Grace Christian School

Archives - January 2016

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5/15/19 - By Donald M. Larson, PhD
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Headmaster's Blog

Archives - January 2016

Soaked in Secularity

January 27, 2016
By John Morrison

In his outstanding book, The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard observes of many, perhaps most, North American Christians: "Our souls are soaked with secularity."  That is, our assumptions about life and reality are far more colored by secularist thinking than we are consciously aware.  And this has everything to do with why we need to intentionally “soak” our children with Christian assumptions about reality!

Simply defined, an assumption is a fundamental belief one has concerning reality.  We consistently act every day out of our basic assumptions, usually without consciously thinking about them!  For example, I assume I can plop down in a chair, and it will support my weight.  This is a reasonable assumption because of my life-long experience with chairs!  While this simple example illustrates the fundamental nature of our everyday assumptions about physical reality, our assumptions about religious values and faith impact us in a far more profound manner.  As Frank Perretti stated in his popular novel, This Present Darkness: "As a man thinks, so he is.  Control the way a man thinks, and you control the man."

Let me illustrate Peretti’s point with a mainstream practice from the world of public education, where the so-called legitimacy of various expressions of human sexual preference and practice is being aggressively taught to our nation's youth.  This secularist mindset appeals to such noble sources as the Declaration of Independence and U. S Constitution, which affirm the dignity and rights of each individual.  Even in the Christian context, where a qualified form of tolerance and respect for all persons is part of our Biblical values, we are seeing among a growing number of professing Christians a mindset that if God is Love, and two people of the same sex truly love each other, God would certainly smile upon such a relationship.  Many youth from Christian backgrounds are buying into this mindset simply because they are making conclusions rooted within the unexamined assumptions of secularism.   They have not been trained to critically and carefully examine all ideas at the level of their basic assumptions through the Biblical sieve.  As Willard states, their souls (minds) are soaked with secularity.

The above illustrates how mainstream educational practice, even in local public schools, is aggressively teaching the assumptions under-girding the religion of secular humanism to our nation’s young people. And we wonder how it is that our nation has departed so quickly from its Judeo-Christian traditions?

Theologian A. A. Hodge saw this coming as far back as the 1880’s:

I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from [Christian] religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, which this sin-rent world has ever seen (from Hodge's Popular Lectures on Theological Themes).

May God give us growing insight and courage to stand against this powerful current of secularism and, at the same time, willingness to make necessary sacrifices to soak the minds and hearts of our children with Biblical assumptions about truth!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

Religion in the Classroom?

January 20, 2016
By John Morrison

In my last blog, I shared the following quotation from Dr. Christian Overman, of Worldview Matters.  It is worth repeating:

If state schools were indoctrinating children in Buddhism, Islam or Native American Animism, many Christian parents would hit the ceiling.  Maybe.  But when it comes to the indoctrination of children in John Dewey's so-called "Common Faith," which he referred to as a non-theistic faith, Christian parents are curiously passive.

For those not familiar with Dewey, he is considered by many as the single-most influential individual in molding American public education as we know it today.  His writings represent hard-core secularist philosophy as it now permeates public education.  Dewey wrote: “Here (in secular humanism) are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race . . . the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God” (taken from Dewey’s Common Faith and My Pedagogical Creed).  In other words, Dewey viewed public education as the new American church and educators as its priests and prophets.  Dewey’s commitment to spreading the tenets of secularism through public education is well-documented throughout his writings.

While the religious nature of Islam or Hinduism is obvious, secular humanism flies under the radar of many Christians in terms of recognizing its inherent religious nature.  Yet, it is taught in most schools to the same degree that any private, religious school teaches their unique religion.  Many of us may be slow to recognize the religious nature of secularism simply because we are products of that system.

Let me illustrate this point.  Consider a public school science class where a student sits under a teacher using a secularist text and espousing naturalistic evolution  as "fact" because it is "scientifically  proven." Without explicitly attacking the Christian concept of creationism, that teacher effectively undermines one of the most fundamental tenets of our Christian faith, that "in the beginning, God created... ."  If this fundamental of Christian faith is undermined, then the student, who has “caught” this secularist belief at the presuppositional level will, at best, be an intellectually crippled Christian.

Implicit in this example is that science is "fact" while "faith" is merely feeling and personal opinion. Actually, evolution is itself a "belief," in that Darwinism, in spite of its claim to "scientific proof," is as much a position taken by faith as is belief in any other empirically unproven theory.  Furthermore, if naturalistic evolution is "fact," then Christianity cannot, at the same time, equally be true.  And we wonder why so many of our young people walk away from their faith when they go to college?!?  

Certainly, it is true that there are many dedicated public educators who are effective teachers, and there are some "good" schools doing a commendable job with academics and extra-curriculars.  But, really, are these to be the main criteria for how we educate our children?  If a Muslim or Hindu school was solid academically and had lots of extra programs, would we enroll our children in such an institution?!  

Furthermore, to assert that public education is religiously neutral is self-contradictory because, in itself, it is actually an inherently religious assertion purporting a belief, or assumption, that there is such a thing as religious neutrality.  And such a claim stands in direct contradiction to some very  concise words of  Jesus: "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Matt 12:30).  Our Lord’s statement, in itself, should be enough to dispel the myth of so-called "religious neutrality" in education.  There is no such thing, and that is "fact"!

Dear reader, all of this may seem terribly negative and come across as my being in attack mode as concerns public education.  But, I fear, the fox is in the hen house while the farmer is at ease in his home.  While not preferring to be negative or offensive, I am respectfully taking off the gloves out of my concern to see many within the Christian community awaken to one of the fundamental causes underlying the great devastation taking place among our youth.  We cannot place them in a secularist system of education and expect them, at the same time, to be nurtured in their faith.  My position will step on toes, but I challenge those who disagree to carefully reconsider their underlying assumptions in light of the Scripture.

I promise to try to be more positive in future blogs. Maybe!  

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

A Local Controversy

January 14, 2016
By John Morrison

Those of us who are “locals” are well-acquainted with the recent controversy at an Augusta County high school stemming from a teacher having her students copy Arabic calligraphy as a part of their multicultural studies.  The controversy erupted from the fact that the script stated a fundamental tenet of Islamic belief.  A number of Christian parents at this school were outraged and organized a public forum to air their concerns.  In turn, this meeting was picked up by local and national news outlets and also publicized extensively through social media.  As a result, all Augusta County schools were closed for a day because of the large volume of emails and calls from across the nation which were deemed by local law enforcement and school administrators as potential threats to the health, safety and welfare of students and staff.

Until now, I have not commented publicly on this matter.  But because it so powerfully  illustrates a major theme I am developing in my current series of blogs, I would like to share a few thoughts.  

While Christian parents at that  particular school may have been  justifiably concerned about the teacher’s assignment,  I believe they may have missed  the deeper, more fundamental issue.  And that issue is simply this: what is the basic religious worldview that their children are being taught everyday in public school, and is the content of that worldview perhaps far more alarming than the assignment this public school teacher gave to her students?  

This following quotation from our dear friend, Dr. Christian Overman, founder of Worldview Matters, articulates my concern quite succinctly:

If it is a religious matter to teach--or imply--that the Bible provides a standard for moral order, is it not also a religious matter to teach--or imply--that it  does not?

If it is a religious position to say, "Jesus is Lord of all, and by Him and through Him all things exist," is it not also a religious position to say--in so many words, or lack thereof--"Christ and the Bible are irrelevant to our discussion on biology, art and math?" Are not both statements religious statements?

To teach students that Christ and the Bible are irrelevant to biology, art and math can be done very effectively without telling them this directly.  A teacher does not have to stand in front of a class and say "the Bible has nothing to do with our discussion" to communicate the message that the Book is irrelevant.  If we think the current U. S. system of education is religiously neutral, we must think again.  If state schools were indoctrinating children in Buddhism, Islam or Native American Animism, many Christian parents would hit the ceiling.  Maybe.  But when it comes to the indoctrination of children in John Dewey's so-called "Common Faith," which he referred to as a non-theistic faith, Christian parents are curiously passive.

Because of what is at stake with our young people, I am not overly concerned about stepping on toes with the above comments.  In the context of my recent blogs (which can be accessed at www.gcswarriors.org), we should not be surprised at the devastation of our national values and those of our young people that are largely the outcome of secularist education!  

We cannot throw out long-standing traditions of Christian education as practiced by the Church down through the centuries, as I have documented them in my blogs, by turning our children over to secularist educators, and then expect them to stand in our faith.  Previous generations clearly understood this.  What will it take to awaken ours?

Indeed, I feel for those Christian parents who are distressed over the recent controversy.  But they, and we,  must realize the issue goes far deeper than the single assignment over which they are so disturbed!

Please forward this blog to any whom you feel might be interested.

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org. 

 

Thoughts Concerning the Education of our Children-Part 5

January 06, 2016
By John Morrison

In the last three blogs, I have provided a brief overview of Christian education in the extended history of the church.  Throughout the centuries, the education of children and youth was, to say the least, a top priority for the church!  Yet, in spite of centuries of tradition, the American church began to abdicate this sacred responsibility to the state in the mid to late 1800's.  How could this happen?

In the years following the Revolution, America began to experience rapid population growth as a result of the western territories being opened and scores of immigrants arriving from Europe to settle these vast spaces.  Along with the expansion of its population, the nation grew in its diversity of nationalities, languages, religious backgrounds, and cultural heritages.  Many in civic leadership recognized that a national, standardized system of education could be instrumental in helping to meld this increasingly diverse population into a new, unified nation.

An example of this mindset is reflected in the Northwest Ordinance, an act passed by Congress in 1787 setting guidelines for the northwest territories eventually becoming states.  Congress recognized the importance of education in this process.  Article III states: "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."  Notice in these words the Reformation emphasis both upon a universal education for all children as well as a recognition that the educational emphasis on Christianity (Religion) was considered essential to the well-being of this new nation.

This, along with other motivators, was a primary impetus behind the notion of "free" public schools sponsored by the state.  However, it is noteworthy that there was a common assumption based upon the then Christian consensus in the larger society, that a primary function of these public schools was to teach children and youth the fundamentals of Christian faith and values.  

But there were those deeply concerned about the church abdicating to the state its God-given responsibility for the instruction of children.  A. A. Hodge, a deeply respected Princeton theologian, warned:

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, which this sin-rent world has ever seen" (A. A. Hodge, Popular Lectures on Theological Themes; Presbyterian Board of Publications; Philadelphia, 1887; p. 283).

Hodge was quite prescient, understanding that the then Christian consensus in larger culture could quickly shift, and that if Christianity was largely removed as a primary goal of education,  it would drive a fundamental shift in national values.

Ironically, the National Education Association (NEA), founded in 1857, echoed Hodge's concerns:

... if the study of the Bible is to be excluded from all state schools; if the inculcation of the principles of Christianity is to have no place in the daily program; if the worship of God is to form no part of the general exercises of these public elementary schools; then the good of the state would be better served by restoring all schools to church control.
National Education Association 1892

What a remarkable statement!  I use the word "ironically" above because the present NEA secularist philosophy would cause its founders to roll over in their graves!

But, here we are!  And it does not take a rocket scientist to appreciate how secularist, state sponsored education is largely responsible for shifting America away from its Christian heritage to its current secularist mindset.  When the church abdicated its responsibility to the state in exchange for a "free," universal education, it opened the door to the great devastation of values we see today in America.  What was free has come at great cost!

In the larger scope of church history, C. B. Eavey makes a simple observation: "So long as the church continued this practice of teaching the Bible it thrived, but when it neglected its teaching function it declined in spiritual life" (C. B. Eavey, History of Christian Education; Moody Press, Chicago, ILL, 1971; p. 189.

What will it take for the American Church to awaken and reclaim its divine mandate to make disciples not only of all nations, but, first and foremost, of our own children?  History teaches us that this cannot be done apart from a full-throated, systematic program of Christian education.

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