General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Last year I was privileged to visit the Reagan Library and saw a large piece of that wall that no longer divides east and west Germany. That wall represented the powerful Iron Curtain that once separated much of Eastern Europe and all of Russia from the freedom enjoyed by Western Europe and the United States. When it came down it not only united Germany but it also marked the end of Communist domination in several other countries. Freedom swept across Eastern Europe.
There is another wall that exists that keeps much of the church in the United States deeply divided. This wall is not a physical wall but it is a spiritual one that divides one’s life up into two separate and distinct compartments. People living with this wall in their lives find no unifying meaning in life and keeps them from knowing the freedom and peace that should be theirs in Christ. This is the Wall of the Secular/Sacred Divide.
This wall represents one of the biggest challenges facing not only Christian schools today but also the home and the church. The vast majority of Christians have compartmentalized their lives into the secular and the sacred. It makes for a life with no unifying belief system and leads to confusion and double mindedness.
It was one of the selling points behind the establishment of a common school system under the control of the government and not the home and church back in the 1800s. Horace Mann summed up this wall when he said,
Let the home and church teach faith and values and the school teach facts.
In other words facts have no spiritual meaning. They are just a body of neutral observable pieces of knowledge. Faith and values belong in the home and church. The school is just about “academics”. The problem is that there is no such thing as spiritually neutral knowledge. Nancy Pearcey had it right when she said:
We have to insist on presenting Christianity as a comprehensive, unified worldview that addresses all of life and reality. It is not just religious truth but total truth.
To illustrate the danger that exists if we don’t tear down this wall, I want to share a discussion I had a couple of years ago with a group of parents who were studying Focus on the Family’s Truth Project at my church. I asked these parents what they would do if their children came home from Sunday School and told them that they had been taught that the earth and people had evolved from a big explosion over billions of years of time? I also asked them what they would do if their children went on to tell them how they learned that God makes everyone different and we need to accept them the way God made them, even if it means accepting people of different sexual orientation.
Their response was quick and vocal. They wouldn’t stand for that. They would go to the children’s pastor and the youth pastor and expose this heretical teaching that their children received in their SS classes. If these pastors supported these positions, they would go right to the senior pastor and demand that this stop. They even went so far as to say if it didn’t stop, they would immediately leave the church and go to another one.
I then asked this question. What would happen if this took place in their kids’ school classroom? A deafening silence swept across the room. After some time, one dad simply said, That is a more difficult question to answer. These parents, like so many other parents in the church, had allowed the Wall of the Secular/Sacred Divide to keep their lives separated into two compartments.
Some people refer to this condition as “dualism”. It results in attempting to live one’s life according to two different worldviews. A secular worldview directs the areas of their lives that they believe have nothing to do with the spiritual or religious parts of their lives. Then they attempt to live out a worldview that reflects elements of Christianity in their religious compartment of life. The result is that the church has lost its witness and influence in the world.
This wall has become higher and stronger over the years as most Christians have accepted the lie that Horace Mann put forth by sending their children into secular education programs believing that they were only getting neutral academics so that they could be successful in life. The truth is that there is no teaching that is spiritually neutral and void of spiritual meaning. The teachers and the textbooks used always present the worldviews and values these people hold. Most if, not all of them, are presenting a secular belief system to our children. As a result the church continues to lose the majority of its young people to the world.
It is time for parents, church leaders and educators to understand the devastation that will continue to take place as long as the Wall of the Secular/Sacred Divide is allowed to remain in and dominate their lives. In the words of President Reagan it is time to,
Tear Down This Wall!