In 1524, Martin Luther voiced his concern to the leadership of German cities about schools. Not only were the schools lacking in educational rigor but much worse, they were un-Christian…. For Luther, these schools were unChristian since the religious instruction was either based upon false doctrines of the Roman Church or avoided the Scriptures altogether. Luther accused the preReformation educational system of driving people away from the Gospel. For Luther, this was the devil’s trick.
Luther argued that Christian schools were to be established over unchristian schools even if those schools only produced one single Christian:
No one is on the alert, but just goes quietly along. Even though only a single boy could thereby be trained to become a real Christian, we ought properly to give a hundred gulden to this cause for every gulden we would give to fight the Turk, even if he were breathing down our necks. For one real Christian is better and can do more good than all the men on earth. (“To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany that they Establish and Maintain Christian Schools.” AE, vol. 45, p. 350)
Of course, operating schools cost money – a lot of money. Therefore careful attention must be given to funding schools. The Councilmen of the cities were the custodians of public monies. Luther encouraged them to use this duty wisely and make the funding of schools a priority. For it is a grave and important matter, and one which is of vital concern both to Christ and the world at large, that we take steps to help our youth. . . . My dear sirs, if we have to spend such large sums every year on guns, roads, bridges, dams, and countless similar items to insure the temporal peace and prosperity of a city, why should not much more be devoted to the poor neglected youth–at least enough to engage one or two competent men to teach? (p. 350)
Luther implored the Councilmen to act upon his encouragement to establish Christian schools while the time was available for them to act. For you should know that God’s word and grace is like a passing shower of rain which does not return where it has once been. It has been with the Jews, but when it’s gone it’s gone, and now they have nothing. Paul brought it to the Greeks; but again when it’s gone it’s gone, and now they have the Turk. Rome and the Latins also had it; but when it’s gone, it’s gone, and now they have the pope. And you Germans need not think that you will have it forever, for ingratitude and contempt will not make it stay. (pp. 352-3)
Luther’s 1524 letter is a classic, ie, it continues to speak to us today. God has given us a faithful Christian congregation and school. It is His gift to us and to our community. Lutheran schools in America cannot be funded with public dollars as schools were in Luther’s day. In America, the congregation has that responsibility. Luther uses hyperbole to suggest that if only one Christian was produced from a Christian school, all the time, energy, and money to keep it going would be worth it. How richly blessed we are! Since 1971, hundreds upon hundreds have walked through Faith Lutheran School’s hallways and gone on to confess the Christian faith throughout the world and serve their neighbors in godly vocations.
Our successes have not been our own. Only pride would say that. This is a gift… God’s pure gift. Those who have preceded us, worked hard for our school and sacrificed for it. Yet it is simply by His grace that Faith Lutheran School has been preserved. Now, it’s our turn to do the same. And as Luther warned the Germans almost 500 years ago, so it is true for us, “ingratitude and contempt will not make it stay.” Let us be ever watchful and pray that the good work God has begun among us remains for our children and for future generations.
Here’s an offer open to all: If you have never been to FLS-Plano during the school day to see what God is doing here, I invite you to come for a visit. We’ll show you around and you can see for yourself what a blessing our congregation’s school is. I think you’ll love your visit.