The Bible, the Educational System, and It's Influence
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prv. 22:6).
The principle behind this proverb is applicable to both families and nations. It being impossible for an educational or legal system to separate itself from underlying beliefs (as moral laws and practices are based upon such), America's children were once most generally raised and schooled (see below) with the basic moral values of the general Christian faith being taught. Which (though there were exceptions and deviations) promoted reverence for God, the Bible, and the Lord's day, honor toward parents, respect toward authority, and in general, disapproval of sin and esteem of righteousness. Though there were gross violations of morals by many, and in such things as slavery (selective application by many as to who qualified for “love thy neighbor”), yet insofar as the Bible was reverenced and the evangelical faith revived, then this country of a mixed multitudes was influenced, inspired and enabled to resist evil and to progress in both moral reforms (including abolition) and economic advancement.
To the degree that a society obeys the light innately given them (Rm. 2:12-14), and is influenced of the Bible and it's evangelical gospel, it will be both restrained from doing evil, and inspired to do good, so that man's universal lust for pleasure, possessions and power does not bring an early end to it, nor bring it to be overtly suppressed by government, or subdued into being mere functionaries of man or earthly religion. This is especially critical for a free country that seeks to work with a minimum of Government, while tremendous natural resources lay waiting to be both discovered and used by a wealth of mankind out of of virtually every kindred and tongue. These factors would normally work toward either dictatorships or anarchy if not for the preaching of the cross, and the hidden influence of the Holy Spirit of God working in the hearts and lives of man.
Those who are not sufficiently controlled from within, by God and a sound conscience, must sooner or later be controlled from without, necessitating the growth of civil government. Robert Winthrop (May 12, 1809 – November 16, 1894), and Speaker of the House from 1838 to 1840, and later president of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explained that, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or the bayonet." The commission of the born – again Church is to bring souls into submission to the Lord Jesus by spiritual means, “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2Cor. 6:6, 7; cf. Eph. 6:10-19) — and not by physical arms. Jesus said we are to be the “light of the world” (Mt. 5:14; if only the “lesser light” reflecting the real Light) so that the church, by the use of the Sword of the Spirit, works to bring souls to be controlled in heart and thus actions (atheists, etc., in addition to innate revelations, can also be influenced to have a more Biblically based moral conscience thereby).
In contrast, the commission of the State enables it to use the sword of men to constrain obedience on those who are not sufficiently controlled by the former means (Rm. 13:1-7). It thus follows that the weaker the church is, the more powerful the State must become. “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof” (Prv. 28:2a). And if the Government itself becomes less governed by Biblical precepts and principles, calling evil good, and good evil (Is. 5:20), and contrary to it's charter, punishes those who do good and praises them that do evil (contra. 1 Pet. 2:14), then “the wicked shall do wickedly,” and persecute those who would actually preserve the State by calling it to be instructed by Christ (Ps. 2). And while in such persecution, the Christ - believing remnant “shall be purified, and made white, and tried” (Dan., 12:10), yet both willful hypocrites and the church that sought to save it's life by compromising truth and placating sin will lose what they sought to save, for some even their eternal souls (Mt. 7:21-23)!
Influence of the Bible in American Education
During the colonial period the Bible was “the single most important cultural influence in the lives of Anglo-Americans." (Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1789. (New York: Evanston and London: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 40) Schooling in early America, and for most of its history in primary education, combined education in general Christian morality with standard academic subjects. The Bible was the first book in the classroom, and was central to a child’s education, both for its content and for building skills. Students learned how to read using the Bible, passages were copied to learn penmanship, and a good part of the school day was devoted to memorizing and reciting passages from it. (PBS, ''The Story of American education: The Evolving Classroom') In addition to the Bible, other good books such as Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and Isaac Watt’s Divine Songs were used. (Elizabeth McEachern Wells, Divine Songs by Isaac Watts (Fairfax, Va.: Thoburn Press, 1975), p. 11)
Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, Volumes 1-2, reports that in the first report of a public school in Washington which they had on record, in 1813 a Mr. Henry Ould states, “55 have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments, and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 26 are now learning to read Dr. Watts' Hymns and spell words of two syllables; 10 are learning words of four and five letters. Of 509 out of the whole number admitted that did not know a single letter, 20 can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables, 29 read Dr. Watts' Hymns and spell words of two syllables, and 10 words of four and five letters.” (Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.), “Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, Volumes 1-2”, “Progress in reading and Spelling, p. 9)
The overtly Christian “New England Primer” was used in primary education in New England, which is estimated to have sold upwards to 3,000,000 copies from 1700 to 1850. Introduced in 1690, this reader was used in what now would be the 1st grade, and taught multitudes of children how to read for 200 years, until 1900. The Alphabet was taught with Bible verses that began with each letter of the alphabet. Lessons had questions about the Bible and the Ten Commandments. An example of the Primer is, A = In Adam's fall, we sinned all. B = Heaven to find, the Bible mind." (The Honorable Judge Robert Ulrich Chief Justice, Missouri Court Of Appeals, Western District; http://www.shalomjerusalem.com/heritage/heritage19.html)
In addition, approximately half of all American children (beginning in 1836 to approx 1930) learned from the “McGuffey Reader,” of which 122 million copies were published (during a time when the population was much less than today, and books were passed on more). This was an advanced teaching system for it's time, written by a man who later became a Presbyterian minister, a work which earned him the title, “the Great Schoolmaster of the Nation.” He exalted the Lord Jesus Christ, and used the Bible more than any other source. It became a unifying force in American culture, instilling basic Christian-based morality, giving America a common value-laden body of literary reference and allusion, (Cranney, A. Garr, “Noah Webster and William Holmes McGuffey: The Men and Their Contributions to Reading”) and “a sense of common experience and of common possession”. (Historian Henry Steele Commager) McGuffey Readers were used widely in America until just after World War I.
Even the Unitarian (a religion that effectively denies Christ and the Divine authority of the Bible, but, unlike its immoral form today, at that time it at least overall upheld general Biblical morality) “Father of the Common School,” Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 — August 02, 1859), who became Massachusetts Secretary of Education in 1837, not only understood the impossibility of separating education from religious moral beliefs, but held that it was lawful to teach the truths of the general Christian faith, asserting that the “laws of Massachusetts required the teaching of the basic moral doctrines of Christianity.” Mann, who supported prohibition of alcohol and intemperance, slavery and lotteries, (http://www.famousamericans.net/horacemann) dreaded “intellectual eminence when separated from virtue”, that education, if taught without moral responsibilities, would produce more evil than it inherited. (William Jeynes, “American educational history: school, society, and the common good,” p. 149, 150)
Mann evidenced that he rightly understood that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment did not prohibit officially favoring the general, common Christian faith and its morality, but that it forbade official sanction of one particular sect by distinctively favoring its doctrinal distinctions, stating that “it may not be easy theoretically, to draw the line between those views of religious truth and of Christian faith which is common to all, and may, therefore, with propriety be inculcated in schools, and those which, being peculiar to individual sects, are therefore by law excluded; still it is believed that no practical difficulty occurs in the conduct of our schools in this regard.” (Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper, “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies”, The Unites States, cp. 2, p. 21) To critics who were alarmed at the concept of secular schools, he assured that his system "inculcates all Christian morals; it founds its morals on the basis of religion; it welcomes the religion of the Bible...," but he did exhort that Bible reading be without comment to discourage sectarian bickering. (Mann, Twelfth Annual Report for 1848 of the Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts. Reprinted in Blau 183-84.
Considered second to Mann in his schooling endeavor was Henry Barnard, who was raised in a deeply religious family, and who saw his involvement in education “as part of the providence of God”. Like the majority of Americans, he believed that democracy and education went together in “the cause of truth—the cause of justice — the cause of liberty— the cause of patriotism — the cause of religion.” (Jeynes, p. 154)
By 1890, schools nationwide saw 95 percent of children between the ages of five and thirteen enrolled for at least a few months out of the year, though less than 5 percent of adolescents went to high school, and even fewer entered college. In addition, while there existed thousands of local schools, nearly one thousand colleges and universities (or varying quality), and scores of normal schools which trained teachers, a nationwide educational “system” had yet to be realized by the end of the 1800's. Education was largely locally managed, as the federal bureau of education, while collecting information about the condition of education, possessed no control over local schools. Education agencies on the state level were small, and its few employees had little or no power over local school districts. School systems in large cities could also function with little oversight, such as in Baltimore, where the public schools in 1890 employed only two superintendents for the entire district of 1,200 teachers. Despite this, public schools across America were notably similar, with children learning both the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the basics of good behavior – the latter being enforced when necessary by corporal punishment. Schools were important community institutions, and reflected the values of of parents and churches, such as honesty, industry, patriot-ism, responsibility, respect for adults, and courtesy. Memorization, recitation, chants and rhymes were often used in teaching subjects, while solving mathematical problems in one's head was promoted. This inculcation of basic education and self-discipline was purposed to promote good moral citizenry, people who would be honestly employed, and make wise and informed choices, and overall progress in an individualistic, competitive and democratic society, and who would contribute to the vitality of their community and country. (Diane Ravitch, “Left Back A Century of Failed School Reforms” Simon & Schuster)
As regards higher education, the overwhelming majority of the first private colleges of this country were founded as Christian institutions to teach the Gospel. (http://www.faithofourfathers.org/essays/ivyleague.html, “How Christians Started the Ivy League”) Harvard, Yale and Princeton are three examples. All three were established to teach young men to be pastors. The founders of Harvard College, established in 1636, professed that, "All knowledge without Christ was vain." After requiring literacy in Latin (the language N.T. Bible manuscripts were in), the second requirement in “Harvard Lawes” of 1642 was that "Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life. (John 17:3) The overall religious nature of colleges and universities continued at least until the Civil War. Even State colleges had significant religious (most always Christian) components, such as mandatory religion courses and attendance at chapel services, while large numbers of their faculties had formal religious training. (Ringenberg, 1984; Marsden and Longfield, 1962; Ronald W. Fagan and Raymond G. DeVries, “The practice of sociology at Christian liberal arts colleges and universities”; The American Sociologist, June, 1994)
Much because of the First and Second Great Awakenings, Evangelical faith during this period was strong and Protestantism was the pervasive religion. While Protestant evangelicals upheld a basic distinction between the sacred and the secular (and Biblically, the New Testament church did not seek to rule over those without, or use physical force to counter their enemies or promote their faith, though it sanctioned to just use of force by the government in fulfilling its charter: Jn. 18:36; 1Cor. 5:12; 2Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:12; Rm. 13:1-5; 1Pt. 2:13,14) and were generally supportive of public schools for their often-poor children, this also worked toward, in the words of Os Guinness “'establishing' a vague, nonsectarian, and moralistic, Protestantism as the de facto civil religion.” This informal semi-establishment of Protestantism benefited both the government and churches, and was conducive towards creating and preserving a beneficial form of national unity. (Os Guinness, “American Hour” p. 229,230)
For some more information on this subject, see here
“Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.” (Ecc 9:18)
However, while America was blessed by Christian educators and those that overall upheld the teaching of Biblical morality, the devil also has his disciples, and one was named John Dewey, head of the Teachers College at Columbia University from 1904 to 1930. He also taught in Peking University in China, and after that in Turkey. After he returned to America, in 1933 he signed (along with 34 prominent Americans) the Humanist Manifesto, which he helped to author. The first manifesto talked of a new "religion", and referred to humanism as a religious movement meant to transcend and replace previous, deity-based religions. This was the Americanized version of the Communist Manifesto (sadly written by a soul with a root of bitterness, Karl Marx, and through which many were defiled: cf. Heb. 12:15).
Humanism in America is partly credited to a Unitarian preacher named Charles Potter who created the First Humanist Society of New York in 1929. A year later he penned “Humanism: A New Religion. In this declaration he boldly declared, “education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”http://www.christiananswers.net/q-sum/sum-g002.html
Dewey became the father of modern American education, and he and his disciples worked to change the basic moral belief system that undergirded the moral educational system, in which [when the Engel v. Vitale case was decided] an estimated 75% of the school systems in the South had religious services and Bible readings (Colliers 1961 Yearbook p. 224). Rather than implicitly and often explicitly recognizing that God and the Bible were the ultimate authority on what was right and wrong, Dewey wrongly believed that it is the State that ultimately determines morality. Replacing the transcendent proven source of true liberty and it's necessary limits (the Bible) with the social engineering of secular humanism, allows a nation's school children to be indoctrinated with an ever morphing morality, which progressively calls evil good and good evil.
In 1962 (in Engel v. Vitale) and in 1963, (in Abington versus Schempp), officially sanctioned prayer and devotional Bible reading were outlawed by the U.S Supreme Court in America public schools, led by Justice Hugo Black. This decision, coming over 170 years after the First Amendment was adopted (Dec. 15, 1701), essentially claimed a new “revelation” on what the Founders overall meant by it. Against this new interpretation are the words of Fisher Ames, the founding father who offered the final wording of the First Amendment. In writing an article for a national magazine in 1801, he protested the increasing marginalization of the Bible in the classroom, arguing, “Why then, if these new books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?” (Fisher Ames- Bible in the classroom. Notices of the life & Character of Fisher Ames; Boston: T.B. West & Co. 1809 pp. 134-135)
For almost 25 years, Justice Hugo Black (ret. 1997) helped to create and support the new view that the 1st Amendment constitutes a barrier to religion in the public life of America. (http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/?url=http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/backing_away_from_the_wall.html) What has followed these two decisions, which came at the beginning of the sexual revolution, has been a series of church-state cases in which the court has often been been closely divided, manifesting, in the words of one Court observer, “contradictory principles, vaguely defined tests, and eccentric distinctions.” (Quoted in “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies” p. 16, by Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper)
As with the promotion of homosexuality, the expelling of the Christian faith and its morality in education was not simply the result of general spiritual decline, but by court decisions doing what the common people did not actively seek, and as the schools became secular seminaries, so the spiritual and moral foundation of the country was progressively weakened, and moral decline and its evils increased. But rather than separating the state from religion, what has essentially occurred is the institution of officially state-sanctioned secularism, with a humanist form of religion which functionally if not formally much serves as such. (http://www.christiananswers.net/q-sum/sum-g002.html)
Although a secular state can exist, in which formal religious beliefs are not required and one particular sect is not officially sanctioned, it cannot divorce itself from moral beliefs, and which its laws manifest. And in a democracy the people largely choose what that “civil religion” shall be, and in America's case, the immutable morality of the Bible, along with its foundations, has largely been rejected, to be replaced by the ever-morphing morality of secularism, with its resultant destructive effects.
In education, while the American schools system enabled rich and poor to obtain free or affordable public schools, so that Oscar D. Robinson, the principal of the high school in Albany, New York, once declared that "the famous simile of the educational ladder, with its foot in the gutter and its top in the university, is in this favored country no poetic fancy," it is increasingly evident that the gutter is now much in the schools, with higher education in particular being noted for rampant sexual promiscuity and the promotion of the manifestly destructive liberal philosophies behind it, along with inflated grades, and the marginalization of core subjects. (See Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University: “What Will They Learn For Your $50,000?”, as regards the latter two aspects)
For more on the Establishment Clause, see here .
The State religion of Secular Humanism propagates it's own belief system (in the name of separation of church and State), rejecting absolute Biblical morals and truths (thereby allowing the teachers thereof to rationalize away their own guilt). The deleterious effects of this are manifest nationwide (see here), as souls are increasingly evidenced who have little conscience, or a perverted and confused one, with a moral compass that points whichever way is popular or pressured, neither knowing which way is right nor how to deal with the guilt of being wrong (or false guilt). The single most notable result of the rejection of Biblical morality in favor of secular humanism was when the Massachusetts “Supreme” Judicial Court ruled that men may legally marry other men. (See here regard to this). The present generation sadly is the most Biblically ignorant and morally confused one this nation has ever seen, though they have benefited by the effects of the gospel in many ways. Yet the proven, time – tested “law of the LORD" is still “perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). God and His word do not change, and still offers salvation to sinners and the way of truth, righteousness and spiritual liberty to those who walk in His ways. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31, 32), and progressively so.
It is the gospel of Christ which alone “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” and it is “the preaching of the cross” that is “the power of God” to the saved (Rm. 1:16; 1Cor. 1:18). It is this Biblical gospel which works to convicts souls of their utter inability to escape Hell nor merit Heaven, and thus calls humbled and helpless souls to look directly to the Son sent by the Father, who sacrificially died for us and rose to glory, and to receive the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and to give them His life – giving Holy Spirit, and to save them from Hell and to Heaven! And which decision is shown by being baptized under water in identification with their LORD (Rm. 6).
And it is the preaching of the cross that calls and enables souls to follow the Lord by His grace, forsaking the world, self and sin, by yielding to His Holy Spirit in obeying His Word (the Bible), and exchanging dependence upon the flesh for the power of God. It is in so doing that we respond to “so great salvation” (Heb. 2:3), on God's expense and righteousness, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up or us all” (Rm. 8:32), and show our love for Christ who shed His own sinless blood for our sins and rose again. Those who freely receive “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” to reign in life by Christ (Rm. 5:17), will show it, and such faith will be tested, for “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). But true love for God will endure, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1Cor. 2:9). Praise ye the Lord.
Yet sadly, though churches still have much freedom to preach in their pulpits in this country, most often what is heard is the preaching of “smooth things” (Is. 30:10), which makes a mantra of grace, but will not expound on the absolute holiness and perfect justice of Almighty God, whereby souls are convicted of “sin, and of righteousness and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8b), and thus realize their need for grace! The modern gospel usually results in superficial conversions in a society whose beliefs themselves are often superficial, which lack the Biblical conviction in which souls realize their dire need for "so great salvation", "at so great a price, by “the Great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). Thus the “conversion” of such hearts often results in little effectual Biblical response.
When will we “sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst” (Ezek. 9:4) of this nation and world, beginning with our own sins? “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Ja. 4:5-10).
Repentance and a revived church is the only remedy for a carnal and an often doctrinally aberrant church, whom the Lord declares He will fight against with the sword of His mouth, and for a comfortable church whom He will spew out of His mouth (Rev. 2:16, 3:16), and for a nation that shall be turned into Hell (Ps. 9:7) – unless it repents!
God changes not, otherwise we would already be consumed (Mal. 3:6), and is the only only One who does not need to change, but it is us (including me) who must change, to be more like Him and to do His work, for His eternal glory! It's Holiness or Hell, as saved souls are they who follow Christ (Jn. 10:27) in order to glorify God, out of love for Him who has bestowed upon us “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” by Jesus Christ (Rm. 5:17).
Hear the words of the apostle to the carnal church: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1Cor. 15:34). Wherefore we must take heed, and yield to the Spirit of grace while time is yet given to us to repent, and to know and serve the One True and Living God in “In holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life” (Lk. 1:75). And in which I have much to go in heart and deed.
“O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; for His mercy for ever” (Ps. 107:1)!