In a brief post describing a key point from a talk by George Grant, Doug Wilson encouraged fellow Christians that the increase of trials in our lives is by no means an indication that things are going dangerously awry. Instead, viewing our battlefront as an ever growing circle of light, we will necessarily be faced with more trouble at the perimeter as the diameter of Christ’s kingdom expands. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5) His kingdom will be advanced, and we pray for grace to count our trials as joy since His purposes towards us for those trials are always for our good and the advancement of His glorious reign (Romans 8:28-39). As Hilaire Belloc observed, “The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always outlives her conquerors.”
Excelsior ad Dei Gloriam,
In a blog post of the same name, Mr. Casey Shutt of the Academy of Classical Christian Studies in Oklahoma City exhorts classical Christian educators to be cultivating a winsome, Christian rhetoric in their students. One of our primary aims in classical Christian education is the graduation of good people who speak well, and one of the best recent examples of such a person is G.K. Chesterton. I pray that your heart is encouraged and delighted in our Lord as you take time to consider Mr. Shutt’s thoughts about striving for a Chestertonian spirit in ourselves and in the next generation.
Pinnacle Classical Academy
United we stand; divided we fall.
This has been an American mantra since our country’s inception, but the saying actually finds its earliest origin in the works of the fable writer Aesop – who, by the by, lived a long long time before America was even an idea (circa 600 B.C.). Thinking about this idea of the necessity of unity in light of the Scriptures, – as we ought always to do with every idea no matter its source – it becomes clear why this mantra has endured. Paul made much the same point to the church in Rome: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Thus, it is crucial that we not throw this mantra – United we stand; divided we fall – to the wayside as though it were some kind of empty propaganda.
In this light, I encourage you to read the words of the President of our schools’ Association on the state of our world and how classical Christian education is a properly circumspect response thereunto. I eagerly look forward to continuing to fight the good fight of faith with you and with all of the other Classical Christian schools in this nation this school year as we set our sights and efforts upon the coming of that heavenly city whose foundations can never be shaken.
Hebrews 12:28-29, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”
Pinnacle Classical Academy
This year, I have had the privilege of teaching 7th-9th grade composition. I consider it a privilege for three reasons. First, teaching is not a task into which I enter lightly. James 3:1 reminds all of us as Christian educators, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Second, I have an exceptional group of students, and I say that not because this is a blogpost for our school. Finally, I have the opportunity to make use of a curriculum that is over 1600 years old. This curriculum follows the classical trajectory of preparation for rhetoric – the art of a good man speaking well – as the capstone of educational expression. In the classical world, that preparation for rhetoric was known as progymnasmata: which simply means preceding exercises. These exercises are a structured leading of students through templates for writing and speaking that are essential for orderly communication. They are phenomenally well assembled, and I have only begun this year to see how they are designed to give students the building blocks that they need to formulate their thoughts in a winsome and coherent fashion for the rest of their lives.
It has been a joy to be able to see my students growing in both their ability to write and in their own enjoyment of using these templates – which serve as the ancient paths to truly superb written and verbal communication. Composition is certainly one of the subjects in which we need more study of the ancient methods rather than increased innovation. Consequently, it bears repeating that the best path forward in education is undoubtedly backward.
In an article entitled, “Education and the Art of Pastries,” Christopher Maiocca argues that “the best way forward [in the education of our own children] is undoubtedly backwards.” What he means by this is simply that the only way of properly training our kids to delight in Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is to regain the lost tools of learning rather than attempting to innovate – or evolve – our way to a higher plateau in educational enterprise. Indeed, as parents desirous to cultivate a love of virtue and ultimately a passion for the glory of Christ, our mantra should be to “keep to the ancient paths.” Or, to give us a further Scriptural context for holding fast to that Truth which has always been and will always be true, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today [in the late fifteenth century B.C. – over 3500 years ago] shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
“And being good is an adventure far more violent and daring than sailing round the world.” – G.K. Chesterton
We want more for our own children, but are we willing to lead them into it? Jesus once said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40) Indeed, if our students and children will become like us, then we must lead them in delighting in the things of God with our time, energy, and finances. They cannot become more like the godly young men and women that we want them to be if we are failing to lead them into that godliness ourselves.
Now, I am not suggesting that all – or any – of their salvation is dependent upon us. Works count for naught. But, God does call us to be responsible in this upward call of God: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us: looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Jesus is the source and perfecter of our faith, and yet He reminds us that we must run with endurance. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who is at work within you both to will and to work for His own good pleasure.” We must work out our salvation; we must lead our students and children in how to work out their salvation all the while giving all of the glory to God for doing so. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not the result of works lest any should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Let us strive to go ever higher for God’s glory in our own personal holiness in order that we might help our disciples, our children, – to become like Christ by becoming like us. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil. 3:17)
In a brief article of the same title, Dr. Louis Markos of Houston Baptist University helps us to see how Christians of a forgotten era laid hold of the true, the good, and the beautiful in the culture around them for the purpose of evangelism. And, that is our call today: to lay hold of the true, the good, and the beautiful in the world around us and to tell a lost and dying world Who He is for Whom they are groping wildly in the dark.
My prayer is that you will be encouraged by Dr. Markos’ brief words to engage the world around you as people who are delighting in the victory secured for us in Christ, – over sin, Satan, and the grave – and that we would continue to go ever higher for God’s glory in our service to Him – in Word and deed – especially during this Christmas season.
What is the fair market value of a Classical Christian Education? An alumnus from our sister classical school, Westminster Academy, in Memphis, TN – whose goals are parallel to ours – wrote his thoughts about this question in a recent issue of The Classical Difference magazine which I would greatly encourage you to set aside a few moments to read.
One important question to be asked in determining the “fair market value” for our product would be this: by what standard is that value being measured? To answer this question, we need a seemingly unrelated starting point. As a school, we are aiming for two things. First, we are seeking to glorify God through the Christ-centered, classical training of children. Second, we are aiming to graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning equipped for service in love to God and man. These are kingdom focused aims which are not always able to be seen by typical methods of evaluating the fair market value of our product. But, I believe that these aims are the things for which we ought to be seeking – in fulfilling our God given mandate (Ephesians 6:4) -; and as such, it is a blessing to see an alumnus of the Classical Christian model who has taken the time to discuss his thoughts on how his own life has been set on a particular trajectory since his graduation from high school.
As an antidote to the self–centered, “have it your way” culture in which we live, take a moment to consider the following from the German poet Goethe. He writes, “Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do, and learn to love what must be done.”
This is no doubt challenging, but Goethe points us toward a proper theology of work for our day to day lives. Can we see the tasks before us, especially the difficult tasks, as those things which actually work together for our good? Or can we only find satisfaction in the more obvious and immediate pleasures that we crave? And what would we say knowing that our short term desires often leave us deeply dissatisfied in the end?
Our brother and fellow laborer, Christopher Perrin, wrote an article with the same title as this blog post. It is well worth the read. “Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.” Proverbs 15:21
As the Lord allows, please take two minutes of your time to watch the video at the link here. The script of the video is from Nate Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, and it briefly encapsulates the aim we have in our classical Christian school: viz. to graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning equipped for polluting the shadows in loving service to both God and man. In thinking about these things, I pray that your heart is encouraged to remember that our earnest aim, every single day, is to thoroughly disciple a generation – in the training and admonition of the Lord – that serves the city of man foremost by always pointing them to the Author of our unshakable heavenly city (Hebrews 11:14-16).
Excelsior ad Dei gloriam!