Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Appalling Ignorance

Of Fundamental Importance

One of the most powerful and effective theologians in the first half of last century was Gresham Machen.  At the end of his book, Christianity and Liberalism Machen had this to say about education and schooling: 
The rejection of Christianity is due to various causes.  But a very potent cause is simple ignorance.  In countless cases, Christianity is rejected simply because men have no the slightest notion of what Christianity is.  An outstanding fact of recent Church history is the appalling growth of ignorance in the Church. 

Various causes, no doubt, can be assigned for this lamentable development.  The development is due partly to the general decline of education--at least so far as literature and history are concerned.  The schools of the present day are being ruined by the absurd notion that education should follow the line of least resistance , and that something can be "drawn out" of the mind before anything is put in.  They are also being ruined by an exaggerated emphasis on methodology at the expense of content and on what is materially useful at the expense of the high spiritual heritage of mankind.

The growth of ignorance in the Church is the logical and inevitable result of the false notion that Christianity is a life and not also a doctrine; if Christianity is not a doctrine then of course teaching is not necessary to Christianity.  But whatever be the causes for the growth of ignorance in the Church, the evil must be remedied.  It must be remedied primarily by the renewal of Christian education in the family, but also by the use of whatever other educational agencies the Church can find.  Christian education  is the chief business of the hour for every earnest Christian man [and woman]. 
[J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1923), p. 176f.]

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