October 27: What Are You Teaching Your Children?

Feeling and willing, which are not determined and guided by knowledge are dangerous, and may become insanity. The knowledge of God and His Holy Will is revealed to us in the Scriptures, and we are commanded to search them diligently. Failure here means ignorance and great evil.


Again we cut loose from the moorings of the calendar, but again, only because this seems too important. The depth of our ignorance in the present day is appalling, and the evidence of that lack is everywhere around us. Widespread corruption in government and business are but two examples.

Serious Doctrinal Decline

The following timely and impressive statement is quoted from the volume, entitled What Is Faith? By Dr. J. Gresham Machen. We quote it because it states concisely a threatening danger to intelligence and faith, and in order that people generally may take notice of it:

“Theological students come for the most part from Christian homes; indeed, in very considerable proportion they are the children of the manse. Yet when they have finished college and enter the theological seminary, many of them are quite ignorant of the simple contents of the English Bible.

“The sad thing is that it is not chiefly the student’s fault. These students, many of them, are sons of ministers, and by their deficiencies they reveal the fact that the ministers of the present day are not only substituting exhortation for instruction, ethics for theology, in their preaching; but are even neglecting the education of their own children. The lamentable fact is that the Christian home, as an educational institution, has largely ceased to function.

“Certainly that fact serves to explain to a considerable extent the growth of ignorance in the Church. But the explanation itself requires an explanation; so far we have only succeeded in pushing the problem farther back. The ignorance of the Church is explained by the failure of the family as an educational institution; but what in turn explains that failure? Why is it that Christian parents have neglected the instruction of their children; why is it that preaching has ceased to be educational and doctrinal; why is it that even Sabbath-school and Bible classes have come to consider solely applications of Christianity without studying the Christianity which is to be applied? These questions take us into the very heart of the situation; the growth of ignorance in the Church, the growth of indifference with regard to the simple facts recorded in the Bible, all goes back to a great spiritual movement, really skeptical in its tendency, which has been going forward during the last hundred years—a movement which appears not only in philosophers and theologians such as Kant and Schleiermacher and Ritschl, but also in a widespread attitude of plain men and women throughout the world. The depreciation of the intellect with the exaltation in the place of it of the feelings or of the will, is, we think, a basic fact in modern life, which is rapidly leading to a condition in modern life, in which men neither know anything nor care anything about the doctrinal content of the Christian religion, and in which there is a general lamentable decline.”

Feeling and willing, which are not determined and guided by knowledge are dangerous, and may become insanity. The knowledge of God and His Holy Will is revealed to us in the Scriptures, and we are commanded to search them diligently. Failure here means ignorance and great evil.

[excerpted from The Presbyterian and Herald and Presbyter, 18 March 1926, page 7. The author of this brief editorial would have been either David S. Kennedy or Samuel G. Craig, both men serving as editors at that time. Rev. Craig later went on to found the Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company in 1930.]

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