Machen Day 2018

Timely.

The undergraduate student of the present day is being told that he need not take notes on what he hears in class, that the exercise of the memory is a rather childish and mechanical thing, and that what he is really in college to do is to think for himself and to unify his world. He usually makes a poor business of unifying his world. And the reason is clear. He does not succeed in unifying his world for the simple reason that he has ho world to unify. He has not acquired a knowledge or a sufficient number of facts in order even to learn the method of putting facts together. He is being told to practice the business of mental digestion; but the trouble is that he has no food to digest. The modern student, contrary to what is often said, is really being starved for want of facts.

Certainly we are not discouraging originality. On the contrary we desire to encourage it in every possible way, and we believe that the encouragement of it will be of immense benefit to the spread of the Christian religion. The trouble with the university students of the present day, from the point of view of evangelical Christianity, is not that they are too original, but that they are not half original enough. They go on in the same routine way, following their leaders like a flock of sheep, repeating the same stock phrases with little knowledge of what they mean, swallowing whole whatever professors choose to give them and all the time imagining that they are bold, bad, independent, young men, merely because they abuse what everybody else is abusing, namely, the religion that is founded upon Christ. It is popular today to abuse that unpopular thing that is known as supernatural Christianity,
but original it certainly is not. A true originality might bring some resistance to the current of the age, some willingness to be unpopular, and some independent scrutiny, at least, if not acceptance, of the claims of Christ. If there is one thing more than another which we believers in historic Christianity ought to encourage in the youth of our day it is independence of mind. (What is Faith? 16-17)

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3 thoughts on “Machen Day 2018

  1. This quote brings to mind lectures on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave by John Senior et. al. at the University of Kansas in the 1970s. How can one know if he is seeing reality, or a partial image (i.e. a shadow of reality) in the darkness of a cave? Senior insisted that his students make mental notes, because in recording notes in a notebook or such they would be distracted from giving their full attention to the the lecture. He insisted that memory could be trained to be extremely reliable, if proper habits of the mind were employed. Senior was implying, for there were those in the university who would not allow him to clearly state, that supernatural Christianity gave one a view of reality, whereas most of mankind was viewing a shadow of reality.

    Thank you for a thought provoking quote!

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  2. Thanks for this.
    “…[the] student of the present day is being told that he need not take notes on what he hears in class, that the exercise of the memory is a rather childish and mechanical thing, and that what he is really in college to do is to think for himself and to unify his world.”
    I am obtaining a teaching license and we are routinely told that this is how we should teach. Facts do not matter, etc. Etc. Its very odd…so i resonate deeply with this article. With all of this, is there any wonder students in high school and college are naive, ignorant, and continue to be? Well blame the future teachers and their professors.

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