Around town are billboards and canvas banners for churches providing Vacation Bible school. These gatherings last anywhere from three to 10 days and are a way in which the church can serve members and have an influence on the larger culture.
Christian families are not the only ones invited to VBS. The nonchurched and nonchristian are welcome. VBS is a great place to park the kids for a few days at little expense.
By David Tulis
One hopes God will bless these efforts, especially if the teaching is biblical and faithful and makes the most of God and his providence and the least of man and his intelligence, gifts and virtue. Indeed, a faithful preaching of the Word in any context serves God’s kingdom.
However, VBS is a picture of an important compromise Christians in Chattanooga have made with the modern welfare and warfare state. State and federal government with the aid of counties have taken over the family role in education by providing free schools.
Public schooling is the instrument that makes a free people subject to the state. Schools are a means of marketing for the state, getting the people to yearn for its services and interventions. Schooling is a vehicle to convey to the people the ideas of consumption and debt, whether for a college degree or a Ford F150 pickup truck. It is impossible to have a love of liberty and free enterprise and submit one’s self to a state school system.
Best we can offer
Vacation Bible schools are the weak answer to the powerful claims of modern schooling. It could be seen as a rearguard action by a retreating Christianity. Christianity has been yielding since the rise of pietism and premillennial dispensationalism launched by J.N. Darby, Dwight L. Moody. In our country, that’s well over a hundred years. (See Ian Murray’s The Puritan Hope; Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy, Banner of Truth, 1971)
What’s really needed is for Christian parents not to be satisfied with the VBS scheme because they see it as a poor stand-in for year-round Christian education.
They should demand that educational service providers — schools, namely — have an explicitly Christian worldview in every subject that they teach. That means whether in mathematics and history, the Christian presupposition prevails, these main points would include six-day creation, the providence of God in all things, the validity of God’s law and the promise of the gospel through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Fruits of these doctrines are, yes, local economy and free markets.
Clearly, Hamilton County public schools are incapable of meeting these requirements, as they have presuppositions contrary to the gospel about the nature of man.
The Christian church and Christian people in Chattanooga have long compromised with the state by remaining patrons of the state VBS — its Very Bad Schools. They are indifferent to its atheism and materialism, but they hold on to a form of Christianity. This Christianity gives them to become indignant when a last vestige of God’s claims are scraped out of the public school system. Most recently that has been the free giveaway of Gideon Bibles in Bledsoe County and in North Georgia Christian prayer at football games, both much on the margins of the life of the average public school.
God’s people continue to keep classes of an atheist and progressive system full. The sermons from many pulpits in Chattanooga are poor enough that they keep Christian families in a servitude to the state, for which most pew sitters are thankful because they don’t have to write tuition checks every semester (public school being free, yes).
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