With Friends Like These…

The answer to the last quotable was interesting for what it suggested about living as pilgrims check-to-jowl amongst the heathen. But imagine testifying before the House and Senate on the proposed Department of Education saying what Van Til does in Foundations of Christian Education (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990):

“Non-Christians believe that the personality of the child can develop best if it is not placed face to face with God. Christian believe that the child’s personality cannot develop at all unless it is placed face to face with God. Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum. In this vacuum the child is expected to grow. The result is that the child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food.”

“Non-Christians believe that authority hurts the growth of the child. Christians believe that without authority a child cannot live at all.”

 “No educational content that cannot be set into a definitely Christian-theistic pattern and be conducive to the development of covenant personality has any right to appear in our schools.”

 “What sense is there in spending money for teaching arithmetic in a Christian school rather than in a so-called neutral school unless you are basically convinced that no space-time fact can be talked about taught unless seen in its relationship to God? When speaking thus of the absolute antithesis that underlies the education policies of our schools, it is not too much to say that if any subject could be taught elsewhere than in a Christian school, there would be no reason for having Christian schools.”

“The only reason why we are justified in having Christian schools is that we are convinced that outside of a Christian-theistic atmosphere there can be no more than an empty process of one abstraction teaching abstractness to other abstractions.”

“No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”

“The ground for the necessity of Christian schools lies in this very thing, that no fact can be known unless it be known in its relationship to God. And once this point is clearly seen, the doubt as to the value of teaching arithmetic in Christian schools falls out of the picture. Of course arithmetic must be taught in a Christian school. It cannot be taught anywhere else.”

“…if you cannot teach arithmetic to the glory of God, you cannot do it any other way because it cannot be done any other way by anybody.”

“On the basis of our opponents the position of the teacher is utterly hopeless. He knows that he knows nothing and that in spite of this fact he must teach. He knows that without authority he cannot teach and that there are no authorities to which he can appeal. He has to place the child before an infinite series of possibilities and pretend to be able to say something about the most advisable attitude to take with respect to the possibilities, and at the same time he has to admit that he knows nothing at all about those possibilities. And the result for the child is that he is not furnished with an atmosphere in which he can live and grow.”

“In contrast with this the Christian teacher knows himself, knows the subject, and knows the child. He has the full assurance of the absolute fruitfulness of his work. He labors in the dawn of everlasting results.”

But Van Til isn’t alone. A branch of the “Take Back America” effort, the website The American View enlists his words along with plenty other Presbyterian and Reformed stalwarts in the fight against the pagans and their satanic workshop known as government schools where everyone knows that

 “Putting a child or young adult in the God-hating, Christless ‘public schools’ is a form of child-sacrifice. It is soul-murder.”

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11 Responses to With Friends Like These…

  1. John Yeazel says:

    I think you are on to something here Zrim. When you watch shows like “Real Time with Bill Maher” and see how religious people from all persuasions respond to him you see that something is really askew in how we relate to each other. Not that I think Maher does not provoke a lot of it and that I agree with all that he says. But he does see some issues about religion and the state more clearly than a lot of religious people do. This was really the topic of discussion on the last show which is worth watching and thinking about. You can get it on “On Demand” if you have it. It is the one with the military guy who he interviews and tries to make a fool of. I am surprised the military guy kept his cool. I cannot remember his name. On the panel was the lady who wrote the book on how the “liberal” media persecutes the religious perspective.

    We really are not trying to “take over” anything just bringing the good news of the Gospel, in the most accurate way we know how, to whomever chooses to listen to it.

  2. John Yeazel says:

    I am not sure how well Calvin and Luther separated Church and State in practice either. I think David VanDrunen emphasizes this in his book too. Some of that is kind of evident in Luther’s letter in the previous post.

  3. Zrim says:


    I’ve always found Maher off-putting. And during the 2008 presidential elections I figured out partly why: he’s just as spitting-fundamentalist as those he faults. He was being interviewed on NPR for his movie “Religulous.” In it, he suggested quite clearly that Sarah Palin was unfit for office because of her Pentecostal religion. He called her religious practices “witchcraft.” Which I would, too. But her witchcraft should keep her from the Table, not from public office. What should keep her from office is, well, I’ll stop there.

    So, I’m not sure I’d say a fellow like Maher sees issues of religion and state very clearly at all.

  4. John Yeazel says:


    I have heard your thoughts on Maher before and I agree with what you say here but he is facing the issue with more courage then many others are. He is not afraid to talk about the issue and point out many of the faults of those who are trying to “take over” the culture. Albeit, he and his cronies seem to be trying to do the same thing too. At least he offers a forum for people to talk about the issues- that is all that I was saying. Although his choice of those who he allows a forum for are not the best of representatives of all the opinions out there.

  5. John Yeazel says:

    The culture was predominantly Christian back then though. The Church and State issues are much more complex now.

  6. Ben P, Melbourne, Aust says:

    If that’s where the Van Til lovetrain gets you eventually, I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to get on. Seems to be sheer irrationalism.

  7. RubeRad says:

    outside of a Christian-theistic atmosphere there can be no more than an empty process of one abstraction teaching abstractness to other abstractions.

    That seems quite gnostic; there is no reality, there is no concrete createdness that can be apprehended without (secret?) knowledge of Christ?

  8. Zrim says:

    Maybe gnostic. But I tend to think it just doesn’t make much sense. I have no idea how someone who holds to common grace can turn around and say the common sphere is void meaning. Maybe common grace doesn’t count when it comes to education?

    My understanding is that CVT got pretty ill with the Christian school scene in his time, saying they had simply adopted a lot of pagan assumptions, etc. I tend to think much of his frustration owed to the fact that, while there is such a thing as Christians doing education, there is no such thing as Christian education, which is why he didn’t see a lot of what he thought was Christian education going on. (Christians like a lot of Greek pedagogy in their day schooling, but how is pagan pedagogy Christian?)

  9. RubeRad says:

    someone who holds to common grace

    Does CVT hold to common grace? I agree though; how could CVT possibly account for Gen 4:20-22?

  10. Zrim says:

    CVT sided with the CRC Synod 1924 over the matter of common grace (affirming), which Hoeksema et al rejected, which paved the way for the PRC out of the CRC.

    The PRC rejects common grace and the well-meant offer (hyper-Calvinist). They are also the ones who recently institutionalized educational legalism by requiring all extraordinary members to send their children to Christian schools.

  11. RubeRad says:

    Well at least the PRC is consistent. With all his rhetoric, I wonder how CVT would avoid requiring all extraordinary members to patronize Christian schools (and why not ordinary members too?)

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