John Schaller on Lutheran Education

Rev. Michael Holmen translated John Schaller's article "The Fight for the Christian School as a Fight for the Christian Worldview" which was originally published in the Theologische Quartalschrift, Vol. 7, 1910, pg. 204-221. This is a fantastic article that provides a glimpse into the mind of theologians of the prior century and shows the zeal we seem to be lacking today for Christ and His Church. 

Schaller starts by defining the only two worldviews that exist: the Christian worldview and it's inverse the anthropocentric worldview. As Christ said in Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad," so Schaller contrasts the two worldviews in the context of education:
It is therefore important in our circles to be crystal clear: the public school, as it is among us, is not grounded in the godly worldview, does not advocate for it, and therefore can only produce its opposite. 

Schaller goes on to explain that teachers claim for themselves the task of molding the minds of the people, but without a Christian worldview they have to ground their teaching of values in the anthropocentric worldview: ambition and selfishness, evolution and patriotism

Every big city and a large portion of the rural districts are a Sodom and Gomorrah whose sins stink to high heaven.

Where the worldview that is cultivated in the public school is dominant, the devil keeps his peace. There is nothing else that he can do

Schaller also recognizes that the Lutheran school is for their children and not for 'outreach' as many of our modern school plants are designed from inception:

We Christians are not called to erect educational institutions for the children of the world.

The Christian school must endure hostility

If the parochial school is recognized by the world, then there is good cause to wonder whether it has remained a Christian school.

The deficiencies of Christians who have not been raised in such a system include

Mak[ing] worldly measures the bona fide standards of congregational matters. 

How often don't  

Schaller is tough on parents who choose not to raise their children in Christian education. He acknowledges

No doubt, God can save a poor child from the abyss into which his parents have thrown him. The question for us is whether the parents can give answer for throwing their child into the abyss.

Parents' self-justification has to rely on two faulty premises

First, that steady instruction in the religion-less school carries with it no religious implications for the children. Second, that the low level of religious instruction in Sunday school and confirmation classes is enough to provide a firmly grounded religious competency for their children. 

Schaller proceeds to refute those premises, concluding

Anyone who thinks thus is devoid of common sense.

Well that's not very winsome! 

Finally, Schaller tackles how a Christian attitude towards education is cultivated. As Rev. Holmen notes in footnote 4, this is almost certainly a reflection of the so-called "Cincinnati Case" of 1899. Schaller shys away from legalism, consistent with the WELS view regarding the Cincinnati Case, but is not willing to call it a free choice:

But if only that he is deficient and has not yet understood how decisively the Christian worldview, which he has by faith, settles the question at hand, then evangelical instruction will have the task of making it clear to him. For the sake of God's mercy, which he himself experiences, for the sake of Jesus' love, which is given to him, he will gladly accept the instruction that shows him how he can live up to the heavy responsibilities he has towards his children. The evangelical exhortation will then also give him strength to overcome the incessant resistance of his flesh.

We have lost the zeal our forefathers!


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