The Business of Education

“The business we call “education” — when we mean “schooling” — makes an interesting example of network values in conflict with traditional community values. For one hundred and fifty years institutional education has seen fit to offer as its main purpose the preparation for economic success. Good education = good job, good money, good things. This has become the universal national banner, hoisted by Harvards as well as high schools. This prescription makes both parents and students easier to regulate and intimidate as long as the connection goes unchallenged either for its veracity or in its philosophical truth. Interestingly enough, the American Federation of Teachers identifies one of its missions as persuading the business community to hire and promote on basis of school grades so that the grades = money formula will obtain, just as it was made to obtain for medicine and law after years of political lobbying. So far, the common sense of businesspeople has kept them hiring and promoting the old-fashioned way, using performance and private judgment as the preferred measures, but they may not resists much longer.”  –John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, p. 60

Dead to the Law How?

Rushdoony, in The Institutes of Biblical Law, says

There is no warrant whatsoever in Scripture for antinomianism. the expression, “dead to the law,” is indeed in Scripture (Gal. 2:9; Rom. 7:4), but it has reference to the believer in relationship to the atoning work of Christ as the believer’s representative and substitute; the believer is dead to the law as an indictment, a legal sentence of death against him, Christ having died for him, but the believer is alive to the law as the righteousness of God. The purpose of Christ’s atoning work was to restore man to a  position of covenant-keeping instead of covenant-breaking, to enable man to keep the law by freeing man “from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4). Man is restored to a position of law-keeping. The law thus has a position of centrality in man’s indictment (as a sentence of death against man the sinner), in man’s redemption (in that Christ died, Who although the perfect law-keeper as the new Adam, died as man’s substitute), and in man’s sanctification (in that man grows in grace as he grows in law-keeping, for the law is the way of sanctification. (p3)

Antinomianism is so popular in the church that it’s difficult to even talk about the importance of the law without setting off the legalism hunters. Think of it this way. Jesus kept the law perfectly on our behalf, the just and, by his atoning the death, the justifier of all who trust in him. Those who have been set free from sin and death are set free to do what? Break the law because Jesus kept it for them instead? No, they’re free to imitate him in keeping the commandments, which is love: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

Why 40 days?

Laurence Stookey notes the development of the 40 days of Lent:

In the early centuries [of the church], forty days was the time sufficient for converts to make their final, intensive preparation for baptism; and thus a pattern for Lent developed.  (p79, Christ’s Time for the Church)

What is interesting to me is that many will take on the season of Lent–days of fasting etc–who would never recommend 40 days of preparation before baptism. In scripture, the pattern is repent, believe and get baptized, not repent for 40 days, then be baptized, or prepare to repent then get baptized. For Philip, if repentance and belief are apparent, it’s time to get some water. Separating an artificially imposed season of repentance is just as odd. If there is sin, repent of it now and believe. If sin is habitual and deeply ingrained, take a season to address it. But setting up a system that highlights (isolates?) mortification of sin for six weeks a year arose from an unhealthy understanding of baptismal preparation and seems to me to promote an unhealthy approach to sanctification.

Illiterate Compulsory Education

“Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the Sate of Massachusetts around 1850. It was resisted–sometimes with guns–by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard.

Now here is a curious idea to ponder: Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was ninety-eight percent and that after it the figure never exceeded ninety-one percent, where it stands in 1990.”

–John Taylor Gatto, January 31, 1990, from his acceptance speech for the New York City Teacher of the Year Award given by the New York State Senate

Cool Christianity

My friend sent me this article where Brett McCracken asks is rebranding Christianity as hip, countercultural and relevant “really going to bring young people back to church?”

He notes the use of shock, indie rock and sex to attract young people to church in response to alarming trends:

“Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.

He concludes that cool isn’t sustainable, and this is exactly right. I would only add that cool does work in the short-run; it is immediately gratifying which is why so many use it, and why mega-churches are mega. This year, this decade, even this generation, these churches are seen. Forty years sounds like a long time to us because we don’t believe God’s promises are given for generations or note in our Bibles that movements lasting only one generation are dismal tragedies: witness the book of Judges. The land rests for 40 years until the next appalling drift invites capture and desolation. Pastors need to look to the future of their churches–their children and disciples–on the same long time line. Will the next generation be more faithful than this one, or will it be distanced and distracted by our shallowness and hypocrisy? Shock and awe isn’t necessarily hipocrisy, but it is cultivating the wrong thing. It’s hard enough to pull all the weeds when you are growing the right sort of thing, which means that churches in love with worldly cool will have an impossible time sustaining those who are interested in Jesus for the long unflashy haul.

C.S. Lewis said “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” It’s easy to be Gnostic and assume the only application of something so obviously wise pertains to points of doctrine that never touch down in our culture. I heard one pastor, with whom I have much respect for, say that he will hate the band at his church when he is older. Style will trump, and since generational musical beauty and maturity are not objects of “missional” value, 20-year-olds will always be leading the music. Exit honorable grey- heads with decades of wisdom and faithfulness.

How fantastic would it be worship with your grand children (and their friends!) who actually want to sing the same songs that you do because everyone thinks they are worthy in form and content to be lifted up to the King? Now that would be cool.