Saturday, November 17, 2007

Education and the Kingdom of God

"Historically, the orientation of school and university in Western culture has been in terms of concepts of liberal education. The differences of opinion have been with reference to what is truly liberal...A liberal education has been ostensibly education for freedom and the mark of a free man. But what constitutes a free man? And what is the ground for his freedom? The question is thus inevitably a religious question."

---R. J. Rushdoony, "The Messianic Character of American Education"

Critics of Rushdoony, who have apparently never read anything the man wrote, assume he was obsessed with a bizarre political ethic emphasizing the stoning of homosexuals and persecution non-believers.

After reading thousands of pages of Rush’s work, it seems clear to me that he was, if anything, a Christian libertarian, believing in maximum individual and family liberty under the law of God. While seeking the practical implications of every jot and tittle of scripture, Rushdoony was far more passionate about education than capital punishment.

During the early days of the Christian school and homeschool movements, Rushdoony often served as an expert witness on behalf of families and schools being persecuted by the state. He criss-crossed the heartland in support of families seeking to educate their children in the things of God.

For Rushdoony, all of life is religious and must be governed by God. The modern state, constructed on anti-Christian foundations, is intrinsically hostile to the Kingdom of God. Moreover, the engine of evangelism employed by the state to spread its "gospel" of freedom is the school.

The school is seen by "progressives" as an instrument of social progress, indeed as a messianic institution bringing the very Kingdom of God. Don’t believe it? John Dewey, whose influence on contemporary life and education has been extensive, wrote a "pedagogic creed" that included the following:

--the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.
--every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling; that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.
--in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true Kingdom of God.

The purpose of the schools, then, according to Dewey is clearly religious. However, the Christian God is not being worshipped. The glue holding together the Tower of Babel under construction at the local high school is state-consciousness. More from Dewey:

...the American people is conscious that its schools serve best the cause of religion in serving the cause of social unification; and that under certain conditions schools are more religious in substance and in promise without any of the conventional badges and machinery of religious instruction than they could be in cultivating these forms at the expense of state-consciousness.

The center of this new community is the school. Dewey continues:

In conclusion, we may say that the conception of the school as a social center is born of our entire democratic movement. Everywhere we see signs of the growing recognition that the community owes to each one of its members the fullest development. Everywhere we see the growing recognition that the community life is defective and distorted excepting as it does thus care for all its constituent parts. This is no longer viewed as a matter of justice—nay something higher and better than justice—a necessary phase of developing and growing life. Men will long dispute about material socialism, about socialism considered as a matter of distribution of the material resources of the community; but here is a socialism of the intelligence and of the spirit. To extend the range and the fullness of sharing in the intellectual and spiritual resources of the community is the very meaning of the community. Because the older type of education is not fully adequate to this task under changed conditions, we feel its lack and demand that the school become a social center. The school as a social center means the active and organized promotion of this socialism of the intangible things of art, science, and other modes of social intercourse.

In speaking of the "socialism of intelligence and of the spirit" as the essence of community life, Dewey is challenging what had been an older conception of community, that individuals were free and independent to develop their callings and vocations under God with the bond of unity being a common faith, i.e. Christianity. Instead, our calling is to surrender our individuality—our intelligence and spirit--to socialization wrought by the established church of the Deweyite creed—the school. It is in the school as the "social center" that man is refashioned in the image of the democratic state and where the New Jerusalem is experienced.

The religious nature of statist education also demands the punishment of heretics. Here is one example of a woman being excommunicated from the temple for failing to endorse the creed:

A local author claims a Tri-Cities county mayor discriminated against her after her educational program was pulled from the calendar at a public library. Friday, a newspaper community brief promoted the home schooling discussion and book signing at the Jonesborough Public Library. That afternoon the library canceled the event. The author tells News Channel 11's Melinda Perkins her program was pulled because of one government official's opinion.

The Jonesborough Public Library scheduled Haskins to lead an informational session about home schooling this Thursday. Last Friday, Haskins says the library pulled the program at the request of Washington County Mayor George Jaynes.

"He said she had to retract it and cancel the program because it's a public building paid for with public taxes and they have an obligation to support the public school system and doing anything about home schooling was a conflict of interest," Haskins said.

The rise of Christian schools and the increasing popularity of homeschooling is a sign that many have lost faith in the state as a religious institution and are looking to lay surer foundations on the Conerstone (I Pet. 2:6, Eph. 2:20, Is. 28:16).

If the purpose of liberal education is freedom, then Christ must be at the heart of it. The state cannot bring freedom, for it has constructed its mosques and synagogues on shakier foundations, and they will ultimately crumble:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matt. 7:24-27).


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