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Some Parting Words

June 26, 2018
By John Morrison

As I close out my series of blogs for the summer as well as my tenure as head of GCS, I want to return to the theme that I have trumpeted now for close to forty years.  

The great reformer Martin Luther is cited as saying, “I am very much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth.  I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount."

These words are grounded in two simple assumptions.  First, the Bible is God's inspired word to mankind. Second, our children's education should be permeated in biblical truth as concerns all of life and reality.  Otherwise, any system of education not so rooted will result in potentially tragic consequences.

Reformed theologian A. A. Hodge echoed Luther in 1887 when he stated: "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."

Yet, since the advent of American public education, the larger Christian population has largely ignored these admonitions spoken by Luther, Hodge, and numerous others.  

And what has been the outcome?

In 1981, moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre wrote his insightful After Virtue, in which his basic thesis is that America and western societies have passed the point of no return as a result of losing the values consensus necessary to sustain our traditional way of life.  MacIntyre stated: "we are already in a state so disastrous that there are no large remedies for it." He suggested, when he wrote his book, that the remnants of traditional culture were simply running on fumes and momentum from the past.  He emphasized that over a fairly short period of time, those traditional forms would collapse and give way to cultural chaos. For anyone who is paying attention, we are now seeing MacIntyre's sobering predictions being chillingly fulfilled in our larger culture.

More specifically, we have seen great devastation among the children of the Church as large numbers have walked away when they come of age.  It should not take a great deal of discernment to recognize that a fundamental reason for this is grounded in the words of Luther and Hodge. Yet, even today, nine out of ten Christian parents will place their children in schools where the basic assumptions of hard-core secularism undergird the educational philosophy being espoused.  While we are thankful for a sprinkling of Christians in the public system as salt and light, it is naive to think that they can negate the deeper educational philosophy of secularism undergirding these schools. Yes, we need to see that it is as "black and white" of an issue as stated by Luther!

No doubt, we can over-simplify this issue.  Indeed, our kids are also being clobbered by popular culture.  They often are negatively impacted by absentee dads, or by parents who are merely "Christian tourists" rather than those who are radically discipling their children in the things of the Lord.  There are so many factors that go into this larger issue.

But we must be careful to not "rationalize" away the simple words of Luther and Hodge.  We can and must proactively engage our children in various ways in raising them in the nurture of the Lord.  But at least one of these fundamentals must be grounded in providing them with a distinctly Christian education.  

My prayer for the darkening days ahead is that the larger Christian community will awaken to the principle of Christian education as what should be, according to the Scripture, one of the highest priorities of the Church.  

May God help us to this end!

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Postscript:  After graduating in 1973 with an education related degree, I read a book entitled The Messianic Character of American Education, by Rousas Rushdooney, which carefully documented the philosophic underpinnings of American public education.    While I do not embrace the larger theological orientation of the author, he did a masterful job of articulating, often in their own words, the mindset of those driving the public education movement in America since it inception.  A major theme of these thinkers, perhaps best characterized by the most prominent of public educators, John Dewey, was one of moving education more into the realm of conditioning students rather than the traditional, Christian model of teaching critical thinking skills.  While the early American public education model was far more "subtle" in its teaching of secularist assumptions and presuppositions, today's schools are blatantly conditioning American students to adopt "socially correct" values.  Some states, including California and Illinois, now have legislation either passed or pending mandating "socially correct" curricula at even the earliest childhood levels. The following link, as featured in a recent Renewation publication, is sadly typical of what is taking place all around America, even in our more conservative, rural school districts.  Christian parents and leaders must not be naive about what is happening, either in its content or scope, in our nation's schools.

Click here to read this informative piece.