Antiques and Our Heritage (4) – The Importance of Christian Education

Four weeks ago we began to quote from a selection by John J. Timmerman, former English professor at Calvin College, found in a collection of his writings titled Markings on a Long Journey (Baker, 1982). It is an article he originally wrote for The Banner in September of 1972, and includes his thoughts on some things “old, precious, and beautiful” in the Reformed tradition.

Markings on long journey-TimmermanThe first one was the “antithesis”; the second one was “a sense of sin”; and the third one was “the priority of the sermon in our Sunday services”.  His next one is also significant, because it touches on another matter close to our Reformed hearts – our Christian day schools. He titles this element of our Reformed heritage “the importance of Christian education.”

Here is what he has to say on this subject:

The present Christian school system is a monument to severe early sacrifices and stellar devotion, a genuine attempt to provide an education that tried to apply the best Reformed tradition to the manifold problems of life. I have known men who walked a long way to work all their lives, who denied themselves and their families a car to provide a Christian education for their children. I have known gifted teachers on all levels of teaching who declined prestigious and lucrative positions to serve this cause. I have known board members who spent almost as much time in working for their schools as for their business. All was done in the belief that God would bless a distinctively Christian training for their children and a sound factual and theoretical knowledge of Scripture.

So it is with acute dismay that one sees a gradual erosion in attendance and support of these schools. They have given our children something to give the world; when they vanish, much of this unique knowledge of Scripture and interpretation will also disappear. Particularly distressing is the fact that only about 20 percent of our college youth attend one of our colleges. There may be good reasons why 20 percent should not attend these colleges; I can conceive of no good reasons why 80 percent should fail to do so – unless one calls indifference, apathy, or hostility to these uniquely excellent institutions good reasons (158).

I can only add, What would Timmerman say if he saw things in his denomination now? May we listen and learn, and not lose our zeal for and commitment to our own precious PR Christian schools.

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