Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our Immanuel
Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Jesus’ words are here speaking about pastors, but apply equally to Christian day school teachers and would in that sphere include women. It is because of Jesus’ words that our church body has a standard for the CLC Certification for Elementary Education in place.
Sometimes people wonder why our church body thinks there is a need for someone who has an elementary education degree from a secular university to take these additional courses to be CLC certified. Every one of the required classes is a religious study, even the few that don’t seem to be so directly. These courses are Old Testament and New Testament Introduction, Dogmatics, Symbolics, Church History, History and Philosophy of Education, Religion Methods, Practical Theology for Teachers, and a teaching internship conducted in a CLC parochial school. If any of these classes were taught at a public college, they would undoubtedly be taught in a manner which attacks and undermines what the Bible teaches. Public college classes, in addition, regularly attack Biblical teachings such as the reality of only true God, the Trinity, creation taking place in six regular days about six thousand years ago, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the total depravity of man’s sinful state, man’s reason not being the arbiter of truth, absolute truth revealed in the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, the God Man.
Thus the purpose of the certification requirements is to provide thorough training in the Word of God. The church body has the responsibility of knowing that its full-time public ministers of the gospel have had such training. This certification process, then, is not raising a challenge against non-CLC-certified teachers, as if to indicate that they have not had sufficient training to teach elementary grades. Rather, as a church whose single purpose is to teach the Word of God faithfully, we properly and legitimately encourage and provide for the religious training of those teaching the Word of God in our name. The form for providing and accomplishing such training may vary, but this standard is established in God’s Word.
We ask those called as full-time teachers in our schools to indicate their confessional subscription to the Book of Concord, “The Brief Statement,” “Concerning Church Fellowship,” and “Concerning Church and Ministry.” Individuals can certainly read these on their own. But most individuals, reading them on their own, are not going to gain a comprehensive understanding of the history, context, and implications of these confessions, nor of the current examples of the errors exposed. So those who would be public teachers of the Word in our schools are encouraged to study them comprehensively.
Ongoing personal study and Bible Class studies certainly may bring an individual to the same goal. We do not deprecate the understanding of a layperson. And this certification standard of the synod does not dictate what a congregation must do. Each congregation, knowing the qualifications of its own members or others, can nominate qualified individuals to their call list, call and install them, and—if desired—later assist them in seeking CLC certification, even at a distance from ILC.
Some have asked what Immanuel Lutheran College is doing to assist teachers in becoming certified. As of this year, all but two of the classes are available online through ILC. Professors have also made special arrangements for such classes by assisting qualified pastors and teachers in the congregation to teach such classes under ILC supervision.
For more information about the online courses available, sample classes, or the CLC Convention Guidelines for Certification, go to the three relevant links on the ILC website at http://ilc.edu/academics/ and http://ilc.edu/academics/college/.
John Ude is a professor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.