By O.C. Birdwell, Jr.
Jesus prayed for his disciples as follows:
I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, even so send I them into the world (John 17:15-18).
Disciples of Christ in our age are faced with the problems associated with living in and working in a world where the “evil one” abounds. He has great influence, and even actively seeks those whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). The Bible teaches that he must be resisted (Jas. 4:7). This resistance and opposition to him must be made with truth. In the above prayer, as Jesus speaks to God the Father, he says, “Thy word is truth.” This writer is of the persuasion that teaching truth is the only way we can save our children from the evil influences of the world, including the bad influences of our school systems. When Christians in general and parents in particular wake up to an awareness of who they are and what they are to do relative to training their children, more preparation and work will be done on their part. They will sanctify themselves in the truth and teach their children that truth in order to create in them an abiding faith that cannot so easily and readily be destroyed by worldly influences.
There are thousands of school systems in our country and throughout the world. All of them have tremendous influence on the lives of our young people. Some, quite obviously, have a more direct and detrimental effect than others. Many of our teachers I know personally and I have a high regard for their dedication and devotion as they do what they can to have a proper influence in their profession. Any criticism, therefore, that I may direct toward our school systems is not a blanket indictment of all in the schools, nor is it a criticism of all schools alike. Some schools because of their location, administrators, and teachers are less dangerous in destroying morals and faith than others.
We must not, however, bury our heads in the sand and refuse to see the dangers to our children in any school system. Many of these dangers were pointed out in a special issue of Guardian of Truth (Vol. 28, No. 13) and also in the 1985 Florida College Lectures (the GOT special issue is available only io the bound volume and the 1985 lecture book can be ordered from Guardian of Truth Bookstore). In this short article I shall generally assume that our readers accept the fact that dangers arc present, and proceed to suggest some ways to deal with the problem. However, I do want to give you the following quotation from brother Allen Turner, taken from his 1985 FC lecture:
The 1.8 million member National Education Association has become a very effective tool for inculcating humanistic ideology. It is not surprising to learn that John Dewey, co-author of Humanist Manifesto I and founder of an educational philosophy (“progressive education”) that has dominated colleges for teacher training since the turn of the century, was a past honorary president of the NEA. It was Dewey who said: “Our thinking is enlightened in the degree in which we cease to depend upon belief in the supernatural.” Quickly recognizing it as a means to influence thousands of educators and through them their students with humanistic philosophy, humanist educators have gained control of the NEA.
Through its official organs and recommended texts, the largest non governmental bureaucratic complex in the world has become a gigantic propaganda machine indoctrinating our children with the credos, of humanism: if it feels good do it; nationalism is bad, but One Worldism is good; biblically based morality is passe; materialism and antis-upernaturalism; and evolution, but not creation.
While much of this humanistic philosophy may be filtered through a believing teacher (if the student has such a teacher), it is still in the text books and in much of the officially assigned extra reading material.
Overcoming the Impact
The Private School System. A few locations, such as Athens, Alabama, where Athens Bible School is located, have a dependable private school system that provides classes in grades one through twelve. There are problems, however, that must be dealt with in considering this type schooling. Very few such schools exist. Where they do exist they are expensive and many Christians are not financially able to use them or simply choose not to do so. There are, private schools that oppose humanism and immorality, but are advocates of false religious doctrines that are just as dangerous to the souls of our young people as humanism. Also, even as the world influences the attitudes and morals of church members, humanism and worldly moral attitudes influence the teachers and students of private schools. Having a student in a private school is, therefore, no reason for parents to close their eyes to their duties as parents.
Many parents use such colleges as Florida College to teach their children the basic sciences and humanities. Instructors are Christians and along with the secular curriculum there is a. required daily Bible class. A large percentage of the student body at Florida College are Christians, therefore, peer influence may not be as dangerous as that from state schools. But even at FC some have come under dangerous doctrinal and moral influences and parents have been sadly disappointed. Such colleges are often more expensive than a state institution and too often people are not willing to pay the price. Based on experience, I recommend Florida College to parents as a tremendous help in overcoming the impact of our secular schools.
Home Schooling. I know of several who do not send their children to any school system but do what is called “home schooling.” This apparently is successful in some cases. It is doubtful, however, that this is the solution to our school problem for the vast majority of Christians. Most people do not have the ability or the time to do the necessary schooling at home. Even if they are able to teach the lower grades, they find it necessary at a later date to place their children in the public school, often at an extremely vulnerable time when there is potentially strong peer pressure. Regardless of when one enters school, be it elementary, junior high, senior high, or college level, the student is going to have to deal with secular humanism, evolution, immorality, and unbelief of numerous sorts. In most school systems, if there is diligent attention and training at home, children can more readily deal with these matters if they face them in a gradual way from the very first day of school. Parents cannot be negligent and succeed. But without diligent effort neither will they succeed with home schooling or a private school.
Overcoming the impact from within the system. Most Christians will find it necessary to overcome the bad influences of our school system while using the system. It is unrealistic to take any other approach. The task will not be easy. The lukewarm, the fainthearted, and the parent with his head in the sand may not succeed. Many have had success and others seem to be succeeding, therefore, I know it can be done. I offer some practical suggestions that may be of help.
1. Start preparing yourself even before children arrive. Study the Bible regularly. Attend all the assemblies of the local church. Be active and faithful in worship and work in the fullest sense of the meaning of the word “faithful.” Avoid bad habits, such as smoking. If you have acquired such a habit, by all means, quit it. You cannot teach your children self-discipline unless you practiced it.
2. Begin immediately to teach and train your child. Before he can read, read to him. To Israel of old, God said, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6,7). Surround him with the right kind of books. Take him to all the assemblies of the church, including every Bible class for his age group. Work with the Bible class teacher. Study with your child. Supplement the class material where necessary. Regularly stress that the Bible contains the word of God and that God is true though all men be false.
3. Select the right kind of friends. “Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). This is as important when applied to your friends as it is when applied to your child’s friends. It should apply to both. This needs to be practiced throughout high school. Do not allow to begin such things as “hanging out” at malls, shopping centers, amusement parks, and other such places. It is much easier never to allow such to start than it is to stop after it is started. Some are distressed because they have no control over late hours and questionable friends of their sixteen year old. They really lost control many years before by simply failing to control, Cute rebellion and disobedience in a small child is not so cute in a sixteen year old. Always exercise control, then you will not be confronted with the near impossible task of regaining control.
4. Get acquainted with school teachers. Do this from the very first year. Be cooperative and helpful, not critical and overbearing. By maintaining a good relationship with the teacher, parents will be in a much better position to deal with problems that may arise. Sometimes a parent will become upset, go to the school or call the teacher and rudely and in an abusive fashion “tell her off.” This embarrasses your child and adds to your problem. It will destroy any respect the teacher may have for you as a parent. Remember that Christians should conduct themselves in a Christlike manner.
5. Know what your children study. You may not have time to read their text books, but at least scan them. Discuss any questionable teaching with them in the fight of what the Bible teaches. Do this from the very first year, then it will not be a problem for you or the student when they later get to more advanced and questionable teaching. Show an interest in all your child’s studies and activities, not just that with which you disagree. One parent learned from his son that they were going to view a “sex education” film. Rather than become overwrought and angry about the matter, he took the occasion to discuss with his son how to judge such films and deal with the content. We must try to train our children to get any good that may be available from such teaching and leave off the bad.
Teach your child that he may not be able to answer the arguments of a learned and skilled teacher who advocates evolution or humanism, but that the false positions can be answered. The student should learn that in most cases a classroom confrontation with such a teacher is unadvisable. The student is always at a disadvantage. One needs to learn that a false position does not become true just because it goes unanswered for a period of time.
6. Put spiritual things first. This means that parents must put spiritual things first. If your main interest is materialism and worldliness, your children will be the first to know. If you often have a “Sunday headache” or the constant urgent need to do something during regular service times other than assemble, they will know this. When early in life children are allowed to spend Wednesday night or a weekend with a friend, and thus miss Bible classes and the assembly, impressions will be made that will bear the wrong kind of fruit.
Generally, conditions around us are not going to get any better. They may get worse. Paul said, “But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). What is the simple solution? Paul gives the answer.” But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them; and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture inspired by God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17).
This is the best way to overcome the impact of our school systems.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 12, pp. 384-385, 389
June 15, 1989