What Hath Geneva To Do With Monticello?


“What I do want to do, however, is just to mention, though in a necessarily desultory way, a few of those things about the life of the Christian Reformed Church which have kept it from falling away into the dominant Modernism and have been the instruments in preserving its truly Christian witness: 1. Separation for the Sake of Faithfulness, 2. Theological Consistency, 3. Indoctrination by the Pastors, 4. Church Discipline and 5. Christian Schools.”

J. Gresham Machen, “The Presbyterian Guardian” (1936)

From where I sit at ground zero, one is certainly hard-pressed to say that one through four of Machen plaudits are glaring marks of today’s CRC. Like day beams hitting reflective glass, the fifth is though. We even take up offerings to off set its costs (and bookend offerings for scriptural charges of the church: missions). In light of the wide disparity, one wonders what one thing finally has to do with another. If day schooling helps ensure confessional Reformed orthodoxy, how does one explain the theological and worship trends of the CRC? 

This isn’t to suggest that day schooling actually works against ensuring faithfulness, or even that it can’t play some role, however incidental, in furthering it. But one does wonder what she would look like if the CRC took her confessional heritage half as seriously as she takes day schooling.

Yes, those are TULIPS adorning the west lawn of Jefferson’s Monticello. I couldn’t, ahem, resist.

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3 Responses to What Hath Geneva To Do With Monticello?

  1. mboss says:


    This has become a real head scratcher for me, and I’m as uninspiring a product of Dutch Reformed upbringing as you’ll probably find. I’m sure y’all have said this before, but the roots of the Christian school movement is probably more an ethnic heritage thing than a doctrinal thing, but we CRC’ers have a real hard time separating the two. Although in my neck of the CRC woods, where Christian schools are harder to find, I think the majority of my fellow congregants with school-aged children ship em off to the public schools. It’s not really an issue. And I don’t think we’ve ever taken an offering for Christian schools (explicitly, at least). So, looks like we might be batting 0-5. Yikes.


  2. Zrim says:


    Yes, I have, to sustained boos, suggested that Christian schooling seems like as much a project in maintaining the cohesion of an immigrant culture as it is one in preserving the orthodoxies of the Christian cult. It doesn’t go over very well. I guess the same gene that makes me as a confessionalist abide ther CRC is the same one that gets me through providence thrice selecting me as a 2K deacon to utter offertory prayers for Xian schools. It’s hard being Reformed the really old-fashioned way.

    You Dutch Reformed are intriguing people. But I really love you all. Really.

  3. mboss says:


    We can be a strange lot. And people like yourself who wander in from other backgrounds, witness the madness, and stick around must have been blessed with more patience than the average bear.

    I’m a product of Xian education from preschool through college. I was blessed by it, and I wish it for my children. But I’m just not interested in dying on that hill to bind the consciences of my fellow Christians. Believe me, I’ve tried to proof text that one. Life is short, I’d rather find the Banner full of letters debating a return to confessionalism than whether college professors have to send their kids to a Xian school to show they’ve bought into the vision of a “Reformed” institution.

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