Op-Ed

Education is for Monkeys

October 24, 2016
School Bus

Education is not Information, and no Christian should ever believe it to be so.  Proverbs, and Scripture wholistically, links wisdom to a fear of the Lord (cf. Prov 1:7), which is far more than mere information (James 2:19).  Additionally, love is not merely knowledge of a thing, but a quality that no poet could perfectly capture, even Paul in that great passage in Corinthians.  In a sense, the greatest that could be said is, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), even though—at the same time—he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Ex 34:7).  Genuine education is not merely the passing along of information from one who knows more to one who knows less.  When considering education for our children, the comparisons are often made that private is necessary over public because of safety, or facilities, or tools at one’s disposal (like Smart Boards, for instance), as if quality is essentially the same as quantity (we have more stuff, and better stuff).  “Better” in such situations is not usually considered carefully.  In the mix comes the Homeschoolers, who are not an amorphous blob—not a singular movement with shared cultural attributes or motivations.

The worst of public and private education is not like the best.  It is a logical fallacy to make a part stand for the whole, unless the whole really is reflected by a part.  In my experience, once in a while, there is a rare district made valuable by the stars aligning—gifted teachers with gifted administrators with gifted parental involvement.  Other times, the rarity is singular: one teacher in one class fighting uphill for every step of achievement, with rocks thrown downhill from those neanderthals who managed to make it to the top quite in spite of their own (all too apparent) shortcomings in mental and heart acuity.  Such teachers inspire us, as they do their students, who never forget that moment when another dimension of humanity was revealed to them, beyond mere possibility—a dimension when time slows like a perfect summer day in Willoughby, and to which you would give anything to go back, or at least to escape the endlessly dark and cold intellectual and emotional winter that is the modern classroom.  Kevin Williamson says, especially about the worst,

Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.

Alexander Whyte said, “It is far easier and far more natural for all of us to look down, and find fault, and despise, and scorn, than it is to look up, and find excellence, and then to honour, and reverence, and praise.”  Too often, the products of modern education are training to have heads pointed down than up; to memorize information and increase storage capacity rather than enlarge the heart simultaneously.  Treating minds as machines is contrary to the image of God, in which we each are to reflect God in our knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and in which our bodies are to be trained in service to the King.
From Williamson’s article, “Trigonometry is Racist
The first is that two different things are meant by “education.” We have education in the true, Arnoldian sense of the word, the improvement of one’s mind (and possibly even one’s soul) through the study of “the best which has been thought and said in the world,” which is the goal of a classical liberal education; we also have the Bismarckian sense of education, the conception that commands the attentions of politicians, which understands the schools as factories producing the human widgets that the state requires for its own purposes, economic competitiveness and military preparedness at the top of the list. (A deep problem with state-run systems of education is that they almost always mistake their customers for their products.)
Private or public makes little difference insofar as each has the same target and, often, pedagogy.  In such scenarios, the only difference between them is the former has more money, i.e., can afford better, more efficient tools and weapons to win the battle (as they see it) of educating the mind.  To those of us who suffered under either, do you remember your days as times when vibrant discussions and enthusiastic lessons were the norm—where conviction and cross-disciplinary learning were exemplified and dissent was channeled, questioning and investigation trained?  When you were taught the best and brightest that had ever been thought?
I genuinely do not fault the teachers.  They themselves are often a product of this unimaginative, unwise culture in which we all live and move and have our being.  It’s hard to blame a nut for coming from the nut-making factory.  Culpability, however, comes when children are not viewed as radical, imaginative, subversive things, and are viewed, instead, as cogs in a wheel or empty bags needing to be pumped and primed into usefulness.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote—about the home but, to some extent, what a good classroom ought to reflect:
Op-Ed

Do You Want To Build A Strawman?

October 15, 2016

Here at Ten4Word we have a commitment to write in an irenic fashion. Not to suggest that we will take a soft line on a hard issue but rather to shy away from letting our arrogance bleed into our discussions on theological differences.strawman-full

Normally when refuting strawmen I engage in a polemic style of writing because, well, I believe it drives the point home in a clearer way and I’ve read too much Luther.

This series will be one in which I try and tackle some serious objections about Calvinism without using my oh-so-favorite, “Romans 9. NEXT!” The objections to my refutations will in no way be new but I believe in healthy dialogue about extremely important issues because it forces us into deeper and richer study of the Word. If nothing else is accomplished during our time together I pray that, at the very least, we can walk away with a tad more insight and a stronger thirst for studying the things of God.

This first article will be a preamble because I believe that I should set the context of where I come from theologically and why it is I “chose” to grab the digital pen and spill some ink (I feel that this important so as to disarm the “you just read through Calvinistic lenses and need to set aside everything you’ve been taught” comments).

Onward!

When being introduced to the Calvinistic doctrine best represented by the TULIP acronym I, like many others, had many serious questions. Most of the comments I made against the position involved words like “robots”, “WHOSOEVER!’, and phrases like, “Stop putting God in your box!”. After lots of prayer, careful consideration of the texts presented, hours of reading dead guys, watching YouTube debates, and healthy, heated dialogue with my brother Josh, I have come, by Gods grace, to affirm these truths. Here I stand, I can do no other.

I will be laying out some of the most popular misunderstandings I’ve come across, and made, against TULIP. Please understand that I did not come to understand Gods sovereignty lightly; on the contrary I have fought tooth and nail clinging to mans autonomous free will-it’s what man does best.

The main motivating factor for me taking up this little venture was a horrid and disgusting “sermon” I had the displeasure of tuning my senses to recently. This was a sermon preached at a church which counts about 10,000 souls walking through the doors every week. My initial reaction to the opening five minutes was to jump out of my chair and scream “Servetus!” as loud as I could. I, however, stifled my emotions and began to think on why these men would say what they’re saying

I know that many of my reformed brethren have already, and will continue to, write about the enormous men-made-of-straw that these two gentlemen took time to build for their audience but I felt that I would attack this from a different angle. I want to go through some of the things that most people in mainline evangelical Christianity feel about this beloved doctrine today instead of systematically dismantling the gross misrepresentation of our position in the hour long drivel fest that I had to suffer through the other night. My prayer is to clear up some confusion and speak the truth which alienates some and encourages others.

There are two things that I’m sure of at the outset of writing this: 1) I will in no way be saying things that have not been said for hundreds of years by men much more wise than I and 2) these arguments will not be good enough for most of the ardent anti-Calvinist apologists. I rest in the fact that God will enlighten who He enlightens and leave ignorant those who He leaves ignorant.

If you haven’t been too offended as of yet than you are one of the chosen to join us next time when we talk about how wretchedly depraved man is. Until then I leave you with this quote from a man that understood baptism, Charles Spurgeon: “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

 

 

Uncategorized

No Justice; No Peace

July 11, 2016

No justice; no peace.

 

It is one of the most natural aspects of humanity to demand justice. There is an innate sense of right and wrong so much so that as people we form societies on ought’s and ought-not’s. When the ought-not’s take place we demand that justice be administered so as to balance the scales and set things right in society. In fact, justice is one of the most recognized ought’s in human culture. It is an objective standard that we appeal to when an ought-not takes place. We demand justice when someone violates our rights or the rights of other people and that is a good and right thing for us to do.

 

The reason for this is because we are created in the image of God who is Just. Justice is a standard that lies outside of the realm of subjective preferences. We know that when a man breaks into another man’s home and takes something that does not belong to him, or when one man takes the life of another man, that there must be some sort of retribution to pay. This is due to the simple fact that God has ingrained in us the sense of “good” and “evil”—we are moral creatures.

 

Peace is also a common desire that humans share. Justice and peace are not exclusive; rather they flow from one another. We demand justice because it is a disruption of peace, and when we have peace it is because people are acting just towards one another and injustice is punished. The oft repeated mantra being recited through the streets of New Orleans and other places in the country right now is, therefore, a worthy and noble saying. It is right to say that when there is no justice, there is no peace.

 

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Unfortunately the ones protesting in this way (or at least the ones I’ve witnessed on social media and various news outlets) do not have the proper framework from which to consistently hold to this view. If they did, we would see these protests being done in a much different way. It is strikingly ironic when the ones calling for justice are the very ones promoting injustice. I understand that the point they are making is that they will not let peace reign unless justice prevails. Yet the injustice is being leveled against commuters on highways and against the citizens in the neighborhoods where these marches are taking place, and that is not being taken into consideration. In other words, you cannot hold a group of people to a standard that you are not willing to live by. The old argument of, “They did it first!” is not one made from a sense of justice or out of a duty to pursue peace.

 

Christianity is the only worldview from which we can draw the ideas of justice or peace. It is because of the Triune God of the Bible and the fact that He has created that we can look at things and say to ourselves, “that isn’t right”. Without this foundation, the cries for justice and the pursuit of peace have no chance of sustaining a movement. Justice and peace as ideas will fail to be maintained because they will be built on the shadow of what they are and not the substance of what they are. Human philosophy and tradition is empty whereas Christ is the fullness of deity dwelling bodily (Colossians 2:8-10). Jesus is the prototypical image of God and as such He represents the epitome of justice and of peace. Christ suffered the worst offense of injustice in order to provide peace for His people by defeating His enemies and over coming the grave. It is once we establish our worldviews on those facts that we can plead for justice and offer hurting people peace.

 

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was also the purest expression of justice that there will ever be. God demonstrated His justice by pouring out His wrath against injustice on Jesus instead of on His people. This had to be done because God cannot wink at sin, justice must be administered. If we, as mere humans, can feel such outrage when men commit atrocious acts of injustice, how much more when men commit atrocious acts of injustice against the Just One. Why do we feel the need to call for justice lest there be no peace, when in the very same breath we violate the Law of God and therefore commit an eternally unjust act?

In order to rightly call for justice we must understand it. Majority of the people marching to this phrase simply do not have that understanding, which is why the calls for justice will fail and peace will always elude them. The protestor’s first need to have their unjust acts dealt with before they can operate in a just way.

 

It is true that unless there be justice, there will be no peace.