The Quarterly Newsletter of Wittenberg Academy
The Ninety-Sixth Thesis
Chaplain's Corner- p. 8
A Timeless Education
Rev. David M. Juhl
Scholars' Spotlight - P. 26-27
Classical Education for the Home
Timeless Essay- A Case for the Classics -P. 18-20
- Featured Missionary Family and Teacher -P. 22-23
-On the Road with Wittenberg Academy- p. 24
Poetry- p. 25
Denial- George Herbert
From Our Teachers p. 10-15
~Biology in the Fight for Life
~ On Faith and Science
A look around our communities, churches, and perhaps our own dinner tables reveals the sad realities of chaos and living for the moment. Marriages and families are under attack. As the family is the building block of society and the Church, these attacks should come as no surprise. This is nothing new, but one cannot help but wonder if we can somehow bolster our defenses against the chaos of the day. If chaos begets chaos, then certainly order can beget order.
Begetting, regardless of what is begotten, is a process. Following is one example of order. Can this order beget more order?
How the Head of the Family should teach his household to bless themselves in the morning and in the evening.
In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say:
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may also say this little prayer:
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
Then go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.
This liturgy from Luther’s Small Catechism provides order for our mornings just as it has provided order, in various forms, for mornings for millennia. Luther took the order of the monastery and brought it into the home. Order is good. It provides structure and continuity. Just like Matins, Vespers, and Compline, this is an enduring order that connects us not only to the fundamental texts of our faith (the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer), but also to the saints before us who have confessed and prayed in this way. The prayer of the Church never ceases. Children crave repetition and continuity, so the orderly gifts of the Church provide even the youngest children full participation in the life of the Church.
The good, true, and beautiful manifest themselves in order and enduring things. There is beauty in the orderliness of liturgies and ceremonies. A child brought up in the liturgies of the Church will quickly recognize a deviation from order in the Divine Service. As a layman or as a pastor, that recognition instilled in childhood provides an ever-present curb against deviation into the whims of the world. The enduring texts of the Church, the Bible, the Catechism, and the hymnal, give us enduring and absolute Truth that resonates in our hearts and voices.
The Word made flesh gives the Church order and in His mercy gives Her the gifts of Word and Sacrament. The Father’s orderly plan of salvation transcended millennia and came to fruition in the orderly incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son. Are not the words “in the fullness of time” some of the most melodious in all of Scripture? Think about every jot, tittle, and iota that went into that most blessed reality! The Incarnation penetrated and became part of the natural order, thus affirming the natural order that already existed before time began.
It is for this very reality, that God worked in history, in time and space, for our salvation, that we do not confine our studies to the study of theology. In the traditional liberal arts and sciences, Theology is the Queen of the Sciences. While it is certainly true that we can only know the God the Father through His Son Jesus, the study of history, language, literature, mathematics, science, and philosophy, all within the context of catechesis, are in a sense all the study of God because in all of these studies, we see God’s natural order played out and we see His invisible attributes clearly perceived in the things that have been made (Romans 1:20). It is in these studies that we see the nuances of God’s creation, His orderly workings, and the beauty of His plan of salvation working through the trials and tribulations of history. It is in these studies we see natural law affirmed or warred against. For example, marriage between one man and one woman works and all else is chaos; just ask Achilles and Agamemnon. Life is precious and the taking of life produces chaos; just ask Cain, David, and Oedipus.
We are created in the image of God, so a longing for order and beauty, is a natural part of being human. Yet somehow, being human and living as one made in the image of God does not come naturally thanks to the Old Adam that must be drowned by daily contrition and repentance that a New Man might daily emerge and arise; this truth must be taught over and over and over.
So we teach. For the sake of every family that struggles to survive the buffeting of the world, we teach. We teach history, language, literature, mathematics, science, and philosophy, all within the context of catechesis. Over and over and over we teach the good, true, and beautiful so the New Man might cling to it. The Old Adam thrives on chaos and thinks only of himself. The New Man clings to order and strives in all things for the good of his neighbor.
Mrs. Jocelyn C. Benson serves as Wittenberg Academy's Head Teacher.
From the Head Teacher's Desk- p. 3
Classical Education for the Home
Mrs. Jocelyn C. Benson
2019 Witttenberg Academy Family Retreat- P. 31
Registration is Open
for the 2019-20 Academic Year
In our previous edition of "DIE ZEITSCHRIFT VON WALTHER", we discussed the subject of science. In addition to our thoughts on teaching science classically, we discussed why faith & science matter especially today. Given the latest news on late term abortions, we know that now more than ever we must teach our children the importance of their faith and how to defend it. You will also find several science experiments for your students to beat that cabin fever, as well as other helpful resources.
You may follow this link to view the last edition of Die Zeithschrift von WALTHER."
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~ WA Student on why others should Attend WA
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DIE Zeitschrift Von WALTHER
A magazine for our Grammar School families
A Timeless Education
The tribe of Judah was, in the argot of our day, a hot mess. The Babylonians had captured their land, destroyed Jerusalem, and carried them away to exile in Babylon. Things were not looking good for the children of the Promise. The prophet Jeremiah, often called the "weeping prophet", tried to warn them of what was about to happen. Many did not have ears to hear. Then came the time of exile, just as the Lord foretold.
In many ways, the days of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews looks like Anno Domini 2019. We Christians, especially we Lutherans, live as strangers in a strange land. The time of favor for Christians in the secular realm has ended. No longer does it seem that Christian virtues and values have sway among citizens. Instead, those who have no faith in any deity have risen to places of leadership and influence among us. Much of what Scripture says is bad now is considered good, like abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia rights, and much more.
What shall we do as Lutheran Christians who treasure a classical education? How are we prepared to deal with Satan's onslaught of all that is good, true, and beautiful?
Some say Christians should withdraw from the world. Our time of influence is over. Let's take our marbles, so to speak, and go home. Let's deal only with fellow Christians. Yes, we'll pay taxes and render obedience to Caesar as long as Caesar doesn't overstep his boundaries. But for most everything else in life, we'll only deal with other Christians. It's almost a return to the days of the catacombs.
That option is an enticing one, especially if you believe that there is no hope for Christians in the future. However, there is another option that comes directly from the Lord Himself through the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews living in Babylon.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:4-7 ESV)
These words from Jeremiah chapter 29 are a viable option for you and your family to live as Christians in an increasingly hostile world.
Your education is timeless. You are grounded not only in God's unchanging Word, but also in the timeless teachings handed down through the generations. You are being taught how to think for yourselves. You learn the language of your subjects (grammar stage), how the language of your subjects helps you think through what you are learning (logic stage), and how to form coherent thoughts to defend and proclaim what you are learning to others (rhetoric stage).
You are exiles in a hostile world. Your hope is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. You learn to master the various subjects you study. When you master your subjects, you put to work what you have learned in the world as a productive member of society. Your life is a testimony to the good things God has done for you. He has given you a vocation, a holy calling, to use His gifts given you to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile".
We live in an evil world. Things have not radically changed over the centuries. The sinful nature continues to unravel our Lord's good order in society. You are given to "seek the welfare of the city where [the Lord] has sent you into exile". You use the education given you in Wittenberg Academy to serve your neighbor. In serving your neighbor, you serve the Lord Jesus, even if your neighbor despises the Lord Jesus.
Don't be afraid. You are here for such a time as this. Use your gifts to glorify the Lord God. He will protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life. Believe it for Jesus' sake.
Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
They shall not overpower us.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none.
He's judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him (LSB 656:3)
Rev. David M. Juhl serves as Chaplain of Wittenberg Academy. Additionally, his vocations include husband of Rebecca, father of five children, and pastor of Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Momence, Illinois.
“What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing.(1 ) Georgia to vote on controversial ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill.(2) These are just a couple of the headlines that have been written regarding life issues in recent years and months. It is horrifying to consider the complete and utter disregard for life both the unborn and the aged. Unfortunately, it only takes reading through a newspaper or watching the local and national news to see how lost the world around us is when it comes to life issues. But why is this?
There has been a fundamental shift in focus as to the starting point on many issues, and life issues have been no exception. There was a time not too long ago, where God’s word used to be the starting point, or at the very least a respected starting point in society. However, we have drifted far from that place, even to the point where now society views that each person is entitled to create their own truth. With this shift in truth, topics such as life are now defined as we want them to be, not as they are; and certainly not as God created and defined them to be.
This is why it is important to return to God’s word. Christ himself prays and states that God’s word is truth (John 17:17). It is in God’s word that we see very early on that life is a gift from God. He brought all life into being and in the case of mankind, breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7). Life comes from God, and is of great value to Him. This is precisely why Christ came into the world. He came so that mankind would not be eternally separated (John 3:16). This is the news that believers in Christ are called to share with all nations (Matthew 28:1920). This is precisely what a classical Lutheran education is all about. It provides us the proper lens, God’s word, with which to interpret the facts that everyone is observing and points to the cross of Jesus where we are redeemed.
With this new lens, we can now look at the information that comes in regarding life issues with clarity. When we look at the uniqueness of DNA in each individual, we see that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:49). We can also address current issues in society such as abortion, stem cells, and euthanasia, for we know that the Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:1617). We also see that the aged are to be respected, not discarded at the first opportunity (See Prov. 23:22). From the moment of conception to final breath, each day is a gift from God in which we grow in service both to our God who made us and redeemed us through his Son, Jesus Christ, and to our neighbors. It is with these things in mind that we press on and speak the truth of God’s word boldly to the world, knowing that whatever trials we endure, will not take away the crown of life that we have through Christ.
Mr. Jeremy Staub serves as the Biology instructor for Wittenberg Academy,
Julian Quinones, Arijeta Lajka. “‘What Kind of Society Do You Want to Live in?": Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome Is Disappearing.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 14 Aug. 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/downsyndromeiceland/.
EndPlay. “Georgia House to Vote on Controversial 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill.” WSBTV, 25 Mar. 2019,
All Bible translations are taken from English Standard Version.
Biology in the Fight for Life
On Faith and Science
In late January of this year, just days after the annual Right to Life March in Washington, Senate Bill S240 passed in New York, permitting abortion in the state of New York at any time during a woman’s pregnancy. The bill states a licensed practitioner “may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment…the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” “Person” is also defined in this bill as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” Christians across the country have expressed moral outrage, as this law now will permit abortion at any time during pregnancy in the state of New York, for nowhere in this bill does it define what protecting a patient’s health means, and the absence of this definition leaves the definition in the hands of the abortionist and his patient.
As Lutherans, it appears we are once again on the losing side, where “rational science” defeats the “archaic faith” of the Bible. Taking a closer look, however, this example is just one of many that emphasizes the importance of understanding the “faith vs. science” debate and lays forth a challenge to us as Lutherans to understand where all authority comes and to continue to evaluate all man-made opinions underneath that authority.
“Faith” is often used in our post-modern society to imply deeply personal and highly individual connotations. It is often used as the counterpart to reason, a set of beliefs that we personally and individually accept. Lutherans, however, look to Scripture for the definition of “faith.” God tells us in His Word that “by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not by works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2: 8 – 9). In our Lutheran Confessions, “faith” is defined in the glossary as “the body of truth found in creeds; the human response to divine activity; and the personal appropriation of divine truth,” with reference again to Ephesians’ statement that faith is a gift, not a work. Thus, God gives us faith through baptism and faith clings to the Word of God, is strengthened by that Word, and is informed to action through that Word.
Notice, then, that the start, middle, and end of what we believe, teach, and confess is the Word of God. Lutherans believe that God’s Word is infallible with no mistakes or errors. We believe that His Word has perspicuity, which means it is clear and understandable. We also believe that the Word of God is normative, meaning God’s Word is the standard by which we measure all other knowledge. If there is a conflict, then, between the clear, accurate Word of God and a law, a theory, or a belief held by men, Lutherans make the confession of Peter in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”
To circle back, I stated that this most recent event appears as though we are on the losing side, where “science” has trumped “faith.” Rev. Harrison issued a statement on behalf of the LCMS about this bill, stating “Science is on the side of life.” While I unequivocally agree with Rev. Harrison’s statement condemning abortion and that abortion at any time is murder of a human being, his statement about science needs qualification. Science, when informed by and based on the infallible Word of God, is most definitely “on the side of life.” “Science” informed by the spirit of evolution is not. Both historically and today, evolutionary science (or better stated, evolutionary pseudoscience) is on the side of eugenics, the side of random chance, the side of extinction and sterilization in the name of progress, the side of explaining the world and our role in it apart from the Word of God. In an evolutionary world, life somehow began and then evolved and changed and morphed and developed with randomness and chaos. Human life came from a common ancestor with apes. That ancestor came from a common ancestor with whales and birds and dinosaurs and fish. That ancestor came from a common ancestor with worms and bacteria and fungi. It is no wonder that supporters of Senate Bill S240 now define human life as being born and being alive. From an evolutionary standpoint, when human life first began and what distinguishes human life from other forms of life has never been completely definable. Without the authority of God’s Word, answering when human life begins or should end is simply left to individual choice and to those in power to determine as they will.
The spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience is thriving and dominant in America today. Its influence extends to issues of origin, issues of earth history, issues of life, issues of values, and issues of culture. What many Americans (and perhaps even some Lutherans) do not realize, however, is that evolutionary pseudoscience is not really “science” at all, at least not in the way that most think of the term “science.” Evolutionary pseudoscience is a belief. At its center is an a-theistic explanation of who we are, how we came to be, and where we are going. “Who are we?” “How did we come to be?” “Where are we going?” These are all metaphysical, existential questions. They cannot be explained without a worldview in place through which to interpret and express one’s ideas. For evolutionary pseudoscience, the worldview is a-theistic naturalism, which means it seeks to give answers to these questions without God. In fact, its removal of God from the explanation is often touted by them as “scientific,” as though removing God from the equation is what defines their beliefs as scientific ones. But an a-theistic belief is no more “scientific” than a theistic one. It is a philosophy, a worldview through which they then propose their theories and ideas. In our age, this spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience permeates throughout our culture. That this philosophical belief system has cloaked itself under the name of “science” only secures its footing in the minds of so many Americans and even Christians. Faith in God’s Word is labeled superstitious, fanatical, irrational, and unscientific. Faith in evolutionary pseudoscience is not labeled as faith at all, but rather as “fact,” “consensus,” and “undisputed evidence.”
I have heard it said by some Christians that issues such as the age of the earth or the days of creation in Genesis are not “salvation issues.” By this, they wish – I suppose – to assert that one can confess believing faith in Jesus Christ and still hold to an evolutionary and “scientific” view, along with many Americans today. They will say, “The Bible is not a science textbook,” “whether the earth is millions of years old or not does not shake my faith in Jesus,” or “the Bible doesn’t say how old the earth is.” While I, of course, cannot know who has or does not have saving faith, I believe these statements and others like them show a failure within our Christian community to see the vast-reaching effects of the spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience.
You see, when those three metaphysical questions are answered without God’s Word, then we are all the product of random chance and time. There is no ultimate authority beyond the self, which is sinful to the core. Even our sinful nature can be discarded in the spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience through the process of renaming, rebranding, or relabeling. What is “truth,” what is “fact,” and what is “scientific” are redefined and developed to fit the desires of the self. For example, when the scientific majority disagree with God’s Word, as they do with the Genesis creation account, for example, then Christians are labeled on the “losing side of science.” (Those of you who have taken my classes know that scientific data better aligns with a young earth than one that is millions of years old, but the label still is assigned.) However, when it should be that science is on our side, the side of life beginning at conception, for that is when a unique individual with distinctly different DNA is created (as Rev. Harrison points out), then “science” is simply rewritten to redefine when human life begins or when that life actually counts or is viable or is valued. Why does the spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience seem to “win” in both cases? The answer is because this is not a faith vs. science issue at all. This is a faith vs. faith issue. The spirit of evolutionary pseudoscience and its worldview has replaced the authority found in God’s Word with man’s opinions. Those who embrace the spirit of evolutionary science reject God’s Word. Luther says in the explanation to the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “But anyone who teaches and lives other than by what God’s Word teaches profanes the name of God among us” (The Lutheran Confessions 358).
As we live surrounded by these battles of worldviews today, take heart, dear scholars of Wittenberg Academy. Though the mighty and the powerful on earth seem to have won the day, God’s remains Almighty and all-powerful. God’s Word is our anchor and our light. It proclaims the truth even in the sinful and sordid times in which we find ourselves. As you proceed through your studies, especially in science, ground yourself first in His Word and His Truth. Remember that God’s Word is clear and understandable. When man’s word conflicts with God’s Word, stand with Peter and make a bold confession. When asked to reinterpret God’s clear Word to fit man’s fallible philosophies, hold fast to what you have been taught from your youth. God created the world in 6 days because He said so. Human beings had their beginning on day 6 when God made Adam and Eve because He said so. Marriage is designed to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime because He said so. Babies are known by God in the womb because He said so.
Children are a gift to parents to be raised in the admonition of the Lord because He said so. Equip and arm yourself with God’s Word and be prepared to give an answer for what you believe. Science has always been a realm of study that flows out from a worldview. “Faith vs. Science” is a misnomer. It has always been “Faith and Science.” When we see a battle in the realm of science today, make no mistake. It is a worldview battle. It is Faith vs. Faith. As you study in the field of science today and in the future, be sure to be armed with a strong faith rooted in the Word of God.
Mrs. Erika Mildred serves as a science instructor for Wittenberg Academy. She is a wife and mother of 2.
This article was originally published in the Christmas edition of Die Zeitschrift von WALTHER.
Do you want to learn more about rhetoric? Wittenberg Academy's Rhetoric teacher Dr. James Tallmon is teaching a summer seminar on rhetoric July 9-August 13. In preparation for this summer's seminar, Dr. Tallmon will share several articles to preview the course. You can read two of the articles here and here.
Are you interested in attending this seminar? Check our Facebook page for more details and register here.
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“We disdain, and make the butt of our jokes, the study of classics, by which that part of us that alone deserves the name ‘man,’ that is made in the image of God and for the possession of true and everlasting happiness, was meant to be refined and roused. Instead of these, we pursue with mad and blind effort I know not what illusions held out by Satan, and worthless shadows, and hitherto have not had the reverence to look at that sun. That unceasing enemy of humankind leads our minds away from admiration and love for what is true and good by whatever kind of deceit he can, and he blinds our eyes by false appearances and obscures them to such an extent that we see and cherish anything rather than that which we should have seen and cherished most.
What happens to the Muses and the study of them now is the same as Strabo reports as having once happened in Iassus to a singer accompanying himself on the cithara. When he was singing learnedly and sweetly in the theatre there and the Iassians were listening to him, as soon as a bell rang (which was the sign of the sale of fish on offer), immediately all left the singer behind and scattered to buy fish, with the exception of one somewhat deaf man who alone remained, not having heard the sound of the bell. The singer thereupon turned to him and said: ‘I am immensely grateful to you- because of the enthusiasm for music as well as because of the honor to me- for not dashing out immediately at the ringing of the bell, like all the others, in order to buy fish.’ The man said: ‘What do you say? Has the bell rung yet then?’ When the singer confirmed this, he said: ‘Good luck to you,’ rose and forthwith he, too, ran out to buy fish. The singer was abandoned alone, and in a city of that size he did not find anyone who cared more for music than for rotten fish.
In such a way these studies and writings are neglected in our times. Each one rushes towards the mean and gainful arts, they are slaves to their detestable desires and to their stomachs, and they know no god besides these. Only very few take care to refine and honor their minds, the better and more divine part of them. Just as in a noisy and drunken banquet men talk nonsense, laugh, bawl and make loud noise while some famous musician is playing, and they neither pay attention nor receive in their ears and hearts the sweetness of the music, nor enjoy it thoroughly, so our times, as if intoxicated and frantic with their desires, neither listen to the voices of the Muses nor pay attention to them. Those who by their authority and efforts should have eminently fostered and honored these studies, the majority being barbarians and without education, greatly desire rather to see them oppressed and annihilated. When Herod, king of the Jewish people, was raised to royal honors from humble and obscure origins, he ordered all books containing genealogies to be burnt and destroyed so that, the distinction between nobility and obscurity being removed, the obscurity of his own origins would be less disreputable. In just the same way uneducated men hate literature and want it destroyed, hoping that thereby they can hide their own ignorance better.
So it happens that literature is attacked by some and abandoned by others; blind desire carries away each one in a different way, and we admire anything rather than the true good, and we do not even recognize it. So Satan holds human minds shackled by his fetters, and he leads them astray to whatever place he wants, and indeed now the disgrace of ignorance is considered the least of ills; if we were not insane and enslaved in our minds, we would not consider anything sadder or more worth fleeing. In the mean time some pursue honors, others the basest pleasures and the majority riches and money. They value these possessions alone at an enormous price, selling their life and soul at a profit, as one says. The wretched people measure happiness by these things, not considering how often that unhappy happiness is not merely interrupted by slight change, but truly and absolutely turned upside down. Many have learnt this lesson from experience, the teacher of the foolish.”
These words contain much truth. Such a work could easily have been written today. Indeed, a brief look through the history of education reveals a steady erosion of emphasis on language and classic literature. Instead, we focus our scholarly energy on areas deemed worthy of study due to their potential of acquiring wealth. Conversely, scholarly energy is also spent on areas saturated with political and emotional animation, with no end but the gratification of self.
The lengthy quotation above, as seemingly germane today as ever, is from a piece entitled “Preface to Homer” and was actually written and delivered around 1538 by Philip Melanchthon. We might take comfort that the problems we see in education are nothing new. Simultaneously, we might be appalled that seemingly no one has recognized the decline in appreciation and study of classic literature. Either way, we can take Melanchthon’s words both as warning and encouragement. For those who are “slaves to their detestable desires and to their stomachs, and they know no god besides these,” which Melanchthon sees as a byproduct of abandoning the study of classic literature, his words serve as a warning. For those who have embraced a renewed dedication to the study of the classics, as many reading these words have, Melanchthon’s words are an encouragement to continue on that path lest Satan hold their minds shackled by his fetters and lead them astray to whatever place he wants.
Melanchthon would certainly agree that reading classic literature does not in and of itself guarantee freedom from Satan’s wily ways. Indeed, he says, “apart from the Gospel of Christ (emphasis added) this world holds nothing more splendid nor more divine [than the study of literature and the humanities].” In reading classic literature, there is gained not only an appreciation for eloquence, but also a clear opportunity to identify and cherish what is good, true, and beautiful in all of life.
Thus, in educating our children, let us heed the words of Melanchthon and take up the classics. Let us strive ourselves, and teach our children in the midst of our striving, to use the classics as a tool to train our minds to identify what is good, true, and beautiful in all of life.
This article was originally run in the April 2012 edition of the Ninety-Sixth Thesis.
Timeless Essay- "A Case for the Classics"
At Wittenberg Academy, we pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful because we value those things which endure. In keeping with this philosophy, we highly recommend that students use printed books and readings as much as possible. Our instructors supply information so that families may purchase necessary books or print off copies of readings. At the same time, we recognize the financial sacrifices that many families already make to provide an excellent education for their children. For this reason, we also offer options for using web or other electronic copies of readings, most of which are available free of charge. Since the choice to use print, electronic, or combined means for readings will not limit a student’s participation in classes, each family may utilize the option deemed best-suited for them.
A Statement from Our
Board of Directors
Philosophy, Paideia B
Missionary Family Feature
Mrs. Emily Cockran
Rev. Dr. Michael and Jen-Yi “Irene” Paul serve the Lord as missionaries through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Taiwan. In this role, Michael serves as a theological educator for the China Evangelical Lutheran Church. He teaches in congregations and at China Lutheran Seminary, Hsinchu. He also writes and translates Lutheran Chinese resources and helps mentor new church workers.
the Paul Family
Mrs. Cockran is a proud Michigander and Ann Arbor native. Mrs. Cockran earned her B.A. in History from Hillsdale College with secondary concentrations in Philosophy and Spanish. She went on to earn her M.A. in Religion from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana while completing her second year of graduate studies in Cambridge, England. Emily and her husband Kurt have one daughter and one son. They live in Tucson, Arizona, where Kurt serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church. Mrs. Cockran is excited to combine an appreciation of classical education with her love of all things Lutheran while teaching for Wittenberg Academy. She is an avid lover of learning, baking, cooking, C.S. Lewis, and the Detroit Red Wings.
By George Herbert
When my devotions could not pierce
Thy silent ears;
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse:
My breast was full of fears
My bent thoughts, like a brittle bow,
Did fly asunder:
Each took his way; some would to pleasures go,
Some to the wars and thunder
As good go any where, they say,
As to benumb
Both knees and heart, in crying night and day,
Come, come, my God, O come,
But no hearing.
O that thou shouldst give dust a tongue
To cry to thee,
And then not hear it crying! all day long
My heart was in my knee,
But no hearing.
Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
My feeble spirit, unable to look right,
Like a nipped blossom, hung
O cheer and tune my heartless breast,
Defer no time;
That so thy favors granting my request,
They and my mind may chime,
And mend my rime.
On the Road with Wittenberg Academy
Recent and upcoming travels
Wittenberg Academy Family Retreat April 25-27
Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium June 19-21,
Peace Lutheran Church
Higher Things Conference June 26-30
St. Paul, MN
Concordia University St. Paul
Higher Things Conference July 2-5
River Forest, IL
Concordia University Chicago
Higher Things Conference July 16-19
Concordia University Wisconsin
CCLE Conference July 16-18
River Forest, IL
Concordia University Chicago
Synodical Convention July 20-25
Tampa Convention Center
Corridor Classical Education Conference August 2-3
For our Progymnasmata students' final essay, they were given the task to choose a Character or Excerpt from The Great Divorce and assess the Form and Content of C.S. Lewis’ writing. The essay was to include elements of each of the Progymnasmata disciplines they covered over the course of their class. That included: the Fable, Narrative, Chreia/Proverb, Refutation & Confirmation.
Student A.J. Lucas has agreed to share his final essay with us.
If the sinner believes in Christ, then he shall gladly be accepted into Heaven. My thorough studies of the first seven disciplines of the Progymnasmata have equipped me to recognize C.S. Lewis’ use of these disciplines through my reading of his work The Great Divorce. The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis, shows its readers God’s forgiving nature and His willingness to accept anyone, as long as he believes in Christ.
C.S Lewis published The Great Divorce in the same year that World War II ended, and he did so for a reason. For many people, it was very trying to hold on to their faith, due to the atrocities committed during the war. C.S. Lewis saw this as a prime opportunity to show the conflicted British people how God is indeed merciful and loving. Lewis wrote his story, intending to inspire not only contemplation about this life, but also an awakening to an understanding of this life’s effect on the life to come. One of the Ghosts, known as the Big Ghost, is speaking with a spirit. The Big Ghost is indignant towards the spirit, because the Big Ghost had to live in the Grey Town even though he did not do anything horrible, whereas the spirit had murdered a man named Jack and is living in Heaven. The spirit explains that the worst sin he committed was murdering the Big Ghost in his heart for years. He also explains that the Big Ghost was cruel in life as well. However, the spirit is willing to put the past behind them and take the Big Ghost further into Heaven with him. The Big Ghost, who still cannot get over how the spirit murdered someone and still receives a reward than the Big Ghost, skulks away, presumably returning to the Grey Town. The Narrator does not make any observations, but simply records everything that was said. I chose this excerpt because it shows that God is willing to forgive one’s sins, no matter what sin he committed. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis uses the Progymnasmata discipline of the fable in his account of the Big Ghost speaking to the former murderer to show how God forgives sin, no matter what it is.
It is highly plausible that C.S. Lewis uses the fable in his account of the Big Ghost speaking to the spirit in The Great Divorce. The excerpt reminds me of the fable, which is a retelling of a story with a moral. If the excerpt from The Great Divorce is a fable, it must be a retelling of a story with a moral. The excerpt itself is not only a retelling of a story, but it has a moral, too. C.S. Lewis knew that the British people were thinking about how awful the world is at the time of the publishing of The Great Divorce, and he wanted to show the British people that there is a merciful, loving God. Murder was a sin that many soldiers were thinking about at the time of the war, and the excerpt was quite possibly created for the purpose of comforting these soldiers. God forgives the sins of those who believe in Him, and lets them into Heaven. The spirit was a murderer in life, yet he is living in Heaven and is asking the forgiveness of a Ghost whom he hated when he was living on Earth. The spirit believed in God at the end of his mortal life: “I have given up myself. I had to, you know, after the murder. That was what did it for me. And that was how everything began.” In his conversation with the Big Ghost, the spirit says, “Murdering old Jack wasn’t the worst thing I did. I murdered you in my heart, deliberately, for years.” Yet here the spirit is in Heaven, enjoying all the benefits that come with it. If C.S. Lewis wanted to show the British people that there is a merciful God, then he must have inserted the fable of the murderer who was accepted into God’s kingdom.
If someone would try to discredit what I have said, he might say, “C.S. Lewis was not trying to say that sinners will be accepted into Heaven if they believe, because C.S. Lewis has said that this book is fiction and is a fictional story.” This claim is implausible, because C.S. Lewis knew that the world was shaken by the events of World War II, and he became a spokesman for “mere Christianity”, so that he could show those who were grieving or depressed or generally hurt by the events of the War the merciful, fatherly nature of God. The purpose of The Great Divorce was to show the British people the nature of God, so why would C.S. Lewis not infuse his story with Christian themes? Therefore, this claim is implausible, because C.S. Lewis infused his work with Christian themes so that he could positively affect as many people as possible and help guide them to salvation.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis shows us how merciful God is in his account of the Big Ghost speaking with the spirit by utilizing the fable. It is significant that one must know about the presence of the fable in this excerpt, because it adds another layer to the storytelling and shows how talented of an author C.S. Lewis is for using this element of the Progymnasmata to illustrate his point. What C.S. Lewis is communicating is significant because he is communicating spiritual truth that will affect the life to come, not just life on Earth. Therefore, this knowledge must be spread and imparted to all that will listen. C.S. Lewis has imparted a significant spiritual truth in The Great Divorce through use of the fable: no person is perfect, but God is more than willing to accept him into His kingdom no matter what the sinner does, as long as he believes in Jesus.
A point of confession
2018-19 Academic Year Dates
Michaelmas term: September 4, 2018- November 21, 2018
Christmas term: November 26, 2018 - March 1, 2019
(Thanksgiving Break November 22 - 25, Christmas Break December 22 - January 6)
Easter term: March 4, 2019 - May 24, 2019
(Easter Break April 18-22)
Trinity term: June 3, 2019 - August 23, 2019
(No class Independence Day - July 4)
"For if we wish to have excellent and able persons both for civil and Church leadership. we must spare no diligence, time, or cost in teaching and education our children, so that they may serve God and the world. We must not think only about how we may amass money and possessions for them. God can indeed support and make them rich without us, as He daily does. But for this purpose He has given us children and issued ths command: we should train and govern them according to His will. Otherwise, He would have no purpose for a father and a mother.Therefore, let everyone know that it is his duty, on peril of losing the divine favor, to bring up his children in the fear and knowledge of God above all things (Proverbs 1:7). And if the children are talented, have them learn and study something. Then they ma be hired for whatever need there is."
~ The Large Catechism, Part I: The Fourth Commandment, 172-174
from Kloria Publishing
These publications are available for order on
Wittenberg Academy's 3rd Annual Family Retreat
We look forward to This year's retreat on April 25-27, 2019 with speaker Dr. Thomas Korcok. Be sure to check out the Trinity term Ninety-Sixth Thesis for Highlights!
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Wittenberg Academy held their 3rd Annual Family Retreat on April 26-28, 2018. Many good conversations were had and memories made. Our plenary speaker, Mr. Aaron Wolf, spoke on natural law. Many families were able to make connections with other homeschool families and exchange thoughts and ideas.
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