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A Study of Dispensationalism
by Arthur Pink

"But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation."

Philosophy

A Christian Philosophy of Education (Part 3)

Gordon H. Clark | The government schools


The early American colleges were distinctly Christian institutions. But the public school system, unlike the colleges, was not so inspired. On the other hand, the public schools were not intended to be irreligious. In the readers of our grandparents’ time, God and Jesus Christ were mentioned. Today no such references can be found in the books of the public schools. The reason is not hard to find. The public schools were founded with the idea of not favoring one religion above another, and the result is that they now favor no religion at all. They are completely secularized.

Originally the public schools, while not supposed to favor one Christian denomination above another, were not intended to attack Christianity. The idea was that they should be neutral. And because the majority of Protestants believed the promises of the schoolmen that they would not attack religion, the Protestants did not found primary schools as the Romanists did. Now it is clear that the Romanists adopted the wiser course of action because the promises of the schoolmen were soon to be broken.

Today Christianity is attacked all through the public school system. Reports from parents say that the evolutionary denial of the creation of the world by God is taught to the children of the second grade. How can a child of seven or eight stand up against an organized attack of the theistic worldview? How can parents protect their children? The public school makes no pretense of being neutral in religious matters, and when a parent here or there protests, he is promptly ridiculed and squelched. The notion of religious liberty, or even of the toleration of Christianity—that is, the original claim to neutrality—is not a part of the schoolmen's mental equipment.

Mention has already been made of the exclusion of Bible reading from the public schools. The result has been a generation of children who are handicapped in the English language and literature. It is an incontrovertible fact that the English Bible has had a greater influence on our language, our literature, our civilization, our morals, than any other book. The children who are deprived of the Bible are culturally deprived, as well as religiously deprived. Someone has well said that knowledge of the Bible without a college education is of more value than a college education without knowledge of the Bible. In view of this fact, the prohibition of Bible reading is acutely significant of the hatred the public schools, and a large section of our society, have for Christianity. Books attacking Christianity are not illegal. Teachers can deny God, creation, and providence; but the law forbids them to recommend Christianity.

Since the cultural deprivation of this policy is so obvious, some of the educators want to teach the Bible as literature. This reintroduction of the Bible into the schools might also allay some of the criticism. It may turn out, however, that the Bible as literature will be worse than no Bible at all. Will the Bible be taught as divine literature or as human literature—mere literature, and not revelation? In one school where this was tried, the teacher required the pupils to write a paper. She was very flexible in her requirement: Each student could choose any part of the Bible for his subject. One little girl asked if she might write on Isaiah. The teacher asked, Do you mean first Isaiah or second Isaiah? Thus the teaching of the Bible as literature becomes an attack on its veracity. It will be used; it is being used, to undermine Christianity.

When public schools first became popular, the Protestants generally were deceived by the specious promises of the public school people. They thought that if they maintained Christian colleges, the primary schools could be entrusted to the state. But not all the Protestants were deceived by these false promises not to attack Christianity. The Lutheran Church and the Christian Reformed people early established primary schools for their children. They believed that the influence of the Christian home and the preaching of the Christian church should be strengthened by a Christian school system. But both the Lutherans and the Christian Reformed, with their European background, have remained somewhat closed societies as it were; and unfortunately they have exercised little influence, in this respect at least, on the rest of American Protestantism. There was one man, however, among the English-speaking American churches who saw the implication of the public school system; he warned of what was to follow, but his warning went unheeded. It is interesting, sadly interesting, to read his warning today, now that ninety years have proved him to be right. For it was in lectures given prior to 1890 that A. A. Hodge made the predictions now to be quoted.

In his Popular Lectures on Theological Themes, page 283, he wrote:

A comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.

Two pages before, he had written:

It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from the public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of Atheism which the world has ever seen.

What A. A. Hodge did not see, at least what he did not explicitly say, is that although the irreligious have seized the right to exclude Christianity, the Christians are denied the right to exclude attacks on Christianity. There is no neutrality.

Obviously the schools are not Christian. Just as obviously they are not neutral. The Scriptures say that the fear of the Lord is the chief part of knowledge; but the schools, by omitting all reference to God, give the pupils the notion that knowledge can be had apart from God. They teach in effect that God has no control of history, that there is no plan of events that God is working out, that God does not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. Aside from definite anti-Christian instruction to be discussed later, the public schools are not, never were, can never be, neutral. Neutrality is impossible. Let one ask what neutrality can possibly mean when God is involved. How does God judge the school system, which says to him, "O God, we neither deny nor assert thy existence; and O God, we neither obey nor disobey thy commandments; we are strictly neutral." Let no one fail to see the point: The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism.

This article is excerpted from an essay which originally appeared in the May/June 1988 issue of The Trinity Review. It is reprinted with permission of The Trinity Foundation, P. O. Box 68, Unicoi, TN 37692. Available online under "Review Archives" at www.trinityfoundation.org.

 

  Gordon H. Clark (1902-1985) was one of the twentieth century’s leading Christian philosophers and theologians. During his life he was the author of more than forty books and the Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Butler University.
 

A special thanks goes out to The TRINITY FOUNDATION for permission to reprint this article on our site.

 
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When confronted by the type of inanity which so dominates the Modern Evangelical New Testament American Christian (MENTAC) landscape today, one is tempted to become cynical and angry-sins as grievous as the inanity itself.
 
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