Bringing the Word into the Teaching of the Liberal Arts

The calling of the Christian school teacher is to bring God and his Word into the teaching of the liberal arts. This is an extremely important calling, if not the chief calling of the Christian School teacher. It is what sets the Christian School apart from any other type of school; it is rooted in the Word of God and that Word is woven into the daily framework and instruction that occurs. This is quite possibly not only the most important work that the teacher performs, but also the toughest. As a future history teacher, bringing God and his Word into the teaching of history starts with its very definition. As I am sure many have heard through the course of their instruction, history is his Story.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 54 asks, “What believest thou concerning the `holy catholic church’ of Christ?” The answer, “That the Son of God, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing m true faith; and that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.” That is exactly what history is. History is the story of how “the Son of God, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and Word…, a church chosen to everlasting life.” Each event that occurs in time is directed towards that goal. Everything that occurs is meant by God to gather, defend, and preserve his church. That is history and that is how history is to be interpreted.

History is not names and dates or the study of important events that have occurred. It is not the story of man’s journey through time and the amazing or catastrophic things that man has accomplished throughout. It is not that in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed, declaring to the world the freedom of the 13 colonies from Great Britain, or George Washington was the first President of the United States, or that the Civil War was from 1861 to 1865 and that Robert E. Lee was the leading general of the Confederate States of America, and Abraham Lincoln was our President at the time. While this is all a part of history and helps make up history, it does not tell you what history is. All of these facts are important, but why? What makes them important? Why must a child of God learn the historical events that have occurred in time? The answer is given to us in Joshua 4.

When God dried up the river Jordan to allow his people to pass over on dry ground and claim the land of Canaan, God instructed Joshua to take twelve stones out of the river Jordan to create a memorial. The reason for this memorial was so that “when your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, what mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God forever” (vs. 21-24). That is the ultimate purpose of history, so that fathers, mothers, and teachers may instruct the children and teach them the great wonders and mighty deeds of the one true and living God so that his name might be glorified and that they might fear him forever.

Each and every day history must be taught from this point of view. If it is not taught from this point of view, then the student can justifiably ask, “Why do I need to know this?” The work of the Christian schoolteacher is to bring the amazing works of Christ to the students each day. As Article 12 of the Belgic Confession states, we believe that God created all things, “giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator; that he doth also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence and infinite power for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.” God created all things to serve him and he continues to uphold and govern all things. Everything that has happened and ever will happen has been directed by God and is in accordance with his council.

While this may seem like a simple task it is by no means easy; as Paul says in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” God has revealed many things to us in his word that helps us to understand what has happened and what will come. I think of the many prophesies of Daniel, Christ’s explanation of the signs of the times, and Revelations running of the four horses as some examples, but still, we see through the glass darkly. We do not know why everything happened. Many things are a mystery and will remain a mystery. Just in the last century, millions upon millions of people were the targets of genocides, murdered, died in battle, and all for what purpose? How is the church defended, protected, and maintained throughout all of that? Why are men like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hussein allowed to come to power? The destruction and death caused by men such as these is just chilling. What purpose was served in this? Truly, God has a reason and plan for and in some way the church is benefited by it, but it is very difficult to see the reasons and explain them.

My brother once said that what amazes him most when looking back on history is that for every Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, or Tojo that comes to power, God directs and counters these men with the likes of Eisenhower, Churchill, and Marshall. God sees to it that ordinary men are given the gifts and talents to perform extraordinary tasks. That is what is so fascinating about history and the importance of history, that God works and directs everything. He is in control of all things.

The Reformed teacher has a very distinct calling compared to any other teacher. The Reformed teachers calling is to ensure that God and his Word are taught in all things. Each day, each lesson must be taught from that understanding. It is a difficult and labor intensive task, but a task that is willingly performed in the service of Christ and his Kingdom.