The Biblical Structure of History (3): Introduction to Part 1

Gary North (www.garynorth.com) – October 26, 2021

My thesis regarding the structure of history is based on my understanding of the biblical covenant model. God has established five covenants with mankind: the dominion covenant, the personal covenant, the family covenant, the church covenant, and the civil covenant. They are all established by a covenantal oath before God. The dominion covenant defines mankind. This is God’s command to Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the earth. It is found in the first chapter of Genesis, verses 26–28.

Each of the five covenants is structured in terms of a sequential five-point system. There are numerous ways of describing it. Point 1 is the transcendence of God. This transcendence also includes His presence. He is not part of the world, but He is present with it. He is totally sovereign. He is over the world, not part of it. Christianity teaches that God became man. God dwelt among us.

The second point of the covenant is man’s authority over the creation. This is delegated authority. We can also discuss the second point as hierarchy: God is over man, and man is over the creation. Judicially, point 2 is a system of representation. Man represents God to the creation, and he represents the creation to God.

The third point of the covenant is law. Every covenant has a system of law. These laws establish legal and moral boundaries on people’s actions. They serve as guides to men’s actions. Men know what they are supposed to do. They have guidance from God about what to do. More important, they know what not to do.

The fourth point of the covenant is sanctions. Every system of law has an accompanying system of sanctions. In biblical covenantalism, there is consistency between a law and the punishment for violating it. The punishment fits the crime. In civil government, the sanctions are exclusively negative. In the family and the church, there can be positive sanctions. So, covenantal sanctions here can be either positive or negative. We can call them blessings and cursings. These sanctions are governed by the ethical system that undergirds the system of laws. The combination of permanent ethical laws and predictable sanctions is what gives history its predictability. It also shapes the direction in which history is moving.

Fifth, there is succession. People become more skilled as they develop their talents. They must be replaced when they move to positions of greater responsibility. This was true before the fall. Post-fall, there is another reason for succession: people die. They have to be replaced. Institutions also disappear. They have to be replaced. Because of God’s ethical system of laws, and because of His system of sanctions, there is a progressive element in the development of history. Things get better over time because God rewards those who obey Him, and He punishes those who disobey Him. His sanctions shape the future.

This five-point covenant model is developed in the book by Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant. My Institute for Christian economics published this book in 1987. I wrote a short introductory book on this: God’s Covenants (2020). I wrote a detailed study: The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics (2018). I wrote two practical books: The Five Pillars of Biblical Success (2008) and The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership (2021). In short, I have found the five-point biblical model to be both theoretically compelling and highly useful in real-world applications.

The five points of this structure are found in all varieties of social theory. Every social theory has to have all five points: sovereignty, authority, law, sanctions, and succession. Not all social theorists are self-conscious about the inherent structure of what they are studying, but if they are thorough in their presentation, you will find all five points, although rarely in the biblical sequence.

In Part 1, I show that this structure of history is revealed in the Bible. It is revealed in five sequential points.

The first concept of biblical history is the doctrine of God’s creation of the universe out of nothing. This was an historical event. It began history. Genesis 1 provides the account. Genesis 1 reveals that God is totally transcendent. He is completely separate from the universe. He spoke it into existence. It was not an emanation from His being. Having spoken it into existence, He is sovereign over it. He had a purpose for it. He had a plan for it. He had a decree for it. He will carry out His decree in history. In short, history is providential. It is personal. The whole universe reflects the God who created it. Therefore, the structure of history is governed by the principle of cosmic personalism. Nothing in the universe is outside of God’s providence. Everything reflects God’s personhood (Romans 1:18–22).

The second concept of biblical history is the doctrine of the image of God in man. Man was created to represent God in history. God holds him responsible for this. This task of dominion defines mankind. It will define mankind throughout history, and it will define mankind in eternity. Mankind is God’s covenantal agent in history. People are personal because God is personal.

The third concept of biblical history is God’s law. God has established a law-order that governs all creation. In society, this law-order announces a series of laws governing institutions and individuals. These laws are ethical. They have established the criteria of right and wrong. The essence of decision-making is ethical. Ethics governs the historical process.

The fourth point of biblical history is sanctions. This has to do with judgments in history. God is sovereign, so His judgments are authoritative. His judgments establish the standards of human judgment. He evaluates people’s behaviour. He evaluates their motivations. He evaluates everything in terms of His standards. He enforces these standards by imposing sanctions. His enforcement of His laws provides predictability in history. At the end of the creation week, God pronounced the world to be very good. His work during the week met His standards of creation. He said so repeatedly. The technical theological word for this is imputation. God imputes value and meaning to everything.

The fifth point of biblical history is inheritance. God has established that the meek will inherit the earth. The psalmist announced this (Psalm 37:11). Jesus announced this (Matthew 5:5). The meek are people who are meek before God. They are therefore active toward extending the kingdom of God in history. With respect to history, meaning an era in which sin is still present, those who have been redeemed by Christ exercise increasing dominion. The world is their inheritance. This is made clear in 1 Corinthians 15. (See Chapter 5.) Jesus also announced this to Peter: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Hell is on the defensive. Gates are defensive tools, not tools of offense.

Humanist historians offer a rival five-point model. In summary, it is this: evolution, autonomy, relativism, nominalism, and entropy. I explain these terms in Part 2. I show how they shape the humanists’ view of history. The essence of their view is this: there is no providential God who directs history. The only source of direction in history, and the only source of meaning in history, is man. Their problem is this: they cannot decide whether they mean mankind collectively (the state) or individuals. They do not know who imputes authoritative meaning to the world: collective mankind or individual people. Therefore, they cannot come to a conclusion about the structure of history. They do not even agree if there is any meaning to history.

In Part 3, I discuss Christian historiography. I explain how the five points of biblical history should shape the way that Christians write history. There are five elements in Christian historiography: stories, representation, civilization, justice, and progress.

All of this may seem overly complex. Actually, it is not complex. It provides a handy way to understand the biblical structure of history, the humanists’ interpretation of the structure of history, and the way that Christians should write about history. You can count each system on the fingers of one hand. Well, not quite. You can count them on four fingers and your thumb. Keep reading. I will show you how to do this.

Education and Political Action

By Kevin Craig (1980)

Most Christians would agree that the United States was and perhaps still is the greatest nation on earth. In terms of material prosperity and personal character, America’s history is rivalled only by Israel of old. Most Christians would also agree that economically our prosperity is dwindling, and morally our character is declining. The obvious questions are thus: “What made America strong,” and “What can we do to stop America’s downfall?” The two rival answers are found in our title: Education and Political Action.

All men fall somewhere on the scale between the Weak and the Strong; the Lazy and the Diligent; the Faithless and the Faithful. When a nation has more of the latter and less of the former, it will see the material blessings of God. Our Puritan forefathers were men of strong character, diligence, and Christian faith. The average Puritan farmer knew the Scriptures from end to end far better than most clergymen do today. As a result, businesses and families thrived.

The Puritans understood well that God did not restrict His Word to the church, but addressed every area of life. They developed godly character and applied it in their walk. And as any economist worth even his weight in Federal Reserve Notes will tell you, it takes a disposition of work and thrift to produce wealth, or capital. And it takes capital to build schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions of dominion. It takes capital to build tools, factories, and highways that enable a man to exercise his calling and a nation to prosper.

In 1937, Roger Babson, in If Inflation Comes, wrote, “Only righteousness exalteth a nation today, as it did 3000 years ago. Hence, speaking strictly as a statistician, I say that the safest hedge against inflation is the development of character.” And this character comes about by understanding and applying the principles that govern home, business, and government, as found in God’s holy Word, the Bible.

The world around us, however, is increasingly hostile to the strength of character demanded by the Bible, and necessary if capitalization and prosperity are to occur. Whereas the Bible demands thrift, the foregoing of present pleasures to save for the next generation, modern advertising encourages us to spend it all now, on ourselves, telling us, “You deserve it today.” Whereas the Bible puts a constant emphasis on work and sacrificial labor for the kingdom of God, the television stands as a constant temptation for us to put our tools down and our feet up.

Instead of studying and meditating on the Scriptures, we are daily advised by our Eliphaz friends not to work so hard, to take some time off for “amusement.” (The word amusement, by the way, comes from two Greek words, a, meaning “not,” and muse, meaning “think.’ America is presently plagued by a host of amusing people.) As Rushdoony notes, “Education, television, the press, and all other media foster relativism and humanism; They promote the decapitalization of character. We have seen the progressive decline of public and private morality. We who stand for Biblical Christianity thus face a steadily more hostile world. We are everything which socialism and inflation hate most.” America’s greatness was thus a result of Christian character, and the application of God’s Word to more than just “the religious.”

A sound economy, healthy businesses, and godly homes are a product of a Puritan mentality. America’s decline is just as surely a product of the humanism that saturates our society. Men of decapitalized character cannot be expected to capitalize our culture. How do we defend ourselves, and how do we return to our former days of economic certainty?

As the 1980 elections come to their climax, many sincere but misguided Christians are putting their chips on Joe Candidate. “If only we can get a Republican Congress,” they say. “Then we can get back on the road to health.” But as Rushdoony notes, “Capitalization does not depend on winning elections, important as elections are. No election has yet really reversed decapitalization. The demand is for more welfare, more social security, more Medicare, and the like. For the past generation, no office-holder has done more than to slow down this process very slightly. An election does not produce character, which is the foundation of capitalization” (ibid.).

Elections, legislation, court action, and political activism are extremely important. The humanists around us are doing all that they can to destroy us and our future, and it is important — vitally important — that we thwart those bills in Congress, or Revenue Measures in the IRS, or challenges in court, simply to stay alive. But in the broader picture, the role of these activities becomes clear: they are strictly defensive measures. They allow. us to mark time; to defend ourselves without losing too much ground. But if we are to engage in nothing more than these defensive measures, the battle will end up in a stand-off. The church of Jesus Christ is to do more than merely tie the opposition.

We are told to attack the fortresses of Hell (II Cor. 10:4-6), and we are told that their defensive measures will not prevail against us (Matt. 16:18)! (Matt. 16:18 is usually misinterpreted. Gates seldom attack. They usually defend. War buffs are invited to correct us on this one. In this great war of values, character, and knowledge, we as Christians are to take captives. The wheat produces; the tares are uprooted (Matt. 13:24-30; Ps. 1:3-6). Victory is the Lord’s.

Our most potent weapon is, of course, Christian Education. It took generations to build up the capital that made America great. It took generations for the humanists to take over that which the Christians shamefully abandoned – the universities, the libraries, the hospitals, government, and business. And it will again take generations for Christians to take it all back and begin to build once again. And all of this will take men and women of strong character, willing to sacrifice in the present to see the future glorification of God, and having the faith to believe that the Church will be victorious.

All of these attributes come only with education of the young, and growth into maturity. It does not come in a day, or in an election. It takes sacrifice on the part of the generation now living to plan and work for the future. Only a grass-roots Christian School movement, consistent to the Scriptures, and dedicated to the future, can bring spiritual and material prosperity back to America. We need the sword of political action. But we’ll never see the New Jerusalem without the trowel of Christian Schools.

[The good news? It’s claimed now in 2021, that 6 million US school aged students are being home schooled. Ed.]

EPISTEMOLOGICAL SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS

By Kevin Craig

In a recent Biblical Educator, Terrill Elniff’s article, “Epistemological Self-consciousness: When push comes to shove,” appeared. Although the point of the article, concerning a school’s relationship to government, was inescapable, the title may have caught some readers off their guard: “Epistema ¬what?!” It is important, therefore, to take some time to ensure that readers of the BibEd are relaxed in the presence of this somewhat pedantic sounding phrase. “Epistemological Self-consciousness” is an extremely important concept if we break the phrase ‘down it will be as easy’ to understand as it is important.

Epistemological comes from the Greek work, epistamai “knowledge,” and here refers to the source of our knowledge. For the Christian, the Bible is the source of all knowledge. For the humanist, “man is the measure of all things.” Lest there be any doubt, there are only two “epistemological” alter-natives: the word of man or the Word of God.

Once we get past “epistemological,” self-consciousness is easy. The man who had a frightening experience with cats as a child now jumps three feet when he sees one. He may claim to have “seen the light” and know cats to be harmless, but he still moves out of unconscious fear. Another man has a well-thought-out theory concerning cats. He believes cats are an extraterrestrial race bent on the destruction of mankind. To escape their control, one must jump three feet away from them. And so he does. Every cat he sees. One man jumps in spite of his claim, another jumps in terms of it. However absurd this second man may seem, at least he is self-consciously acting out the implications of his belief. The person who is “epistemologically self-conscious” is thus a person who is aware of what his faith leads to, and is working to implement it in his life.

What would characterize an “epistemologically self-conscious” Christian? As we have indicated, a Christian is one who “believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. XIV, sec. 2). For the Christian, all knowledge comes from God and his Word. (Col. 2:3). This means that the Christian judge will turn to Deuteronomy to decide his. case. The Christian doctor will go to Leviticus to find a healthy diet. Christian legislators will heed the words of the Prophets. In every conceivable vocation, the “epistemologically self-conscious” Christian will turn to the Bible, even the Old Testament (Mt. 5:17-19), to find God’s direction, and he will implement that rule in his life.

Christians should bear in mind this important truth: “Ideas have consequences.” Our thoughts, our emotions, our perceptions of life, all shape our actions. It is insufficient to say, “God wants me to do this.” We must study the Bible to be able to say, “God wants me to think this.” Even our attitudes must be Biblical, for they form what is called our “world and life view.” It must be Christian. When we think of a Christian, we should think of a scientist, a doctor, a skilled craftsman, a diligent laborer, or a talented musician. Whatever his vocation, he believes that this is God’s universe, that he has God’s revealed word to follow, and he acts interms of this belief. He is Dominion Man (Genesis 1:26-28).

On the other hand, what should we think of when we think of a non-Christian? Matthew 13 gives us a hint. There we have the parable of the wheat and the tares. While the Christian grows up to be productive wheat, the unbeliever turns into an impotent, ugly weed. The most obvious example of this was the rebellion of the “hippie,” and now, the “Punk rock” or “New Wave” movements. Here, groups with names such as “The Dead Boys,” “Germs,” or “DEVO” (short for “Devolution”), dye their hair orange or blue and proclaim the meaninglessness of all things. These young people are at war with God and law, with the world of meaning. They profess to believe in an evolutionary, atheistic universe, and they are now starting to act in terms of their faith You need to see a punk rock band in action to appreciate the hideousness of a world without God. It is nothing short of frightening. Picture a man who by night sticks a safety pin through his cheek, straps raw meat to his tattered, mismatched clothing, and thrashes around on the ground screaming a song called “Anarchy in the U.K.” (lyrics: I am an antichrist/I am an antichrist/Don’t know what I want/But I know how to get it/I want to destroy).

Now, can you imagine this hate-filled rebel donning a white laboratory coat and preparing a delicate formula that will be the cure for your son’s illness? Do you think he will be any kind of competition for the musical genius of a Johann Sebastian Bach? The contrast between a Sid Vicious and a Bach is overwhelming. Both are acting out the implications of their faith. Both are “epistemologically self-conscious.” But one is productive wheat, the other an ugly, useless tare.

There is yet another type of person. He is a man who is unaware of the “punk rock” movement, even though his daughter is a member of “The Dictators.” He is completely ignorant of the cause of inflation, or the Biblical solution to it. He spends most of his time in front of the TV, especially on weekends when he drools over the 48 straight hours of sports (and especially the cheerleaders). His only involvement with his children’s’ education is to go to the school football game on Friday nights to watch his son bash the brains of fellow students. Is this man a Christian or a non-Christian? Hard to say. Whatever he is, he is not epistemologically self-conscious.

If he were an unbeliever, aware of where his faith leads him, he would deny all meaning and law, like the punkers, or other modern artists. Instead, he finds some meaning (?) in football, TV dinners, and the bliss of ignorance. If he were a Christian, acting in terms of God’s word, he would be educating his children to be leaders, disciplined to study, work, and produce, not be part of the lazy, leisure-oriented generation we see today. He himself would be a community leader, not a social parasite. The unfortunate fact is, this man may well be one of the millions who claim to be born-again, but whose lives show little evidence of such a claim (Jas. 2:20). The goal of the Biblical Educator is to foster Epistemological Self-Consciousness. We need a generation of Christians trained to consistently apply God’s word to every area of life. This can be accomplished only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and the diligent training of children in Epistemologically Self-Conscious Christian schools.

AN EDUCATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE

By Rodney N. Kirby

“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.” (Genesis 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 counseling,” 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. 29:10-12), 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!

Discipline and Christian Competence

By Kevin Craig (around 1980)

Discipline: an important word; a misunderstood word. Mr. Rushdoony cites the following to test your understanding of the word “discipline.” A pious couple has an erring and seriously delinquent daughter. “Complaining because of her behavior, her unmarried and pregnant condition, and her contempt of their authority, the parents insisted that they had “disciplined” her regularly. She had been deprived of various privileges, and had been frequently slapped and spanked when younger. The girl, almost twenty years of age, was pregnant and in bad company, given to experimenting with narcotics and much else, but she did not know how to sew, cook, study or work, or obey a simple order.”

Question: was the girl disciplined? If you answered “yes,” then you need to pay serious attention to this article. The parents of this girl had chastised her, but she had grown up radically undisciplined. Today, more than ever, Christian school teachers and parents, especially parents, need to understand Christian discipline

Mr. Rushdoony explains the concept of discipline: “Discipline is systematic training and submission to authority, and it is the result of such training. Chastisement or punishment is the penalty or beating administered for departure from authority. Clearly discipline and chastisement are related subjects, but just as clearly they are distinct.” This definition can be clarified by showing why the Christian educator must work to bring about disciplined children, and how he can.

A society is made up of individual men. The character of men determines the character of a society. This is an age of laziness. This is an age of self-gratification. This is an age of disrespect. To understand these problems in society, we must see that they are problems with men who rebel against God. To change society, we must change the hearts of men. This is the task of the Biblical educator.

Man’s basic purpose in life is to exercise dominion over the earth to the glory of God (Gen. 1:26-28). But the Bible is clear: fallen man is no longer Dominion Man. He is Sluggard Man, characterized by laziness, and shunning his work (Prov. 12:24; 18:9; 21:25-26; cf. also Ezek. 16:49).

Since man has declared himself to be his own god (Gen. 3:5), he is thereby concerned only with his own needs, his own desires. His basic motive is self-gratification or self-worship. “If it feels good, do it,” is a popular expression of this attitude. It also implies, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it,” and when it comes to work, study, and self-discipline, fallen man doesn’t—not without pressure.

Finally, because God has ordained structures of authority (parents, teachers, employers, government), and man is rebelling against God, he naturally rebels against these authorities. This is disrespect. Students of past generations rose to their feet when their teachers entered the room (see Lev. 19:32). But this is now the “punk rock” generation.

Modern man: lazy, self-centered, disrespectful. If this is what characterizes fallen men, what do you think characterizes their culture? The productivity of this lazy nation has declined 275% over the last decade. Teenagers who have their desires for instant gratification frustrated, show a high suicide rate, as they wallow in self-pity. Back in the Great Depression, authority patterns constrained behaviour. Today’s poor feel they have the right to loot and riot. In general, the disrespectful age is an age of incompetence. Men who do not obey the commands of their superiors are men who lack discipline. They cannot complete a task. They despise and grumble at an eight-hour-a-day job. As housewives they are unable to patiently and creatively fulfill their duties, and so they retreat into novels and soap operas. As students they cannot compete, and cannot (will not) overcome an assignment without breaking down and crying to parents or peers. Regularly.

Low productivity; self-pity; poor character and incompetence: this is our age in a nutshell. As Christian educators we must come to grips with this profound truth: Only Christian Education can solve these problems. Even more challenging, Any education that is not solving these problems is not a Christian Education. Every Christian school, regardless of size, can and must work to solve these tremendous social problems. Where do we start? We start in the hearts of our students.

First, we must conquer the problem of laziness. We instil in our students’ hearts a desire for godly dominion. Man’s purpose is to work, not to play. Man must exercise dominion over the earth, not retreat from his God-given responsibilities (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15, 19; II Thess. 3:10¬11; I Tim. 5:13). Not only must man desire to involve himself in God’s glorious creation, to grapple with life, and get his hands into his work (Eph. 4:28; I Thess. 4:11), Dominion Man seeks to overcome sin and the problems and difficulties that tempt us to deny God’s Law (I John 5: 4-5). Clearly, we often fail (the Greek word for “sin” is hamartia, “to fall short of the mark”), but we keep trying. With discipline, the things that beat us yesterday are the things we conquer today. The word we misspelled yesterday is a tool for dominion today, and we both thank the Lord and take pride in the work of our hands. We must develop in our students this godly desire to work and succeed.

The student who thinks only of his own immediate pleasure, however, will not so easily cultivate a godly desire toward work. He sees only the present, and does not understand that hard work today pays off in the future (Prov. 12:24; 22:29). All of our students will be more concerned with play, easy-living, and the way of slothfulness. Therefore, second, we must overcome this commitment to self-gratification. We must instruct our students to obey God, to desire to please Him and not ourselves. We must also pray that God would give them the grace to declare, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (Ps. 119:20). Christians must find a real joy in their heart to serve with cheerful obedience the Lord Jesus.

Third the solution to an undisciplined, incompetent generation lies with God’s ordained authority, the parents of tomorrow’s adults. Too often, we believe not as Christians, but as the Seneca Indians of the Colonial Era. For these people, “parental tenderness” was carried to a dangerous indulgence. Punishment was lacking, and mothers were quick to express resentment of any constraint or injury or insult offered to the child by an outsider. As Mr. Rushdoony, himself a missionary to the Indians for nearly nine years, has put it, “I never saw a frustrated Indian child.” He goes on to give us some insights into how we must deal with our students, and sometimes with their parents. “I found the Indians a lovable people, of real ability and more than a little charm, but the permissiveness of their society guaranteed their continuing unhappy and low estate.

An unfrustrated child is inescapably in for trouble. It is impossible to live in a fallen world – where conflict of wills is a daily problem, and a minor one in the face of our major world and local problems – without having frustrations. Discipline in childhood is a schooling in frustration and training in patience and work (cf. Heb 5:8). Discipline not only prepares Us for frustration, but gives us the character to work towards overcoming frustration. Permissiveness in child rearing thus avoids frustrating the child only to insure continual frustration for the adult.” (The Chalcedon Report, No. 67, P.O. Box 158, Vallecito, Calif. 95251) If the parents of the children we teach are less Christian and more Seneca Indian, and continually indulge their children by doing their homework for them, or pressuring you to stop pressuring their child, you must counsel them along the lines of this article.

What, then, is the purpose of the Christian educator? Simply, to frustrate children. Sound rather bleak? Then understand that by frustrating the child, we deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14 says that if we do not withhold discipline from a child, we shall do just that. Still unmotivated? Then consider your purpose, first, in light of our fallen students. Our students do not want to read; they do not want to study; they do not want to work they do not want to keep trying to do that math problem until they get it right. They want you to give them the answers. And if they don’t get the answer from you, they’ll go home and ask their parents, who, unless they’re reading this article, will probably give it to them. Sound cynical?

You and I both know it isn’t, because we know ourselves all too well. “One of the problems facing anyone who works with people today,” warns Mr. Rushdoony, “is this radical lack of discipline and the ability to meet frustrations realistically and to overcome them. The desire of most people is to walk away from problems. But nothing does more to increase the problems inherent in a society and constant to a man’s life than the refusal to meet them head-on and then work patiently to overcome them. To ask for a trouble-free, unfrustrated life is to ask finally for death, and, before death, a lower class, slave status.”

As fallen men we all have this desire. Fallen students are no different: they too desire to put aside their responsibilities. As teachers we must frustrate that sinful desire. Our students want the unfallen, work-free world of Disneyland. They won’t get it when they graduate; they’d better not get it in school. For their own sakes.

Look at Proverbs 22:6. Now listen to what Bruce A. Ray has said in his, excellent book, Withhold not Correction. “In the Hebrew text of Proverbs 22:6 the phrase “in the way he should go” is entirely lacking. Rather, the Hebrew says, “Train up a child in his way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Train up a child in his way…, allow a child to have self-expression, let your children decide what they will and what they will not do and when they will and will not do it, look into the future and you will see those same children unbridled, undisciplined, and unable to bring their bodies into submission to the commands of God. That is a stern warning.”

If you care anything at all about Christian competence, the integrity of the Gospel, and both the present and future Sanctification of your students, then in light of the fallen nature of man, you will make your school tough. It’s that simple; it’s that unappealing; but it’s that important.

Second, consider our obligation to God. Proverbs 23:13 is one of many proverbs that command Biblical educators to frustrate the sinful desires of their students: “Withhold not correction from a child.” The same sinful desires that make the student rebel against your God-given authority make you rebel against exercising that authority. Again, Burce Ray says, “It is natural for us to seek to withhold discipline from our children. It is much easier for us to do something else, or to be someplace else, but God requires of Christian parents and especially of Christian fathers that they administer the discipline which He reveals in His Word. For parents, and especially for fathers, to withhold that discipline is to sin against God….” (cf. Prov. 19:18 and 13:24).

Finally, consider our love for our students. If we love them, we will be tough with them. We will force them to adhere to strict standards of competence and integrity. We will expect them to work hard, to study independently, and to build the character it takes to be a rust-rate soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must be tough. In far, far, too many Christian schools today, the standards of excellence are below those of the public schools. We don’t want monks and nuns. Godly living does not consist merely in the memorization of a few Bible texts. It begins with character. A diligent worker, a Biblical mindset; a respecter of authority: these are the things that please God and convey a fine testimony to the unsaved. Christians must be leaders (Matt. 5:13-16). Christians must be diligent, able to persevere (Prov. 11:27; Rom 12:11).

Christians must be disciplined. It starts with parents, at home. It continues with teachers, in schools. It ends with Christians who are prepared and competent to disciple (i.e., to discipline) the nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares his rod hates his son.” The teacher who fails to challenge his students, hates his students. A tough program of early reading, mastery of the English Language, and a broad understanding of God’s Law in the home, the government, and in our current economic situation, is indeed tough. But it is not hate; it is love. We want our students to obey God because we love them and we want to see them saved and brought to an obedient walk with, and knowledge of, the Living God.

Be a roadblock for incompetence. When you see your student begin to take the road of easy-living, force him to make a detour onto the harder mad. If he rebels, and stops in his tracks, goad him forward (Ecc.12:11). Develop godly character so that when he finally gets out onto the real mad of life, he will be disciplined: ready and competent (Phil. 3:14).

CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS AND THE CITY OF GOD

By David H. Chilton (circa 1985)

Why did the Puritans go to New England? According to a common misunderstanding, they were “running away”: from persecution, from the evils of Stuart England, or from the difficulties of life in a non-Christian world. While it is true that these problems existed, to see their actions in this light is to falsify history. The Puritans were actually running to, not from. They did not think of themselves as having been “raptured” to America (and, indeed, one can think of more agreeable ways to be raptured than, in Cotton Mather’s words, “to leave all the pleasant accommodations of their native country, and go over a terrible ocean into a more terrible desert . . .”). In fact, the very first consideration when the founders drew up the goals of the colony was “to carry the Gospel into these parts of the world, and raise up a bulwark against the kingdom of anti-Christ” (cited in Cotton Mather, Great Works of Christ in America, vol. I, p. 69).

And as John Winthrop observed in his great sermon, A Model of Christian Charity (1630): “When He shall make us a praise and glory . . . men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘The Lord make it like that of New England’: for we must consider that we shall be as a city set upon a hill: the eyes of all people are upon us” (The Puritans, ed. by Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, vol. 1, p. 198f.).

The Puritans therefore did not build a cloister, but erected a culture. They carved a civilization out of a “howling wilderness,” and achieved excellence in everything they attempted: theology, law, government, literature, science, agriculture, trade, craftsmanship, art and music. In short, their emphasis fell not on retreat, not on compiling lists of things that “good Christians don’t do,” but on their positive contributions to God’s world.

What does this somewhat pedantic introduction have to do with Christian school? Simply this: that God has not called us to the task of Christian education for the purpose of turning out graduates whose only mark of distinction is what they don’t do. The great Nonconformist movement shriveled up and died precisely because their primary tenet was just that: nonconformity. There were so many things they didn’t do, that in the end the only thing they did was … nothing. Of course, we are commanded to “be not conformed to this world”— but then what? The passage tells us to go on to work out God’s will, His commands, in our lives. Jesus told us to be lights to the world, to be a city set on a hill, setting a standard for the world to follow.

Christianity will fail in its mission of disciplining the nations if it is reduced to a mere, “I decline.” The initial impetus for the founding of a Christian school may have been a reaction against sex education or violence in the public school, but the movement must not end there. The purpose of the Christian school must be the upbuilding of the city of God

I ran into a good man the other day whose earnestness in defense of the Christian school movement was quite admirable. Yet his actual apologetic went something like this: “Our schools don’t allow drugs, drinking, smoking, dancing, dating, moviegoing, television, mixed swimming, pants on girls or long hair on boys. Therefore, our students are superior to public school students.” Assuming for the moment that each of those activities is really to be shunned by the Christian, it should be apparent that their absence alone does not constitute Christianity (e.g., the Ayatollah Khomeini doesn’t like them either).

Thus, while we need Nehemiah’s sword, we have need of his trowel as well: our duty is not exhausted in repelling the invasion of heathen ways, but we must actively build the kingdom of God. Our Lord calls for social transformation in terms of God’s word, and this is a basic reason for the Christian school.

In the Book of Proverbs, we are told that “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words” (1:20-21). This is where God wants His word proclaimed—in the marketplaces, in the courts (“gates”), in the councils of state, and wherever men think and act. God demands that we acknowledge His wisdom in the world, and He has given us His word so that we may “receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity” (1:3). The Biblical training our students need is in the positive, practical application of Scripture to the issues of life.

The goal of the Christian faith is not realized in a “subculture” mentality. We are preparing our students to rule society, to give light to the world. The decadence of our culture will not be arrested if our main focus is on the sinfulness of the Southern California hot-tub lifestyle. Moreover. our job involves so much more than just restraining decadence’ Christianity is to be militant, on the offensive, effectively implementing God’s law in every area of life. In everything—teachers, methods, curriculum and student performance—we must strive for excellence.

While it is certainly necessary to flee from sin, Jesus did not make that our priority. He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.” The kingdom speaks of God’s rule over all of life, and righteousness refers to His standard, the laws and principles of Scripture by which the godly society functions, and in terms of which we are blessed. In education, this means that God requires us to produce young men and women of wisdom and ability who will build a Christian culture.

For the Christian, retreat means defeat: our only hope is in victory. By every means, we must advance the kingdom of God. If we do, we will fulfill not only the Puritan vision for America, but the commands of our Lord Himself. The world must be converted, the nations discipled, and God’s law established as the foundation of life. The city will transform the hill, and someday (Dan. 2:35) it will become a great mountain, filling the whole earth.

ARE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS THE BEST ANSWER?

By James B. Jordan (Some 30-40 years go)

We tend to take it for granted that the best alternative to the secular elementary school system is to erect a Christian school, after the same pattern as the secular school. By this I mean the pattern of having 12 grades, one per year, and dividing up the children into groups arranged by grades. We hope that our school will become big, so that each third-grader will have 20 to 30 comrades in his or her class, and that each eleventh-grader will have at least 8 or 10.

Let us stop and ask a few questions about this system, however. One of the questions Christians must ask about education is whose responsibility it is. Obviously it is not the business of the state. Is it the business of the church? No, it is the business of the family to educate the children. When the children are older, and want to pursue education to a particular calling, it is their responsibility to contract with some teacher or teachers for their advanced education. This is best accomplished by a system of apprenticeship, but in the modern world it is usually accomplished by a student’s paying the faculty of a university to teach him. Here again, however, the arrangement ought to be a simple free market transaction; it is not the responsibility of either church or state.

(Of course, in an age like ours, when Christians are a cultural minority, and the secular state is moving against Christian schools, it may be wise for the time being to put schools and colleges under the sponsorship of the church, so as to claim the protection of the U.S. Constitution: freedom of religion.)

If elementary education is the business of the family, why delegate it to the Christian school? The only justification for doing so is that the Christian school teachers are more efficient and are specialists. What do we lose in the process, however?

First, the child loses a sense of the wisdom of his parents. Soon it is the teacher who is knowledgeable and wise, and any conflict between her opinion and the parents’ opinion will be difficult for the child to resolve. Parents will not want to undermine the authority of the teacher, and so may just let the matter ride. Christian schools, of course, try to avoid this as much as possible; but it is a subtle and continuing problem.

Second, the child loses contact with other children of other ages. In the family, the older child may help in the instruction of the younger, and the younger children learn to relate to the older. Additionally, if the child is kept in the home environment, he will learn to benefit from contact with other adults. Bill Gothard makes the point, in his valuable “Institute for Basic Youth Conflicts,” that every child needs grandparents as well as parents. If grandparents are not at hand, living in the same town, parents should “adopt” some elderly couple to be as grandparents for their children.

Similarly, parents should “adopt” Christian adults to be “uncles and aunts” to their children. “Uncle” Bob may be a good mechanic, and “uncle” Bill a good musician; “aunt” Jane a good seamstress. If our children “hang around” these “uncles, aunts, and grandparents,” they will learn more than in the classroom. It is hardly a socially healthy thing, from the Biblical-familistic standpoint, for children to relate only to people of their own age group. One bad effect of this is the Junior High adolescent fixation on the peer group. Children of this age are terrified of being “different.” This simply would not be a problem if schools were not structured by these rigid grade divisions.

Third, locking a child up in school all day, five days per week, locks him out of many educational experiences in the world. At the very least, parents should readily keep their children out of class for any valuable educational experience that comes to town.

Fourth, the child will mature faster in the presence of older children than he will if isolated with kids of his own age. Moreover, he will learn much faster, since what is being taught to the older children will rub off on the younger ones.

You can think of other arguments, doubtless. Of course, the small, family-sized school, with flexible hours, will not be able to provide, the “most important” parts of education: big science labs, full sports program, cheerleaders, etc. It is up to you to decide what you prize the most.

As a matter of fact, of course, some parents are not the best educators, though most could teach their children with little difficulty. Some children, for one reason or another, do not learn as readily from parents as from a third party. A family-sized school might in many circumstances be the best solution. By this I mean a one-room schoolhouse, with children of all grades (or stages of learning) in the same room. If there are too many children for that, then break it down into large groups, say “grades” 1-4, 5- 8. Or divide the one-room school into two, in order to preserve the family size. It might prove ideal to have neighbourhood schools, with 30-40 children in each school, and one teacher over them all. (High school, entailing much more specialized kinds of education, will require more specialists to teach, and the one-room schoolhouse method might not be quite as practical there. It is surely worth trying, however.)

The Cono Christian School of Walker, Iowa, has used the “one-room” model for years, and is persuaded that it is best. The older children help teach the younger, and education takes place at a phenomenal rate. The best resource material in this whole area is available from Growing Without Schooling, 308 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116. They sell a variety of books, and publish a newsletter giving addresses of people who are teaching their children at home, as well as legal news. Their perspective is that of radical, ecologistic humanism; but many of the ideas found in their material are valuable for Christians to adopt. A Christian family that has been doing this for several years, and who would like to be in touch with you if you are interested, are Mr. and Mrs. David A. Dombeck, 1956 Susquehanna, Abington, PA 19001

I mentioned legal news. The problem with teaching your kids at home is that many states don’t like it. More and more court cases are being won in this area, however, and the Growing Without Schooling newsletter will tell you how to keep your family out of the legal spotlight.

At the very least, this essay has been designed to encourage Christians who have no Christian school: you don’t need one; you can do it yourself at home. If there is just a teeny-weeny Christian school at your church, and it is not growing by leaps and bounds, rejoice! Your children are probably receiving a better and more well-rounded education in that one-room schoolhouse than they would get at some big Christian school.

(Of course, the big Christian school is still infinitely preferable to the secular school. This essay has not been an attack on big Christian schools so much as it has been a question-raising enterprise. We need to think this matter through. If you don’t agree, write an essay defending the other viewpoint, and send it in.)

Dennis Prager’s Secret to Counter the Left

By Kevin Swanson, 5th August, 2021

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager nails it. He says, “The single best thing Americans can do to counter the left-wing attack on America is to take their children out of America’s schools.”

Dennis Prager, conservative talk show host,
urged parents to take their kids out of America’s schools.

Wow!

Not voting for the most conservative presidential candidate. Not Christians running for elective office. While those are both great goals and would demonstrably benefit America, Prager insists that the single best thing Americans can do is to pull their children out of America’s schools.

Prager writes that government schools “prematurely sexualize them, thereby robbing them of their innocence; and harm them intellectually and morally.”

That’s why I dedicated my June 14th Generations program to his insightful commentary.

Public school’s Russian Roulette:
Drag Queens & Anti-American propaganda

To fully communicate the odds that your child will be harmed in the typical public school, he offers a disturbing word picture. He writes, “Sending your child(ren) to most American schools is playing Russian roulette with their values—but unlike the gun in Russian roulette, which has a bullet in only one of its six chambers, the schools’ guns hold four or five bullets.” That’s a scary statement!

Why are the public schools so dangerous? The talk show host says, “In many elementary schools, your child is taught that gender is chosen and that there is no difference between boys and girls; … and many children from first grade on attend “Drag Queen Story Hour,” wherein an obvious man — wearing women’s clothing, garish makeup, and a wig — entertains them.”

And it’s not just a rejection of God’s design for sexuality and marriage. Today’s American schools indoctrinate the children with many ideals contrary to the Christian foundations upon which America was built.

The denial of public school parents

Prager doesn’t pull any punches, noting that, sadly, most parents are in downright denial. Their delusion manifests itself in two ways:

  1. “Many parents do not want to know what their children are being taught and the consequent damage done to them.”
  2. “They don’t really believe school will ruin their child, let alone their child’s relationship with them.”

Perhaps parents are in denial because they incorrectly conclude that today’s public school curriculum is no different than when they attended a generation ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tragically, it’s downright hostile to a biblical worldview in every way.

Indeed, Prager writes, “You are fooling yourself if you think the odds are that after attending American schools from kindergarten through college, your child will turn out well-educated, intellectually alive, rational, kind, happy, well-adjusted, grateful to be American, and respectful of you and your values.”

That’s quite an indictment. To his credit, Prager acknowledges that most private schools are equally guilty before God of pushing a hostile worldview. And, for that matter, he writes, that parents “cannot necessarily even rely on Christian or Jewish schools. Most of them are as ‘woke’ as most secular schools. And if they do find a school that teaches, rather than poisons, they may not be able to afford the tuition.”

Enter home education.

Prager: A modern-day Gamaliel

In my June 14th Generations program, I called Dennis Prager, an orthodox Jew, a modern-day Gamaliel, like the one found in Acts 5:24, who took a stand for the Christians of his day. To be frank, it’s wonderfully encouraging to see someone with his stature and platform unapologetically articulate what I’ve been saying in homeschool conferences since 1986. As a homeschool graduate myself, and as the father of five homeschool graduates, I’ve traveled to 48 states and 16 countries passionately advocating for home education.

Dennis Prager and A.A. Hodge share concern
about nihilistic destruction of America
By way of back story, Prager says the question that he most often gets which led to his column was this: “What can we do to fight back against the nihilistic anti-American destruction of virtually all the country’s major institutions?”

Frankly, the question and the talk show host’s answer echo the thoughts of A.A. Hodge (1823-1886), the God-honoring Presbyterian leader, and former Princeton Seminary president.

A.A. Hodge, former Princeton Seminary president,
warned against a centralized education system
which would propagate anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief.

He wrote, “I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has never seen.” (I cited that powerful quote in my new book Epoch: The Rise and Fall of the West.)

To put a fine point on it, nihilism is the outright rejection of all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless. Prager and Hodge both insist that this nihilistic worldview in America’s centralized education system is not just a bad ideology; it’s destructive! It’s a hand grenade. It’s dynamite under the foundations of the American family, of the American culture, of the American political system, and of the American nation. Indeed, this is destroying our very civilization.

Adam McManus, my co-host on that June 14th Generations program, quoted directly from the American Humanist Association. Make no mistake. The humanists want to capture our children. Listen to this. “In order to capture this nation, one has to totally remove moral and spiritual values and absolutes from the thinking of the child. The child has to think that there is no standard of right and wrong, that truth is relative, and that diversity is the only absolute to be gained.”

Public schoolers were 2.5 times more likely
to be destroyed spiritually vs. homeschoolers

In our 2015 Gen2 Survey, we surveyed 10,000 Christian kids raised in Christian homes including those who were public schooled, private schooled and home schooled. Guess what? If a child was public schooled, they were 2.5-3 times more likely to be destroyed spiritually. No wonder 88% of Christian high school graduates walk away from their faith!

Prager assumes that some parents hesitate to homeschool because they feel ill-equipped. Frankly, in my view, even the most “incompetent” parent will accidentally do dramatically better than the public schools.

After forty-plus years of experience in the homeschooling arena, I can confidently say that a parent dedicating just an hour a day of one-on-one time with a child is extraordinarily efficient, influential, and helpful in a child’s life. In fact, the average home schooler scores at the 84th percentile compared to the 50 percentile-mark for the average public schooler.

But, to be honest, it’s less about whether the child is learning academically, as important as that it. The primary concern is this: What values are your children being taught and how is it going to shape the rest of their lives and our culture overall?

My two primary concerns
even if you homeschool your kids

One final thought.

Even if you make the commendable decision to homeschool your children, I have two primary concerns. 1. We need to prepare our children to face opposition to their faith. Bible-based Christian worldview curriculum is a vital tool to equip your students with the knowledge and convictions needed to stand for the truth. That’s why we have invested over fifteen years in writing our Generations Curriculum – now available this year for all 12 grades. Not only will your children be adequately prepared for the attacks at college, but in their lives ahead in the “real world.”

2. We need to be pro-active in limiting the exposure of our children to the toxic pop culture.

  • Primarily, I would strongly advise against putting a smartphone in your junior high or high school student’s hands. Between the likely exposure to pornography and the insidious content on social media websites, it’s absolutely poisonous. (If you want your high schooler to have a phone for emergency purposes, I recommend you consider an alternative option like Gabb wireless which doesn’t have the Internet, social media, or games.)
  • If you have a television in your home, don’t make the mistake of putting it in your child’s room.
  • Make sure that you install the best internet filter on all of your computers/iPads. Without it, the precious innocence of your child can be lost with the click of the mouse, even while doing a legitimate search online for a paper.
  • Read my book The Tattooed Jesus: What Would the Real Jesus do with Pop Culture?

love how Dennis Prager concluded his column last month.

He said, “The single best thing Americans can do to fight the left-wing destruction of the country is to withdraw from the ‘educational’ system that is actively, deliberately miseducating them by the tens of millions. If millions of American parents did so, the country would turn around as fast as you could say ‘teachers unions.’ If they don’t, their children will continue being used as guinea pigs in the Left’s sick and dystopian experiment.”

How are you discipling your kids before they move out?

Besides, God says the primary obligation to educate and disciple your children is not with the state. It lays at the feet of the parents.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is as true today as the moment Moses wrote it by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. From the day of your child’s birth, the sands have been flowing quickly through the hourglass of time. God has given you a limited window during which you have been tasked to pass the baton of faith to the next generation. Don’t let it pass you by! It will be your greatest regret if you do.

Subscribe to the Generations Podcast

Every weekday, I address the stories of the day on Generations from an unapologetically Biblical perspective. Catch the show each day bydownloading the Generations app or by subscribing to the iTunes podcast. Or you can get the daily program delivered right to your inbox by subscribing to the Generations Radio email feed. For Christ and His kingdom!

Kevin Swanson
Director
Generations
mail@generations.org
www.generations.org

5 Crucial Questions to Ask When Buying Curriculum

By Kevin Swanson (mail@generations.org), 30/7/2021

Although there are many considerations when it comes to purchasing curriculum, we’ve identified five crucial questions that we believe every homeschool parent should ask when evaluating curriculum for their children. Here’s a brief synopsis below (you can read the full write-up in our Busy Parent’s Guide to Selecting Homeschool Curriculum ebook when you sign up for today’s final webinar!).

1. What philosophy of education does the curriculum follow?

By the word “philosophy” we’re not talking about whether the curriculum uses workbooks, unit studies, kinesthetic learning, or online learning. What we’re looking for is the basic worldview of the authors.

As you review the curriculum, do you find a respect for God’s Word, God’s Wisdom, and God’s Truth? Are the truths of God’s Word tied in to the material—the history, the science, and the literature? Also consider the focal point of the curriculum. Does it emphasize the achievements and works of men? Or does it emphasize the glory and works of God?

2. What is the curriculum’s chief goal or objective?

Every educational approach is directed toward a goal—whether that goal is stated or unstated. Sometimes that goal is to raise up “better,” well-socialized citizens for a socialist state. Sometimes it is to prepare a child to get into a good college and make a lot of money in life. The curriculum you choose will make a big difference in steering your children toward or away from a Christ-oriented discipleship and a Christ-centered life. Always remember to ask the question: What is the goal laid out by the producers of this or that curriculum?

3. Who wrote the curriculum?

Teachers are important. And parents are the most important teachers in the homeschool endeavor. However, a large part of our children’s schooling will be determined by the authors of the curriculum we use and the books our children read. Usually, we give our children the best books written by competent writers or the greatest authors of all time. However, keep in mind that the great writers are great teachers. They may lead our children to the truth, or they may lead them to error.

A good question to always ask is: “Who wrote these textbooks? Who wrote these classics? Were the authors humble men and women? Did they fear God and trust in Christ?” Checking out the life of the author is one of the best and quickest ways to determine whether he or she would be a good teacher for your children. That applies as much to Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Shakespeare, and Mark Twain as it does to John Bunyan or Augustine.

4. Is the curriculum relevant & easy to use?

With much of modern education, countless disconnected facts are thrown at kids— terms to memorize, dates and events in history, and all the rest. Think of it in terms of one little formula:

Boring Books + Pointless Assignments = Less Learned

But homeschooling should never be boring! We want our children to see the relevance of the information and the knowledge they are learning on every single page. They need to know why they are learning what they’re learning and be able to apply it to their lives.

Easy-to-use curriculum prevents the academics from becoming too overwhelming and all-consuming for parent or child. Instead of spending all day doing bookwork, we recommend you set aside time for family economy, practical learning, field trips, planting gardens, and doing real life.

5. Does this curriculum fit into my budget?

Last but not least, families are concerned about the expense of the curriculum. Single income homeschool families (in some cases blessed with a large brood of little ones) can’t always afford to spend $400 – $800 per child on curriculum.

Why is curriculum so expensive? Keep in mind that some curriculum is super expensive because of the sheer magnitude of the content included. Too much of this is busywork; it’s designed to keep kids busy in school, doing headwork for 6-8 hours a day. That’s not the homeschool regimen.

Schools – Government or Public?

[by T. Robert Ingram, originally published 1959, St. Thomas Press, Houston, TX 77035]

“It is he that teacheth man knowledge.”

                                                           —Psalm 94.10

When people speak of the public school system in the United States today they mean schools that have two distinctive features:

     1. They are paid for by taxation imposed by the police power of the people.

     2. Attendance is compelled by that same police power and failure to attend brings a penalty under the law.

Now these two features do not in reality qualify anything to be properly called public. In fact, they disqualify it. Things that are public are things that belong openly to the people as differentiated from belonging to the king or the ruling power or what we call the government. Schools that are paid for out of taxation and where attendance is forced by threat of punishment are properly called government schools, and not public schools.

Public schools, by contrast, should be marked by the same quality that marks all really public institu­tions. The most public of all institutions is the Church of the living God; what makes it public is that support cannot be compelled, nor can failure to attend be punished. Public means “belonging to the people.” If anything belongs to a person, he can do with it, legally, what he will. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” asked the husbandman in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. And if you are really free to do what you will, you are free to take a thing or to leave it alone. If a church really is public, or really belongs to the people, then the people may use it or not. They must be free not to attend, if they are really free to attend. Freedom to contract into any­thing implies freedom to contract out. If, then, the public really owns anything, it is free to give or withhold support and attendance at any time.

Perhaps the second most public institution is that which in England is simply called “the Pub”—the public place. The Pub is that place where men are free to gather (or not to gather) and to engage in some activities which they may discontinue at any moment they so decide. And I am altogether sure that “the Pub” is not kept open by taxation. Thus we have public dance halls in which attendance is not even limited by invitation; anybody can go in or out as he pleases as long as he does not commit an act of violence. Support is conditioned upon use, and not tax revenues. The public utilities are those services which are freely available to the people at large for a contractural price. They cease to be public when they are paid for by taxation and use is compelled by law.

Newspapers, markets, banks and restaurants are other so-called public institutions. They are places and services made available on a contractural basis to the people, and thus belonging to the people. On certain specified conditions set up by the owner or operator, anyone may make use of the place and its services or not as he chooses. The operator must be free to set up his conditions, and the user must be free to accept or reject those conditions.

When the police power of the people is brought into play to compel support and attendance, at that instant the people lose ownership and control, and a thing ceases to be public. When Queen Elizabeth I ruled that people who did not attend church on Sunday morning were subject to punishment she took the church away from the people and it became the government church. The moment the queen de­creed the people had to attend church, she had to declare what she meant by church. The church she specified immediately became the government church.

We all know how doggedly Englishmen fought to wrest control of Christ’s church away from the crown and to make it once more a public institution. One of the many victories of that struggle was the establishment of a new people and a new nation in the new world. These United States were settled and brought forth my men who risked their properties and their lives in an attempt to free their churches from the government and to make them once more public institutions which they controlled by virtue of being able to support and attend or not at will.

I suppose this is so deeply engrained in the American consciousness that the possibility of a government controlled church here is almost unthinkable. At least it is in the way that was tried in Europe both under Rome and under Henry and Elizabeth of England. And yet it is a curious thing that we, a people brought forth upon the foundation of free public institutions of religion and business, should have torn our most powerful religious institution from our free churches and made it a government institution. I am speaking of our schools.

Schools in the United States today, except for a few church schools, are under the complete control of the temporal governments and have long since been seized from the people. I know very well that so-called Federal control is not directly acknowl­edged at the moment. But I also know that it is inevitable because no smaller government institution in the United States can function without the ap­proval of Washington. The Civil War settled that. The police power that operates in our midst is what we mean by temporal government. It is the power to kill. Taxes levied by that power are paid to avoid the penalty the government can exact, which is ultimately death.

Yet our schools a hundred years ago were not only public—that is both supported and used by the free choice of the people at large—but they were commonly recognized as being one of the fore­most activities of the Church, our most public in­stitution, which can never kill. Teaching is a work of God, and a creative work. Any teaching of any kind not only derives from God but has to teach something about God. It is by its nature a religious work, or a work of the Spirit. In the words of the Psalmist, “It is he (God) that teacheth man knowl­edge.”

No person is qualified to teach anything except what he learns from Christ Jesus: he is not fit to teach in his own name. (I might point out that men today do not even presume often to go so far as to teach in their own names. They now teach in the name of the government. That is, they teach nothing but what the government doth allow—and pre­sumably the government tells all that it alloweth.) We Christians are wholly and unreservedly com­mitted to the Lord Jesus. We teach in His Name and His only. For it is he that teacheth man knowledge.

It has been a long, hard won struggle for the forces of evil to wrest control of the schools from the public and the churches and to make them gov­ernment schools. The struggle began in earnest under Horace Mann some 150 years ago. Mann got the idea from Prussia, and he followed the same inevitable steps that the Prussian rulers had fol­lowed. He first removed the financial support from the public by means of a tax. That was fairly easy to do because it appealed to the tendency in every sinner to fall for a confidence game: and it gave financial support to the government.

It was easy to convince the people that it would be a benefit to give up responsibility for supporting the schools either by voluntary contributions or by contractural payment for services or both. In the name of justice it certainly seems fair to spread the load and to compel all the people to pay for what serves to the glory and good of the people as a whole. Certainly schools are good for the whole people. Besides the taxes started out low—almost insignificant. Why, with all those people paying, the cost to each family for limited services seemed ridiculously small.

But Prussia found almost at once that it was one thing to lead a horse to water—another to make him drink. It was one thing to convince the public it need no longer carry the burden of continuously and repeatedly choosing what they would and would not support; but it was something else again to make them send their children. The people, still accus­tomed to having public schools which they controlled by attending or not as they willed, went right on choosing the schools they wanted for no good reason other than that they, the owners, wanted them.

And so Prussia had to take the next step which the people could not now really effectively object to. He passed laws compelling attendance. He justified his action on the grounds that the king knew what was good for the people: but in the same breath he declared that it was obvious the people did not know what was good for themselves. The trouble was not that people were not making the effort to establish and support good schools. Never in history has a people trained more brilliant minds or greater numbers of popular thinkers than Europe then and now. Our own nation prospered on the fruit of the European schools, and our own leaders and our own popular thinking reached dizzy heights because of this heritage. No, the trouble was that the people, who under their own control had developed this amazing popular system, did not like the govern­ment schools. They paid their taxes: but they sent their children to the old public church schools.

So Prussia had to pass some more laws. The people who normally didn’t go to school—those who, because they couldn’t read had to learn to think—were now compelled to attend, or be punished. The Prince of this World once again reached out for power and set up his kingdom. Horace Mann saw the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them, and, unlike his Lord, was im­pressed. He unleashed the spirit of the anti-Christ in a new, undefended area. He took the people of the U. S. by surprise. The forces went to work in earnest. Mann had to defend himself again and again against the people of his day who recognized his cause was basically aimed at Christ. But he approved Bible reading. And he defended himself by attacking his enemies: those who wanted the people to control the schools and not the govern­ment were, he charged, opposed to giving innocent children the right to go to school.

Moreover, he labelled schools controlled by a representative gov­ernment as schools which thereby indirectly be­longed to the people. He became an advocate of government schools under the banner of public schools. Like all confidence men, he took away from the people what they already had by promising to give them some things they neither had nor needed. His movement was slow, indeed. It gained little ground except in Massachusetts where, under the leadership of the Unitarians and Harvard Uni­versity, the state replaced the church in all matters anyway, and religion became no longer a public affair but a private one.

After the Civil War the people had to adjust to a new shocker. The government no longer belonged to the people and to the states—the people and the states belonged to the government. It was much easier after that to let the schools slip gradually away from public control into the hands of various government agencies. As with Prussia the steps were the same. First, support by taxation. Control by voluntary contractural support or withholding of support was quietly removed. Now you had to pay, whether you liked the school in question or not. If you didn’t you could be punished by the same man who could hang you if you committed murder, thievery or adultery.

To refuse to like government schools put you in the same class as a murderer. It is a crime against the might and majesty of our supreme military pro­tector. He is now in the school business, and if you don’t like his schools, neither do you like his army and police force. You were told you could exercise some manner of control over the schools by electing an advisory body called a school board. But that was merely an attempt to commit us all the more to support of whatever kind of school this elected official might be able to establish. For better or worse, that was it and the public could not object by withdrawing voluntary financial support.

But clearly this was not more effective than in Prussia for getting people to send to school those who were learning to think in other ways and about other things. So there began to appear the laws that compelled those free Christians whose fathers left England in search of freedom to send their children to schools approved by the government. That it is God who teacheth man knowledge was not openly denied, even though the Congress was expressly for­bidden to pass any law establishing any religion. But temporal government replaced the church as teacher.

Even so it was not until after World War I, when the people of these United States gave up control of their saloons, that they also gave up real control of their schools. In the twenties, when the government took control of whiskey in the name of prohibition, it also took control of the schools in the name of public education. Thirteen of our states adopted their first compulsory attendance laws, and most of the rest of the states tightened up the ones they had. Many of us went through schools at a time when compulsory attendance was still brand new and schooling still thrived under the warm sun­light of public control. But today it is different. You and I have no control. We may be able to elect our school board members and they are doing a heroic job in trying to stave off the debacle. But public control is long gone.

You and I have no choice. We are taxed, not a pittance for a few more classrooms and teachers: we have a mammoth and absurd cost heaped upon us to maintain one of the most elaborate collections of temples to a false goddess that our people have ever known. The heirarchy of this state system is mammoth, and billions of dollars are taken from the people year after year by the power to kill. The schools will be here whether you like them or not: there is no possibility that they could collapse under the usual sequence of public disfavor resulting in the withdrawal of public support.

Moreover, if you don’t think you will go to jail if you refuse to send your children to a school which is controlled by this machine, then consider what happened to some Mennonites in Ohio last year. You and I cannot even decide which school we will send our children to. I know there are some private schools. And I know there is our own school at St. Thomas’. But I also know that by and large these are so insignificant as to be tolerated rather than let the issue burst into flame by stirring it up.

St. Thomas’ is one of very few schools in Texas, and maybe in the nation, that really claims to be under the control of the people under Christ rather than of the ultimate pleasure of the state. And we have horrified many people. We are tampering with the awful majesty and power of the government— although it is not the government that teachest man knowledge, but God. State accreditation is now the thing. Sure, you can have a school which is not paid for out of taxes and which people do not have to attend under penalty of the law. But it has to be a school which does what the state tells it to do. Of course idiocincracies are tolerated. If you are of a mind to try to make a special extra effort in your own behalf, go ahead. It won’t hurt anything. The government will see to that. Because any school that you can use is already stamped with state accredita­tion, or discredited.

And now we wonder why our children, whom we agreed we wouldn’t trouble with knowledge from God, are now without knowledge of any kind. And I do hope nobody will again trouble me by telling me how smart the quiz kids are today on the tele­vision. Thank Mr. Van Doren for laying that ghost. Our kids are not smart. They may some of them have done pretty well in spite of us, but the ignor­ance of our people as a whole is so serious as to be recognized even by the government in Washing­ton as a threat to the national safety.

There is no course of study in religion that can be designed to overcome the religious teaching in­herent in the state controlled school system itself. God teaches that there is no such thing as secular learning. He says there is no field of knowledge which is not subject to the judgment of Jesus Christ and teaching is supremely a religious function through which the sovereignty of God is recognized among the people. Yet, the first lesson we teach every child today is that there is a place where God does not count. That place is in what we call the school room of so-called secular learning. Day after day we tell our children, by sending them to the state schools, that people do not and should not decide for themselves whether a particular school or any school at all is good for us.

We deny the whole principal of public control by deceiving our children with the idea public con­trol means being committed in advance to the de­crees of the government. The religion we are teach­ing them is to glorify Caesar and to magnify his holy name as the universal arbiter of knowledge. Once you teach children that—it doesn’t much matter what else you teach them. As long as you don’t let them get the idea that it is really God and not Caesar that teacheth man knowledge. And as long as you don’t let them know that no man is free who cannot himself as an individual give or with­hold his consent—even to sending his children to school. And as long as you never let him suspect that real public control means complete dependence upon freely given or freely withheld public support and use.

Now somebody will ask me how Christ invades the study of biology. But that one is so obvious, I will raise a more difficult subject.

How does Christ invade the study of arithmetic? Well, I’ll tell you what has happened to arithmetic as taught under the philosophy that Christ is not important. The reason for teaching arithmetic used to be the same as for all things done in the name of Christ: to glorify him by developing the full native powers of every individual to the utmost. Christ came to make men perfect for heaven. All learning then is important in so far as it develops each soul and perfects that soul to the fullest extent of its given nature in Christ. Arithmetic is a discipline which is good insofar as it develops the mental skill of people to think logically. Men who can solve problems, remember long strings of operations and keep an orderly progress of reasoning are the kind of men Christ wants. Men who can think straight usually seek Christ.

But our American educators have long since abandoned the study of arithmetic for the purpose of sharpening little minds. It is now studied as something useful, or practical. If you need to use it to buy groceries, or to be an accountant, or to be an engineer, then arithmetic is good. This is not my own opinion. This is a statement of a fact with which you are all too well acquainted. As a result, our government is clamoring for young men who have been taught how to think—engineers, mathe­maticians, call them what you will. But we don’t have them. Why? The state school theory doesn’t find them important. All we need are men who know how to solve the particular problems we think they may run up against. An adding machine will do. Some schools are even beginning to teach adding machine use in the second grade. Whether you think it has to be that way or not is beside the point. That is what has happened. There is no doubt about it.

It is only in Christ that there is any real reason for teaching children simply for the purpose of developing their own human qualities to the fullest extent we know how. It is only in Christ because it is only Christ who has opened the way for us to come at last, one by one, into his own glorious presence and there to live with him forever.

It is only in Christ that it is important to be learned, not for the contribution you can make, but simply to present to God the best personality you can manage out of the stuff he has given you. If nobody else profits by the mathematical genius, it is worth while for that genius to have developed his genius to the full extent of his powers, to the glory of God who made him and Christ who redeemed him.

The very process of learning is geared to the desire of the learner. If a child does not will to learn, not even a firing squad can compel him. In fact, the firing squad will probably make him all the more stubborn. One of the things God teaches all of us is that man is created in the image of God, and to make that image bright is to glorify its maker. It is not up to the state to give a man the will and the desire to do what is best for him. In fact, when the state does, it attacks God himself, by assuming his image is not up to doing what the power of government knows is best.

If a man is a man, he is due the respect of all other men and especially Christian men, of choosing his own destiny. If God gives us that freedom, the freedom to go to hell, then the least we can do is to allow the same freedom about school.

Compulsory school attendance is a daily insult to the natural God-given desire in every man to improve himself and his family and to strive for heaven, and thereby an insult to the God who made him. It teaches that God didn’t really make us the crown of creation and that we don’t really have that desire, or will, to excel.

This is to give God the lie, and is teaching con-trary to the Christian faith. It rests on the proposi­tion that some men don’t know and won’t do what is best for them—and the state must compel them. That is the foundation of all socialism or stateism.

The whole system would collapse in a whisper if compulsory attendance laws were repealed. If you did not empower the policemen to arrest anyone who does not send his children to a particular school, how long do you think the wretched schools we must put up with would last?

I assure you the public would very soon restore good schools by supporting the good ones freely and withdrawing freely from the bad ones.

That is the nature of public institutions and be­lieve me, the voice of the people is a loud one.

If we are truly a Christian people, we will take again the control of our schools and reassert our conviction that it is God that teacheth man knowl­edge—not Caesar.