Christian Education and Why the Protestant Churches Fell

That church triumphs which breaks the yoke of worldly education, and which develops and practices the principles of Christian education.

“Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God.” Christian Educator, July 8, 1897. “The science of true education is the truth. . . . The Third Angel’s Message is truth.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 131. It is taken for granted that all Seventh-day Adventists believe that Christian education and the Third Angel’s Message are the same truth. The two are as inseparable as are a tree’s roots and its trunk and branches.

The object of these studies is to give a better understanding of the reason for the decline and moral fall of the Protestant denominations at the time of the midnight cry in 1844, and to help us as Seventh-day Adventists to avoid their mistakes as we approach the Loud Cry, soon due to the world.

A brief survey of the history of the Protestant denominations shows that their spiritual downfall in 1844 was the result of their failure “to understand the true science of education.” Their failure to understand and to practice Christian education unfitted them to proclaim to the world the message of Christ’s Second Coming. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination was then called into existence to take up the work, which the popular churches had failed to train their missionaries to do. The Protestant denominations could not give the Third Angel’s Message, a reform movement, which is a warning against the beast and his image, because they were still clinging to those doctrines and those principles of education which themselves form the beast and his image.

It is important that young Seventh-day Adventists study seriously the causes of the spiritual decline of these churches in 1844, lest we repeat their history, and be cast aside by the Spirit of God, and thus lose our place in the kingdom. If Seventh-day Adventists succeed where they failed, we must have a system of education which repudiates those principles which in themselves develop the beast and his image.

“Now, all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Corinthians 10:11.

Protestantism, born in the sixteenth century, was about to lose its light in Europe. God then prepared a new land, the future United States, as a cradle for the protection and development of those principles, and from this country is to go forth the final world-wide message that heralds the Saviour’s return.

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and, with God’s blessing, to lay on the shores of America the foundation of a mighty nation. . . . “The Bible was held as the foundation of faith, the source of wisdom and the charter of liberty. Its principles were diligently taught in the home, in the school, and in the church, and its fruits were manifest in thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance. . . . “It was demonstrated that the principles of the Bible are the surest safeguards of national greatness.” The Great Controversy, 292, 296.

These Reformers, on reaching America, renounced the papal doctrines in church and state, but they retained the papal system of education. While the Reformers rejected the creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit of intolerance. “The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms.” Some “looked upon them as badges of the slavery from which they had been delivered, and to which they had no disposition to return. . . . Many earnestly desired to return to the purity and simplicity which characterized the primitive church. . . . ‘England was ceasing forever to be a habitable place.’ Some at last determined to seek refuge in Holland. Difficulties, losses, and imprisonment were encountered. . . . In their flight they had left their houses, their goods, and their means of livelihood. . . . But they cheerfully accepted the situation, and lost no time in idleness or repining. . . . ‘They knew they were pilgrims’. . . . In the midst of exile and hardship, their love and faith waxed strong. They trusted the Lord’s promises, and He did not rail them in time of need. His angels were by their side, to encourage and support them. And when God’s hand seemed pointing them across the sea, to a land where they might found for themselves a state, and leave to their children the precious heritage of religious liberty, they went forward, without shrinking, in the path of Providence. . . . The Puritans had joined themselves together by a solemn covenant, as the Lord’s free people, to walk together in all His ways made known or to be made known to them. Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle of Protestantism.” The Great Controversy, 289–291.

The educational system of the church, which had driven them from their native home, was one of the most serious errors from which the Puritans failed to break away. Their system of education, while papal in spirit, was, to a certain extent, Protestant in form. The historian writes of the schools of the Puritans in the New World, that their courses were “fitted to the time-sanctioned curriculum of the college. They taught much Latin and Greek, and extended course in mathematics, and were strong generally on the side of the humanities. . . . This was a modeling after Rugby, Eton, and other noted English schools.” Again we read, “The roots of this system were deep in the great ecclesiastical system.” “From his early training,” Dunster, one of the first presidents of Harvard, “patterned the Harvard course largely after that of the English universities.” They so faithfully patterned after the English model—Cambridge University—that they were called by that name, and the historian wrote of Harvard, “In several instances youths in the parent country were sent to the American Cambridge for a finishing education.” Boone, speaking of the courses of study of William and Mary prior to the Revolution, says, “All were of English pattern.” Of Yale, started later, it is said, “The regulations for the most part were those at Harvard, as were also the courses of study.” The younger patterned after the older. It is very natural that Yale should be established after the English papal system, because the founder, Elihu Yale, had spent twenty years in the English schools. “Twenty years he spent in the schools and in special study.” Boone’s Education in the United States, 24–40.

Seventh-day Adventists should not let this fact escape their attention: The three leading schools of the colonies were established by men who had fled from the papal doctrines of the Old World; but these educators, because of their training in these papal schools and their ignorance of the relation between education and religion, unwittingly patterned their institutions after the educational system of the church from which they had withdrawn.

It is surprising that these English Reformers, after sacrificing as they did for a worthy cause, should yet allow a system of education, so unfitted to all their purposes, to be in reality the nurse of their children, from whose bosom these children drew their nourishment. They did not realize that the character and Christian experience of these children depended upon the nature of the food received. Had they grasped the relation of the education of the child to the experience of the same individual in the church, they would not have borrowed this papal system of education, but would have cast it out bodily as too dangerous for tolerance within the limits of Protestantism.

Some facts from educational history will make clear the statement that the system of education in Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, and Rugby was papal, and the New England Reformers, patterning their schools after these models, were planting the papal system of education in America. Laurie says, “Oxford and Cambridge modeled themselves largely after Paris. . . . A large number of masters and their pupils left Paris. . . . Thus the English portion of (Paris) University went to Oxford and Cambridge.” The relation of the University of Paris, the mother of Cambridge and Oxford, to the papacy is thus expressed, “It was because it was the center of theological learning that it received so many privileges from the pope, and was kept in close relation to the Papal See.” Laurie’s Rise and Constitution of Universities, 153, 162, 242.

Luther and Melanchthon, the great sixteenth century Reformers, understood clearly that it was impossible to have a permanent religious reform without Christian education. So they not only gave attention to the doctrines of the papacy, but also developed a strong system of Christian schools. Melanchthon said, “To neglect the young in our schools is just like taking the spring out of the year. They indeed take away the spring from the year who permit the schools to decline, because religion cannot be maintained without them.” “Melanchthon steadily directed his efforts to the advancement of education and the building up of good Christian schools. . . . In the spring of 1525, with Luther’s help, he reorganized the schools of Eisleben and Magdeburg.” He declared, “The cause of true education is the cause of God.” Life of Melanchthon, 81.

“In 1528 Melanchthon drew up the ‘Saxony School Plan,’ which served as the basis of organization for many schools throughout Germany.” This plan dealt with the question of a “multiplicity of studies that were not only unfruitful but even hurtful. . . . The teacher should not burden the children with too many books.” Painter’s History of Education, 152. These Reformers realized that the strength of the papal church lay in its educational system, and they struck a crushing blow at this system and, wounding it, brought the papal church to her knees. The Reformers established a system of Christian schools that made Protestants of the children. This wonderful revolution in education and religion was accomplished in one generation, in the brief space of one man’s life.

To give an idea of the power in that great Christian educational movement, the historian, speaking o several European countries, says: “The nobility of that country studied in Wittenberg—all other colleges of the land were filled with Protestants. . . . Not more than the thirtieth part of the population remained Catholic. . . . They withheld their children, too, from the Catholic schools. The inhabitants of Mainz did not hesitate to send their children to Protestant schools. The Protestant nations extended their vivifying energies to the most remote and most forgotten corners of Europe. What an immense domain had they conquered within the space of forty years. . . . Twenty years had elapsed in Vienna since a single student of the University had taken priests’ orders. . . . About this period the teachers in Germany were all, almost without exception, Protestants. The whole body of the rising generation sat at their feet and imbibed a hatred of the pope with the first rudiments of learning.” Von Ranke’s History of the Popes, 135.

After the death of Luther and Melanchthon, the theologians, into whose hands the work of the Reformation fell, instead of multiplying Christian schools, became absorbed in the mere technicalities of theology, and passed by the greatest work of the age. They sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. When the successors of Luther and Melanchthon failed to continue that constructive work, which centered largely in the education of the youth, who were to be the future missionaries and pillars of the church, internal dissention arose. Their time was spent very largely in criticizing the views of some of their co-laborers who differed with them on some unimportant points of theology. Thus they became destructive instead of constructive. They paid too much attention to doctrines, and spent the most of their energy in preserving orthodoxy. They crystallized their doctrines into a creed; they ceased to develop, and lost the spirit of Christian education, which was the oil for the lamps. Protestantism degenerated into dead orthodoxy, and they broke up into opposing factions. The Protestant church, thus weakened, could not resist the great power of rejuvenated papal education.

The success of the Reformers had been due to their control of the young people through their educational system. The papal schools were almost forsaken during the activity of Luther and Melanchthon. But when these Reformers died and their successors became more interested in abstract theology than in Christian education, and spent their time, energy, and the money of the church in preaching and writing on abstract theology, the papal school system, recovering itself, rose to a life and death struggle with the Protestant church. The papacy realized that the existence of the papal church itself depended upon a victory over Protestant schools. We are surprised at the skill and tact the papal educators used in their attack, and the rapidity with which they gained the victory. This experience should be an object lesson forever to Seventh-day Adventists.

A Christian School Animated by the Papal Spirit. —The eyes of the successors of Luther and Melanchthon were blinded. They did not understand “the true science of education.” They did not see its importance, and grasp the dependence of character upon education. “The true object of education is to restore the image of God in the soul.” Christian Educator, 63. Satan took advantage of this blindness to cause some of their own educators, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, to prey on the lambs. Chief among these was John Sturm, who, by these blind Reformers, was supposed to be a good Protestant. Sturm introduced practically the entire papal system of education into the Protestant schools of Strasbourg. And because he pretended to be a Protestant, the successors of Luther looked with favor upon his whole educational scheme. He was regarded by the so-called Reformers as the greatest educator of his time, and his school became so popular among Protestants that it was taken as their model for the Protestant schools of Germany, and its influence extended to England, and thence to America.” “No one who is acquainted with the education given at our principal classical schools—Eton, Winchester, and Westminster—forty years ago, can fail to see that their curriculum was formed in a great degree on Sturm’s model.” The historian says that it was Sturm’s ambition “to produce Greece and Rome in the midst of modern Christian civilization.” Painter’s History of Education. 163.

The educational wolf, dressed in Christian fleece, made great inroads on the lambs of the flock, and made possible a papal victory. Most dangerous of all enemies in a church is a school of its own, Christian in profession, with “teachers and managers who are only half converted;” who are accustomed to popular methods; who “concede some things and make half reforms, . . . preferring to work according to their own ideas,” (Testimonies, vol. 6, 141) who, step by step, advance toward worldly education, leading innocent lambs with them. In the day of judgment it will be easier for that man who has been cold and an avowed enemy to a reform movement than for that one who professes to be a shepherd, but who has been a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who deceives the lambs until they are unable to save themselves. It is the devil’s master stroke for the overthrow of God’s work in the world, and there is no influence harder to counteract. No other form of evil is so strongly denounced. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15, 16.

Sturm’s school stood as a half-way mark between the Christian schools of Luther and Melanchthon and the papal schools round about him. It offered a mixture of medieval, classical literature with a thin slice of Scripture, sandwiched in for effect, and flavored with the doctrines of the church. Its course of study was impractical; its methods of instruction mechanical; memory work was exalted; its government was arbitrary and empirical. “A dead knowledge of words took the place of a living knowledge of things. . . . The pupils were obligated to learn, but they were not educated to see and hear, to think and prove, and were not led to a true independence and personal perfection. The teachers found their function in teaching the prescribed text, not in harmoniously developing the young human being according to the laws of nature.” Painter’s History of Education, 156.

Macaulay, speaking of this system of education, adds: “They promised what was impracticable; they despised what was practicable. They filled the world with long words and long beards, and they left it as ignorant and as wicked as they found it.” Macaulay’s Bacon, 379.

Jesuit Schools—This study should make it clear that the Protestant teachers weakened and unfitted the Protestant denominations for the attack made by the papacy through the counter system of education introduced by Loyola, founder of the order of Jesuits. Before this, the Catholic Church realized its helplessness to withstand the great movement of Protestantism, inaugurated by thousands of missionaries trained in the Christian schools of Luther and Melanchthon. Noting the return of the Protestant church to the dead orthodoxy under the inefficient leadership of Luther’s successors, the papacy recognized the vulnerable point in Protestantism.

The Order of Jesuits found its special mission in combating the Reformation. As the most effective means of arresting the progress of Protestantism, it aimed at controlling education. “It developed an immense educational activity” in Protestant countries, “and earned for its schools a great reputation. . . . More than any other agency it stayed the progress of the Reformation, and it even succeeded in winning back territory already conquered by Protestantism. . . . It worked chiefly through its schools, of which it established and controlled large numbers. Every member of the order became a competent and practical teacher.” Painter’s History of Education, 166.

The following methods of teaching are characteristic of Jesuit schools: “The memory was cultivated as a means of keeping down free activity of thought and clearness of judgment.” In the place of self-government “their method of discipline was a system of mutual distrust, espionage, and informing. Implicit obedience relieved the pupils from all responsibility as to the moral justification of their deeds.” Rosencranz’s Philosophy of Education, 270.

“The Jesuits made much of emulation. He who knows how to excite emulation has found the most powerful auxiliary in his teaching. Nothing will be more honorable than to outstrip a fellow student, and nothing more dishonorable than to be outstripped. Prized will be distributed to the best pupils with the greatest solemnity. . . . It sought showy results with which to dazzle the world; a well-rounded development was nothing. . . . The Jesuits did not aim at developing all the faculties of their pupils, but merely the receptive and reproductive facilities.” When a student “could make a brilliant display from the sources of a well-stored memory, he had reached the highest points to which the Jesuits sought to lead him.” Originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake, the power of reflecting and forming correct judgments were not merely neglected, they were suppressed in the Jesuit system.” Painter’s History of Education, 172, 173. “The Jesuit system of education was remarkably successful, and for nearly a century, all the foremost men of Christendom came from Jesuit schools.” Rosencranz, 272.

Success of Jesuit Schools. —Concerning the success of the Jesuit educational system in overcoming the careless and indifferent Protestants, we read: “They carried their point.” They shadowed the Protestant schools and like a parasite, sucked from them their life. “Their labors were above all, devoted to the universities. Protestants called back their children from distant schools and put them under the care of the Jesuits. The Jesuits occupied the professors’ chairs. . . . They conquered the Germans on their own soil, in their very home, and wrested from them a part of their native land.” Macaulay’s Von Ranke, vol. 4, 134–139.

This conquest rapidly went on through nearly all European countries. They conquered England by taking the English youth to Rome and educating them in Jesuit schools, and sending them back as missionaries and teachers to their native land. And thus they were established in the schools of England. The Jesuits overran the New World also, becoming thoroughly established, and have been employing their characteristic methods here every since. Here, as elsewhere, their only purpose is “to obtain the sole direction of education, so that by getting the young into their hands they can fashion them after their own pattern.” Footprints of the Jesuits, 419.

“Within fifty years from the day Luther burned the Bull of Leo before the gates of Wittenberg, Protestantism gained its highest ascendancy, an ascendancy which it soon lost, and which it has never regained.” Macaulay’s Von Ranke.

“How was it that Protestantism did so much, yet did no more? How was it that the church of Rome, having lost a large part of Europe, not only ceased to lose, but actually regained nearly half of what she had lost? This is certainly a most curious and important question.” We have already had the answer, but it is well stated thus by Macaulay, who understood the part played by the Jesuit schools founded by Loyola: “Such was the celebrated Ignatius Loyola, who, in the great reaction, bore the same part which Luther bore in the great Protestant movement. It was at the feet of that Jesuit that the youth of higher and middle classes were brought up from childhood to manhood, from the first rudiments to the courses of rhetoric and philosophy. . . . The great order went forth conquering and to conquer. . . . Their first object was to drive no person out of the pale of the church.”

Heresy Hunting Defeats the Protestant Cause.—Macaulay thus gives the causes for this defeat of Protestantism and the success of the papacy: “The war between Luther and Leo was a war between firm faith and unbelief; between zeal and apathy; between energy and indolence; between seriousness and frivolity; between a pure morality and vice. Very different was the war which degenerate Protestantism had to wage against regenerate Catholicism,” made possible by the Jesuit educational system. “The Reformers had contracted some of the corruptions which had been justly censured in the Church of Rome. They had become lukewarm and worldly. Their great, old leaders had been borne to the grave and had left no successors. . . . Everywhere on the Protestant side we see languor; everywhere on the Catholic side we see ardor and devotion. Almost the whole zeal of the Protestants was directed against each other. Within the Catholic Church there were no serious disputes on points of doctrine. . . . On the other hand, the force which ought to have fought the battle of the Reformation was exhausted in civil conflict.”

The papacy learned a bitter lesson in dealing with heretics. Since the Reformation, she conserves her strength by setting them to work. Macaulay says: “Rome thoroughly understands what no other church has ever understood—how to deal with enthusiasts. . . . The Catholic Church neither submits to enthusiasm nor prescribes it, but uses it. . . . She accordingly enlists him (the enthusiast) in her services. . . . For a man thus minded there is within the pale of the establishment (Orthodox Protestant churches) no place. He has been at no college; . . . and he is told that if he remains in the communion of the church, he must do so as a hearer, and that, if he is resolved to be a teacher, he must begin by being a schismatic (a heretic). His choice is soon made; he harangues on Tower Hill or in Smithfield. A congregation is formed, and in a few weeks the (Protestant) church has lost forever a hundred families.”

The papacy was wiser than the Protestants in dealing with those who become somewhat irregular in their views. She spent little time in church trials. She directed their efforts, instead of attempting to force them from the church. “The ignorant enthusiast whom the English church makes. . . . a most dangerous enemy, the Catholic Church makes a companion. She bids him nurse his beard, covers him with a gown and hood of course dark stuff, ties a rope around his waist, and send him forth to teach in her name. He costs her nothing. He takes not a ducat away from the regular clergy. He lives by the alms of those who respect his spiritual character and are grateful for his instructions. . . . All this influence is employed to strengthen the church. . . . In this way the church of Rome unites in herself all the strength of the establishment (organization) and all the strength of dissent. . . . Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head of a formidable succession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is certain to be the first general of a new society devoted to the interest and honor of the church.” Macaulay’s Von Ranke.

The Church of Rome, since its rejuvenation, is literally alive with determined, enthusiastic, zealous soldiers who know nothing but to live, to be spent, and to die for the church. She is determined to conquer and bring back humiliated, broken down, and completely subjugated, the Protestant denominations. She has everywhere, through her Jesuit teachers, editors, and public officials, men at work to fashion public sentiment, to capture the important and controlling positions of government, and most of all, to obtain control, through her teachers, of the minds of Protestant children and youth. She values that eternal principle, and makes use of it, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Let me teach a child until he is twelve years old, say the Catholics, and he will always remain a Catholic. We can now better comprehend why those English Reformers did not understand the character and the danger of the school system in vogue at Cambridge, Oxford, Eton, and Westminster, and unwittingly planted this system of education upon the shores of their new home and in every one of their Christian schools. They ignorantly fostered it and scattered it, and their successors, like the successors of Luther and Melanchthon, became so infected with the spirit of Rome that by 1844 the Protestant churches were morally like their mother.

In this we have been tracing the roots which bore the tree of education in the United States. While Harvard, the first school in New England, at first “was little more than a training school for ministers,” and “the Bible was systematically studied,” yet it is plain to any student of Harvard’s course of study that, aside from Bible teaching, its curriculum was modeled after Eton, Rugby, and other noted English schools which were all based on Sturm’s system. Yale, William and Mary, and other institutions of the United States are modeled after this same system. Behold Protestant America training her children in schools which were modeled after Sturm’s papal schools.

The secret of the rejection of the Protestant denominations in 1844 is contained in the educational history just given. We see that, while they clung to the forms of Protestantism, their educational system continually instilled into the student the life of the papacy. This produced a form of Protestantism imbued with the papal spirit. This spells Babylon. Should not our students seriously question the character of the educational system that they are under, lest they find themselves in the company of those five foolish virgins who are rejected in the time of the Loud Cry, just as the great Christian churches were rejected at the time of the Midnight Cry, because they failed to understand the “true science of education?” “They did not come into the line of true education,” and they rejected the message.

Certain divine ideas of reform in civil government were received from God by some men in this country during the days of the wounding of the papacy. These men dared teach and practice these truths. They fostered true principles of civil government to such an extent that the Third Angel’s Message could be delivered under its shelter. But the papal system of education, as operated by Protestant churches, was a constant menace to this civil reform, because the churches would not break away from the medieval, classical course with the granting of degrees and honors—without which it is difficult for aristocracy and imperialism in either church or state to thrive. But in spite of the failure of the churches to break away from this system, the civil reformers repudiated all crowns, titles, and honors that would have perpetuated European aristocracy and imperialism. The churches, because they still clung to the papal educational system, became responsible, not only for the spirit of the papacy within themselves, but also for the return of imperialism now so plainly manifesting itself in our government, and especially noticeable in such tendencies toward centralization as the trusts, monopolies, and unions.

The year 1844 was one of the most critical periods in the history of the church since the days of the apostles. Toward that year the hand of prophecy had been pointing for ages. All heaven was interested in what was about to happen. Angels worked with intense interest for those who claimed to be followers of the Christ to prepare them to accept the message then due to the world. But the history quoted above shows that the Protestant denominations clung to the system of education borrowed from the papacy, which wholly unfitted them either to receive or give the message. Consequently, it was impossible for them to train men to proclaim it.

The world was approaching the great Day of Atonement n the heavenly sanctuary, the year 1844. Prior to this date, history records a most remarkable Christian educational movement and religious awakening. The popular churches were rapidly approaching their crucial test. And God knew it was impossible for them to acceptably carry the closing message unless they should “come into the line of true education”—unless they had a clear understanding of “the true science of education.” These words were applicable to them: “Now as never before we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God.”

What the Protestant churches faced in the year 1844, we Seventh-day Adventists are facing today. We shall see how the Protestant denominations opposed the principles of Christian education and thus failed to train their young people to give the Midnight Cry. Seventh-day Adventist young people, thousands of whom are in the schools of the world, cannot afford to repeat this failure. The moral fall of the popular churches causing that mighty cry, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, ” would never have been, had they been true to the principles of Christian education. If individual Seventh-day Adventists approach the Loud Cry with the same experience that the Protestants approached the Midnight Cry, they likewise will be foolish virgins to whom the door is closed. The virgins in Christ’s parable all had lamps, the doctrines; but they lacked a love of truth which lights up these doctrines, “The science of true education is the truth, which is to be so deeply impressed on the soul that it cannot be obliterated by the error that everywhere abounds. The Third Angel’s Message is truth, and light, and power.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 131. Is not Christian education, then, the light to the doctrines? Papal education fails to light up those lamps, for it is darkness.

Surely it is a serious time for our young Seventh-day Adventists—a time when every teacher in the land, when every student and prospective mission worker in the church, should look the situation squarely in the face and should determine his attitude toward the principles of Christian education. For “before we can carry the message of present truth in all its fullness to other countries, we must first break every yoke.” The Madison School, 30. “Now as never before we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God.” We are dealing with a life-and-death question.