5. Education and the Kingdom

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 19 2024

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  • Series: Christian Education
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Someone has said very aptly that those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it. The ignorance of history in our day is appalling. Of course, ignorance generally today is appalling. Thanks to our state schools we have the highest illiteracy rate in the history of the United States. Thirteen percent according to Federal statistics are functional illiterates, and another thirteen percent are nearly functional illiterates. The ignorance of history is appalling.

Fathers of university graduates have told me that their children cannot locate France or China or Russia, or New York State on any map. In fact, one angry father called me not too long ago, deeply upset; he was a Southerner. How many of you are by the way? Well, you will appreciate this story. He said: “My son is graduating from high school, and he has never heard of Robert E. Lee.”

I tried to investigate the matter, and his high school social studies teacher cut me off with a statement that Robert E. Lee was not worth the students learning about. We are moving into the dark ages, unless we as Christians turn it around.

As a matter of fact, we are in the dark ages- because that term comes out of the life of the early church, and the early church said that every area of the world that is ignorant of Jesus Christ is in the dark ages. Historians have since turned that term around to give it a different meaning, but your next-door neighbor may be in the dark ages.

Elliot an English scholar, did a study a few years ago of this century. He was not a conservative, he was not a Christian, he was just studying this century and other centuries in terms of the ratio compared to estimated population all over the world, of those who had died from mass murders, war, revolution, famine, slave labor camps, and much, much more of the same kind of violence; and what he found was that the highest percentage of mankind to perish from these things was in this century, and his work went only through most of the fifties, and so much has happened since then, and the end is not yet.

A friend, a general, has told me that if we should have a nuclear war, on the first strike one hundred and twenty million Americans would be dead within twenty-four hours. But because the ‘Star Wars’ defense, which we developed in the fifties in the Eisenhower years and then shelved was in ‘81 adopted by the Soviet Union and put into force, we could perhaps wipe out a couple of hundred thousand, if our missiles survived the first strike.

But of course, how many people are concerned? Years ago, when I was a student at Berkeley I recall very vividly reading the writings of a Roman poet, a poet who survived the fall of Rome. He lived very comfortably in a Villa in Southern Gaul, and, as he and his friends went fox hunting; fox hunting is that old, they told one another that these evil days were temporary, that civilization having reached the height of the Roman Empire could not perish, it would revive; and that in not too many years Rome in all its glory would be strong again.

After a few generations Rome was down to five-hundred people living amidst the ruins. We have a problem, an appalling ignorance, a massive surrender by Christians of most of the world, to the enemy. Christians treat the Bible as though it were a church book. That is not the way God intended it. It is His owners manual, for users’ use, for every sphere of life. It is His word, His command word, for the church, for the school, for the family, for the political order, for the arts, for the sciences; for every sphere of life and thought. And if the church limits the Bible, limits the scope of God to nothing but the realm of the soul, then we are in trouble. But that is what has happened, it began a couple of centuries ago.

What men began to say was: “The material world is under the jurisdiction of the state, and the spiritual world belongs to the church.” Well that was false to begin with. The material world is not under the state; that includes you and your family, it includes the church. In terms of that doctrine, civil governments began to control the church, to feel that everything was within their jurisdiction. In terms of our faith, all things are under God, and all the various areas of government are interdependent under God, because when you say ‘government,’ and you mean Washington DC or Sacramento, you are a totalitarian. You have identified government with the state, and that is totalitarianism.

Government is first of all the self government of the Christian man; under God you are the basic government, not Washington. Then it is the family, the central institution in the providence of God. Then it is the church, it is the school, it is your vocation, your job, which certainly controls you; governs you. Then it is society, because the community and the place where you live have a governing effect on you; and finally it is what our forefathers in this country called ‘civil government,’ not ‘government,’ ‘civil government;’ One form of government among many.

Now, if we say, as has been said for generations now, that the material realm belongs to the state, and the spiritual realm belongs to the church, we have surrendered most of the creation, virtually all of it, to the state, and we have become totalitarians. And today the state is moving in on the family and the church in terms of that premise. And what about the church? Well, Sigmund Freud, very early in his career, declared that attempts to disprove scientifically the truth of religion were doomed to failure. “Because,” he said, “religion with its little realm of ‘the spiritual life,’ still is needed as long as man has a sense of guilt. Men with a sense of guilt will require the need of a pastor or a priest, someone who can tell them the solution to the problem of guilt, how to find atonement for guilt.” And he said: “unless we convert the problem of guilt and the solution to guilt to a scientific problem, we cannot eliminate religion. But when we make it a scientific problem with a scientific solution, then we have eliminated religion;” hence psychiatry and psychoanalysis. And the sad fact today is that the most popular type of book with the clergy is a book dealing with psychology; pastoral psychology. And you get more psychology from the pulpit in many churches than you do theology.

As a result, we have retreated, we have surrendered the world, we are ignorant of history. Regularly, we mouth ancient heresies as though they were orthodoxies. The name of ‘Marcion’ probably means nothing to most pastors today, and most church members. But it was Marcion who first created, and he was the ultimate heretic, he said there were two God’s in the Bible, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New, the God of law and the God of grace; and it was he who was responsible for the division of the Bible, which up to that point had been one book, into two testaments. After all, look at all the apostolic preaching; the texts of the Old Testament. And so, people routinely tell me: “that it is grace vs law, that is the big problem.” Now those are not antinomies; what is the opposite of grace? Is it law? No, the opposite of law is lawlessness, and the opposite of grace, which means our salvation, is reprobation; and the opposite of love is not law, it is hate. But we have all these false antinomies running through the church. Is it any wonder that the church is impotent? Our minds are cluttered with heresies, half-truths, a lack of knowledge of the church's past.

During most of its history the church has been the educator of Christendom. Before the church owned a building, which was for a couple of centuries since they were an underground movement, they were teaching children in the homes where the home-churches met. The idea that the church does not belong in education is a very modern idea, and yet in the fifties when I first started to speak about the necessity for Christian schools and groups like this, I would have ministers stand up and denounce me for perverting the gospel, and taking people away from the basic need for evangelism! Thank God we have grown beyond that stage now!

But if God is the Lord, if: “all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made,” then there is no sphere of life or thought that is outside the jurisdiction of God and His Word. I am not saying that it is the duty of the church to go into politics, but it is the duty of the church to teach the Christian perspective on politics, on government, on law, on morality.

Up until about a hundred and twenty or thirty years ago, the election sermon was routine in this country; sermons preached before every election by the clergy to let people know what the word of God has to say about the basic issues of the time.

Relevance. This is what we have lost. And there is nothing more relevant to our world than the Word of God. The newspaper will not give you more relevance, far from it. Most of what it has to say, except for Cal Thomas’ column and a few things like that will be irrelevant, but the Bible speaks to the problems of our time. It tells us that man is a sinner, and if man is a sinner you can’t build a good society with sinners, any more than you can make a good omelet out of rotten eggs; it won’t work! It will tell you that: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” 1 It will spell out in the law of God the foundations of a good social order; it gives us our marching-orders. We dare not be ignorant of it. And it tells us about the Lord God of hosts, who moves, and governs and is present in all things.

God is closer to us than we are to ourselves, every atom of all creation was made by Him, every atom of our being, Paul tells us in Romans 1, witnesses to Him. The things visible and invisible declare the glory of God. The entire firmament showeth His handiwork, so all things are known to man. But what does Paul say? That we hold, or better, ‘suppress,’ hold back, keep down the truth of God, that thunders through all our being; we hold it back in unrighteousness, in injustice. The witness is there, and we hold it back, we suppress it. That is the kind of God we have. There is no place you can go, no closet in your life or in your house where you can go and shut the door and say: “Now, I can have a few private thoughts without God butting in.” It cannot be done. As the Psalmist says, we can flee to the uttermost ends of the world, but behold, thou art there. We can go down into hell, but lo He is there. In the greatest poem in the English language, Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven, how many of you are familiar with it? Good. I am talking to an educated group. Francis Thompson describes his experience, fleeing from God, and then feeling God always breathing on him as the hound, the hound of heaven, pursuing him; and the voice always coming through:

All things betray thee who betrayest me.

No escaping from God. He is the ever-present one.

But the church has become Deistic. You know what Deism is, do you know? Yes. Deism was an 18th century faith, it began to develop after about 1660, as the Reformation and the Counter Reformation receded, Deism came in and captured the churches, and became a kind of substitute for Christianity. And Deism, in some of its forms, never denied the Bible- never did. It just said: “those things happened a long time ago, and in effect God is an absentee landlord now. That He will sometimes intervene a little bit, He will hear and answer some of your prayers if you don’t ask too much, and it’s just spiritual things. But basically, He is way out there, and He is not going to make Himself visible before the end.”

Well, Sir Isaac Newton didn’t quite agree with that, Newton was a Deist. He also outdid any follower of Scofield or Darby or anyone else, in his interest in prophecy. He wrote hundreds and hundreds upon hundreds of pages, on Daniel and Revelation. He was a real prophecy-nut; in fact he wrote more about that than he did physics. And what was the idea that developed? “Yes, God is an absentee landlord, but He is not going to do anything until, well, the end of the world, or until the prophetic clock starts ticking.” In brief, some Deists believed the Bible, but held that the prophetic clock had stopped ticking, and that God was now hidden and remote; and because God was hidden and remote, the Christians concern should be ‘spiritual things,’ spiritual things. “So let’s be spiritual. Let’s not worry about all those problems outside the church, let’s confine ourselves to spiritual preaching.”

One member of our Chalcedon staff, a historian, was converted about ten to twelve years ago; it was when he read about a paragraph in the Wall Street Journal, a quotation from one of my books. So he ordered my books and started reading them all, and that is how he got steered to the Bible and got converted. So he joyfully took his Bible and went to church. And he went, and he went, and he went; and he visited one church after another, churches that called themselves ‘Bible believing’ and he said: “I felt like I was in a time warp, that I had moved back into the seventeenth or the sixteenth or the fifteenth century, because I never heard anything that related to anything outside the doors of the church. I had gotten my Bible and I had read it, I hadn’t owned one before, and I had never read anything that was more relevant to what was happening all around me, and I went to the people who were to set the world on fire, to turn the world upside down, and they were in a time warp.” They were being ‘spiritual,’ they weren’t going to talk about problems in education, or in politics, and apply the Word of God to those problems; they were ‘spiritual.’ Well, you know the devil is a spiritual being, but that does not make him good. The fall affects us in our spirit and in our flesh.

What we have had as a result of this false doctrine of ‘spirituality,’ as though the world of matter were not created by God is a warping of the faith. Now if God is going to resurrect this flesh and make it more glorious than I have ever known it to be, because it will be totally out of the world of sin, and in the glory of His creation; and if God is going to resurrect the whole of creation, so that the very ground beneath my feet, and all animals, groan and travail waiting for the glorious liberty of the Sons of God, it means that God is concerned about the whole of creation, it means that I cannot be indifferent to what God has created.

Holiness, without which no man shall see God, should be our concern. But what has happened is that we have defined holiness negatively. Well, it has a negative side, but it is not only separation from, but separation to, that constitutes holiness. It is separation from sin, and separation to total obedience to the Lord. Man cannot live, should not try to live, by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Remember what our Lord said about false holiness? The man who purged himself, separated himself from sin, cast out the demon in him, cleansed the house but left it empty, what happened? Do you remember that? He was possessed by a number of demons, he was wide open now to even more, because his doctrine of holiness was one of negativity. He had separated himself from certain specific sins, but he had not separated himself to an active and total obedience to the Lord God of hosts. Holiness is the life of faithfulness and obedience to the every word of God, it is dominion, it is not retreat. A false doctrine of holiness calls for a retreat from the material world and its problems, and this leads to a false spirituality, to a kind of Phariseeism.

Deism within the church, by making God in effect an absentee landlord, and the universe self-perpetuating, governed by natural laws, has replaced God’s law with Newton’s law; and false and warped evangelicalism does the same. Deism saw the state and science as the rightful heirs of this world, the church was to confine itself to the ‘spiritual realm,’ and the state and science were to govern the material world.

One prominent educator during the student riots and demonstrations and disorders of the sixties and early seventies said: “All too many people, when they look at these disorders, think that our schools and universities are failures. What these disorders prove is that we have been a success.” Because these newly made, ‘reborn’ students, are out to destroy the past, they are the new people of the future and they want no part of the past. So their key note is destruction. To be a born again humanist you have got to destroy, destroy the Christian school, destroy the Christian family, destroy the Christian church; destroy everything that smacks of the past.

As one man, Leonard, who wrote extensively in the sixties and through the seventies on the new education, as he declared: “To learn is to change.” To learn is to change. Education, he went on to say, is a process that changes the learner. Now, he was not talking about gaining education, he was talking about creating a new person. In fact, Leonard went on to attack those within the public school system, who wanted a return to basic education. In fact, he regarded even James Bryant Conant as far too Conservative. Conant was the one who did some research for the NEA, he was a former president of Harvard, high commissioner of Germany, Nobel prize-winning Chemist, and much more; and in his book on education he said:

“Democracy and education require that the family in effect be destroyed.”

Because, he said:

“The family and democracy are incompatible. The family is a hopelessly aristocratic institution, it wants the best for its children, not for all children. Therefore the family is a roadblock.” 2

But he was too conservative for Leonard, who wrote:

“No need now to waste time on the Rickovers, Bestors and others of the Basic Education stripe. Their mindless assertions that education should be limited to 'the mind' and their simplistic prescription that, to improve education, teachers merely need to know their subjects and 'get tough' have done their damage — and have been repudiated. By exacerbating the conditions already existing in the schools, in fact, the reactionary critics have probably hastened the coming of real reform...” 3

Leonard and others had a very clear cut program; the kingdom of man, not the kingdom of God. And we are commanded: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Not your salvation, that is the ABC of the faith, that is the starting point- you don’t go to school to spend your life majoring in the alphabet. You don’t, as a graduate student, take a major- and you major on the letter ‘Z,’ and study the history of its usage and its origin. No. You learn the alphabet when you first start school, hopefully, and it takes a lot of hope to expect that nowadays. You learn the alphabet so that you can go on, so that you are no longer babes in learning, but can have solid meat.

And so we as Christians need to go on beyond the ABC’s of the faith. Our regeneration is the starting-point. But if we remain babes in Christ, do you know what we are? What is a babe that never grows up but an idiot? A very sad and painful fact. And the Lord Jesus Christ as He looks at His church has real cause for concern, it is so full of idiots.

We have a mandate to grow, to exercise dominion. I quoted from Leonard’s book on education, let me give you the title now: Education and Ecstasy. Why? Because the joy that a new born Christian must feel as he leaves the dark world of unbelief and doubt, that joy which goes through all his being, to know that he is now in a world of total being, a world in which he is in the hands of the Almighty, and the very hairs of his head which he cannot count, are all numbered and known to God.

To God, for whom all things are known from the beginning of the world, from the foundation of the world- where is that joy now? The joy of being in our Father’s world, and knowing that:

Here it is, “occupy till I come.” Now these humanistic educators are talking about it. As he went on to say: “Education at its best is ecstatic.” To read Leonard’s books you would think he was talking about revival meetings. Leonard can be called ‘the Pentecostal of American Education,’ because that is the way he sees the future, and we have to respect him for the faith he has, and we have to say: “What is wrong with us that we don’t have that kind of faith? That ours is not a joyful and a comforting faith?” What does our Lord tell us?

“In the world ye shall have [much] tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 4

You are now the mopping-up forces.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 5

“The peace I give is not like that of the world, it is a peace in the face of battle.” One of the most audacious images in all of scripture is in the 23rd Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd. The Psalm breathes of calm and peace, although it was written by David under great adversity. And then suddenly, towards the end of the Psalm, the imagery shifts suddenly, dramatically- instead of being the Lords sheep, suddenly he says:

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 6

Of all the places in the world for a banquet table, can you think of a weirder one than on the battlefield? You are all alone, all you enemy is out there; and suddenly there you are, and here is a banquet table. Amazing! Have you ever stopped to think of the boldness of that imagery?

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 7

Well, if you were a baseball fan, you are familiar with the cup running over, it is an image that is as old as man, almost. When the World Series winners are in the locker room, what do they do with the champagne? They not only pour it over one another’s heads, but in the glasses to overflowing. It is an ancient symbol of being so successful, so wealthy, you can waste something that is precious: “My cup runneth over.”

When you are all alone before the enemy? David, where did you get that kind of language?? Why, from the Lord. From the Lord! And why should men like Leonard have that kind of language, and we be hiding behind the walls of the church, and talking about ‘retreats,’ and waiting to get raptured so we are out of this mess? Well, if we are in retreat, we are going to face the wrath of God.

Thus, we must face the fact that God’s word cannot be true, if it is valid only with respect to the plan of salvation and not for education, for law, for politics, for the planets, the whole cosmos, the ground beneath our feet, for all. You see, if the Lord does not control all things, then He doesn’t control our salvation. He is not in charge of reality, He is not in charge of the cosmos, and He can have you saved for ten thousand years, and then He can say: “Oops. sorry, I lost control.” And you are in Hell. Our God is the Lord, the only sovereign, the only potentate, king of kings and Lord of Lords, and He must control all things, and we are to seek first His kingdom, His dominion over all things; and the law, and civil government, and education are spheres that we have a mandate to control because the Scripture does not tell us: ‘He will be king’ but: “He is King of kings and Lord of lords.” He raises them up, and He casts them down. He raised up the Assyrians and the Babylonians to bring judgment upon His people, and He has raised up the Soviet Union to bring judgment again upon His people, and there will be no escaping His judgment until we make Him again Lord, King of kings and Lord of lords, ruler over us and over every area of life and thought.

Education must be an instrument for the Lord's kingdom, and we either see education as basic to the kingdom of God, or we fail to educate as Christians. Either God’s word is a total word, governing all things, or it is an invalid word.

In Revelation 13:1 we have a vision of the Beast, rising up out of a dark and turbulent sea. The Beast, the anti-Christian world power. And as we look at that vision as people within history, we see only darkness. The sea is turbulent, and out of it coming strange and fearful things. But we are given, before we are told about that, another vision of the sea from the throne of God. In Revelation 4:6 that same sea is clear as crystal, like a sea of glass, and all things are visible and naked to the sight of Him who is upon the throne. And when we share in the faith that makes us one with Christ, when we look at all things through the eyes of Scripture, the eyes of the throne, then all things are seen as from the throne, under His government, clear as crystal, fulfilling His purpose, leading to His victory, and in His victory:

“For this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 8

We are assured by Saint Paul that we are more than conquerors. Paul was a Roman citizen, he knew what the word meant; it was a word that was applied to the Roman emperors as they came back to Rome after a victorious campaign, with the treasures of the areas they conquered piled high in wagons, riding in triumph in their chariot, with kings in chains behind them. That is a conqueror! And how are we defined in Christ? Paul says:

“We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” 9

Get out and conquer! this is your calling. “Occupy till He come,” 10 this is His requirement.

Thus we must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness or justice in every realm of life and thought.

The practical Deism of our theologies of today must be abandoned. We do see Christian schools growing steadily, homeschools increasing. It is a sad fact that more public school teachers have children in Christian schools, a higher percentage of them, than ministers, than the general popular; twice as many public school teachers have their children in Christian schools than any other group in the population. They are the informed consumers. Are they trying to tell us something?

We have a commission from our Lord, to disciple all nations, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness or justice. It is a marvelous task, because how many jobs have you been given in your lifetime where you have the sure assurance of victory? You may not live to see the victory, but you and I know that we are a part of it. Hence, let us work, let us pray, let us bear up the arms of those like the men of Rutherford who are doing the Lord's work. Let us be instant in season and out of season, in prayer and in His service, to the end that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.

Let us pray.

* * *

Our Lord and our God, it is good for us to be here. thou hast summoned us to do thy work, to be thy people, and in thy grace and mercy made us kings, priests, and prophets in Christ Jesus. Make us mindful as priests to dedicate ourselves and all that we are, all that we have, every sphere of life under our domain, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thou hast called us to be Kings. Strengthen us by thy word and by thy Spirit to rule where we are, and to bring Christ’s dominion to bear upon all things. Thou hast called us to be prophets, make us strong in thy Word so that we apply thy Word to every sphere of life and thought, and in Christ Jesus be more than conquerors. Give us a holy boldness as we face the problems of this world, knowing that we are not alone, that greater is He that is in us and with us, than He that is in the world. Make us ever joyful, confident, filled with thy Spirit, knowing that we have been called to victory in Christ Jesus.

1 Ps 127:1.

2 John Dewey: A Common Faith, p. 84. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934

3 Leonard, George Burr. Education and Ecstasy. New York: Delacorte Press, 1968, p. 214

4 John 16:33

5 John 14:27

6 Ps 23:5.

7 Ps 23:5.

8 1 John 5:4

9 Romans 8:37

10 Luke 19:13

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