Monday, February 6, 2012

Did Charlotte Mason believe in Original Sin?

Frescoe of Santa Maria Novella

Grab a cup of tea and make sure you have some time carved out before you dig into this one - there's a lot of reading!

Starting with an article by Aimee Natal titled "Charlotte Mason: For Whose Sake?" in which she wrote:
After studying Charlotte Mason's six volumes, a Christian should conclude that her educational philosophy is not for the children's sake.
Art Middlekauff responded to Ms. Natal with an article titled "For Whose Sake?" in which he states:
Evangelism is a discipline and a life. And I know of no better method to evangelize your children than a Charlotte Mason education.
Elaine Cooper, author of When Children Love to Learn, also responded to Ms. Natal's article in her own article titled "Charlotte Mason: A Different Perspective" wherein she explains the historical context of CM's writings and points out that:
Some have incorrectly concluded that Miss Mason had an incorrect understanding of the doctrine of salvation because of her emphasis on the outworking of education in the life of the child, especially regarding the place and role of habit. Miss Mason did enjoy an enthusiastic study of brain research by the physiologists of her day. However, to quote her out of context in this regard is to misunderstand her and to misquote her.
Anne White, a member of the Ambleside Advisory also posted on the topic of CM's theology here stating:
Chapter 25 of Charlotte Mason's book Parents and Children should be required reading for homeschoolers...especially for anyone who thinks that Christian belief is not integral to Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education. Apologies to atheists, agnostics and CM users of any other faith, but this chapter lays it out straight: Charlotte Mason puts everything in charge of the Holy Spirit, including both the moral aspects of child training (with which Christian parents would quickly agree) and the intellectual.
And lastly, I wrote a post here on Charlotte Mason's Great Recognition after having attended Deani Van Pelt's class on the topic at Childlight in 2010. In CM's own words, the great recognition in which:
...we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may, at the same time, be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection.
And one very last thing: there is a continuing discussion on this topic on the Charlotte Mason Education site here that you are welcome to join in on.

And if you get through all of that, please do leave me a comment so I can be amazed at how much you read! I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Thanks for putting these links all in one place!

  2. Over time, more and more of Charlotte Mason's devotional writings are becoming available to today's community and this helps us to better understand her theology. These writings provide strong evidence of Mason's theological orthodoxy. For example, we now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Charlotte Mason believed in original sin. In The Saviour of the World, volume 2, she writes:

    "But who can judge that leprosy of heart,
    Sin, name we it, wherein we all have part
    If any way be open save His way
    Wilful, we make our choice to disobey.
    In ‘man’s first disobedience,’ share we all;
    That little thing we're bidden works our fall!"

    She goes on to say,

    "The Saviour of the World, in casual way,
    Drops words of our Salvation, links of chain
    Let down to draw us from that nether hell
    Which is but our own self to itself left"

    This helps us to see clearly that when Mason said that children "are not born either good or bad,but with possibilities for good and for evil," she was affirming the truth that must be affirmed in order to reconcile the doctrine of original sin with passages such as John 1:9 and Matthew 19:14.

    All children born into this world share in "man’s first disobedience," but all children also share in the prevenient grace of the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ.