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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pieper – Foreword 1891 – Pt 3b: Congregational schools

This continues from Part 3a, Franz Pieper's foreword to the 1891 Lehre und Wehre journal.  In this section, Pieper details the opposition sects (papal and Reformed), then hammers home the extreme importance of congregational schools as God's command:
Conclusion. - continued from Part 3a
     We Lutheran Christians will also not try to make the state schools Christian.  We differ in this respect from the Pope's church as well as the sects.  The Pope's church even works in our country towards the aim to make the popish schools the state schools.  This plan the Archbishop of Ireland yet in the last year quite unceremoniously laid before a meeting of public (page 36) school teachers.  Even most sect preachers up to this day have in mind to make our public schools Christian in their sense as an ideal.  Only recently were prominent sect preachers gathered somewhere in the East to trim a Christian religion into one which could be introduced in public schools.  It is precisely the character of both the Pope's sect and the Reformed sects to mix church and state.  However sober Lutheran Christians distinguish sharply between church and state.  Thus they also do not want to turn the schools of the state into church schools.  The state does not deal with the propagation and preservation of the Christian faith.  Thus the schools which it establishes, maintains, and controls also should not teach the Christian faith.  If it tries to establish such schools, it does things which are not commanded of it, and the result will be an oppression and tyranny of conscience.  Therefore Lutheran Christians go for state schools, when they are necessary, that are without religion.
     These Lutheran Christians certainly cannot allow themselves to be satisfied for their children at the state schools without religion.  Before their eyes is the commandment of God: Ye fathers, ... bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4).  From this commandment of God the congregational schools grow.  However the Christian education of their children is first for the Christian parents, and even the Christian congregation has to take care that they do not trespass on the rights of parents.  Where individual Christian parents are able and want to completely retain the education of their children in their hand, so the congregation may not want to make them to sin.  But since it is now, as Luther already reminds, that most parents have neither the time nor the skill for the necessary training of their children, so the Christian congregational schools are a necessity.  The Christian congregational school is under these circumstances the means by which Christians fulfill the commandment of God to educate their Christian children.  And because this command is an international one, that is it concerns all Christians all over the world, it also binds Christians of America.  The fact that presently even Christians call the establishment and preservation of congregational schools "un-American" in our country, is an awful delusion.  We do not want to be dragged into this delusion, but rise above it through our counter testimony.
     Briefly, we do not want to let us have our congregational schools made suspect or even wrestled from our hands through the opposition which rises in this country against them.  We want to rather look after the congregational schools, by God's mercy, as one of the most marvelous facilities of our church and nurture them.  Only so can we, under the prevailing circumstances, fulfill the duty imposed by God to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Only in this way are (page 37) our children so established in the pure doctrine of the Word of God that they can defend themselves against unbelief and all sorts of erroneous beliefs.  Only with the help of the congregational schools will the church of the Reformation in this country gain a firm foothold and have to show a healthy growth; for when the increase of the sects is not insignificant without congregational schools, so it must be remembered that they refrain from the beginning from the purity of God's Word and unity in doctrine.  Finally, we also need the congregational schools as a means to missionize in the still standing remote districts of the church.  God bless our congregational schools!    F.P.
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     What congregational schools?  In Indiana, the LC-MS lists 105 schools, but only 3 are listed for high school education. The breakdown is approximately this: 39 are "preschool" only, 63 go to grades 6 or 8, and the balance of 3 are for high school ages, grades 9 -12 (Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Seymour).  These schools are a vestige of the old (German) Missouri Synod, even if most are weak at best in maintaining the purity of truly Christian doctrine.  How could they maintain purity when their seminaries and church leaders have largely fallen on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification?
     Dear God! How Pieper hammered home the importance of these schools, but how Lutherans have been led to the disastrous, wretched situation of being satisfied with having to leave their children to the religionless public schools.  And even worse, a "Lutheran" university in our state rather leads those students in its charge to the ravages of non-Christian teaching. (I'll have more to say about Valpo later.)
     Dear God, grant that not only may the glory of Thy Grace shine again through the pure Doctrine of Justification, but also that those parents enlightened by this faith may again see their duty to see to it that their children be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!  God grant it to the glory of thy Grace and to the furtherance of thy Church, through thy dear Son Jesus Christ!  Amen!  Amen!

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