Rushdoony on the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, from “Systematic Theology” (Part 4)

The Spirit and Bezaleel

[I]t is definitely not enough to hold to a unified view of man’s nature, although such a view is true. It is necessary to say that man is a creature, but this too is not enough. The key fact about man is that he is a creature made in the image of God. His created status man shares with all creation, but, as image-bearer, he is unique (Gen. 1:26-28). As God’s image-bearer, man thus is most truly what he was created to be when he is most faithful and obedient to the triune God. By his fall, man damaged his entire being, so that he is infected in all his life by his rebellion against God (Gen. 3:1-5). From being God’s priest, prophet, and king over creation, he fell to the status of a slave to sin (John 8:33-36). In Christ, man is restored to his original calling, and, by the Holy Spirit, empowered and guided in the fulfillment thereof. We must therefore say that man is most truly himself, as God intended him to be, when he fulfills his vocation by living in the Spirit.

We see this very early in Scripture. When God ordered the tabernacle to be built, He gave, not only the specifications, but the power to do the work by His Spirit… [Read Exodus 31:1-6.]

Too often churchmen see virtue in an ugly church, or no church property at all. The Lord stresses in His word the need for such a physical (as well as spiritual) witness, and a beautiful one. The church is His palace and throne room from whence His law-word goes forth. Hence, the Lord called out by name the artisans who were to do His work, and He empowered them by His Spirit. As surely as prophets were used by the Holy Spirit, so too were God’s artisans… (p. 308)

[T]he influence of Aristotle led to a view of God as being, and the Trinity as substance (the Father), structure (the Son), and act (the Holy Spirit). The Spirit was thus limited to a mindless and emotional role, because structure or reason belongs to the Son in such a system. Although in the economy of the Trinity, certain acts or functions are restricted to one Person, (i.e., the Son alone became incarnate), in the being or ontology of the Trinity, no such limitations can be made.

The work of the Spirit in the life of Bezaleel, Paul, and John meant the mature and fuller realization of all their being and all their aptitudes. If we were to locate, in some archaeological discovery, some of the non-canonical and uninspired letters of Paul, we would not know Paul better. By comparison to the letters of the New Testament, these letters would be flat, intellectually and emotionally. Paul was most Paul when he was writing his inspired epistles. (308)

The Holy Spirit comes to a man prepared by the triune God for His coming. God calls us from our mother’s womb (Jer. 1:5), and from all eternity He decrees and establishes all things (Acts 15:18; Prov. 16:4, 33; Rom. 9:11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22, 23; Eph. 1:5, 6, etc.). All that precedes our regeneration and conversion is used by God in terms of His purpose. The Spirit thus comes to us, having prepared us all our lives for His purposes. (308-09)

The Holy Spirit thus comes to us, not to fulfill our purposes, nor to gratify us, but to fulfill His purposes, and all our lives and being are a preparation by Him for His work… Our Lord was filled with the Spirit at His baptism (Matt. 3:16f.), and the Spirit always spoke in and with Him. At His baptism, our Lord began His calling; we have the plain testimony of Scripture to His Spirit-filled life years before, however, as a child (Luke 2:40-52). The baptism was Christ’s public inauguration into His ministry, by means of the entrance rite of the new creation. At that moment, the Spirit gave public witness to his indwelling in Christ, and to the new creation and its King.

Thus, whether in Bezaleel or in Jesus Christ, the Spirit is directly related to our calling. He appoints the calling, and He appoints the purposes of our lives. The gift of the Spirit Himself is permanent and abiding.

One final word… [Read Exodus 28:3.] Bezaleel and others, who were called, were already able and wise men, whom the Lord God had prepared all their days for His service… Now, in their work on the tabernacle, they were to follow God’s pattern; this again required a separation from other traditions of artisans of paganism. Art was a religious function, a handmaid of religion, and God’s artisans were put through a schooling, as are we all. The Holy Spirit prepared them for His service.

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Rushdoony on “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” from Systematic Theology (Part 3)

The Spirit of Jubilee

When a man sees himself as made of two or three different substances, i.e., mind and body, or, mind, body, and soul or spirit, the consequences are serious. In his moral struggles, he can then reserve an ostensible innocence to one part of his being and blame another for his moral failures… (p. 303)

When we have a divided view of man, we can talk of being “carried away” by our emotions into sin, when in reality sin begins in our heart, in the center of our being. The divided view enables us to say that, instead of having a moral conflict, we have had a metaphysical conflict in our being. The Greek view was in fact metaphysical; the Biblical doctrine is ethical. (303-04)

How we view sin’s effect upon us will also mark or color our view of the effects of grace and the Holy Spirit. If sin acts on the borders or peripheries of our lives, then too so will grace and the Holy Spirit. All the while, our hearts are then reserved to ourselves.

The sinner likes to believe that he is in command of his sin. The alcoholic will commonly maintain that he can quit drinking whenever he chooses. Sin is seen as on the periphery, whereas the heart remains a reserved and untarnished or private domain. One man obviously guilty of particularly repulsive sins, insisted, “If you really get to know me, you’ll see I’m really very different.” The Manichaeans went so far as to hold sins to be inevitable to the flesh, but the soul to be pure, if the soul separated itself from the body’s depravity; the Manichaean could then sin with impunity and supposed purity… (304)

As we approach the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, we must remember that we are not the standard. Charismatics and non-charismatics are all too prone to cite what the Spirit has done in their lives, when the criterion is not us, but Christ. The Lord is the normative man, and Christ’s experience of the Spirit in His incarnation must be normative for us. We have that experience set forth in the Old and New Testaments: [Read Isa. 61:1-3; and Luke 4:16-21.] (304-05)

[This prophecy and fulfillment] are an episode in the life of our Lord…and much more. It sets forth [His] calling, and the Spirit’s purpose; but it also declares what our life in the Spirit is to be… The purpose of the Spirit in Jesus Christ is His purpose in all of us.

It is thus a beggarly view of the Spirit and a serious distortion, to limit His work in us to our salvation, or to our experience. The coming of the Spirit is expressly associated with preaching good tidings, setting free the captives, comforting the mourners, declaring God’s vengeance, and bringing about a mighty reversal of all things. When the Virgin Mary went to see Elizabeth, when both women were pregnant, both, filled with the Spirit, spoke prophetically. [Read Luke 1:46-55.] (305-06)

There is a common theme in Isaiah’s prophecy of the work of the Spirit and of Christ, and in Mary’s Magnificat, because both come from the same Spirit. The central point is clearly stated: “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isa. 61:2; Luke 4:19). Commentators have long noted that this verse and the passage as a whole have reference to the year of jubilee, and then said no more. But our Lord plainly sets forth the freedom and redemption of the jubilee as the life of His Kingdom. Our calling in the Spirit is thus jubilee oriented as was the Magnificat of Mary, and our Lord’s entire life and ministry. The Holy Spirit thus points us to God’s jubilee and moves us to work in terms of it. The jubilee is the time of return, restoration, and restitution. The trumpet of the jubilee is accompanied by the great declaration, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10). It is unto all the inhabitants thereof, because it is all to be God’s Kingdom. In our Lord’s words, as in Isaiah’s, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jubilee, of fulfillment and freedom. It is the great restoration and development of God’s order, and to be in the Spirit is to be one who works for God’s jubilee.

Humanism works also for its dream of jubilee, but its realm is one of death and mourning, where life is exchanged for ashes, and freedom for bondage. Our Lord is the Lord of the Jubilee; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Jubilee and the Lord thereof. When we are filled with the Spirit, we then work to bring in the Kingdom of the Jubilee. Our Lord declares in the Spirit, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). We are called to say and do not less. (306)

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Rushdoony on “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” from Systematic Theology (Part 2)

The Spirit and the Kingdom

The free will advocates have reduced God to a beggar at man’s door, pleading with man to allow Him to enter. Such a view in effect makes man ultimate, or god. Others so insist on God’s determination that man becomes an automation. Early Calvinism was a vigorous and socially determinative force; today Calvinism, or those who bear the name, is a quietistic, pietistic, and retreatist movement which is irrelevant to our world. Why? The Scripture both insists on the absolute predestination by God of all things, and on man’s responsibility. All primary freedom is God’s, and belongs to God alone; man’s responsibility and liberty is a secondary freedom, established by God Himself…

Still another problem confronts us…. Hellenic thought very early influenced the church, beginning with some of the earliest church fathers. Certainly, the triumph of Aristotle in Thomism, and later its reappearance in Arminianism, gave to the church an alien doctrine of God. This is often best stated by the medieval philosophers, because they were more logical thinkers than many of the Protestant churchmen who also fell heir to this error. The fusion of Greek and Biblical views of God led to a belief in the Trinity in terms of Aristotle. The three persons of the Godhead came to be analyzed as substance (the Father), structure (the Son), and act (the Spirit). The Son thus as Structure became the reason in all ultimate being, the mind, as it were, of God. The Father became ultimate being, and this contributed to the impersonality which has haunted the doctrine of the Father: as pure being, with reason isolated from Him, He was a difficult concept to warm to or view as a Person. The Spirit, as pure, ultimate act, was impersonal and mindless, so that “to be filled with the Spirit” came to mean, in terms of this paganized view, to be anti-rational and emotional in an irrational sense. To be filled with the Spirit meant thus a kind of transcendence but also a form of abandonment and even hostility to reason and to our being, an all too solid flesh. Indeed to cultivate the Spirit for some required the abandonment of intellectual pursuits and achievements… (p. 298)

[T]he early church had the same problems we have today, a tendency either to neglect the Holy Spirit, or to see Him in terms of His effect on man and in man. This puts us into a practicing humanism.

H.B. Swete cited five aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. These are (1) creation and conservation; (2) bestowal of intellectual gifts; (3) prophetic inspiration; (4) anointing the Messiah and his forerunners; (5) the moral and religious life of man. An important point made by Swete was that, while the prophetic gift was exercised by certain individuals, “the prophetic gift belonged to the nation, as the elect people.” (A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 403) Moses made bitter reference to the failure of the people as a whole to be prophets (Num. 11:29). Abraham was a prophet (Gen. 20:7), and all of the covenant people were called to be prophets, but few were, because of sin. The vision of Joel is of a prophetic people (Joel 2:28-29). Much later, Paul longed for a prophetic people rather than a tongue-speaking church (I Cor. 14:5).

To prophesy is to speak for God, and to predict by applying God’s word. To declare that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) is to prophesy. The Holy Spirit works to further God’s Kingdom and reign. He is God, and He is God-centered in all His ways, not man-centered. (301)

Our Lord defines our goal thus: “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). The Kingdom and righteousness or justice are one and the same thing. What the Son commands, the Father and the Spirit command. Their works of creation, regeneration, sanctification, preservation, and providence have not man as its center, but God’s purpose, glory, and kingdom. The work of the Spirit in man and the world is inseparable from this fact… (301-02)

The focus of the Spirit’s work is God’s Kingdom. All the same, to a condemned generation (Gen. 6:11-13) the Spirit witnesses through Noah. Nothing is too great nor too small for the Spirit’s concern, and even a world sentenced to obliteration is given a witness form the throne, the Third Person preaching to it through Noah… (302)

The Spirit creates, judges, and summons to redemption. Even as in creation He hovered over the waters to bring forth the first creation, so He hovers over all things, and works in all things, to bring forth the new heavens and the new earth. (302-03)

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Rushdoony on “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” from Systematic Theology (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of excerpts giving R. J. Rushdoony’s views on the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is God, so Christians should know Him and love well.

The Giver of Life

Without agreeing with the charismatics, in particular with the tongues emphasis, I must say all the same that the rise of the charismatic movement is a very important theological as well as historical fact. It compels the church to give attention to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Thus far, the debate has been localized and has been man-centered; i.e., it has centered on such things as the validity or non-validity of tongues. Clearly, this is an important question, but not even remotely as important as the nature and person of the Holy Spirit Himself… (p. 293)

This limited emphasis is in one sense understandable; the early church began in a Jewish context in which God the Father, and the Spirit, were “recognized” doctrines; the point of conflict was the doctrine of Christ. Hence the confessional emphasis on Christology. However, what the early church failed to appreciate sufficiently was that the word God referred to different things in different cultures, so that, in the Greco-Roman world, and amongst barbarians, God and the Holy Spirit had radically different meanings. With the Reformation, the emphasis was on justification and ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church), so that the doctrine of the Spirit received minimal emphasis… (293-94)

The Holy Spirit, as very God of very God, manifests in His Person and power the determining will and sovereignty of the triune God. A charismatic emphasis should thus be highly Calvinistic, but it is not normally so and is commonly very alien to such a stress. Likewise, those who are Calvinistic and who stress God’s sovereignty should logically be very emphatically given to a high emphasis on the doctrine of the Spirit. This, however, is clearly not the case. (295-96)

It may be that sovereignty is confused with an exclusive transcendence, so that immanence is seen as a compromise. In any case, where a strong doctrine of the Spirit is not operative and governing, a strong doctrine of the church replaces it, so that institutional controls and government replace the Spirit. On the other hand, where the doctrine of the Spirit is not in union with the doctrine of the sovereignty of the triune God, human activity and enthusiasm replace the Spirit, and men set about to engender the ostensible working of the Spirit by trying to create in themselves an emotional climate. In this way, both charismatics and anti-charismatics conclude by stressing man, institutional control in the one case, and emotional charges with man in the other. This should indicate to us that the true starting-point with respect to the Spirit is in Scripture and the Spirit Himself.

Even here, there are problems… [T]he Father and the Son have something to concretize our understanding. The titles of the Spirit, however, refer to functions rather than a concrete person, i.e., Comforter, Advocate, etc. Thus, for many God the Spirit is always somehow the remote and abstract person of the Trinity. The fault lies clearly in man’s understanding… (296)

[T]he modern era has either fallen into pantheism, or so separated God from the world as to make the Holy Spirit’s presence unusual or dramatic. God is not a God who is afar off (Jer. 23:23), although men in their sin are inclined to think so (Ps. 10:1). The world of science has made the great cause of all a very remote or non-existent cause, whereas the God of Scripture is totally sovereign, omnipresent, and always governing in every event and second of time…

Because man now sees God as distant, and the Spirit as vague or sporadic, other gods rule over men. Institutions and persons become the givers of life. As a result, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its Biblical force. It is thus urgently necessary for theologians, pastors, and believers to give renewed attention to this doctrine. The revival of Christendom depends upon it, for the doctrine of the Spirit confronts us with the mystery of God. God is great and beyond our comprehension, and yet He speaks our language, which He ordained, and incarnates Himself as man, so that we might truly know Him. He is incomprehensible, yet understandable; we can know Him truly, but never exhaustively. He is most near to us in the Spirit, and yet never more remote to our capacity to grasp His infinite and inexhaustible being than in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. (297)

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To the Churches That Send Messengers to the Field of Cyberspace:

I, Juan, your brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the city that is called McAllen for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. This Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, I think; and I saw a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Then immediately the throne was obscured and I saw a room with a mastodon sitting in the middle.

Around the room colorful curtains veiled the scene, so that very few could see the mastodon. Outside the room were twenty-four thousand elders with man-made crowns of plastic on their heads. Though some could catch a glimpse, many were afraid to look or speak for fear of reprisal or loss of employment. Most decided not to cast their crowns, for they could not see the One who sat on the throne.

From the four corners arose a thousand creatures with trowels and spears in their hands and the mark of Nehemiah on their foreheads. These creatures ran around in circles, oblivious to the mastodon in the room, blind to it in almost every case. They did, however, often attempt to get their faces in a book, on which they often wrote and in which they hoped to find their sight.

The elders and the creatures wanted desperately to worship and sing praises to the One who sat on the throne, but they could not see him because of the mastodon in the room.

Then I thought I heard a voice saying to me, “I AM the one who created, established, and upholds the covenant with my creation. My people have conviction, but it is of their own creation; they lack the conviction of my Spirit.” And he showed me how his Spirit is the sovereign that can convict the world of every need for life and godliness. It convicts the world of sin as it rejects the authority of his son. It convicts of righteousness as he is perfect justice. It convicts of judgment as God’s enemy is sanctioned in history, on earth as it is in heaven. And it reveals his covenant to those who fear him, leading them into all truth.

And then I saw again the creatures and the elders, and something like scales began to fall from their eyes. Bursting with the fullness of the Spirit, they were able to cast the mastodon from the middle of the room; and suddenly the throne became apparent, and the One who sat on the throne began to smile. And the creatures and the elders joined the Spirit in glorifying the lamb who sat next to the One who sat on the throne. And the one who sat on the throne began to invite the thousands upon thousands to sit with him and with the lamb, and to rule the world with justice and mercy.

And I thought I heard the voice again, saying, “Only with and through my Spirit can my creatures establish the covenant of their creator.”

As long as fallen creatures attempt to work for God without being filled with the power of His Spirit, we will labor in vain as we try to build in our own strength.

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HOME EDUCATION: FAMILY COVENANT

[E]ducation is not simply delivery of information, it is a lifestyle; and a lifestyle that places the child outside of the family – even if it is a formally Christian school – is a compromise that must be made in only the rarest of circumstances. We don’t give the children money to just go to McDonalds and have dinner there; there is spiritual and emotional significance in having dinner together, as a family. Sending our kids to institutional school to “get education” is the same as sending them to McDonalds to get a burger for dinner; the material is there but the spirit of education is lacking. Parents that seek every excuse to kick the children out of the house and hand them over to strangers to teach them are only destroying the souls of their own children. A child needs a father and a mother, not a “professional educator” and a pack of other children.[1]

            Marinov’s strong words of conviction will not sway someone who does not want to be swayed. Arguments can be and have been made against the wisdom of parents’ teaching their children themselves, and real challenges and obstacles do exist. After recognizing the advantages of home education, Thoburn says, “Home schooling also has its limitations. Especially as children get older, they need the benefits that come from division of labor.”[2]

Others might cite unrepresentative examples of neglect or abuse by parents, or the ever-present socialization argument. Never mind that for any of these “unfit” parents, there are hundreds, and now thousands of adults who are proof that a couple of exceptions do not invalidate a rule. As Swanson writes,

[S]omething must have worked with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, Robert E. Lee, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Douglas MacArthur, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Charles Dickens. Each was homeschooled in his early years by father, mother, or both.[3]

The discussion on the merits of home education can be lengthy and become emotional very quickly. But just as a more site-based government must be more efficient and accountable to those it serves, so does home schooling provide the most immediate covenantal context. The more excellent way is not a pragmatic “what will work”; it is a covenantal “what is right.” Asking the right questions goes a long way toward getting the right answers.

Who is in charge?

The Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant (Mal. 2:14).

Sutton writes, “The Bible defines the family as a covenant, the same Hebrew word (berith) being used in Malachi that is used elsewhere for the God-to-man covenant” (Gen. 6:18).[4] [Emphasis Sutton’s] If the same God who established His covenant with Adam and all of mankind also called the marriage relationship a covenant, and if He is the creator and sustainer of all things including that marriage, then whatever man and woman build from that marriage is ordered and sanctioned by God. He is in charge, and the family from that marriage must live in terms of His word; that is the only way to build on a true foundation.

The family that teaches its own children can spend all the time needed to inculcate in them that God is in control of everything in the universe and yet can live in their hearts; He determines what is right and wrong, and He has conveyed His ethics through His Commandments. It can teach them that they were created in His image but that because of Adam, they are now naturally more prone to sin. It can also help them hear their calling and discover God’s particular purpose for their lives. All of this can be done without the artificial before-, during-, or after-school hours distinction, or without the rush because the bell is about to ring. As Swanson puts it vividly in elaborating on Deuteronomy 6:6-9,

God’s Word is to be, literally, in their faces. [Emphasis Swanson’s] The truth of God’s revealed Word must be instantly accessible. It is to be as close to them as something tied to their wrist, as if it were hanging in front of their eyes all the time. They should bump into [It] constantly, on the doors and posts of their house. Children should see the Word of God as completely integrated into their life experience. They should never get the impression that the Word is something they run into in some religious ritual on Sunday while the rest of their education, entertainment, family time, and so forth is completely void of the Word or even opposed to it.[5]

Swanson also provides some concrete recommendations for parents wanting to build on the right foundation.

  1. Know your worldview. The reader may wish to refer to the publications of Cornerstone Curriculum Project, Dr. David Noebel, Francis Schaeffer, or R.J. Rushdoony for more grounding in this area of worldview.
  2. Teach your children the Word of God. If our children are better versed in their Saxon Math and their Shakespeare than they are in the book of Proverbs, the Psalms, and Genesis, then we have given our children a sub-standard education.
  3. Teach them the Christian classics first. Before [your child] listens to the ideas of a humanist, a deist, a transcendentalist, or a Greek thinker, you had better be sure that he is well-versed in a biblical worldview.
  4. Think integration. Is there some subject of study to which they see no connection to God’s Word? Is their entertainment an opportunity to escape accountability to the standards of the Ten Commandments?
  5. Employ the principles of protection and wise progression….[6] [Emphases Swanson’s] (more on these principles below)

The issue of worldview is crucial in impressing the sovereignty of God upon children, for there is no wisdom except that which sees life from God’s point of view. As Marinov warns, “The very process of education must be in harmony with the content of education. The methodology must proceed from the very same worldview, and from the very same Biblical religious and moral presuppositions that control the philosophy of the education.”[7]

To whom should the child report?

             A reading through the book of Proverbs shows how involved the father should be in the life of his child. “The father instructs his son throughout…; but he also pleads, warns, observes, charges, implores, rebukes, and exhorts. The teaching is rooted in an organic relationship. It is intimate, caring, and fatherly…personal and parental.”[8]

This familiar environment also lends itself to closer relationships between siblings. Normally home schooled youth not only engage older friends and acquaintances—even the elderly—without reservation, but they are also able to minister to and befriend little children as worthy of their attention and affection. The older brother of the prodigal son apparently had not been close to his brother, for Luke 15:29 portrays him as being angry that their father had never killed an animal for him and his “friends,” implying that the younger brother was not one of them. That is one pitfall that close-knit family relationships can avoid. The larger the family, the more friends a child can have and grow up with.

Secondly, with authority comes responsibility. As parents are to represent God’s government to their children, they are also responsible to care and protect them from evil. It takes mature, well-grounded and nurtured young adults to confront and change a fallen world. Those unprepared and unable to overcome can be easily conformed to it (Roman 12:1-2). A renewed mind and body sacrificed to God can best be produced in a sheltered home environment. Such a setting can help prevent what John Van Dyk calls “a major problem in our Christian schools: the contradictory character of so much of our teaching…We confess that each one of our students is a unique image bearer of God, yet we continue to structure our schools and classrooms for stifling conformity…”[9]

Involved parents prepare their children “physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually for life and eternity.”[10] Swanson provides helpful advice for young parents: the training should consist of at least three components: truth, self-awareness, and testing.[11] The first was discussed previously as foundational. The knowledge of oneself comes as the child gains knowledge and understanding of God. And the testing comes as the parents monitor the child’s development and see when he is capable of having success, or shows evidence of preparation adequate to confront the test. “The tests given will challenge [the child] emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.”[12] Parents, however, must be aware of and involved as much as possible; for feedback is essential after each test. This parental involvement includes monitoring what the child is exposed to as well as what comes out of him. To that end, here are some practical tips:

  1. Use the catechetical device…The free flow of questions and answers is the best way to get to the heart and mind of your child.
  2. Always explain a concept in words and illustrations that you know are familiar to the student.
  3. When explaining a particularly difficult concept…try several different methods, and then hone in on the method that works best.
  4. Make sure the student is fully engaged…Eye contact, touch (where appropriate), and calling the student by name are powerful ways to accomplish this.
  5. When…introducing a new concept…, be sure you are well-prepared and…have sufficient time….Fresh material hits the brain like a footprint on fast-drying concrete.
  6. Make full use of motivating language, affirmation, and genuine enthusiasm.
  7. Do not give away the answer in every case, especially if you think the student can get the answer himself.
  8. If you give an answer away, make sure the student works on similar problems himself. Then recheck his work for accuracy.
  9. Work into yourself the character traits of a good tutor. These include perceptive ears and eyes, patience, gentleness, and love.
  10. Send in the reserve tutor [when needed]![13]

The main idea in training and preparing a child for his future is that parents are doing their part in the work ordained by the Holy Spirit, and in how He uses them to build character in their child. And having a child’s character transformed is the foremost objective in his comprehensive development.

Is education a simple intellectual exercise, or is it moral training of character? The question…determines the very environment in which education must take place. If it is only an intellectual exercise, then a child can be “educated” by just being locked in a room with a computer and internet connection, using distant learning, without any contact with other people; a school these days is an unnecessary waste of money. But if it is moral training of character – as the Bible defines education – then the learning of that information must happen within a specific context of personal relationships, institutional settings, and underlying worldview that supports both the setting and the material learned. Education then becomes a holistic task, a unified whole where the parts – moral training, academic training, philosophical training, practical skills, etc. – can not be separated from each other without destroying the whole.[14]

Character training begins the day the child is born, and is ongoing day by day. Along with all the other lessons he learns, he must be learning character. Parents must be always alert and particular about emphasizing and praising their child when he exhibits godly traits. Instead of a flattering “you have beautiful eyes” or “you are so handsome, son,” parents should concentrate on things their children can control, things that reveal a quality, like “I appreciate your honesty, son” or “your humility…” or “your helpfulness, patience,” and so on. Of course, as with any lessons, the child will know what is really important to his parents every time he sees them practicing those character qualities. And when the child is around his parents many hours throughout the day, he knows exactly what they expect and consider important. No other school but the home can offer such opportunities for a nurturing, one-to-one, relational way of life.

What are the rules?

            The ability of parents to tune in to their child’s individual needs, gifts, and talents makes it easier for the child to learn at his own pace and in a way that is comfortable and conducive to healthy development. Given the obvious differences in learning styles and rates, it is amazing that a given student is forced to work at the same grade level in all subjects; that is, a fourth grader would study fourth grade math, fourth grade science, fourth grade reading, and writing, and geography, and history, and so on. Yet almost all schools—public or private—fall into this mode. In contrast, the Swanson school is able to use common sense and flexibility:

When my children are asked their grade level, they usually respond with their age. My twelve-year old son is studying second year algebra, ninth grade vocabulary and spelling, eighth grade reading, and seventh grade grammar. My ten-year old daughter is studying eighth grade vocabulary, ninth grade reading, and fifth grade math. We have always ignored the grade levels on the spines of the books they use, except to determine the sequence of study.[15]

The parent teachers, who are the most qualified people in the world to determine the level at which their children are learning, can begin with the basics and return to them as needed any time they see the need. They do not have a bureaucracy or supervisory team that must approve either remedial or accelerated course work. Now, to ensure the basics, here are some ideas.

  1. Read aloud as much as possible. Parents may read to children or the children may read to each other.
  2. Always choose the best literature you can find…The two books…reprinted more than any other books are the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress.
  3. Do not waste any significant time doing anything but the basics.
  4. Do not multiply course requirements upon the student. One…successful curriculum approach…requires reading a classic book of literature, writing an essay, and completing a mathematics assignment.
  5. Children should memorize portions of the highest quality literature, poetry, drama, and prose (see Deut. 31:19-22; Ps. 119:11).
  6. Children learn to write best when they copy the most excellent literature of all (Deut. 6:9; 17:18).
  7. As children become more advanced in their ability to read their own language, it is advantageous to teach them to read the source languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
  8. Never advance a student to the next level of learning until he has thoroughly mastered the basics…Never advance a student beyond the first level of reading in the English language before he has thoroughly learned the seventy phonograms (letters or combination of letters) and forty phonemes (phonetic sounds).
  9. Basic learning requires disciplined repetition….The most basic character lesson is obedience. It is a lesson that is taught thousands of times in the first two years of a child’s life and it continues to a lesser extent for the rest of his life.
  10. Teach the ancient Scriptures, the most basic textbook of all (see Deut. 6:6-9; 11:18-21; 27:1-8). If you only have thirty minutes each day to invest in your children’s education spend that time teaching them the Bible.[16]

Without a need (or desire) for standardized practices and assessment of individual students, home school parents are in a position to train and disciple their child according to God’s rules: His commandments as revealed in His Book. They are able to place him and adjust their teaching as the child masters his respective levels. Swanson identifies three areas, which can be seen as stages, of learning: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.[17]

  • Stage 1: “My people, hear my instruction; listen to what I say. I will declare wise sayings: I will speak mysteries from the past—things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from their children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the LORD, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed” (Ps. 78:1-4).
  • Stage 2: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).
  • Stage 3: “But set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).[18]

Stage 1 deals mostly with the basic rules of a subject. Stage 2 “connects the principles and relates principles to the facts.”[19] Stage 3 is the level when the student can apply the principles to situations in life.[20] This taxonomy, one of many ways to categorize student learning, can be applied to any subject matter. The key is that parents are the responsible party in deciding when and how their child is taught.

What is in it for the child (and the parents)?

This lifestyle provides blessings that, sadly, are almost unimaginable for most families at this time. A grateful father writes:

            One evening last year, as we were preparing for bed, my wife was lamenting that our daughter Emily did not complete her English grammar assignments that day. After pursuing the issue a little further, we discovered that she had been working hard on a lengthy and detailed e-mail communication to her grandparents. It was right then that we determined we had become far too rigid in our academic program, and we needed to integrate more of real life into it. After all, when you grow up to manage a home or a business in real life, what are you doing all day? Are you busy working on English grammar assignments? Of course not. Your life is filled with things like writing notes and letters to family and friends, recording life events in diaries, preparing business letters, and maybe writing an occasional work of fiction.

            In recent years, I have increasingly involved my thirteen-year old son in my life. He is with me at least six days every week. He has studied his algebra, Latin, and English composition in my office downtown, in conference rooms, restaurants, the state capitol, the car, and, on rare occasions, a classroom. While the environment changes, it is always real life. His education is much more than a textbook. He hears business negotiations in the boardroom, cell phone conversations, the hiring of subcontractors for a building project, sales calls, and an occasional high-stress conflict situation.

            One afternoon last winter I received a phone call from a representative of an important publishing company. He was interested in a book I was writing and wanted to meet with me in a nearby city. I knew this would be a key meeting in the development of my own career, and I was tempted to leave my son at home. When he found out about the meeting, however, he asked me if he could attend. For nearly fifteen minutes I wrestled with the decision. Should I integrate my son into this and risk losing an important contract? What would the executive say if I brought my son with me into the interview? Would my son say something that would affect my chances of developing a good relationship with this key publisher? After all, one never knows what a thirteen-year old boy might say! As I vacillated on the decision, another series of questions rushed into my mind—important questions, life-changing questions: “Exactly what am I trying to accomplish here? Am I trying to publish a book or raise a son? What am I doing in life? [Emphasis Swanson’s]What better opportunity could I find in which my son could learn something about real life, real negotiations, and real business?” With clarity and certainty I knew that my purpose was to raise a son. There was no reason for him to stay home, yet there was every reason in the world for him to be there. The boy could watch his dad squirm for two hours while trying to sell himself in a high-stakes interview. So he came with me that day and watched and listened. On the way home, he commended me on several aspects of my presentation and suggested several areas that might have been improved.

            By the time he is eighteen…I hope…my son will have the wisdom I have learned in my twenties, thirties, and forties because he traveled with me and watched me. He will learn the most valuable lessons I have learned in the same way I have learned them—through real-life experiences.

             Home schooling gives families freedom to serve and follow God in every area of their lives, not just in church activities and good works. Actually, there are no better works for parents than sowing into their children’s upbringing. The entire family is edified from learning together and seeing lessons everywhere. Besides the parents’ choice of bookwork, they go shopping, go out to lunch, make payments, visit relatives, and go on fieldtrips and vacations. Their life is the curriculum and the world is their laboratory. These are just some of the blessings of learning at home—or anywhere.

What is the future?

            The inheritance enjoyed by young people who are home schooled is not just a grateful heart and love of God, but a genuine love and appreciation for learning. Man does not need to know everything under heaven; in fact, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). And Christians know that God the Holy Spirit reveals His truth to those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:10).

God gives men the ability to discover things that were previously hidden. He makes them useful and gives them purpose in life. He gives them identity so that they may know who they are regardless of what anyone else thinks they are (Revelation 2:17). He gives them a future in His presence here on earth now and in the life to come forever. This is the succession available to all Christians, but those who choose to prepare their children for life themselves, who wish to be good and faithful servants in every area of their lives, get to enjoy the benefits every day of the week.

[1]Bojidar Marinov, “Homeschooling vs. the Idolatry of Eduational Expertise,” http://americanvision.org/5071/homeschooling-vs-the-idolatry-of-educational-expertise/#sthash.ZYBJvqaF.dpbs, Downloaded March 24, 2014.

       [2] Robert Thoburn, The Children Trap: Biblical Principles for Education (Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1986), 43.

       [3] Kevin Swanson, Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child (Parker, Colorado: Generations with Vision, 2010), 21.

       [4] Sutton, That You May Prosper, 138.

       [5] Swanson, 146.

       [6] Ibid, 153-155.

       [7] Marinov, http://americanvision.org/5071/homeschooling-vs-the-idolatry-of-educational-expertise/#sthash.ZYBJvqaF.dpbs, Downloaded March 24, 2014.

       [8] Swanson, 77.

       [9] John Van Dyk, The Craft of Christian Teaching: A Classroom Journey (Sioux Center, Iowa: Dordt Press, 2000), 108.

       [10] Swanson, 46.

       [11] Ibid, 49-50.

       [12] Ibid, 50.

       [13] Ibid, 40-42.

       [14] Marinov, http://americanvision.org/5071/homeschooling-vs-the-idolatry-of-educational-expertise/#sthash.ZYBJvqaF.dpbs, Downloaded March 24, 2014.

       [15] Swanson, 61.

       [16] Ibid, 102.

       [17] Ibid, 158.

       [18] Ibid, 157-158.

       [19] Ibid, 158.

       [20] Ibid, 159.

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Christian Schools: Necessary and Viable

I believe that the Christian Schools will triumph and will educate all America in terms of God’s word and requirement. I believe that we shall see a steady stepping-up of the teaching, so that, in due time, the content will be increased, and the time-span of education shortened. I believe that, in due time, the Christian School will teach more than is now taught in kindergarten through high school in seven or at most nine grades, so that students will enter colleges, universities, and vocational schools in their very early teens, and enter the world of work by the time they are twenty. The Christian School movement is the Quiet Revolution of our time, and the great and enduring one. [Emphasis Rushdoony’s]

            I am grateful that I have had my small part in that revolution.[1]

R. J. Rushdoony wrote these words over three decades ago, before the home schooling movement had gained much momentum and as Christian schools fought for survival. Since then, the civil government has tightened its grip on control of public education in the United States; and this country now stands in dire need of reform. The future will not be won by political decree; it will ultimately be won by God’s remnant who will have the answers to the distress in America as opportunities arise.

It is possible that God might extend mercy on this nation after all. Americans could elect a statesman who will prove himself an effective leader against the encroachment of an overgrown civil government. He might implement a judicious fiscal policy with shrinking deficits, no bailouts, and no subservience to bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Reserve. He might defend the Constitution and strive to effect a return to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. He might work with Congress to reduce the function of both branches to the protection of every individual’s life, liberty, and property. And yet he would still be governing the same people who allowed the current conditions to become a reality. Barring another Great Awakening, after four years, or eight, Americans will be the same idolatrous nation they were before the election of a new “change” agent. Governments and their laws only reflect the character of the majority of the voters.

But given such an awakening, many souls will be impacted. This is an essential step in the preliminary work before conversion; it is necessary and should be greatly welcome. It would also be a Pax Americana that facilitates the spreading of the Gospel.

And where must that gospel be spread? Everywhere, of course. Right now it is being preached in too few churches. The gospel preached by the Holy Spirit to Abraham and by Jesus to sinners has been replaced by a humanistic, schizophrenic, anti-Christian message. The solution? President Obama has rightly stated it: “education.” Of course, what he means by education is indoctrination and conditioning in the public system.

When the grandparents of Ron Paul and Herman Cain were young, America’s schools began to be converted into homes for the socialization of the child. Instead of the traditional Christian teaching of children to honor God with their knowledge and skills, the system called for the training of good citizens, men and women who would grow to serve their state before their God.

The Answer: the Tithe

Here is some good news: it will not take a majority to reform this nation. It never has taken a majority to turn the world upside down. What is needed is a committed, well-equipped minority. Christians must begin with the education of the core group. Rather than sending covenant children to be trained in schools where they are taught humanism for all of life, followers of Christ must obey God’s injunction and bring their children to the feet of Jesus, who said “Let the little children come to me,” (Luke 18:16) not send them to the Roman schools.

Many Christian parents are afraid to take the leap and teach their children at home (more on this in the next section). Some would love to send them to a Christian school but cannot afford to pay double tuition (in property taxes to the state whether they send their children there or not, and to a Christian school). Many excellent articles and books have been written encouraging and challenging parents to obey the biblical mandate; the objective here is to show that Christian schools can be viable and affordable.

The answer is the tithe. If every Christian tithed, America would be filled with Christian schools from sea to sea. Without delving into the specifics of the three tithes commanded in the Bible, for the sake of this discussion the reader should accept that God the Father calls non-tithers robbers (Malachi 3), and that God the Son told his listeners to tithe (Matthew 23).

Here is a look at some pertinent numbers. Consider a church of 100 tithers with an average income of $40,000, around the national average. That is $4,000,000, and the tithe would be $400,000, without even counting offerings. Budget annually $40,000 for pastoral pay and another $20,000 for any other labor for the church. From the remaining $340,000, subtract $120,000 for physical plant (especially since many churches owe on their buildings). From the remaining $220,000, subtract another $100,000 for maintenance and other expenses. The $120,000 left over could go to Christian education. With $95,000, a small staff can be paid:

One Headmaster/Lead Teacher:         $20,000

Five Teachers @ $15,000 each:          $75,000

Preferably the school master would pay teachers (and if he is not the owner, his boss(es) would pay him) what each one is worth based on quality of teaching and parent satisfaction. The idea is that the school would be in covenant with the family, since parents are entrusting that institution with responsibilities that God has given the parents themselves. The other $25,000 can be used for materials, supplies, furniture, and miscellaneous expenses.

This is not much of a budget compared to the public school market, but it would be a starting point. Or instead of hiring six teachers, a school could begin by hiring three and paying them twice as much. Though admittedly simplistic and possibly naïve, it is a fiscal blueprint that can work.

Now, many American churches do not have 100 members, let alone tithers. First, with half the membership, they could probably afford to offer half of the educational program. Families belonging to small churches might appreciate an intimate, personal school setting for their children. Second, one school per congregation is not necessary; what is needed is a catholic spirit of believers willing to work inter-congregationally. Granted, jealousies do exist on the part of some pastors who do not want their families involved with a school housed in or associated with another congregation, fearing that the relationship could tempt the family to consider the church at which the school is located, and maybe leave their present church. Those pastors should consider getting their own church involved in Christian education.

Faithfulness in tithing would make free or drastically reduced tuition possible for the children of covenant keepers. Parents, and even church members with no children, would know that part of their tithe is funding most of the education available to church children. Tithers are responsible for being informed about how their tithes are being spent.

However, a strong argument can be made that church members should not be forced to fund the education of other people’s children, a point well taken. A family might not have any children or might disagree with the church’s stance or support of a particular school. Robert Thoburn offers a biblical solution:

Let the churches raise money for needy students [with all whose family can afford it paying their own tuition] through voluntary, tax-deductible donations to a church-operated scholarship fund. Then let the parents decide which Christian school to send their children to. The church should support parents directly and schools indirectly, not schools directly and parents indirectly. This maintains the Biblical principle of parental responsibility for education, with the church as a defender of families, not educators.[2] [Emphasis Thoburn’s]

American churches would do well to follow Thoburn’s advice, for it would make for healthier and better educated families, producing in turn healthier and better educated congregations.

Potential Alternative: A Case Study

Another place for possible solutions is south of the border. Nestled among the volcanoes of central Mexico, some 28 miles east of the active Popocatépetl, American missionaries Roger Oliver and his wife Marcy direct the Seminario Bíblico de Puebla (SBP) Learning Center, “a type of home school cooperative,”[3] according to Oliver, who began the work in 2011. He identifies the center as a hybrid between Christian school and home school. It “provides a place for families who want to homeschool but are afraid to do it at home or who cannot because mom works” or because of other reasons. Besides the typical course work of any learning institution, the Learning Center features aspects that most Christian schools do not offer.

The first noteworthy characteristic is the personnel involved. The full time workers are eight mothers of the students. “We scholarship their kids and give them a donation to help out at home. It totals up to an average of $5,000 pesos per month, a significant help to these moms,” Oliver said. In México’s troubled economy, an opportunity to teach their own children, help other families, and earn money is an economic blessing that is not coincidental. “Since we became ‘reconstructionist, theonomic’ missionaries, we have generated work for 12 or 13 women,” he said.

Leery of anti-biblical teacher training programs, Oliver says that he not only does not look for certified personnel, he actually shuns it. “We do not have ‘teachers,’” he said. “I resist help from anyone ‘trained’ in the modern system of state schools. They just don’t get it.”

The other parents are urged to volunteer as many hours as possible. “[They] come and teach subjects that are difficult and tutor students in subjects that may be difficult for mom and dad to teach at home,” Oliver said. “It is also a place to provide services and activities not easily available to families within their resource limitations.”

Oliver does not want to become a surrogate parent, though. “We do hold parents responsible for the education of their children,” he said. “We have an ‘escuela de padres’ (school for parents) about every six weeks to train them in their responsibilities.” With messages like parental responsibility for obeying Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 not very popular in Mexican churches, most parents are hearing these ideas for the first time, but “the escuela para padres is well received and attendance is growing.”

That organic parental participation is a major component of the Learning Center, which “is not a place to drop off [their] kids and let others be responsible for [their] children’s education,” said Oliver. “I tell them that at the last judgment Jesus is not going to hold me accountable for their children’s education but he will hold them accountable.”

In fact, Oliver sees the home as the best place for the education of the children. “We also encourage parents to consider homeschool,” he said. “And we allow families to send their kids one or two days a week and charge them fifty pesos a day.” Parents are reminded that the center is not a school, and that they are the responsible party. The option offered by the center is a hub for a free association of parents educating their children, “asociación libre de padres educadores.” As such it complies with the Mexican Constitution and its Office of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública).

Another beneficial aspect of the center is its relationship with the host seminary. Though not free, rent is an affordable arrangement that seems to benefit both parties. “We pay an offering of $15,000 pesos per month but it is not a contracted rent, it’s what we feel we can pay,” Oliver said. “Turns out to be at least half of what the seminary receives in donations from the U.S. We also pay our own electricity and maintenance. Electricity probably averages $1000 to $1200 every two months.”

The Learning Center is characterized by a friendly Christian climate that permeates its classrooms. The place, however, is not for everyone. Families must “show some evidence of being part of the remnant. This is not a school for non-Christians. I tell parents this has to be a calling,” said Oliver. “When they ask what about later when they may need to go back to the public education system, I tell them that once they put their hand to the plow to be responsible to God for their children’s education, there is no turning back.”

That caring yet no-nonsense approach has served the center well as it nears completion of its third year. It opened its doors to 47 junior high school students the first year, followed by 47 elementary through high school students the second, and peaking at 96 this year after adding a preschool.[4] When asked who had been the center’s founder, Oliver answered simply: “God.” Then as if to make sure one understood his seriousness about the covenant’s authority structure,” he added, “Seriously, we stumbled into this, but the representative humans are Roger and Marcy Oliver.”

Oliver seems to have put into action what many pedagogues have failed to do: apply God’s Word consistently to every area of life, in this case the education of the children of Puebla, Mexico.

The results have been impressive. [There are] many stories that encourage us to believe we are on the right track. Not all the stories are success stories. The Learning Center is a spiritual battlefield. The kids come to us loaded with humanistic baggage.

The Learning Center is a mustard seed project to build the future Chris­tian civilization in Mexico from the bottom up. It’s exhausting but reward­ing work. Never did we expect to be working with children, especially since we are at retirement age.[5]

The solutions to America’s problems, though difficult, are not overly complex; and they should come from the visible church, whether from México, South Texas, or any other corner. As Christians live and teach their children to live according to God’s covenantal ways, the world will know that the church is a nation blessed like no other. A review of that covenantal model is in order here.

The Means: Covenant Pedagogy

Children must be taught first and foremost that God is the only sovereign being. Without beginning and without end, he works through His Spirit and His people, who are beings with a beginning and no end. God made a couple of offers to Adam, who sinned but whose wife received a great promise. God then made a pact with Noah, then Abram, then Moses, then David. He also made personal covenants with many individuals throughout history. Finally, He gave the New Deal to all of mankind, the New and Everlasting Covenant through Jesus Messiah.

The deal is simple: trust and obey. God is in complete control. He appointed the Church as His representative on Earth, with an oral and written rule of ethics to serve as His standard. If people abide by His explicit terms, they are blessed; if they do not abide in and by them, they are already condemned. God is faithful to punish the guilty for a few generations while blessing the faithful for a thousand.

As long as the church of Christ preaches only the blessings part, however, America’s education looks to Jesus only for mercy and compassion but wants no part of His justice. As long as it preaches that man does not have to obey God’s laws, its education rejects the existence of hell and eternal separation from God. As long as it preaches that God used to save people differently in the Old Testament, its education becomes escapist and takes things out of context. Teaching the covenant will confront the child with his sinfulness and make the humble aware of the grace available to him.

Men and women who are willing to follow God’s plan must accept His transcendency and immanence (God is everywhere over all, and yet here with His own); structure of hierarchy (God has his Church as His mouthpiece and representative); rules for man (God gave us the Bible); sanctions (God executes judgment on people as they respond to His ethical standard); and sustaining principles (God promises a future, here on earth in history and in eternity…with or without Him). Living by and in covenant will help a person become less humanistic and either more awakened or more sanctified.

The church’s lack of leadership has resulted in a secular schizophrenia, as R. J. Rushdoony calls it.[6] The humanist mind is sometimes full of optimism and excitement, believing that man can do all things through him who strengthens himself. “Sí se puede” (“you can do whatever you set your mind to,”), and so on. On the other hand, the world (and the church with its own version) has adopted a worldview that wonders if man is going to be able to survive the evil in the world, implying that man probably will not make it…unless, as well-meaning Christian escapists warn in their attempts to scare sinners into converting, Jesus comes back soon and raptures those who have said the sinner’s prayer. This anti-covenantal paradigm is anti-Christian; it used to be un-American, too. It presupposes and self-fulfills an antinomian way of life.

Children must also learn well the Puritan refrain that “in Adam’s fall we sinned all.” Since Adam’s sin, man has been prone to wander from God’s commands to man’s own will and desires. Man wants to make and be his own law (autonomy) by which to live. The Bible teaches that man should live by every word/law that proceeds from the mouth of God. Though no preacher would say that men should break the Ten Commandments, many would say that those same laws do not apply either to non-Christians or to anyone today. But since every law imposes someone’s morality, the question is simple: by whose morality should man live? All educational institutions must understand what Rushdoony meant by asking, By What Standard? (men should live). Greg Bahnsen answered the question with his own book: By This Standard,[7] meaning God’s written code of ethics, The Bible.

Conclusion

Church families should want to train and teach their own children as much as possible, in obedience to Moses’ command to teach their little ones at all times of the day all the things that God wants them to know (Deuteronomy 6). Where these families exist, the church should be disposed to assist them in the training of those children.

But what about all those families who do not home school? Does their unwillingness or inability excuse the church from its responsibility? On the contrary, this situation only magnifies the role of the church. Its leaders must create opportunities to teach children and youth beyond the Sunday school, Children’s Church, and Catechism classes. One to three hours a week of biblical indoctrination cannot compete with 40 hours a week of anti-biblical conditioning. If American churches do not adjust their priorities and place Christian education at the top, Christians should not be surprised when their children leave the church as soon as they have the liberty to do so; and America will not survive if it continues in its direction away from God and His Law/Word. The way to turn this around is through training and preparing the next generation; to accomplish this task, family, school, and church must work together.

John Calvin did not see much separation between church and school in terms of ministry. Neither did he make a distinction between the sacred and the secular, for all things belong to God and there is no truth that is not His, regardless of the sphere or social context. As Kienel writes, “Calvin’s position…becomes not only an important philosophical principle but a valid legal precedent in today’s world.”[8]

Another Great Awakening can take place in America if Christian families and churches answer their calling to train and teach their children in the fear and admonition of God. Without knowing good and evil, these little ones can learn languages, sciences, and history. They will have understanding of the times and know what Christians ought to do. They will become citizens of godly impact on their communities, not for the sake of their country but for the sake of their God.

 

     [1] Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum, Unnumbered pages, Foreword.

       [2] Robert Thoburn, The Children Trap, xix.

       [3] Unless footnoted, all information regarding the Learning Center comes from Director Roger Oliver through private correspondence.

       [4] Roger Oliver. “Mexico: What’s a Missionary to Do?” Faith for All of Life. March/April, 2014. 17.

       [5] Ibid.

       [6] Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia.

       [7] Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985).

       [8] Kienel, A History of Christian School Education: Vol I, 222.

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