Jan 29, 2009

Dr. Peck vs. Anti-Sunday Schoolers

"Sunday schools had made no great progress; and those who favored such schools were usually on the defensive. There was much opposition manifested from many sources. While they had not attained the efficiency and popularity of later times, they had begun to fill a large place in Christian instruction.

"There are many individuals of our denomination in the West," says J. M. Peck, "and sometimes whole churches, who are opposed to Sunday schools. The cause is from misunderstanding the design and plan of such institutions among Baptists. They imagine that Sunday-school teaching by others is to instill into the minds of children sentiments, and form habits, not in accordance with their views of divine truth; or else to teach children head religion merely, and leave the heart unaffected; and that their tendency will be eventually to exclude the Spirit of God in conversion. If these brethren could be convinced that this is not the design, nor the tendency of these institutions, they would not only approve, but cordially cooperate in sustaining them. We pretend not but some unwise persons may have spoken of Sunday-school instruction in an unguarded manner, and produced the impression of this tendency. But let our brethren look at this subject without prejudice, make themselves acquainted with the facts pertaining to it, distinguish properly between the good, the imperfect, and the wrong modes of instruction, and they will perceive that their fears, distrust and jealousies are without foundation.

"The committee pretend not to advocate, or even approve all schools taught on the Lord’s day, and which may be denominated Sunday schools, or of all things that may be taught in such institutions. They wish their brethren, as they do themselves, to make due discrimination. They advocate Sunday schools and Bible class instruction on the same broad principles as they do public preaching, and instruction from house to house. No one approves all kinds of preaching, nor all that is preached even by good men; no one approves all kinds of Sunday schools, nor of all that may be taught therein. And it would be just as unwise and unfair to oppose all preaching, as to oppose all kinds of Sunday-school instruction" (Report on Sunday Schools and Bible Classes, November 7, 1834. Proceedings of the First Anniversary of the General Convention of Western Baptists, 19. Cincinnati, 1835). Such was the spirit and temper of the times in regard to Sunday schools, and these opinions prevailed not only in the West but in many other sections of the country."

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