Archive for the ‘ Biblical Principles ’ Category

The Role of Scripture in Education

For those of you who have read this blog over the months, you may have noticed that the guy on the right has shown up more than once. His name is Noah Webster, a man I got to know quite thoroughly as I researched and wrote my doctoral dissertation because he was the subject of that endeavor.

I was fascinated with Webster because he became a Christian convert at age 50, and his worldview altered considerably in the realm of education. He switched from being an Enlightenment devotee to a student of the Scriptures.

When he wrote his monumental dictionary, finally completing it in 1828, he defined education in this way:

That series of instruction and discipline which is intended to:

  1. Enlighten the understanding
  2. Correct the temper
  3. Form manners and habits
  4. Fit a person for usefulness

In my study, I was drawn to a certain passage of Scripture in the second book of Timothy, as the apostle Paul reminded his young disciple:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for:

  1. Teaching
  2. For reproof, for correction
  3. For training in righteousness
  4. That the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work

If you compare those lists, you find a remarkable similarity. Teaching proper doctrine enlightens the understanding. Webster’s “correct the temper” is a character-oriented expression; Scripture being used for reproof and correction is for the purpose of inculcating proper character. When you form manner and habits in life, you are being trained in the way you should live, which is the same as being trained in righteousness. Finally, making a person fit for usefulness is no different than equipping someone for every good work.

Okay, here’s my logic, which I believe is solid in this case: if education and Scripture are both good for the same things, we should be able to use Scripture in education, without any qualms. God’s goals in His Word are the same goals we should have for education.

As I said in a previous post, there should be no division between the sacred and the secular—all knowledge ultimately comes from the God who gave us the ability to reason and draw conclusions about the world in which He has placed us.

Never apologize for using Scripture as the basis for education; it provides the principles—the general truths—that apply to all of life.

Who Educates?

Since the president opened the door for a discussion of education, I’d like to walk through it. As a professor of history, education is my livelihood, and I’ve spent more than three decades thinking about principles that apply to education. As always, I go to the Scripture for my foundations.

For instance, in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the nation of Israel was told:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Those words are addressed to the parents, who have the primary responsibility for raising their children. They have that responsibility, not the government. Someone may say that this passage doesn’t deal directly with education. My response is that it is teaching that all of life is to be lived in the knowledge of God, and that certainly includes what children learn about the world in which they live.

This world, and all that it contains, is God’s. There should never be a separation between secular and sacred. As Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 note:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The starting place for all knowledge and wisdom, therefore, is a reverence for God, and when we have that reverence, we will gain understanding.

Consequently, all education should be based on knowing God first, and the ones who should be planting that knowledge into the children are their parents.

Now, a couple of questions about modern American education. First, is our education system based on the knowledge of God? Second, do we really allow parents to have the final say on how their children are educated?

We are told that religion should be relegated to the private realm, and has no place in education. We are also told, in subtle ways at times, that no matter what parents think, the professional educators are the ones who know best what their children need. I respond that both statements are violations of Biblical principles of education.

Since I don’t want any one post to get too long, I’ll stop there for now, but I have a lot more to say about this; indeed, I have so much to say I could fill this blog for weeks. I plan to continue this topic on a regular basis.

Created in God's Image

Why do we even have to deal with issues like “death panels”? Why are there so many abortions? For me, it all comes back to something our society has stopped believing. We no longer accept the notion that each individual is a creation of God, imbued with the same qualities God possesses.

We are really quite wonderously made: we can reason, experience the gamut of emotions, and have the power to make decisions that determine our eternal residence. These qualities belong to God, and He has graciously passed them on to us. That is why we are inherently valuable.

But the acceptance of evolutionary thought, and the resultant belief that man is just a higher form of animal, has clouded the truth that the image of God has been bestowed upon us.

Life is now cheap. It has lost its value. Now we have government bean-counters who want to decide whether or not you receive the treatment you need. Are you too old to be of benefit to society any longer? Take a pill to ease the pain instead. Take enough of those pills all at once and perhaps we won’t have to pay for you anymore. You’ll be doing the “right” thing for everyone else by removing yourself from our ledger.

Is that developing child in the womb an inconvenience? Is it going to interfere with your life, as you understand it? A simple procedure takes care of the problem. After all, that’s not a real human, is it? It’s only a mass of chemicals or a blob of tissue. Go on your merry way, free to follow your selfish inclinations. Why should you be burdened with the consequences of your bad decisions or have to shoulder responsibility for someone else? Life should be free from pain and worry. At least, that’s what far too many of us now think.

God forgive us.

Even the Trees?

I don’t think that a White House science advisor normally should get so much attention in a blog like mine. I’ve written about John Holdren twice now in the past week or so. I figured that would be about all for him. Wrong. More information about his beliefs keep surfacing. Not only has he advocated population control via abortion and other methods, but he also has promoted the idea that trees have just as much right as humans to sue in court.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This is another indication how far some have departed from the Biblical truth that humans and the rest of God’s creation are distinct from one another. Only man is made in the image of God. Trees, while quite nice, don’t have the ability to think, feel, or choose. They are not free moral agents.

Isn’t it strange that I even have to say such a thing? Was that ever a debatable issue until recently? Not everyone in America has rejected the Biblical worldview, but if people like Holdren ever get in the majority, things will change even more drastically than they have already.

Heart-to-Heart

No pictures. No cartoons. Just a heart-to-heart today.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. First and foremost, I want my life to reflect His nature and character. Why? Because He truly did redeem me from a pit of my own making, and showed me His mercy (unmerited forgiveness) and grace (the power to do what is right).

Politics and government are important to me, but only in the context of wanting to ensure that they manifest Biblical truths. I grew up in a home that was not overtly political, but what little politics that did exist were Democratic. In my mind, JFK was a luminary probably chosen by God. LBJ was good simply because he was the president, and no president could possibly be a bad person.

I remember a conversation I had with a guy in my dorm during my freshman year of college. It was probably the first political conversation of any substance I had with anyone. I considered myself a Democrat by heredity, I guess. But as I told him what I believed about certain things, he just looked at me and said something to the effect, “No, those views make you a conservative. You’re really a Republican.” It was disconcerting, in some ways. I had to come to the realization that I wasn’t really what I thought I was, and that someone else could see it more clearly than I could.

As I matured, and tried to figure out how a Christian should view politics, I continued to analyze. When the 1976 election came, I thought I might support Jimmy Carter. After all, he was an avowed evangelical Christian, and bumper stickers on the cars of other Christian friends showed that they were supporting him. I probably would have voted for Carter—I really wanted to at that point—but then I read his campaign autobiography called Why Not the Best?

It was an illuminating read. Carter wrote a lot of things that made me pause, but the clincher was when he related that one of his favorite theologians was Paul Tillich. I had happened upon some of Tillich’s works during college, and knew where he was coming from: no bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave; no literal heaven or hell. That gave me more than merely a pause. At that point, I realized just where Carter was theologically, and it wasn’t real Christianity. I also began to see that theological liberalism went hand-in-glove with political liberalism. The connection was being made for the first time in my mind. I had to vote for Ford.

My politics have been conservative ever since, but I am not your typical conservative. I don’t start with “What do I believe about politics?” My starting point is “What do I believe about the nature and character of God, and how does that affect my understanding of politics and government?” Ever since that first revelation about the connection between theological and political liberalism, I have sought to know the first principles, gleaned from the Scriptures, that should inform everything else in my life.

That’s why today, when I see evangelicals give themselves over to political liberalism, I feel this pain inside. To me, that is such a glaring inconsistency with Biblical truth that I have a hard time grasping why someone who says that Christ is the reason for everything would put their political faith in a system that makes the government into a god.

Evangelicals who vote for liberal candidates, be they Democrat or Republican, are voting in favor of:

  • Government-sanctioned abortion;
  • The promotion of the homosexual lifestyle (or at least its acceptance by society);
  • Governmental intrusion into the lives of individuals and families (violating a Biblical principle of self-government, which the Lord uses to lead us to maturity in decisionmaking);
  • Attacks on Biblical morality generally;
  • Not allowing one’s faith to be manifested in public (think of Christian teachers who are muzzled in government-sponsored schools);
  • Planned government control of the economy (which violates a Biblical principle of property—which I call “God’s school of personal accountability” for individuals).

I could go on, but I’ll stop the list there.

One of the main reasons I’ve heard for why a Christian should support liberal policies is that we should be for social justice. I am all for justice—God’s justice. But the phrase “social justice” is code for socialism. That’s where that language originated. And socialism, despite what some think, is anti-Christian. It is not promoted in the Scriptures. I would ask those who think that it may be sanctioned there to go into my category called “Biblical Principles” and read some of my postings on that subject.

My goal in life at this point (and I believe it originates in God’s heart, not mine) is to point Christians to the Biblical principles that should be the grid through which we examine everything in this world. I take very seriously the admonition in Romans 12:2, which states, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

If you are a Christian and have been sympathizing and/or voting with the liberal philosophy of politics, I entreat you to go back to the Scriptures and continue to receive the renewal of the mind that the Lord wants to give.

I know this was a long posting, but if even one person leaves the liberal path because of it, I will consider it worthwhile.

The Bible and Homosexuality (Part II)

Why does God consider homosexuality a sin? Why not live and let live? The answer is deeper than homosexuality itself. It has to do with the heart of man and his desire to rebel against the way God has set things up to work. God fashioned men and women the way He did to create the family structure. The physical characteristics and obvious differences between men and women are not cosmic accidents, but a grand design.

Paul the Apostle

Paul the Apostle

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1, lays out the case: men suppress the truth of God, even though they know He is real; therefore, they are without excuse. They know God, Paul says, but don’t honor Him or give Him thanks. As a result, they become foolish, even while professing themselves wise. That’s why God gives them over “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity,” he concludes. The next passage is focused on one type of impurity:

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Paul then says that such a person has a “depraved mind,” doing “things which are not proper.” He provides a list of other sinful actions as well—homosexuality is just one example—then adds:

. . . and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

That’s where we have traveled as a society: we now give hearty approval to the homosexual lifestyle. How did this happen? We’ll look at the political and cultural agenda tomorrow.

The Bible and Homosexuality (Part I)

Part of God's Judgment on Sodom Had to Do with Its Homosexual Practices

The first place we see homosexuality mentioned in Scripture is in the account of the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Angels in the guise of mem arrive in Sodom and are invited to stay at the home of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.

The homosexuals of the city demand that Lot send out the men for sexual relations. The angels/men make the homosexuals blind to break up the mob.

When judgment falls on Sodom, God was also judging its homosexuality. We see this in the New Testament book of Jude, which says,

And the angels that did not keep within their original authority [under God], but abandoned their proper sphere, He [God] has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day. And Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities, following a pattern like theirs, committing sexual sins and perversions, lie exposed as a warning of the everlasting fire awaiting those who must undergo punishment.

Those are not very politically correct words. Homosexuality is not simply an alternative lifestyle, according to Scripture. But why is this so? More on that tomorrow.