Volume 15, Issue 6: Sharpening Iron
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, a goddess sang of the anger
of Peleus' son Achilles, played by Brad Pitt. Tell me muse, why? Wasn't
George Clooney as the man of many ways enough for them?
Hektor will kill Patroklos, who was wearing Achilles' armor, and Achilles
will chase Hektor around the walls of Troy multiple times. While Achilles
chases him, Hektor will be wearing the armor he took off Patroklos. It's almost as if, the
lit majors will point out, he's chasing himself. Like
Star Wars. Somehow.
They will all wear short skirts.
Brad Pitt should be able to capture the pout. Who will play Aias?
We love to be collared by some muscular story. Gripped. We would
go slack-jawed for a good Beowulf. A good something.
Instead, we get a thorough schizophrenia. Will there be gods? Or just
short swords and bronze shinguards? Will the the story function along
modern economic principles? Or will there be an Olympus, a beauty contest, and
idiot deities with pet people?
NATIONS VS. NEIGHBORS
I have found Mr. Schlect's understanding of nations curious. He seems unaware that the Bible has a thoroughgoing systematic theology of what a nation is. Proverbs 20:10 identifies (by way of synonymous parallelism) a nation as "a people," in the words, "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." God specifically set about establishing a "royal nation" (1 Peter
2) and has set Jesus as King of kings by redeeming men from every tribe, tongue and "nation."
Genesis contains the table of nations, not the table of neighbors. In the millennium, the nations of them that are saved will go up to worship the Lord once a year (but if not those nations will have no rain.) Rain is not something you withhold from neighbors. The nation is a covenantal unity in scripture so that nations are judged
as nations. In other words, God recognizes nations, either
by blessing or cursing them. He established the nations (Genesis 10), set their boundaries (Acts 17), and redeems some of them.
Coincidentally, this is where the Canadian "Solemn League" lovers get it wrong too. In wanting to know whether the United States is "a duly-constituted nation," they confuse a legal definition of a nation (only Israel was constituted directly by God as a nation and this corresponds to the Church), instead of acknowledging what the Bible says of other nations that God established
them providentially. That is why God never called Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon "no longer duly constituted." God judges nations as nations, not as churches, and not as neighbors. Schlect's (and Barrow's) errors are category mistakes that only lend to further confusion on national covenantal issues. The concept of "the nation" is no "Enlightenment" construct, but neither can any one nation be bound
by the national covenant of some other nation. This would require dual citizenship on the part of covenantersand the Bible is clear, "No one can serve two masters."
Chris Schlect replies: Yes! A sound "nation" is a personal entitya "people"not the impersonal Enlightenment inventions. Let's not confuse the Hebraic and medieval idea of "nation" with its modern alternative simply because they go by the same name. Reread my article; by criticizing flawed nations I nowhere claimed they are non-nations. As for our Canadian buddies, we acknowledge them to be our superiors in loving long book titles.
I appreciated Mr. Van Deventer's most recent article on preparing our children for the business world. His primary concern is especially legitimate. Why aren't all these new Classical Christian graduates making more of an impact on the business world? More specifically you ask, if "the Christian education we provide our children emphasized the ethereal to the exclusion of the
practical, will our children be any less dependent on pagans for their income than we are now?"
These are excellent questions and were a special concern of mine while studying at NSA. And, although I agree with the general trend of your argument, I must respectfully disagree with a few of your conclusions.
Most significantly, the regimen and curriculum of a Classical Christian school is eminently practical. What could be more practical than learning to work hard, be honest in your work, respect authority figures, show up on time, turn in your assignments on time, be courteous, and dress appropriately. I realize that the content of studying Ancient Greek, Latin, and Roman philosophers
doesn't seem especially practical but pursuing an education (by definition) is not immediately practical. There will always be some lag time before any education becomes "practical." Even in business and computer classes. First you must learn theory. Then you can go to application. Otherwise you will never be able to solve problems outside of the original examples.
Secondly, time is limited for schooling. In a few short years, that young grad will have a life full of practical issues. A spouse, kids, home repairs, in-laws, neighbors, bills, bosses, employees, debt, car repair, medical problems, the list is endless. What 'wisdom' is he going to turn to to guide him through these trials? His mastery of Windows XP Professional won't help him much with a
grouchy boss. Who better than Calvin (or Augustine) to help him keep his perspective and stay focused on his duties. What about his new proposal to expand sales into the Philippines? Who better than Cicero, the master rhetorician. to help him shape his ideas into a logical, persuasive format. Even for the most technical job, I am convinced that solid communication skills (speaking, reading,
and writing) are the cornerstone for success.
Finally, I would like to argue from my own practical experience. The last four years I have had at a job that NSA provided zero practical preparation for. I was a USMC Communications officer. I was in charge of 50 highly technically-trained Marines (from a new private to a Master Sergeant with over 20 years in). I was responsible for all data, radio, wire, and satellite communications for
a 900-man unit traveling all over the world on an extremely tight time schedule with no margin for error. I say this not to brag but to point out that I was completely unprepared (technically) for my job. Even after the 6-month military communication school that I was shoved through, I still knew next to nothing about computers, radios or satellites. But I did know how to think quick,
comprehend what I read, and to put my thoughts in order. With those skills, everything else just fell into place. Now I'm heading for my new job as a defense contractor, plunging full bore into a world I know next to nothing about.
But this is where I think a Classical Christian education excels. There were other Marines who had more technical savvy and
practical knowledge of how things worked. But I had been trained to understand how men work. How ideas work. How the world works. With
that practical wisdom, no job is too challenging or out of the realm of possibility. And that is what I think NSA does best.
Preparing you for the practical world in a very unpractical way.
Thanks for your time, sir. I hope I have not misread you or missed your main points. Overall, it was a very helpful article and I've enjoyed your previous writings on eschatology. Please keep up the good work.
Virginia Beach, VA
Jack Van Deventer replies: My daughters receive a classical education (including vocational training) in preparation for college at NSA for exactly the reasons you indicate. Douglas Wilson wrote, "Paul had a vocation (tentmaker)
because the Jews required their seminary grads to be good for something besides reading big fat books." That's my point.
Too many Christian school graduates redo college for lack of employable skills. A full-orbed Christian education includes principles and productivity.
LINDSEY ON MATTHEW 18
I was amused by Hal Lindsey's comment that "If you have something against a brother, go to him personally." I've tried this route several times with no success. When Lindsey wrote
The Road to Holocaust in 1989, I attempted to contact him through mutual friends at Dallas Theological Seminary and the Christian Research Institute to discuss our differences on
eschatology and his outlandish charges. Lindsey had described Christian Reconstruction as "the most anti-Semitic movement . . . since Adolf Hitler." For Lindsey, satire is evil while defamation is a mark of the church. Lindsey would not meet with me either "personally" or impersonally. I received the following response from the former professor at DTS: "Bad news! Lindsey is
not interested in talking about it. His basic word is write a book in response." So Peter Leithart and I wrote the non-satirical The Legacy of Hatred Continues to counter Lindsey's horrible historiography and miserable exegesis.
I would be more than happy for C/A to contact Lindsey and ask him why he does not follow his own advice.
Powder Springs, GA
GETTIN' SHOWED UP
Is C/A falling behind in the "youth pastor/christian rock" mocking department? A recent episode of Fox's "King of the Hill" put you guys to shame in that arena. The show contained a brilliant ribbing of a long haired, rock star youth pastor, trying to get a kid to disobey his parents. The best line of the episode was when Hank Hill tells the youth pastor, "You're
not making Christianity any better, you're just making rock music worse." That's a line worthy of the "Cave of Adullam". Blessings.
Virginia Beach, VA