Education as a Religious Discipline Part I - RR173A1
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[Introduction] Our first speaker this morning will be introduced by Mr. Howard Carter, who is the international direct of the Logos Foundation. [Applause]
[Howard Carter] Good morning, and I would like to just make two quick comments before I introduce Doctor Rushdoony, I would like to assure the judge that we not only receive the word that he has brought as an invitation upon the day, but as a commission and as a challenge from one generation to another. I would like to also make an observation on behalf of you all of appreciation to Clint and Elizabeth Miller for putting on this conference, I am not sure that there will be another occasion throughout the day, but I’m going to make that we get this occasion to say on behalf of all the people how much we appreciate their efforts and their labor, and to keep up the good work, God bless you. (Applause) At this bit, Dr. Rushdoony when I was travelling through the northern part of the northern territory of Australia in a motor home, and his voice came through a series of tapes that he was sharing on Christian education, that’s in 1978, and it changed my life, changed the direction that we were taking in a very real way, and we were involved at that stage in beginning to look at Christian schools and the whole perspective that he brought was a key in not only in our own lives but in the direction of the work for which we are responsible. One writer in a commentary said this: it was only when the publications written by Rousas J. Rushdoony beginning in the early sixties that any theologian began to make a serious systematic exegetical attempt to link the bible to the principles of limited civil government and free market economics. I want to point out as you probably already know that it has not been a policy of most publishing houses to give good reviews to the material that Dr. Rushdoony has produced. (Laughter) In news week in nineteen-eighty-one of course as you appreciate that because of their lives, it’s not because they don’t appreciate the significance of it spiritually, they have no insight into the reality of that which God is really doing. In News Week February the second nineteen-eighty-one in its review of the new right, News Week called attention to what they called the Chalcedon institute as the think tank of the new right, and you’ll be aware that in the twenty-five something years that Dr. Rushdoony has been publishing in Chalcedon has been involved, that he has written over thirty books and produced numerous papers, spoken in very many countries, one of which has been Australia, for which we are very grateful, and contributed in a tremendous way to the burden that so many Christian people have to become involved in the society which God has placed them, and to offer an alternative to the pessimism and the defeatism that has characterized the church for so long. [00:03:30]
I think that one little personal comment if I can introduce...
I think that one little personal comment if I can introduce Dr. Rushdoony to you, he’s called by his friends Rush, that anything but appropriate for his lifestyle. While he covers an immense amount of ground, and a tremendous amount of territory, you’ve only got to visit his home as I have had the privilege of doing, and there in the mountains is this wonderful relaxed situation, you go into his lounge and on every available space, it only needs to be a book sized space, is a pile of books. I lost count of the number of piles of books that there were, but I am under the impression that they change regularly, because I understand he reads something like thirty a week. Just for your encouragement for those of you who are only up to twenty a week, you’ve only got a little way, to go just yet, and I hope you’ll keep up the good work. [Laughter] I think it needs to be said that while most leaders of what is called the new right today would not acknowledge any particular affiliation with Dr. Rushdoony or Chalcedon, most of them will acknowledge that they have benefitted immensely from the work, the writings, and the contributions that he’s made. We are very privileged here in the northwest to have Dr. Rushdoony here with us today, I would like to introduce you to him, and I ask you to welcome him. Doctor Rushdoony. [Applause] [00:05:34]
[Rushdoony] A sentence near the conclusion of the marriage...
[Rushdoony] A sentence near the conclusion of the marriage ceremony declares: Whom therefore God hath put together, let no man put asunder. I would say that sentence is even more true of religion and education, than it is even of marriage, because religion is inescapably a religious discipline. The fact that today we call education neutral does not make it so. It always has been inescapably religious; it will not cease to be so simply because men separate it from Christianity. What it represents today in the hands of the state is a militant anti-Christian humanism. All mans is governed by a perspective, men cannot be objective, they cannot step outside of their own being, they cannot step outside their own time and space, they cannot be other than what they are. My perspective on this room is governed by my position in this room, even as your perspective on this room is governed by your place. Even more in the realm of ideas, our perspective on the world, on human thought, on life and death is governed by our basic position, our faith. Inescapably, man is a religious creature. Our thinking governed as it is by a perspective, is subjective, but the fact that we are subjective in all our thinking and can never step outside of ourselves does not eliminate the possibility of true thinking, of valid thinking, if our basic presuppositions, our faith is correct. The only valid presupposition is the triune God, and His infallible word, the only alternative to a biblical faith is chance, a world of unreason, a world of accident, a world in which every thought man thinks is absurd, because man thinks logically. Now the premise of his logic may be false, but he governs his thinking by his faith, and if the world is absurd, then all human thinking is absurd and life itself is absurd. [00:09:11]
The world today is moving from one absurdity to another...
The world today is moving from one absurdity to another, within the sphere of politics, economics, education, and all else. The world of our time is governed by the insanity of unbelief, because when men deny the faith, they assume the ultimacy of chance and of the absurd, and their whole life is governed by unreason, and all of creation then is nothing but the fortuitous concourse of atoms, as one philosopher described it. In such a world, there are two options open to man, the first is to say that while the world is a world without meaning, I will impose a self-created meaning in all spheres, I will create man-made paradigms of thought, not because my thinking is true, but because I can make it work since I believe in it. My thinking therefor will be instrumental, not truth oriented. This of course is progressive education, it represents the thinking of the modern world, truth has no relevance to reality except as a concept of instrument, whereby we say: this is the idea we like, and we will make it work because we want it to work. The world then is mans will and idea, second: men can say that blind chance accidentally created a variety of orders, of solar systems, each of which has its own accidentally created realm of law. Then we have not a universe, but a multiverse, each with its own paradigms, its own method of operation. [00:12:00]
This is the kind of thinking that Clark Kerr, head...
This is the kind of thinking that Clark Kerr, head of the university of California at Berkley formulated in the nineteen fifties in I believe, his Harvard lecture, and at that time Clark Kerr called for the creation of multiversities. Not this was a very important step, because what he was saying was that the idea of a university is inescapably Christian, inescapably biblical, it presupposes as Paul says: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all. If you have such a faith, you have a universe, and you can have a university, because truth is God given and it is one and the same in every sphere, but in terms of Clark Kerr’s presupposition of a multiverse, there could be no Christian faith. Everything is possible except the God of scripture, somewhere out there in outer space, almost any potentiality for Clark Kerr could exist, but the one thing that could not exist is an overarching realm of law, an overarching God, an order that is the same everywhere, one Lord, one faith, one universe. As a result, Clark Kerr’s thinking, which dominates the modern educational scene, is ready to admit the possibility of any kind of truth, except that which we as Christians believe, that which God sets forth in His infallible word. As a result, the world today is open to anything except our faith. It will include witchcraft and occultism in the school curriculum, but not the scripture. It will admit the possibility of almost anything, except the truth of our faith. To believe in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, was and is to pause at a cosmic unity and meaning. [00:15:27]
It is to say that truth is one and the same in inner...
It is to say that truth is one and the same in inner space, in every atom of our being, and in outer space, because the same God made all things, and His stamp is unmistakably in every atom, every fiber of all creation. This means them that there is a unified field of knowledge, that all truths is interrelated because it comes from the hand of one creator, there is a universe, and there can be a university and there can be the kind of education you and I believe in, because there is the God of scripture. To deny this faith, and the university as it has historically existed decays, education decays and moral and educational anarchy prevails. Basic to education therefor, is the fact that by Him all things were made, and without him was not anything made that was made; this is the key to learning. Education must be God-centered. Henry Van Til some years ago in his book: Christianity and Culture, said that culture is religion externalized, it is a faith applied to the world. In so defining culture, Henry Van Til was simply stating what was an obvious fact, what men had known for untold generations. But what we are seeing now is a redefinition of all things, in order to destroy their meanings, in order to eliminate our faith. In the dictionary of sociology where we see a great deal of this redefinition at work, Henry Pratt Fairchild defined culture in these words and I quote: “Culture, a collective name for all behavior patterns socially acquired and socially transmitted by means of symbols, hence a name for all the distinctive achievements of human groups, including not only such items as language, tool making, industry, art science, law, government, morals, and religion, but also the material instruments or artifacts in which cultural achievements are embodied, and by which intellectual cultural features are given practical effect such as buildings, tools, machines, communication devices, et cetera.” [00:19:24]
I hope you caught the emptiness of that definition...
I hope you caught the emptiness of that definition. Culture, he said, is a collective noun, in other words if you want to know what the culture of Seattle is, put up a fence around Seattle, take an inventory of everything in Seattle and then say “here is the inventory, this is culture.” But is culture simply a collective noun? Is not culture the faith that animates all that is within that parameter? Is it not something that makes those things work and function that gives them shape? Then culture is something radically different than a collective noun, it is as Henry Van Til said, religion externalized, religion expressing itself in the arts and the sciences, in education and politics, in economics and in all things else. Similarly, if we limit religion as Fairchild does, to a belief in a supernatural being or beings, then we say that humanism is not a religion. It’s a curious fact in order to establish humanism; the Supreme Court defined it twice as a religion. But when it gets in their way, when it’s a problem because then we do have an established religion in this country which governs the public schools, well humanism is not a religion. So the thesis is that it can mean whatever they choose it to mean. Telic, wisely perhaps for the first and only time in his life, defined religion as ultimate concern, ultimate concern. Whatever is ultimate, whatever governs our thinking is religion. If we govern our thinking, our ego dominates our whole perspective, then our religion is our self and we are our own God, if it is humanism, then humanism is our religion, but if it is the triune God then we are Christians. But for Fairchild, religion must be identified with superstition and magic, so he limits it in defining religion to the supernatural, and he identifies the supernatural with the realm of magic and superstition. Moreover, definition as we encounter it in dictionaries today, and in Fairchild and the dictionary of sociology, is descriptive not normative. It will not admit there can be moral considerations; it will not admit that as we look at the world we inescapably assess it in terms of moral categories. [00:23:51]
It is amusing to see how our liberals are ready to...
It is amusing to see how our liberals are ready to put down the Christian right as a very bad thing, and then rail at the same time against applying good and evil to the political sphere. Morality is only valid as a club against us. [Laughter] They will not admit that they too are involved in moral considerations, man is inescapably so involved. Thus when religion is defined, it is defined by Fairchild and I quote as: “The social institutions built up around the idea of a supernatural being or beings.” God is eliminated, religion is described, it is descriptive the definition, in terms of the surface, the institutions, not the object of faith, God. We are you see in a time of redefinition, redefinition in order to eliminate and to render invalid everything we believe in. how far this redefinition I need not tell you, because we have defined unborn babies as non-persons. And since the courts have made clear the definition is not medical but legal, the way has been paved in a New York Supreme Court decision has now validated it, to say at any time that any group of persons can be declared non-persons and therefor their killing is not murder. Now this is the conclusion of Professor Charles R. Rice of the Notre Dame University School of law, the stage has been set. He believes that unless Christians turn the situation around, the new world of definition already has set the stage so that Christians or any other group can be defined as non-persons, and eliminated. Moreover, this new world of definition descriptive not normative, means that meaning is now nonessential, it has been ruled out. This of course is in terms of Conte, the father of sociology, and also the grandfather through Dewey of modern education. For Conte, there are three stages in the history of human thought, the first stage is the stage of myth and religion, the concern for meaning. The second stage is the stage of philosophy in which mankind is advanced somewhat but is still concerned with meaning, what is the meaning of things? The third stage, said Conte, is science, in which there is no wrong or a concern with meaning, because we know it is mythological to assume that things have a meaning. [00:28:14]
It is the stage of instrumentalism and technology,...
It is the stage of instrumentalism and technology, when truth is pragmatic, it is what works. You recognize of course, John Dewey, and modern education. It is this abandonment of meaning that marks humanistic education, the only meanings tolerated in this redefinition of education, are purely personal meanings, the meanings that every man creates for himself and which cannot be imposed upon anyone else. This is what value clarification is about in our public schools, we have now another aspect of this, which is called the Sages curriculum, and in March nineteen-eighty-four, California Monitor of education, a psychology professor Doctor William Colson, comments on the Sages curriculum, and I quote: “The Sages program has in common with values clarification and mainstream contemporary school counseling, the implicit claim that there is no objective moral law. Since the claim is not obvious or true, if schools are to convert students to it they will have to take a lot of time away from subject matter instruction. This will suit just fine those school personnel whose grasp of subject matter is impaired, (Laughter) impaired precisely by the miseducation in teachers colleges which Sages imports into the lower grades. The only good thinking, the only good thing about the statist program is that it might stimulate more parents to consider home education (Laughter) There ought to be a law that school personnel will be allowed to fool around with psychology when they succeed in producing graduates who can match the intellectual attainments of the graduates of a hundred years ago, we know such success isn’t in the cards, we would therefore be spared all the psychologizing of programs like Sages. [00:31:24]
One more comment and note this in particular, therapy...
One more comment and note this in particular, therapy and education run in opposite directions. The task of the therapist is to take a patient’s meaning, the task of the teacher is to give it. Since, as Michael Polanyi has noted, the normal out coming of an untutored maturing of the human mind is imbecility. To invest classroom time taking meaning as if students were patients and teachers therapists, results in a generation of imbeciles.” I think that states it very clearly. Education today has ceased to be education, it seeks to take away meaning from the child, and this is why it creates a rift between the child and his home, because it is destructive of the meaning that the family seeks to impart to the child, what we call public education is therapy, therapy seeking to take away meaning, and to strip the child of a belief in a meaningful world. Modern humanistic education is not education but therapy for two reasons therefore, first as we have seen because it seeks to take away meaning from the student, and to counteract the meaning the church and the home give to the child. The curriculum therefore includes every kind of evil and excludes Christianity, because its goal is therapeutic, to take away meaning and to cleanse and free the child ostensibly, it is anti-family. The result is the barbarization of our school population in the state school. Hitler’s schools were called by anti-Nazi’s, schools for barbarians and rightly so. But what we must remember is and all modern statist education is a school for barbarians. This is emphatically true of the state schools in the United States. Second, state schools are not only opposed to biblical meaning, but to all meaning, all possible meaning that has any validity apart from man. [00:35:08]
Dewey, as a successor and a disciple of the ...
Dewey, as a successor and a disciple of the (Kantian?) school, wrote a book attacking the belief in any truth, the title was “The Quest for Certainty”, in which he spoke of the idea of finding some truth out there, some certainty in the universe as a false goal, as a mythological hope, and the purpose of education for Dewey was to shatter forever the quest for certainty, which was another way that Dewey had of saying we must shatter forever a quest of Christian truth, for the Christian God. Only pragmatic truth for Dewey has any status. All things are instrumental, grasp that fact and you will understand the goal of sex education in the school; sex education is to teach children that sex is an instrument, an instrument for man’s pleasure, for man’s self-realization, and therefore to impart moral values into the sphere of sex education is illegitimate. The teaching is to be therapeutic, to take away meaning from the sexual sphere, and to convert it into a sphere of instrumentalism. The student must be stripped of the illusion so called, of a meaningful world. Hence it is very dangerous to mimic state schools, use state textbooks, to follow statist premises in any sphere of our education. Quoting again from the California Monitor of education for March nineteen-eighty-five, in its review of a textbook, modern sex education, the reviewer cites the philosophy statements in that book, and numbers four and five will suffice to give the flavor, I quote number four: “help students appreciate their own values, as they relate to family and sexuality, while promoting respect for the values of others. Five: stress respect for self and others and the fundamental basis for decision making.” What does this mean? It means that if you believe in spite of all their teaching in the biblical world and life view, if you believe that sexuality should be governed by Christian premises, well then we will tolerate if you say “Well this is my lifestyle, your lifestyle may be homosexuality, but I respect your lifestyle and I ask you to respect mine.” Both are true, for us, but not for anyone else. [00:39:26]
What this textbook and countless others like it do...
What this textbook and countless others like it do is to place us in the world of Genesis 3:5, ye shall be as gods, every man his own god, knowing, that is determining for yourself what constitutes good and evil. Education is inescapably religion; ultimately we have only two kinds of education humanistic, in terms of Genesis 3:5 every man is his own god, and Christian, in terms of scripture, in terms of the triune God. There can be no halting, no indecision as we face the alternative. If we make the wrong choice, god will be no more favorable to us than he was to the compromisers of old who compromised with Baal and Baal worship. Education is a religious discipline; our choice of schools tells us who is our lord. Our choice of the kind of schooling we give our children reveals whether our Lord is the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, whether it is the Lord Jesus Christ that we serve, or whether it is man. Thank you. [00:41:59]