As to the Schools (2)

This is the second post of three written by Mike Vermeer. Mike is also leading a series of Bible studies on the principles of Reformed education. This Bible study is being put on by Genesis Reformed Protestant School; information can be found here.

As noted in the prior installment, I have been hearing a question pressing some in the PRC: Some pose it as an innocent question: “Why did you need to start a school and abandon the PR Schools?” Others are more direct and simply assert, “I think your school is wrong, and you should have continued to use the PR Schools.”

This post will continue the first answer to the question: we were thrown out.

What astounded me, and betrayed how ignorant my generation had become of the truth, however, was the reason that we were thrown out of the schools.

I am not talking about being removed from the school board. After being removed, I was undeterred in my desire to use the PR schools. Some people just don’t learn easily.

I wanted to show that I was not angry for having been removed from the board and, if possible, ease the path towards using the school anyways. When after a discussion with a board member, it became clear that they did not want the association to have to vote on my removal (that would have been messy), I willingly sent this letter of resignation; not only that, but I also urged my fellow saints to do the same – many of whom followed my lead.

Now, as a newly minted non-association member, It was time for enrollment interviews.

I knew the men on the education committee fairly well. I had been secretary for them for the past two years, so I knew what lay ahead…I thought. The only question in the back recesses of my mind was who they would bring in to replace me on the committee.

As soon as we walked into the room, I knew that the interview would not go as I had anticipated. The man selected to replace me on the committee to conduct enrollment interviews was one of the most powerful men of Crete PRC, notorious for his hatred of Rev. Langerak’s preaching.

On reflection, he was there for a very specific purpose. It was his job to make it clear to the education committee – probably knowing they were too polite for his purposes – that under his cross-examination, I would defend myself. All I needed to do was to respond to his accusations, and he would meet his objective. When, after the 3rd or 5th time (I lost count), I was asked, “Why would you want to use this school?” finally, I responded, “Men, I have made clear to you that I desire to use this school, and am willing to work with you to do so. It is becoming clear to me that you do not want us to use this school, but that is your decision to make, not mine.”

We were soon complete with the interview, and they made their decision. But what grounds would they use?

In a very brief and sterile letter sent by US mail informing me of their decision, they noted as the first of three grounds my “not being willing to have my children catechized with other students by a Protestant Reformed minister.”

What?

Yes, you read that correctly. First, they sidelined the association; now, they drag in the church. We were cast out of a parent-run school because we were unwilling to participate in Protestant Reformed catechism.

I have always been taught that catechism is the preaching of the gospel to our children. That is why the church conducts catechism, not the school. We expressed this as a firm conviction that we could not have our children in PR catechism – it would make us liars if we left the PRC and then sent our children to PR catechism. We also provided an alternative, that we could arrange for our children to be supervised while the others were in catechism. Nonstarter.

At our school, convenience had apparently turned into law and, for some, was even considered to be part of the curriculum. After two or three generations of having our children catechized during the school day as a convenience to the parents, “there arose a generation that knew not” that catechism is the work of the church.

So they cast us out. By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Because He knew exactly what we needed to be delivered from.

To be concluded…

One thought on “As to the Schools (2)

  1. Consistories?

    Where were the consistories of the PR churches when the NW Indiana PRCS school board made the decision to require all of their students to attend catechism head for head regardless of whether the students were PR or from other denominations? It was one thing to require the PR students to attend the catechism classes that are being held in the day school. That can be done. However, this requirement does not come by the authority of the school board or even the school association but of the local church(es) that have been given the assent of the school board / school association that catechism classes may be held at school during the school day. It is a requirement of the consistories that the children of their churches be catechized. The main reason for this activity of catechizing taking place in the day school is the convenience for the families that are spread out in all directions from the church and the children are all gathered together in one place at the same time. The issue here is that the school board had taken on the authority of the consistory and gone beyond that authority in making it a requirement that students that are not part of the PR congregations attend the catechism classes held during the school day. If I had still been a member of the PR churches, I would have been at the door of the elders asking why they were not telling the PRCS school board that they would no longer teach the children of their congregation in the day school. The action of the school board should have been as offensive to them as it is to God. Did they not see that man was setting aside the church, the work of God, for their own goals? Where were the PR church consistories in this decision? Did they not know what was going on? Did they willing cede their authority to the school? Did they not see the abuse of power by the school board? Did they not care? I don’t have the answers – I am just asking the questions.

    It is also a warning to us in the RP churches that we ensure that we teach our children that catechism is a work of the church and not of the school in the instance we choose to teach catechism in the day school. It can easily seem like that when it is held in school. It is important that the children attending the day school be shown that the catechism instruction being conducted there is a work of the church and is being lead by the office bearers for that reason. And if it ever becomes an issue where the catechizing of other children from other denominations attending the day school becomes an unyielding requirement for attendance, where the parents of those children choose not to have them catechized in the day school, we need to remove catechism instruction from the school. For then the school itself has become corrupt with the work of man.

    It is very possible I was ignorant to this requirement of catechism attendance in the PRCS day school for all children taking place when I was still a member of the association and should have raised this issue when I was there. But then I was ignorant of many things. This same issue came up at the beginning of the school year when I was unsure that the Genesis RP school would come to fruition. I had gone as far as looking for the most conservative school I could find in the area for my two high school daughters to attend and determined that to be the Hammond Baptist school. Illiana CHS was out of the question. My fellow officebearers rightly and earnestly confronted me with the baptismal vows I had made at the baptism of my daughters. Why would I place my children in the arena of the teachings of another truth apart from that I had vowed to uphold? Pride. I wanted the best earthly education for them – not the truth. Hammond Baptist makes no qualms about the fact that they are a church school. Their minister is the president. So I would have willingly placed my daughters in the midst of what they teach. They made this very plain that my children would be subject to their teaching. I had convinced myself that my daughters were mature enough not to be influenced. After all, one was a senior and would attend college the following year where she is going to face the world and the other a junior, both of which daughters I deemed to be spiritually mature. In sin I desired their school – but God would not let me send my children there. So now I ask, why would anyone ask to have their children catechized by another denomination? Is it because they have no catechism instruction in their own church or is it because they are forced to as a requirement of attendance? Both show a spiritual weakness of the parent (me) or parents to their baptismal vows. May God cause that we might have spiritual eyes to discern the times and grant grace to us in the rearing of His children.

    “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2: 6-9

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