7. Sovereignty and Education

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 19 2024

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  • Series: Christian Education
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We have a situation today unprecedented in all of human history. Christians in the United States represent a very sizable proportion of the population. We have sixty million who declare themselves to be born again Christians, sixty million adults. Include their children, and you have a very sizeable part of the two hundred twenty million Americans. Never, in any country, in all of history, have so many people been so impotent, so irrelevant in the national life. It is unprecedented in all of history. The Puritans with only four percent took over England; very much smaller groups have again and again dominated history with the passion of their faith. But sixty million born-again Christians have made themselves irrelevant. At least fifty percent of those born again Christians do not bother to register to vote. They have denied the Lordship of Christ. They go to Jesus Christ for fire and life insurance, not to Jesus Christ as Lord, as King of kings and Lord of lords. If you go to Jesus for fire and life insurance, you have a bad policy; He is not your Lord, He is your Judge.

My subject is ‘Sovereignty and Education.’ I have been in the courts for the past ten years, again and again defending Christian schools, homeschools, parents, churches, and the sad fact is how few Christians are concerned. That groups like Rutherford, and especially Rutherford, in the forefront of the battle, go without support. In the case that John Rutherford mentioned in Pennsylvania involving two street preachers, where I was a witness, the sad fact was that the other Bible-believing pastors in the community knew that those men were being railroaded; they knew that it was unjustifiable. And yet none of them was ready to come forward and be a character witness for these men.

In fact, none of them even dared show their face in the courtroom, for fear that the city fathers might think poorly of them. What is going to happen to the church of Jesus Christ in the United States? In old Russia, the churches were doing better in defending themselves than Bible-believers are today in the United States. When I was a boy in high school nobody ever dreamed that the day would come when the Bible and prayer and ministers and visiting evangelists would be banned from the grade school and high school auditorium, to speak to the student body. And in the 1950’s nobody dreamed that abortion would be legalized; the idea was laughable. One of the most important professors of law in the United States has predicted that unless Christians make a stand, within the next decade, older people may be routinely subjected to euthanasia, so-called ‘mercy deaths,’ and the church by the end of the century may be an underground organization. I have been in too many courtrooms, I have seen the intensity of their hatred for everything we believe, that everything that the church of Jesus Christ represents, the scorn and the contempt they express for the faith, and their persistent denial of freedom to the life of faith. To believe anything other than what they openly affirm, that we have no right to freedom, that our faith is too offensive to human dignity and to democracy to survive.

John Dewey, back in the early thirties declared that democracy and Christianity were incompatible, and could not exist together, because Christianity is the most anti-democratic faith imaginable. It says there is such a thing as the saved and the lost, the sheep and the goats, heaven and hell; that is anti-democratic. And shortly after WWII in 1952, James Bryant Conant, writing for the NEA, National Educational Association, declared that the family was: “a hopelessly aristocratic institution,” 1 and the family and democracy cannot coexist.

Doesn’t any Christian take what these people say seriously? Is it nothing to you that men like John Whitehead, who could make far more, and was making far more before he was converted, many times more, in the regular practice of law; are working long hours to defend people who apparently don’t want to be defended, and have to worry about where the money is coming from to pay the bills. I have been in the courtrooms three years. About a week ago I was in a trial in Boston. In many of these cases, not in Boston, the attitude of the people, even those who are making a stand, is: “Well, these lawyers, if they are Christian should do this for nothing.” Well, how are they going to eat if this is the only kind of case they take?

We have a problem today. We do not see the relationship of Lordship to the issues which confront us. ‘Lordship’ is simply an older word for ‘sovereignty.’ Now, when this country was begun, it was begun in terms of the Lordship or the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. You don’t read about this in the textbooks, but the battle cry of many of the Americans in the War of Independence was: “No sovereign, no king, but Jesus Christ.” That is why the word sovereignty does not appear in the Constitution; the Constitution does not say that the Federal Government is sovereign, or any branch thereof, or any subordinate body, the states or counties; none are sovereign. “No king but Christ.”

Now education is the exercise of sovereign power in the determination of a people's future. The one who determines a peoples education will control the future of that society, that is why one of the first goals of socialism from its earliest days has been, and will continue to be, the control of education, because when you control the minds of the children you control the future. And if you give your children to ungodly schools, schools in which Jesus Christ and the Word of God are treated as unimportant and irrelevant, you turn your children over to the enemy. I submit it is far worse than going to a modernist church. If you turn them over to the public schools, you are giving them eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year, of something which treats Jesus Christ, the only Lord, the only sovereign, as irrelevant.

Children are the future of a culture, of a society, how it will grow, and whether it will live or die. And education must not be determined by the church or the state or the family, but by God and His Word. Now the church is an educational institution under God. The Bible is a written revelation requiring literacy and learning to appreciate and apply its mandates. The church is a Levitical ministry. In the early church the pastors saw themselves as the order of Levites, whose duty according to Deuteronomy 33:10 is instruction. Preaching is an educational task, and the early church continued the work of the synagogue, in fact the first word we have for the church in apostolic times, and you find it in the Greek text of James 2:2, the first name for the church was ‘the synagogue,’ it was the Christian synagogue or assembly. And like the synagogue it had elders, and it had a school, and it had Sabbath instruction and worship.

But the church, which has always been concerned with education except in times of apostasy and indifference to its message, its mission, has not been given authority to determine education, it is a servant-body, not the determining body. The state has increasingly usurped the sphere of education as a means of power. To control the minds of children is to control the future, and the state seeks a servile, compliant population, and to gain an identification of its goals, and the popular goal.

The control of education is basic to every tyranny in the modern world. This control is predicated as the necessary condition to total power, by Rousseau, by Karl Marx, and every leftist leader in the modern age. The tenth point of the Communist Manifesto called for state control of education. For Marxism, education is one of the central aspects of the seizure of power. This is the goal, and education is central to it.

One scholar, Hechinger, who was not a critic of Soviet education stated:

“It must be remembered at every step of the growth and progress of the Soviet school, that the Soviet view of education is a simple and uncomplicated one, the school must serve the goals set for the state by the Communist Regime.” 2

Statist education becomes, inescapably, totalitarian education. It makes of man who is created in the image of God, a tool of the state. The state in its true form is man's servant and God's instrument, but the state claims now everywhere in the world to be sovereign, to be God walking on earth. The state cannot under God be the determiner of education without serious destruction and damage to both man and society.

The family is the generative aspect of society, the true locale of the child. But the family also cannot be the determiner without serious damage to the child and to the society. The logical conclusion of the family determination of education is ancestor worship; being past-bound, past-oriented. Homeschools are important, and I believe in them, as I do in Christian schools, but the center of both, the determiner of both, must be God and His Word. Men are prone in their sin to stress the family rather than the Lord. But God is the Lord by whom all things were made, and without Him was not anything made, and God is the only Lord and governor of every institution in society. It is the Word of God which must govern the church, the state, the family, the vocations, the arts, the sciences; all things. There is no wisdom apart from the Lord.

Man-centered education makes man subject to man in a lawless manner, it leads to tyranny, and the ancient Greek definition of the word tyranny was ‘rule without God,’ only God centered education leads to freedom and to wisdom. As Proverbs 2:5-8 says:

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD,

And find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD giveth wisdom:

Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous:

He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

He keepeth the paths of judgment,

And preserveth the way of his saints. 3

The fear of the Lord, we are told, is equivalent to the knowledge of God; and we are told that God is the source of all moral authority and law, and reverent obedience to Him is the principle of life, and we are therefore to hear His Word and to obey Him; and Godly learning gives sound learning, which means practical sense. God-centered education gives not only a sound relationship to the Lord, but also learning which is both practical and wise, and the ability to keep the paths of justice; all such we are told, are kept, are preserved, are guarded by God.

Education is the exercise of sovereign power in the determination of a people's future. Education is inescapably religious, because all education is the transmission of those values, of those moral standards, of those skills, of the faith of the parents to the children. Education is a form of predestination, it is a way whereby a culture determines what the next generation is going to be, by transmitting to them what it prizes. And if all you can give to your children is a humanistic education in the public schools, you don’t prize the Lord very much.

The Owenites of a century and a half ago, the founders of English socialism and of social science, saw themselves very openly as substituting a new religion for the old; a humanistic faith for Christianity. As militant humanists they saw the school as the instrument of replacing Christianity with their faith. Social science was very important to them, because Social Science is the art of controlling man. It has replaced history, it has replaced civics, it is now a tool for control. According to Dr. Taylor, a very sympathetic historian of the Owenite movement:

“In the hands of socialist theoreticians, Social Science operated both as a critique of existing belief-systems, and as a substitute for them. As critique it provided a systematic refutation of all previous ‘errors’, particularly superstitious myths. (This has reference to the Scripture) As a new world-view, it developed as a total alternative to orthodox Christianity, a new gospel based on a synthesis of ethical ideals and scientific social analysis.” 4

One Owenite socialist said of the new beliefs and the new ways: “The mind must undergo a corresponding change. Perhaps it better than in the language of Scripture: ‘They must be born again.’” 5 Born again, as humanists.

In this country the founder of state control of education, Horace Mann and James G. Carter, Unitarians, borrowed their thinking from Bismarck’s socialism; they saw it as an instrument, as Charles Sumner the Senator said: “To remove the serpent's coils from around our children.” 6 He was talking about Christianity. They have done a good job of it, and they will continue doing a good job of it when half the population, Bible-believers, has many of its children in their hands.

By the way, do you know what group in the population of the United States has the highest percentage of children in Christian schools? The Wall Street Journal termed them ‘the informed consumers.’ They are public school teachers. In Chicago, 46% of their children are out of the public schools. It runs 2-1 across the country. They must know something.

Modern education owes much to John Locke, whose dates are 1632 to 1704, and who, unfortunately, some people regard as a good Christian. Well, he did a great deal to undermine Christianity. He did not believe that man is fallen. Now how can you be a Christian and believe that man is naturally good? He believed that man's nature is like a blank piece of white paper, and the school can write on it as it wills, and mold the child; environmentalism. That is not scriptural. He exalted autonomous reason, to give the mind critical and determinative power. He never married by the way, so he did not know anything about family life, or see its importance.

Now in his day, monarchs worked to break down the extended family. The extended family means the aunts and the uncles and the grandparents and the cousins and the second cousins and the third cousins, all working together and very closely linked. The humanistic monarchs did not like that, because it created a power-center, and they were determined to be the power-center. So they worked to undermine it and said: “The true family is the nuclear family, the father and the mother and the children. Just that.” And step by step over the generations they broke the back of the extended family, and then they turned their attack, the states of the twentieth century, against the nuclear family which they increasingly seek to control.

Make no bones about it, never doubt for a moment; these people mean to destroy Christianity and the family. They regard them as roadblocks. The last two uncontrolled areas of American life today are the church and the family, and that is why both are systematically under attack, why churches and Christian schools are in the courts, why Christian parents are regularly in the courts if the welfare department finds out that they have spanked a child. They are accused of child abuse. As much as seventy-five percent of all child abuse cases by the way, according to competent authorities, are fraudulent.

We have a crisis, and what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit back and say: “Well, it has been a good conference, good speakers,” and let it ride? Or are you going to support Rutherford? Rutherford is in the forefront of the battle.

“I was in the courts, and you did not come to bear up my arms, to give me moral support, and to pray for me.” “I was in the courts, or in prison…” 7 Those two street-preachers when they were arrested, the bail was put up to such a high point that they could not get out of jail, it was done deliberately.

“I was in prison, and you visited me not.” 8

One of the first cases I was involved with before Rutherford was founded, when John took up a case, as he was then on his own, in Michigan, of homeschoolers; a very remarkable couple. I heard from them just about two weeks ago, their children are now in college. These were children who astonished the judge by their knowledge, their reading ability, and by the books they had read. They were far, far beyond the level of their early grades. And yet the mother was picked up, handcuffed, thrown into a cell with street walkers, and the father into a drunk tank. Everything to humiliate and degrade them. No-one visited them.

“I was in prison, and ye visited me not.”

What is the Lord going to do with us? Right now there are cases waiting, and funds are not there to fight them. Right now there are people facing the most intense persecution, and who is there to defend them? “We are members one of another,” Paul tells us. And if we are members of Jesus Christ we are members of those who are in prison, who are persecuted, who are slandered, treated as though they were doing evil to their children. They are threatened with having their children taken from them in some cases, simply because they have them in a Christian school, or in their homeschool. In one case they were told to come to the courtroom with the children’s suitcases packed, and that they would not see them again. That is happening here.

“Is it nothing to you, All ye that pass by?” 9

This is not a battle, it is a war; and a war is many battles. You win some battles and you lose others, but you keep on fighting because you have no choice. The Lord, the captain of hosts, requires it of you. If you are soldiers of Christ, then get into the fight.

Let us pray.

* * *

O Lord our God, we face in intensified form the battle of the ages, Jesus Christ against the evil one. But thou hast declared that the gates of Hell cannot hold out against thy kingdom. O Lord, make us soldiers of thy kingdom that we may move against the powers of darkness, that we may march in His army, that we may bear up the hands of those who are involved in the battle. That in season and out of season we may be instant in prayer, instant in service, instant in the support of those things that are for thy kingdom. We thank thee for Rutherford, we pray for thy blessing upon its work. We pray for those who are in the front lines of the battle, and we pray, Lord, that by thy grace they may be strengthened, kept from discouragement, and by thy Spirit made strong and more than conquerors in Christ Jesus our Lord. In His name we pray, amen.

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

2 Hechinger, Fred M. The Big Red Schoolhouse. New revised edition. Garden City: Double-day Dolphin Books, 1962, p. 47

3 Pr 2:5–8.

4 Barbara Taylor. Eve And The New Jerusalem : Socialism And Feminism In The Nineteenth Century. First American Edition. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983, 143. The concluding summary phrase is pilfered from Royden Harrison (letter, History Workshop Journal, no. 5 (1978], p. 216).

5 Barbara Taylor. Eve And The New Jerusalem : Socialism And Feminism In The Nineteenth Century. First American Edition. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983, 122.

6 “Let us put an iron heel upon the serpent of religious bigotry, trying to hug our schools in its insidious coil.” “To Dr. Samuel G. Howe. Boston, May 31, 1844.” In Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner, Vol. 2. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1878, 307.

7 Matthew 25:36

8 Matthew 25:43

9 Lamentations 1:12

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