinical, experimental and counseling. Here we are concerned with the latter because it is the counseling psychologist that most frequently is found in the school situation. The school psychologist is a very special type of person in the school situation. He is a professional educator specializing in psychology just as the principal is a profession educator specializing in administration or the teacher a professional specializing in teaching. He is specifically concerned with the educational process of the students. When something blocks or hinders that process he is trained to assist in its restoration.

This brings us to the question of what a psychologist does specifically. As mentioned above, he gives many tests. With any individual student he may give ability tests, which tell simply what a student is interested in, intelligence tests, which will give the range of a person’s potential, and personality tests. I feel compelled to elaborate more on the last one than the others because of ht eyebrows it raises. A personality test reveals to the trained tester how a person acts and reacts in a controlled situation and from the results can project how he will act and react in a general situation. If a child is very passive and gives up easily when faced with a task in a controlled situation then one can draw reasonably accurate conclusions that he reacts to his school tasks in the same way. If this was cleared up he would be better able to fulfill the function of school attendance, namely, learning.

Now that the counselor has given these tests and has the results, what does he do with them? Tests are never given for the sake of results alone. They must be used to serve some useful purpose. On the basis of these results the psychologist counsels. Counseling can be divided into three basic types. First is vocational counseling. This is done to help the student get his goals and his abilities to coincide. Many students, especially in junior and senior high, have very unrealistic ideas of what they would like to do in life. It is not necessary to make specific choices but general fields or areas can and should be decided. This type of counseling can prevent people from attempting the impossible. Too often students’ goals and their abilities are too far apart to ever meet.

Academic counseling is closely connected with vocational counseling. This involves the scheduling of courses and perhaps the extracurricular activities. If a person has limited abilities he should be taking only four subjects instead of five or six. With fewer subjects he will learn more than if he just skimmed a large number.

The third type of counseling may be termed personal-social counseling. This only means that there are certain personal problems that affect the student’s ability to function up to his capacity at school, and that when these personal problems are cleared up so are his academic problems. As long as the parents hire the teachers to educate their children they must also give them the power to alleviate anything that stands in the way of that education. This does not mean that the psychologist is delving into the inner recesses of the person’s mind or soul. He is only concerned with the immediate cause of the breakdown of educational functioning and in repairing the break as rapidly as possible.

The final question to be considered is rather obvious. It involves the advantages to be gained from having a psychologist in our Christian schools. The most obvious advantage is that local norms could be developed that would provide an objective standard of achievement for students at any particular grade level in all of the schools. The students in the Christian schools are not “average” but above average and should therefore be expected to function and perform at a better than average level. Just what the new “average” for our students is, is not know n because there has never been a centrally organized testing program established.

The other advantages are less general but just as important. If a psychologist can aid in improving the educational process of the student surely the advantage of that is self evident. Truly Christian education for our students obviously means that we must do everything in our power to see that each student is enabled to work up to his potential and capacity. A Christian School Psychologist can certainly play an important part in that work.

Psychology! Already you are probably skeptical and suspicious, aren’t you? Usu­ally when one hears that word he immedi­ately thinks of the psychiatrist and his couch. But really psychology is much more than that. Even in its simplest form it enters into our lives every day. Children use psychology on their parents and parents use it on their children. If a child wants to ask his parents for something he “auto­matically” knows when the most opportune time has arrived. Every time you try to convince someone of something you are actually using psychology on him. So, to categorically condemn psychology is to con­demn methods and techniques that you em­ploy yourself nearly every day.

But psychology is more than just such an elementary concept as mentioned above. It is formally defined as “a scientific study of the behavior of living organisms.” This in­cludes the systematic knowledgeable ap­proach required of all sciences. As a science, it attempts to explain the WHY of the be­havior that we engage in unconsciously. Just as medical science can explain how the digestive processes slow down when you are engaged in strenuous activity, so can the science of psychology explain how you will act under situations of stress. However, each person acts differently to the same ex­tent that each person’s bodily processes are somewhat unique. That unique “something” in each person is called his personality or his psychological make-up. It consists of the totality of the characteristics (likes, dislikes, desires, needs, etc.) that influence his beha­vior. Just as your body needs food, water, and air, so does your personality need cer­tain things. It needs, among other things, love, understanding, friendship, and a god to serve. Some people feel the need for these more than others and will go to greater lengths to acquire them. Perhaps an actual example will serve to illustrate the idea.

Just a short time ago I was engaged in a counseling session with a juvenile delinquent from Detroit who had been com­mitted to Boys’ Training School for robbery. When we discussed why he had gotten into trouble he told me that in the neighborhood in which he lived every one of his “friends” committed these various crimes and that in order to be accepted as one of the gang he too had to steal. Upon further questioning it became evident that he had a tremen­dous need for acceptance and that rather than lose his friends he would steal instead. I am sure that we are all agreed on the fact that he stole because he is sinful. He is surely responsible for his actions but (whereas the ultimate cause may be his total depravity) the human cause is his need for acceptance by the peer group. His environment placed him in such a position that he was faced with the temptation to steal. Then some aspect of his psycholog­ical make-up pulled him in one direction and his natural knowledge of right and wrong pulled him in the other. Many people are placed in similar situations and never yield to the overt act of stealing because their psychological needs are not as great as this boy’s were. However, in a case such as the one mentioned above (assuming for the moment that he is unregenerate) any decision that he might have made would have necessarily been a sinful one because his unregenerate heart is incapable of mak­ing any decisions that are not contrary to God’s commands. His whole being is at enmity with God and he desires only to disobey Him.

The next question that we may logically ask is, How do the children of God differ from the unregenerate and in what different way are their decisions influenced by their personality? Except for their true love for God the personality structures are basically the same. They too have their likes, dis­likes, desires, and needs, just as the un­regenerate do. The old man of sin is still in them and their behavior is affected by it. Perhaps one more illustration will help to make the difference somewhat clear.

Assume that in the school that you are attending the day has come for the big test. Assume also the very real possibility that you are faced with the temptation to cheat, either by looking at someone else’s paper or by letting them look at yours. Now YOU are faced with the responsibility of sinning or of saying no and not cheating. The choice is yours to make and you will be held responsible for it, before God and man. Will you say no and run the risk of having your “friends” turn against you or of getting a very low grade on the test, or will you take the seemingly easy way out and cheat and then rationalize by saying that it wasn’t really so bad because everyone else did it too? Does sinning by groups make it less wrong? Here too each person’s psychological make-up enters in to pull against his knowledge of right and wrong, only in this case it is more than just a case of natural morals. It should now be a strong conviction against sin. If your need for acceptance or for high grades is so strong that it overpowers your desire to restrain from sin, then you will probably give in and cheat. The fact that this need overpowers you is due to your own sinfully weakened human nature and in no way excuses you from the seriousness of the sin. You still have the responsibility to say no.

One last thing to consider now is how one can say no to an overpowering need in his personality that he may not even realize is present. First, we must admit that a sin has been committed and this sin needs for­giveness. Prayer for strength to restrain at a later time is also necessary, but how does one pray for strength to fight something that he doesn’t even know is present? So, in ad­dition to prayer, one must also recognize the reason that the situation brings about a temptation within him. He must have an awareness of his internal and unconscious weakness. Why is it such a temptation for him to cheat? The answer to such a ques­tion is not very easy to arrive at by oneself. Unless you have a tremendous ability of in­trospection (looking within yourself) you probably won’t be able to recognize your problem without help. But to whom should you go for help? A counseling psychologist? Perhaps. But first why don’t you try your minister or if the problem is one that the minister really can’t help you with, then see your school counselor (if you are fortunate enough to have one in your school). Talking to a good listener will very often help you to help yourself understand your problem. But always remember that solutions to your problems can only come in direct connection with prayer. The Lord’s counsel is the best and it is ultimately He alone who can help you through your struggles.

 

. . . overseers or rulers are set over the churches, to reprimand sin, not to spare it. Nor is a man fully free from blame who is not in authority, but who notices in those persons he meets in social life many faults he should censure and admonish. He is blameworthy if he fails to do this out of fear of hurting feelings or of losing such things as he may licitly enjoy in this life, but to which he is unduly attracted.

— St. Augustine

Ephesians 6:16 – “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Just a short time ago I was engaged in a discussion as to the ultimate cause and purpose of education and I was struck by the statement that “education must strengthen the moral fibres of the students and provide them with the proper values for a happy and fruitful life.”  Upon investigation into this “happy and fruitful life”, it became evident that this was something quite philosophical and abstract.  Every man’s life was different, depending on what values he held to be the best for him – and so if a person set up some goals for himself, based on these values and then fulfilled this goal, he was said to have lived a happy and fruitful life.  Therefore, it is the purpose of education to so engrain the good values into the students, that they set up goals that are constructive both to themselves and to society.

Today’s educational system is largely responsible for the fact that some people’s goal is to take what belongs to another whether it be his life or his possessions.  Under this type of thinking, almost any deviant behavior can be blamed upon the educational background of the individuals involved.

Juvenile Delinquency, theft and even murder is said to be the result of a flaw in the person’s educational background.  He was not taught the proper values and therefore he could not set up the correct goals and hence he became harmful to society.

If one is looking through the spectacles of a secular society, this sounds fine, but as Christians, we surely cannot agree with this type of educational philosophy.  What then is the ultimate goal of the education we provide in our Christian schools?  Must we neglect some of the existing subjects in order to provide the students with more knowledge about historical and doctrinal aspects of the Protestant Reformed Churches?  I think not!  The tradition of the P.R. churches can best be taught at home and the doctrine belongs mainly in the realm of the church and the parents.  Certainly these subjects should never become a replacement for parts of the core curriculum.  What then is the purpose of our schools?  I think the goal is summed up in the verse from Ephesians 6 as quoted above.  The command comes out to all of His people to become fully clothed with the armour of God so that we will be prepared to fight the daily battle against sin.  Unarmed and unprepared we shall surely lose the battle.  To be armed does not mean only the ability to combat false doctrines, but also includes the ability to live a life of dedication and devotion to our God.  This too, we must prepare for, and what better place is there to prepare for such a fight than in a Christian school with Christian teachers who uphold the Christian principles of education.  Even the government has enough sense to train their young men before sending them into the heat of battle, for if unprepared and untrained, they would soon perish.  So too can we view the schools as a “boot camp” where the children of the Church are aided in this training for the battle of the “evil day.”  They must first be armed and taught how to use these arms before going out to fight the battle for themselves.  If we view the schools in such a manner, then it will not be a question of what subjects should we exclude from or included in the curriculum of a Christian school, but rather we will attempt to teach all courses in such a way that they can be used in the struggle against sin that will inevitably follow.  It is of utmost importance that our covenant children be fully prepared to withstand the battle in the “evil day” that shall surely come.

If you weren’t you should have been, for on April 26, the Rev. H. Hoeksema presented an excellent lecture on the calling of a Christian to culture.  If the Protestant Reformed people can be divided into three groups—the older group, the young married group, and the young people—only one group warrants commendation while the other two definitely demand reprehension.  Out of a good sized crowd, the majority of the people were of the older generation while the other two groups composed only a puny handful.  I think the question that arose to nearly everyone’s lips was quite pertinent, “WHERE WERE THE YOUNG PEOPLE?”  Surely, the lecture was announced far enough in advance for everyone to keep the date open.  Why then were so few there?  One would tend to think that they were not interested in the subject of culture if it weren’t for the fact that the contrary is quite evident from conversations and discussions.

Nearly everyone—that is, everyone who is thinking about this as he should be—is faced with the question of how we as children of God can serve Him through culture.  Must we read the classics, attend symphonies, and enjoy the paintings in order to be considered participants of culture?  Popularly, one would answer yes, but culture was defined by Rev. Hoeksema as that labor of man that is bestowed upon the entire earthly creation, man included, for the purpose of delving out all the hidden treasures of the earth to serve man and God thru man.  Therefore, even if one does not greatly appreciate the arts he still can definitely exercise his calling to culture.  Everything that man does is culture, all his work, and this must all be done to the glory of God.

There are some spheres of life in which the Christian will have little or no success, but that still does not release him from his calling to witness and work in those spheres also.  As the anti-Christian kingdom gains in power, those spheres of life in which we will have no effect will continue to increase more and more until we are virtually powerless in the world.

Only when we finally reach the “new creation” will we be able to practice culture in perfection.  What type of culture there will be is not known, but we certainly will work in joy and perfection to the eternal glory of our God.

Non-Fiction: How Firm a Foundation

The age in which we live could well be called, not the Atomic Age, but rather the Intellectual Age. Modern man is so completely governed and dominated by the burning desire to gain more knowledge that this knowledge has completely replaced his wisdom. No task is so great, and no thought so deep, that he cannot in some way, however small, add constructively to it. Then too, he must fully understand all that he knows or else reject it as untrue. Traditional truths are questioned doubtfully, and frequently even discarded as being “old-fashioned.” In defense of this idea we often hear the statement that “Tradition is not truth.” True as this may be, it does not mean that “Truth is not Traditional,” for the truth has been handed down from generation to generation without ever becoming old-fashioned. Discard it we may never do – but develop it we must. If this is done, then the truths established by our forefathers through blood and tears cannot be cast aside by some intellectual idiot simply because he cannot fully comprehend them. Knowledge may never replace wisdom, for as Solomon says, “Wisdom is the principal thing.” Knowledge alone puffeth up and is harmful, but knowledge together with wisdom will provide great understanding. With this understanding we must not only develop the truth, but also defend it.

This development, I think, can rightly be compared to the building of a pyramid. First to be built is the broad base or foundation, which is then built upon until the final block is placed and the construction becomes complete. Our pyramid of truth must progress in the same way. First came the development of the foundation by the apostles, using Christ as the cornerstone. Added to this was the work of the early church and men like Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. The work becomes more difficult as we get closer to the top, but, if the pinnacle is ever to be reached, it must never cease completely. However, while striving for our final goal, we must be sure that our foundation is not growing weak, but rather that it shall always remain solid and strong. If the foundation is gone, then there is no longer anything to support the rest of the building and it too will topple.

The evidence for this can readily be seen in the modern church world of today. They have disregarded the words of Solomon when he says, “My father taught me and said unto me, ‘Let thine heart retain my words’,” and in doing this, they have let the foundation crumble until nothing remains to support their “truth.” We must never let this happen to us, therefore, we must use our intellectualism to defend the truth of our fathers as well as to build upon it.

While developing, we must also defend – while growing we must also guard, so that nothing can damage our foundation. When that is gone, so is the whole basis of our Reformed faith.

As many of the second and third place winners as possible will be printed in the February issue. The remainder, along with some honorable mentions, will appear later.

The 20th Annual P.R.Y.P. Convention was started with afternoon and evening registration on August 16 at First Church.  Here, each delegate and visitor received his banquet and outing tickets, plus a bright yellow badge announcing the theme, Faithful TODAY!  This was followed by the inspirational Mass Meeting, featuring the speech by Rev. H. Hoeksema on the sub-topic, “Faithful in the Truth.”  He pointed out that God alone is truth, and that to be faithful in the truth, one must be faithful to God.  Only then is he faithful in the church.  This faithfulness can only exist when God bestows His grace and causes His spirit to operate.  Only by this means, can his people continue their struggle against the devil and become examples in the world.

Following the Mass Meeting, refreshments were served and dates were arranged.  Old courtships were renewed and new ones begun.  The 1960 convention was now in full swing.

Wednesday began with a business meeting where proposals were discussed and nominations for officers were submitted.  Then the cars left for Saugatuck and lunch at Mount Baldy.  After a late lunch, the dune scooters provided the thrills and each one was left to find his own way to the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds on Lake Michigan.  Here nearby everyone swam, some even in full dress, as Rev. Vanden Berg may well remember, he was deposited unceremoniously, by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema, waist-deep in the water.

This continued until the line formed for a dinner of barbecue, watermelon, pop and milk nickels (Loveland language), after which Rev. J.A. Heys spoke on “Faithful in Walk.”  He stressed the walk a Christian must maintain throughout life. They should do only that which is in complete harmony with Christ’s will.  Each should ask, “Would Christ be willing to do this with me?”  Faithfulness in walk, implies a real walk which should carry us more frequently into the house of God, and to diligence in His Word.  Our total dependence must be upon our God and Him alone.

The final day of the 1960 convention began with the traditional pancake breakfast and was followed with a panel discussion on the subject of how the world shows hostility to the Church today.  Next came the business meeting.  All proposals were passed with only one minor change.  Instead of the proposed $8.00 assessment per member, it was raised to $10.00.  From this, $2.00 would be appropriated for the new scholarship fund to help prospective teachers and ministers.  The third proposal provided for another season of studying from the Book of Revelation.  Finally, the new Federation Board officers were chosen.  Emerging victorious were, Harry Langerak as the new President, Mary Beth Engelsma as Secretary, Vice Treasurer, Dave Ondersma, and Librarian, Bonnie Bylsma.  Replacing Rev. Mulder as one of the advisors was Rev. G. Vos.

After a 6:00 p.m. picture at First Church, everyone went to Mayfield Christian School for a splendid banquet in a Japanese setting.  A small group from Edgerton, however, became quite lost and ended up at an entirely different banquet and although invited to stay, they decided that the food at their own was better and eventually found their way back.

The after dinner speaker was Rev. G. Vander Berg who developed the sub-title “Faithful Unto Death”, pointing out that our faithfulness, cannot be a temporay of part time thing, but must be even unto death.  And not only must it be even until death, but also unto death.  Believers should be willing to die for their truth.  They are constantly faced with the enemy, death, but their strength lies in God and He will Hold him fast.  If God is for us, no one can possible be against me!

After the speech, Mr. R.H. Brower showed beautiful pictures of nature.  Then the new officers were presented and it was announced that Loveland Colorado, would be the scene for the 21st convention.  After the speech, Mr. R.H.  Then were the new officers presented and it was announced that Loveland, Colorado, would be the would be the scene of the 21st convention of 1961.  The new president closed with prayer, and after bidding each other Sayonara, the 1960 convention was a memory of the past.

Probably one of the greatest and most influential church fathers of the ages was Augustine. He was born in Tageste in 354. His mother, Monica, was a staunch believer in the Christian faith and she tried to indoctrinate these beliefs into her son despite the hindrance of his pagan father.

While still very young, his parents sent him to law school at Carthage, where he immediately fell into sin. He led a life of shame and violence which he later revealed in his book, The Confessions. Later, after discontinuing his study of law, he turned to philosophy where he was led astray by the heretical Manachean doctrine. Finally, in 384, he was given his professorship in Milan where he soon came under the teachings of Ambrose. It was the earnest preaching of Ambrose that eventually led to his conversion. Shortly after meeting Ambrose, he was converted and baptized.

Four years later, he was at Hippo where he soon became a priest and finally the bishop of Hippo. It was here at Hippo that his first monastery was established. Augustine thought that monasteries were very good to be used as institutions of learning for the clergy. It was also at Hippo that Augustine began to fight so valiantly against the heresies which had crept into the church. First the Manacheans, whom he had joined while in Carthage. They taught that evil is matter and not a power or force. The way to escape from evil then was by means of monasteries and convents in which they could live secluded lives away from the world. Augustine broke down these beliefs by using God’s Word to make them see their error. He said that when one goes into monasteries he can’t get away from sin because those who are shut up in them still have their own sinful hearts which cause them to sin.

Another false teaching which arose at this time was Pelagianism. Pelagius was an Irish monk who taught that man is created good, without blemish, and having no original guilt. He claimed that grace is only an external help for the common man and he could, if he so desired, refrain from all sin and be without need of Christ. He said that man sins because his will makes the evil choice to sin, and that at any time throughout his life he can refrain from sin if he can only break a powerful “habit” which he has formed. Contrary to this, Angustine said that man is saved only by irresistible and unmerited grace granted by God. He said too, that God does not determine the sins of man but only permits them. This puts the free will of man in the place of the determining will of God, and makes Augustine a believer of Infralapsarianism.

Therefore, because of the many new ideas which he started at this time, he is considered the greatest teacher of the Western Church. Many of the later doctrinal issues which sprang up were inspired by the teachings of Augustine.

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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