It seems that our previous blog posts (1) and (2) on this topic have caught the attention of a variety of folks, some critical, some sympathetic.
I begin this third installment with a provisional apology, both to readers of those previous posts and to Dr. Noe himself, for apparently having failed to grasp his point. My continuing confusion will be apparent if you first reread those earlier posts, together with my statements of incredulity and alarm, and then read the following.
For Dr. Noe has now sought to clarify his original essay, published online by the OPC magazine, Ordained Servant Online, by replacing his original example of a Tour de France cyclist finishing the race on Sunday with that of a suit maker, and by indicating that his original essay wasn’t dealing at all with Christian day schools.
And, though I want to keep my powder mostly dry in case there are multiple heated replies to OS and I get from the editor a chance to respond, I would note, contra some webetary, that Christian day schools are not at all discussed in the article. I think there are good reasons for Christian schools (schools run by and for Christians – I teach at two of them right now). My focus was on whether there would be observable differences in matters that did not relate directly to the content of special revelation. And even there, I expect there will be some differences, as I believe my argument allowed, but that these primarily concern our reasons for teaching and thus are known, for now, only to the Lord. Such differences are still important, cf. WCF XVI.
We must be encouraged to learn that Dr. Noe thinks there are good reasons for Christian day schools. He himself is a Christian school teacher.
Not wanting to risk making additional erroneous claims or sounding needless alarms, I’ll simply offer a summary of this latest clarification and ask a question for the purpose of gaining clarity.
Let us summarize his most recent claims:
(1) Christian day schools are not at all discussed in the original OS essay.
(2) Dr. Noe thinks Christian day schools—schools run for and by Christians—are defensible.
(3) The original focus of the OS essay was on whether there would be observable differences in matters not directly relating to the content of special revelation.
Notice that his original conclusion, however, seems to remain unaltered: Outside the church there is no such thing as Christian education.
For gaining clarity and resolving confusion, I ask the reader to ponder this single question: What service do Christian day schools provide—if not Christian education? Or, to ask it another way: What kind of education does a teacher at a Christian school provide, if not Christian education?
Our assumption is that as historically understood and ideally practiced, Christian day schools are in the business of providing . . . Christian education. That is their claim, their promise, their raison d’être.
* * *
This is not the first time that people have offered vigorous criticism of public comments made by leaders in the Reformed and Presbyterian community that seemed to be hostile toward Christian day school education. For the second time now, such criticism is being greeted with the response of: “What are you people getting so upset about?”—followed by either an institutional or a personal assurance to the masses that such implicit or explicit hostility toward Christian education does not entail opposition toward Christian day schools. Evidence? Either “we send our own children to Christian schools,” or “we teach at a Christian school.” Leaving the discerning observer to ask: Why? If y’all believe there is no such thing as Christian education outside the church, then why use Christian schools?
This pattern of conversation is beyond confusing. It is exceedingly disruptive among the churches. The pattern is this:
Step 1: We are given an argument whose necessary implication—or in this case, explicit claim—is dismissive of Christian education as historically understood and ideally practiced in the Reformed and Presbyterian community.
Step 2: That argument is met by accurate analysis and accompanying concern.
Step 3: Legitimate public alarm is quickly met by a claim of appreciation for Christian day schools.
I wish we could do better.
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