Christianity and the Academy (4)

Education must be Independent

Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the best convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny … used as the instrument of destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past.[1]

I have found that one of the hardest things to do, is to convince Christians that the State will only harm their children’s education. It is a matter that most Christians are reluctant to consider, and find even more difficult to accept. Why? It is linked to the fact that we have all grown up with State controlled education. It has been part of our culture for about 150 years, and thus is considered to have de facto legitimacy. It is one of those things that, because of the compromise of the church in the nineteenth century, has come about with the passing of time, and seems to be here to stay.

But it is essential that Christian people submit to the Word of God, and allow it to direct them in all things. In the case of education, there is no Biblical warrant to permit the State to have any responsibility, as education is a parental responsibility (Deut.6; Prov.22:6; Eph.6:4).

Where responsibility rests, authority lies. To permit the State’s participation in the task of education, immediately leads to a shift in authority from parents to the State. The State then immediately requires taxation to carry out its responsibility, and it has to set up a massive bureaucracy, purchase land and buildings, employ staff, etc. But this is just the beginning of the problems.[2]

The Bible speaks very firmly to people who undertake a task, independent of the Word of God: “Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord, “who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharoah and seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the safety of Pharoah will be your shame and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation” (Isa.30:1-3).

The question can be asked, “What happens when the State controls education?” Putting aside for the moment the obvious issues of inefficiency and huge expense in all State systems, there is an even more important issue: indoctrination. A child spends some 14,000 hours over 12 years, being indoctrinated in a hostile world-view which is communicated through the curriculum, through teachers and by other children. This has been admitted by humanists for a long, long time. Charles Potter, a signatory of the Humanist Manifesto in 1930, wrote that

Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday School, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teachings? [3]

Education departments and their schools are not religiously neutral, benevolent institutions. They are always involved (implicitly or explicitly) in the process of indoctrination. Because all education is founded on a religious foundation, this will be humanistic, because the premise of State controlled education is itself humanistic. Christians who think they will be able to “reform the system,” are deluded. The “system” only exists because of the negligence and disobedience of Christians, and fiercely resists real reform. Parents should take responsibility for everything. They may home educate their child, or delegate the task of education to others, but pay themselves for whatever they choose.

The modern State seeks to steal the legacy of the faithful: the hearts and minds of children. The educational bureaucrats today have imposed a massive system of ideological kidnapping on the voters. This is the inherent nature of all compulsory education, regulated education, and tax-funded education. Education is not neutral. The bureaucrats have built a gigantic system of humanist indoctrination with funds extracted from all local residents in the name of common-ground education. This justification has always been a lie, from Horace Mann’s public schools in Massachusetts in the 1830’s until today. From the late nineteenth century until today, leading American educators have been forthright in their public pronouncements of their agenda. This agenda is deeply religious. John Dewey, the “father” of progressive education, dedicated humanist, and philosopher stated his position plainly: “Our schools, in bringing together those of different nationalities, languages, traditions, and creeds, in assimilating them together upon the basis of what is common and public in endeavour and achievement, are performing an infinitely significant religious work.” [4]

The humanists know exactly what they are doing, while Christians are confused about what they really want. Christians would like to inherit the promises of God in relation to their children, but unlike Joshua and Caleb of old, they are ill-prepared to face the conflict that is therefore inevitable, and so they procrastinate or excuse themselves. This has been an indictment on the leadership of the church for over a century. We have been procrastinating and excusing ourselves on this matter, ever since State education was established in Australia in the 1850’s, and our situation has only got steadily worse.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Fabian Society of England came out strongly in favour of state aid to independent Christian schools. When a board member resigned in protest, George Bernard Shaw rebuked him strongly. Nothing, Shaw held, would more quickly destroy these schools than state aid; their freedom and independence would soon be compromised, and, before long, their faith. Events soon Shaw to be right.[5]

What has been evident for generations, is that State accreditation for education, along with funding by the State, leads to control by the State. “He that takes the king’s shilling, does the kings bidding.”

 

This unconscionable compromise by Christians must end, if Christians hope to have any substantial influence in their society.

Parental control of child rearing, especially education, is one of the bulwarks of liberty. No nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family…The best way to improve education is to return control to the parents who know best what their children need.[6]

 

[1] J. Gresham Macham,“Christianity and Liberalism,” 1923.

[2] An excellent resource on this, is Bruce Shortt’s “The Harsh Truth about Public Schools,” 2004.

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

[4] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.28.

[5] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.446.

[6] Dr Ron Paul, U.S. Senator, (www.lewrockwell.com), 2007.

 

 

Beginning with Homeschooling (14)

What is Christian Education?

Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will be a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim (Ex.34:12-13).

The scripture makes this clear: no man on the face of the earth is religiously neutral. He is either with Jesus Christ, or against Him. And government departments are no different.

In 2015, I had the opportunity as a part of my employment, to travel with a leading Australian Christian scientist, who has become over many years now, a well-known spokesman and leader in the Six Day Creation movement in Australia, the US, and other parts of the world.

He is asked to speak on occasions at schools, and in various other Christian forums, and has done this now for over 30 years. Over a meal, he discussed with my wife and I what he’d observed over the years.

He confirmed to me some things that I already knew: Christian education in Australia is  changing. Why? It’s the lure of the dollars from the Department of Education. It’s been a pressure from the beginning.

A modest Christian school has a budget now of 2 million dollars, and perhaps a quarter of this will come directly from parents. The other three quarters comes from the Department, but it order to secure that funding, every school needs to be approved.

The Christian school that wants approval and subsequent funding, had best be careful what it says and how it says it, because it dares not alienate or offend the Department, which has the power to turn off the money tap.

This means one thing. Christian schools want to maintain the illusion that they are Christian. That may mean a cross outside the school, or on the buildings, or having weekly devotions with the Bible, or other symbols that denote the Christian faith.

But, let’s go explore the curriculum. Let’s see evidences of Christian understanding. Let’s examine the texts chosen, that are used by hundreds of impressionable young minds.

What do we see? Pressure to compromise, to lower the profile, to become “acceptable” to the Department. Does the school teach that the God of the Bible made the world in six days, and that evolution is a myth perpetrated by a nineteenth century fool, named Charles Darwin? Rarely.

I have a friend aged about 30, who attended a “Christian school” in Brisbane for 12 years, which now has an enrolment of 1,300 children. He never heard from his teachers, that God created the world in 6 days, as taught in Genesis. Why would that be?

What about staffing? You see, it’s easy to maintain the pretence of a “Christian” school, but along with the curriculum, the type of staff employed says a lot about the real values of a school. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

My learned scientist friend said to me, “Where is the evidence of the Christian teachers?” Some “Christian” schools don’t insist any more on this as a prerequisite. Something is failing, terribly.

The Bible says,

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work (I Cor.3:12-13).

The fact is, fire inevitably comes. Why is that?

God sends it. It is one of the predictabilities of the Christian faith. Every Christian school is going to be tested on its faithfulness to God. And this is the test they’ll face, and probably are now:

               Compromise, or lose your funding.

The school with 1,300 students enrolled, has an annual budget (I guess), in excess of $10 million. Would you like to be the Principal that said to families, “We’ll have to close the school folks, because the Department wants us to compromise our Christian convictions, and we won’t.” He’s out of a job. That wasn’t quite his career plan!

Being a Christian school Principal could rapidly become a poisoned chalice. Who’d want that job? It’s like the German soldier in 1943, being sent to the Eastern Front. And now, the Federal government offers schools extra money to endorse the homosexual lifestyle. Oops!

So, you really want your child to have a truly Christian education? Good.

But here’s the question. Will you be able to get one, outside your home?

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it (Prov.15:16).

Conclusion:                                                                                                                          When Christian education began to be pursued in Australia around 1980, it seemed to most to be a laudable step in the right direction. But almost from the first, it had an Achilles heel. The Christian school movement wanted State funding, which had to be preceded by a certification process from State education departments.

And these Departments had no love for Christian education. So, it was a case of,

         You take the king’s shilling-you’ll do the king’s bidding.

And the thumb screws of the Department have progressively been applied. That should lead Christian schools to re-evaluate their overall position, with this thought in mind: do we stay dependent on the State, like Israel was in Egypt, or do we get out, once and for all?

 

Beginning with Homeschooling (12)

Watch yourselves that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will be a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim- for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a Jealous God- otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons to play the harlot with their gods (Ex.34:12-16).

All educators accept that values are at the center of education. The question is, whose values? If we are serious about a Christian education for our children, we have to take Biblical values very seriously.

This will be confronting for some parents and many children, especially those who have spent time in public education. It requires changes of attitude in many ways. Education begins with how we think.

Truly effective education means helping to form the values of children. This will include influencing the kind of person they will marry, because religion really does affect values. This all begins with taking this Biblical command very seriously: “…no covenant with the inhabitants of the land in which you are going.”

A lady with three primary school aged children, once wrote to me, saying

We have a local (small) country school that is willing to allow homeschooling students to participate once a week (for either PE or Music, and be invited to Sports Days etc the school holds). They already have one homeschooled boy who comes once a week on Wednesdays, as his interest is in PE/Sports, and it works out quite well. Is this an option we could utilise?

 As a Christian educator, I’m not unbiased in this. I have a vested interest in this family continuing to utilise Christian education, because I get paid through it, so I plan to acknowledge this with this lady. But setting this aside, as a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, I have a concern for her children’s education and future too.

What’s happening with this lady? I believe she’s in the early stages of a religious and educational seduction. If this doesn’t change soon, this could be disastrous for her family.

Why should I use such strong language? North makes this point:

The modern State seeks to steal the legacy of the faithful: the hearts and minds of children. The educational bureaucrats today have imposed a massive system of ideological kidnapping on the voters. This is the inherent nature of all compulsory education, regulated education, and tax-funded education. Education is not neutral. The bureaucrats have built a gigantic system of humanist indoctrination with funds extracted from all local residents in the name of common-ground education… This agenda is deeply religious.[1]

This lady probably doesn’t understand what she’s getting into, but in my opinion she’s jeopardising the future of her children, just so they can enjoy some free sports days. But what will be the outcome?

One of them could be this:

Mum, can we go to that school all the time? Those kids there are really nice…

Then there’s this one:

  Mum, all my friends think that a 6 Day Creation is really funny…

And:

Mum, what’s really so wrong with two people living together? Hardly any of my friend’s parents at school are married…

I was able to visit this family, and I discovered more. Mum’s under pressure from children who won’t always do as they’re told, so she’s been having real doubts about herself and her ability to educate them at home, leading to struggles with depression. I encouraged her husband (who was there for the interview) to take a lot more responsibility for what’s taking place, to check himself on how the goals for each day were completed, and to take an interest in how they are progressing as individuals. That way, children become much more accountable to him. That should change things!

Unequal yokes with unbelievers (see II Cor.6:14-18) means just that. Twelve years of education (which equates to 14,400 hours) will either prepare a child for a godly Christian life of work, dominion and godly confidence, or it will hamper him. What will it be with your children?

Conclusion:

Give your children the best and only true education: one that is steeped in scripture, so they are equipped to handle the challenges of life, and can face life with legitimate confidence.

Mark Twain wasn’t a believer, but he understood one thing well. He said

Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.

 

[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.28.

Beginning with Home Schooling (8)

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God (Deut.28:1-2).

Deuteronomy 28 lists God’s blessings and cursings to Israel. Thus it is a chapter of promises and warnings. The promises are grand and bountiful, the cursings are truly frightful, and they are conditional. Twice in these two verses, Moses uses the term “if.” When we get to the New Testament era, we see that Israel by and large, had not obeyed the Lord.

This led to Jesus warning the Jews that

…The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it (Mat.21:43).,.

My understanding is that Israel has been disinherited, and it is the church that has inherited the promises of God. This is both an exciting and frightening thought. In another gospel, Jesus said

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

So, the church has inherited the promises of God, along with the warnings. So, this should make us doubly aware of our requirements to consider Deuteronomy 28. 14 of this chapter’s verses speak of God’s promises, 44 verses His curses.

In speaking of the law, Jesus made indirect reference to passages like Deuteronomy 28. He said,

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Mat.5:17-18).

Then in James 1-2, the apostle speaks of “…the perfect law, the law of liberty…” (1:25) and “…the royal law…” (2:8).

Does this mean that the law of God given to Israel through Moses, and that which James refers to, are one and the same? Not quite.

There are significant changes in the New Testament, with reference to food laws, seed laws and land laws. We do not have the same prohibitions in relation to food (see Mk. 7:18-19), the seed laws were to teach Israel’s separation unto God from the pagan nations around it, and the land of Israel given to the Israelites, has now become “…all the nations…” (Mat.28:19).

But the scripture teaches us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever” (Heb.13:8). The ethical teaching given to Moses throughout the Pentateuch, which Jesus endorsed, is for the church today.

So, what is the relevance of the law of God to the Christian family? Wherever it makes direct or indirect reference to the believer’s education, we must consider and obey its instruction.

Adam was to create a God-honouring civilization, with worship of the true God at its heart. So was Israel. So are we. Adam was to love righteousness, and guard Eden from the invasion of evil (Gen. 2:15, “keep” is “guard”). So was Israel. So are we. Adam was to punish evil. So was Israel. So are we.

The law of God, as found in the Old Covenant books, describes the Adamic task, and prescribes how it is to be carried out. In no way has this aspect of the covenant changed. What has changed is the administration of the covenant, and its source of power. The basic standards have not changed.[1]

Deuteronomy was the last of the five books of the Pentateuch, given by Moses. It was given to Israel forty years after God gave them the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, and immediately before they are to enter the promised land, under Joshua.

Deuteronomy and the Great Commission of Matthew 28 have important parallels. They both come after a great deliverance has been effected by God Himself, on behalf of His people. Moses in Deuteronomy, and Jesus Christ in the Great Commission, declare to God’s people the context of this deliverance, what it means for them, and now what they are commanded to do.

As Ray Sutton explained in his excellent book “That You May Prosper” (1985), Deuteronomy represents the 5th part of the Biblical covenant- the inheritance. As such, it contains extraordinarily ambitious commands, such as

See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them (Deut.1:8).

Could this be relevant today? Jesus commanded His disciples to

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… (Mat.28:19a).

Moses commanded Israel to

…keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it (Deut.11:8).

Jesus commanded His disciples that they were to be

teaching them [the nations] to observe all that I commanded you… (Mat.28:20).

Moses promised Israel,

…if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth (Deut.28:1).

Jesus promised His disciples,

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth…I am with you always, even to the end of the earth (Mat.28:18, 20).

An analysis of Deuteronomy 6 and 11 shows us that six significant words are used repetitively. A close analysis of these chapters will assist us in understanding God’s purpose in educating and discipling our children today. “Teach” is used 3 times, “listen” 4 times, “sons”  7 times, “possess” or “dispossess”  7 times, and “land” 19 times. The word “command” (or “commandments” or “commanding” or “commanded,”) is used 26 times, whilst “Lord” is used 33 times. These represent the six most important words in these two chapters, about education.

Drawing on the use of these six words, we can construct a one sentence summary of  Deuteronomy 6 and 11, which reflects and explains permanent God’s educational purpose for His people:

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

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

Do I really believe that this will take place? Absolutely. Jordan also commented,

Culture follows from, arises from, and is dependent upon faith. Spiritual loyalty to God, in faith, must precede and be the ground of all cultural change. It not only must be, it inevitably will be. The gospel has inevitable consequences, and so does Baalism.[2]

Deuteronomy has important parallels for the Christian parent, especially fathers. Why? Because he is responsible to God with his wife, to prepare his children for a life of service and dominion, in the same way that God prepared Adam and Eve in the Garden. God said to them,

Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen.1:28).

Adam and Eve were given a garden, and Moses was to prepare Israel to enter the promised land. But we are to prepare our children to deal with much more than a piece of land at the eastern end of the Meditteranean. Our task is to prepare them to share in the task of Christ’s dominion in all the whole earth, and this will set apart what we are doing with our children, from every other educational endeavour.

 Conclusion:                                                                                                                            True Christian education is premised on basing a child’s education in the scriptures. Deuteronomy grants us absolutes that should govern this educational process we engage in, whilst educating our children in the home clearly enlarges our opportunities. May God help us to be faithful in the grand task He has committed to us!

Only the suicidal can afford non-involvement in the great task of a new foundation for civilisation. The foundation must not be institutional…it must be theological, and it must be Christian.[3]


[1] James Jordan, “The Law of the Covenant,” 1984, p.49.

[2] James Jordan, “Judges: God’s War on Humanism,” 1985, p.59

[3] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.478.