VanDamme Against Classical Education

First of all: Crazy weeks. Need to get stuff done.

Anyway. I’d like to see a response to Lisa VanDamme’s 2007 article opposing classical Christian education. She’s not a believer, of course: that the article was published in The Objective Standard suggests that fact already. Still, some of her criticisms seem valid, particularly of introducing lots of abstract theories on authority before students are ready to actually understand the theories’ basis in empirical fact (and yes, I’m ignoring Kant for now, partly because I haven’t read him). Isn’t that what we don’t want to be doing as Protestants in the way we teach knowledge, effectively having a science magisterium?

Now, I do think that particular criticism is levelled mainly at the implementation level. If we teach Christian doctrine, a catechism works very differently from a confession of faith, the former being to teach the elements (that is, the fundamentals) and the latter being to circumscribe certain boundaries of orthodoxy within a tradition, and both differ from such a tome as Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. One would hardly hope to catechize out of the latter document. And even before the Heidelberg Catechism – to give one example – we vocalize God’s revealed Scripture itself as it’s meant to be read, this being the basis on which catechisms are written, together with the sacramental life that the Lord sustains in those baptized into his Name.

In the same way, perhaps we should take a second look at what’s been done in the past, to see if it truly aligns with our aims. Anyone else care to interact with VanDamme’s article, especially the issues of fundamental principle? I shan’t have time to do so – or to blog at all, really – for a while, I think.


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