A Response to Tennessee’s Failure to make the Bible as the State’s Official Book

Sarah Zylstra’s April 20, 2016 blog published in Christianity Today takes up the failure of Tennessee lawmakers to override their governor’s veto to make the Bible as the official state  book. In the article, brief quotes from reputed authorities on both sides are presented in a clear manner. In her evenhanded treatment, the one side attests that by acknowledging the cultural and historical value of the Bible, we are in essence making it more readily available to the masses.

In large part, this is a tactical argument as opposed to primarily a theological one. The portion with a measure of theological undertone is similar to what has been attributed to Charles Spurgeon when asked, “How does one defend the Bible?” Spurgeon said, “How does one defend a lion? Let it out of its cage and it will defend itself.”

In 2002, a Christian movie was made entitled, “Time Changer.”  Besides a number of well-known actors like Gavin MacLeod, Hal Linden, and Paul Rodriquez, the audience was treated to the opaque cheesiness that accompanied many of the Christian films of that era. At the same time, I was very entertained and it is one of my favorite B movies.

The storyline starts in 1890 with a professor at a Bible College, Dr. Russell Carlisle, who was trying to get his book published. The book taught that because the moral TimeChangerteachings of Jesus are true, it should be taught and applied to everyone whether or not one believes Jesus as the Messiah. Gavin MacLeod’s character, Norris Anderson, was a colleague at the college who blackballed the publication of the book because of serious objections to the idea that allegiance to Christ’s morality could be separated from devotion to Christ himself. Anderson had built a time machine that could travel from 1890 into what looks like our present day. Carlisle takes the trip and is shocked to see the sex and violence on television and movies. He was appalled to hear preacher’s preaching moralism and churches being run like businesses that had lots of programs and good clean fun, but no urgency to lead people to Christ. One of the poignant scenes of the show was when a little girl steals a hot dog and Dr. Carlisle chastises her with the claim that “stealing is a sin.” The little girl turns to him and argues, “says who?”

The argument made by writer/director Rich Christiano was that to separate the morality of the Bible from devotion to Christ as Lord has had disastrous  results. Since I do claim Jesus as my Lord, how would he weigh in on this important subject?

Jesus drew a clear line of demarcation between “the world” and “his disciples.” He said in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” The world-at-large is not going to value or adhere to the commands of Christ, because it “hates” him.

I don’t think we have come to terms with this. Many Christians walk around in a fog of denial that somehow humanity is basically good and tolerant of others. If they aren’t, then they are bigots. According to Jesus, there is no 38th-parallel, no agreed upon truce between the world and Christ. Jesus is affirming open hostility between his people and the unbelieving in this world. According to Jesus, the world loves its own, and if you are a follower of Christ you are not one of them.

culture_warsSo, can we enforce Christian morality upon America? Yes, with enough followers of Christ who possess leverages of wealth and power. Just like unbelievers can enforce secular morality on us. Will the unbelievers like it? No, they will hate us all the more.  But again, this is a tactical issue, not a theological one.

The culture war paradigm is much more pernicious than that. The question should not be “can we,” but “should we.” Since we believe that the Christian moral code is the only one that can secure the highest good for mankind and society, it seems almost unchristian to deny fellow human beings with its benefit. It is not loving our neighbor as ourselves, and thus a sin.

That line of reasoning is what makes the argument so pernicious. By enforcing the Christian moral code through political or economic power, a poison pill has been introduced at the same time. This has to do with the nature of the unbeliever. The Bible uses strong imagery, metaphor, and adjectives to describe the unbeliever’s state of being.  Besides the legion of Old Testament passages that accentuate human sinfulness, Jesus said they “cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). If they can’t even see it, how are they going to observe its laws? They “loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3:19). If they love darkness, how are they ever going to turn it loose to observe what is good? They do not “have life” in themselves (Jn. 6:53). They neither know Christ, nor the Father (Jn. 8:19). They “cannot receive” Christ for they “do not behold them” or “know him” (Jn. 14:16). Then, how can they give even a modicum of deference to Christ as a moral authority?

The apostle Paul expands on this and affirm that “none seeks for God,” “none does good, not even one” (Rm. 3:12). They are not able to subject themselves to God’s law and cannot please God (Rm. 8:7,8). To them, the word of the cross is “foolishness” (I Cor. 1:18). The “natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot know them…” (I Cor. 2:14). The “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the light of the gospel…” (II Cor. 4:3,4). They are spiritually “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

To try to lessen the despicable state of the unbeliever to less than the walking dead or a hideous monster of rapacious appetites, some appeal to prevenient or common grace. Here it is believed that God extends to all unbelievers grace to apprehend the general revelation of God (Matt. 5:45). They argue that fallen men in their natural state cannot apprehend God’s word, but with divine mercy they can (Rm. 1:19).

The problem is that even though they are given this divine mercy to understand God’s existence, they remain under the wrath of God for having “suppress[ed]” it (Rm. 1:18). Apparently, this general mercy stops at the doorpost of a converted heart. As was his custom, Peter is more explicit than Paul. He uses the simile that unbelievers are “like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant…” (II Pt. 2:12). He says “They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions…” while hanging around church people (II Pt. 2:13).  Again, he writes, “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” (II Pt. 2:14). Such is the state of those who have been given this prevenient grace and twisted God’s word to comport to their own fallen belief system.

flagandbibleSo, the counter-argument to the notion that we must legislate Christian morality as an act of love for our neighbors is that it is patently unchristian to do so. It is tantamount to requiring a pig to use a knife and fork. It is not in its nature to do so. All it will breed is resentment on the part of the person who feels enslaved to a moral code to which they do not subscribe.

The next step in the line of reasoning lends to the wringing of hands and claims that we are left with an inferior moral code or no code at all. Yet, there is a difference between enforcing the moral code of Christ upon the unbeliever, and resorting to no moral code at all. Indeed, as noted by C. S. Lewis, we all share some basic moral framework dictated by our consciences that encourage a civil society. We all can share in the notion that it is wrong to steal. However, the devil is in the details as to whether it is this moral code of conscience or the morality taught by Christ. A pure capitalist will not include theft when purchasing a piece of land from a destitute farmer at far below market value. A politician will not consider it theft to subject hard working citizens to being thrown in jail for failure to pay exorbitant and unwarranted taxes. Yet, we ALL believe we should not steal.

The pernicious nature occurs when Christ’s morality is conflated with consensus morality. That may be an underlying reason as to why the Bible is filled with admonitions for believers to be “holy.” The word in Hebrew (qadash) and Greek (hagion) refer to separateness. As these varied moral codes become muddled, it is near impossible to know what is Christian and what is not.

To place the Bible as the official book of Tennessee has unintended consequences way beyond separation of church and state. I could care less about the Constitution’s Separation Clause when the more insidious result is the notion that fallen men and women are able to subscribe to the moral teachings of Jesus found therein without the regeneration needed to understand and apply them.

As a youngster, I never will forget hearing a Baptist evangelist defend the Bible. As a straw man, he played upon how modern secularists were finding hundreds of contradictions in the Bible. His cavalier backhand to them was, “That’s what they get for reading someone else’s mail.” The Bible is God’s holy (separate) word for God’s holy (separated) people.

To espouse a Christian morality to a nation of unbelievers results in the exact argument made by Jesus and the apostles, which was played out in the film Time Changers. Although I applaud the motivation of those Tennessee legislators to honor the Bible. I must side with the governor on this one.


Zystra, S. (2016). Should states honor the Bible as a historic but not sacred book? Carol Stream, IL: 2016 Christianity Today. Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/april-web-only/should-states-honor-bible-historic-sacred-book-tennessee.html?start=2



GOP getting Trumped

Liberal democrats are master smear merchants who have won two consecutive presidential races by identity politics, stereotyping republicans as a party of racist old white men. Their machinery is poised to pounce in the general election. So, what is the republican’s solution? Let’s ignore two eminently qualified Hispanics, a brilliant African-American, and an articulate and accomplished woman – all who would totally undercut the liberal storyline. Then select an old white guy who is a 1% billionaire who has insulted various minority groups… all because he is the most “electable.” Can’t put my finger on it, but something’s wrong with this picture.

Commons in a Box

One of the features that we are trying to create in our school’s LMS site is that of a true Commons area. A place where students caCommons in a Boxn “hang out” and either work, play, chill, or socialize.  A safe place where they can interact freely and talk about who’s dating whom. A place where a couple of them can take a quick jaunt over to a gaming area. A place to pull three or four together who are taking the same class to do an impromptu or pre-arranged study group, complete with Google+ conferencing.

It is no wonder that my ears perked up at Brian Croxall’s (2012) article on “Build Your Own Academic Community with Commons in a Box (http://commonsinabox.org/).” With the exception of teleconferencing, most of the other items were there… students could conduct a joint project using wiki, they could present ideas on blogs and comment back and forth about them, file sharing capability, and responsive emails.

After many attempts to create communities online, however, with Ning, Classroom 2.0, and Google+, the old adage, “if you build it they will come” is not necessarily true on the Internet. At the same time, I attempted to create these to adults and around common interests/profession (i.e., education). This would be designed for high school students, who are social animals already.

Another concern with this direction is that the Commons in a Box is still being beta tested. The only thing worse than not having the right tools to make the learning environment enjoyable is rolling something out that is riddled with bugs.

If this one doesn’t work, does anyone have ideas about another social-community designed plugin that perhaps could work in relation to Moodle?

———————– Reference

Croxall, B. (Dec. 4, 2012). Build your own academic community with commons in a box. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on 1/19/2015 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/build-your-own-academic-community-with-commons-in-a-bo/44749.

CBL – The Biggest Threat to Christian Schools in Decades

In the spring of 2014, I attended the AdvancED national convention. Almost the entire event was focused on education technology. In the midst of this geek-fest, none other than Mark Elgart the CEO came up to the stage to provide one of the keynote speeches. During his state-of-the-organization speech, Dr. Elgart advanced many of the changing paradigms that were occurring on a national level through the use of technology. One of the most profound concepts he espoused was the notion that mastery learning should be the constant and time the variable. Then, a parade of school administrators, parents, and students took to the stage throughout the week to reinforce the new paradigm. As a result of the accrediting agencies and the education establishment-at-large, Competency-Based Learning (CBL) was launched.Competency-Based Learning

One such educator in this cacophony was the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, Chris Cerf. In the speech, Cerf noted that student education was being hampered by the inane notion that learning equated with time spent in the classroom. He cited an instance where a parent complained that her son was a cello prodigy with many years of accomplished performance for the symphony, but he was required to take a year’s worth of fine art credit or he could not graduate.

Cerf noted the dilemma and passed through one of the most sweeping statewide policies in the nation. The new policy was that public schools in New Jersey could grant credit based upon competency in the subject matter, rather than time spent in the classroom.

For many years, states like Texas have allowed for students to receive Physical Education credit if they participate in activities outside of school like an Olympic training program. However, this has never bled over to the academic side of the house until states started adopting CBL.

The most recent state, North Carolina, passed laws that allowed for what they call Credit by Demonstrated Mastery or CDM (to see the article click HERE). The CDM program “allow schools to award credits based on mastery without requiring students to complete a course or log a certain amount of seat time.” With cooperation from the U. S. Department of Education, other states like New Hampshire, Michigan, and Ohio are moving to join the fray to allow local districts to experiment with versions of CBL (see source HERE).

Obviously, this is good news to the students. Those who are capable and competent in subject matter will no longer be imprisoned for 180 instruction hours in classes where they already know the subject matter and have the requisite skills.  Bright students can finish high school in two or three years, rather than four.

This is also good news for parents. Those with bright Christian school children may only have to pay two or three years of tuition instead of four. Those with capable public school students may shorten their time spent having to endure issues that are endemic to some public schools. Also, if they enroll them into a state that has universities with CBL programs, they may only have to pay two or three years for their child to enroll in college as well.

Politicians are happy, as this provides a way to alleviate the intense pressure of the high cost of education. As more education is affordable to more students, an educated workforce will be able to keep the business running, which means more tax money for the state’s coffers.

Obviously, this does not make many teachers and school administrators happy. It means they will enroll fewer high performing students as they remain a shorter time in the system. This, of course, will have a chilling effect on high stakes assessments. In addition, it also means the school will retain a higher percentage of those who struggle for all four years. Teachers, who have enjoyed teaching AP and honors courses will find fewer and fewer students to teach over time, as likely commercial and non-profit services will increase to prepare students to test out of these courses.

The jury is still out on the impact this may have on extra-curricular programs. There is a scenario where coaches and directors may need to prepare for losing students who prefer to get through high school at a more rapid pace.

In a recent convocation of guidance counselors in Texas, admissions officers from the UT System shared the frustration colleges already have regarding the effect of college dual-enrollment programs. Higher education was being forced to rethink many of their policies. For example, many require freshmen to live on campus. This causes sixteen-year-old students to live in the same dorms as adults in their twenties.

Although CBL makes common sense, the potential impact of CBL on Christian schools is bone-chilling to say the least. Major restructuring throughout the private sector will place high value on assessment preparation and administration. Hundreds of content providers of all kinds have already flooded the market and driven down expense for curriculum by making course content ubiquitous. As the value of testing goes up and content goes down, the business model of many of our schools will have to change accordingly. CBL’s effects on private schools will likely drive some schools to extinction if they do not start preparing now.

CBL poses the greatest threat to the public schools since the school choice laws. Nationwide, the public schools funding formulas center around attendance. Schools are allocated funds by the state and bases it on how many days and how many students are attending school. This has created an obsession with attendance issues in schools because of the funding mechanism tied to it.

In my next blog, I’ll provide some practical advice on what Christian School administrators should be doing now to prepare for the coming onslaught. So, what do you think? Does CBL pose a threat to Christian schools? Any ideas on how we can prepare ourselves for this paradigm change?

St. Augustine’s Response to O’Reilly’s Bombing Campaign of ISIS

Your position on bombing the bad guys is reminiscent of listening to the justification for the body counts every evening on the news during the Vietnam War. We were told that McNamara’s “war of attrition” would be successful and would avoid the “domino theory.” Just like St_Augustinethis was proven to be a canard, so will bombing every reported terrorist gathering based upon “intelligence.”

Reagan’s “peace through strength” focused on building up American might to the point that the USSR (and everyone else) would be too frightened to mess with us. With a 17 trillion dollar debt, it is time to take a page from the Gipper once again.

As a Roman Catholic, I don’t understand why you are not taking a page from St. Augustine’s philosophy of a Just War. It seems that your position of targeted bombing of terrorist strongholds does not meet his notion that it would be a just war, because it violates his premise that the potential cost to be incurred by warfare should not be a greater evil than that which is to be remedied. With us borrowing money to the point of bankrupting our nation, the cost incurred to keep militarizing the region and bombing combatants at this point is a greater evil than spending millions of dollars in an ongoing bombing campaign. We shouldn’t waste any more blood and treasure on Muslim nations that are going to implode into constant factional conflicts anyway.

Second, it seems that bombing terrorist groups would be a violation of Augustine’s concept that the means of violence employed must be both discriminate and proportional. It doesn’t seem either when there is a likelihood that innocents will be killed. Although I agree that it is a fact of war, it does not seem ethical to be so cavalier and intentional about proceeding without doing everything possible to protect the innocent.

It is time to refocus on building back up American moral, economic, and territorial strength. Invest modestly (because that is all we can afford) only in those countries in the region with a proven track record of friendship – Israel, India, Kenya, etc. Provide moral support and some armaments to the oppressed populations like the Kurds in Iraq, oppressed moderates in Iran, and Christian populations in eastern Nigeria, to help them protect themselves. Secure our own borders. Complete the Strategic Defense Initiative. Open domestic oil and strengthen trade with friendly nations. Rebuild our military might to the point that no bad guys would dare to fly again into one of our buildings for fear that we would level them and all of their compatriots.

I guess that makes me an Isolationist in the opinion of so many of your guests.

Faith and Learning

Christian educators find themselves in the unsettling position of having to liberate the real world from the obfuscation of learning theories born during an ethos of modernism and postmodernism.  A proper inquiry as to whether these learning theories were perhaps determined by streams of consciousness should evoke a fundamental rethinking of the question as to whether faith and learning are actually separate categories in need of integration or the categories themselves are contrived, or as theologian Cornelius Van Til (2008) elucidated, “… every human mind … contributes in an original sense to what it receives” (p. 163). It is from this perspective that arguments against the Kantian dualism of faith and learning are proffered.

Faith and learning cannot be integrated because integration requires separate and independent entities, whereas learning is predicated and thus dependent upon a priori faith assumptions. Regarding this, St. Anselm (2006) affirmed the maxim, “Credo ut intelligam [I believe in order to understand]” (Chapter 1).  Christian theology affirms that individuals are contingent and finite. As such, their knowledge can be nothing other than contingent and finite as well (Hodge, 2014, Ch. XI, Sec. 3-B, para. 1). Were they to possess properties of aseity (i.e., self-existence), they would of necessity be divine, but because ex nihilo nihil fit[out of nothing comes nothing] a self-existent man strains credulity (Kung, 2006, p. 533).  As such, they infer, conjecture, theorize, and imagine by underlying assumptions that are essential to assert anything to be true (Acts. 17:27, ESV).

For lack of adequate terms in the common vernacular, two German words are used to extrapolate two essential and interconnected notions necessary to understand the relationship between faith and learning – ursprung [origin] and verankern [groundedness].  Verankern is predicated upon ursprung, and the nature of ursprung is revealed by verankern.

Ursprung deals with the source of being.  The ursprung for the Christian is a self-existing Triune God to whom all essence and existence is contingent. As affirmed by Pazmino (2008), this is most evident as “Scripture comprises the ultimate and unifying perspective for learning and life.  Anything less can make persons the measure of all things” (p. 149).  Although we “see in a mirror dimly” (I Cor. 13:12), and often feel our “way toward him” (Acts 17:27), our discovery of Him and his creation comes by way of ursprung and verankern.   It is as Van Til (1976) contends, “… if one goes only to the laboratory and not also to the Bible one will not have a full or even true interpretation of the snake” (pp. 2,3).

The Christian educator pursues verankern, a groundedness with the real world that also necessitates an ordinem claritatis [order of clarity] mediated by common grace and the unfolding revelation of the Spirit (Romans 1:20; I Cor. 2:9,10). This groundedness is not oriented toward the experiential, but that of design as evidenced through systematic consistency from the clearest kingdom demonstration to the least (Ladd, 1997).  Evidence of the rule of God invading the material world requires eschatological purpose, otherwise there is no design.  The kingdom carries not just an effect over nature, but necessarily a quality of Being.  As such, the quality of the kingdom is the embodiment of Christ (Jones, 1995).   Famed theologian John Henry Newman (1873) elucidated, “… all branches of knowledge are connected together… as being the acts and the work of the Creator” (Part 1, Discourse 5, para. 2). Respected Separatist John Flavel (1678/1982) further remarked that there is a certain order to this information;

Truth is the mold into which our souls are cast… according to the impressions it makes upon our understanding, and the order in which the truths lie there will be the depth and lastingness of their influences upon the heart.  (Vol. IV, p. 342).

In summary, learning is an outgrowth of faith, not an independent entity that can stand alone and should be merged with faith. If one wants to know what exists, and understand meaning, it is contingent on verankern – harmonizing phenomena, perception, and experience in an ordinem claritatis, from the record of the invasion of the kingdom to natural phenomena that provides material illuminations to what exists and the meaning it holds. When all of these are accounted, from scientific inquiry to metaphysical speculation are harmonized in the ordinem claritatis as a grand mosaic, verankern is achieved.


Anselm of Canterbury. (2006). Proslogion. [pdf version] Retrieved from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-proslogium.asp#CHAPTER III

Flavel, J. (1982). The mysteries of God’s providence. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust.

Hodges, C. (2014). Systematic theology. Titus Books. [Kindle Fire Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Jones, E. (1995). The unshakable kingdom and the unchanging person. Bellingham, WA: McNett Press.

Kung, H. (2006). Does God exist? An answer for today. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Ladd, G. (1997). A Theology of the New Testament (Rev.). Grand Rapids, MICH: Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Newman, J. (1873). Idea of a university. Retrieved May 11, 2014 from http://www.newmanreader.org/works/idea/discourse3.html

Pazmino, R. (2008). Foundational issues in Christian education: An introduction in evangelical perspective (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MICH: [Kindle Fire version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

Van Til, C. (1976). Apologetics. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.

Van Til, C. (2008). The defense of the faith. (S. K. Oliphant, Ed.) (4th ed.). Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishers.


When is Research, Research?

Funny_HatA story is oft told of the comedic teacher who challenged his colleagues to adopt the latest innovation in education. During his conference period, while in the teacher’s lounge, he claimed that some Ivy League schools in the Northeast discovered that student’s IQ grew exponentially when teachers wore funny hats. A couple of the trend-setting teachers decided to try it with their problem classes.

Low and behold, they seemed well-behaved. Through word of mouth a few more teachers bought in to the new system. Reports of improved test scores resounded throughout the building. Teachers wore pointed hats, hats with shocking colors, and hats with plumes sticking out the side. They tested which hat received the best results. Next, the principal shared their success story with other principals. Entire districts adopted the new system. Colleges began to embrace it and produce “How To” manuals. After two years, it became evident that this was not all what it was cracked up to be. So, one-by-one, schools abandoned the “funny hat” method.

Such lunacy, although somewhat exaggerative, is all too reflective of the way school reform actually occurs. Too often changes are made in schools based on spurious research, transitory test-scores, the “publish or perish” pressure upon college professors, or multiplied millions of dollars to be made by creating a popular teaching method. Meanwhile, children are subjected to these countless buffooneries.

Myron Lieberman, in his profound work, Public Education: An Autopsy, rightly posthumated, “Like individuals, social institutions die, and their death forces us to face an uncertain future… we cannot always wait until rigor mortis sets in to consider what should be done to meet the new situation.” The present climate is a complex combination of the pungent odor of a rotting corpse, along with techno-reforms.

Doubtless, there are many wonderful teachers, lots of resources, and well meaning politicians. The evidence that the case is terminal, however, is that each new resuscitation reverts to a deceased state.

I will never forget a horrifying event that happened when I was eight years old, which graphically illustrates the situation. I went to my neighbor’s house, where she was slaughtering chickens. She would place the chicken over a stump, stretch out its neck, and quickly chop off the head with a cleaver.

I had nightmares for days as I saw the chicken she threw to the side, jump to its feet and start running around in circles without its head! It was at this juncture that I first learned that activity and life are not the same things.

The difficulty in true education reform is that each new fad causes a flurry of activity, but when all of the dust settles, it returns to its former lifeless state. The pathologies remain the same – poor reading and comprehension skills, inability to communicate with clarity, and incapability to perform basic calculations.

Not everything that glitters is gold. Shiny new reforms, based upon bankrupt ideologies, are not the path to effective education. After fifteen years of research, I have come to the conclusion that effective education is dug out of the past. Jesus said the wise teacher of the kingdom, “…brings out of his treasure things new and old (Matt.13:52).”  Or as C. S. Lewis so aptly put it, Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and especially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook… The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.” (Introduction to St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation)