What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(8)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 4th May, 2021

The Bible specifically commands that God’s people are not to make covenants with ungodly people. Why? Because God’s people are bound in covenant to God, through Jesus Christ, and He is a jealous God. He is jealous for the love, affections and the obedience of His people; He wants their hearts. There are many texts dealing with this, such as Ex.34:10-16, Deut.7:1-6; 12:1-4; 20:16-18, Num.33:50-56; Judges 2:1-4; II Cor.6:14-18.

Every time God’s people disobeyed him in this context in the Bible, God said the results would be disastrous. (Joshua 23:11-13 is a good example.)

The Biblical position with regard to alliances is that alliances are religious acts…a common cause and a common faith motivates the allies.[1]

The most obvious application for this, is in relationship to whom we marry, but it applies to all areas of our life.

The Christian parent needs to consistently apply their faith to education, as an important aspect of life. This is a non-negotiable issue. What does it mean to be faithful to God, in the raising of children? Do I really believe I can expose my children to the influence of evildoers for twelve years, and then give a good account to God for how they have been raised? This was Lot’s delusion. Is enrolment in a godless educational institution, consistent with the scriptures’ command, to “train up a child in the way they should go?” (Prov.22:6)

Children are a God-given inheritance for our conquest of the world for Christ. They are a means of subduing the earth and exercising dominion under the Lord. If we give our children to state or private schools which are not systematically Christian in their curriculum, we are then giving the future to God’s enemies, and He will hold us accountable for laying waste our heritage. [2]

In about 2002, while I was working for Australian Christian Academy in Brisbane, Australia, a church-attending woman came into our office to enquire about homeschooling. During our conversation, she admitted that she was troubled by a comment that her seven year old son in a state school, had made to her:                   

Mummy, why did you put me in a school that doesn’t believe in God?

The issue of educational accreditation is a significant religious issue for Christian parents. It may be one of the most significant tests of their faith in life. It is really a case of, “Who is Lord of my family?” It is a test of our faithfulness. Because much of the modern church is syncretistic, many can find a good excuse.

Syncretistic?

It’s an attempt to combine two religions, and it very commonly has an ulterior political motivation. Syncretism was Israel’s problem, from the time they came out of Egypt. Aaron tried to maintain the façade of faithfulness to the Lord, when he produced the golden calf (Ex.32:1-8).

Ahab may have wanted to maintain the facade of the worship of the Lord, but he also wanted to maintain his grasp on political power; so he didn’t want to offend others (including Jezebel), who were Baal worshippers. He tried to maintain an impossible religious compromise, with a political motivation. That was Ahab’s way: compromise, rather than initiate conflict. But, as someone has said,

The path of least resistance makes men and rivers crooked.

Ahab’s syncretism only brought God’s curse on his family (I Kings 21:25-29).

Conflict for the Christian is necessary, and an aspect of our faith. The early church had lots of it, and it frequently led to the persecution and martyrdom of individuals. No one that I know likes conflict, but bearing in mind that we will all give an account to God at a later date, we must ensure we make wise choices. “If we please God, who does it matter whom we displease?”

Conclusion:

Elijah said to the people in his day,

“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word (I Kings 18:21).

In relation to our childrens’ education, we must make choices which:

a) Are pleasing to God.

b) Will lead to their long-term benefit, assisting their education/discipleship.

c) Are decisions which they will see as being consistent with our Christian faith, which they can draw an example from, over time.

                                                                                                                                               

Is that what you’re doing?


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.89.

[2] Rousas Rushdoony, “In His Service,” 2009, p.20.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(7)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 27th April, 2021

       1.Educational Accreditation:                                                                                                                             

         There was conflict between Rome and the early church. Rome’s policy toward all religions was that no religion had a right to exist unless it was a licit religion, duly licensed by the Empire, and possessing a certificate which that religion or cult was supposed to hang on the wall of its meeting place. A part of the procedure whereby licit status was secured, was to appear before a Roman imperial centre, and there to put a little incense on a brazier before an image of the emperor or a battle insignia, and then to declare briefly ‘Caesar is Lord!’ That was all. It was an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Caesar over every area of life and thought.[1]

When we say that we believe in God and in Christ, we are saying that we are putting our faith in a higher Being. When a school is accredited, the school is putting its faith in a higher institution, which grants the school legitimacy. When a school is accredited by the state, the school is putting its faith in the state and being accepted by the state. Thus, accreditation is a religious act. This explains why accreditation is one of the means used by humanistic governments to control Christian schools.[2]

State control of education has always been a key component of humanist and socialist ideology; an article of their faith promoted since Aristotle, and espoused by Marx and Hitler. Engels, (Marx’s co-writer and supporter) claimed that,

with the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, [communism] the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society…The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. [3]   

State education has always been hostile to Christianity, and the family. As early as 1864, John Swett, the Superintendent of California state schools, claimed that

the child should be taught to consider his instructor…superior to the parent in point of authority… the vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous…parents have no remedy as against the teacher.[4]

As early as 1930, humanists realised that education and in particular public education, would be a means of alienating students from Christianity. In that year, Charles F. Potter, a signatory of the first Humanist Manifesto,indicated that

education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday School, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teachings?[5]

Rushdoony highlighted the religious claim of public education:

Since a sovereign must have absolute power, the state, where it claims sovereignty, whether a democracy or anything else, moves towards totalitarian powers. Sovereignty with such powers becomes the saving power, and the state becomes man’s god and saviour. It then governs and controls man’s total life.[6]

Christian parents must understand that Departments of Education have a deeply religious reason to maintain an educational monopoly. If departmental individuals are not believers in Jesus Christ, they will be hostile to the faith, for Jesus said that “he who is not with me is against me” (Mat.12:30).They know that Christian faith is communicated primarily within the family. The department may give lip-service to the notion of family influence within the curriculum or a school, but that is all. That is merely the maintenance of a good façade. What counts to them, is the maintenance of departmental power.

Strong family structures are a threat to the humanistic state, as they represent an independent power base, and are difficult to control. This is one reason why socialists have always hated the family. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, when she was the Federal Minister for Education, indicated in Parliament (25/8/2008) that “parents of school-aged children are obligated to send them to school.” She was utterly indifferent to the wishes of the parents. This reflects a consistent socialist view.

If the child is in a government registered school (be it a state school, private, or “Christian”), the child will spend a large portion of their time away from their parents and family, being progressively instructed in material which has departmental approval, in an age-segregated classroom. Over twelve years, that computes to some 14,400 hours, of departmentally approved, worldview indoctrination.                

There is a second reason why education departments are keen to maintain control. Like the silversmiths of Acts 19:23-27, they want to protect their business monopoly, and their future. If a large proportion of the community was able to successfully educate their children, without any reference at all to an educational bureaucracy, that bureaucracy would clearly be irrelevant. That could mean the loss of hundreds, and ultimately many thousands of tax-payer funded jobs, the total collapse and elimination of seven state or federal departments in Australia, and a massive saving to the taxpayer. I believe that would be a good thing, and a logical outcome of Jesus’ promise, that “every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted”(Mat.15:13).

They cannot afford to let this happen, so they will fight tooth and nail, and coerce families by various means of intimidation (including the threat of prosecution), to try and ensure children are enrolled in a departmentally registered institution. Any other scenario would be absolutely anaethema-unthinkable for them.

Nowhere in the Bible does God delegate the education of children to the state or to the disciples of other religions.[7]  


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “The ‘Atheism’ of the Early Church,” 1983, p.15-16.

[2] Robert Thoburn, “The Children Trap,”1986, p.96-7.

[3] Marx and Engels, Selected Works, 1976.

[4] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Messianic Character of American Education,” 1995, p.80-81.

[5] Bruce Shortt, “The Harsh Truth about Government Schools,” 2004, p.54.

[6] Rousas Rushdoony, “Sovereignty,” 2007, p.471.

[7] Shortt, ibid., p.55.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(6)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 20th April, 2021

The Pattern of Breakdown of Old Testament Discipleship:

Others have been with those who rebel against the light… (Job 24:13).

The incest of the daughters of Lot: (Gen.19:30-38) What was different about the education and discipleship of the daughters of Lot, compared to that of Isaac, Abraham’s son? How had they been so influenced in their upbringing, that they could conclude it was perfectly appropriate to trick their father into drunkenness, so they could have sex and fall pregnant to him? Clearly, the attitudes and behaviour of the inhabitants of Sodom around the girls during their upbringing, had a marked impact on them, and their father.

The scripture says that Lot was “oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men… [and] felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds” (II Pet.2:7-8). But foolishly, he did not consider these were sufficient reasons to take his family and leave the city; he required a visit from angels to persuade him. When the men of the city approached his door, wanting to rape the angels who were with him, he offered to give his daughters instead to the mob, promising that they could “do to them whatever you like”(Gen.19:8). The angels were able to save the lives of Lot and his daughters, but the girls’ subsequent behaviour shows that they had already succumbed to the morality of Sodom.

[Lot] selected a city where his children could not be discipled and educated properly in the Bible. He wanted to live in the luxury of a corrupt society with a wicked educational system, instead of wandering around in a bunch of tents with Abraham…the long-term price was great. Lot ended up living in a cave…more importantly, he lost his children. [1]

B) The rape of Dinah: (Gen.34:1) It appears that Dinah went alone, when she “went out to visit the daughters of the land.” Whether Jacob knew she was going is not clear, but this is not the point. While it is easy to be wise in hindsight, she should have been accompanied and protected, if she was to go at all into the company of people she knew nothing of. This instance reflects Jacob’s negligence in the care of his only daughter, and his failure to be responsible in the subsequent negotiations with Hamor and Shechem. As a result, there was needless revenge and bloodshed on the part of Simeon and Levi (Gen.34:25-29), so much so that Jacob feared that they would all be destroyed.

C) The rape of Tamar, and murder of Amnon: (II Sam.13) The sin of our children cannot always be prevented by our diligence. But we are obliged, as much as it lies within our power and responsibility, to behave wisely and circumspectly, knowing that there is corruption in every heart, whether it names the name of Christ, or not. This David did not do, in his oversight of his children. When Amnon requested of David that Tamar be sent into him, to prepare him some food, David did not perceive any impropriety. But Amnon went one step further. Being with her half-brother in a bedroom, when everyone has been dismissed by him from the room (v.9), was itself a place of vulnerability for her. But she has no apparent inkling of any danger.

Amnon’s rape of his half-sister Tamar was a family tragedy. It was the second in a series of tragic events within David’s family, which relate to David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and his murder of Uriah. Was David at fault in relation to Tamar’s rape? He was Amnon’s father, and had not successfully discipled that young man.

David had written the Psalm, “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life and loves length of day that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” (Ps.34:11-12). Perhaps David and her mother had not trained Tamar (like Dinah), to avoid circumstances that could leads to compromise or danger. What David clearly didn’t do, in relation to Amnon, was to “know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds” (Prov.27:23).

King David’s inability to act justly after the rape of Tamar in dealing with Amnon, set in motion a further series of events, spanning a number of years. Absalom, angered by his sister’s rape, is never consoled by justice being done, and being seen to be done, to Amnon. He is angry with Amnon, but also frustrated and angry with his father. There appears to be no penalty for Amnon, for an offense that in some circumstances would result in capital punishment (Deut.22:25). David was “very angry (v.21), but what does Amnon care about that? The injustice is swept under the carpet.

David is unable to act, presumably because the criminal is his own son, and he is torn between a conflicting sense of the need for justice for the Lord, for Tamar, his desire to avoid a public family scandal, and his attachment to Amnon. He fails to put into practice his own injunction, that “…he who practices deceit will not dwell within my house” (Ps.101:7). David is emotionally manipulated by the events of the day. This may have been what Amnon was confident about, all along.

Thus Absalom murders Amnon; an awful, but in some ways, a logical conclusion (v.29). But there is one person who plays a subtle, perhaps indirect role, in both the rape of Tamar, and the murder of Amnon. The Bible describes Jonadab, David’s nephew, as “a very shrewd man” (v.3). Jonadab knew before both the rape of Tamar, and the murder of Amnon, something of the possible outcomes. Initially the “friend” (v.3) of Amnon, Jonadab was also aware of Absalom’s conspiracy against him. When King David hears the initial news, that there has been a slaughter, that“not one [of the king’s sons] is left” (v.30), Jonadab is able to explain to him, that “…only Amnon is dead” (v.33).

What can we learn from these three tragic Old Testament examples?

Firstly, we are instructed that every father has authority from God to “manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity” (I Tim.3:4). This is effectively a New Testament rendition of God’s command to Abraham (Gen.18:19).

Job, who probably lived in Abraham’s era, also took his obligations as a father very seriously (Job 1:5). One minister whose views I respect, has written that “by far the majority of church families I know are not protective enough of their children.”[2]This is a critical aspect, if fathers wish to see their family inherit the promises of God. 

Secondly, it is the devil’s classic strategy when attacking a family, to send an evil thought to a weak family member, via a person who appears to be perfectly innocuous. The devil of course, appears to be “an angel of light” (II Cor.11:14). Who would have thought that a demonically inspired serpent in the Garden could have brought down the whole human race, or that Jonadab (David’s own nephew), could have participated in two evil conspiracies, which ended in a rape of one family member and the death of another? Fathers need to be aware of this demonic strategy, and respond accordingly.

Thirdly, sins in the family, may not be a father’s fault; but they are his responsibility. They happen on his watch. A father’s failure to act firmly, decisively and protectively when necessary, can have disastrous consequences in his family. Sin has a remarkable capacity to intrude into the family, the most central place of human activity, as Genesis graphically shows.

Conclusion:

We sometimes make an error in majoring on the sins of commission, such as murder, rape and adultery, sins which are addressed in the Ten Commandments. But sins of omission, which Adam, Lot, Jacob and David committed, can be just as dangerous and deadly, as sins of commission.

Adam’s first error was in not protecting his wife in the garden, from a devious, lying, slanderous interloper. That was an aspect of God’s command to “cultivate and keep it” (Gen.2:15). At a critical point in their families’ development when a crisis was looming, these four men failed to take initiative and act protectively. The Bible warns us that, “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked”(Prov.25:26).


[1] Ray Sutton, “That You May Prosper,” 1997, p.116.

[2] Dr S. M. Davis, “Changing the Heart of a Rebel,” 1998, p.1.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(5)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 13th April, 2021

Deuteronomy: An Analysis of two Chapters:

Deuteronomy, chapters 6 and 11 expand on God’s promises to Abraham. They have many similarities to those promises, and the two chapters are similar to each other. Time has moved on since Abraham; perhaps 500-550 years, but God, being the Unchanging One, has kept His covenant with Abraham, as He promised. Now, He is speaking through Moses, to the group of 2 to 3 million people, who are Abraham’s descendants. They are ready if they’ll obey to be the recipients of God’s promises, made originally to their forefather Abraham, in Genesis 18.

Six significant words are used repetitively in Deuteronomy 6 and 11. A close analysis of these words is critical to understand God’s purpose in educating and discipling the children of Israel, and our children today.

“Teach” is used 3 times, “listen,” 4 times, “sons,” 7 times, “possess” or “dispossess,” 7 times, and “land,” 19 times. The word “command” (or “commandments” or “commanding” or “commanded”) is used 26 times, whilst “Lord” is used 33 times.

From an educational and a discipleship point of view (education and discipleship being subjects I consider inseparable), it could be said that these are the six most important words in these two chapters, about education.

Drawing on the use of these 6 words, we can construct a one sentence summary of the two chapters, which reflects and explains God’s educational purpose for His people, at all times:

   Teach your sons the Lord’s commandments, so they can possess the land.

Abbreviated further, we could say:  Education is for possession.

We can now make a summary:

The Bible teaches us, that

a) God had given revelatory words within the family, to the person He had chosen to be in authority-the father.

b) These words are in the form of authoritative instructions and commands, from God.

c) Obedience to those words leads to life, blessing and dominion.

d) God expects the father to faithfully represent Him.

V. Education in Psalms and Proverbs:

A) Without wishing to deal in an in-depth way with either of these books, the Book of Proverbs is substantially a book of a father’s instructions to his son, the father being designated by God as the primary instructor. Once again, it is parents who are designated as God’s choice, to educate their children.

43 times, Proverbs uses the word “son,”and on 20 of these occasions, the even more personal term, “My son,” is employed. Perhaps the most important thing a father is to teach his children, is the fear of the Lord (see Ps.34:9-11).

B) The mother’s role in the education of her children, is clearly stated (see Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 31:1, 26). The bride in the Song of Solomon, said to her husband, “I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me” (Song of Sol.8:2). The family is thus the primary place of instruction.

C) Psalms and Proverbs warn us that one of the most destructive things to do to any young person, is to let them be in the company of fools (see Ps.1:1-3; Prov.13:20; 22:24-25). The Bible doesn’t merely warn of the potential of bad consequences; it predicts them as being an inevitable result.

Furthermore, Ps.106:34-39 is a history lesson on the children of Israel, explaining Israel’s steps down into idolatry. Having failed to destroy the peoples as the Lord commanded them, they then “mingled with the nations, and learned their practices, and served their idols”(v.35). Like the children of Israel, childrens’ association with others subjects them to the influence of others, leading to the formation of habits, and to lasting character change. Socialisation can be of a positive or negative nature.

The Christian person doesn’t doubt that socialisation for children is important, for the scripture says, “He that walks with wise men will be wise…” (Prov.13:20). Socialisation is essential. The critical factors are,“With who?” and “For what purpose?” The Bible clearly teaches us here, that Christian children gain no benefit in mixing with ungodly people, whose values are qualitatively different to theirs. The consequences will be damaging, and sometimes irreparable:“…the companion of fools will suffer harm.” A person’s moral environment (as Lot discovered, to his lasting pain) is of great importance.

A survey presented in 2001 in the U. S. showed that within two years of graduating from high school, between 70% and 88% of teenagers from evangelical families stop attending church.[1]

As one writer indicated,“all too many churchmen view the undisciplined and amoral products of statist education as evidences of the failure of these schools. On the contrary, they are evidences of their success.”[2]


[1] Bruce Shortt, “The Harsh Truth about Government Schools,” 2004, p.51.

[2] Rushdoony, quoted in Shortt, p.57.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(4)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 6th April, 2021

Introduction:

The best and truest educators are parents under God. The greatest school is the family …the moral training of the child, the discipline of good habits, is an inheritance from the parents to the child which surpasses all others.[1]

Hebrew education was intensely practical. The common opinion held that a man who did not teach his son the law and a trade, the ability to work, reared him to be a fool and a thief. It is said that Simeon, the son of the famed Gamaliel, observed; ‘not learning but doing is the chief thing.’ [2]

I. God, our First Educator:

Adam and Eve’s education in the garden, is instructive. Having made all things in six days, God’s command to Adam and Eve, was that they should “rule and have dominion”(Gen.1:26-28), which some have called the Dominion (or Cultural) Mandate. He gave them commands and instructions regarding their responsibilities in the garden, which was to be a proving ground for them. His law is perfect (Ps.19:7), and His education was perfect (Job 36:22), but this doesn’t mean that life was easy for them. There was plenty of work to do in the garden, and this couple had to work at everything from scratch, without tools, ladders, a manual, a hardware shop, or a home. But God blessed them (Gen.1:28).

Adam and Eve’s education meant that they learned to obey God’s Word, understanding that there would be consequences for their disobedience (Gen.2:17). God Himself provided them with their theological understanding, their epistemology (their source of knowledge), their ontology (understanding of who they were), and their axiology (their values). As part of their education, Adam and Eve would need to be taught and understand mathematics (1:28), botany (2:15), agriculture (2:5, 15), language (2:19-20), systems of classification (2:19-20), defence (2:15), human anatomy, biology and reproduction (2:23), and teamwork (2:23).

II. Noah’s Educational Process:

God’s plan to destroy the earth because of wickedness in Noah’s day, meant that after the flood, He would be left with a couple, their three sons and their daughters-in-law. The coming cataclysm required that He commence a new educational process; the eight people would need additional information. So, He began with a father.

God spoke to Noah (Gen.6:13), and gave him information, instruction and commands (6:14-8:32), and promised to make covenant with him (6:18). The survival of Noah’s family required that he accept God’s educational directions. His family needed to accept that he had heard from God, and in accordance with God’s revealed plan, they needed to carry out all the necessary work for 120 years. They would need to be pioneers in building the ark, and pioneers after the flood, rebuilding a godly civilisation.

After the flood, God blessed them (9:1), repeated the command to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (9:7), and made the promised covenant with Noah (9:8-17).

III. God identified Education as a vital Role for Parents: Gen.18:17-19.

God had a plan for Abraham. He had chosen Abraham, just as Christ has chosen us (Jn.15:16), and this meant Abraham had authority in his family and household, which may have numbered many hundreds, or even thousands of people (see Gen.14:14), to command, direct and teach.

The first aspect of Abraham’s authority from God, was to “…command his children…to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice”(v.19). If these conditions were met, the promises of God to Abraham and his seed would eventuate. These aspects of God’s promises to Abraham, are applicable to parents today (Heb.13:8).


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” 1973, p.185.

[2] ibid., p.183.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(3)

Christian Education and Biblical Law

The subject of Christian education has generated significant interest in the conservative and Reformed church over the last 50 years. Because of the increasing secularization of life, the wholesale acceptance of the naturalistic theory of evolution, and the removal of prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, Christian scholars, pastors, and parents were forced (particularly in the 1960s and ’70s) to take a close look at how Christian children were being educated in public schools.

What they found was alarming: the philosophy, methods, and content of public education were humanistic and hostile to Biblical truth at nearly every point. Some of the leading voices in calling the church to recognize the disaster of secular education and the danger that it posed to the Christian faith were men like Gordon Clark, Frank Gaebelein, Cornelius Van Til, and Rousas J. Rushdoony.1 But these men not only sounded the alarm, they also articulated the Biblical foundations for an explicitly Christian approach to education.

As a result of their work, many Christians began to think differently about education. Christians began to realize that true Christian education is based on the Word of God: the presuppositions, methods, and content of Christian education must be derived from the revelation of God in Holy Scripture. The power of such a revolutionary view of education (though in many cases only imperfectly understood) led to the Christian school movement of the 1970s, the homeschool movement of the 1980s, and the classical Christian education movement of the 1990s. All three of these expressions of Christian education, with varying degrees of success, have sought to apply Biblical principles to the theory and practice of educating children.

Those of us committed to the concept of Christian education need to take stock of where we are today. Have we been faithful to the Biblical foundations of Christian education that were articulated with such cogency and power by the men mentioned above (and others who have built on their work)?2 Are we really directed by the Word of God in our educational endeavors? Are our efforts to train the next generation for service in God’s Kingdom properly focused to yield the maximum results? Are we providing our students with the foundation they will need to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?

We have excelled in our attempts to produce a Biblically based epistemology. We have done significant work to develop a distinctly Christian curriculum and have made good strides in setting forth a Christian approach to history, science, mathematics, language, economics, civics, and the arts. But is our work done? Is the development of the Christian curriculum complete, except for fine-tuning?

To help answer this question, we can use the four commonly recognized areas of human thought: the true (epistemology), the beautiful (aesthetics), the good (ethics), and the eternal (religion). In three of these areas, the true, the beautiful, and the eternal, Christian education is well on its way; but what about the area we call the good, i.e., the sphere of ethics?

Where do we stand today on the subject of ethics? What part does ethics play in the average curriculum in a Christian school, Christian homeschool, or a classical Christian school? Is this important area of life even part of the curriculum? And if it is, does it receive the attention that the other areas of the curriculum receive? Do we teach our students, year by year, history, science, math, and language employing a progressive and comprehensive approach, but neglect to teach ethics in the same way? If we teach the subject of ethics, is it limited to a single course taught in the later years of the educational process?

Honest answers may reveal a startling lack of attention to Christian ethics as a distinct area of study in most Christian schools and homeschools. Why is this? Perhaps it is because we do not think that the subject of ethics is that difficult. Isn’t it enough that we tell our students to obey the Ten Commandments, to follow their conscience, and to let the Holy Spirit lead them? Perhaps it is because we do not think that the subject of ethics is really important for the success of our students in life. Perhaps we never considered ethics to be a definite area of thought and a part of the Christian curriculum. Perhaps we think that the subject of ethics will be covered adequately in our Bible courses.

In this article, we argue for the necessity of making ethics a distinct part of the Christian curriculum. Without a firm grounding in Biblical ethics there can be no true Christian education. If we have not taught our students a Biblical approach to ethics, and given them the knowledge and skill to make wise moral decisions in every area of life, we have failed to give them a thorough Christian education.

EDUCATION AND ETHICS

It is always good to define your terms. Ethics comes from the Greek word for morals. Morals are principles or standards of conduct that define the difference between good and evil, and right and wrong, in the sphere of human action. Ethics seeks to determine the “ought” dimension of life, i.e., what we ought to do when faced with moral decisions and dilemmas. Therefore, the study of ethics is learning how to make proper moral judgments and live righteously before God and man.

The sphere in which ethics operates is the whole of life. The very nature of ethics requires systematized moral thinking, i.e., ethics requires critical thinking that not only defines what we ought to do in each situation, but places our moral decisions in the context of a coherent ethical philosophy that self-consciously acts on the basis of a recognized standard. This is why the word ethics is commonly joined with a descriptive term to designate an ethical system, e.g., Platonic ethics, natural law ethics, transcendental ethics, utilitarian ethics, Islamic ethics, and Christian ethics.

“Christian ethics” refers (or at least it should) to the ethical system presented in Scripture, and another name for Christian ethics could be “Biblical ethics.” Christian ethics is a distinct discipline that seeks to answer the question of good and evil in human conduct in every sphere of government (personal, family, church, and state) and in every aspect of life (work, business, the arts, education, war, economics, entertainment, science, medicine, and law) on the basis of God’s Bible-revealed law.

The word education is based on a Latin term that means to lead forth, bring up, or train. Noah Webster defines education as: “The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.”3 The central idea of education is not the accumulation of knowledge and facts, or of mere technical skills. Though education includes these things, education aims to train the student in all facets of his being so that he will be prepared to live life successfully. Central to a proper education is training, as Webster puts it, in “manners.” What does he mean by manners? Manners, according to Webster, refers to “behavior; conduct; course of life; in a moral sense.”4 In other words, education involves training in ethics.

Much that passes for Christian education has not taken this aspect of education seriously enough. We want our students to have a distinctly Christian approach to science, the arts, language, history, and math, but do we also seek to give them a Biblical approach to ethics? Do we have a place in our curriculum to teach our students an explicitly Christian system of ethics? If we do not, and if we claim to be Christian educators, then we must provide a place for instruction in Biblical ethics.

This is an absolute necessity in the world we live in. The moral sphere is in near total chaos in the wider culture, and the church is not far behind. If Christians are going to live lives to the glory of God, walk a path of righteousness, and be a light to the world, they need to know how to determine good and evil and how to answer moral questions from the Bible.

Furthermore, since all of life involves moral judgments, we cannot dispense with the questions of ethics in anything we do. You cannot have a Christian approach to science, economics, or the arts without grounding the pursuit and application of these disciplines in Biblical ethics. Mere knowledge and technology may determine what we can do, but in themselves they cannot answer the question of what we ought to do; for this we must have Christian ethics, i.e., a Biblical system of ethics that can determine on the authority of God’s Word what we ought to do with our scientific knowledge and technical skills.

EDUCATION AND WISDOM

We have defined Christian education as a process of training students to live productive and successful lives for the glory of God. This training involves the mind (knowledge) and the body (skills); but it also includes training in ethics. Ethics gives the student the moral knowledge and skills necessary to discern between good and evil and is the foundation for all that he does with his mind and body. Education aims at successful living (as God defines success), and this idea brings it into connection with the Biblical concept of wisdom. 

Among the Greeks, “wisdom” primarily was speculative, while among the Hebrews, “wisdom” primarily was practical. Through “wisdom” (the power of human reason) the Greeks sought to answer fundamental questions about the world and man: what is the nature of reality? How did the world come into being? What is the nature of man’s being? What is true and good?

But the Hebrews already had these questions answered for them in the written Word of God. With these fundamental issues settled by divine authority, the main focus of the Hebrew was fulfilling his calling and living his life to the glory of God. Instead of speculation on the nature of reality, the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set their minds on how to apply the revealed truth and law of God to life.

The Hebrew word wisdom (hokma), means, essentially, skillfulness in any art. It can be used in terms of skill in technical work, but its more common Old Testament meaning is skillfulness in the art of living. It designates a man who knows how to live successfully, who knows how to meet each challenge he faces with sagacity and prudence. This wisdom is not of man’s own doing, but is based in the fear of God. Wisdom is something that God gives to man when he seeks it with his whole heart (Prov. 2:1–9).

To understand the Biblical concept of wisdom, it must be seen in relation to the fear of God. The fear of God is one of the leading designations for true faith in the Old Testament. To fear God is to believe in Him as He has revealed Himself; it is to believe in God as He is, not as a man might conceive Him to be in his own imagination. Those who fear God have seen Him, with the eyes of faith, as the almighty God and sovereign Lord of all creation. Hence, they hold Him in the highest honor and reverence, and humbly submit to His authority.

To submit to God’s authority is to obey His commandments, and His commandments are revealed in His law. This is why the fear of God and the law of God are inseparable in the Old Testament. The fear of God is one of the leading themes in the teaching of Moses in Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:13, 24; 8:6; 10:20; 13:4). According to Moses, the fear of the Lord is the starting point for wholehearted obedience to God’s law (Deut. 10:12–13). In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and selected Psalms), the fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom. The connection is clear: wisdom is based on the knowledge of God’s law, and it is the skill of applying the righteousness of God’s law to every aspect of life. Wisdom is not human sagacity and shrewdness, but the expertise of using the law of God to direct all decisions, to answer all moral questions, and to faithfully serve God and man.

The Biblical concept of wisdom needs to be applied to Christian education. Education is training designed to make a man successful in life. Wisdom is skillfulness in the art of living. The skill of godly wisdom is the ability to understand and apply the law of God to life. True education, in the Biblical sense, is far more than the acquisition of knowledge or technical skills. True education is training students how to live in the fear of God and use His law as the foundation for their callings in family, church, and state; it is training on how to employ their knowledge and skills within the ethical framework of God’s revealed law. Without knowledge of God’s law, students cannot be wise; and if they are not wise, they are not educated in the Biblical sense of the term. So the Hebrew concept of wisdom demonstrates that a formal and rigorous training in Christian ethics is an indispensable aspect of authentic Christian education.

EDUCATION AND BIBLICAL LAW

We have argued that ethics is a fundamental aspect of Christian education. Furthermore, we have pointed out that ethics needs to be taught as a system of truth and moral principles, and not simply as a footnote in other courses of instruction. The next question we have to face as Christian educators is the very important question of what system of ethics we will teach.

As it is imperative that we set forth a Christian perspective on the subjects that we teach, so it is imperative that we teach a true Christian perspective on ethics. Therefore, not any textbook or approach will do!

So what ethical system will we teach? It may be helpful in determining the answer to look at the ethical systems that have appealed to Christian teachers in the past. Some have used the ethical system of the classical writers (Greeks and Romans), i.e., natural law, to instruct their students in ethics. Others have used the ethical system of Thomas Aquinas, i.e., a fusion of Aristotelian philosophy and natural law ethics with Roman Catholic theology and the Bible. Others have used evangelical systems that blend natural law (whether classical or Thomistic versions or both) with Protestant theology and its respect for the authority of Scripture. Others have used an explicitly Biblical and Reformed approach to ethics; this approach is known in our day as “theonomy” (the rule of God’s law).

It seems incongruous that Protestant Christians, who supposedly believe in sola Scriptura, should find it necessary to go to Athens or Rome for the essence of their ethical theory. In Scripture there is not a single verse that instructs God’s covenant people to look to anywhere beyond God’s perfect revelation in the Bible for the knowledge of good and evil. Never once are believers in the Old or New Testaments exhorted to seek moral wisdom at the feet of the priests of false religion or from the books of the pagan philosophers of Greece or Rome. The law of God is the only standard of ethics in the Bible.

In the Word of God, men are commanded to go “to the law and to the testimony” to find moral light (Isa. 8:20); never are they commanded to go to “natural law” or any other source for moral direction and wisdom (Prov. 3:5–6). This is because God’s law is entirely sufficient as the basis of Christian ethics (Ps. 19:7–11; 2 Tim. 3:15–17). Therefore, the ethical system that we teach in our Christian schools must be based on Scripture alone. Scripture ought to supply the theological presuppositions and the epistemology for our system of Christian ethics, and Biblical law ought to supply its content.

In support of the proposition that the subject of ethics is central in Christian education and that Christian ethics is based on God’s law, it is instructive to note that the great passages on education in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:9; 6:5–9; 11:18–21) are centered in commands to parents to teach their children the law of God. It is impossible to use these Deuteronomy texts to support the notion that instruction in God’s law (Biblical ethics) is something unnecessary or something tacked on to the core curriculum of a Christian liberal arts education. According to these magisterial texts on education, the law of God is the core curriculum around which everything else must find its place.

But today it is the law of God that has trouble finding a place in our Christian education curriculum. Our Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the law-centered educational curriculum and methodology of the book of Deuteronomy in His Sermon on the Mount. He emphatically denied that He had come to loose the authority of God’s law over His disciples (Matt. 5:17–18). In fact, He said that true greatness in His Kingdom was tied to the work of doing and teaching the law of God (Matt. 5:19). Thus, true greatness in Christian education is to teach the law of God (Biblical ethics) to your students so that they will learn to follow the moral imperatives of the law in every academic discipline, in every technical skill, in every vocation, and in every sphere of life. Biblical law is the foundation of Christian education.

This neglect of the law of God (Biblical ethics) in Christian education has had and will continue to have long-term dire consequences for the church and society unless we begin to rectify it today. We will rectify it if we begin now to incorporate studies in Biblical law into the core of our curriculum. This means that teachers will have to become knowledgeable in Biblical ethics, and that we will need to produce textbooks and courses of instruction in Biblical ethics that will train Christian students in this vital area from their earliest years right through to the end of their formal schooling. Thankfully, we already have some outstanding works in Biblical ethics.5 Although these works are advanced studies, they can be used by teachers for training and lesson preparation for teaching their younger students, and as textbooks for their older students.

In Biblical history, reformation always began when God’s people returned to God’s law (cf. 2 Kings 22:8–23:25; Neh. 8:1–9:38). May we who labor in Christian education, whether it be in a Christian school, Christian homeschool, or a classical Christian school, help ignite a new reformation by establishing the study of Biblical ethics at the core of our curriculum.

First published in Faith for All of Life Magazine (July/August 2007), a publication of the Chalcedon Foundation, www.chalcdon.edu. Republished by permission of the author.

  • 1.Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1988; reprint of 1946 edition); Frank E. Gaebelein, The Pattern of God’s Truth (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954); Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1971); Rousas J. Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1961); Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1963); Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1981).
  • 2.For example, Stephen C. Perks, The Christian Philosophy of Education Explained (Whitby, England: Avant Books, 1992).
  • 3.Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
  • 4.Ibid.
  • 5.Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 3 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books); Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, 3rd ed. (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Foundation, 2002); Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985); Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983).

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(2) – Children and Education

By Gary North (www.garynorth.com), from “Unconditional Surrender,” 1994, p.181-184.

Children are a tool of dominion. They are to be sacrificed for in their youth. They are to be instructed carefully and continually in the law of God.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut.6:6-7). 

The time spent in training children in God’s law is time well spent, for it is a capital investment. It does produce the next generation of godly, dominion-minded families. The Bible says, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

This leads us to an extremely significant conclusion: education is the moral responsibility of parents.  They are the ones who must determine whether or not their children are being taught the truth. They are responsible before God for the rearing of their children. They are held responsible even for the content of their children’s education. This is why it is a great responsibility to bring children into the world.

The modern State has asserted its responsibility to educate children. This is the means by which the modern State has arrogated to itself the position of the established god on earth. The government schools have become the established religion of every nation on earth. Humanism, which is the worship of man and his works, rests on this crucial institutional foundation:  the tax-supported, State-regulated, hypothetically neutral, deeply  religious  humanist school system.

There can be no neutrality, yet the government schools have almost completely stamped out Christianity and the law of God by means of the neutrality myth. The State forces Christians to finance schools that teach a rival religion, the religion of humanism. The State has also attempted to regulate Christian and independently financed schools. At every point, the State has substituted tenured bureaucrats who are virtually impossible for parents to remove from authority, while it has removed parents from the seats of power in setting curricula or any other standards.

The modern State, which is a messianic, supposedly man-saving institution, has used the tax-supported, compulsory schools as the primary means of stealing children from God, by removing them from parental control. Christians complain about taxation, but they have tithed their children to the State. They have abdicated their financial responsibilities – “Let the State finance my children’s educations”– and in our day, they have abandoned almost all other aspects of their instructional responsibilities.

They have turned the production of citizens over to tax-financed, State-directed schools. The priests of the religion of humanism have been able to enlist the support of many generations of Christian parents, who have decided that it is easier to transfer the responsibility for educating their children to bureaucrats hired by the State. Naturally, parents have to delegate responsibility to someone. Few parents have the time or skills to educate their children at

home. But the fundamental principle of education is the tutor or the apprentice director.

Parents hire specialists to teach their children along lines established by parents. The private school is simply an extension of this principle, with several parents hiring a tutor, thereby sharing the costs. But the parents, not the tutors, are institutionally sovereign.  Since someone must bear the costs, education should be parent-funded.  Anything else is a transfer of authority over education to an imitation family.

Children are to honour their parents (Ex. 20:12). It is the first promise which is attached to a commandment: “… that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Ex.20:12b). So the parents owe their children education, food, shelter, and care, but the children owe their parents honour. This means financial support. There are mutual obligations based on personal bonds. No one in the transaction is to become an endless giver, and no one is to become a perpetual recipient.

The modern messianic State has intervened here, too. The State promises to uphold men

from womb to tomb. The State promises to become the new father. The impersonal, bureaucratic State has substituted its rule for the father’s rule, and its children– perpetual children– are to remain obedient to it all the days of their lives. The Bible tells us that children grow up and begin new families. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen.1:24). There should be no perpetual one-way obligations. Parents are to train their children to be obedient, but also independent. They are to foster maturity in their children. The State wants perpetual children, complete obedience. The State is a sad imitation of a family. It is a pseudo-family which threatens human freedom.

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(1)

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov.22:6).

It’s logical that parents have questions about their children. Godly parents want to honor God in their child’s upbringing, and they generally know they need to teach them to honor and fear the Lord. They also may wish to know if there are specific things they should be doing for each particular child.

This is what Manoah and his wife sought, from God. When his wife reported to him that a man of God had visited her and spoken to her about the son she’d miraculously have, and what she should do (Judges 13:6, 7), Manoah wanted to know more. He immediately made his petition to the Lord:

O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born (Judges 13:8).

This was not a presumptuous request, and the Bible says that “God listened to the voice of Manoah…” (Judges 13:9). Does this mean that all our God focused requests to God about how to bring up our children, will be answered?

In his case, his wife had been visited and given angelic information. When (at his request), the angel returned and visited his wife again, and she called Manoah to meet him, nothing was added. The angel simply repeated what he’d told his wife initially, but he honored his request for another visit.

Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus had a number of things in common. They were all conceived miraculously, after one or both of their parents were visited by an angel, who foretold something of their son’s birth and calling. And all of these men died violently. Dying violently is not something a godly parent seeks for their child, but it was plainly a part of God’s calling of each of these three men.

When John was born, and Zacharias’s tongue was loosed and “…he began to speak in praise of God” (Luke 1:64), “…fear came on all those living around them,” and people said,

What then will this child turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him (Luke 1:65, 66).

We don’t generally know what our children will turn out to be and to do, but sometimes there are giftings evident in them from a young age, which indicate something. We hope and pray that they will “…know the Lord” (I Sam.3:7), and that their upbringing, education and company should encourage them in that direction. And this is primarily a father’s responsibility, for the scripture commands fathers to

…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph.6:4),

which means daily exposure to scripture, and the law of the Lord.

This means that our time is required for our children. The idea of absentee parenting has no basis in scripture. Rather, it directs us this way:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deut.6:5-7).

Conclusion:

The scripture records many cases of parents who received understanding from God, in relation to their children’s future. God expected them, as He expects us, to be responsible for our children, as faithful steward unto Him. It means preparing them for a life of service, dominion and accountability.

Is that what you’re planning on?

Homeschooling and Government (1)

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isa.9:6).

It has been said that the Biblical doctrine of a subject is all that the Bible says about that subject. The Bible says a lot about civil government, and the Christian person is obliged to examine the scriptures to determine what God requires of this institution.

The future for man when he thinks the State is his saviour, is slavery. This is what most of the world began to discover in the twentieth century, but it hasn’t led to everyone wanting to throw off their chains. Just as the children of Israel under Moses had an almost perennial tendency to want to return to Egypt when their circumstances displeased them, sinful man has perennially turned to the State for his problems. Even when the memory of Egypt had faded by the time of Samuel, they still wanted a king.

Samuel’s warnings about what this king would be like, had no effect. Why? Because the children of Israel had a problem; their own hearts. So, God gave them the king they wanted, and they faced the consequences of their foolish choice, for forty years.

Samuel described what this new form of government would be like, in I Samuel 8.

a) The king would raise an army for his purpose in opposition to the law (Deut.17:16). War would become a way of life in Israel (v.5), and the king would use this army for personal profit (v.12).

b) The young women of Israel would be subject to the whims and fancies of the king (v.13).   

c) Private property would no longer be safe, but would be used to pay for the king’s political favours (v.14).

d) This king would require a tenth in taxation. This was a sign of tyranny, for only God could demand a tenth (v.15).

Israel had turned from their God as their Saviour, Lord and Provider, who had brought them out of Egypt. They no longer wanted to physically return to Egypt, but they were turning to the false security offered to them by a civil government that would subject them to slavery in the name of security.

This scenario has been played out in history, innumerable times; the twentieth century showed this happening almost everywhere, both in totalitarian and democratic countries. It is evident that

Socialism has demonstrated its ability to destroy, but not to create. Being itself immoral, it creates immoral people, or rather, it is first created by an immoral people who are then confirmed and increased in their immorality by the socialist state.

What is the Role of the State?

The Bible teaches that the State is “a minister of God to you for good” (Ro.13:4). Biblically, the State does have the powers of coercion: “…it does not bear the sword for nothing.”

a) Civil Justice: Civil government should operate judicial systems on the local state and federal level. The law of God, as outlined in scripture, is to be the standard of justice. This clearly includes capital punishment. An accused person should be able to appeal to a higher court, if he feels that justice has not been done.

b) Weights and measures: Just weights and measures must be maintained; even owning false weights is prohibited in scripture (Deut.25:13-16). This includes false and misleading advertising, and extends to such things as debasing a currency. “Your silver has become dross, your drink diluted with water” (Isa.1:22).

c) Defending Christianity from public attack: the State cannot be neutral towards the Christian faith. Any obstacle that would jeopardise the preaching of the Word of God and carrying out the Great Commission must be removed by civil government. Paul expected even the Roman civil government to protect him from those who threatened the Christian religion. No government is religiously neutral; if it were, it would enact no laws, for all laws are religious.

d) National defence: Government is responsible to defend the nation against aggressors. In wartime, this would include the marshalling and organisation of troops. It doesn’t mean the state is responsible to ensure there are professional, standing armed forces. The concept of a civilian militia force able to be called upon for defence or police activities, prohibits the use of soldiers for international aggressive activities, and means that soldiers cannot be used by their government against their own citizens.

e) Quarantine: The power to quarantine is the power to protect innocent life. Any community needs to be protected against infectious diseases. Thus the State must have legislative powers to deal with these things, protecting the healthy.

f) Defending private property: Private property means an opportunity for liberty, dominion, security, and the passing on of an inheritance, and is to be protected. Ahab’s plot to murder Naboth with a view to confiscating his vineyard, brought he and Jezebel under God’s judgment for murder and theft (I Kings 21; II Kings 9:29-37). Confiscation by State power is never legitimate.

Individuals must be prepared to assist in apprehending criminals, even to the point of killing a person if necessary, who threatens life (Ex.22:2-3).

God has not seen fit to legislate exactly what should go for the financing of the state. He has seen fit, however, to demand a tithe for the financing of the Church. In those times of history when the tithe is given properly and the Church does her work with integrity, the state will greatly shrink in size and will require only a minimum in taxation. On the other hand, in those seasons of history, like our own, when the people refuse to tithe, and the Church is not faithfully proclaiming and educating in the Word of God, then the state will grow to massive size, and will exact a terrible tribute. The reformation of the state, then, awaits the reformation of the Church and the proper use of the tithe.

The State is not called on to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. It is not our Father. State welfare is not in the Bible. It must stop interfering in the operations of the free market, with minimum wage laws and awards, compulsory, tax-payer funded education, by phasing out Social Security, and reducing taxation at all levels. All of these measures pre-suppose the active involvement of the Christian community in initiating care in the community, along Biblical lines, because you can’t replace something with nothing.

Towards the future:                                                                                   

Civilisations come and go, but the kingdom of God goes on forever. Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan.2) showed that kingdoms built on the shaky foundation of the sovereignty of man cannot last. The history books show that every empire-building civilisation collapses in time. Christians in understanding this, must begin to prepare for the future, even if they do not see the fulfillment of what they are commencing in their lifetime. God tells His people that their earthly efforts have meaning in time and eternity.

Socialism is finished: it is destroying itself, and although the worst lies ahead, the certainty of socialism’s collapse is nonetheless inescapable, and it must be a basic premise of all thinking concerning the future. The central concern even now must be reconstruction, the creation of new institutions dedicated to liberty, education to that end, and the assurance that the fresh air of liberty is ahead, past the days of chaos.

Conclusion:                                                                                                      Christians must believe and preach the whole counsel of God concerning government. We need a full-orbed gospel that offers comprehensive salvation. We need healing-not just spiritual and physical, but cultural healing. We need the doctrine of the resurrection-the resurrection, restoration and reconstruction of every area of life, to the glory of God. We need to subdue the earth (Gen.1:26-28) to the glory of God. We need to fulfill the Great Commission: the discipling of the nations.

Homeschooling and Economics

For you were called to freedom, brethren… (Gal.5:13).

The gospel has application to all of life, and that most certainly includes education, but also economics.

How do we know that? Two of the Ten Commandments deal directly with economics: the prohibitions on stealing (the Eighth), and covetousness (the Tenth). The confiscation by Ahab of Naboth’s vineyard, and Ahab’s subsequent murder of Naboth through Jezebel, led to Elijah confronting Ahab, and pronouncing God’s curse and judgment on his family (I Kings 21).

It’s logical that ungodly governments always despise Biblical economics. At the crucifixion, government agents even stole Jesus’ clothes.

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves, by casting lots (Mat.27:35).

The Bible has a lot to teach us about employer/employee relationships, going back to Jacob and Laban in Genesis. God setting His people free from Egypt’s slavery was firstly a religious issue, but also an economic phenomenon. Thus religion and economics are inextricably linked.

The case laws of Exodus (Ex.21-23) refer to employment both directly and indirectly, such as “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute” (Ex.23:2-3). God even gives specific instructions about the payment of wage-earners, commanding that “You shall not oppress your neighbour, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning” (Lev.19:13).

John the Baptist gave directions about employment (Luke 3:10-14), as did Paul (Eph.6:5-9), while some commentators claim that a third of our Lord’s words were about money.

The issue of the inheritance is a vital Biblical theme, and an important aspect of economics. Proverbs tells us that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov.13:22). The Psalmist testified that God “…chooses our inheritance for us” (Ps.47:4), and that “You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name” (Ps.61:5). The theme of the inheritance continues all the way till Revelation: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Rev.21:7).

The issue of the inheritance was at the centre of one of Jesus’ last controversies with the Pharisees. At the conclusion of His Parable of the Vineyard, Jesus plainly identified the chief priests and the Pharisees as those who would say of the son of the landowner, “…This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance” (Mat.21:38).

From cover to cover, the Bible is really a radical free-market document, but we don’t have true economic freedom in Australia. Partly out of the Church’s ignorance and laxity, we’ve grown to tolerate a lot of things that have no place in a free society. A large proportion of Australian employees cannot negotiate aspects of their employment with their employers, without either the threat of the forced intervention of a government appointed bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia, or a union that employees may not have wished to join in the first place, but were compelled to, in order to secure employment.

That happened to me in 1990. And you thought this was a free country?

This means that penalty rates, public holidays, weekend work, hours of work, superannuation and other conditions of employment which can be critical issues affecting business profitability, can become untouchable subjects: beyond negotiation. And if an employer is struggling to compete internationally because his labour costs are simply too high, he may have to just close his doors. These have been contributing aspects leading to the recent closure of all of Australia’s motor vehicle plants, along with other manufacturers.

I like going to supermarkets from time to time. Why?

Because of the choices and the prices, and because there’s hardly any government interference there. There is a price-war at the moment between Coles and Woolworths, and the beneficiaries are consumers (and possibly shareholders). These two companies are going toe-to-toe in their respective bids to outdo one another. That’s capitalism at work; one of the outcomes of Biblical influence in our community.

The government agency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC), claims on its website that

We monitor fuel prices to prevent any misleading or anti-competitive conduct that may harm consumers.

But it isn’t really an institution that protects the free-market at all. It has intervened to stop Coles and Woolworths using fuel vouchers how they’d like to: to get more business.

Why? Because the ACCC doesn’t want “predatory pricing.” It doesn’t like the fact that big companies can use their advantages of scale to take business from the smaller companies. What’s wrong with that, when the consumer benefits? In taking this action to protect smaller petrol retailers, the ACCC violates what God had commanded in Exodus: “…nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.”

Capitalism wins hands down every time, over socialism, or any other “ism.” Take items like yoghurt, shampoo, fruit-juice, ice cream or coffee. The variety of these items available in the big supermarket chains is enormous, because the big companies want to give you every opportunity to spend money in their shop.

Why is this important for you? Because it’s an aspect of the Christian world-view you can be diligently explaining to your children.

Is capitalism perfect? No, because people are never perfect; there are sinful, evil capitalists. But as an economic system, capitalism has won by a country mile over all its competitors, historically.

It’s not just the economics of employee/employer relationships that are regularly violated in Australia. Consider what happened in 2011, when the Federal government overnight, shut down the live cattle export market to Indonesia, from northern Australia. This scandalous act to appease the animal welfare/green lobby at the expense of cattle producers, was initiated with the broadcast of one government –funded TV program.

Now (thankfully), that industry is re-building and growing quickly, but the government’s unethical intervention threw their industry into confusion and cost farmers millions, whilst Australia’s international reputation as a reputable supplier was trashed. Under the guise of “animal welfare,” the government’s actions were no less immoral than Ahab’s confiscation of Naboth’s vineyard.

Does the Bible speak of animal welfare?

Yes, in a number of places. Here’s one: “The righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10). But when Biblical morality is despised and short-term political outcomes are the goal, we can be sure the consequences will be evil and fearful. As Chesterton warned, “There is above all, this supreme stamp of the barbarian; the sacrifice of the permanent to the temporary.”

Rushdoony was right:

The humanistic governments seek a short-cut to learning by means of power. The seizure of power has as its goal to speed up history and growth; in reality, it retards or destroys it because it denies the fact of man’s fall. It substitutes the planning of an elite for the predestination of God, and the result is disaster.[1]

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                 The Chinese have a saying: Every journey starts with a few small steps. The economics of the free-market, derived directly from the Bible, apply across the board. This is why Christians must be at the forefront of healthy community reform, pushing back the tide of government interventionism wherever its present.

And this is a long-term issue that won’t be dealt with overnight. Economic interventionism by government has become endemic in communities throughout the world on our watch, as we Christians have tolerated it, to our shame.

Now, it’s time we changed our tune, taking Biblical commands seriously, beginning with the education of the young, yours and mine. Every nation needs smaller government, less taxation, and more freedom. It’s simply an aspect of thinking and living Biblically, where homeschooling parents can contribute so much to their children, teaching them from the scriptures, “…the law of liberty” (James 2:12).

Are you ready for that?


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Romans and Galatians,” 1997, p.278-9.