Few lawyers have won so many battles for Christian schools, churches, resisting bank foreclosures – all, plus more, were cases David Mitchell took on. The internationally-watched Noah’s Ark case brought by a sceptic was one of his great victories.
A graduate of the Universities of Tasmania, Oxford, Essex and Strasbourg, Dr Mitchell served British, African and Australian governments. He was more qualified than probably any other magistrate, judge or attorney-general in Australia, yet he never sought prominence. His defence at the United Nations of Lesotho (Africa) in its dispute with South Africa won $113million for this tiny state.
Retiring from public service at 45, he became a minister and served as church planter, pastor and procurator. Continuing to use his legal skills in Christ’s service – he did so, amazingly neither seeking or accepting remuneration for his services. Other lawyers also offer their counsel pro bono at times, but none ever like David Charles Mitchell.
How Christian are Christian Schools?
Greg Sheridan in God is Good for You- a defence of Christianity in troubled times, (everyone should read it) says some provocative things about Christian schools. He says “a big challenge for all Christian churches is to use Christian schools more effectively to teach the content of their religion.” And adds, “Once Christian schools were dry and scholastic … in their religious instruction. … Now they are hip and groovy and driven by the exploration of situation ethics, comparative religion, topic-focused individual modules of study and activism, social justice, environmentalism and other fashions. What they are not doing is providing any systematic knowledge of the content of Christian belief.”
This is a serious indictment. We know how state education ignores the foundations of western civilisation. But if Christian schools fail to do the same, that is serious. Western civilisation has been built on foundations which are undeniably Biblical and Christian. Inherent in this was teaching in the great doctrines of the Faith, the very content of the Christian revelation!
Sheridan comments on the contemporary scene: “Most Christian schools … do not produce graduates who practise their faith into adulthood or even now in any serious way know the content ... of their faith.”
Contrary to this I know of families whose children have been taught real content. If they are asked ‘What is God’ they have a ready answer. Ask them “what is man’s chief end?” Again they know the answer. They have been taught by the method called catechetical, in other words by rote learning which today are not popular. Yet cognitive psychologist David Ausubelsays the mind needs to know definite content in order to make life meaningful. Rote learning or memorizing does that. It gives the mind an advance organiser or structure for storing and retrieving theological content. It does not mean that students necessarily understand all the content, but as they mature they learn, progressively, to use such content to make sense of the world around them. In a post-truth age, where all values are man-centred, Christian education must be unapologetically theocentric. Students need to understand this world as God sees it. David F Wells asks, “why is it that contemporary evangelicals suppose their faith will survive intact without a passion for theology.”
Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View, 1968
No Place for Truth – or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?
David F Wells, Eerdmans 1993. Quote slightly paraphrased.
About this blog
Welcome to my blog where you can read about books, bods and battles for the truth. Your comments are invited.
Minister, pastor, evangelist, convention speaker, college lecturer, private pilot, invitee to minister in India, Singapore, Indonesia, Kenya, Cyprus USA and China, CEO of a Sydney church Retirement Village and author of four biographies - these are some areas in which I have served Christ for more than 60 years. Called to preach at age 16 I have served mainline and independent churches in all States save the NT. Decades of ministry, have led me to conclude that "judgment has begun at the church of God". Where will this end?