Monday, September 10, 2012

Repetition--Bane or Blessing

When I went through the teacher education program in college back in the early 90's, I was struck by how little attention was given to memorizing, also known as rote learning. Higher, or critical thinking skills were praised as the goal of learning As someone who had grown to appreciate being able to recall Bible passages by memory, I was appalled when I heard my professor speaking in a mocking way about those backwards early American settlers and their inferior education and understanding. Stepping back, I had to ask myself, is our modern education system really superior? I think the answer is obvious. We often deride those of past generations who *only had an eighth grade education*, but if you look at their textbooks and realize what they were required to know, it is not too difficult to conclude that today's students lack much of the knowledge to critically think about! This mentality that rote is inferior has spilled over into the church. Perhaps the church started it, due to faulty theology; I don't know enough about it to say what the source is. But it is unfortunately alive and well in the American church. Spontaneity is valued as proof of a valid, vibrant faith. Let's look at it from another viewpoint. When Christmas caroling at a local nursing home, I was struck by the fact that many elderly individuals, who normally do little more than slump over in their wheelchairs, sang the songs with us as best they could. Why? Because they know the songs by heart. My husband says that it is the same during chapel services, when they recite the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer. These precious truths are hidden in the hearts of these dear saints. May I suggest that we are robbing today's young people, who will be tomorrow's elderly, by not giving them the riches of the church, such as the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the hymns and liturgy rich with theology? The praise choruses may be fun today but they will hardly get you through the night of affliction that comes to us all in in the various sufferings we experience in this life. God wants His Word of promise forever imprinted on the hearts of His dear saints:"Your sins are forgiven," Luke 7:48. Repetition in the life of the church is a good thing, because only then can one say, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" Psalm 119:11.

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