Staying the Course
Why the study and memorization of God’s Word is a non-negotiable at DC.
Rob Atkins, Bible Department Chair
Of one thing I am certain: there is no labour which will be so richly repaid as laborious regular daily study of God’s Word.
- J.C. Ryle
In the past few months there have been several articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal regarding Christianity and its increasing pressure to accommodate viewpoints that are quickly becoming new societal norms. Not surprisingly, each of the articles favorably portrayed those Christian denominations that are willing to be flexible regarding their commitment to the sacred Scriptures. By “flexible” they mean a willingness to jettison the anchor of the Christian faith, the living and authoritative Word of God. One author described herself as a “cultural Christian” who appreciates the moral efforts, goodwill towards humanity, and community that the church provides, but cannot share with the church the conviction that the Bible is God's Word.
The flexibility is increasingly encouraged in the climate that we all live in today. Our students, and we ourselves, must learn to navigate this climate if we are to maintain a faithful Christian witness in a world that is critical of an ancient text that infringes upon the “sophisticated” and “modern” sensibilities of society. Historically this encouragement to abandon the authority of God's Word is not new. These problems were addressed by the Apostles in the 1st century and have been faced throughout the history of the Christian church. In spite of these difficulties, we can be encouraged. Paul addresses why we can still be encouraged when he writes to the church in Corinth and says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind, and God is faithful....” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Christians have faced these challenges before and we will face them again, but by God's grace students of DC will be ready to face these challenges and lead the way. As an educational institution, the Scriptures have a central part in all we do. This is why one of our core values that we hold so tightly to at DC is “Rooted in Christ.” There is no way to be rooted in Christ, in any meaningful way, apart from engaging with and drinking from the wellspring of life, the Word of God. In addition to our values, DC has maintained as its mission to “educate students who will serve God and impact the world through biblical thought and action.” If we desire students who will impact our world through biblical thought and action, our students must be creatures of the Word. If we as a community desire to impact our world through biblical thought and action, we too must be creatures of the Word.
What if the words of Charles Spurgeon, when describing the character and person of John Bunyan, would be said of our students, families, faculty and staff at DC?
“Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.”
Imagine if that kind of language was used when speaking about our graduates. After receiving an excellent liberal arts education that is Christ-centered and Word saturated, it is our hope and prayer that our students too would be filled with the Bible so that when they are “pricked”, others see that their very souls are full of the Word of God.
We know Him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God…
Second, He makes himself known to us more openly by His holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for His glory and for the salvation of His own.
- Belgic Confessions, 1561
DC has a long history of preparing students to think and act biblically by establishing a curricular path from a biblical framework which promotes a God-entranced view of all things, all disciplines, and all subjects, and additionally, undergirding those subjects with devoted Bible classes throughout the whole academic career of the student. This is to contribute to a central aim of a truly Christian education, namely the academic pursuits being taught in such a way so that they are seen, studied, and savored within their fullest context, which is a recognition of all Truth having its origin in God alone. This means that all disciplines, subjects, and classes are teaching us something about God because they are part of God's book, His book of the created world. We can certainly know much about God through this book, but to fully grasp the significance of the created world, our need for God, and the salvation that he offers us in Christ we need to know and understand God’s written book, His Word to us, the Bible.
As a school we have been committed to studying both of God's “Books” and their relationship with each other throughout the years. Beginning as early as Pre-K our students are learning from God's Word, committing passages to memory, and developing a framework to view all of life through God's narrative that is developed from Genesis through Revelation. These practices are crucial in contributing to developing a mind, body, and heart that thinks and acts biblically.
The 19th century Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle worried of the pace of life in his day when he said “In a hurrying age of railways and telegraphs, I am firmly persuaded that many Christians do not give time enough to private reading of the Scriptures.” What would Bishop Ryle say if he could see our world today! What a blessing that in the midst of a hurried life, that often seems stretched thin, students are able to have a devoted time to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God by learning the Scriptures. How much more hurried we probably are; but in the midst of the hurriedness DC has continually committed to the study of God's word in the educational setting. This commitment to a Christ-centered education is part of the DNA of this school. The DNA that began with a group of Christian parents, burdened to have a Christ-centered education for their students because they firmly believed Paul’s words to the church in Colosse: “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” These parents believed that the outcome of a Christ-centered education was worth the sacrifice—that outcome being far more than thriving in a college setting, but becoming living sacrifices that are transformed by a renewed mind that is then able to test and discern God's will (Romans 12:1-2). Our DC community is still committed to this belief today because we know the outcome of a Christ-centered education that seeks to equip students to think biblically is an investment for eternity.
We all know from experience that many times in the life of a student, much more is “caught” than “taught.” For this reason, let us be a community who takes the rigorous academic study of God's World (the Liberal Arts) and His Word seriously, and let us be a community of believers who model to our children and students the changed lives of authentic Christ followers who “desire the pure spiritual milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2).
Let us do this by continuing to be faithful members of our local church communities, showing our children and students the importance of sitting under the authority of the preached Word (Hebrews 10:25). And let our families hold to the centrality of the Scriptures by having countless conversations about God's truth early and often (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced. Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.
- J.C. Ryle