January 16, 1947 is a very special day to me. It is the day on which my mother gave birth in the afternoon to a son in North Tonawanda, New York. I thank the Lord that on that winter afternoon I started my journey in this life life. Even though that date is important, there is another very important date related to my birth. That date was sometime in April 1946. I say this because it was at that time that I was conceived. With all that has gone on in my home state last week, I have been thinking about how wonderful God’s design for human life is. God knew that I, as well as every other person that is conceived, needed a safe place where He could form my inward parts and He could weave me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). The Psalmist goes on to proclaim that my frame was not hidden from You [God], when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance (Psalm 139:15-16). The safest place in which God can form and weave a baby together is in his/her mother’s womb.
Not only did God form my inward parts and weave me into who I would one day become while I was safe in my mother’s womb, He also knew me before He formed me in that womb. I may have taken my first breath of fresh air on January 16, 1947, but that is not when my life began. There is no doubt about it — life begins at conception. This is what God said to Jeremiah.
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you;” Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NASB)
I share this because on January 22, 2019 the New York legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act and the State’s Governor signed the legislation into law that same night. If there were ever a deceptive name given to a law, it is this one. This is because the Reproductive Health Act is not only unhealthy but deadly to babies who are in their mothers’ wombs. In fact, this new law allows a baby to be aborted right up until the time of birth. It even allows a baby that survives an abortion to be killed. What added to the horror of such a law being passed was how the signing of the law was celebrated with applause and cheering that equaled that of a team’s celebration of winning a championship. No doubt that most of you reading this post saw videos of this celebration of evil and/or pictures of various buildings in New York City lit up in pink to “shine” attention on this “historic” legislation.
I cringed as I read a statement by the New York Senate Majority Leader who rejoiced that this law sends a clear message to everyone.
Here in New York, women’s health matters; women’s lives matter; women’s decisions matter.
What about the health, lives and decisions of the baby? When I was being developed to be born in this State, I was able to do so in what God designed to be a safe place – my mother’s womb. This law 72 years later made a mother’s womb one of the most dangerous places for a new life to be found. I must admit when I heard and saw the reports and the rejoicing about the passage of this law, I was angry. How could human beings do such a thing? I have read people’s reactions from all walks of life who were incensed by the passing of this law. Many Christians have called this nothing less than demonic. There have even been calls for the Catholic Church to excommunicate the Governor of the State.
However, as I pondered what had just happened, I found myself in a different state of mind than many of the fellow believers that were commenting on the actions of this State’s government. My anger turned to brokenness and I found myself not wanting to strike out at the people who drafted and passed this piece of legislation. After all, they represent this sin-wrecked world. Should I expect something different from a secular society? Ever since sin entered this world, the world has hated God and is bent on destroying everything that He established when He created the world and made man in His image.
My brokenness and my anger was not toward the lost men and women who were behind this hideous Act but toward me and other Christians who have allowed this to even be possible in our country. The reality is that Christians have allowed these people to be positions of leadership at both the state and federal levels. We can’t ignore the fact that Jesus said we are to be the salt and light of the world. We are the ones’ who are supposed to be shaping the culture. Instead we, the church, have lost our savor and are good for nothing else than to be trampled by the culture. This has happened on my watch!
I fully realize that this is not something that just happened in one state in the country. It is the condition of the culture of the entire country. A recent bill was passed at the Federal level that called for continued funding of Planned Parenthood, whose leadership recently stated publicly that its major business was the aborting of human lives before birth. That bill also called for millions of dollars to be spent on paying for abortions internationally. I read the statistic that in 2015 1 in 3 unborn babies were aborted in New York City. There is even a social media campaign where women are encouraged to shout their abortions under the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion. What breaks my heart the most is that many Christians over the years have consistently voted for people who boldly declare that they are for the abortion of unborn babies.
We are living in the day when Scripture is being lived out before our very eyes.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: Jeremiah 8:12 (KJV)
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
How did a nation that was founded on biblical principles get to the point where we celebrate infanticide? We should not expect anything less than what we are witnessing in our country when we realize that a secular educational system has indoctrinated the vast majority of young people for the past 100+ years. As Christians, we must lay the condition of society at our doorstep because we turned the formal education of our children and youth over the government in the mid-1800s. As historian Francis Curran noted it was a revolutionary happening in the history of the New Testament Church. Before a holy God, we stand guilty because we ignored warning after warning what would and has happened because of thinking it is okay for our children to sit under the influence of secular education for more than 1300 hours every year from ages 5 to 18.
One man who warned the church what would happen if the government took over the education of our children and youth was Dr. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898). Read his words carefully.
If the State assumes responsibility for education, there is therefore a great risk that the education of youth will be perverted to serve an ideological faction. This will occur by the hateful means of filling their minds with error and passion in place of truth and right...If the State in America becomes the educator, education must be secularized totally. (emphasis mine)
But nearly all public men and preachers declare that the public schools are the glory of America. They are a finality, and in no event to be surrendered. We have seen that their complete secularization is logically inevitable. Christians must prepare themselves then, for the following results: All prayers, catechisms, and Bibles will ultimately be driven out of the schools. (emphasis mine)
Last week I shared a quote by Dr. Ravi Zacharias from his book, Deliver Us From Evil, in which he said,
And for centuries politics has dabbled int eh deadly game of social engineering. The whole point of state-controlled education is that it gives the government the power to shape the souls and write on the fresh slates of young hearts. This empowerment is the most important trust given to elected officers, and to think that they accept that responsibility from a posture of neutrality is to live under the most destructive illusion. To elect one to the highest level of leadership, therefore, is to put into his or her hands the possibility and opportunity of shaping a nation’s conscience. (emphasis mine)
I have been involved in the teaching profession for over 50 years. The past 45 years have been dedicated to providing children and youth with a biblically-based, Christ-centered education in the home, church and school. I cannot count the number of pastors and other church leaders that I have met and urged them to address the issue of education biblically. Year after year I have faced fierce opposition to this effort because pastors don’t want to offend those teaching in secular schools or they believe that we can’t shelter our children from the world. This isn’t about where God sends His mature disciples to advance His kingdom. It is about how God expects us to educate our children.
The Scripture is clear about the danger of sitting under false teachers. However, most Christians have divided their lives up into the secular and sacred compartments that have resulted in dysfunctional living of every day life. The average pastor would never allow evolution, gender neutrality, same-sex marriage, free sex and a host of other topics to ever be taught to children in their churches. However, many of them don’t even raise a concern that these same children and youth get six hours-a-day of this type of false teaching for 13 years before going off to college.
I had the privilege of serving at LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, for several years. I was always puzzled how one of the largest protestant, evangelical denominations in the country stressed the importance of their churches having early childhood programs and provided millions of dollars of annual support for their colleges and universities. Church and denominational leaders stressed how important it was for parents to put their children in their church childcare centers and send them to Christian colleges and universities after high school graduation. Yet, they seemed to fully support sending their children between the ages of 5 and 18 to secular schools; for the very years that their worldviews would be shaped.
I sadly remember how a group of pastors in one state wanted to remove church funding from one of the convention’s colleges because the President of the school had written a book claiming that Jesus was not God. I understood that this was heresy. What I couldn’t understand and what I shared with some of the pastors involved with this conflict was how they could send millions of dollars to a school that was denying the fundamentals of the faith for young men and women whose worldviews were pretty much set but wouldn’t invest a dime in Christian elementary and secondary schools so they would develop a biblical worldview.
Secular educators, on the other hand, knew that they would eventually control the thinking of Americans because they understood that education is in the worldview-shaping of young minds. Humanist educator and one of the original signers of the Humanist Manifesto, C.F. Potter, knew that they were going to win the culture war of ideas back in the early 1900s. He wrote.
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?
Yes, I have a broken heart over what the church has allowed to happen when it comes to the education of our children and youth. By not addressing education biblically, the church has forfeited its right to partner with parents and provide future generations with a biblically-based, Christ-centered education. The result has been that the majority of Christian young people have received a secular education, developed a secular worldview and have left the church.
But I am equally brokenhearted by what I have seen happen in Christian schools over the past several decades. I have witnessed a major shift take place in Christian schools during my tenure in this vital ministry. I can best describe this shift in this way. Christian schools have pursued academic excellence to the point that it has become an end of Christian schooling rather than a means to a greater end. At the same time, there has been a decreased emphasis put on the importance of the staff and board members of these schools to fully know and embrace a biblical philosophy of education. Over the past several decades, there has been an intense effort to “improve” the education that Christian schools provide its students. This has been marked by:
- increase in the importance of school accreditation and teacher certification
- an effort to have more teachers and administrators earn advanced degrees
- a major push to pattern teaching and administrating after “best practices” research
- the need to make “data-based” and “research-driven” decisions
- a greater use of technology
- the development of strong STEM programs at all levels
Please know that I am thankful that there is an effort for Christian schools to be the best they can be. However, all of these efforts only address the “what” and “how” a Christian school does. They don’t address the “why” or the purpose behind Christian education. Unfortunately, so much emphasis and effort is on improving what and how we do things, that there is little, if any, attention given to the biblical philosophy that makes the what and how of Christian education unique from secular education. We are finding ourselves with highly qualified staffs that do love Jesus. However, they do not have strong biblical worldviews and do not understand a biblical philosophy of education. George Barna recently told a group of Christian schools educators that only 10% of today’s adults possess a biblical worldview and when it is broken down by age, only 4%, 1 out of 25, Millennials have a biblical worldview. Barna went on to explain that the Millennial generation is now the primary parenting generation in the church and our schools today. I would add to this that the Millennial generation is, or is fast becoming, the primary teaching generation in Christian schools today. Both Barna and Dr. Tony Evans have said the same thing — you cannot give to others what you don’t possess yourselves.
I have talked to a number of Christian school administrators over the past several years. When I asked them what they are intentionally doing in an on-going effort to make sure that every staff and board member understands a biblical philosophy of education, the most common answer that I get is we aren’t doing anything. I share the following merely to serve as an example of how Christian school educators have not been intentional in this area. I have developed, with the help of a wonderful partner church, a wide variety of resources that are designed to help school leaders and teachers strengthen their understanding of a biblical worldview and a biblical philosophy of education. Because of the support from this church, we have been able to provide this service at an extremely low price. Even though many administrators expressed a great deal of interest in the new subscription website as it was being developed, very few have taken the time to have their schools take part in this much needed endeavor.
At the same time I have discovered that many schools are spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of more dollars than it would take for this philosophy training for staff development in areas that merely address the what and how of Christian education. Again, I am not trying to downplay the need for good staff development in areas other than worldview and philosophy. What I am saying is that we can have the most effective teachers possible but if they don’t live and teach from a biblical worldview and philosophy base, there will not be very much accomplished that has any eternal impact.
Joel Belz wrote an article for World Magazine in 1993. His closing statements in this article haunt me every time I read them. Belz predicted,
In summary: Christian schools will be found overall to have done a very good job in terms of general education, but will be disappointed in terms of instilling a profound sense of Christian discipleship. On basic skill tests, SAT scores, and other standardized measurements, Christian school graduates will increasingly outperform their counterparts from public education. But in terms of radical adoption of a Christian perspective on life, the differences – while definitely present – will be disappointing.
When we look at what is taking place in our country and we are honest with ourselves, I think that Christian parents, church leaders and Christian school educators would have to say Belz was right. In terms of a radical adoption of a Christian perspective on life the results from the homes’, churches’ and schools’ efforts have been disappointing.
I was going through some old transparency masters (When was the last time anyone used transparencies?) and came across a challenging quote. I do not know the source of this statement but it is something that I have lived long enough to actually have witnessed.
Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself — its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. (emphasis mine)
As I have watched this very thing happen before my eyes, I have to admit that this rearrangement of society is our [Christians] fault for lack of action. As the title of this post states, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! It is time that the home, church and school address the issue of education biblically. As Josh McDowell wrote in the Forward of my book, Kingdom Education,
The ideal way to help our kids not only to reject the postmodern worldview but also embrace deepened Christian convictions is to align church, home and school into a unified whole that arms our children with the truth and protects them from distortions.
What took place in New York last week and has been taking place throughout our culture should wake us up to the fact we are in a fierce battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation. I received a tweet the other day of some new art work that has been put up in the atrium of Sherwood Baptist Church where I served for 9 years. Even though it is a new piece of art, it is the long-held belief of Pastor Michael Catt. The picture below says it all.
What about you? Do you agree that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? If not, what will it take for you to get there? As we witnessed last week, it really is a matter of life and death!