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Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature

As Faith Christian School began its first year of high school with 9th graders, one course I was asked to teach was English. One of the first things I did was reach out to some of my high school English teaching colleagues and ask them for input, suggestions, and materials that would be helpful as I began putting together my classes. One area I was specific about was that of Shakespearean plays. I’m thankful for the feedback and wealth of resources that I was directed to. One book suggested to help with Shakespeare was Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature. I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it not only to our English teachers, but all teachers as it helps one round out their Christian worldview on literature.

The author, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., was at the time of the publication of this book the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor of English at Concordia Univeristy-Wisconsin. This book was published as a part of the TURNING POINT Christian Worldview Series by Crossway Books. Mr. Veith and I would differ on various aspects and points that he brings up but in general the book is beneficial and helps the teacher or any individual develop their worldview in regards to literature. 

Although I read through this book the first time quite quickly as I prepared my classes, I intend to go through it more slowly this time around and will review each chapter over the upcoming months. Here are some quotes from the preface that hopefully encourage the reader to pick up a copy of the book:


“My purpose is to promote critical reading, the habit of reading with discernment and an awareness of larger contexts and deeper implications.”

“The capacity to read is a precious gift of God, and this book is designed toe encourage people to use this gift to its fullest.”

“The habit of reading is absolutely critical today, particularly for Christians. As television turns our society into and increasingly image-dominated culture, Christians must continue to be people of the Word.”

“From the beginnings of the church to the present day, Christian writers have explored their faith in books, and in doing so have nourished their fellow believers.”

“Although the subject of the book is literature, a host of other subjects will also be addressed. This is because literature, by its very nature, involves its readers in a wide range of issues, provoking thought in many directions. Our discussions of style and literary history will lead to the abortion controversy. Our discussions of comedy and tragedy will lead into the theology of Heaven and Hell. Our discussions of fairy tales will lead to child psychology.”

“My central purpose will be served if through this book a reader discovered the poetry of George Herbert or the children’s stories of Walter Wangerin, gains insight into Scripture by noticing its parallelism or non visual imagery, or turns off the TV one night to settle down with a good book.”

Amen to that!

Quoted from Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and  published by Crossway Books in 1990. These quotes are found in the Preface (pgs. xiii-xvi).


March 2018 Hope Highlights

We’ve added the spring issue of the Hope Highlights to the Newsletter page. You can follow the link to it here. Some of the highlights to note:

  • Mr. Ron Koole pens an interesting article about Hope’s and his experience with a five-week enrollment of two young South Korean girls. It appears it was a success and that there was a multitude of blessings for both Hope School and the Korean family. A wonderful testament to the covenantal fellowship experienced in our Protestant Reformed schools.
  • New teachers and staff.
  • A spring break decision by the Board.
  • An article on executive functions by Mrs. Jill Reitsma from the Discovery Room.
  • And as always…an enjoyable section of student writings.




When our lives are spared, in what we call a miraculous way; when a loved one recovers remarkably after serious surgery; when things go exceptionally well for our flesh; the words of our mouths often are, “0 God, how good Thou art.” We need no prodding or exhortation to do that. When we receive earthly treasures and fleshly joys, we, as believers, recognize this as His work, see His glory and give expression to it.

Sad to say, however, that same enthusiasm, that same loose tongue, often is not there when we taste God’s work of saving us from our sins. We are ready to confess Him as our strength when all goes well physically, but we are not so enthusiastic and ready to confess Him as our redeemer. The smile on our faces is not as broad when we speak of our salvation.

How happy are you in the knowledge that your sins are forgiven? How much is your soul thrilled when you think of what Christ did for you on His cross? How enthusias-tically can you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly”? Is there not so much that you still want to enjoy in this life?

The need is there, but is there the desire to pray with David, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, 0 Lord, my strength and my redeemer” Psalm 19:14?

There is indeed so much room for us to pray, as versified, those words of Psalm 19:14:

The words which from my mouth proceed,
The thoughts within my heart,
Accept, 0 Lord, for Thou my Rock
And my redeemer art.

Sing of God as your Redeemer as well as your strength. And pray for the grace to see His glory as your Redeemer. Pray that the things here below do not make you forget the washing away of your guilt, and the precious gift of a God-glorifying life like that of His Son. Pray that you may be more and more spiritual, to seek the things above, and be pleasing in God’s sight in all that you do.

Read: Revelation 7

Psalter versification: 41:7

This devotional was written by Rev. Heys and published by the Reformed Book Outlet. 


Police Restraint and Attack Dogs

Have you ever felt like you’ve been snowed under? I had a moment like that this summer. For years I have used the famous Civil Rights movement photograph taken by Bill Hudson and used it as a teaching point. This picture, I said, showed how the Birmingham police fell into a trap set by those organizing the civil rights marches. March leaders knew that bad publicity for the police would endear the cause of the blacks to others throughout the country. This iconic photo showed a police officer and his dog purporting an attack a high school aged young man. This front page image provided a wretched sight for many readers and disgust was expressed towards the southern institution of racism. And yet was this image displaying the whole truth?

As kids we’ve all heard Bible stories, listened to sermons, and discussed topics around the dinner table. As we have matured, there are those instances in our lives where we have had to say, “Boy, I really misunderstood that idea as a kid. I always thought…” Thankfully, these misconceptions aren’t because there was or is an error in God’s word. We are reminded of this when we read Article 7 of the Belgic Confession:

We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house. 

God’s word is infallible and is without error. Although written over a great expanse of time, God’s word is one. Although written by men, it is organically inspired. Without a confession of the inspiration of God as the author of the Scriptures, one denies the absolute sovereignty of God.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” And yet without context, how do we understand what is going on in that iconic picture Hudson took on May 3, 1963? Front page pictures in newspapers don’t end up there by happenstance. Much toil and handwringing took place in the editing room to choose just the right picture. The goal was for that picture to convey a message to the reader. Yet in the case of Mr. Hudson’s photograph, the message was inaccurate and caused the reader to draw the wrong conclusion. They didn’t have the full context. They misinterpreted it.

The words of scripture were not recorded by happenstance. II Timothy 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” God revealed himself in all of scripture. To deny scripture is to deny Him. Although many agree that scripture is inspired, men debate its infallibility. They twist and turn the scriptures to fit their teachings. They misunderstand and misapply the truths of God’s word. They fail use scripture to interpret scripture. They fail to understand the context. Some even flat out deny aspects of scripture due to the fact that men wrote the words down. The Bible serves as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Research can reveal the fallacies of history. Careful searching and studying of the scriptures reveals God’s truth; it also reveals the false teachings of men and churches.

My realization came this summer while listening to Revisionist History, a podcast put together by author Malcolm Gladwell. Revisionist History’s tag line is “because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.” In doing research for his episodes, Gladwell looks for events, people, or ideas in which public opinion was strong but some or all aspects of the topic weren’t fully understood or investigated at the time. This is the case Gladwell finds with the photograph taken by Bill Hudson during the march in Birmingham. To most people, it appears the police officer is using the attack capabilities of his dog to instill fear into the young man. It screams of southern police brutality. It enraged many readers across the world that police would use vicious dogs on children. A statue of the iconic photograph was commissioned and placed in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham. It uses the moment to remind viewers of the racism this young man suffered and serves as a symbol of the “Foot Soldiers” of the Civil Rights era.

Unlike history, the Bible does not need “a second chance”. It is infallible. Just as many Civil War statues in the South have come under attack, so has the infallibility and inspiration of scripture been under great attack for many years. Unlike works of art, God’s word is not up to the interpretation of man to fit his view and serve as a political tool. Although we may not have complete faith in the stories of history, we can have complete faith and a knowledge that scripture is true; it is the inerrant and infallible work of God.

With a bit of digging and after going through interviews, Gladwell learns that the young boy in the photo is Walter Gadsden. Gadsden was skipping school that day with a friend because he was curious about the march but also knew his parents would be upset with him for doing so. Gadsden and his family were never involved in the civil rights movement and as the march started, he realized he better get back to school. The police had set-up roadblocks to keep the general public away from the marchers. While crossing this “no man’s land” between the roadblocks to get away from the oncoming march, Gadsden stumbled into the officer. The officer’s German Shepherd, Leo, began to lunge at the Gadsden so the officer pulled back on the dog’s leash and grabbed the shirt of Gadsden and pushed him away so that the dog wouldn’t bite the young man. Gadsden wasn’t there to protest. In fact quite the opposite. In interviews, Gadsden had opinions about the civil rights movement, its leaders, and the march that were rather unflattering. Even in 1996, Gadsden didn’t feel that there were many benefits gained by the movement. Gadsden still prefers to be called “colored.” He wasn’t a “Foot Soldier” as the statue and photograph seem to indicate. Gladwell ended the podcast with this phrase, “The most famous photograph of the civil rights movement is of a startled cop trying desperately to hold his dog back from biting a bystander who wasn’t that much of a fan of the civil rights movement.”

We can be thankful that God’s word isn’t up for interpretation according to the whim’s of man. Be thankful that God’s word is unchangeable. It is inspired and infallible. Our salvation is secure. To God be the glory.


Support for Our Schools

“Physical support for our schools requires more than money; it also demands personal involvement and a great deal of time. Men and women who have a love for their school will spend countless hours working on the school’s behalf. Much of this work is done quietly and often goes without notice. Rarely do the men who donate their time and materials towards the establishment and maintenance of the school buildings and grounds speak of their efforts. Nor do the women who volunteer in many capacities seek praise for their work. They give of themselves and their abilities out of a deep love and appreciation for the gift that they have been given.”


You’ll find a link here and below to the rest of this well-written Standard Bearer article by Mrs. Shari Bosveld from 2008 about the precious gift and weighty responsiblity we have in our schools. Her words are an encouragement and good reminder as we find ourselves a few weeks into the school year.  Students, teachers, parents are all getting back into the swing of things and hopefully are establishing good routines. School can also make our daily lives busy as students may need an hour or two for homework, parents will be running children to and from practices, and teachers will be putting in hours after school preparing lessons. Boards, committees, and mother’s circle work can become more involved with the school up and running. As we find our lives becoming busier with this work, may we remember these words from Proverbs 11:25 “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” May God continue to bless the work done on behalf of our schools and above all remember to pray; pray for our students, teachers, boards, schools, and all involved in covenant education.


Our Protestant Reformed Schools- Previous Gift and Weighty Responsibility


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