Is it proper to teach reformed doctrine in our Christian schools?
In the May issue of Beacon Lights I answered a question submitted by Miss Diane Brummel, of the Esther Society of Fuller Ave. congregation, as to the place women have in our Protestant Reformed Mission work. In submitting this question she informed me that this question had aroused considerable discussion in their society, and that they had especially discussed the fact that the Bible tells us that it was not the woman’s calling to be engaged in the preaching and teaching of the Word. In answering this question I expressed my appreciation of the fact that the Esther Society understood the Scriptural and Reformed principle that only men, called and ordained by God through His Church, must labour in the doctrine. It was in this connection that I gave expression to my conviction that “it is a fundamental mistake when some Christian School teachers seem to think it is their calling to teach Reformed Doctrine in the Christian Schools.” In response to this statement I received the following letter from one of our readers:
“In one of your answers in the May Issue you write, ‘I think it is a fundamental mistake when some Christian School teachers seem to think it is their calling to teach Reformed Doctrine in the Christians Schools.’ Will you be so kind as to write a little more on this subject. If our Reformed Doctrine is to us our way of life and determines our entire world and life view, how can it be separated from what we daily teach in our Christian Schools.”
Signed: “A Reader.”
We appreciate this inquiry concerning our position on this question. I must immediately add, however, that the reader who submitted this question seems to have misunderstood me entirely. It is most certainly not my position that Reformed Doctrine can and must be separated from what a Christian School teacher daily teaches. God forbid. It is exactly her calling that all her or his instruction be based upon the Word of God, and upon our Reformed Doctrine. This is true in all spheres of life. This is not merely the calling of our Christian School teacher, namely to apply our Reformed Doctrine in her teaching, but this is true in every calling unto which the Lord calls us. Such is also the calling of every Christian nurse, of every Christian bookkeeper, of every Christian business man, of every Christian Doctor, of every Christian man or woman in all spheres of life. When a Christian School teacher teaches the three R’s, or History, or Geography, or Science, if it is to be real Christian instruction, then all such instruction must be based upon, and in harmony with the Word of God, and our Reformed Doctrines.
Put this is, something quite different, however, from teaching Reformed Doctrine. To teach Reformed Doctrine, is according to our Reformed position, fundamentally the calling of the Church, through men who have been called by God unto the ministry. This never becomes the calling of a society, be it either a Christian School Society, or a Mission Society. To labour in the Word and Doctrine is solely the calling of the Church, and that Calling may never be usurped by any society, no matter how noble that society may be. This fundamental principle is also violated when Christian School Societies appoint ordained ministers of the Word to teach Bible and Reformed Doctrine. This position is so thoroughly Reformed, that it should not even be called in question among us.
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This is a problem that I have been thinking about for a very long time, and came to the conclusion that it would be best to consult an ‘advisor’ about it.
Here is the problem: I have been thinking very seriously about making public confession of faith this fall and I sincerely feel that I am ready. My boy-friend is now in Japan and he also feels, that he is ready, but will not be able to do this until he comes home, which will be a year or two. My question is, would it be wrong to wait this long so we could make it together? I know that this is not something to be ‘put off’, but considering the circumstances, would like to have a little advice. Thank you.
Name withheld upon request.
This letter indirectly confronts us with one of the serious problems which faces our present day covenant youth. Before answering this particular problem, we would like to say a few things in connection with the serious problem that confronts many of our covenant youth in a time such as this. It is the problem that is occasioned by the fact that many of our covenant young men are being called into the service, and thus depriving many of our covenant young women from the whole- some and desirous companionship of those of the opposite sex. This creates a very abnormal situation. These young men are called to the colors at the very age when normally they would seek for themselves a life partner, so that together they may establish a home in the fear of the Lord. Hence not only the lives of our young men, but also the lives of our young ladies are greatly affected. It reminds me of an incident which occurred during World War II. I was at the Union Depot of Grand Rapids to bid farewell to several of our young men who were to leave for the service, together with several hundreds of other young men. Hundreds of parents and friends, with brave smiles but sad hearts, were present to see them off. In the midst of the excitement and confusion I met a former acquaintance, who in answer to my inquiry whether he also had a son amongst the departees, replied, No, I haven’t any sons, I only have girls. You are very fortunate, I said with a smile. His face sobered somewhat and he said, I’m not so sure about that, because I’m not sure which is the most difficult, either to have sons which must leave for the service, or to have daughters who are left behind to pine away in lonesomeness for the boys they have learned to love.
The often forgotten heroes of war, and of times of national emergency, are the young women who bravely carry on at home, while their loved ones are off to training camps, and battlefields. To be separated for two, three, or four years from those whom we love, is a tremendous burden to bear, and the cause of many heartaches. It is here that I would sound a note of solemn warning to our covenant young people. Hasty engagements and hurried marriages are always to be avoided by our covenant youth, but especially in such troubled and uncertain times as we now live in. Both engagements and marriage must be considered seriously and prayerfully before they are entered into. No covenant young man, or woman, should ever consider either, except in the fear of God. Marriage is a sacred institution, instituted by God, for the purpose of continuing His covenant in the generations to come, and hence may never be entered upon except both of the parties are children of God. Whereas almost all of our covenant young men will be called upon to serve in the armed forces for two or more years, we would warn both our young men, and our young women not to make rash pledges or premises to one another. There is so much that can happen in two or three years which might cause us to regret such hasty actions. There have been many broken hearts and ruined lives because of pledges and promises which were made without due caution and prayer.
This is not intended to disillusion those of our young people who have come to a firm and confident understanding with one another, and have solemnly pledged fidelity to each other in the fear of God. Such firm and confident understanding of one another, which has come to fruition after years of Christian acquaintance and fellowship, can reasonably be expected to weather successfully the severe trial of years of separation.
In answer to the letter quoted above, I would advise you not to wait with making your public confession of faith, and thus be admitted to the Lord’s Supper, until your boy-friend has returned from Japan. I most sincerely sympathize with your desire to wait for his return, so that you might take this important step together. There is no greater joy for covenant parents, and there is nothing more encouraging to the Church, than to see our covenant children request bet be admitted to the table of the Lord, and that they do so in company with those who are destined to be their life’s partner in marriage. What a blessing it is when two covenant young people, who before entering the holy state of matrimony, appear before the congregation to make public confession of faith. A marriage so begun promises much for the future of the Church. Desirable as this may be, however, since you say that you sincerely feel that you are ready to make confession of faith, I would advise you not to ‘put it off’ until your boy-friend’s return. I am sure that he will be happy to hear that you have taken this step, and that he will long for the time when he, together with you, may also partake of the Lord’s Supper.