C. M. Gullerud
1944 Synod Convention Essay
In treating the importance of the Christian Day School for out day, we do not wish to imply that there are times when the Christian Day School is not important. For Scripture makes it clear that the principle upon which the Christian Day School rests is important and equally applicable to all times. The innate corruption of man, his need of regeneration, his need of being taught all things whatsoever Christ has commanded and of growing in spiritual knowledge and understanding is the same in every age. The Lord is speaking as much to the people of one age as He is speaking to the people of another when He says, “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6–7), and again when He says, “Train up the child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Every generation of Christians will join the Psalmist in saying of the truths of the Spirit, “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commended our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:4,7).
The reason for considering the importance of the Christian Day School for our day is not based on the assumption, then, that the spiritual needs of children are essentially any different today than they have ever been. We speak of the importance of establishing, fostering and maintaining Christian Day Schools in our day because this is the day in which we are living. This is the day in which our children are coming into the world and growing up. This is the day when we must face the responsibility which God has laid upon us as Christian parents. Because of these simple and self,evident facts we cannot and must not feel satisfied merely to speak of the Christian Day School, admire its work, agree with the principle on which it rests, but leave for some uncertain, indefinite future date, the carrying out of principle into practice. It is so easy to sink into the spirit of the people who lived at the time of Haggai the Prophet. While they, indeed, wanted to be known as such who favored the building of the Lord’s house, they nevertheless joined in the refrain, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” Because the Lord wanted no procrastination or postponement in this important matter, He sent word to them by His prophet saying, “Is it time for you, O, ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts: consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord” (Haggai 1:4–8). We too need to consider our ways and see whether we have done what we should have done in the establishment and proper maintenance of Christian Day Schools in our midst. Beginning with an humble confession of our sins of omission with respect to our work of fostering the blessed cause of Christian Education, and turning to the Lord Jesus for His merciful and gracious forgiveness may we be spurred on to greater efforts as we consider on the basis of God’s Word:
“The Importance of the Christian Day School for Our Day”
“The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12b). Thus spake the loud voice from heaven heard by John in the Revelation given him on the isle of Patmos. Concerning the wrathful activity of the devil during the last days of the world, Jesus says, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before” (Matt. 24:24–25). That the last days will be marked by the ceaseless and destructive work of the Anti-Christ and by a resulting departure from the faith is brought to our attention by the words which Paul, by inspiration of God, wrote to the church of the Thessalonians: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2:3–12).
These are the spiritual dangers which will confront all those living in the last times. And that we are living in these times who can deny? There are wars and rumors of wars. Kingdom is rising against kingdom, and nation against nation. There are famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. Many are being offended at the Gospel, betraying one another, hating one another and the love of many is waxing cold. Many are showing themselves to be “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having the form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:2–5). Widespread is the indifference to the truth as is evidenced by recent calls to unionistic prayer on a national scale and to the practice of fellowship relations without due regard for unity in doctrine. There is the cry of “Unity, Unity,” but there is no unity. We know that these are the conditions prevailing today, but that these are the unfailing signs of the last times God alone can tell us and this He has told us in His infallible Word.
The great importance of a proper training and the right kind of an education for those who will be confronted by the dangers of the last times is shown in the third chapter of the Second epistle to Timothy, where the apostle Paul having reviewed the perilous times to come, admonishes Timothy, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:14–15). It is noteworthy that Paul in issuing his earnest warning could confidently refer his co-worker back to the things that he had learned in general and to the Holy Scriptures in particular. Timothy’s education and training from childhood on had been conducted in the light of God’s Word. His religious training had not been something added to the rest of his education like frosting on the cake or raisins in the pudding, but it permeated his whole education so that he had not only received the bare knowledge of things necessary for salvation but had learned to give the proper value to things of life, to look at all happenings in the right light and to be on guard against the many dangers threatening the spiritual life of the Christian. Thus when Paul had enumerated a wide variety of spiritual hazards and soul-wrecking dangers, he could say to Timothy, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” There were here no reservations made or limitations drawn as though Timothy must first separate the false and dangerous things from what he had learned in order that the true, the good and the salutary might remain. He simply says, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Timothy had had Christian teachers who could be trusted to teach nothing but the truth, giving him the correct and sound world-view. The eternal, justifying, sanctifying truth had formed the very warp and woof of his education and it was for that very reason that Paul in calling attention to the exceedingly great perils of the last days, could so confidently remind Timothy of the things he had learned and ask him to continue in them.
Our children and young people are growing up at a time when they will have to face the very perils of which the apostle spoke. They may be called upon, in the midst of the severest persecution, to bear witness to the hope that is within them. Coupled with this we must consider the fact that our young people at an earlier age than ever before are leaving the parental home to be exposed to the many dangers of a more or less unavoidable association with the children of the world. Not only are the young men drafted for military service, while they are still in their tender teens, but also young girls are volunteering for service and are leaving home to work in munition plants and factories which are stretched out from coast to coast. A perusal of the mailing list of our Army and Navy Commission will reveal how far and wide the flower of our youth has been scattered. Under these circumstances the parents sitting at home will realize as never before the true value of a Christian education and will experience what a comforting thing it is to be able to bid their children farewell with the words of the apostle, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” What a joy in the midst of the grief of parting to be able to say to these children brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, “Thy way and all thy sorrows, Give thou into His hand, His gracious care unfailing, who doth the heavens command; Their course and path He giveth To clouds and air and wind; A way thy feet may follow He, too, for thee will find.” Every Christian parent will say that no sacrifice brought for the Christian education of these their children has been too great.
With all these telling reminders of the importance and value of a truly Christian training of children and young people, we would indeed be remiss in our duty if we did not carefully consider the whole matter of education as it affects the children now growing up in our midst. In this connection we must call attention to the common fallacy of those who maintain that education can successfully be divided into two separate and distinct parts, the religious and the purely secular. Even leading educators of the world have come to realize that this is impossible. Take for instance the words of the U.S. Commissioner of Education, J.W. Studebaker as given in School Life, March, 1941. “The secularization of education is secularization only in the sense that public schools cannot preach sectarian dogmas. But insofar as religion is inextricably intertwined with the daily affairs of men it is not absent from any life-like curriculum in these (public) schools. Separation of church and state in America may be a price we must pay for religious tolerance. It need not mean that education, even secular education, should be without its motivating religious core.” In much the same way, Paul Amidon, Superintendent of schools, in defending sex instruction given in the High Schools of St. Paul writes: “Back of any scientific knowledge that is given to children must be the moral factor of the need for moral conduct is uppermost in the training. … Dr. O’Brien and the staff members in the State Department of Health believe that teachers properly selected and trained-dealing with segregated small groups or with individuals-are well equipped to present information relating to these personal problems in such manner that the presentation will carry with it not only knowledge and understanding but moral motivation” (St. Paul Dispatch, June 5, 1943). Along the same line the Tenth Yearbook of the De9artment of Superintendence (p. 4) brings this conclusion: “Since the essence of religion permeates the philosophy and structure of the public school system, it has given rich consent to the teaching of those principles of character, which, by ennobling individual lives, in turn ennoble society.” In their way (though mistaken in their solution) these men have realized that there can be no true education even for this life without the moral motivation and the spiritual factors. But now the question for us is this: Can we safely entrust the education of our children and young people to the public schools of instruction, where the doctrine of man’s total depravity and his need of regeneration through faith in Jesus Christ is regarded as sectarian dogma, and where the building of character is attempted outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? In answer to this question, let us hear from two educators of the Synodical Conference who have given much time and thought to this very important matter. In an essay on “Modern Trends in Education,” Prof. H.R. Klatt of Dr. Martin Luther College of the Wisconsin Synod traces the modern revamping and remodeling of the curricula and class room procedure of the public schools and, pointing to the frantic attempts in the last decade to overhaul the system, states: “When they had finished overhauling this old philosophy of education they thought they had found something new, but it was only a modified form of the old. It may be summed up as follows: the child has by nature a vast complex of stored-up readiness to do good providing the correct environment allows this readiness to function.” As his conclusion Prof. Klatt says, “The whole set-up is a contradiction of what the Word of God teaches as to the place of the child and as to God’s way of training a child. Indoctrination of any kind is out of place in such schools. There is no place for Christ crucified, no place for God’s Thou Shalt and Thou Shalt Not, not one comforting thought about the hereafter. It encourages the child to follow his own impulses, thus paving the way for corruption, crime and all ‘isms’, that will eventually end all our precious religious and political liberties.” The essayist then goes on to say, “What does the Lord tell us about education? The Scriptural view-point may be summed up as follows: The child is by nature a sinner, and only through a washing of regeneration and a renewal of the Holy Ghost can traits, virtues, and ideals function to the glory of God and the welfare of humanity. “ In a similar vein, Prof. J.C. Anderson (Mo. Synod), former President of Luther Institute, Chicago, Ill., in an essay entitled “Christian Education in Its Lower and Higher Level,” states: “All secular systems presuppose that the child is by nature good and that the objective of all education is merely to develope what is in the child. It is the evolutionistic idea of a development from lower to higher forms by a change of species. It believes in no fall of man, no depraved condition, no need of a Savior, no need of creating a new, a spiritual life, but only in the development of a civic righteousness and a legalistic morality at the best which has no moral value in God’s sight. The presuppositions of the Christian Education on the other hand, are two-fold: the fall of man with all its destructive results, and the need of the redemption in Christ Jesus. This system therefore differs in the objective to be gained, the implanting of a new, a spiritual life; in the means by which this end can be obtained, in the spirit of instruction, in short, it differs in the most fundamental doctrines and the meaning of morality and life. These differences are, at the same time, not superficial, but inherent in the very nature of the systems and decisive in determining our attitude toward them.” These conclusions are in exact harmony with expressions made in the old Synod. Thus in the meeting of the Iowa district exactly forty years ago the essayist stated concerning the public schools, “Even though these schools be arranged in the best possible manner, they would not be nor could they become schools for Christian children. They cannot educate them in a Christian manner, for they lack the means to accomplish this.” (Synodal Beretning 1904, p. 48.) In the same year the essayist at the meeting of the Minnesota District made this statement, “Although all Christians will take their part in helping the state to educate the children which otherwise would receive not even a bare civic education, this does not mean that Christian parents are to use the public schools for the education of their own children.” In this connection the essayist quotes Luther who once said that he would advise no-one to send their children to a school where the Word of God does not prevail.
Our conclusion must certainly also be that it is only at the greatest spiritual risk that children and young people of our church are sent to public institutions of learning. There is only one safe and satisfactory solution to the problem of educating our children under the present circumstances and that is to establish and maintain our own schools where the Word of God in its truth and purity will reign supreme, where real spiritual equipment is provided for life and preparation is made for eternity. When we consider the evils and the dangers of these last days of the world, it must be evident to all not only that the dangers for our children in the public schools of the world will be increasing but also that the need for a sound and thorough instruction in God’s Word is exceedingly pressing and urgent. A due regard for the words, “Redeem the time because the days are evil” certainly includes a live activity in the establishment and maintenance of the Christian schools both on the lower and higher level. Every member of this convention should go home with the firm resolve to do all he can to establish, support and maintain the Christian Day School and to promote Christian Education in general, so that we may be able to say to those facing the perilous times of the end, “Continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”