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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"A history of our youth education" - from 1929

     To build on the previous posts regarding congregational schools, I am presenting a short article from the 1929 issue of Lehre und Wehre (Doctrine and Defense) that Franz Pieper published about the important subject of "youth education".  This is nearly 40 years after Pieper so eloquently had written about the importance of congregation schools... and this article was just 2 years before his death.  The article was in Lehre und Wehre volume 75, September 1929, pages 282-284.
     There is a question on terminology that some older German Lutherans could probably answer better than I.  It has to do with the term "Hochschule" or literally "high school".  Some translations render this "college" or even "university", but I think by this article it actually means what we now call "high school" or grades 9 through 12.  My father was a farmer and only had an eighth grade education.  All his children had at least some education from universities.
     Pieper makes extensive use of an article from a Missouri Synod pastor in Nebraska, again in 1929:

From the Synod.  We share parts of the following historical overview of our youth education that is found in the "Southern Nebraska District Messenger":
"While twenty years ago [~1909] it was the exception that our children attended high schools [Hochschulen] and other higher educational establishments, today it has become almost the rule.  After the children have completed the eighth grade in the congregational school, they attend high school.  Admittedly, the children still remain in their parents' home during these years. They go to church, to Holy Communion, to Bible class [respective to Christian doctrine], belong to the youth association and to the singing choir.  There they still remain under the sound of the Word of God.  However, do we parents and pastors not notice with affliction that the idea of evolution is inculcated into our children already in high school?  But God's Word proves to be powerful and after a few years our children, along with many others, forget the idea of ​​evolution that they have learned in high school and again believe that God created the world as it is in the Bible.  But what if our children have graduated from high school? Then some want to yet continue studying, and so they come to the university.  Our church members have come into a prosperity that they can afford to let some of their children partake in a university education.  Thousands of young people in our congregations are now attending colleges and universities in our country each year.  Here in our State of Nebraska alone, there are 150 young people in our congregations who attend the university in Lincoln.  Truly, a very good number!  Now have small-town high schools begun to undermine the faith of our children, so it is even more true in the case of the University.  The children sit at the feet of such teachers who have earned a doctoral degree in their field.  Here are the clever ones of the world and the worldly wise, but also the unbelievers.  Yes, doubts, unbelief (page 283) and modernism are at home.  Here not only is the following said to our children:
'No educated person believes in our day the creation account as it appears in the Bible; only people with low education believe that; distinguished people today believe in evolutionism',
but such debates are still the least because our children are told this:
'The belief that the Bible is God's Word is plain nonsense.  It is nothing but a collection of human writings.  It contains probably some truth, but also a lot of myth and superstition.  That Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary is a true man, that he willingly went to his death for our sins and on the third day was raised for our justification, which simple people have well believed for centuries, but that in the modern twentieth century educated people no longer believe.  Such a God is far too cruel for modern man. You want to be really educated people!  Then you cannot take everything at face value what the pastors preach to you.'
"What I say here is truly not exaggerated. This is the spirit which rules where our children have to study four years and even longer if they want to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, etc.  These children do not live in the parental home any more, but among wild strangers, unbelievers.  Is it then a surprise that one complains about the fact that our children, after they have attended such a school, do not any more want to go to church and to holy Communion and are lost for the kingdom of God?  – What now should we parents say to this?  Can we watch quietly, without doing anything for our children?  Are these then not our children?  Are they not as dear to us at the age of 18 to 20 years as at the age of from 8 to 10?  Does this not suggest to us on this occasion the truth of this proverb: Small children, small worries; big children, big worries?  Does it not matter to us as a church that the devil now wins our children, whom we have brought up with some trouble and worry, in droves for the kingdom of unbelief and worldly wisdom?  To overcome this loss, now for several years our church has set up the office of university pastor.  We pastors are now to address the specific difficulties that face the children of our congregations, and especially in these dangerous times bring them close to the Word of God so that they are preserved for the kingdom of our Saviour.  Yes, it is the nature of our work that through private interviews, Bible classes and exhortations for  attendance to church and to participation in the Holy Supper to keep the precious youth of our church for the kingdom of heaven."
We share the following announcement from Valparaiso University:
"The fall semester at Valparaiso University will open Thursday, September 19. The University comprises a College of Liberal Arts (accredited by the North Central Association), a College of Pharmacy (accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy), and a School for Law (accredited by the American Bar Association). The College of Liberal Arts maintains fourteen departments, with offerings as follows: Biology, Botany, Zoology, Business Management, Chemistry, Education, Psychology, Engineering (Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical), Industrial Arts, English Language and Literature, Fine Arts (Art and Music), Foreign Languages (page 284) and Literatures, Geology, Health and Physical Education, Home Economics, Mathematics, Physics, Religion, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (History, Economics, Political Science, Sociology)."
Whoever desires more notifications apply to The Registrar,Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.    F.P.

Dear God!... this has been a most heart-wrenching article to translate!  How I had to get up and walk around awhile... how the tears flow!  Dear God, you are a witness to these tears!  Have mercy on us!  Do not forget us... we need thy Word to guide us.  We need teachers who teach the true Christian doctrine to our children... and to us!

Who are you dear reader?  Are you a youth, a parent, a grandparent?
  • If a youth, can you not confirm what the Nebraska pastor said about your teachers in the public schools and universities?
  • If a parent, can you not confirm your anxiety for your children to be taught rightly?
  • If a grandparent, can you not confirm from your past or your parent's past that the situation was as the pastor reported?
Ken Ham speaks of the youth being "already gone", already gone in the sense that even while the youth are still in their parents' home, they are already doubting their Christian faith, even have completely thrown it off.  And where does this doubt spring from?  It is more than the false teaching of evolution, it is more than the "scientific" teaching that refutes the centrality of our Earth among the planets, it is this:  the Doctrine of Justification, as the dear pastor from Nebraska so beautifully spoke (and Franz Pieper happily repeats).

The reader will note that although the old (German) Missouri Synod highly valued a good education for its youth, yet they valued more highly the teaching of Christian doctrine, Bible teaching.  This mirrors Luther's thoughts on education.  And so when "Christian education" drops its Christian nature, it ceases to be Christian education and in fact becomes anti-Christian.  And even more, when "education" teaches against Christianity, against Bible teachings, then it ceases to be any education at all.  So much for a "good education".

And you, Valparaiso University, although Franz Pieper gave you column space and a blessing by listing your schools of learning, yet it was without comment.  Could it be that even he was not certain that your founder, W.H.T. Dau, could keep your institution on the true Lutheran path?  Could it be that he was not so sure that your inclusion of the subjects of "Psychology" and "Sociology" could be taught from a Christian perspective, from the perspective of the Bible?  You should stop calling yourself "Lutheran" and "Christian" and only call yourself a public university.  Stop being worse than a public university with your pretense of "Christianity" for you teach the very thing warned against in this article – evolution.  You fight against Christianity, you destroy what Christian faith your students might have!

Dear Christians, even the unbelievers know to "Teach Your Children Well"... so must you!  Teach them first and foremost what the pastor from Nebraska spoke of... exactly what the unbelievers scoff at.  It is a matter of spiritual life and death!

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