Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Neutral Education?

Education (part 56)

Experience demonstrates the truth of this folly as Christians have tried to strike a bargain with the world. The thought is that we can give our children a first-class, neutral education and then we can fill in the gaps. America is reaping in its churches and families what it has sown in it compromise with government schools. While there are notable exceptions, we still must ask: are churches and families stronger or weaker in their authority and influence after generations of government education?

Children are easily influenced and must be educated in the context of God's righteous standards. Paul uses the picture of a child when he warns that we are not to be like children, "tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine..." (Eph. 4:14). Jesus taught us, "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:4). [What does this say about the teachers of our day?] Nineteenth century theologian, Robert L. Dabney wrote:

As a man, it is presumable he will act as he was taught while a boy. Of course then the grounds of obligation employed with him in school should be the ones he is to recognize in adult life. In the State school a non-Christian standard alone could be given him. He cannot be expected now to rise to any better; he may sink to a lower, seeing the ground then given him had no foundation under it…

In fact, Americans, taken as we find them, who do not get their moral restraints from the Bible, have none. If, in our moral training of the young, we let go the, "Thus saith the Lord," we shall have no hold left. The training which does not base duty on Christianity is, for us, practically immoral.

Consider these admonitions from Dr. Cornelius Van Til:

The first step in making progress in our program of Christian education should be a deepening of our conviction that the program we have set for ourselves must be carried out.

We need ministers who believe in Christian education not only after a fashion but with all the passion of their souls. We need ministers who not only say that Christian education is a nice thing, a sort of luxury, but who say and show with their deeds, that they believe Christian education to be the only education that is fit for a covenant child.
All of us must stand together as one man. In this day when boundaries between the believer and the unbeliever are so generally wiped away we should seek to mark those boundaries anew and mark them well. We should seek to mark these boundaries not with chalk that disappears with the first rainstorm that comes, but we should try to mark these boundaries with indelible ink on the hearts of those who believe.

We not only claim our rightful place among the commonwealths of education but we have a definitely imperialistic program. No mere Monroe doctrine will suffice. We are out to destroy—albeit with spiritual weapons only and always—all our competitors. We do not recognize them as equals but regard them as usurpers. Carthage must be destroyed."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What is the Proper Goal of Education?

Education (part 55)

Is the proper goal of education to insure a good job and income for adult life, or, is man's chief end to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loose his own soul?"

The child is created in the image of God. To remove this central fact from the child's education is to pervert the God-given intent of education. The goal of moral education (and all education is to be moral) is to teach the child to distinguish that which is genuinely good from evil—that which is true from false—on God's terms. Fallen men seek to do this one their own terms, even as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. Hebrews 5:14 tells us that only those who have had their sense "trained in the word of righteousness can discern good and evil."

How can an education that is based partly on the assumption that the child is created in the image of God and partly on the assumption that the child is but an animal, possibly produce a unified life? This can only lead to a divided life and confusion! This is strongly condemned by our Lord in Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters..." The most fundamental truth—that the child is the image-bearer of God—cannot be ignored or diluted except at a devastating cost.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Attaining True Knowledge

Education (part 54)

Only a godly education has the ability to attain to true knowledge. The emphasis of the Bible is so much concerned with the moral aspects of training that it almost seems that this is the whole of education. Man's most fundamental need is a right or moral relationship with God and his neighbor. We rightly infer from this that every person owes both God and his neighbor skilled, knowledgeable labor. He must therefore apply himself to various educational tasks or fields of study. Moreover, all of these pursuits must be in the context of moral and religious training.

The Bible does not consider any education as sound that omits the Word of God. Abraham was instructed to instruct his children: "For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice..." (Gen 18:19). "Man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Robert L. Dabney (1869) said: "Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness in its convergency to God, even as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun. If religion be excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal."

On what basis does the unbeliever, or his school system, teach morality? He is attempting to build in the void—no foundation. Yet, the Bible says that the teaching of righteousness and justice is central to the child's education. Consider this stern warning from Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children."

True knowledge resides in God alone. Man was created with a right knowledge and understanding. Fallen men have abandoned God's Word and perverted knowledge. Fallen men suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). True knowledge is a gift of God. Redeemed men are being renewed in the spirit of their minds. Children must be taught true knowledge from the Word of God. God requires an education that is rooted in His righteous standards.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Arrogance vs. Confidence

Education (part 53)

We must distinguish between arrogance and confidence and thus, we want to be careful that while we are confident of our mission, we do not become cocky. Remember the motto: Gentle in manner, resolute in purpose. The Apostle Peter admonished us to be "gentle and reverent." We also want to be careful that we do not produce students who are arrogant. The Bible is full of such warnings: "Do not be wise in your own eyes" (Prov. 3:7); "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18); "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). If you are truly wise, then it will be easy to be both confident and humble. We can be confident because the "battle is the Lord's," and we can be humble because the "battle is the Lord's." Abraham Kuyper wrote about a century ago:

Far more precious to us than even the development of human life is the crown which ennobles it, and this noble crown of life for you and me rests in the Christian name. That crown is our common heritage. It was not from Greece or Rome that the regeneration of human life came forth; that mighty metamorphosis dates from Bethlehem and Golgotha….But in deadly opposition to this Christian element, against the very Christian name, and against its salutary influence in every sphere of life, the storm of Modernism [now Post-modernism] has now arisen with violent intensity….There is no doubt then that Christianity is imperiled by great and serious dangers. Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat….If the battle is to be fought with honor and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Weapons of Our Warfare

Education (part 52)

Government education, because it is such a pervasive institution, with enormous wealth, has indeed used its great power to mold the culture and character of America. Nevertheless, it's our mission to claim this power for ourselves. Jesus tells us: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened" (Matt. 13:33). Can you, like Abraham, see beyond the moment? "Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore" (Heb. 11:12).

Retreat or Advance? Some so-called Christian schools are little more than bunkers in which to hide from the world; everything is frightening—everything is a threat. If all we are doing is raising nerdy kids who will retreat to their "Christian ghetto," and wait for Jesus to snatch them away, then we have completely missed the point of a Christian education. God has placed us in the twenty-first century as soldiers of Jesus Christ to fight the present battles. With Scripture standing securely as our perimeter, we may safely move out, knowing our limitations. We must evaluate the risks, take proper precautions to insure adherence to God's Word, and then move out with confident expectation of God's blessings. Otherwise, we shall remain home-bound in fear of the future. A biblical education does not have as its ultimate aim retreat from the world. We are giving our children a Christian education so that they can conquer the world in the name of Jesus Christ. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Education and Culture

Education (part 51)

Education is the primary means by which our culture is produced. There are ultimately only two philosophies: Christian and anti-Christian, and these two philosophies produce two radically different cultures. These two cultures must collide at every point!

How a culture acts cannot be separated from education. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). As Henry Van Til said: "Culture is religion externalized." To the degree that the school is distinctively Christian in its philosophy, the culture will be more or less Christian or anti-Christian. Schools are essential in the transmission of a culture's philosophy or worldview, and a worldview is exactly what a child is given in school—it's unavoidable. Capture the schools and you have control of the next generation through the formation of the philosophy or worldview. In one generation we can transform the entire culture. I remember that in the 1980s the Sandanistas were intent on replacing every public school teacher with one that was loyal to their cause. They declared that within 30 years their revolution would then be complete. Or, as J. Gresham Machen put it, "If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might just as well give them everything else." (Machen, p. 98)

How much has the world changed in the last generation? Are you witnessing things in our culture that you thought you would never see? Has the unthinkable and the unmentionable become thinkable and even commonplace? Well then, do you think it can change again? Do you think this culture of avarice and death will live forever? Or do think the Christian philosophy is not up to the task of a resurrection?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Most Fundamental Conflict is God

Education (part 50)

There is really only one antithesis—all the differences in educational theory are reducible to the one question of a personal God. Sometimes the best way to define what we are trying to do is to understand its opposite—i.e., the antithesis. If we say that education is adjustment of the growing child to its environment, such a definition is meaningless unless we also define what we mean by the "environment" to which the child is to be adjusted. It is apparent from the start that the non-Christian and the Christian views of environment stand opposed to one another: non-Christians: an impersonal universe; Christians: a personal God (As the apostle Paul tells us, "In Him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17). Every Christian parent and Christian educator must come to grips with this point as Dr. Cornelius Van Til observes:

And anyone who comes to grips with it at all will sense the impossibility of thinking of Christian education as being ninety or sixty or thirty or ten percent like other education, the only difference being that Christian education adds certain elements or emphasizes certain elements that secular education neglects. When viewed from this absolute standpoint Christian education is not even a fraction of one percent like public education. The different conceptions of God that underlie the two educational theories cover every point on the whole front and cover them before and behind, without and within.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Start at the Beginning

Education (part 49)

What is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). These are the "A, B, C's" of education. Every curriculum has a philosophical content, and every teacher brings a philosophical content to the curriculum. It's there whether we recognize it or not. I want to challenge you to become more aware of the content of your philosophy of education, and thereby, you will offer a more thoroughly biblical education for your children.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

They Are Not Yet Missionaries

Education (part 48)

Young children have not yet been taught to think like Christians. We don't send out eight-year-olds to the jungles of Africa to be missionaries, so why do we send them the jungles of government schools to be missionaries? We are arguing geography, not culture. People who can't see the need for Christian education think their five-year-old is ready to be a missionary. Would we send a soldier to do battle without first training him and giving him the weapons to win? "Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Cor. 15:33). Preparing our children to be missionaries is exactly what a Christian education is all about.

It matters what our children are taught. We cannot (and should not) keep our children out of the world, but we must keep the world out of our children. Our children are going to be taught from some perspective—it's only a question of which perspective is going to teach them. God has given us (especially fathers) the responsibility for what they are taught. Parents are often far more concerned about the football team, the cheerleaders, and umpteen other things, than they are the question: What are my children being taught and is Christ the center of their universe? You see, there is no possibility of a neutral education: Professor Dennis Johnson describes the root of the problem: 

One might even dare to hope that Christians are recognizing that there is in fact no neutral ground, in education or anywhere else; that nothing can be taught apart from some religious orientation, whether it be Christianity, Hinduism, secular humanism, Marxism, or some other. To be sure, some parents place their children in Christian Schools in the hope of avoiding the world's obvious temptations: drugs, premarital sex and the resulting spread of teen pregnancy and life-threatening disease, violence and other crimes. We must look for a deeper rationale that plunges to the root of the issue. For the superficial fruit that so alarms the observer of the public high school must be traced to its root in a world view that takes man as the measure of all things. The purpose for the Christian school is not to facilitate flight from surface symptoms but to counteract the source of the infection that attacks the educational system, as it does our society generally, from within. [Dennis E. Johnson, Foundations of Christian Education, p. vi.]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Children Do Need to be Protected

Education (part 47)

One of the criticisms leveled at those parents who pull their children from the government schools is that they are "sheltering their Children." They are putting their children in hothouses. Why, they'll never be socialized! Oh, what a horrible notion—parents sheltering their children! What are hothouses for? We place seeds and young plants in them in order to control their environment. We do this in order to reduce the likelihood of their death. After the young plants are established in the hothouse, then they are ready to be introduced to a more hostile environment and are prepared to weather its storms.

This analogy of the hothouse (which is so frequently used against Christian parents), actually points to the necessity of a Christian education. The Bible has a very serious warning to those who would sacrifice their children to false gods. If a subject is not taught from a distinctively biblical point of view, then it is of necessity taught from a distinctively anti-Christian point of view. Jesus said: "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Luke 11:23). Jesus said: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).

"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech'" (Lev. 20:1-5).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We Must Be Environmentalist

Education (part 46)

It's clear that God requires that our children be brought up in the environment of His Word—it is to permeate our children's lives—and it is to be done with diligence! They must be exposed to God's Word directly by way of Bible classes, Scripture memory and to references to Scripture. They must be exposed to God's Word indirectly all the time. It's the underlying assumption of every lesson. It is to be lived and applied by the teacher. Moreover, students are required to adhere to its standards.

"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'" (Matthew 22:37). This is the greatest commandment and it is a total demand. We never see Jesus accepting a half-hearted commitment to following Him. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. . . So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26-27, 33). Was Jesus speaking in exaggerated terms? Jesus didn't require this in order to be mean or unreasonable. He requires this because this is what is good for His people (and in this context, what is good for His people's children).

Unfortunately, this kind of biblical thinking is foreign to way too many Christians. They think it's odd or fanatical to go so far—to demand so much. But of course the world thought Jesus and His disciples were odd and fanatical and that they demanded too much. Nevertheless, there is no question that this is, in fact, what He demands. It's the Bible that says we are to "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (1 Cor. 10:5). Joshua 1:8 states it this way: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The State is Not Our God

Education (part 45)

Jesus said we cannot have two masters. The God of the Bible is the Lord of all of life, especially when it comes to the education of our children. To place God in the position of irrelevance in the field of education is to deny His Lordship and is the functional equivalent of denying His existence. The unbeliever seeks to explain all things in terms of his philosophy. From this point of view, the Christian faith is merely the product of an outdated and unscientific philosophy. Christianity is irrational because it is opposed to his presuppositions about reality (only silly or ignorant people hold to such myths).

For the Christian, the situation is exactly the opposite. As Christians we understand that life is God-centered and we therefore seek to interpret all things in terms of the purpose God has given in His Word. Since He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the universe finds its purpose and meaning only in Him. We must concur with God's assessment of unbelievers: "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:22). Deuteronomy 6:4-9: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Only Authority of Faith and Life

Education (part 44)

Since the Scriptures are our sole source of authority, this implies that the whole of life must be subject to the will of God as revealed in the Bible. As we apply this principle, it's apparent that the implications of such a philosophy are far reaching. There's an especially urgent need for the application of this principle in the field of education. While the unbeliever will often teach the same subjects that the Christian teaches, he attempts to fit them into a view of reality that either denies the God of Scripture or at least deems Him irrelevant to the educational process. In the Bible-belt of the U.S. we don't often encounter in the government schools the outright denial of God's existence (though this is less and less the case now). Yet, we do routinely see that God is relegated to a position of unimportance or irrelevance in the educational process, even by teachers who profess to be Christians. Fear of what the state requires governs the classroom. Religious views are considered to be personal and therefore out of place in the school. For the Christian, this is totally unacceptable.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our Calling to Christ and From the World

Education (part 43)

When Jesus called us to Himself, He called us to repent of our sins; to be true followers of Christ. This repentance involves changing the way we think about ourselves, the world, and God. It means having our minds transformed. It means having our behavior reflect this new thinking. This was not a call to a minor adjustment, but to a radical change in every way. Genuine Christian growth (sanctification or maturity) always involves first a change of mind and then a change of action. Spiritual growth never by-passes the mind, and neither should it stop with the mind alone. This will require instruction and patience as Christians are led to understand what God requires.

This call to repentance not only changed our destination (heaven or hell), but also our route. We had to forsake ourselves. We had to forsake our old relations with others. We had to forsake our possessions. (Luke 14). "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). The demands of Christian discipleship are total. They stand in complete opposition to the world ("friendship with the world is enmity against God"). Jesus said, "If you are not with Me, you are against Me."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Missionary Blake Purcell

Blake Purcell on the SRS Mission from JD King on Vimeo.

Ideas and Consequences

Education (part 42)

Economist Richard Weaver wrote a book titled: Ideas Have Consequences. We might consider this the "practical" side of philosophy. It matters what we think. Every idea produces a particular kind of fruit. Every culture is the product of ideas. We can look at this from the other side: consequences also have ideas. When we see a culture and its fruit, which is what we often see first, we must ask, "What ideas produced this?" Many times the ideas have not been thought about in a systematic way. We either do not evaluate the culture at all (it just is), or else the ideas seem to be random and unconnected.

This is true for us individually as well as corporately. We all do philosophy, but we don't all do philosophy well. Our philosophies are often haphazard and inconsistent. As a result, the fruit of our philosophy is also haphazard and inconsistent. Since we are inevitably philosophers (i.e., we have ideas), we must strive to be consistently Christian in our philosophy. In our context we need a distinctively Christian philosophy of education. Remember, each of us already has a philosophy of education; the question is whether it is distinctively Christian. It's not enough to be a Christian teacher or to have a school full of Christian teachers (i.e., those who are personally going to heaven when they die). A school building full of Christians still might not be a Christian school.

In order for us to be a "Christian" school, we must have a school founded on and practicing a distinctively Christian philosophy of education. We must be epistemologically self-conscious Christians. We must know what to do and why we are doing it: what are the children being taught? (content), and why are they being taught that way? (philosophy).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Education (part 41)

As a movement, home schooling has some serious problems. If that statement shifts you immediately into "defensive mode," then that's the first problem. Christian day schools have at least as many problems as home schools, but they also have an abundance of critics to have to deal with on a daily basis. The sooner we all face the fact that we are needy―that we need God and the church, and we need each other―the better off we'll be.

All "movements" tend to produce extremes. Movements are usually reacting to some failure in the current system. We often don't have many choices. Reactions tend to be over-reactions, and so, the pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction. Moreover, movements tend to attract extreme personalities and thus, the "super-homeschooler" is born. Every detail is absolutized, from the kind of bran that should be in you breakfast muffins to the exact list of books that must be read. These well-intentioned personalities tend to drive a movement, rolling over whoever gets in their way. This produces feelings of inadequacy in those who can't quite live up to the standard. It also gives the movement a "black-eye," as others now react to this over-reaction. Movements can easily latch on to ignorance and to well-intentioned enthusiasm, elevating some things to a legalistic level; tying the shoelaces way too tight.

Among some [remember, I am speaking in very broad categories] there have been some monastic tendencies; a withdrawal from society into a unique subculture or Christian ghetto. Rather than being "salt and light" in the world where God has placed us, there are some gnostic tendencies to create an alternative world. As Christians, we cannot possibly reach a world that we have little or no contact with.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Christian School vs. Christian Home School

Education (part 40)

If we recognize that the church is the center of the community, we will all be well served. Nevertheless, it's not uncommon to see insecurities, strife, jealousy and a party spirit present within the church between homeschoolers and Christian day schoolers. But we're on the same team! This isn't a competition. Even our striving should help us all to grow. It's really helpful if we'll all admit that we none of us have arrived yet. We're all doing some things wrong. We all need help and encouragement. We all need criticism.

There are great successes and great disasters all around us in Christian education. All of our efforts require an enormous amount of God's grace. Even the best families need the grace of God, because even the best families fall short at many points. You're not capable of giving your children the education God requires―not alone. The best schools are loaded with problems because they are loaded with sinners. I'm a fan of all kinds of Christian education, but I'm not a fan of every Christian school or every home school. I've done both and I've succeeded and failed at both. We have to be willing to say that, believe it and have the humility and grace to show it toward others.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Patriarch Movement

Education (part 39)

Here is an example of where, in reaction to the genuine abdication of men from the leadership of their homes, a movement has arisen. It has sought to call men back to their proper biblical role as husbands and fathers and has provided many good and helpful things. This movement, however, has also produced some degree of "chest-thumping" machoism. In some cases it has over-invested father with authority at the expense of the legitimate authority of the church and state. Like all movements, there's a tendency to allow the recovery pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. In some cases the family becomes everything, in which case it becomes an idol. The clan is primary and the church is (at best) secondary. The only way for the family to be appropriately served is for all of God's authorities to occupy their proper place in our lives, which means that father is a man under authority as well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Uniform

Education (part 38)

It's not uncommon for a movement to take on its own characteristic dress and vocabulary. This identifies who's "in" and who's not. On a trip through Montana we were at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and in came some Mennonites dressed in their unique garb. I overheard a little boy who was with his father, ask: "Daddy, are these real pilgrims?" He apparently thought he had stepped back in time.

Some homeschoolers have created their own subculture that's out of touch with the time and place where God has placed them, imagining some golden age in the past when things were simple and pure. It's a romanticized and false image and thus it's not real. While I strongly favor the liberty of parents to dress their own children how they like, the "Little House on the Prairie" uniform does not prepare children to be adults and to capture the culture for Christ. Modesty is essential but frumpy does not adorn the gospel.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Problem of Movement Extremes

Education (part 38)

All "movements" tend to produce extremes, as they are reacting to some failure in the current system. Reactions tend to be over-reactions, and so, the pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction. Moreover, movements tend to attract extreme personalities; thus, the "super-home schooler" is born. Every detail is absolutized, from the kind of bran that should be in you breakfast muffins to the exact list of books that must be read. These personalities tend to drive a movement, rolling over whoever gets in their way. This produces feeling of inadequacy in those who can't quite live up to the standard. It also gives the movement a "black-eye," as others now react to this over-reaction.

Movements latch on to ignorance, and well-intentioned enthusiasm, elevating some things to a legalistic level and tying the shoelaces very tight. All sorts of other things can get attached to such movements: agrarianism, organic gardening, home-beds, home birth; Just put the word "home" in front of it… Among some home schoolers [remember, I am speaking in very broad categories] there has been some monastic tendencies; a withdrawal from society into a unique subculture. Instead of remaining in the world, there is sometimes a gnostic tendency to create an alternative world. As Christians, we cannot possibly reach a world we have no contact with.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 14

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Must we discover this all over again? I fear so. A new and intolerant utopianism seeks to drive the remaining traces of Christianity from the laws and constitutions of Europe and North America. This time, it does so mainly in the cause of personal liberation, born in the 1960s cultural revolution, and now inflamed into special rage by any suggestion that the sexual urge should be restrained by moral limits or that it should have any necessary connection with procreation. This utopianism relies for human goodness on doctrines of human rights derived from human desires and—like all such codes—full of conflicts between the differing rights of different groups. These must then be policed by an ever more powerful state. A new elite, wealthy and comfortable beyond the fantasies of any previous generation, abandons penal codes (especially against the possession of narcotics) and abolishes marital fidelity so as to license its own comfortable, padded indulgence, and it therefore permits the same freedoms to the poor, who suffer far more from this dangerous liberty than do the rich.

Inevitably, it is the Christian churches who are the last strongholds of resistance to this change. Yet they are historically weak, themselves infiltrated by secular liberalism, full of uncertainty and diffidence. The overthrow of Christian education is a real possibility in our generation. The removal of Christianity from broadcasting and public ceremonies is almost complete. Expressions of Christian opinion or prayer in public premises can be punished in Britain under new codes that enjoin a post-Christian code of "equality and diversity" on all public servants. Secularists are equating the teaching of religion with child abuse and laying the foundations for it to be restricted by law. Britain's next monarch is likely to be crowned in a multi-faith ceremony whose main significance will be that it will be the first Coronation not to be explicitly Christian in more than a thousand years. The Rage against God is loose and is preparing to strip the remaining altars when it is strong enough.


Christian Philosophy

Education (part 37)

No school is obedient to God's call if it is not distinctively Christian, including the home school. Schools must fear the Lord, which is the beginning of knowledge. They must be Christian in the content of the education and in the method of the education. All schools must have distinctively Christian or biblical goals. Acquiring a distinctively and thoroughly biblical philosophy of education is not an easy thing. We're not born with it, and unless we received such an education ourselves, we will have to go looking for it. This involves: knowing to look for it, knowing what to look for, knowing it when we find it, obtaining it for ourselves, and implementing it with our children. Few home schools have actually accomplished this. Pieces of a Christian philosophy of education may be present and there has certainly been major improvement in the curriculum options. But the fact remains that most home schools still do not thoroughly understand the importance of a biblical philosophy of education.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 14

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Edmund Burke similarly once said that one who truly feared God (admittedly quite a difficult thing to do) feared nothing and nobody else. At least you can get to heaven from a North Korean labor camp or torture chamber. You may also be able to arrive in hell from a North Korean palace. And if you believe that, then the Great Leader has no power to control you. According to the believer, God's commandments and requirements exist outside time and cannot be amended even by Kim Il Sung. If we love the thing that God commands and desire the things he promises, then we too can live outside time and beyond the reach of Stalin, Kim, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, or the rest—as their dungeons prove.

Even unbelievers have to recognize that God, whether he exists or not, predates earthly dictators and tends to survive them. God's laws and Christian morals do the same. If God is not dethroned and his laws not revoked, he represents an important rival to the despot's authority, living in millions of hearts. If he cannot be driven out of hearts, total control by the state is impossible.

The Modern Christian Home School

Education (part 36)

I could spend much time commending the good things I have seen over the last 25 years, both generally and particularly in the modern home school. Many books are available that laud the home school and provide some excellent instruction on how to take on and accomplish this noble task. In most cases, Christian home schoolers are well-intentioned parents who seek to honor God in the education of their children. They take seriously the call from God to assume the responsibility of educating their children. They seek to protect their children from a culture that is increasingly hostile to our faith. I am thankful for all the personal sacrifices that so many of these parents, especially moms, have made in this pursuit. However, it is also important to speak to some of the failures in the home school movement. We must all be willing to look at ourselves with a critical eye and be prepared to grow and improve.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 14

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Is religion child abuse?

The use of this claim that religious instruction is a form of child abuse in an argument for atheism is propaganda, not reason. It is, as John Henry Newman once said of Charles Kingsley, "poisoning the wells." We read to the young, show them beautiful things, introduce them to good manners, warn them against dangers, teach them their letters and multiplication tables, and make them learn poetry by heart, precisely because they are most impressionable in childhood—and therefore best able to learn these things then, in many cases long before they can possibly understand why they matter. In the same way, we warn them against various dangers that they cannot possibly understand. It is also true, as I think most observant parents know, that children are much more interested in the universe and the fundamental questions of existence than are adults.

So this is the moment at which we try to pass on to them our deepest beliefs, and the moment when they are most likely to receive them. As Philip Pullman has rightly said, " 'Once upon a time ..' is always a more effective instructor than 'Thou Shalt Not ... ,'" so we do this most effectively with stories. But if we ourselves believe—and are asked by our own children what we believe—we will tell them, and they will instantly know if we mean it and also know how much it matters to us. They will learn from this that belief is a good thing. We will also try to find schools that will at the very least not undermine the morals and faith of the home. And for this, we are to be called abusers of children? This has the stench of totalitarian slander, paving the road to suppression and persecution.

By contrast, I say unequivocally that if a man wishes to bring his child up as an atheist, he should be absolutely free to do so. I am confident enough of the rightness of Christianity to believe that such a child may well learn later (though with more difficulty than he deserves) that he has been misled. But it is ridiculous to pretend that it is a neutral act to inform an infant that the heavens are empty, that the universe is founded on chaos rather than love, and that his grandparents, On dying, have ceased altogether to exist. I personally think it wrong to tell children such things, because I believe them to be false and wrong and roads to misery of various kinds. But in a free country, parents should be able to do so. In return, I ask for the same consideration for religious parents.

However, the new anti-theism is emphatically not just an opinion seeking its place in a plural society. It is a dogmatic tyranny in the making. I can see no purpose in the suggestion that religion is itself child abuse, apart from an attempt by atheists to create the atmosphere in which religious instruction of children can be regulated and perhaps prevented by law.

Home Schooling in Antiquity

Education (part 35)

Parents educating their children at home has a long history. Adam and Eve home schooled with mixed results. Of course, they really didn't have many options. In fact, more people have been home schooled in the history of the world than by any other method of education. Again, with very mixed results. All home schools are not equal, nor are they all good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 14

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Intelligent revolutionaries are always most interested in the young. They know that the ideas and characters of mature adults are generally fully formed and cannot easily be changed, though they can be expensively and painfully terrified, suborned, and cajoled into acting against those ideas. But they also know that, if they can control the schools and the youth movements, they can stamp out unwelcome beliefs in a generation or two.

Adolf Hitler at one stage told his opponents that they might rage at him if they wished but he did not care, because their children would, in a few years, be his and not theirs. "When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,' I say calmly, 'Your child belongs to us already.... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community.' Stalin and Mussolini similarly took a great deal of trouble over the young. There were things they did not want them to know or to hear.

When Home Schooling Wasn’t Cool

Education (part 34)

Thirty years ago home schooling was new and radical in our culture. In many ways this was uncharted territory. The laws were ambiguous or even hostile. We hid our children from nosey neighbors and the public; playing only in the back yard; ducking down in the back seat of the car. Our neighbors and friends thought we were weird (now it's for different reasons J). Curriculum was scarce, so we used whatever we could find. We spent a lot of time reassuring our own insecurities.

As weird as others thought we were, we thought most of the other home schoolers were even more odd than us. Thankfully, much of this has changed. While home schoolers themselves are still not usually "cool," nevertheless, home schooling is much more widely accepted. There are huge home school fairs with tons of curriculum—some of it excellent. Home school organizations exist in most cities, and home schoolers have distinguished themselves with many academic achievements. Other than the occasional mass murderer or child abuser, home schoolers are gaining in their reputation. All-in-all, I think the home school movement has been a very good thing, and in many cases, it's been an absolute necessity.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 14

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Responding to his atheist brother's statement that: "One of Lenin's great achievements, in my opinion, is to create a secular Russia." Peter Hitchens writes:

But we cannot all be of one mind, and unless there is an absolute standard of good and evil, I suppose we have to suspend judgment on the broken eggs (and the broken lives) until we can be sure that there will be no omelet. And even then, we may be indulgent on the grounds that the omelet might have been a good one, if only it had not been for so many events beyond the cook's control.
Or so I have often heard it argued, in various Marxist-Leninist covens whose devotees have gone on to be model citizens in the Politically Correct state. I happen to think that there is an absolute standard of good and evil, so I would have to lament over the broken eggs even if there were an omelet instead of a bloody mess.

Responding to the wishful thinking of his brother that socialism might have succeeded under other leadership:

…It is a mechanism for avoiding the unwanted truth that socialism failed not because it was badly led or unlucky, but because it was wrong. And it is a means for avoiding the further conclusion—even more frightening—that it failed because it sought to render unto Caesar the things that belong to God.

Little Sister

Education (part 33)

Some Christian schools see themselves as a little sister of the government schools—not really grown up yet. So, hat in hand, they ask some governmentapproved agency to come in and accredit its program. But if the government's seal of approval were all that valuable, there would not be a market for private Christian schools in the first place. Nevertheless, because there is no biblical vision at many of these schools, success is consequently measured by money, enrollment, buildings, basketball programs, and other things not essential for true education. Most of these things are blessings. Nevertheless, they are not replacements for a distinctively Christian education.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 13

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

The very limited religious revival of Christianity in the new Russia is one of buildings, ritual, and status. God is largely absent from the hearts of the people, who know little of him and were not introduced to him at the age when (as the commissars knew and the new anti-theists know) we learn to love ideas as well as people. If we do not learn faith then, it is unlikely we shall ever learn it. If we do learn it then, we are unlikely ever to shake it off, though we are afraid to do so. So it is important that what we learn should be good. So what is good? Was the anti-theist teaching of the Soviet schools good? Did they produce a good society? Was Homo Sovieticus, the new human ideal of Communism, a triumph? Nobody who ever visited tht country with open eyes could think so.

Reform School

Education (part 32)

Many of these schools have allowed themselves to become "You're Our Last Chance Christian School." Thus, they receive hostile students who don't want to be there, and whose parents don't understand the purpose and function of parental authority in Christian education. Unfortunately, many Christian schools don't understand this purpose or function either. This is how so many of them have drifted into becoming the local rescue mission on the skid row of education choices. Because the school has forgotten its primary responsibility to act as servant to biblical parents, the school (though well-intentioned) finds itself adrift.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 12

Excerpts from Peter Hitchens:

Speaking of the revolutionary campaign against the church in the anti-theist Soviet Union:

… the schools were immediately secularized, religious teaching having been forbidden by Anatoly Lunacharsky's education decree on October 26, 1917, one of the very first broadly political acts of the Lenin putsch. There was then a second, still more devastating decree (on January 3, 1922), which utterly banned the teaching of religion to children, even singly, in churches, church buildings, or private homes.

Those who nowadays characterize the teaching of religion to children as a form of abuse—and I will come to that shortly—might be surprised to find their views so closely prefigured in this proclamation, which conceded that:

Theological instruction for individuals over eighteen years of age who are able to discuss religious questions intelligibly can be authorised in special establishments opened by permission of the Soviet authorities.... Collective teaching and isolated relations with young people under the age of eighteen, no matter where carried on, will be prosecuted with all the rigour of revolutionary law.

Such "rigour" could include the death penalty.

Antithetical Culture

Education (part 31)

Some Christian schools do not understand the fundamental antithesis between Christian culture and unbelieving culture. Consequently, most classes are taught in just the way they are taught in the government schools. The Christian element is "added" by means of a Bible class or chapel, as though God's truth were some kind of a condiment to spice up the autonomous food served up at the government schools. Thus, in many classes the antithesis between light and dark is muddled. Does two plus two make four whether God exists or not? When the average Christian cannot tell the answer, it is tragic; when the average teacher at a Christian school cannot tell you, it is inexcusable.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 11

Excerpt from Christopher Hitchens:

Let us examine the strange problem of the Atheist states, which a ruthlessly honest Godless person must surely admit as a difficulty. After all, intelligent Christians mustif they are candidaccept that faith has often led to cruel violence and intolerant persecution. They may say, as I would, that this was because humans often misunderstand or misuse the teachings of the religions they follow. This is not because they are religious, but because Man is not great.

Atheists, in return, ought equally to concede that Godless regimes and movements have given birth to terrible persecutions and massacres. They do not do so, in my view, because in these cases the slaughter is not the result of a misunderstanding or excessive zeal. Utopia can only ever be approached across a sea of blood. This is a far greater problem for the atheist than it is for the Christian, because the atheist uses this argument to try to demonstrate that religion specifically makes things worse than they otherwise would be. On the contrary, it demonstrates that our ability to be savage to our own kind cannot be wholly prevented by religion. More important still, Atheist states have a consistent tendency to commit mass murders in the name of the greater good.

Separation of Church and School

Education (part 30)

Many Christian schools do not recognize the profound difference between a Christian school and a Christian church. The Christian school (as an institution) does not exist in order to conduct worship services or act as a mission agency, etc. The Christian school is not a church or parachurch organization. While the church should help her families where she can (e.g., instruction, encouragement, charity, etc.), education is still a parental responsibility and not the church's. The state and the church play important roles in God's economy, but the education of children belongs first and foremost to parents. The school serves in loco parentis―as an agent of the parents.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Rage Against God: Chapter 10

Excerpt from Christopher Hitchens (speaking as a Christian believer):

From time to time I also try to wriggle out of the laws to which I have sworn obedience. I then reject parts of the teaching of my faith, those parts that condemn what I want to think or say or do. I can usually find clever and ingenious arguments for doing this. I invariably do so because it suits me personally. In this, I am doing exactly what the atheist does, only not to the same extent, because I do not actively wish for disorder and meaninglessness, and I recognize that if I pull down the pillars of the moral universe, I too will be crushed when the roof falls. So I follow my failure with regret and hope for forgiveness (yet again). This is an argument for the belief that humanity is imperfect and fallen, not a condemnation of faith or of God. And in all my experience of life, I have seldom seen a more powerful argument for the fallen nature of man, and his inability to achieve perfection, than those countries in which man set himself up to replace God with the state.

The Role of Parents

Education (part 29)

Many Christian schools do not acknowledge the foundational educational role of parents. A successful Christian school is always an adjunct servant for successful Christian parents; it's not a replacement for them. The Christian school is not a para-family organization, but rather a service for godly parents. If parents are not faithfully instructing and training their children, even the best school will not be able to fill the gaps. Regardless of where your children are educated, their education is your responsibility―all of it―all the time. You must know who is teaching your children and what they are being taught.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Cultural Crisis

Education (part 28)

Many Christian schools do not truly recognize the extent of our cultural crisis. They might recognize the fact that our secular culture and schools are falling apart. Yet, there is apparently little recognition that our evangelical culture has similar problems. The modern church often does not have a distinctive Christian worldview either—it has no epistemological center. The Christian church at large is therefore in dire need of reformation according to the Scriptures. Until that happens, most Christian schools will continue to reflect the superficial nature of the modern evangelical faith. Christian schools are a cultural manifestation of a particular Christian subculture. If that subculture is in an epistemic crisis of faith, the schools will reflect it.