Friday, 18 January 2013

Re: Raising Your Children in Faith

Everyone has an opinion on just about everything. Some of us have strong opinions on some issues. And, when one of our opinions is challenged, sometimes we don’t take it very well. Such is life in a land with freedom of speech. As the T-shirt reads, “Those who think they know it all are annoying to those of us who really do.”

My experience has generally shown that the stronger we react to someone else’s opinion, the closer we should examine our own cherished belief. It would seem that one of those opinion-testing moments came last week as part of the sermon delivered at Middle Sackville Church. I have heard a lot of discussion, and heard about a lot of discussion, regarding the relative merits of public (read: secular) education vs private (read: parochial) education. (I’ve attended both types.)

Let’s put it bluntly: Crandall University vs all others in the Maritimes.

While I was not in church last Sunday, (we were in Ontario celebrating our first grandchild!!) I did listen to the message. While not having the benefit of the visual aspect of seeing it live, I did listen closely. What has come to my attention this week is the way in which we filter what we hear. Some of the comments made to myself since Sunday, which were credited as “quotes,” were not really correct. (It has also been my experience that I have been misquoted or misunderstood over the years as well.)

While some of the opinions expressed “pushed a few buttons,” I would like to weigh-in on some issues. First, the President of any university is paid to promote his own school. Would we have expected anything else? Second, we do support Crandall and should welcome the discussion of competing philosophies. The Bible has its own share of these debates. Third, don’t forget that a biblical (specifically Old Testament) perspective on education is holistic. (See my first blog, “Thinking About Education.”) After all, Jesus would have attended a parochial school and the debate about education isn’t in the New Testament. The choice we face is a late 20th century phenomenon.

And a welcome choice it is. We value freedom of choice, and so does God. We use our minds to weigh the options and do what seems best. Hopefully, we have prayed about it. What I heard in the message on Sunday was that Crandall provides a choice. In the President’s opinion it is a better and more biblical choice – provided the preferred course of study is available. Feel free to disagree, but be thankful for the fact we have choice, and are able to openly debate the relative merits – free from condemnation.

And by the way, a little challenge to our own cherished beliefs makes us think, doesn’t it?


  1. Ok, I wasn't there. Didn't hear the message. But this posting has challenged my own cherished beliefs and made me think just from what you have posted here regarding Sunday's service at MSBC in your absence Pastor Vernon.
    Thanks for your cander and bringing attention to how our listening sometimes gets lost in our mindful busyness when we stop in the middle of someone's message with our own judgemental bias of what we think is playing against our grain of belief regarding an issue. I have been totally guilty of doing that and then sometimes been prone to pass my judgement on, only later to realize or have it brought to my attention, that different perspectives can lend insight into my now way of thinking.
    Anyway, Congratulations Pastor Vernon and Sharon on becoming grandparents. OH WHAT A FEELIN'!!

  2. Here's my couple of cents: I enjoyed the first two sections of Bruce Fawcett's sermon on Sunday, but I found that his support of Crandall, while expected, was not that convincing - at least to me. I would have liked to have heard more about HOW Crandall prepares students for living in a secular society where Christian beliefs are increasingly irrelevant. Of course, the statistic that 70% of Christian students will lose their faith at a secular institution is alarming for Christian parents (though that has not been my experience with my 4 children), I thought it was a bit of a scare tactic. (Where did these stats come from anyway?) I was left with the impression that as long as students do not face the rest of the world they will be safe in their Christian beliefs. I don't believe that's what Dr. Fawcett meant to convey, but he did not describe how Crandall strengthens a person's faith as they go out into the world to face the rest of life.
    I have found that it has been the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the rest of life that have been serious tests of my faith. I hope that Crandall prepares their students to cope with these within a Christian worldview. I would have liked to have heard more about how they do that.

  3. I, also, was hoping for more in depth insight into bringing faith into an imperfect world. Insight into taking faith to those that are close to you yet continue to make their own way in a secular world. I appreciate Mr. Fawcett's primary purpose was in promoting the University yet this was, perhaps, not the best place as we already see the advantages of his university and emphasis on 'how' Crandall makes a better way in this world

  4. Good points about the "how" to make a difference. The stats are from the Angus Reid Forum of 2011. some info is available here: and we have the full report at the church if you wish to read it. Here are a couple of comments from the study: Only one in three Canadian young adults who attended church weekly as a child still do so today.Of the young adults who no longer attend church, half have also stopped identifying themselves with the Christian tradition in which they were raised.There are four primary toxins that keep young people from engaging with the church: Hypocrisy, judgement, exclusivity, failure.
    I'm not sure that Crandall U. can do enough to reverse this trend or if it means a wholesale rethinking about church and communicating Jesus. We must all be in this together.

  5. Vernon et al,

    Vernon, I think your point about the four toxins is really something that is worth thinking about. I'd like to believe that MSBC is, by and large, overcome these. As a person who still considers himself a new Christian, I've always felt welcome and included at MSBC. No one has judged me (OK, maybe they have and they are too polite to let me know :) ) and ... well ... we all struggle with hypocrisy to be sure but I think our church family is aware of this struggle. We are aware of our own failings and that we need to turn to something bigger then us to address them. Hence, people at MSBC may have hypocritical moments but they struggle against them. The result is edifying.

    What we need to deal with is (a) bad press and (b) problems in wider culture. There may not be a lot we can do about (a) other then keeping doing what we are doing. The truth is that much public discourse (via the media) on Christianity is misinformed. This is not a shock or a surprise. Journalists go for the sensational story and ignore the good news story because ... well ... that is what journalists do. A story of corruption in the church draws more attention in the media then Myles visiting folks at the Drew or a kid graduating from SCA who would have flunked out of the public school system.

    The problem in wider culture are also difficult to address but I think the current approach laid out by the MSBC pastoral team and other church leaders is a big step in the right direction. Having us think about what we can do in the community will not solve all problems but if we make it more then thinking we will be able to get that "good news" to people who need it. We can trust in God too. We might not see the results tomorrow or the next day but there are results. Look at Robin's youth groups!

    Crandall is part of the wider solution; part of what needs to be done. It occupies a unique niche in the Maritimes. Post-secondary education would be poorer without it. And, this would be true regardless of what Dr. Fawcett (or, Andrew Nurse or whomever) thinks about Crandall or education.