The Screen of the Scriptures:
Thoughts on the Southern Baptist Resolution to Remove Our Children from Public Schools
I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt. – Martin Luther.
In the 27 years I’ve been married and the 20 years I’ve been a parent I have thought a lot about education. It seems to me that parents today are not so much in a crisis of pedagogy as they are in a crisis of philosophy. The great danger most parents face is not that they don’t do anything for their children—they do plenty. It’s that they don’t do the right things.
This is not a put down. I honor those parents who want with all their heart to serve God well. But we are all so prone to getting confused and losing direction. Even when we know what is right, it is difficult to do it. The poet Ovid described it this way:
I see the right, approve it too/Condemn the wrong—yet wrong pursue.
This week the Southern Baptist Convention will debate a resolution that encourages parents to withdraw their children from public schools. But the main issue, as I see it, is not education. It is whether Christ is our first priority. The God-centered church must be willing to put all of its activities on trial before the judgment seat of Christ. Is it all for Him?
Steadfast commitment to this priority will keep Christians and churches from getting into endless areas where they don’t belong. Jesus’ statement “Let the dead bury the dead” seems unnecessarily severe, but the devil knows how distractions will get us off balance.
The tendency we all have is to go about God’s business man’s way. We ignore Paul’s warning to the Colossian church (Col 2:4, 8):
I am saying this [in view of the fact that all truth and knowledge are found only in Christ—Col 2:1-3] that no person should lead you astray with persuasive speech [i.e., with manipulative rhetoric so as to sucker you into error]…. Continue to be on the lookout that no person cart you off as a captive into heresy by means of a philosophy characterized by vain deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world [i.e., philosophy from a wrong source] and not according to Christ [who is the measure and norm of true tradition].
The most important feature of the total context of Colossians 2 is the war between two wisdoms—the wisdom of the world, a pseudo-wisdom, and the wisdom of Christ, the only true wisdom. All the sad symptoms of immaturity that Paul had to deal with in this letter are attributed to the fact that many of these professing Christians at Colossae were enamored with worldly wisdom. Paul insists, however, in doing God’s business God’s way.
Martin Luther put it so well. There can be no true education without a knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, the oldest universities in America—Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth—were founded by Christians who agreed with Luther. Harvard’s “rules and precepts,” adopted in 1646, included the following essentials:
Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.
Seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, every one shall seriously by prayer in secret seek wisdom of Him.
Harvard students were required to read the Scriptures twice daily, and 52 percent of seventeenth-century Harvard graduates became ministers!
Much education today, however, ignores God. Subtly it has removed Christ from the center of the universe and put man in His place. It omits God on the basis of “academic freedom” while at the same time it denies that freedom to those with a Christian world view.
I once heard Francis Schaeffer say that the root of the trouble in the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation was its humanism. The Reformation, on the other hand, accepted the biblical picture of a total fall—one that affected the whole man, including his intellect and will. For the Reformers, final and sufficient knowledge rested in the Bible—that is, the principle of Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone. The Scriptures give the key to two kinds of knowledge—the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of men and nature. There was no idea of man being autonomous. There is the real lordship of Christ over the whole man. This is what the Reformers taught and what the Bible teaches. But you cannot have this answer unless you hold to the Reformation view of the Scriptures.
What it all comes down to is this: If we are Christian parents, our approach to education must say, “Come, my friends, let’s journey back to what’s important. Let’s take our eyes from lesser issues and focus on Christ. It’s time to reorient ourselves first of all to Him and the Scriptures.”
This is what the proponents of the SBC resolution are trying to do. The decision to withdraw from the public school system should be based not on what may be wrong in a particular public school but on a recognition that a God-centered and Bible-based education is mandatory for Christian parents.
If we think we can keep our children in a secular school system and escape the dumbed-down, amoral, and immoral results of secular humanism in schools, we are mistaken. The reason is that secular humanism is itself a religion. The biblical view of man’s nature is in sharp conflict with secular humanism, which teaches that man is basically good. Every man-centered system of education is, consciously or unconsciously, built on this philosophy.
Nor are public schools value-neutral. They never have been. Government education is an intentional and highly effective effort by anti-theists to lead children away from their parents and the church. That the prevailing philosophies and methodologies of American public education are leftist is not up for debate. Leftists have dominated the federal Department of Education, most state Departments of Education, the teachers’ unions, and many teachers colleges and education foundations for decades. Most rank and file teachers know this, but the situation is so deplorable that they dare not speak out.
In his fictional look at the future, Brave New World, written in 1934, Aldous Huxley wrote:
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to the ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school teachers (emphasis added).
The “new” education imposed on America’s schools in the last 60 years has fulfilled this prophecy to a “t.” It’s an education that has eroded and destroyed the biblical and constitutional foundations upon which a stable society must rest.
Perhaps that’s why more and more Southern Baptist parents are saying, “Enough is enough.” Any parent can secure a Christian education for his child. Every Christian family already owns the primary Textbook. A child’s education will fall short if he does not sift everything he learns through the screen of the Scriptures.
By the way, if we do honor God in this fashion, don’t expect the applause of professing Christendom. Nevertheless, we must be true to the Sola Scriptura principle if we ever hope to be faithful parents and faithful servants of the Lord.
June 14, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon, will be released later this month.