Dogs, dirt, danger, and Athanasius College...

Dirty is good in the church. Often I've pointed readers to that glorious warning found in Proverbs: "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox" (Proverbs 14:4). This is the Reformed church, today. Our mangers are sterile, and so there's no revenue. No babies by Evangelism or the marriage bed. We depend upon Cru to do the dirty manger work, and then cull from their revenue to keep our coffers reasonably provisioned. Which is to say the Reformed church is impotent in both kinds of propagating a godly seed--Covenant children and Gospel proclamation and witness. And the second half of this isn't just my own conviction--it was the relentless lament of Iain Murray every time he spoke at Banner of Truth back when David and our brother, Nathan, and I used to attend.

Dirty is good in the home. A study of Finnish homes demonstrates that children who grow up in dirt are healthier than those who grow up in clean. Children with pets have fewer ear infections and dirt in the first year of life inoculates them against allergies.

Homeschooling done by mothers who are the heads of their husbands (only privately, of course) and desperate to protect their children from every evil influence in the world (including the authority of the Church, of course) inevitably produces children with a defective immune system, spiritually... This is why they grow up to marry badly, convert to Romanism, and become brash female lawyers.

I'm told over in the drug stores of Germany they sell dirt packaged for human consumption. Get some for your children.

I've always thought fireworks should be legal so foolish children learn the consequences of their stupidity at a very young age, without having to kill their friends in the process. When I was young, one of the firecrackers I was lighting didn't go off, so I bent down and picked it up to see what was wrong. BAAAANGG! It went off in my cupped hand and I couldn't feel a thing in that hand for the rest of the day.

Isn't this better than my first exposure to danger being when I learn to drive and am taking my high school friends somewhere? A few more firecrackers would maybe protect high school students from learning the meaning of danger behind the wheel of a car?

Some wag pointed out the ultimate effect of protecting fools from the results of their folly is we fill the world with fools.

Let's put oxen into our stalls, babies with runny noses and dirty diapers into our marriages, dogs and dirt into our homes, unbelievers into our co-ops and classical schools, unbelievers and new believers into our congregations; and let's start a new college right next to Indiana University where the danger is obvious and terrible. Then let's require our college students to cross-register at Indiana Unversity so they have to deal with dirt, and thus develop their immune systems, but they do so while being watched over and discipled by their tutors back at Athanasius College.

Being in the world while not of the world is one of the principal means of our sanctification.

A brother who went to the PCA's General Assembly in Louisville last month brought back their glossy booklet of schedules and names of important people and ads. You know, the sort of thing you get at every trade show.

Anyhow, one full-page spread was trying to get PCA pastors to send their children to the denominational college, Covenant College. The ad consisted of a shot from the air showing this pristine campus sitting on a mountaintop surrounded by trees. Way down in the valley very far away is the city of Chattanooga. So the closest dirt can get is way down there, and the dirtiest dirt can get is however dirty Chattanooga is. 

Of course the profs at Covenant know danger is the midwife of individuation, but where's the danger way up on top of bucolic Lookout Mountain? And so the profs see they must provide the danger themselves, and they do. But the students and their bill-paying parents are lulled to sleep by all the talk of Christian excellence and the denominational imprimatur. It never enters their mind that the profs and administration are undermining Scripture's doctrine by telling their charges that talk of the meaning of manhood and womanhood is sexism which, with racism, is the great evil they must spend their life opposing. That actually, there are good arguments to be made for Adam never existing and the first chapters or Genesis (at least) being myth rather than history. That people who are sophisticated intellectually know how important it is to make the distinction between homosexual mannerisms and identity, and homosexual practice. That the young woman who goes to D.C. for an internship and preps to become a civil magistrate is showing much more commitment to Christian excellence than the young woman who marries and propagates a godly seed and is committed to being "domestic."

When son Joseph had narrowed down his college choices to Covenant or Vanderbilt, he decided on Vanderbilt because he knew he had a tendency to be too trusting of others. He told me he chose Vanderbilt over Covenant because he knew he'd trust profs at Covenant when he shouldn't whereas he wouldn't trust profs at Vandy when he shouldn't. And thus he met Chris Kramedjian.

Dad spent most of his life in campus ministry after graduating from Wheaton. He said the problem with Christian colleges is that you don't know who the enemy is, and he's everywhere; whereas on a secular campus, the enemy is very clear.

Register your child now to attend Athanasius College. We are committed to dirt as the means of theological and spiritual individuation. We're right next to Indiana University and every student will return to Athanasius' classrooms each week with lots of questions and some good fear because they've seen and heard and experienced real danger.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Agreed:

* Any Fundamentalist, Pentecostal or indeed "Arminian", will tell you of the importance of being prepared to "muck in", especially in an evangelistic context. That means being prepared to build friendships with people that under normal circumstances you would naturally loathe, and then being ready to live out your faith in front of them; sometimes, over a long period.

* That said, one concern I have about the courtship and homeschooling movement(s) is that a lot of the time, in an admirable desire to keep themselves unspotted from the world, they are going too far in that direction - and being so isolated that when their children end up being in the world, they don't really have the tools to steer their way through.

* One Reformed minister who I think got the balance right was Francis Schaeffer. But I don't know who in the Reformed world is making a good fist of things at evangelism, and would value feedback from people as to who is getting it right.

I remember the first time I had a firecracker blow up in my hand when I was 10. Similar circumstance. It was a good lesson. I'm excited and praying for the college, it will be a good work.

Dirt and worms.  Don't forget the French and their worms.

 

It was such a pleasure to speak with Brandon for  few minutes this weekend.  I am excited about the possibilities and am praying the school bears much fruit as it remains faithful.

I'm glad to hear about Athanasius College and also your desire to have students take part of the coursework from the University of Indiana.

May Christ richly bless this venture.

In Him,

David

The edible dirt is called Heilerde (pronounced hile air-duh) and is pulverized dirt from the ground around a mineral spring. It's great for heartburn/indigestion and other digestive complaints. But it leaves an annoying sandy grit in your mouth that's hard to rinse out!

According to Wikipedia, Heilerde is medicinal clay, not dirt or soil. 

Doesn't anyone want to talk about evangelism? ;-)

My father tells a story where he and his older brother were playing a game with firecrackers. The object of the game was to hold the firework in your hands while the fuse was burning. Whoever could hold it the longest before the explosion won.

My father won...sort of. He didn't lose any fingers, but his hand was numb for the better part of a day. He had to explain to his mother why he was eating dinner with his left (non-dominant) hand.

Now he's a medical professional and has to protect his hands for the sake of his livelihood.

There are many lessons I'm learning now, as a young man, that I wish I had had the opportunity to learn while younger.

Praying that our children will be allowed to 'eat dirt',

Luke

 

Until recent clean air acts, Chattanooga was one of the dirtiest cities in the U.S. Maybe even top ten.

>>I'm told over in the drug stores of Germany they sell dirt packaged for human consumption. Get some for your children.

LOL. 

Athanasius College sounds like it's going to be a great one!

 

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