AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE (5)

By Rodney N. Kirby, #10 “Genesis and Ancient History, Part 2”
Text — Genesis 5, 11

Last month, we began showing the necessity for Christian history teachers to reconstruct their subject matter on the foundation of Scripture. We saw how Genesis 4 teaches many things about ancient history which go contrary to the generally accepted (evolutionary) view of history.

This month, we turn to Genesis 5 and 11 to see another aspect of ancient history. Having dismissed evolution as being unbiblical, the Christian teacher will also dismiss the dating scheme of the evolutionists. There will simply be no need for the billions of years required by evolution. So that brings up the question, “How old is the world?”

The Institute for Creation Research and other creationist organizations have done much helpful work in this area. They have shown how the dating methods used by evolutionists are based on faulty assumptions. They have also shown that other dating methods point to a young earth. The Christian teacher, particularly teachers of history, geology, and archaeology, must not ignore the work of these scholars.

While this work is invaluable, it must nevertheless be kept in its place. Creationist scientific findings are based on untested, non-scientific assumptions the same as are evolutionary dating methods. In a sense, the evidence for a young earth is no more “scientific” than that for an old earth. The validity of evidence is dependent upon one’s religious presuppositions. Neither position is neutral. As Christians, our presupposition is the truthfulness of God’s Word. We do not use science to show the truth of Scripture; rather, we use Scripture to show the truth of any particular scientific finding. Thus, to know which of the many dating methods are most accurate, we must know what Scripture teaches about the ages of the earth.

Genesis 5 and 11 would seem to furnish us with the data needed to calculate the age of the earth. We are given the number of years from one generation to the next, from Adam to Abraham. Other Biblical data help us to locate Abraham chronologically, and so it is a simple matter of counting backwards from Abraham to find the age of the earth. For further reference, see Martin Anstey, Chronology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1973).

However, many Christians object to such a procedure. They say that it is illegitimate to use Genesis 5 and 11 to construct a chronology, for that is not the purpose of these chapters. The purpose is, rather, to show God’s faithfulness in guarding the Messianic line; to show the fulfilment of Gen. 2:17 by repeating “and he died;” and to show by the shorter lifespans after the flood “the tightening grip of the Edenic curse upon the human body” (John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961; p. 477). Whitcomb and Morris devote an appendix in this book to this very question, and list eight objections to the position we are presenting. We will deal with a few of these.

First, the idea that chronology is not “the purpose” of these chapters has no weight. Whitcomb and Morris give five purposes; this does not, however, eliminate the possibility of a sixth—the construction of a chronology. In one sense, Scripture does have only one purpose—to make the man of God “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II rim. 3:17). However, the preceding verse lists four “sub-purposes” of Scripture—doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Scripture is like a many-faceted jewel—we may look at it in many different lights to gain different insights, to equip us for every good work. Thus, although the overall purpose of Moses in including chapters 1 and 11 in Genesis may not have been to present a chronology, we are not hindered thereby from making such an application. The presence of “irrelevant information” (Whitcomb and Morris, p. 476f.), the fact that chapters 5 and 11 are symmetrical (p. 475f.), and the fact that the number of years are not totalled by Moses (p. 474f.) are thus irrelevant objections.

The objection that “the postdiluvian patriarchs could not have been contemporaries of Abram” (p. 477f.) is merely an unfounded assumption, as is the notion that there must have been many centuries between the tower of Babel and Abram (p. 478f.). It is also mentioned that the term “begat” sometimes refers to ancestral relationships (p. 481-483). Whitcomb does give examples of such usage elsewhere; we do not question this. But this does not mean we are warranted in reading Gen. 5 and 11 this way, without other evidence (Biblical evidence, that is).

Besides, even if the relationship between say, Seth and Enosh (Gen. 5:6) spans a missing generation or two, it still is the case that Seth was 105 years old at the birth of Enosh, whether he was his son, grandson, or great-grandson. If not, the Biblical record is false here. Also, the parallel with other Biblical genealogies breaks down. Other genealogies do not have the age at the birth of the next generation given, as we have here (X lived Y years, and begat). Contrast chapters 5 and 11 with, say, Gen. 10. The fact that the ages are given makes this record distinct from the others, and we must take care when we draw parallels with other accounts.

The only truly substantive objection comes by way of Luke 3:36, where “Cainan” appears after Arphaxad and before Salah (cf. Gen. 11:12). This could indicate a missing generation, thus implying other missing generations elsewhere. Also, there is hardly time to insert Cainan into Gen. 11:12 without stretching the time, for Arphaxad would then be 35 at the birth of his grandson Salah—a fact which, while conceivable, is not likely.

There are two possible ways to look at this. First, perhaps there should be an additional generation inserted here, based on Luke 3:36. This, however, does not necessitate discarding the whole chronological scheme of Gen. 5 and 11. We are only warranted in inserting a “missing link” where we have other Biblical evidence. This is what is done with regard to the other genealogies; we do not go around finding gaps everywhere we would like one, but note gaps only on the basis of other Biblical evidence. This is the only place in Gen. 5 and 11 where such a “missing link” might be indicated. This would add only about 30-35 years to the total (based on the average age of childbearing in the context).

Second, Luke, writing in a Greek context, would most likely have used the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, as his source. The Septuagint does have the name of Cainan in Gen. 11:12. Thus, Luke was merely reflecting the Septuagint of his day, not the Hebrew text (no reliable Hebrew texts include Cainan).

Whatever the answer to this question may be, as said above; it does not allow the addition of a significant amount of time to the chronology. It is possible for the Christian teacher to contract an ancient chronology with a high degree of accuracy, whether he places the Creation at 4004 B.C. (with Ussher), or, as others have calculated it, at 4042 B.C. or 3960 B.C., or somewhere in that vicinity. This places a backward time limit on all other historical investigation. This also will locate the Flood (with its resultant geological activity) in time. The teacher must thus reconstruct ancient history within these parameters (following the example of Donovan Courville’s The Exodus Problem, mentioned last month).


AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE (4)

By Rodney N. Kirby

#11 “Punishment and Evangelism” (Genesis 4:1-15)

We have mentioned in a previous article the fact that Scripture draws a parallel between God’s disciplining of us, and our disciplining of our children. If we are to be Godly in our dealings with our children, we must see how God deals with us. Our text this month records another instance of God’s method of punishment. We will note several points, and seek to apply them to discipline in the school.

First, we may notice in vs. 6-7, that God detects Cain’s attitude of rebellion, before it breaks out in an outward act. Speaking anthropomorphically, we may say that God could tell that Cain was up to no good. He could tell that Cain was upset about the non-acceptance of his offering, and that wicked plans were running through his mind. And so God warned Cain, before he committed the outward transgression. “If you obey, and come to Me on My terms, I will accept your offering. But sin is lying in wait for you; watch out? You must conquer your sin.”

God, of course, being omniscient, could look into Cain’s heart and see where he was heading. Even though man is not so omniscient, he nevertheless can generally tell what a person who is being tempted to sin has on his mind. This is especially true in regard to children. Every parent and teacher of young children knows how to “read” their children; you can see what their scheming little mind is up to. “Johnny, don’t you dare even think about doing that.”

We must warn our children before they do wrong. It is all too easy to sit back and watch them do wrong, and then pounce on them. We must make the rules clear ahead of time (no “post facto” laws), and must warn of what will happen for disobedience. Our goal is not to punish our children, but to teach them in the right paths. If a warning will prevent disobedience, the punishment will not be necessary; the child still will learn obedience. Of course, we are not condoning the all-too-common “warning,” “If you do that one more time, so help me, I’ll…. ” ‘What we mean is warnings that come before any actual disobedience has taken Place.

In vs. 12, God tells Cain that the ground will no longer respond to him, as it had before (cf. vs. 2), and that he will be forced to wander. In essence, God removes Cain’s dominion from him. Cain will no longer be able (successfully) to exercise dominion over the earth. Cain had shown himself to be irresponsible as a viceregent of God, and so he is removed from a position of authority.

Even so, we may punish disobedience in our children by taking away responsibilities from them. If a student is given the responsibility of taking a note to the office, for example, and he abuses that responsibility (by stopping in the restroom for a smoke), then (along with other punishments) he should not be given that responsibility again. If your son is caught drag racing down Main Street, his car keys should be taken away until he gives evidence of having learned godly responsibility. Students who demonstrate irresponsibility thereby demonstrate their inability to exercise dominion properly, and that dominion is removed from them.

Verse 11 brings up an important point. Cain was “cursed,” in contrast to Adam and Eve (see Gen. 3:16-19), who were not directly cursed. The difference is to be seen as rooted in the different states of the souls of Adam and Cain. Adam confessed his sin to the Lord (3:12—”and I did eat”). Adam responded to God’s chastisement with a recognition of the grace of God. In 3:20, Adam sees that through his wife, God will sustain life, ultimately through the promised seed (cf. 3:15). God symbolically washed Adam and Eve from their sins by the death of a substitute, and by clothing them with the skin of that substitute (3:21).

In contrast, Cain never confessed his sin. In fact, the only response he made to God was a complaint. He complained that his punishment was too severe, that he would not be able to stand it (4:13-14). Cain maintained this, even though he knew God’s punishment was what he deserved, or rather that God was not even punishing him as severely as he deserved (Rom. 1:32). Cain deserved to die (Ezek. 18:4), and God was showing mercy to him in not destroying him at that moment.

One man was regenerate, one of the elect of God; the other was an unrepentant reprobate. Thus, God did not “curse” Adam, while He did “curse” Cain. The differing states of the respective souls was reflected in differing punishments.

In applying this to our work as Christian teachers, we must immediately make a distinction between our discipline and God’s. God can see the heart of man; God knows who the elect and who the reprobate are. Men (not even teachers!) do not have this ability. However, we can detect the difference between a repentant student and a hardened, unrepentant student. The godly student will manifest his regenerate nature in outward acts; the unrepentant student will likewise manifest his true nature (Matt. 7:17-18).

And so we should make a distinction in our punishment between the repentant and the unrepentant students. God surely punished the repentant Adam, but He punished more severely the unrepentant Cain. So we may punish an unrepentant student more severely than we do the repentant student. Two students may throw rocks through school windows. One, who evidences genuine repentance over his sin, may be required to work to make restitution for the damage. The other, who shows no signs of sorrowful repentance, may be expelled from school. The unrepentant student (or his parents) will often complain (as did Cain) about “unfair” punishment; the godly student generally will submit to punishment.

Such unrepentance in a student points to a need for evangelism. This student must be shown that his lack of sorrow over sin shows his sinful heart. The teacher will point out to the student that, when he complains about the severity of his punishment, he is acting just like the reprobate Cain. He should be told that he deserves much more severe punishment than what we administer—that his sin deserves death, and places him under the wrath of God. He should be implored and commanded to repent, forsake his sins, flee to Christ, and seek forgiveness from God. Remember, the goal of punishment by men is the restoration of the offender. We do not desire to expel the offending student, but desire his reconciliation to God, and resulting godly obedience. Let us not forsake this opportunity to evangelize the children God has entrusted to us.

How Evil are the Public Schools

By Southern Catholic Mum (www.lewrockwell.com), 5/5/2022

I have an urgent message to all parents:

GROW UP! WAKE UP! GET UP AND TAKE ACTION!

ASSUME ALL RESPONSIBILITY for your child!

YOU CAN NOT PROXY OUT YOUR PARENTING!

Wake up, parents! YOU are 100% responsible 24/7 for the human you brought into the world, until he is at least 21, in my experience!

Consider these issue:

1) FEDERAL ZONES: places you the parent have no rights and no right to enter, including government school buildings, grounds, and offices. [1]

Your child, once placed into the care of the state and its agents, can act and be acted upon without any notification to you … including, but not limited to:

– ABUSE (Government schools in the US are the number one source for abuse of all kinds),

– SEXUAL GROOMING and instruction (What else should we call is “Sexual Education” in government schools?),

– MEDICAL GROOMING including, but not limited to injections and vaccinations, invasive medical exams, procedures of all types, etc.

– PSYCHOLOGICAL GROOMING and evaluations (yes, they do! See “Dossier” below),

– IDEALOGICAL GROOMING: transgendering, “Trans Closets”, homosexual teachers, activism in the classroom, political correctness, “history” classes, shaming of whites etc.

– ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTIVES (yes, most schools will get your child free birth control pills and more),

– and thousands of other actions against your child, done without your knowledge or consent.

2) MEDICAL AGE OF MAJORITY: In the US, the age at which your child can direct and control his medical care is thirteen (13). Hard to believe, but you the parent can be commanded to wait outside the examination room at the Minute Clinic as your child (unless he “dissents” and requests his parent to accompany him) goes for a routine sports physical. At age thirteen (13), your child is “adult” in his medical choices and can direct his own medical care, because the state and its agents (teachers, nurses, court clerks [aka judges], politicians, etc.) seek to separate the child and the family, to grow the state’s powers and destroy any competition or opposition to it. Unless you properly instruct your child by letting him know he can say “No” to a non-parental authority figure at anytime, that he can DEMAND to have his parent present at anytime, anywhere, then you are not parenting and protecting your child.

Above all, your child should know that HIS BODY BELONGS TO HIM, that NO ONE, ANYWHERE, can touch his person.

Also, no one should make him uncomfortable or force a choice under duress. Your child should be armed, when he is not with you, with responses like, “No.” and “Call my parent now,” “Do not touch me,” or “You make me uncomfortable”, and “I want to go home now.”

Now more than ever, your child must learn not to obey “authority” figures who try to stand in for his parents, an illegitimate stance, after all. A good person will always understand when a child wants his parent to be involved. Empower your child, if you send him out alone into the government federal zones!

3) ABORTION: Any girl can elect at age 13 (see MEDICAL AGE OF MAJORITY above) to receive an abortion WITHOUT her parent’s knowledge or consent, WITHOUT knowledge or consent of the baby’s father. Some states may vary in this framework, but the federal level is clearly pushing for the hard core abortion “rights” of children.

4) DOSSIER: Ask for the complete school record kept on your child. Transcripts of classes and grades are just a part of it.

But your child also has a DOSSIER, usually with years of teachers’ “observations” on your child’s “psychological” being and “behavior”, wherein any dolt of a teacher can post any comment she wishes, such as, “Conner talks too much and often interrupts our Kindergarten class. He might have [attention deficit disorder]. Perhaps he could be evaluated by the school psychologist [here comes the recommendation for prescription use] and be able to join my classroom in a calmer manner.” The teacher has good reason to expect no parent will ever see her comments, because all government school employees protect one another and now famously despise parents and do not tell parents what really is going on. There are cameras on is wherever we go, but no cameras are in the classrooms full of children. Who is watching the watchers?!

Chances are you didn’t even know such dossiers existed. Now you know. Go get it. Go to your government school district head office (superintendent or director office) and ask them to bring out the complete file on your child (or yourself, from your school days!). Then, ask them for a complete copy of all records. You can also demand records be corrected or have them removed from the child’s records altogether.

If you have any resistance or believe the schools have given you scant report, if you believe they have mischaracterized your child in the dossier, go to a lawyer and get him to draft a letter for you, requesting all information be transparently and immediately divulged, corrected, or removed. If that lawyer does poor work, he may have ties (does his wife work for the school system?), so know your lawyer, too.

FINAL COMMENTS:

1) Withdraw your children from government schools already.

2) Again, I repeat, YOU CAN NOT PROXY OUT YOUR PARENTING!

Stay Vigilant!

AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE (3)

By Rodney N. Kirby

#17 “Concrete Methods”

And He (God) brought him (Abram) forth abroad and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be (Gen. 15:5).

Before we look at our text for this month, let’s look briefly at Gen. 14:22ff. Here, Abram refuses gifts from the wicked king of Sodom, saying that he will take nothing, lest the king should say, “I have made Abram rich.” Abram recognized that the king could later make ungodly demands on Abram, saying, “I scratched your back, you scratch mine.”

In verse 22, Abram swears to Jehovah, El Elyon, possessor of heaven and earth. Abram recognized that God alone was Lord, and that his allegiance was to be totally to God. Abram did not want to be in a position in which this allegiance would be compromised.

We have the same situation today. Many otherwise fine Christian schools are accepting gifts of one sort or another which place them in a compromising position. Most often, these gifts are from the state—in the form of loans, grants, free lunch money, textbooks, or accreditation. The state thus claims, “I have made these Christian schools wealthy,” and makes ungodly demands on the schools. Christian schools must avoid entangling alliances, even as did Abram.

We might also include the matter of tax exemption. While, Biblically speaking, Christian schools should be tax exempt, yet the state is increasingly looking on tax exempt status as a gift to the school—a subsidy. As a result, the state is making demands on tax-exempt schools. Perhaps it would be wisest, at this time, for schools to avoid tax exempt status, in order to give the state less excuse to intervene.

Now, let’s look at our text. Here, as well as in Gen. 13:16, God is teaching Abram an abstract, non-concrete truth—that he would have an innumerable number of descendants. In order to teach this abstract idea, God used concrete objects—the dust of the earth and the stars in the sky. God thus endorses, by His own use of it, the teaching method of using concrete objects to teach abstract truths. Let’s look at this in more detail.

One of the key questions in philosophy is the relation between the one and the many. Which one is ultimate? Is it the one—universals, general laws, abstractions (as in Plato)—or is it the many—particulars, individual items, concrete objects (as in Aristotle)? Historically, philosophers have alternated between these two. One may assume that universal truths are ultimate, and that individual items are derived from these. On the other hand, one may take the individual items to be primary, with universal laws and properties being derived from these.

Take a common example. We see many different, individual, concrete items called “chairs.” Philosophically, we may say that all these items partake of qualities they derive from some universal “chairness.” Or, on the other hand, we may say that we observe many different chairs, and thus derive the quality of “chairness” from our observations of these individuals. We either move from the universal, the “one,” to the particular, the “many,” or vice-versa.

What is a Christian understanding of this problem? A proper understanding of the Trinity shows the answer. God is both one and many at the same time. The Bible clearly teaches that God is one—there are not many gods. Also, the Bible clearly teaches a plurality (three) of persons in the Godhead. Neither God’s unity nor His plurality is more ultimate—more basic—than the other. We do not say that God is really just one, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are just manifestations of the one God (modalism). Neither would we say that there are really three Gods. No, unity and plurality are equally ultimate in God.

Now, since the creation reflects the nature of God, we may say that unity and plurality are equally ultimate in creation as well. What this means for our present topic is that neither abstract thought nor concrete objects are more basic than the other. Both are important in education. And neither must necessarily come before the other temporally. We may present an abstract concept, and then illustrate it with concrete examples. Or we may present many concrete facts, and then derive an abstract principle from them. Both methods are legitimate.

Here, in our text, God presents a concrete object—the dust of the earth, the stars of the sky—and teaches an abstract concept—the innumerability of the sons of Abraham.

Some Christians, however, have objected to such a teaching (at least, they have to me personally). They say that we do not base our learning on experience (on the particulars, the “many”). They say that God is not learned about through the items of experience. We do not work our way up from our experience to a concept of God. And so our teaching must not be from concrete to universal, but the other way around.

While it is true that we do not formulate our concept of God entirely from experience, yet our experience does give us insight into the nature of God. God is not merely an abstract ideal somewhere “out there,” but he is the Lord and governor of all the concrete items in our experience. Thus, our experience does reveal truths about God—His provisions for our every need, His chastisement, etc. And, in a more general sense, we may progress in our learning about any subject from the concrete to the abstract.

Lee J. Cronbach’s Educational Psychology (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963) has some useful material:

The teacher cannot expect to communicate if he talks about things that have no connection with the pupil’s experience. A sea chantey is “a rhythmic song, sung in chorus by a ship’s crew”—but this is a pallid image to the pupil who has never heard one. He still wouldn’t recognize a chantey. A rainbow, a banana, or a baby defies description; only experience with the real thing acquaints a person with its characteristics. Many concepts deal with relations or abstractions (heredity, kilowatt, a billion dollars) and the teacher cannot point directly to an example. Even these, however, can be connected to familiar experience (“a kilowatt would run ten light bulbs like this”).

Images of concrete objects and events are a necessary background for comprehending an abstract relation. Whenever an activity puts the pupil into intimate contact with real objects, he amasses experiences that can clarify theoretical concepts and principles. The boys who make radios acquire images of objects and operations associated with electricity. They know what an added resistor does; they have seen lights dim and have felt wires grow warm. Consequently, they find physics easier to grasp. The class that sets out to persuade the city council to change its bicycle ordinance gains a picture of realities of which the formal chart of government structure is only a reminder . . .

We have said that experience with the concrete situation is the base for understanding. This should not be misunderstood to imply that concrete instruction is invariably better than abstract verbal instruction. The advantages of abstract instruction are probably best illustrated in a series of studies…. In these studies, some subjects were trained in a situation where they could use concrete cues, while others were required to learn and apply an abstract pattern. So long as the subjects had enough familiarity with the real situation to understand the abstract scheme, the abstract instruction led to more transfer. (pp. 368-369).

The point here is that concrete instruction and abstract instruction must go hand-in-hand. Neither is more important than the other, and neither can be omitted. Abstract instruction alone is often contentless. Concrete instruction alone does not lend itself to transfer. We must teach students concrete facts, as well as the principles governing those facts. The so-called “new math” has as its emphasis an understanding of how mathematics works (abstract). However, it has often been a failure, due to a lack of drill in the basic facts of arithmetic (concrete). This is just one example of how concrete and abstract learning must go together.

An Educational Commentary on the Bible (2)

By Rodney N. Kirby (1980)

Biblical Educator, Volume 2, no. 9 — “Genesis and Ancient History,” (Genesis 4)

As Christians, we presuppose the complete truthfulness of scripture as God’s Word. We know that the Bible, because it is the Word of God, Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18), cannot be false at any point. Therefore, when we find a conflict between a particular Scripture and the opinions of men, we must hold to the truth of Scripture. “Let God be true, though every man be false” (Rom. 3:4). This does not only have reference to “religious” matters; the Psalmist said, “I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right” (Ps. 119:128).

In the Christian school, therefore, teachers must take as the starting point of their instruction the revealed truth of Scripture. Whatever is written in the Bible must be taken as true; whatever is learned from other sources must be fit into the framework provided by Scripture. We do not accommodate scripture to “science” but rather accommodate science (or history, geology, economics, etc.) to the Bible. An excellent example of this kind of reconstruction is Donovan Courville’s The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications (Loma Linda, CA; Challenge Books, 1971). These two volumes are a reconstruction of ancient history, particularly Egyptian history, on the basis of the accuracy of Scripture.

Our text for this month has application to the subject of ancient history. There are very few extra-Biblical sources for this period of history. (This is not difficult to understand, on Biblical assumptions. Given the kind of flood described in Gen. 7-8, we would expect virtually all records of pre-flood civilization, except those, carried through Noah, to have been destroyed.) This forces us to rely almost exclusively on Scripture as our primary source. What few other sources there are (ancient legends, etc.) must he used purely as supplements to the Biblical record.

In chapter 4, we gain some insights which go contrary to an evolutionary concept of ancient history. We are often told that primitive man originally was a forager and a hunter. Only much later did he learn to domesticate animals and cultivate crops. In vs. 2, however, we see that these abilities were present in man almost immediately after the fall. Early man was no dunce; he soon developed the art of music (vs. 21), and of metallurgy (vs. 22).

Economically and sociologically speaking, early man was not a loner, who tried to be self-sufficient, and who much later learned to live in communities. Verse 2 shows us that Cain and Abel understood the concept of the division of labor, each man developing his own particular talents to the fullest and concentrating his efforts, resulting in greater overall productivity. This division of labor is also evidenced in verses 20-22.

Also man was not a nomad, as we are often led to believe; Cain built a city soon after his murder of Abel (vs. 17). Earlier than this, the existence of agriculture (vs. 2) pretty much excludes nomadism, as does the division of labor concept. They would have to live near each other in order to utilize each other’s products. Apparently, Adam and Eve settled with their children very near the garden of Eden (cf vs. 16).

This matter of nomadism brings up an interesting point in regard to our present society. We live in a basically nomadic society; people are constantly “on the move”—from one job to another, from one town to another, etc. It is becoming more and more rare for a person to live in the same city where his parents and grandparents grew up. Children frequently go to college far away from home. Pastors take a position in a small church merely as a “steppingstone” to bigger and better things (a First church in a large city). Businesses move employees to different cities on a regular basis.

Rather than settling down in one place to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28) and causing it to bring forth produce (Gen. 2:15), modern man prefers to wander over the land, looking for whatever produce he can find for the taking. Men no longer work hard to develop their talents and build up their businesses, but rather flit around from one job to another to try and find just a little more money, or less work. (This is greatly facilitated by modern unemployment compensation and welfare practices.) Besides this desire of men to wander, the Scripture speaks of wandering as a curse upon disobedience. This is seen here in our text, in the curse of God upon Cain (vs. 12), and later in the curse upon Israel for refusing to enter the Promised Land (Num. 14).

Several times the prophets pronounce a curse on Israel by saying that they will wander (Lam. 4:15; Hos. 9:17). In contrast, the righteous are “firmly planted” (Ps.1:3) and are secure in the land (Mic. 4:4). The blessings of the covenant include this rootedness in the land — not incessant wandering. Nomadism, rather than being an early stage of man’s development, is a sign of cultural degeneracy. While it may not be a sin for an individual to move far from his family (cf. Abraham), yet it is a sign of a degenerate culture — notice the forced migrations in Cambodia today.

In our schools, we must take this into account. When we study a society which exhibits such a nomadic life, we are looking at a culture which has turned away from God’s Word of dominion. We also must counsel students in high school to try to break this nomadic mindset. They should look forward to settling permanently in a locale, to develop their God-given gifts to the fullest. Constantly packing up and moving everything one owns is a tremendous waste of time, energy, and money.

Christian history teachers must get to work now reconstructing ancient history to conform to Scripture. It will be long work, requiring a more detailed knowledge of history than I have. However, Courville’s work shows us that it can be done, if we work with diligence.

AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE (1)

19th October, 2021 By Rodney N. Kirby, (circa 1980)

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him”…And the rib, which: the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man…Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:18-24).

In this [20th] century, under the influence of John Dewey, a primary function of the school has been seen to be “socialization.” The children must learn to become “socialized,” to “get along with others,” to function properly in a “democratic” society.

Early childhood education (kindergarten and nursery school) has thus become all-important. Children must learn how to play together, how to share, and how to co-operate. It is thought that if children are not sent to school at the earliest conceivable age, they, will grow up to be social outcasts.

The same reasoning applies to teaching older children at home, rather than sending them to an ungodly school. These children are seen as somehow being “deprived”—deprived of the chance to interact with their peers. To many Christian parents, this concern is so strong that they succumb and send their children to schools they know to be anti-Christian, simply for the “socialization”. (All these children are “deprived” of is being taught in the ways of Hell.)

Our passage for this lesson shows us something different. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone (vs. 18), just like people today say it is not good for children to be alone. But notice that God did not give Adam a “peer group” with which he was to “socialize.” (Neither did God make “Adam and Steve,” gay lib notwithstanding.) To solve Adam’s problem of aloneness, God made a wife-Eve. Thus began the first human institution-the family.

Broadly speaking, this shows the centrality of the family in society. God did not make for Adam a church, complete with elders, deacons, committees, and choirs (the “War Department”). Neither did God make a civil government, including legislators, judges, and bureaucrats (certainly FDA would have required a label, “Caution: Eating this fruit may be hazardous to your health!”). God instituted the family first of all. The family is central to man in carrying out the cultural mandate—note the context (vs. 15). Before Adam could effectively subdue the earth, he needed a helper suited for him. God gave him a wife to assist him in exercising dominion.

This centrality of the family has definite implications for our schools. In Social Studies (or History), we must not neglect the family. As we study a given society, we must study the family structure which dominates that society. Does the father take the lead? Is the family governed by the mother? Does the family unit frequently include grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. (cf. Gen. 2:24)? Are two homosexuals considered a “family”? Is the family weakened through the use of ungodly laws (e.g., inheritance taxes)?

We must examine such questions as these, and note their implications in the rest of society. For example, the imposition of inheritance taxes results in the loss of the family farm, and the increase in corporately-owned farms; a disregard for the importance of the family has definite economic implications. Taking a covenantal view of history, we examine societies in the light of God’s commands, and one of these commands is the cultural mandate. Since the family is central to this task, we would be missing the point entirely in our study of history if we neglect the family.

Getting back to the original topic (the “socialization” of the child), we may take a fresh look at the problem. Concern for such “socialization” has only arisen in recent years. Twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, no such concern was prevalent. Was it because people then were somehow less enlightened concerning the social needs of the children?

No, the problem is that these same years have witnessed a breakdown in the Biblical concept of the family. Divorces are more frequent; government economic policies of monetary inflation force many mothers out of the home to find a job; gay rights, kiddie lib, and extramarital sex have all sprung up. The family is disintegrating.

God’s solution for Adam’s “aloneness” was to provide for him a family. This is the same solution we must give for the social development of the children. In the family, children learn how to get along with other people—how to converse, how to show loving concern, how to cooperate, and how to settle disagreements. The family is the main instrument for the “socialization” of the child. (Granted, it was easier in the days when a family consisted of eight or ten children—a family was practically a community in itself!)

The godly family teaches the child how to do these things in a Biblical way. The corrupt family of the present day also teaches the child how to behave—it teaches him to run away from problems (divorce), to seek for instant self-gratification (extra-marital sex), and to assert his own “rights” without regard to anyone else (woman’s, children’s, gay lib).

Parents have told me, when I told them I had a problem with their child fighting, “He picks that up from all the kids at his church; they are always picking on him.” However, I have noted that these family members are constantly fighting among themselves—husband and wife, brother and sister, parents and children. The problem is at home, not at church. Fighting families produce fighting children.

Hand in hand with the centrality of the family in “socialization” goes the family’s role in discipline. Discipline in the school is only effective if it is reinforced at home. The old rule of, “If you get a whooping at school, you’ll get another one when you get home” is valid. If the parents are lax regarding discipline, then no amount of strict discipline at school will (humanly speaking) really change the child’s life.

The importance of the family in fulfilling the cultural mandate must be emphasized in high school, as students consider their life’s calling. In “career counselling,” the student must be made to see that establishing a godly family is the most important thing he must do to prepare for work. Men must see that, except in rare cases (cf. Matt. 19:10-12), they are to marry, and that a wife will be a vital asset in the exercise of their calling. Likewise, women must understand that their calling is generally to marry and be supportive of their husband in his work. This would all necessitate teaching the Biblical view of the family to high school students in some formal way—perhaps in an ethics class.

God has created the family and given it a key role in His world. This must be carried out in our schools, in order that the children might effectively carry out the dominion mandate. Let the world have “liberated” women and children—they will only lose dominion, and we Christians can take over that much quicker!

TEACHING BIBLE STORIES

By David Chilton, 1982

I listened to a cassette tape of “Bible stories” the other day, a tape purporting to be something of a historical synopsis of the early chapters of Genesis, on a child’s level. It had been loaned to my four-year-old, and he happily plugged it in and sat down on the floor to listen, turning the pages and looking at the pictures in the accompanying book. Within a few minutes, the narrator had reached the creation of Adam, and this is what we heard: “Do you know why God made Adam? So He could have someone to talk to.”

I shut off the tape. With my mind full of juicy retorts that shouldn’t be printed here, I asked Nathan, “Is that really why God made Adam?” “No,” he replied, “God made Adam for His own glory.” He thought a minute, and continued: “That man on the tape doesn’t know very much about the Bible, does he? He says bad things. Why is he a teacher?”

Good question. Unfortunately, for too many schools and churches, the answer is: Because he’s a nice guy.

Incredibly, some of my readers are thinking, “Oh, big deal. So the guy made a little mistake. Aren’t you nit-picking? After all, the tape was designed for children, not for a seminary class. It doesn’t have to be theologically deep.” True enough. But it does have to be theologically correct.

That little, innocent-looking sentence contains the fundamental basis of the most prevalent of all false doctrines, the foundation of all apostate religions: the notion that God needs man. It presents, in reality, a false God, a “God” who is lonely without man’s companionship. Consider what Scripture tells us about the true God: “All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity” (Isa.40:17). Could there be a greater contrast?

But the taped “Bible stories” contained another error which, though implicit rather than explicit, was just as serious, as far as the child’s understanding of the Bible and the nature of salvation is concerned. I suppose one way to state my objection is that (as with so many books about the Bible) the stories are just stories. They seem to be a series of unconnected “just-so” tales, revealing neither the Christ nor the Covenant. The stories in the Bible are components of one history. They are not moralistic fables (which happen to be true) about the adventures of certain individuals who lived long ago.

The Bible is about Jesus Christ. It is the history of the revelation of His Covenant, and the fulfillment of that Covenant in Him. Every story must be treated as revelation — not just something along the lines of “Hello, boys and girls! Did you ever hear the story of a great big ladder that went all the way up to heaven?” God didn’t take the trouble to record the story of “Jacob’s ladder” (whose ladder?) simply in order to give us an enjoyable and meaningless children’s ditty.

The revelation of the ladder took place in the context of the Abrahamic Covenant, and was a revelation of the Son of God (Jn.1:51). Stripped of its Biblical meaning, the story could almost be replaced by “Jason and the Golden Fleece.” If a story is ripped out of its biblical context and turned into an adventure story that centres in the individual who receives the revelation, its content as revelation is lost. Have you ever wondered why so many children — and adults — have virtually no concept of Biblical chronology? Why they can’t remember whether Abraham or Moses or Elijah came first?

Well, let me ask you one: Who came first — Hercules or Jason? See what I mean? You know the stories of both, but it’s hard to fit them together. (The reason is, of course, that  they don’t fit together— not covenantally, anyway — and you learned them as “adventure stories,” without the need to see them in a redemptive-historical context. In other words, you learned them the same way many kids “learn” Bible stories.)

How, then, should you teach Bible stories? The best way to learn is by seeing how a really excellent teacher does it. The most helpful example of covenantal teaching I’ve found is in the work of S. G. De Graaf, the great Dutch theologian who authored Promise and Deliverance, a four-volume set published by Paideia Press (P. 0. Box 1000, Jordan Station, Ontario, Canada LOR 1S0). De Graaf wrote his book specifically for Sunday School and Christian school teachers, and it is a masterpiece.

Some of the best theologians and preachers I know study it avidly, yet it is written in a very simple, easy-to-understand manner. De Graaf covers all the historical sections of the Bible — the stories — giving first a short discussion of the main points in each chapter, then a sentence summarizing the primary idea, and finally the actual narrative. In each chapter, the author forces us out of our sinful individualism and mysticism again and again, teaching the Bible as it should be taught — in terms of the Covenant. As De Graaf observes in his Introduction (which, I predict, could be one of the most significant essays you will ever read):

Our aim in telling Bible history ought to be the same as God’s purpose in recording it for us in His Word. God had the stories recorded “in order that we might believe.” Accordingly, even in grade school, this aim must be kept in mind when we are imparting knowledge. It makes no difference at all that the children in your classroom already believe. In their case, too, the story is told to evoke faith, to deepen and broaden it.

De Graaf points out that there are three requirements we must keep in mind whenever we tell Bible stories. First, “we are to view the entire Holy Scripture as nothing more or less than the self-revelation of God.” This means that when we tell the story of Joseph, for instance, we must not focus on Joseph himself as the main figure in the story; for the story is, instead, the story of God’s revelation to and preservation of His people. “Such an emphasis,” says De Graaf, “teaches the children to fear the Lord instead of looking to Joseph as a moral example.”

And examples could be multiplied. How many times have you heard a series of sermons on the life of Moses or David, in which the centre of attention is the personal psychology of the “hero” — rather than God providing salvation for His people? We can avoid this error if we discipline ourselves always to remember that the Bible is not a sort of Christianized version of pagan hero-sagas. The Bible is Revelation.

Second, God reveals Himself in the Mediator. De Graaf says; “We will always have a great deal of trouble explaining the history in Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, if we do not proceed from the Mediator’s eager efforts to reveal Himself.” But this is true of the New Testament as well, and he cites the case of Zacchaeus as an obvious example: “When we tell the story of Zacchaeus, let’s make sure that the self-revelation of the Christ — and not Zacchaeus — is the main point.” The point is not, of course, that we should disregard the various individuals in the particular stories. It is, rather, that we are to see these people in their proper context: their stories are told in God’s word, and God’s word is God’s word — not man’s — in which God reveals Christ.

Third, The Bible reveals God in His Covenant with His people. Too often the emphasis in our teaching falls on God saving this or that individual, rather than on God’s covenantal relationship with His people as a whole. As De Graaf says about the story of Joseph: “The main point of that story is not what God meant to Joseph but what He meant to His people through Joseph, a people whose development was just beginning in the tents of Jacob.” We must remember that “in the covenant God always draws near to His people as a whole — never just to individuals.”

Another example is the story of God’s care for Hagar in Genesis 16. The Biblical emphasis is not that God was merciful to a certain woman; nor is it the story of that woman’s personal psychology of faith. Why did God take care of Hagar? Because she was in the Covenant.

Now, having said all that, is not to have said everything there is to say about teaching Bible stories. The basic perspectives given here must be fleshed out in terms of the particulars of the stories we are teaching. Moreover, the second most-common error among Bible teachers is the tendency to be a pedantic bore. Nothing I have said is meant to imply that we should treat our teaching of the stories as lectures in Biblical theology. If anything, lectures in biblical theology ought to resemble a story-time! As the Dutch storyteller reminds us:

As we tell a story, it should come alive; it should draw the children in and get them involved. The children should get wrapped up not just in the adventures of certain people but especially in the historical unfolding of God’s self-revelation and man’s response to it. We must tell the children of God’s great deeds.

AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE (1)

19th October, 2021 By Rodney N. Kirby, (circa 1980)

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him”…And the rib, which: the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man…Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:18-24).

In this [20th] century, under the influence of John Dewey, a primary function of the school has been seen to be “socialization.” The children must learn to become “socialized,” to “get along with others,” to function properly in a “democratic” society.

Early childhood education (kindergarten and nursery school) has thus become all-important. Children must learn how to play together, how to share, and how to co-operate. It is thought that if children are not sent to school at the earliest conceivable age, they, will grow up to be social outcasts.

The same reasoning applies to teaching older children at home, rather than sending them to an ungodly school. These children are seen as somehow being “deprived”—deprived of the chance to interact with their peers. To many Christian parents, this concern is so strong that they succumb and send their children to schools they know to be anti-Christian, simply for the “socialization”. (All these children are “deprived” of is being taught in the ways of Hell.)

Our passage for this lesson shows us something different. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone (vs. 18), just like people today say it is not good for children to be alone. But notice that God did not give Adam a “peer group” with which he was to “socialize.” (Neither did God make “Adam and Steve,” gay lib notwithstanding.) To solve Adam’s problem of aloneness, God made a wife-Eve. Thus began the first human institution-the family.

Broadly speaking, this shows the centrality of the family in society. God did not make for Adam a church, complete with elders, deacons, committees, and choirs (the “War Department”). Neither did God make a civil government, including legislators, judges, and bureaucrats (certainly FDA would have required a label, “Caution: Eating this fruit may be hazardous to your health!”). God instituted the family first of all. The family is central to man in carrying out the cultural mandate—note the context (vs. 15). Before Adam could effectively subdue the earth, he needed a helper suited for him. God gave him a wife to assist him in exercising dominion.

This centrality of the family has definite implications for our schools. In Social Studies (or History), we must not neglect the family. As we study a given society, we must study the family structure which dominates that society. Does the father take the lead? Is the family governed by the mother? Does the family unit frequently include grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. (cf. Gen. 2:24)? Are two homosexuals considered a “family”? Is the family weakened through the use of ungodly laws (e.g., inheritance taxes)?

We must examine such questions as these, and note their implications in the rest of society. For example, the imposition of inheritance taxes results in the loss of the family farm, and the increase in corporately-owned farms; a disregard for the importance of the family has definite economic implications. Taking a covenantal view of history, we examine societies in the light of God’s commands, and one of these commands is the cultural mandate. Since the family is central to this task, we would be missing the point entirely in our study of history if we neglect the family.

Getting back to the original topic (the “socialization” of the child), we may take a fresh look at the problem. Concern for such “socialization” has only arisen in recent years. Twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, no such concern was prevalent. Was it because people then were somehow less enlightened concerning the social needs of the children?

No, the problem is that these same years have witnessed a breakdown in the Biblical concept of the family. Divorces are more frequent; government economic policies of monetary inflation force many mothers out of the home to find a job; gay rights, kiddie lib, and extramarital sex have all sprung up. The family is disintegrating.

God’s solution for Adam’s “aloneness” was to provide for him a family. This is the same solution we must give for the social development of the children. In the family, children learn how to get along with other people—how to converse, how to show loving concern, how to cooperate, and how to settle disagreements. The family is the main instrument for the “socialization” of the child. (Granted, it was easier in the days when a family consisted of eight or ten children—a family was practically a community in itself!)

The godly family teaches the child how to do these things in a Biblical way. The corrupt family of the present day also teaches the child how to behave—it teaches him to run away from problems (divorce), to seek for instant self-gratification (extra-marital sex), and to assert his own “rights” without regard to anyone else (woman’s, children’s, gay lib).

Parents have told me, when I told them I had a problem with their child fighting, “He picks that up from all the kids at his church; they are always picking on him.” However, I have noted that these family members are constantly fighting among themselves—husband and wife, brother and sister, parents and children. The problem is at home, not at church. Fighting families produce fighting children.

Hand in hand with the centrality of the family in “socialization” goes the family’s role in discipline. Discipline in the school is only effective if it is reinforced at home. The old rule of, “If you get a whooping at school, you’ll get another one when you get home” is valid. If the parents are lax regarding discipline, then no amount of strict discipline at school will (humanly speaking) really change the child’s life.

The importance of the family in fulfilling the cultural mandate must be emphasized in high school, as students consider their life’s calling. In “career counselling,” the student must be made to see that establishing a godly family is the most important thing he must do to prepare for work. Men must see that, except in rare cases (cf. Matt. 19:10-12), they are to marry, and that a wife will be a vital asset in the exercise of their calling. Likewise, women must understand that their calling is generally to marry and be supportive of their husband in his work. This would all necessitate teaching the Biblical view of the family to high school students in some formal way—perhaps in an ethics class.

God has created the family and given it a key role in His world. This must be carried out in our schools, in order that the children might effectively carry out the dominion mandate. Let the world have “liberated” women and children—they will only lose dominion, and we Christians can take over that much quicker!

WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND ABOUT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

By Terrill I. Elniff

The secular mind, confronting the Christian school, tends to evaluate what it sees in terms that it can understand. Thus the prevailing view of Christian education is that Christian parents put their children in Christian schools because they are fed up with the problems of the public schools: sex, drugs, immorality, lowered standards, incompetent teachers, secularism, disorder, and violence. But to reason in this way is to overlook a very important aspect of the Christian school movement.

When I began teaching in a Christian school some eighteen years ago, I remember our headmaster emphasizing from time to time that the Christian education movement is not an “antipublic-school movement.” Why not? I always asked. I thought public schools should be sold to the highest bidder at public auction. His point was that Christian education must exist for its own reasons not as an escape from something else. To enter a Christian school as an escape from the modern, secular, world was essentially to betray the unique reason for Christian education, which was to study the world from a biblical point of view.

Now, eighteen years later, I appreciate the wisdom of his insight. I still think that public schools should be sold at public auction (that’s a little more direct than tuition vouchers, but it accomplishes the same thing by putting education into the private marketplace), but making education private rather than public has nothing to do with Christian education. Private education is not necessarily Christian education. Religious education is not necessarily Christian education either. These categories are all wrong. The real alternatives are man-centered education over against God-centered education.

If education is humanistic in its perspective, all the trappings of religion won’t make it Christian. Baptized humanism is still humanism. Education may be moral, religious, conservative, and competent, and still be humanistic. Schools may have values, standards, rules, and even prayers, and still teach a man-centered curriculum. The one distinguishing mark of a Christian school relates to that one unique reason for Christian education: to gain a knowledge of the world from God’s point of view (rather than man’s) through the application of biblical presuppositions in every area of the curriculum and school activity.

That is the kernel of Christian education. Everything else is peripheral. Everything else can be duplicated or imitated. Christian education will not cease to be needed just because the public schools clean up their act, as some commentators seem to believe. Scott Thompson, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has been quoted (WSJ, 6-30-81, p. 30) as saying that “What the Christian schools movement is saying …is that public schools have two to three years to do a better job. If public school teachers are moral… and don’t hide behind one or another legal curtain in dealing with values, then most Christian parents will be happy and they’ll go back to teaching Christianity elsewhere as they have done in the past.”

Now, I don’t know how to measure “most” Christian parents, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of Christian parents in the Christian schools movement who are simply refugees from the public schools. They are the ones Thompson can expect to receive back into the public schools once the public schools come to grips with their problems. Such Christian parents will go back to public schools because their commitment to Christian education is not positive, but negative, an escape from the modern, secular, world.

But there is also an immense number of Christian parents in the movement who don’t intend to go back to the public schools even if they get squeaky clean. They are the ones with a positive commitment to the purposes of Christian education. Their children are in Christian schools because they believe that life must be related to God and learning must be related to truth. For them, secular and humanistic education is not an option.

The future of Christian education, then, does not depend on the reforms made in the public school systems. It depends, rather, on the relative number of Christian parents who understand the purpose of Christian education. The determination to apply biblical presuppositions to every area of life and learning is what most people don’t understand about Christian education. The failure of the secular mind to comprehend this determination indicates that it also does not understand the revolutionary nature of the Christian school movement and the impact it will have on the future of education in this country.


PLAY IN CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

By James B. Jordan

In the October 1979 issue of The Biblical Educator (vol. 1, no. 11, 1 had an essay entitled “Some Observations on Physical Education.” The gist of that essay was that the physical education programs in the Christian school should concentrate on the development of useful skills in the areas of work and self-defense. I came down rather hard on school sports, because of the tremendous over-emphasis on them in modern American schooling.

Upon further reflection, prompted by a reading of Johan Huizinga’s classic Homo Ludens (Beacon Press paperback), I’d like to make a few more positive statements on play. (Huizinga’s perspective is pagan; I do not recommend the book to anyone not thoroughly grounded in Van Tillian pre-suppositionalism.)

Modern man, paradoxically finds it difficult either to get serious or to play. Apart from God, he can find no real meaning in life, and so he cannot really get serious. He cannot face the reality of death and judgment, so he avoids the really serious issues of life. On the other hand, apart from God, he can find no true joy. Play, which is natural to the child of God, becomes work for him, and he frantically seeks new and more exotic forms of play.

Perversely, modern pagan man becomes most serious about his games. He cannot play at games at all. That is because the pagan does not play for fun; he plays for glory and honour. Periodically people are injured by mobs at sporting events. In recent years, two nations in Central America put their armed forces on stand-by after a particularly intense soccer match; fortunately, war was averted. Fistfights break out in bars during football games and boxing matches. International politics is inextricably tied to the sport of the Olympics. Famous athletes command incredible salaries.

Glory and honour are peculiar things, or perhaps it would be better to say they are a peculiar thing. Glory is social in character. People who have never even held a football share in the glory when their team wins. Glory is like clothing, and a person feels naked and embarrassed when his glory is removed. He feels shame, the opposite of glory.

When they lost their covering of glory in the Garden, Adam and Eve laboured hard to recover themselves. (Note that word: recover.) When God exposed their nakedness, they turned to a form of violence, passing blame (abuse) to those around them. This is the lifestyle of all pagans. They labour hard to achieve glory and honour in the eyes of others. They become upset and even violent when their honour is shattered and their nakedness exposed. We cannot understand the place of sports in the modern world apart from this.

For the Christian, on the other hand, both play and seriousness arise from the sovereignty of God. God’s sovereignty in Law means that all will be called to account, so that in His presence is fear. But God’s sovereignty in control means that we can relax and enjoy life; in His presence is sabbath rest, joy, and play. These two things are put together expressly in Eccl. 11:9,10.

Moreover, Christians get their glory and honour from Christ; thus their engagement in play is never for the purpose of acquiring glory. Christians play for fun, not for blood. Because they are clothed in Christ’s glory, Christians are free in both their work and their play. They both play more and are more serious than the pagans. One of the most noticeable things about a Christian community is the amount of playing and horsing around those goes on; non-Christians almost always remark on this.

The Bible gives its philosophy of play in Proverbs 8:30, 31, which literally reads, “Then I was beside Him, a master workman; and I was daily His delight, playing always before Him, playing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.” This is Wisdom, the pre-incarnate Christ, speaking. Notice how work and play are placed together before the throne of God. The same word for play is used of Samson’s sporting in Judges 16:25 and of David’s dance before the Ark in 2 Sam. 6:21. It is used of the play of Leviathan in the sea in Ps. 104:26, and of the play of children in Zech. 8:5. Thus, the play of Christians is an analogical replica of the play of the Son of God. It is sheer fun and delight in the creation.

Indeed, at the annual Feast of Tabernacles, each family was directed to bring branches and build a shelter in which to live for seven days (Lev. 23:40-43). Try doing that with your children without having fun! God intended His people to relax and play in His presence.

Play was removed from the church after the Christian Middle Ages came to an end. Because the Church of Rome was using art as propaganda, the Protestants came to fear art and play. The influence of stoicism and Neoplatonism worked further to destroy true play among the Protestant churches, though the Puritans were generally a joyous people. Luther’s Table Talk is one of the last good examples of down-to-earth Christian fun and play.

Just as the subject of art in general needs to be rethought in our day, so does the subject of play. Christian schools should not encourage play in an agonistic or competitive spirit, for glory and honour. On the other hand, intramural play for fun probably needs to be rehabilitated in our circles.


AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE

By Rodney N. Kirby

No. 18: “Covenant and Education” (Genesis 15:1-21)

Christian schools are covenant schools. The children we educate are covenant children. This emphasis is very strong, especially in Reformed circles, in Christian education today. What does it mean? What are the implications? All too often, these terms are tossed about with little understanding, as if merely calling education covenant education somehow sanctified it.

This passage tells us a good deal about the nature of a covenant in the Bible. God made a promise to Abram concerning his descendants (vs. 5), and concerning the possession of the land of Canaan (vs. 7). We know that God cannot lie, and that He most certainly will perform whatever He has said. However, to impress upon Abram’s mind the certainty of His promise, God told Abram to cut some animals in half and lay them on the ground, with space between the two halves (vs. 9-10). Then, God Himself walked between the two halves of the slain animals and repeated His promise (vs. 13-21).

This section would have been well understood by Abram and by readers in the time of Moses. It followed the pattern of most ancient Near Eastern covenant ratifications. The parties to the covenant walked between the two halves of slain animals, symbolically saying, “May I be slain and cut in pieces just like these animals, if I do not uphold the terms of this covenant.” This is what God is telling Abram. As if God’s Word were not sure enough, God swears, in effect, “May I be slain if I do not give your descendants all this land.”

We gain insight into the true nature of a covenant here. There are basically three elements to a covenant. First are the stipulations, terms, or laws. This is seen here in verses 13-16 and 18-21. God says, “Here is what I am bound to do by this covenant.” Second are promised blessings for obedience. This element is not explicit here although we will see it elsewhere. Third are promised curses for disobedience. This is shown symbolically here by the slain animals. If God were to violate this covenant, He would be slain as these animals were.

We can see these three elements elsewhere in Scripture. In Exodus 20 (which has many parallels with the ancient Near Eastern covenants) we have a listing of the stipulations— the 10 commandments. Also included are promised blessings for obedience (vs. 6,12), and promised curses for disobedience (vs. 5,7). In Deuteronomy 28, the stipulations are referred to (vs. 1), the blessings are listed (vs. 1-14), and then follow the curses (vs. 15-68). In the New Testament, we see Jesus (as He re-establishes the one covenant) listing blessings and curses, based upon obedience to certain stipulations (Luke 6:20-26).

The essential nature of a covenant (Biblically speaking) is responsibility. Those who are members of the Covenant have a greater responsibility than do others. God has spelled out very clearly what is required of them and has even given incentives (blessings and curses) to encourage obedience. Covenant membership does not imply blessing, but responsibility. A covenant member may come under either the blessings or the curse, and still be a member of the covenant.

Unfortunately, many Christian schools do not see this. They act as if covenant membership meant blessing. In doing so, they fall into the same trap as did the Jews throughout Scripture. They felt that, since they were in covenant with God, they were automatically heirs of the blessing. The prophets and apostles continually had to fight this attitude (see Rom. 2:13).

For example, some of the Bible material published by Christian Schools International (their “Revelation-Response” series) falls into this trap. (This basically good series has other problems as well. In one of the volumes, in a study of some post-Biblical saints, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King are included “for their attempts to bring the renewal effects of Jesus upon society.”) Several times in their lower elementary curriculum, workbook exercises are done which have the child write his name in the blank __”.

___________ loves God. ____________is God’s child. Jesus died for ___________ ” Underlying this kind of work is the notion that, since we have a covenant school, with covenant children, then we assume all the children are saved. This is a misunderstanding of the nature of the covenant, and so we must not assure all the children indiscriminately that they are God’s children.

Many administrators of Christian schools feel that, since they have a covenant school for covenant children, they should restrict enrolment to children from Christian homes, or at least severely limit the number of children from unbelieving homes. However, based on the above understanding of “covenant,” we may say that covenant children may be just as ungodly (if not more so) as non-covenant children. What we must see is that for a school to be a covenant school means it is under God’s covenant requirements. It then seeks to impose God’s covenant requirements on the student body. Anybody who is willing to obey these requirements may be admitted. Notice Ex. 12:48-49, and Numbers 9:14; the alien could place himself under the terms of the covenant.

In our school, all parents are required to sign a statement saying they will allow their children to be educated according to a statement of Faith we send out (and that they will allow us to spank their child). We do not ask that the parents agree with the Statement personally—just that they agree for their child to be taught that way. We have some parents (from the Apostolic church—one of our most enthusiastic supporters) who disagree with our Trinitarian view of God (they are Modalists). However, they agree for us to teach their children the Trinitarian faith.

Content

What are the implications of this for our curriculum? First, we must teach the Bible as covenant book. It is not an inspiring collection of stories (the way it is often presented in the lower grades). It is God’s covenant book—giving (by explicit precept, by historical example, by parable, etc.) God’s stipulations, blessing, and curses. Thus, as we read the historical books of the Bible, we do so keeping in mind, first, what are God’s commands in this situation? second, what did the men do? and third, how did God respond to their actions?

Also, we must see all nations as being under the terms of the covenant. God made the covenant with Adam (as representative of all men), and reiterated it to Noah. All men are thus responsible to fulfill the covenant. This was true in the Old Testament as well as in the New. David, in Ps. 2, calls for the kings to worship and serve the Son. Since he was the king of Israel, David could only be calling on all nations of the earth to serve God. Paul in Rom. 13:4 and 6 calls the magistrate (outside of Israel) a minister (literally, a deacon) of God. As such, he is responsible to carry out God’s covenant commands.

Thus, if any nation obeys God’s law, it will be blessed. Conversely, God’s curses will surely fall on any nation disobeying the covenant. America has been blessed by God in the past, and will surely be cursed in the future. All nations of the world show evidence of being the recipients of either God’s blessings or His curses. This must be brought out in our classes.

Methods

When God makes a covenant with man, He makes everything clear ahead of time. God spells out what the requirements are, what the rewards will be, and what the punishments for disobedience will be. God does not operate ex post facto.

In the same way, the teacher must spell out her requirements and expectations. She must let the students know ahead of time what is expected of them —quality of work, quantity of work, etc. She also must let them know what will happen if they do or do not meet these requirements. “Poor handwriting or spelling will drop your grade a letter.” “Extra credit for a good Christian analysis of this poem.” The students must know what is expected of them.

God, being the absolute, sovereign Lord, does not bargain or negotiate with man over the terms of the covenant. Since the teacher is placed in authority by God over the students, she need not do so either. However, since she also is a fallible human being, she may use what is known as the “contract method” of arriving at course requirements. As modern educators use this, it has been corrupted. The students are given a free hand at drawing up their requirements, and the teacher goes along with anything. After all, if the students are naturally good, they will impose fair requirements on themselves. However, the Biblical teaching of depravity results in students getting by with doing next to nothing.

In a Christian school, the teacher must be the final arbiter as to course requirements. However, she could, say, draw up a list of options for the class to choose from. In a history class, the students could either read and report on several books, or do a research paper. They could do a research paper, incorporating in the content of the class lectures, or take the final exam. This would allow students with differing abilities to do that in which they excelled. One student may be able to read and digest several books, but not be too good at doing original research, while another may be just the opposite. Let them do what they do best, under the teacher’s supervision. All too often, because it is easier on the teacher, we try to squeeze all students into the same mould, rather than encouraging them to branch out and grow. We must challenge and motivate them to be creative in the use of their God-given abilities.

Discipline

Remember what was said above (under “Methods”). Make sure rules and punishments are spelled out clearly ahead of time. Do not punish the students for something they did not know was wrong. (However, they will often know when they are doing wrong, even if it has not been spelled out ahead of time.)

Remember, too, that covenant children are still sinners, and in need of punishment. The fact that they are covenant children gives added leverage in carrying out punishment. “Johnny, you have not only disobeyed me, but you have disobeyed your Lord. God has chosen you to be in His covenant; how can you act this way toward Him?” I have had two children in Kindergarten who were hyperactive, and thus tended to get in trouble frequently. One came from a non-Christian home. She would get as many as two spankings a day, and still not change. The other came from a Christian (Pentecostal) home. She responded to such verbal admonition as mentioned above, and the one spanking she has gotten has made a world of difference in her behaviour. Covenant children do have an advantage.

Also keep in mind that not all covenant children are saved children. They will need evangelism just like any other children. This is one of the most fundamental stipulations of the Covenant—”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” We must not neglect to bring this home to our students, any more than we may neglect any other of God’s commands. We want our covenant children to be covenant-keeping children. Let us constantly work and pray toward that end.

The Biblical Structure of History (20): Appendix, Christian Historical Reconstruction

Gary North – November 20, 2021

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

A. The War Over Historiography

There is an old political slogan: “You can’t beat something with nothing.” It applies to everything. It is not limited to politics.

In this book, I have shown that there has been a continual war between humanism and biblical religion that stretches back before the birth of Christ. It stretches back to the humanism of classical Greece and Rome. This war has involved every area of life. It is a war between two kingdoms. The word “kingdom” is best understood as “civilization.”

Conflict between Christianity and imperial Rome was a life-and-death matter. While there was relative peace for Christians through most of the years from Nero until Constantine, there were occasional decades in which the persecution was fierce. This strengthened the church. It strengthened the testimony of Christians. It was because of the inconsistency and lethargy of most Roman emperors that they did not constantly persecute the church in an attempt to stamp it out.

When Constantine came to power in A.D. 312, the persecutions stopped. Christianity became legally protected religion. Within half a century, it became the only legal religion. Only during the brief reign of Julian, known as Julian the apostate in Christian circles, was this reversed. That reversal lasted for less than two years: 361–63. From the second century forward, Christian scholars began to challenge classical culture, although in a somewhat compromised way. Van Til discussed these compromises in his syllabus: Christianity in Conflict (1962) and in Chapter 4 of his book, A Christian Theory of Knowledge (1969). By the fourth century, Christian scholars were becoming more consistent in their rejection of classical culture.

This had repercussions in every area of scholarship. This included historiography. Collingwood discussed this in his book, The Idea of History (1946). Collingwood wrote:

Eusebius was only one of a large number of men who were struggling to work out in detail the consequences of the Christian conception of man; and when we find many of the Fathers like Jerome, Ambrose, and even Augustine speaking of pagan learning and literature with contempt and hostility it is necessary to remind ourselves that this contempt arises not from lack of education or a barbarous indifference towards knowledge as such, but from the vigor with which these men were pursuing a new ideal of knowledge, working in the teeth of opposition for a reorientation of the entire structure of human thought. In the case of history, the only thing with which we are here concerned, the reorientation not only succeeded at the time, but left its heritage as a permanent enrichment of historical thought (p. 51).

He then went on to make a very important observation. It had to do with their view of history. For the first time, Christians began to view the past as part of a grand narrative. Historical events are aspects of the providence of God. They are not random. They are not limited to a particular society. They are part of a universal history of mankind. At the center of this history was Jesus Christ.

The conception of history is in principle the history of the world, or struggles like that between Greece and Persia or between Rome and Carthage are looked at impartially with an eye not to success of one combatant but to the upshot of the struggle from the standpoint of posterity, became a commonplace. The symbol of this universalism is the adoption of a single chronological framework for all historical events. The single universal chronology, invented by Isidore of Seville in the seventh century and popularized by the venerable bead in the eighth, dating everything forward and backward from the birth of Christ, still shows where the idea came from (p. 51).

Collingwood said that there was a self-conscious reversal of this historiography during the Renaissance. Renaissance humanists did not accept Christian historiography. They did not accept the Christian view of divine providence.

At the close of the Middle Ages one of the main tasks of European thought was to bring about a fresh reorientation of historical studies. The great theological and philosophical systems which had provided a basis for determining the general plan of history a priori had ceased to command assent, and with the Renaissance a return was made to a humanistic view of history based on that of the ancients. Accurate scholarship became important, because human actions were no longer felt to be dwarfed into insignificance in comparison with a divine plan (p. 57).

From the Renaissance until today, Christian historiography has been in retreat. Ever since 1750, it has barely existed. Yet the universalism of historiography, which has centered on the concept of world history, still exists. This idea is not consistent with humanistic presuppositions regarding the interpretation of the past: the cacophony of the epistemological principle of “every man his own historian.” (See Chapters 8 and 9.) Nevertheless, some humanists still cling to the idea that there is a universal history of mankind. Those humanists who favor the creation of an international new world order are echoing Christian historians of the fourth century.

Protestant higher education has never presented a detailed history of Christendom. Protestant scholars in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries generally accepted the medieval Catholic criteria for education: the trivium and the quadrivium. These topics were based on Greek categories. Pre-college students were compelled to learn Latin in order to get into college. In college, they studied the documents of classical paganism. This tradition was dominant in higher education until the late nineteenth century in England and the United States. Then Darwinism replaced classical education. After Christians began to surrender control over higher education at the end of the nineteenth century, they surrendered to the interpretation of the past by Enlightenment humanists. Christian parents have been content with humanist textbook histories of their nations and of Western civilization. The general thrust of these textbooks’ message is retained by the public: progress is based on the innovations and discoveries of autonomous men who live in religiously pluralistic nations. By accepting this narrative, Christians have forgotten Moses’ warning:

Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:14–18).

More to the point, they have forgotten that Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God replaced the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. At that point, the world entered God’s new world order. In his book, The Biblical Philosophy of History (1967), Rushdoony spelled out some implications of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

The purpose of Biblical history is to trace the victory of Jesus Christ. That victory is not merely spiritual; it is also historical. Creation, man, and man’s body, all move in terms of a glorious destiny for which all creation groans and travails as it awaits the fullness of that glorious liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:18–23). The victory is historical an eschatological and it is not the rejection of creation but it is fulfillment.

This victory was set forth in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who destroyed the power of sin and death and emerged victorious from the grave. As St. Paul emphasized in I Corinthians 15, this victory is the victory of all believers. Christ is the firstfruit, the beginning, the alpha and omega of the life of the saints. Had Christ merely arisen as a spirit from the grave, it would have signified his lordship over the world of spirit but His surrender of matter in history. But by His physical resurrection, by His rising again in the same body with which he was crucified, he set forth His lordship over creation and history. The world history will see Christ’s triumph and the triumph of His saints, his church, and his kingdom. History will not end in tribulation and disaster: it will see the triumph of the people of God in the manifestation of Christian order from pole to pole before Christ comes again. The doctrine of the resurrection is thus a cornerstone of the Biblical dimension of victory (p. 25).

This is why I am calling for a reconstruction of historiography along biblical lines. This reconstruction is mandatory because history is structured in terms of the biblical covenant. To be faithful to this structure of history, Christians must rethink history in terms of a different system of interpretation. They must reject humanism’s historiography.

When Christians read history books, they should have in the back of their minds a Christian principle of historical interpretation. This interpretation is based on the revelation of God in the Bible. This revelation proclaims this in Genesis 1: the sovereignty of God. He created the world out of nothing. He sustains the world. He will judge the world.

Christians should not be so naïve as to expect to be able to beat something with nothing. They have to beat something with something better. Yet they are starting today with almost nothing, academically speaking. They will get little or no help from Christian history professors in Christian colleges, let alone Christians teaching in secular universities. They should begin here: a grand narrative of the universal history of man from the creation to the final judgment of all mankind. This is what humanism denies.

B. The Bible’s Narratives

The Bible is mostly a series of historical narratives. In the Old Testament, there are a few books that are not narratives: Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Job. The minor prophets wrote during specific time periods, but these are not major historical narratives. The major prophets did offer historical narratives. In the New Testament, the four Gospels and the Book of Acts are historical narratives. The other books are epistles.

The New Testament offers Christian theology. Some of this theology was announced by Jesus, and the Gospels record these presentations. The epistles focus on theology. These provide the main integrating principles of theological interpretation. They enable people to understand the meaning of the historical narratives of the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Book of Acts. They also enable Christians to understand the principles that undergirded the narratives of the Old Testament. Put differently, the New Testament is a commentary on the Old Testament. The New Testament was the product of about 1500 years of written revelation. Theologians call the integrating theology of the New Testament systematic theology. They call the development of this theology from Moses until the Book of Revelation biblical theology. Both are necessary for understanding God’s revelation to man. Both are necessary for understanding the principles that undergird history and historiography.

The Bible does not offer a system of logic. It offers the foundations of a system of theology. Christian logic is an extension of theology. It is not autonomous. The Greeks were the first society to produce specialists in forms of logic that were self-consciously independent of supernatural religion. Greek logic asserted of the autonomy of man’s mind. It was impersonal. It offered principles of interpretation, but these principles were in opposition to each other. All humanistic philosophy is a combination of rationalism and irrationalism. In one of his dozens of analogies, Van Til described the condition of the non-Christian philosopher.

The fulcrum for both the modern and the Greek dialectical see-saw, between pure rationalism and pure irrationalism, is, as earlier, noted, the would-be autonomous man. If man refuses to see himself as a creature of God, or, more pertinently, as a sinner rescued by Christ, then he will quite naturally continue to go up and down, up and down, on this see-saw. When the rationalist is up, he proposes to have defeated the irrationalist. When the irrationalist is up, it is the reverse. But, if this spectacle were not enough to frighten you, then think of the fact that “the rationalist” and “the irrationalist” are really not separately existing entities at all, but rather, opposite, co-existing aspects of the one and indivisible would-be self-sufficient homo sapiens. (Van Til, Who Do You Say That I Am?, p. 24)

To this irreconcilable dualism in the principles of interpretation is added historical flux. The timeless logic of man is incapable of making sense out of the constant flux of history. This was Van Til’s position. It is my position.

C. The Grand Narrative

In Chapter 1, I discussed the doctrine of the Trinity. It solves the philosophical problem of the one and the many. The Godhead is one, but it is also made up of three Persons. It is unified, but it is plural. The creation reflects this combination of unity and plurality. The species do: male and female. The family does: parents and children. God holds collectives responsible for what they do. This was the message of the Old Testament prophets. God also holds individuals responsible for what they do. This culminates in the day of judgment (Matthew 25).

This is why every historical narrative is part of a larger historical narrative. Got imputes meaning to all narratives. God evaluates people’s words and actions in terms of standards that apply to individuals and collectives. He brings judgment in history and in eternity in terms of men’s performance in relation to these permanent standards. Because individuals are made in God’s image, they can understand how their own performance compares with permanent standards. They can do the same with collectives. When Isaiah came before the people of Judah, he listed their individual and corporate sins. He knew they would understand his message. He told him God would hold them responsible for obeying his message. He appealed to their memory of Israel’s past: “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city” (v. 26). The Israelites memories of the distant past. These memories condemned them.

In defending himself against the illegal Jewish court, the deacon Stephen presented a synopsis of the history of Israel (Acts 7). He did so primarily to condemn them, not to gain a verdict of “Not guilty.” His presentation was confrontational. Israel’s narrative culminated in the ministry of Jesus Christ: “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David” (vv. 44–45). He ended his covenant lawsuit against them with this: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (vv. 51–53). Despite the fact that they did not have the authority to execute anyone, they stoned him to death.

The grand narrative of Israel ended in A.D. 70, when the Roman legions captured the city and burned the temple. That ended the sacrifices. That fundamentally changed the religion of Israel. The Sadducees had been in charge of the temple. The temple was no more. Their rivals, the Pharisees, took over the leadership of Israel, and they maintained it until about the middle of the nineteenth century. The fall of Jerusalem was the origin of what we call today Judaism. Herbert Danby’s Introduction to his book, The Mishna (1933), correctly described the victory of the Pharisees. “Until the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70 they had counted as one only among the schools of thought which played a part in Jewish national and religious life; after the Destruction they took the position, naturally and almost immediately, of sole and undisputed leaders of such Jewish life as survived. Judaism as it has continued since is, if not their creation, at least a faith and a religious institution largely of their fashioning; and the Mishnah is the authoritative record of their labour.

Thus it comes about that while Judaism and Christianity alike venerate the Old Testament as canonical Scripture, the Mishnah marks the passage to Judaism as definitely as the New Testament marks the passage to Christianity” (p. xiii). Jacob Neusner, the incomparably prolific Jewish author (1,000 books), described what followed. The Pharisees rewrote the narrative. He added that “the rabbis of late antiquity rewrote in their own image and likeness the entire Scripture and history of Israel, dropping whole eras as though they had never been, ignoring vast bodies of old Jewish writing, inventing whole new books for the canon of Judaism. . .” (“Two Faiths Talking about Different Things,” World & I [Nov. 1987], p. 690).

Christians and Orthodox Jews do not invoke the same narrative. They share many of the books. They sometimes share certain ethical teachings found in the Old Testament. They share the stories in the Old Testament. But the narratives are different. The New Testament interprets the Old Testament for Christians. The gigantic rabbinic oral tradition in the Talmud interprets the Old Testament for Orthodox Jews. The narratives after the fall of Jerusalem deviate decisively. So, the grand narrative of Christianity is fundamentally different from the grand narrative of Judaism. There are also divisions within Christianity regarding the grand narrative. There are also divisions within Judaism regarding the grand narrative.

The grand narrative of Christianity ends in the final judgment. The doctrine of the final judgment declares that God looks back at the performance of everyone in history, and He makes judgments regarding their performance. That is to say, He imputes (declares) success or failure in history in terms of two general judicial categories: saved and lost. Then, within these categories, He imputes performance, and He punishes and rewards accordingly. Covenant-keepers will receive rewards in terms of their performance. This is based on the grace that God showed to them by redeeming them because of their faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). This also includes their works (Ephesians 2:10). There will be winners and losers on the day of final judgment. This will determine each man’s inheritance when he enters the new heaven and the new earth.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:11–15).

Everyone will go through this judgment. This is why there will be a grand the narrative. The grand narrative is a result of the decree of God. God will pass judgment on His own work, by way of covenant-keepers, retroactively at the final judgment. He did the same at the end of day six in the creation week. The doctrine of the decree of God, when coupled with the doctrine of the final judgment, is the foundation of the concept of the grand narrative. Any denial of the existence of this grand narrative is an attempt by covenant-breakers to escape the implications of the final judgment. They do not want to accept that doctrine, and therefore they reject the doctrine of the grand narrative.

D. Rival Narratives

There are as many narratives as there are historians, and just about everyone is an historian. Everyone has some concept of the past. Everyone has received stories of the past. Public school systems inculcate stories about the national past. Politics has governed national stories for as long as there have been national stories. But there has never been unanimity among the storytellers. There have always been rival stories. Some of these rival stories reflect separate worldviews.

This is why Christians who begin to study history as a way to fulfill their obligations as covenant-keepers have to be aware of the existence of these rival stories and rival worldviews. They have to evaluate the rival narratives in terms of what the Bible reveals about God, man, law, sanctions, and time. They must also assess the reliability of the documentation for these rival stories. They must investigate the coherence between the documentation and the interpretations given to the documentation by rival storytellers.

This is hard work. This is not work for intellectual sissies. This will lead to confrontation at some point. In the case of narratives that are widely believed by the intelligentsia of a nation, who have an interest in making certain that rival interpretations do not gain a wide following, the confrontation can be expensive in terms of lost reputations, lost jobs, and videos removed from social media sites. But it is not like the Soviet Union under Stalin in the 1930’s. There are outlets for rival views, and people who espouse rival views do not get sent to the Gulag.

To develop a narrative within the framework of the Bible’s grand narrative, Christian historians must develop good judgment. They must develop Bible-informed wisdom. They must develop the ability to interpret historical documentation of events in terms of biblical revelation, church history, and the many challenges to Christianity from covenant-breakers through history. I discuss this exercise of judgment in Chapter 14. The discipline of historiography is like all other disciplines. It requires years of study. It requires years of on-the-job training. It requires above-average intelligence. It requires people to have what is sometimes called a feel or knack for the discipline. It requires the ability to compare evidence and to compare rival historians’ handling of the evidence. Above all, it requires a Christian historian to go public with his narrative. There is an old political slogan: you cannot beat something with nothing. It is not sufficient to poke holes in a rival narrative if you do not have an alternative.

There is a tremendous advantage for being the first person to issue a narrative of a recent event. This usually is a government agency whenever the interests of the government are involved in the narrative. The government will use the media to get the official story to the public. This story will have a tremendous advantage. Anyone who challenges this story will have to have a powerful case. Also, there will be more than one challenge. The various rival stories the challenge the official story will tend to cancel each other out. The official story will still remain the dominant story in the thinking of most voters.

What is true of specific events is also true of the narratives in the public high school textbooks. These grand narratives change over time. It is difficult to trace these changes. One reason why it is so difficult is that research libraries do not store old public school textbooks. Only a handful of specialized research libraries in the field of public education have collections of old textbooks. Next, the historian would like to find out which were the dominant three textbooks. This is not easy to discover. Sales records are not available, at least not in today’s research world. Thus, any historian who attempts to trace the interpretations of public school history textbooks has a formidable task. Aware of only one such survey on the textbooks in the United States, and it was published in 1979: Francis FitzGerald’s America Revised.

FitzGerald made a curious discovery. A single author dominated the teaching of American history in American high schools from 1911 until the mid-1960’s: David Saville Muzzey. He was a theologically liberal Presbyterian who was a political Progressive. He believed in the modern welfare state. He was also a strong nationalist. There were some years in which his textbook outsold all the other textbooks combined. No one could explain the popularity of this textbook. There is a Wikipedia entry on him in 2021. It has not changed in several years; I keep checking. It has a total of four sentences. Yet he probably taught 100 million Americans what little they knew about American history. The government was not in charge of this narrative. No one was in charge of it, other than the author. Because of the enormous sales of the books, no publishing committee told him what to write. In terms of the number of people he influenced, he is probably most important historian in American history. I have collected several editions of his textbooks. I plan to put them online free of charge just for the historical record.

Today, one individual is more responsible than anyone in the world for delivering historical narratives and narratives in other fields to millions of students: Salman Khan. The Khan Academy teaches more students than any organization ever has. The videos are online for free. They are used all over the world. This project began in 2006 as an afterthought. The creator did not set out to start an online school. No government controls what he says. He was not trained as an historian. He was trained as an engineer at MIT and as an entrepreneur in the field of finance at the Harvard Business School.

E. The Structure of the Narrative

I have said the general narrative is this: the transition from grace to wrath the transition from wrath to grace. What is the structure? It is based on God’s five-point covenant model: transcendence, hierarchy, ethics, oath, succession. The acronym is THEOS. These are best understood by five questions:

1. Who is in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

In terms of social theory, these are the five points: sovereignty, authority, law, sanctions, succession. Western social theories deal with each of these five points in some way. I taught two years of Western literature to high school students using this five-point structure.

If you are studying the history of a society, find out what members of the society believed about the society’s origins. Then you must discover the general attitude toward the future. How did people view the final judgment? Did they have a concept of the final judgment? How did this attitude affect the way they live their lives? To discover this, you must find out what their concept of law was. Then you have to find out if they believed that obedience to the law will result in personal and corporate blessings. Who imposes these sanctions? In other words, to whom did they report? Until you know the answers to these questions, you are not ready to write the narrative. There are many other questions you can ask that ought to be answered, but these five are crucial. In 1988, I was discussing the history of Western civilization with a student intern working for my Institute for Christian Economics, Ruben Alvarado. He knew of the covenants five-point structure. He mentioned in an offhand comment that the chronological history of Western civilization is structured in terms of the five points, in the same order. It took me about 60 seconds to recognize the truth of what he said.

1. The Nicene Creed (325): God
2. The Papal revolution of 1076: dual hierarchies (state, church)
3. Scholasticism/Aristotelianism (c. 1100–): dual law-orders (civil, canon)
4. The Protestant Reformation (1520–) rival oaths/sanctions
5. Darwinism (1859–): time/eschatology


F. Entrepreneurial Alertness

Beginning in 1973, the free-market economist Israel Kirzner began to write extensively on entrepreneurship. He became one of the premier economists in this specialized niche of economic theory. He stressed that entrepreneurship is based on alertness. An entrepreneur sees an opportunity that other people do not see. He takes advantage of it by purchasing tools of production, raw materials, and labor services in order to produce consumer goods and services. His competitors did not see the opportunity, so they did not enter into the marketplace to compete against him in the purchase of economic inputs. He was therefore able to buy them less expensively than otherwise would have been the case. Entrepreneurial profits come from sales revenue that is above the total costs of production resources. I believe that something similar applies in every field. It may not be governed by the pursuit of money, but success in a field is usually dependent upon the ability of an innovator to spot an opportunity that his competitors do not perceive. He then pursues it with time, money, and courage.

Anyone who expects to produce something of value in the field of historiography should be familiar enough with a specific area of historical investigation to enable him to see anomalies in the textbook narrative. I have said that breakthroughs usually begin with this observation: “That’s strange.” Something does not seem right. In the field of history, something took place that previous historians’ narratives ignored or de-emphasized. The documentary evidence and explanations they provided for a particular event do not seem sufficient to explain the event. How did the event take place? What is missing from the previous explanations?

The proper procedure in searching for revisionist history projects is to read the major books and monographs on the topic. This gives you a sense of the prevailing interpretation of the topic. I recommend that you mark up the books. If you find ideas that you want to save, store them in some electronic format, such as Evernote. The goal is to become familiar with the arguments and the sources of documentation for the prevailing narrative. Next, read an equal number of books and articles that challenge this narrative. This will give you a sense of the existing narrative’s vulnerability. Be familiar with the logic of the critics and the kinds of documents they rely on. Almost no one goes through this procedure unless he is writing a master’s thesis. I adopted this procedure when I wrote Marx’s Religion of Revolution (1968) in my spare time in graduate school.

If, after going through the critical literature, you think you can improve on the existing narrative by taking another approach, you should consider moving ahead with the project. If you see something that all sides have ignored, something that may be crucial for a better understanding of the historical topic, you should begin a search to see if someone else has offered a similar insight. If so, go to the book or article, and follow the footnotes. If no one has offered something unique, you should seriously consider devoting sufficient time to write several articles, a monograph, and produce several online video introductions to your thesis. Expect to spend at least two years and maybe longer on researching and writing your monograph.

Your monograph should answer the critics of the original narrative. It should also improve or even dramatically modify the existing narrative. Then self-publish the book if you cannot find a book publisher. Get your thesis in front of the public. It would be wise to set up a website devoted to the topic. Cover the basic themes in a series of entries. Respond to any critics of the thesis. Be prepared to be ignored. There may not be any critics of the thesis. Potential critics may never hear of the book, let alone read it.

Be prepared to write a second edition if someone raises legitimate concerns about the accuracy of your presentation. Be prepared to abandon your thesis. But almost nobody ever does that. They prefer to defend what they have put in print.

Be sure that your book, online videos, and website do not deviate from the overall theme of the great narrative: the transition from wrath to grace. Also, be sure you have done justice to explaining and defending how the five points of the biblical covenant apply to the topic you selected for historical revision: God’s transcendence, covenantal hierarchy, biblical ethics, God sanctions, and succession in history.

In making the presentation, you must pursue three goals, in this order: accuracy, clarity, and persuasiveness. If the book fails, let it fail because you were not a good enough marketer or because people are just not interested in the topic. My book on Marx failed, except for winning me a Weaver Fellowship from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. I doubt that members of the committee read the book, but the fact that it was published persuaded them to give me the fellowship. I have almost never seen it footnoted except by Rushdoony, who helped get it published. It did not receive a lot of book reviews. As far as I know, there were no reviews in academic historical journals. For me, it was an important academic exercise. I had been thinking about Marx and Marxism ever since 1956. I wanted to be clear regarding what I had rejected.

I offered a unique thesis: Marx’s worldview was an extension of the chaos cults of the ancient world. I learned about this from Rushdoony. I have never seen anybody else present that thesis and then document it in detail. Today, nobody cares. Marxism is a dead philosophy. My book did nothing to bring Marxism to its well-deserved end. But at least it demonstrated that it is possible to write a serious academic critique of a prominent worldview by means of an appeal to the Bible and the Christian worldview. It also demonstrated to me that I was capable of doing serious academic research. That gave me confidence five years later when I began working on my economic commentary on the Bible.

G. Models of Christian Historiography

If we are speaking of books, there are not many. I did my best to write self-conscious Christian historiography in my history of the Northern Presbyterian Church: Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church (1996). I also attempted to do this in my introduction to Christian historiography: Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (1989). Chapter 5, “Halfway Covenant Historiography,” is a critique of three major Protestant evangelical historians: Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden. I was responding to their book: The Search for Christian America (1983), in which they concluded their search by saying that there is no such a thing as Christian America, and has not been since 1788. Why not? Because of the Constitution. They placed too much emphasis on this political document. In Part 3, I discussed in detail the origins of the United States Constitution, which is unquestionably a humanist document. I later turned that section of the book into a separate volume: Conspiracy in Philadelphia: The Origins of the United States Constitution (2013). My response to Noll, Hatch, and Masden was this: the general society of America was Christian in that era, and remained Christian until the second half of the twentieth century. The Constitution was judicially humanistic, but it was limited to only one covenant: the state.

Earlier examples of self-conscious Christian historiography are two books by R. J. Rushdoony. By far his most important book in the Christian community was this: The Messianic Character of American Education (1963). In that book, he discussed in detail with full documentation the humanistic religious motivation of two dozen of the major founders and developers of progressive education. There had never been any book like it, and there has never been any book like it since 1963. Also important is this book: The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (1971). Part I discusses the problem of the one and the many in eight chapters. Part II, “The Ground of Liberty,” contains seven chapters. Then comes the most important sections of the book. Part III, “The Continuity of Being”: chapters on Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, the chain of being, the Bible and the concept of being, and being in society. Part IV: “The unity of the Polis,” is a detailed study of the history of classical Greece. Part V, “Rome: The City of Man,” contains 11 chapters on the final days of the Roman Republican and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Part VI, “Christ: The World De-Divinized,” is a study of the conflict between the church in the Roman Empire. It covers mysticism, Gnosticism, family, abortion, Emperor worship, and other issues. It has 21 chapters. The later sections of the book continue the narrative up to the 1960’s. These chapters are not as impressive as the chapters on Greece, Rome, and the early church, but they show consistency between his idea of history as providential and the development of history in terms of that theme.

It is worth noting that Rushdoony did not have a degree in history. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, he majored in English. He received his master’s degree in education. Nevertheless, for a graduate history seminar taught by the famed medievalist, Ernst Kantorowicz, he wrote a 600-page term paper on church-state relations in Great Britain from 1500 to modern times. He knew how to do basic research.

Some of the most impressive Christian history books were written by a sociologist, Rodney Stark. They have sold well. They include these titles: One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism (2001). The fact that was published by Princeton University press is remarkable. Princeton University Press also published his 2003 book: For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the end of Slavery. In 2005, Random House published The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. In 2006, HarperOne published Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome. In 2014, ISI Books published How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity. In 2015, ISI Books published The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious than Ever. He writes well, and he writes fast. I first discovered him in 1996, after I had finished Crossed Fingers. I came across a jointly authored book by Stark and Roger Finke: The Churching of America (Rutgers University Press, 1992). I added Appendix E to discuss the book. From the moment I read it, I regarded it as the best history of American Christianity I had read. Neither of them was an historian. They were both sociologists. Even more astounding, they were sociologists who wrote clearly.

All of the books that I have listed here were published after 1960. Rushdoony’s books were published by an obscure Calvinistic publisher. No other publisher would have published his books. Prior to 1960, examples of self-conscious Protestant Christian historiography are not simply few and far between; they do not exist. You cannot find a Protestant evangelical historian who put into print what his philosophy of history was, and what relation this philosophy of history had with the Bible. You cannot find books written by Protestant evangelical historians who present their histories in terms of an explicitly biblical philosophy of history.

There were Catholic historians before 1960 who did attempt to study history in terms of their understanding of Christianity. One of the most famous of these was Lord Acton. He wrote in the late nineteenth century. He had a comprehensive understanding of the past. But he never wrote a narrative of Western history. He talked about writing a history of freedom, but he never got around to it. Another major historian in the next generation was Christopher Dawson. He was self-consciously writing as a Catholic historian. He shared faith in the synthesis of Christian theology and Aristotelian philosophy produced by Thomas Aquinas. Acton and Dawson both believed in Aristotelian logic. They both believed that a combination of biblical truth, church pronouncements, and Aristotelian logic could be used to make sense of historical documents. They had no successors who became full-time historians. When he died in 1970, Dawson was regarded by younger Catholic historians as a relic. He had been a dedicated Catholic traditionalist, a defender of the medieval synthesis known as scholasticism. The intellectual effects of Vatican II (1962–65) by 1970 had eliminated scholasticism’s influence in Catholic scholarship. This had taken less than a decade. (An excellent study on the speed of this transformation is Malachi Martin’s 1987 book, The Jesuits. Another is Gary Wills’ 1972 book, Bare Ruined Choirs.)

Conclusion

Christians should become revisionist historians. Of course, the vast majority of Christians will not do this. The vast majority of Christians do not read extensively, especially in the field of history. I am speaking of Christians who are serious about understanding history and serious about their faith. They should train themselves to become revisionists when they read history books and materials. They should think through the implications of what they have read in terms of the biblical structure of history. They must be aware of the inescapable fact that there is no neutrality anywhere in the world, including interpretations of the past. They should read book reviews of the materials—book reviews written by self-conscious Christian historians. They must re-think what they have read in terms of an explicitly Christian worldview.

Let me provide an example of the non-neutrality of historiography. Humanists suppress information about Christianity’s contribution to Western civilization. The career of the great physicist and great historian of medieval technology, Pierre Duhem (1861–1916), is representative of this attitude. He wrote 10 volumes on the development of science in the late medieval era: Le système du monde. He said the Catholic Church was behind much of this work after 1250. The first five volumes were published between 1914 and 1917. Then opinion turned against him within the French academic establishment. His publisher refused to publish the next five volumes. That blackout lasted for almost four decades. Only the threat of a lawsuit by his daughter finally forced the company to publish them from 1954–59. Had it not been for the efforts of physicist-priest Stanley Jaki (1924–2009), this story would have remained unknown. The Wikipedia entry on Duhem in September 2021 does not mention this suppression. You can read the story of this censorship here: http://bit.ly/DuhemSuppression. Jaki’s books are fine examples of historical revisionism, especially The Road of Science and the Ways of God (1978) and Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe (1974). He stressed the importance of the linear view of time in the development of science. This uniquely Western view of time came through the Bible by way of Christianity. His books on this topic have not been reprinted, and used copies sell for hundreds of dollars on Amazon.

A small number of Christians should become amateur historiographers. They should write book reviews and post them on their blogs. They should teach Sunday school courses on aspects of Christian history. They should write short articles about historical matters of interest to them. They should publish these articles on their blogs. In other words, they must share what they have learned.

A tiny number of Christians should become full-time historians. Maybe they should teach high school. Maybe they can teach in a Christian college. They have an obligation to write books that revise the prevailing humanist accounts of the past. They may have to self-publish these books, but they must publish them. They must rethink and re-examine the narratives that they had been presented in the public school systems, from the early grades through graduate school.

We have seen this kind of revisionism since 1960 in the field of six-day creationism. Christians have begun to re-think a century of compromise (1860–1960) with the timeline of evolutionism. This has been vital work. But it is not sufficient to begin to rethink the principles of historical geology and evolutionary biology in terms of the Bible’s revelation concerning creation. That task is necessary, but it is not sufficient. The reconstruction must be applied to every academic discipline. This includes the study of history.

I made this case in my 1988 book, Is the World Running Down? Crisis in the Christian Worldview. I challenged believers in the six-day creation to begin to extend their work beyond historical geology and biology. There was virtual silence in response to that book. So, I am now calling on Christians once again to rethink the basics of academic disciplines in terms of the concept of creation and providence. It took me six decades to produce a Christian reconstruction of economic theory. It can be done in other academic disciplines. It must be done.

This reconstruction begins with you. You must be aware of the conflict between humanists and Christians with respect to the structure of history and the discipline of writing history. You must recognize that there is a war going on. You must understand the nature of this war. You must understand the rival views of God, man, law, sanctions, and time. You must understand the rival views of sovereignty, authority, law, sanctions, and the future. Then, as you read history, and as you teach history to your children or in Sunday schools, you must discipline yourself to present a biblical view rather than a humanist view. Baptized humanism will no longer suffice to lead Christians out of the wilderness and into the promised land. We need a new generation of the conquest.