Busted for homeschooling; the EU rolls on...

From across the pond--Belgium this time--here's news of the threat homeschooling represents to the real work of the modern Western state, as well as the drastic measures the apparatchiks are prepared to take to ensure their homogenizing enterprise continues unimpeded.

J. Oliver Buswell was president of Wheaton College when Mary Lee's and my parents were first students there, and after Wheaton's trustees fired him for his faithfulness to God's Word (I've read a fair bit of the private correspondence on this), he later taught Dad theology at Faith Theological Seminary. Buswell had done graduate work at Columbia University and told the story of being invited to attend a birthday party for John Dewey who was turning eighty. Dewey had served for years as a professor of philosophy there, and was the reigning patriarch of the progressive movement in education.

As Dad told Buswell's story, the talk at this party was of the ignorance of the masses, and the hope public education represented, that the masses' poor benighted children would be turned into good citizens through the enlightened instruction of teachers Dewey and his disciples trained.

I might add that in the years I've served as pastor here in the shadow of Indiana University, it's the School of Education that's received the most consistently negative reviews by the Christian students in our congregation. One young man working toward a teaching certificate in secondary education called it the School of Indoctrination.

(Thanks, David.)



The same goes for us living in the shadow of Florida State University.

Ole J.O. at Dewey's 90th b'day party. Man, oh man, what I would give to go back in time and hear some of those conversations!

Interestingly, just yesterday I was reading Buswell's systematic theology, which I feel is one of the most underrated of the Reformed systematic theologies (mostly, I believe, because he was a premillenialist). He wrote in a day when theology was for the church. It is immensely readable and I commend to you.

When I read men like Buswell, I can't help but lament the current state of the 'evangelical' church and long for the day when the church was full of godly 'fathers' like Buswell (and Joe Bayly). Men with hearts for Christ, the Word, the Church, and the lost.

But, alas, this is the age we live in. So, I'll do my best to raise up a few Buswell's here in Tallahassee, by God's grace!

Though sad, this is far from being unique in Europe. I admit a lack of knowledge about the legal situation in Belgium but as an Austrian living in Bavaria, I know well that parents who seek to homeschool in Germany are continually threatened by lawsuits and fines, because the practice is, broadly speaking, illegal here (as opposed to Austria and other European states, where it can be done, not without supervision and examination by the state though).
Just two days from now, judicial authorities in Kassel in the West of Germany may well order that children from a homeschooling family there be taken away and placed in state custody. The sole reason: their practice of homeschooling. Even though the story you are linking to from Belgium is almost equally sad, crossing the border over to the next Belgian town may well be a possible "solution" for this family.
The case is by no means unique. This family >http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/schule/0,1518,421442,00.html (presented in one of the major German weekly's internet edition, for those who understand some German - you never know. The article links to reports about similar cases in the past) is exemplary for quite some from the small German homeschooling community who are suffering financial hardships or even prison because of their convictions cc. the way to raise and teach their children.

It may be hard to imagine, but what some of you may consider an almost natural freedom is barely a dream for brothers and sisters on this continent.

I can not sppeak for any families involved, but I am certain that the prayers of you will be appreciated over here.

"Wheaton's trustees fired [Buswell] for his faithfulness to God's word." Try not to be such a shameless propagandist. That's not at all what happened, as I'm sure you understand well enough.

Actually, Phil, I've read official correspondence that has not been made public, my parents and father-in-law were at Wheaton at the time, and I'm convinced of what I've written. Do you think I'm deliberately lying about this?

If you can send me documentation of anything approaching reasonable cause for the trustees' action, I'd love to see it. Do you have a personal interest in this matter?

I also had quite a number of family members and friends who were at Wheaton at the time of President Buswell's dismissal, and I've read quite a bit about it in the archives at the Billy Graham Center. I think that you're trying to spoonfeed your readers a deliberately simplified version of events that you know to have been actually quite complex. Did the trustees have "reasonable cause" for dismissing Dr. Buswell? I don't know. You, however, have made the remarkable claim that they fired him "for his faithfulness to the word of God." Your implication appears to be that while President Buswell was faithful to the word of God, Wheaton's trustees despised the word of God; so after martyring the faithful Buswell, they found a replacement (V. Raymond Edman) who shared their contempt for the word of God.

My Mom was at Wheaton at the time this happened. She often told about how disgusted she was when, in the middle of a chapel message, Buswell stood up and interrupted a guest speaker, correcting him about some theological construct or other of which 99% of the undergraduate audience had no comprehension, let alone any opinion. This kind of graceless, intemperate behavior was an embarrassment to many at Wheaton.

My Mom reported being repelled and bored by Buswell's "Ethics and Theism" course, which all students were required to take. This was, I suppose, an attempt to provide students with an intellectual and philosophical basis for their Christian beliefs, the precursor to Wheaton's required philosophy course. In any case, she could make neither head nor tail of it, and this course was unpopular with many other students as well. Most of them had no idea what he was talking about.

Many were concerned that Dr. Buswell was inappropriately associating Wheaton (which was supposed to be non-denominational) with the doctrinal disputes going on within the Presbyterian church. Wheaton indeed became something of a theological battleground during those years--Buswell's approach to doctrinal issues encouraged a great deal of theological debate among Wheaton's undergraduates. Some enjoyed this, while others considered it destructive and divisive. Buswell's "separatist" mentality was disturbing to many, who felt that he was taking too firm a stand on non-essentials.

The atmosphere at Wheaton changed entirely when Dr. Edman took over. Things became much more calm. Edman was seen as a stabilizing presence.

I have in my possession at least one unpublished document which might shed further light on these matters.

>In any case, she could make neither head nor tail of it, and this course was unpopular with many other students as well. Most of them had no idea what he was talking about.

Sounds like perhaps they needed a better quality of student.

Dear (Phil),

I'm afraid your mother's failure to understand Dr. Buswell's concerns does not make her a worthy critic of Dr. Buswell. In fact, her embarrassment at his theological precision is perhaps a point in his favor.

On several occasions prior to his death Tim's and my father mentioned his regret at having been drawn into the anti-Buswell movement during his time at Wheaton College. As president of his Wheaton class during part of the Buswell era Dad initially supported the trustees' opposition to Dr. Buswell. However, Dad later concluded that the trustees had manipulated the student body through the creation of such red herrings as the contretemps over Dr. Buswell's hiring of a "non-Christian" football coach to cover their disdain as moneyed mainline Presbyterians for Buswell's support of the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions.

For what it's worth, Dad also felt the Edman era was one of smug decline for Wheaton. Looking at Wheaton today, it's clear either Dr. Edman or Dr. Armerding presided over Wheaton's most significant era of decline. It's also clear that the rot was well underway by the time Dr. Armerding assumed the post. Wheaton's glory days were at least twenty years in the past by the time Dr. Armerding assumed the presidency in 1965. Thus, Dr. Armerding's rearguard fight throughout his presidency to keep Wheaton out of the ranks of apostate former Christian colleges...

Finally, you perhaps view theological imprecision as a good thing. The history of Evangelicalism, however, shows it to have been a sinful error of the first magnitude.

Sorry to disagree so strongly, but unless one views Evangelicalism as having gone from strength to strength over the last half-century, your view is untenable.

In Christ,

David Bayly

P.S. Tim and I have made it a policy to ask for accurate names on this blog. If your name and email address are accurate, so be it. But if they are pseudonymous, as I suspect, please give accurate identification in any subsequent comments.

Your Dad, my Mom. Two interesting perspectives on the Buswell years. . .
David, I certainly would not fault Dr. Buswell for his "theological precision," and indeed I agree with you that the de-emphasizing of theology over the past 50 years has been disastrous for Evangelicalism. However, assuming that what my Mom reported was accurate, I would fault him for the way he treated that guest speaker. There is no excuse for publicly humiliating a man like that (it's not as if the guy had called the divinity of Christ into question, after all). A public punch in the nose or an expensive lawsuit would have been appropriate responses, in my opinion.

In any case, those who go through life humiliating and insulting people can expect to make enemies. It is my belief that the best explanation for Buswell's dismissal from Wheaton is that his intemperate style had made him a lot of enemies and had not won him many warm supporters. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

I should like to observe that I have never until now heard Dr. V. Raymond Edman spoken of with anything but the greatest reverence. Why is that, do you suppose? Is it merely owing to the remarkable circumstances of his death, or could there have been other reasons? I remember that his devotional books used to be extremely popular, and were a help and a blessing to many. I notice that you stop just a step short of attacking his memory; you sort of say it without actually saying it.

Anyway, earlier I made mention of a pertinent document. We found this in a drawer when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house (she used to rent rooms to students, you see). It is a real gem! Below is a faithful transcription of what it contains (for some reason the writer has consistently and deliberately misspelled "Buswell" as "Bugwell," and I have retained that idiosyncrasy in order to be completely faithful to the original). It appears to be a sort of parable, rather than a record of real events:

"From time to time the old rumors would recirculate--rumors that the College was keeping a great number of corpses in storage. How many exactly, and whose bodies they were, or where they were being stored, and why, no one seemed to know. However, there were a lot of locked doors on campus, a lot of basement storage space and a lot of off-limits areas which could have contained practically anything. There were even suggestions that huge subterrene vaults existed underneath some of the athletic fields. Supposedly you could hear the hollow places as you ran around the track. There was just no knowing.

My father, it so happens, was employed at Blanchard College, and it was frequently his job to make the rounds with the mail truck, delivering mail to the various offices and departments. One of the principal buildings at which he had to stop was the BCG, a huge new facility which housed the grad school and several other offices.

One Friday afternoon, my Dad walked into one of the offices in the BCG to make his usual delivery there, and the secretaries asked if he couldn't help them with something. The problem was that the body of former Blanchard College president James Bugwell, which was usually kept in a closet, needed to be moved to the conference room across the hall, where its presence was required for some scheduled function later on.

The two ladies either lacked the strength or were too squeamish to do it themselves. They showed him which closet the body was in, and my Dad, always cheerful and happy to accommodate, got hold of Bugwell by the feet and dragged him across the hall. The old professor still had his spectacles and was dressed in a three-piece suit; however he'd been in storage since the forties and halfway across the hall he came apart in the middle.

The secretaries were very apologetic and helped my Dad get the body into the conference room, where it was left on the carpet; after which the light was turned off and the door locked.

This story would have seemed hard to believe but for the subsequent events of that humid summer weekend. It was to be the weekend when all the janitor-closets, vaults, and dumpsters of Blanchard College gave up their dead.

On Saturday morning the word spread quickly--something odd was going on at the College. They were having a big sale down at the Physical Plant. They were selling the bodies and their effects.

I got in my car and drove to the College; it was a cool, cloudy Saturday. When I got down there I saw that the rumors were true--a great multitude of corpses was being sold and there was a real run on the place; there were even parking problems in the vicinity. People were returning to their cars with their purchases, including much jewelry and big bales of musty old clothes.

I had a hard time getting near the place because of all the traffic, but finally I got through and drove right past the Physical Plant, which was set back quite a distance from the street. At the entrance to the driveway they had seated a corpse against the fire hydrant with one arm propped up so that it was pointing up the drive toward the Plant. The corpse wore a lot of pearl necklaces and held a sign which read simply, SALE.

By the time I got home I was so angry and disgusted I was ready to choke. I heard my parents talking in the kitchen as I walked into the house.

I started telling them about what I had just seen down at the Plant. Just then I happened to glance out the window and words failed me. From our kitchen window it was possible to see the screened porch which extended perpendicular to the house. Three of those hideous, mouldy old corpses had been fastened up against the screen, along the side of the porch. Their grinning faces had been spray-painted--one of them green, the others yellow and blue, for purposes of identification I suppose.

My Dad had brought them home earlier and hung them up there to dry in the sun. He had been down to the Physical Plant early that morning and actually spent money on those loathsome things.

With an exclamation of utter disgust and horror, I stormed out of the kitchen and rushed upstairs. Halfway up the stairs I stopped suddenly and took my hand off the banister. I had just made the awful connection.

My father had handled those filthy things. He must have subsequently handled the doorknobs on his way into the house. He had probably also gone upstairs and handled this very banister. A little later my mother had handled the banister on her way up with the clean clothes that were now in my drawers.

I uttered a cry of pain and rage; I made the whole house ring with my loud lamentations. Our home had been defiled."

Well, guys--hope you enjoy what I have posted. Have a great holiday!

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