So says the founder, Mr. Michael, of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy (provider of authentic Catholic classical education, in an historically meaningful sense).
My first reaction was to reject his conclusion out of hand - He's Catholic, what else would he think? Certainly, Catholics and Lutherans disagree on several fundamental issues, and this naturally would be reflected in how we approach learning - a Lutheran education is an entirely different animal than a Catholic education. But the idea that Catholic beliefs are necessary to an historically meaningful classical education - that's crazy talk, right? Yet, as I considered his arguments, I got to wondering - does authentic classical education, in the historically meaningful sense (which is what I am striving for), incorporate principles and philosophies that are antithetical to Lutheran theology?
Michael, in describing the trouble non-Catholic students would have in his program, says that "it is a matter of fact that the principles of Protestantism and Evangelicalism are inconsistent with the principles of true classical learning. In other words, there can be no such thing as a 'Genuine Protestant Classical Education'."
However, many of Michael's points, while accurate with respect to generic American Protestantism, do not apply to Lutheranism. All of the cultural advantages he lists for Catholic families - the liturgical calender, the numerous saints to study and imitate, the Sacraments, the fellowship in two millennia's worth of Christian society, and the historical examples of other classically educated Christians - are all available to Lutherans as well (though there are differences - number of sacraments, how we consider the saints, etc. - which, while I consider them unimportant to his main point, I doubt he would agree with me).
Also, we do have vastly different definitions of vocation - which Michael sees as the most important difference between Catholics and Protestants with regard to the suitability of a classical liberal arts education. However, I just don't see the problem. Why does a lack of "religious vocations," in the Catholic sense, make a classical education less desirable? (I think I'm missing his point, here.)
As well, we do not hold to the "Protestant principles of knowledge" that he lists - Sola Scriptura, private interpretation, and disregard for tradition, all of which he claims will have to be abandoned to study philosophy properly - in the way that most American Protestants do. On the one hand, we don't place the Lutheran Confessions on the same level as Scripture. Scripture is infallible; the Confessions aren't. We believe them to be a correct explanation of the Scriptures, but if they were proven to be incompatible with Scripture, we would abandon the Confessions on that point and go with Scripture. However, we do believe them to be correct. And we reject the idea of the individual as the highest authority on interpretation - all Scripture interpretation should be in the context of the church (i.e. the Confessions). Teachings that violate the Lutheran Confessions are generally considered to be false, by virtue of having violated the Confessions. Yet we still explicitly deny that the Lutheran Confessions are infallible. It's a paradox - and in good Lutheran fashion we embrace it, upholding both poles, contradictory as they are, as equally true.
Yet for all our differences from American Protestantism, we still have fundamental issues with Catholic theology. Are these issues equally fundamental to classical education? (And how are these issues connected to classical education in the first place?) I'm not sure. But I'm intrigued. So I've been reading more on the CLAA site, as well as researching early Lutheran education (which was classical - and very similar to Jesuit education, in fact) and the philosophical underpinnings of traditional classical education. It's interesting. So far I'm still inclined to argue that genuine Lutheran classical education, at least, can exist, but we'll see.