I have referred to Colossians 2:8 in several posts in recent weeks. It is Paul’s warning to Christians about the danger of being taken captive by false philosophies or ideas. There is one person who made a statement over 100 years ago that has ended up taking millions of children captive to a dangerous false idea over the years. I remember well studying about this man when I was in elementary school. He was held in high esteem in both the textbooks I read and the teachers I had. His name was Horace Mann.
Mann was affectionately referred to as the Father of the Common School. The “Common School” was the forerunner of today’s public education system. One historian said this of Mann’s influence on education,
No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.
Even though Mann assured Christians of his day that he was not trying to divorce the Bible from learning, he had an agenda that reflected his religious beliefs founded in his Unitarian faith. This agenda is clearly seen from his statement,
We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.
So what is the lie that has taken millions of young people captive to a false philosophy? It is Mann’s declaration about the roles of the home, church and school that has resulted in this travesty. He wrote,
Let the home and church teach faith and values and the school teach facts!
At first glance, this statement seems like a very logical statement but the false philosophy at the core of this bold assertion is that truth is merely a body of observable facts. The belief behind this statement is that education can be and should be spiritually neutral. Because of this false philosophy education over the years has become more and more secular in nature.
Believing this lie, the vast majority of Christians today have developed what is referred to as the secular/sacred divide in their approach to life. They attempt to divide life into two compartments. One compartment is the secular side of life and a secular worldview shapes their attitudes and actions in this sphere.
The other compartment is the sacred side of life and a Christian worldview influences their attitudes and actions in this sphere. Of course, it is impossible to live life driven by two different and opposing worldviews. Remember that Jesus said a house divided against itself cannot stand. Why? Because life becomes disjointed and truth is divided up into religious truth and non-religious truth.
By being taken captive by this lie, the following has occurred in American society:
- education has become “secular” or “man-centered”.
- education has “privatized” religion and “secularized” society.
- the church has, by in large, forfeited its influence to bring about spiritual transformation in young people’s lives.
- the church’s role has been relegated to merely trying to counteract the negative influence of a vast secular educational system.
We must understand that when academics are taught as a body of observable facts, students are actually being taught that God is irrelevant to certain aspects of life. Students end up increasing in knowledge without knowing the God-intended meaning behind their knowledge. In the end, they develop a worldview based on a secular set of beliefs and assumptions.
A few questions, must be answered by each of us if we are going to fulfill the Great Commission and guide our children to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
- How do you view the roles of the home, church and school when it comes to education?
- Do you believe that there is a body of knowledge that is spiritually neutral?
- Do you view “academics” as a body of observable facts?
- Have you succumbed to the “secular/sacred” divide in your life?
In the end, the real question that you and I must answer is have we been taken captive by the lie?
Used by permission from RENEWANATION (www.renewanation.org).