Education in the Modern Era
The twentieth century was the century of government in the West, more than at any other time in the last two millennia. In the twentieth century, government steadily entrenched itself as the foremost institution of society, so that society has become steadily centralised. The individual, the family and the Church have been progressively pressed into society’s background, because government has demanded the dominant role in society.
It was the recognition that the Bible was at the foundation of western civilisation that led to restraints in the size and expansion of government. Christians historically have led this cause. This provides us with an explanation for work of Alfred the Great, as he utilised the law of God to structure much of English law, the Magna Carta (written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton), the opposition of the English Puritans to Charles I (culminating in their trial and execution of him), and in modern times to much of the ideology of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It was Reagan who said in 1986 that
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’
Nowhere has the growth in the role of government been more evident than in education. Four generations ago, the family was recognised as the responsible institution to educate children, in agreement with scripture. But ambitious, arrogant governments and their bureaucrats could never be content with parents determining how their children were educated.
That would never do! What would parents know?
Jesus Christ made an observation concerning the Pharisees, which can legitimately be applied to governments of our era. He said
Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted (Mat.15:13).
What did He mean?
All people and institutions need to observe Biblical boundaries, given to us by the God of heaven. If they do not, they are implicitly claiming that “There is no God: we do what we like,” and in doing so, they risk His judgment.
Ultimately the Pharisees destroyed themselves, through their hostility to God and His Son. Forty years after Jesus made His comments about them, the Romans came to Jerusalem, and they weren’t happy. Just as Jesus had predicted (in Mat.22:1-7), and as He warned His disciples (Mat.24:15-34; Mk.13:14-30; Luke 21:20-32), the Romans burnt the temple, destroyed the city, and every person within was either killed or enslaved. Now, as He also predicted, “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone…” (Mat.21:42). Yes, they could get rid of Him, but His would be the last Word.
Like Jesus Himself, the Christian person can never afford to ignore the facts of life around him, even if people about us are violently in conflict with scripture. What we must do is get our marching orders from the Word of the God of Creation, and proceed accordingly.
And in terms of education, He requires that parents take responsibility for the education and training of their children. To pass this vital parental task over to a tax-funded bureaucratic government department, that employs atheistic teachers utilising an ungodly curriculum that promotes the religion of humanism, in the presence of an evil peer-group, cannot be construed to be faithful to God; it is in violation of His clear commandments to parents, found in Deuteronomy, and a multitude of other places in the scriptures.
Many years ago whilst working for Australian Christian Academy, a woman made an appointment to see me, to talk over the idea of home schooling her seven year old boy. As we spoke together, she admitted she’d been convicted when her son (who attended a State school), had said to her, “Mum, why do you send me to a school that doesn’t believe in God?”
Every era passes, and Jesus’ warnings to the Pharisees (and to us) haven’t gone away.
In our era, there are plants that our Heavenly Father has promised one day to uproot. In that day, will we be subjects of His judgement, or will we glory in His salvation?