Sunday, December 23, 2012
Robert Thoburn was born of Scottish ancestry in Cadiz, Ohio on the New Deal Dairy Farm. He was not born into an easy life economically or otherwise. His father having left home and his older brothers away at war, before he was even in high school he ran the farm which supported his mother and family.
But he never complained about his situation. He learned the value of hard work. His mother at Christmas promised him the "wide world to make a living in."
Robert Thoburn applied himself in school. He scored 10th in all of Ohio on an eighth grade test. He attended Muskingum College where he met my mother, Rosemary Sweet Thoburn. Later studying theology at Pittsburgh-Xenia he found he had one professor who towered above all of his other teachers. He decided that he should go to school where that instructor had studied. That is how he ended up at Westminster Theological Seminary near Philadelphia. At Westminster he studied under greats such as John Murray and the presuppositional apologist Cornelius Van Til, men who permanently influenced his understanding.
Robert Thoburn embarked on many undertakings in the wide world in which to make a living. And, he considered all manner of work to be Christian service. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church he came to Virginia to start a new congregation. He later pastored an independent church. Many times I heard him say that the fact that Christ's resurrection was a physical event proved that God's kingdom would not merely be victorious in some spiritual sense but that it would actually triumph in this physical world. He did much to help spread the ideas of Van Til and the theologian Rousas John Rushdoony.
Even before the modern Christian school movement, he became convicted that God had appointed to parents, not to the state, the responsibility for instructing children. He founded the first privately owned Christian school in America and together with Mrs. Thoburn spoke and wrote freely to help hundreds of others start new schools. He helped found Oak Hill in 1997.
Running for political office many times, he articulated truth and not necessarily what he thought people wanted to hear. In public he did not advocate government handouts and in private he avoided taking them so much that he even declined to use local government owned parks and libraries. He served on the board of the Institute for Christian Economics. In 1977 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where he distinguished himself as a legislator who was not afraid to vote no. Even when his colleagues supported taxes and spending, he stood firmly against those things. One year the budget vote was 98-1, with him alone opposing.
Working long hours and being thrifty, Robert Thoburn was at one time one of the wealthiest men in Fairfax County. He was father to 6 sons and 2 daughters and enjoyed a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He had a number of brothers and sisters, including a younger brother Carl who years ago worked with him on the farm and today teaches math at Oak Hill.
No one is just like my father. And, my dad never faced the kind of threats that Polycarp saw. But like that great bishop of the past, my father seemed to know that there was something greater than this short life. I think he too would have been quite unafraid of wild beasts and threats from the proconsul. He knew that Christ is strong to save both body and soul. In the 1990's we all learned that he was terminally ill. While the news should have been hard to hear, his reaction was no reaction. It was as if no one had ever promised him another day in the first place. He never fretted, never worried. He carried on with no medical treatment for many years and until not too long ago always seemed to be in great shape. He feared God and certainly did not fear man nor illness.
May we all ask for grace to love God, enjoy life, and anticipate the resurrection as Robert Thoburn did.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ... and this mortal shall have put on immortality...Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ...Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Robert Loren Thoburn II
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Handel's Messiah is a favorite at Christmastime. In fact a number of Oak Hill students are going to hear a Christmas season performance of this work at National Cathedral. But I am glad we are going to hear the entire 2 1/2 hours and not just a piece of it, because Messiah is much more than the Christmas story. In fact Messiah presents the story of our savior who brings about victory in this world. He overcomes and saves us from sin and death not just in some hereafter place, but right here on earth.
Handel's oratorio uses King James scripture and Psalms from the Book of Common Prayer to tell the whole story of the Gospel. The prophecies are a big part as are the birth of Christ, his passion and death and resurrection. But, the story does not stop there! It continues with a dramatic picture of the resurrection of our bodies and the triumph of the gospel in this world.
Part II dramatizes the death of Christ and reaction of the princes of this world. In Scene I we learn that "He was despised (Isaiah 53:3). All they that see him laugh him to scorn (Psalm 22:7). In Scene II "He was cut off out of the land of the living." (Isaiah 53:8). Scene III predicts his kingdom with "Lift up your heads, O ye gates...The King of Glory shall come in." (Psalm 24). In Scene VI the kings of earth think they have defeated Christ. (After all, he's been killed!) The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed. (Psalm 2 and Acts 4). Psalm 2 tells us that the kings are wrong. "He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh." Revelation says ". . . the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ: and He shall reign for ever."
Part III brings us to a victory which while it surely comes from heaven is a very earthly and physical victory! I know that my redeemer liveth...and He shall stand...upon the earth...though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. (Job 19). What a strong promise! Job says not that he will see Christ merely in some "spiritual" sense. He does not say he will see God in some mere "after life." No, "He shall stand upon the earth" and "in my flesh shall I see God."
Christ's resurrection is not just a spiritual victory. It was a physical resurrection of his earthly body. Not only that, it was just the beginning! I Corinthians tells us that his resurrection was the first and gives us reason to believe that our bodies too will be brought back from the grave! "For now is Christ risen from the dead...the firstfruits of them that sleep." Christians who have died are said in scripture to "sleep" because someday their souls will be reunited with their bodies and their bodies will come back from the grave. Christ's resurrection isn't the end. It's just the "firstfruits" of a glorious resurrection to come. "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead...in Christ shall all be made alive."
Eusebius tells us of martyrs of the past who decided not to renounce their faith. How easily they could bow to Caesar and sprinkle some incense on a candle and thus save themselves from wild beasts and all manner of persecution. Yet, one after another, they calmly and confidently declare "Ego Christianus sum!" I am a Christian. How confident they must have been that even this death in the amphitheatre was something that their savior would enable them to come back from.
Scene II of Part III begins to describe this reality. We shall not all sleep...the dead shall be raised incorruptible...this mortal must put on immortality." ...Death is swallowed up in victory...O grave where is thy victory? (I Cor. 15)
The Messiah presents the Gospel. The Gospel presents to us a promise of victory in this world. Victory over death, victory over sin. What an amazing reality! I am so happy to know that Christ will stand upon the earth and that I will be raised from the dead to see him here.
Robert Thoburn, December 8, 2012
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Mrs. Eagy has been capturing students' attention with a variety of demonstrations in
chemistry this year. Her latest demonstration involved a colorful, foaming compound formed by a chemical reaction often called 'Elephant's Toothpaste'. Similar to a well known reaction between vinegar and baking soda, this demonstration is a bit more reactive and impressive.
1 16 oz. plastic soda bottle
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide liquid, either 6% or 9%
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water
liquid dish washing soap
1. Carefully pour the hydrogen peroxide into the plastic soda bottle.
2. Add 8 drops or so of food coloring to the bottle.
3. Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the bottle and swish
the bottle around a bit to mix it.
4. In the small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast and mix for about 30 seconds.
5. Pour the yeast/water mixture into the bottle.
The foam from the experiment is created from an exothermic reaction (a reaction which releases energy in the process). The yeast acts as a catalyst to remove the oxygen from the compound H2O2, also known as hydrogen peroxide. The reaction happens quickly, which creates lots of bubbles as the oxygen mixes with the new compound H2O (water), soap, and food coloring. While the hydrogen peroxide was a strongly concentrated, dangerous to touch compound, the products of the reaction are not. The container is left warm to the touch due to the release of energy in the form of heat—an exothermic reaction!
This experiment is sometimes called "Elephant's Toothpaste" because it looks like toothpaste coming out of a tube, but you had better not brush with it!
Friday, October 7, 2011
Oak Hill Senior Andrew St.Jean has been named a commended student in the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program. He has been presented with a Letter of Commendation from Oak Hill and from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2012 competition by taking the 2010 PSAT (PSAT/NMSQT).
"The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success," commented a spokesperson for NMSC. "These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success."
We thank the Lord for Andrew's talents and pray that he would continue to use them in God's service.
Monday, August 22, 2011
*Pack breakfast~ a boiled egg, berries, and french toast cut into strips. Add some syrup in a small plastic storage cup.
*Saute chicken with soy sauce and shredded cabbage and carrots, pack with lettuce leaf cups and crunchy rice noodles, finish with an orange.
We will try to add some lunch ideas during the school year to help you keep taste buds happy and tummies filled!