The issues associated with the place of religion in public education, prayer in the schools, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible have been debated for years. The article available for download at the end of this introduction was originally published in 1887 and it shows the concerns that Dr. Archibald Alexander Hodge, 1823-1886, of Princeton Seminary had concerning public education in his day. According to the editor of the New Princeton Review, the article was the last work to come from Hodge’s pen. In order to make his case, Dr. Hodge, as others have before him and since, looked to the history of the nation, its founding upon Christian principles, the concern for religious liberty, the views of the founding fathers, the rule of natural and divine law, and constitutional documents associated with the individual states. With regard to prayer in the schools, he questioned whether wise Christians would really want prayer in the schools because
those prayers would be uttered according to the religious or irreligious view of the teacher—a point which J. Gresham Machen brings out in his writings. On the one hand, Hodge is overtly and clearly Christian, but on the other hand he has an encompassing idea of the definition of “Christian” in particular and “religion” in general. Some of his thoughts and analysis could be pulled out of their late nineteenth-century context and inserted into an article on Christianity and education today. His concluding thoughts are prescient. Readers may have to remind themselves that Hodge’s article was written almost one-hundred-thirty years ago.
It is suggested that the biography of Dr. Hodge available on Presbyterians of the Past be read before reading his article. The biography can be accessed by clicking HERE. Dr. Hodge’s little pamphlet previously posted on this site, Presbyterian Doctrine Briefly Stated, 1869, may be downloaded in PDF by going to its page by clicking HERE. Please read the site “Copyright and Use” page.
BY BARRY WAUGH
The article that is available below was originally published in The New Princeton Review, vol. 3, no. 1, on pages 28-47. To download a newly transcribed PDF copy of the article by A. A. Hodge titled, “Religion in the Public Schools,” click Download Now!