Friday, July 27, 2012

FW: Steadfast in Education: John Milton, Classical Christian Educator

From Pastor Hinton…


Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, July 27, 2012 9:10 AM
Author: Pastor Daniel Hinton
Subject: Steadfast in Education: John Milton, Classical Christian Educator


One of the presenters at this month's conference of the Consortium for Classical and Christian Education (CCLE) was Dr. E. Christian Kopff, whose list of accolades and qualifications to speak to such an audience is far too long to list. He presented a pamphlet written by John Milton in 1644, called Of Education. You might remember Milton by his epic poem Paradise Lost, or by the lament of how "boring" he seemed to Donald Sutherland's character in the film Animal House. For the record, I have found Milton to be refreshingly straight-forward, even if a bit long-winded, and not in the least boring.

The pamphlet was written in response to a request from a Master Samuel Hartlib to give his thoughts on what comprised a good education. The whole pamphlet, which can be found here, is not long but contains a very dense treatise on Milton's view of education (the website also contains helpful footnotes to explain archaic language and unfamiliar idioms). In short, what he advocates is what we would call a classical Christian education. I highly recommend you read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts to highlight what this looks like:

The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the neerest by possessing our souls of true vertue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.

(nota bene: All these spellings are original.Milton acknowledges the problem of the Fall, and that its consequences affect the mind and our knowledge of God. Obviously, there was not the sharp division between church and state which we came come to take for granted. Also, public schools as we have come to know them are at this point still two centuries away.  That said, he believed that the knowledge of God is "the end of Learning." Here end means the goal, or what is hoped to be accomplished.

And seeing every Nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kind of Learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the Languages of those people who have at any time been most industrious after Wisdom; so that Language is but the Instrument conveying to us things usefull to be known.

Here Milton briefly lays out his reason for advocating the classical languages, namely, Latin and Greek. If education is about teaching students to pursue truth (both the One who is Truth, and the truth as revealed in creation), then the classical languages open up the world of those civilizations who best exemplified this pursuit.

And that which casts our proficiency therein [Latin and Greek] so much behind, is our time lost partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to Schools and Universities, partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of Children to compose Theams, Verses and Orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment and the final work of a headfill'd by long reading and observing, with elegant maxims, and copious invention. These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the Nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit: besides the ill habit which they get of wretched barbarizing  against the Latin and Greek idiom, with their untutor'd Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well continu'd and judicious conversing among pure Authors digested, which they scarce taste, whereas, if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis thereof in some chosen short book lesson'd throughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things, and Arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power.

Here he is addressing a problem that came with medieval thoughts about education. Specifically, the trivium (grammar, then logic, then rhetoric) wasn't being followed in proper order: rhetoric was being forced too early. Rhetoric is the art of expressing one's self in a language. If, however, one is asked to express himself in a language he doesn't yet completely understand, it is of little use. Expressing one's self here does not mean something like asking directions in Spanish when you visit Cancun; it's more like composing poetry and songs. Instead, Milton advocates a longer period of logic (think of the Catechism questions that ask "What does this mean?") in order for students to have a firm grasp of language first.

I call therefore a compleat and generous Education that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously all the offices both private and publick of Peace and War.

This is probably the best summary of Milton's writing on education. An education ought to be liberal (from the Latin libera – "free") — that is, it is what a free man needs to know in order to be a good citizen, husband, and father, regardless of his station in life. Thus, both the farmer and the statesman ought to be able to consider what it means to live and die, recall and discuss the great works of literature, and speak in a persuasive manner about all sorts of important topics. This doesn't mean that what we would call vocational education is not of value, but all citizens (and in our context, "citizen" has a much broader meaning than it did in Milton's day) ought to be taught the liberal arts.

By this time, years and good general precepts will have furnisht them more distinctly with that act of reason which in Ethics is call'd Proairesis: that they may with some judgement contemplate upon moral good and evil.

Again, this is not merely about a high-quality education, but about training young people to become citizens. They must be able to weigh good and evil and make decisions according to a right understanding of ethics. This skill has become more important and less common since Milton's day.

This would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our comm[on] Rimers and Play-writers be, and shew them, what religious, what glorious and magnificent use might be made of Poetry both in divine and humane things. From hence and not till now will be the right season of forming them to be able Writers and Composers in every excellent matter, when they shall be thus fraught with an universal insight into things. Or whether they be to speak in Parliament or Counsel, honour and attention would be waiting on their lips.

For Milton, the well-educated citizen should, regardless of his career in life, be able to compose poetry and make persuasive oratories to Parliament. Interesting that Milton should say that, since he is known for having written epic poetry and composed well-known oratory to Parliament.

The full text is worth a read; even though he is writing to an audience far removed from 21st Century Western culture, he addresses many of the same concerns we still face today. The prose takes some effort to get through, but then again, few things worth doing are ever easy.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

FW: Second Conference on the Classics to Take Place at CTS

News of Note…


From: Concordia Theological Seminary []
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 11:00 AM
To: Cain
Subject: Second Conference on the Classics to Take Place at CTS




Second Conference on the Classics to Take Place at CTS


For Immediate Release
July 23, 2012

FORT WAYNE, IN (CTS)—Lutheranism & the Classics II: Reading the Church Fathers will take place on the CTS campus September 28-29, 2012. The conference focuses on the Reformation-era reception of the Latin/Greek fathers, classical authors, ancient Christian hymnody, cultivation of neo-Latin and pedagogy. Latin will be used in three worship settings.  The conference celebrates Lutheranism's engagement with the church's greatest teachers of the past and their value for the propagation of the faith to present and future generations.

The conference is intended for Lutheran pastors who desire to be life-long learners of the Word of God, Lutheran "classical" educators (principals, teachers, parents) attempting to revitalize education at the parish level, professional classicists seeking the integration of Christian faith and learning, those who don't know the ancient languages yet (but are fascinated by them), homeschoolers, high school Latin students and their teachers, and prospective seminary students. 

The conference features three plenary papers by leading Lutheran scholars, a banquet address and no fewer than 20 sectionals.  Speakers include:
Carl L. Beckwith, Associate Professor of History and Doctrine, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.
David R. Maxwell, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
Carl P. E. Springer, Professor in the Department of English and the Classical Studies Program, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
William C. Weinrich, Professor of Early Church History and Patristic Studies, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
To see a complete schedule and speaker information, please go to

Retreat Fees: $100 (includes banquet, evening of September 28), $40 (college students), $25 (high school students).  For additional information and to register, please visit, e-mail or phone 260-452-2204.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

CCLE & LHP Review: Catechesis




MacPherson, Ryan C. Studying Luther's Large Catechism: A Workbook for Christian Discipleship. Mankato, Minnesota: The Hausvater Project, 2012. 100 Pages. Paper. $6.95. (Bulk purchases for as low as $3.00.) (CCLE, LHP)



This review is our first official Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review cross-post with The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education.

Some introductions are in order.


Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit began as a newsletter to pastors, musicians, and laypeople in the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod from our Worship Chairman to ease the transition from The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, and Hymnal Supplement 98 to Lutheran Service Book. Early on, we recommended books, CDs, and music. Those recommendations eventually became book reviews.

In Advent 2006, LHP Quarterly Book Review was born. In our first three years, we published 600 pages of book reviews and reviews of other resources, sermons, articles, and editorials.

Beginning with Volume 4, LHP QBR switched to a blog format. Since adopting the blog format, we have been able to forward interesting posts from other blogs for your consideration and reflection. We're now in our 6th year. In response to an expressed need, we now have two sub blogs that both feed into Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review. Readers that wish to receive only our forwards can now also go to that wish to only receive our original book and resource reviews and be notified of new resources that we have received may go to,the LHP Lutheran Book Review blog. 



The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education encourages and serves families, teachers, and schools working to restore the classical arts of learning and the best traditions of Lutheran education.

The CCLE cultivates this restoration through educational conferences, online resources for teachers and parents, and accreditation for classical Lutheran schools.  We heartily agree with Martin Luther that "You parents can provide your children with no greater gift than an education in the liberal arts."  The Consortium's goal is to give every family the opportunity and tools to follow Luther's advice.

A liberal arts education . . . the arts of classical learning . . . classical education all refer to the same tradition that has been the standard of excellence in education for more than 2000 years.  To the ancient Greeks and to the Romans following in their footsteps, this was the only sort of education worthy of a free man, hence the term liberales artes, literally "the arts of freedom."

It was a return to this classical learning that fueled the Reformation and the Renaissance.  Martin Luther, Phillip Melanchthon, and Johann Sturm fostered and guided that restoration in the sixteenth century setting up schools that became the pattern and model for hundreds of years in America cultivating wisdom, eloquence, and piety.

Today, the CCLE is working for the restoration of this inheritance among Lutheran schools and educators.

"So it was done in ancient Rome.  There boys were so taught that by the time they reached their fifteenth, eighteenth, or twentieth year they were well versed in Latin, Greek, and all the liberal arts (as they are called), and then immediately entered upon a political or military career.  Their system produced intelligent, wise, and competent men, so skilled inevery art and rich in experience that if all the bishops, priests, and monks in the whole of Germany today were rolled into one, you would not have the equal of a single Roman soldier. As a result their country prospered; they had capable and trained men for every position.  So at all times throughout the world simple necessity has forced men, even among the heathen, to maintain pedagogues and schoolmasters if their nation was to be brought to a high standard."  - Martin Luther

Back in April, we received the following book at CCLE's Wyoming mailing address.



Studying Luther's Large Catechism: A Workbook for Christian Discipleship

By Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.


Always beginning with prayer and concluding with song, the twelve lessons in this study book provide biblical instruction concerning:

  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Apostles' Creed
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • Holy Baptism
  • The Lord's Supper
  • Confession & Absolution

Studying Luther's Large Catechism includes hymn lyrics for meditation as well as references to the accompaniment in seven widely used Lutheran hymnals: Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal (1993), Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), The Lutheran Hymnary (1913), Lutheran Service Book (2006), and Lutheran Worship (1982).



12 lessons, each with carefully designed study questions:

  • Introductory Materials:
    • The Place of Martin Luther and His Catechisms in Church History
    • How This Study Is Organized
    • Supplemental Resources
    • Suggestions for Teachers
  • Lesson 1: Learning and Teaching God's Word (The Prefaces to Luther's Catechisms)
  • Lesson 2: Trusting in and Calling upon God for Every Need (The First and Second Commandments)
  • Lesson 3: Listening to God's Word and Honoring Parents (The Third and Fourth Commandments)
  • Lesson 4: Protecting Lives and Safeguarding Marriages (The Fifth and Sixth Commandments)
  • Lesson 5: Respecting People's Property and Honor (The Seventh and Eighth Commandments)
  • Lesson 6: Serving in the Roles God Assigns (The Ninth and Tenth Commandments)
  • Lesson 7: Worshiping One God in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity (The Apostles' Creed)
  • Lesson 8: Praising God through Prayer (The Lord's Prayer: Introduction through Second Petition)
  • Lesson 9: Praying to God for All Our Needs (The Lord's Prayer: Third Petition through Doxology)
  • Lesson 10: Becoming God's Child through Holy Baptism (Holy Baptism)
  • Lesson 11: Receiving the True Body and Blood of Our Lord (The Lord's Supper)
  • Lesson 12: Assured of Forgiveness and Empowered to Serve God (Absolution and the Table of Duties)
  • Scripture Index
  • General Index

Ordering Information

Studying Luther's Large Catechism is available for:

  • individual purchases at $6.95 per copy (via and other reputable booksellers); and,
  • bulk purchases for as low as $3.00 per copy (contact us to request a price quote for your congregation or school; tax exempt ID required)

(The author receives no royalties; all net proceeds support the nonprofit mission of the Hausvater Project. To assist the Hausvater Project in providing quality publications at a low cost, please prayerfully consider making a charitable contribution.)


Studying Luther's Large Catechism serves as a companion to Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions—A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord (available from Concordia Publishing House) as welll as other printings of the Large Catechism, whether published in the Book of Concord or separately.


This book was my first exposure to the Hausvater Project. Just the very existence of a project that would dare to encourage Lutherans to "man up" as Christian heads of households was encouragement to me. Each portion of the six chief parts in the LCMS edition of Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation addresses Christian husbands and fathers with these words:

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

Amen. Gentlemen, let's get to work!  

I generally begin my catechesis classes by thanking husbands/parents for the invitation to help teach the Christian faith to their wives/children. 

And then in addition, I decided to do something different for the 8th Grade Catechism class I began last fall: teach Luther's Large Catechism. 

What a radical idea! 

I claim no originality. After all, Dr. Luther taught us all (if we read it) in the Preface of the Small Catechism:

Third, after you have so taught them from this short catechism, take up the Large Catechism and use it to give them a broader and richer understanding...

So we did.

I very much enjoyed the adventure with three young adults from our congregation. All three had been baptized right after birth and were brought to Church and Sunday School as very young children. All three had spent at least several years at our congregation's now-CCLE-accredited Classical Lutheran Grammar school. And it showed. 

These three confirmands-to-be were joined by a young lady who had been confirmed the year before. She wanted to get into the Large Catechism (in addition to taking organ lessons, making liturgical banners, etc.). The five of us met for 90 minutes on Sunday afternoons to study Luther's Large Catechism. We used the paperback edition with study questions from Concordia, derived from the translation in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions.

What I tried to do to integrate prayer and hymnody into the Large Catechism, Ryan MacPherson has done for all of us!

He incorporates hymnody and prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, the very impressive 1996 hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. 

Other Lutherans, including LCMS congregations using Lutheran Service Book, will have little trouble adapting Studying Luther's Small Catechism for their use.

I will personally use MacPherson's workbook of study questions, and hymn and collect suggestions in my new Eighth Grade Catechism class this fall. I will spread out his twelve lessons into 24-30.


We (both LHP QBR and CCLE) look forward to seeing more resources from the Hausvater Project!




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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