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Machen: The Christian Reformed Church & Christian Education May 13, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Blog Spotting, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, J. Gresham Machen.
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Genva Redux posts some of Machen’s thoughts on the CRC from back in 1936. Unfortunately, much has changed in the denomination and its schools.  Yet there is much to consider from these characteristics. I was especially appreciative of the last section on Christian education:

They love God and love their children too much to allow Christian instruction to be tagged one day in seven as a kind of excrescence upon an education fundamentally non-Christian.  They have tried to make the education of their children Christian throughout.  God has wonderfully blessed them in that effort.

A good note of encouragement to a parent who has just decided to invest in Christian Education for his children.

Bahnsen: Keeping Covenant With God in the Education of Our Children April 30, 2009

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Greg Bahnsen.
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I am still doing a lot of thinking regarding Christian education as I have to make a decision regarding my son’s education for next year.

In the process, I found a short but helpful article by Greg Bahnsen at the CRTA (Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics) site.  The article itself can be found here.

Genuine knowledge of any subject whatsoever begins with reverence and submission to God (Prov. 1:7), particularly the fundamentals and philosophy which adhere to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than the fallen world or human traditions (Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20). It is the word of God which sets apart His people in the truth (John 17:17). Thus neutrality in education is not only impossible (Matt. 12:30), but immoral (Jas. 4:4). Accordingly, the aim of Christian parents must be to encourage their children to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), “in whom are deposited all the treasures of wisdom and knoeledge” (Col. 2:3), Only if they are first disciples of Christ will they know the truth and enjoy real freedom (John 8:31-32).

Van Til & Berkhof: Foundations of Christian Education November 21, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Cornelius Van Til, Louis Berkhof.
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christian_edThis book is a collection of essays that were delivered as addresses to Christian Educators in the 1930’s. In the introduction Dennis Johnson, the editor, mentions that these essays deal mostly with the ‘why’ and not the ‘how’ of Christian education. I was a little disappointed, but truly that was what I expected. That being said I’m still looking for a good book on the ‘how’ of Christian education in an effort to evaluate Christians schools as a parent. If you know of one please comment. Yet despite this small disappointment regarding what was not found in the book the topics the authors do cover are informative and helpful in discerning the need for Christian education.

Since I have been doing a lot of thinking and research on this subject I hope to do a series of posts on the individual essays in this book. Therefore in this post I will not go into too much detail on the content of the essays.

In the first section two essays lay out the necessity for and uniqueness of the reformed education. Van Til writes on ‘Antithesis in Education’ and Berkhof contributes ‘Being Reformed in Our Attitude Toward the Christian School’. These were probably the most important essays in the collection as they form the foundation for the rest of the book. Johnson comments in the introduction that this was his reason for including them first as opposed to at the end as they appeared in the first edition.

The second section is on the Doctrinal Foundations of Christian Education. Van Til has essays in this section titled ‘Creation: The Education of Man – A Divinely Ordained Need’, ‘Faith: Faith and Our Program’, and ‘Eternal Life: The Full-orbed Life’. The eternal life essay is a great reminder of where our priorities need to be even in education.  Berkhof’s essays cover ‘Covenant: The Covenant of Grace and Its Significance for Christian Education’ (my favorite), and ‘Authority: The Christian School and Authority.

Overall I enjoyed Berkhof’s essays more than Van Til’s. That may be because I’m a bit ‘Van Tiled’ out, after just finishing Bahnsen’s Vantil’s apologetic so Berkhof’s information may have seemed that much fresher. Those familiar with Van Til’s apologetic arguments will find what he says here familiar. This means Van Til’s arguements are tied very closely to his philosopy, which I beleive to be Biblical, but it was helpful to have Berkhof argueing more directly from the text.

This book is unfortunately no longer in print. I obtained by copy on eBay from the seller ‘grape-soda’ who has a good selection of Christian books and provided excellent service. It is a helpful resource to those in favor of Christian education as well as providing many thinking points for those who may be undecided or against the idea.

Beeke: Puritan Child-Rearing (Part 2) October 27, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Joel Beeke, Puritans.
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The second part of Dr. Beeke’s Puritan Child Rearing teaching series has been posted.

Listen Here

As with the first, it is packed with thought provoking and challenging information for today’s families. It is interesting how different from today’s views of the family were those of the Puritans. There is so much we can learn from them as we navigate modern society.

Here are a few of the points that I really appreciated:

  1. Salvation and Godliness were the main purpose of education.
  2. The father was expected to lead family worship and catechize his children.
  3. Discipline was to be balanced and designed to break the will but not the spirit.

Church Growth Methods: Amish Style October 17, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting, Evangelism.
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Gene Veith points out some interesting facts on Amish church growth. I’ve always had an interest in the Amish. It’s hard not to be inspired by people who live such a radically different life due to their Christian faith. So in turn its also interesting to read about the growth of their church.

But God blesses the evangelism that takes place in vocation, and He is powerfully at work in the vocation of parents when they bring their children to Christ–via Baptism, going to church, the day to day teaching and example that goes on in ordinary families.

What a challenge for parents to evangelize their own children. Yet what a joy to know that God truly does bless such ventures.

Another point is the number of children that the Amish have. The notion of large families really is an antithesis to the prevailing notions of family in our society. I’m really begining to ask questions about how many children I should have.

Mohler: Spare the Rod? October 14, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Al Mohler, Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting.
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Al Mohler comments on an ‘interesting’ news article on spanking. I rarely spank my son, but I do on occasion since being convicted that it is a Biblical form of discipline. However, I do believe it has to be done in a certain manner to be effective and ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart’ by Ted Tripp has good information on that as well as parenting in general.

This quote from the article gives a good taste of Mohler’s analysis:

Kazdin is simply infatuated with “the science.” What case can be made against spanking? “It can be argued from the science,” he assures. Research “consistently shows” that spanking does not work over time.

Kazdin wants spanking to be outlawed. He reports that 91 nations have banned spanking in the schools and 23 have banned corporal punishment even in the home — generally by criminalizing parents who spank.

He also offers this news bulletin sure to attract the ire of America’s parents:

Practically nobody in America knows or cares that the United Nations has set a target date of 2009 for a universal prohibition of violence against children that would include a ban on corporal punishment in the home.

Ah, so now parents are up against, not only “the science,” but the United Nations as well. Kazdin does not call for any specific legislative provision that would ban spanking, but “we ought to be able to at least discuss it with each other like grownups.” It is time to question “the primacy of rights that parents exercise in the home.” Thanks for the warning.

Thank you science and the UN but I think I’ll stick with the Bible as my guide.

Beeke: Puritan Child-Rearing (Part 1) October 1, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Christian Parenting, Joel Beeke, Puritans, Sermons.
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Listen Here

Dr. Joel Beeke provides a short study on the subject of Puritan child rearing. This is very interesting and challenging information for today’s families.

He indicates that the information is primarily based on a chapter in his new book ‘Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism’, which I’m planning on picking up soon. He also mentions that he had to exercise restraint in not writing an entire book on the subject, I certainly hope that his will is not that strong!

He starts by explaining how the Puritan view, seeing the family as a little church and children as gifts from God, was a radical change from the medieval period where marriage and family were looked down open. I thought the Puritans had a great view of the wife, seeing her as the husband’s coworker, counselor and comforter. Three principles are then laid out concentrating specifically on newborns (and younger).

  1. Child-Rearing begins at conception where parents are to protect and care for the unborn but also importantly to pray for its salvation
  2. Mothers were to be the primary care takers, forming a bond with the child. Bonding of the family as a whole was seen as very important.
  3. Baptizing of the child since our children are born in sin it is important to recognize this but also to see them as part of the covenant.

I am really looking forward to hearing the other message(s) in this series.

Machen: Education, Christianity and the State September 11, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, J. Gresham Machen.
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This book is a collection of articles and addresses by Machen on various topics of education, the state and how Christianity relates. They are all quite interesting even though there is some repetition due to the fact that he spoke on the same subject (the establishment of a Federal Department of Education) to different audiences. Despite the fact that the book is composed of separate compositions it flows well and keeps you interested in mining more of his thoughts on the subjects addressed.

The first essay ‘Faith and Knowledge’ lays the premise for the rest of the book- that Christianity is not anti-intellectual and the separation of knowledge and faith has been disastrous.  After all as he points out how can you have faith in something or someone that you know little to nothing about? The Christian religion is based on facts not feelings or philosophies. Since knowledge is crucial to the Christian faith education and, by default of our society, government’s involvement in educating our children are issues the Christian should address.

‘The Importance of Christian Scholarship’, which follows, was probably my favorite address in the book.  It discusses the importance of scholarship in three areas; evangelism, defense of the faith and building up the church. It again builds the case for why Christians should be concerned about education.

The third chapter is a brief discussion of ‘Christianity and Culture’.  Machen here calls for integration of faith and culture not a withdrawal.  Here is a great quote laying out the main point

“Instead of destroying the arts and sciences or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the veriest humanist, but at the same time consecrate then to the service of God.”

What better environment for cultivating this enthusiasm while consecrating these endeavors to God than a Christian school?  While I appreciated his analysis of situations in the book I was really hoping for a bit more of a blueprint for how Machen envisioned Christian education occurring.  Obviously Westminster served to address his vision of seminary education, but what should we expect for our young children?

Here’s another interesting quote from the chapter (I just like it because Machen really sounds like a reconstructionalist here):

“The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to or out of all connection with Christianity.  Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought”

In other chapters Machen explains the need for the Christian school as a way to preserve liberty and propagate the faith.  One of the essays is even titled ‘The Christian School: The Hope for America’. Some may find it interesting that Machen does not want prayer or Bible teaching in the public school as he believes that the truth would be distorted.  He also does not want the public schools to teach morality as he sees that morality can only be based on God’s truth.  He has some good points there.

As mentioned earlier quite a few chapters deal with his opposition the establishment of a Federal Department of Education.  It is particularly interesting to read the actual transcript of his testimony before the House and Senate.  He sees this department as a threat to our liberties and also fears that the standardization of education will be disastrous.

In the final address Machen lays out his purpose and plan for Westminster Seminary.

This is a great book for exploring Reformed thought on the social issue of education. This is the first book by Machen I have read but will definitely put his classic ‘Christianity and Liberalism’ on my to read list.

It is available from Reformation Heritage Books.