April 2, 2015

The Silencing Power of the Gospel

In the face of growing apostasy and hostility to Jesus Christ, we are reminded that God establishes strength and silences His enemies through children, raised on the truth and power of the gospel.

In the historic Christian perspective of Christendom, three institutions in particular have a teaching mandate; they are the family, the church and the school or academy. From the biblical perspective, essential to the function of each of these institutions is the work of instruction, and the careful catechesis of the young. The family is clearly required to raise children in the fear and instruction of the Lord (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). The church also has a clear mandate to teach (2 Tim. 4:2; Matt. 28:20) and disciple. Moreover, the school or academy has not only been part of Jewish and later Christian culture for the young since the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, but in Scripture we even find a school of the prophets (2 Kings 2:5; 6:1). The university was likewise a direct development of the calling of the Christian church (and has been called the last medieval institution) to develop God-centred instruction. It is no surprise then that widespread literacy, printing and universal education were a direct product of Christian labor. However, when these institutions fail to teach biblical faith and life, the cultural results are dramatic and devastating.

It is evident to any observant Christian that the assault on a Christian form and content of education in all these institutions is well-advanced and in many quarters has been highly successful in indoctrination. To illustrate this change from the apostasy of the church, another protestant denomination is again rejoicing in its own inevitable demise as the Presbyterian Church (USA), with nearly 1.8 million members, becomes the largest Protestant group in the US, so far, to ratify ceremonies and rites for same-sex unions in the name of ‘marriage’ – representing a complete abandonment of biblical teaching for families. This step was approved by the church’s main legislative body in 2014 but needed final ratification from a majority of the denominations' regional districts. ‘Marriage,’ for these apostates, is now being defined as, ‘a unique commitment between two people,’ not a binding covenant between a man and woman for life rooted in the teaching of Genesis 2 and 3. If the church abandons its teaching mandate, the family is exposed and misled, and the schools will follow suit.

In Canada, in the Ontario Education Act, regarding the duties of a teacher, there remains a requirement to teach religion and morals. In it we read that a teacher in the schools is required to:

…inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues.

And yet, Ontario’s Premier and Education Minister are presently forcing a radical sex education program on parents through the schools that has utter disdain for the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality, and in teaching ‘gender identity,’ clearly has no regard for truth, justice, purity or humanity. It is not just Ontario that is catechising in a new faith. Just recently the Alberta legislature has unanimously passed a law forcing private Christian and other religious schools to set up clubs for homosexuals known as ‘gay-straight alliances,’ while at the same time removing any provision for parents to remove their children from classes discussing homosexuality and other sexual perversions.

Historically in Quebec education was a family and private matter with church support long before the state got involved, but today Quebec has forced its secular ethics into all the schools. Indeed, one Catholic school had to go to the Supreme Court just to get permission to teach Catholic values alongside the secular.

Because the foundations of our education were set deep in the Christian faith, invariably we find the root of educational troubles in the apostasy of Christianity. In Ontario, the tone was set in public education initially by the devout Methodist Egerton Ryerson who laid the early philosophical foundations of the public school system. However, his political liberalism was severely tainted by rationalistic tendencies stemming from Enlightenment thought, and Enlightenment thought is the religion of unbelief because man’s reason in this view always trumps revelation. It led in the Western world from Christianity to Unitarianism and deism and finally atheism and paganism.

Faith in man’s reason, denying the effect of sin upon human nature, always produces an ‘intolerant tolerance’ because, viewing the triune God and his sovereignty as irrational, it seeks to replace the Word of God with man’s word – it is then, logically, intolerant of what it refuses to believe. Ryerson’s idealism led to the conviction that corruption and flaws in man, a creature perfectible by education, would be overcome by the moral suasion of the state school. The goal was to create useful members of a universal society whereby a social redemption could occur, creating a kind of heaven on earth defeating sin and crime.

This, Ryerson thought, was attainable by a nondenominational ‘Christian’ curriculum and system that would offend none. As a kind of universalist, Ryerson was a social engineer opposed to the faith of the Reformation, and as such laid the groundwork for the eventual loss of Christian education in progressivism. R.D. Gidney’s study (1975) into the condition of education in Upper Canada prior to the advent of the public schools shows that academic standards were already much better than public education reformers were claiming and that the public schools did little to improve the situation. The present decline of education and rates of functional illiteracy are witness to the failure of an education system that aims less at education than it does at social conditioning.

This highlights the important role, not just of the church teaching God’s Word faithfully to families, or parents carefully instructing their children in God’s Word, but also of the Christian school and academy in advancing education rooted in the sovereignty and government of God. True education gets the foundation of life and thought correct – that man is God’s image-bearer but a fallen sinner, and yet Christ is creator, redeemer and king and in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Revelation must again be made basic to education if we would labor in terms of the gospel, of God’s ordained future, rather that the social salvation of man by man.

The Psalms are clear that children and infants have a key role in God’s glorious purposes in the gospel, for “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (Ps. 8:2). The gospel makes plain that Christ the Lord is in the process of having all his enemies made his footstool as he rules the nations (Ps. 110:1; Eph. 1; Col. 1; 1 Cor. 15). Indeed, the nations are his inheritance (Ps 2). The scriptures indicate then that one of the ways Christ stills and silences the enemy and avenger is through children.

So how does God establish strength and silence his enemies through children? By having them raised up and taught in the truth of the gospel for every area of life and thought! A generation of Christian children transforms the future, because education is a plan for the future and those that govern the minds of the youth influence the shape of the future. God silences his enemies by the educational mandate given in the Great Commission to teach all things he has commanded.

When children are raised to love God with their hearts AND MINDS, where they are faithfully instructed in a biblical understanding of all of life and grow as true worshippers, God’s ordained future emerges and thus his enemies with their false gospel are silenced. The enemy and avenger is stilled by the strength of tomorrow sitting at small desks with the curriculum of Christ.

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