© Charles A. Clough 2016
The Bible vs. Secular Public Education
Keeping Faithful to Our Lord in a Growing Hostile Culture
2016 North Stonington Bible Church Labor Day Conference
Central theme of Scripture: Romans 12:1, 2 (KJV), “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
Introduction of Charles Clough by Pastor Larry Chappell (0:00-2:59)
Oh Lord Jesus, how long, how long? How many times a day do you say that? Looking to the Lord; anticipating with great expectation the Lord’s return; what a blessed thought. It is our privilege to have Charles Clough here with us and his wife Carol. It is a real pleasure to have Charlie and Carol here.
He’s almost a 50-year-old friend. That means that you were my friend before I was born. No, not really. Charlie was our very first speaker at the Labor Day conference in 1969.
He was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island and he received after high school a full scholarship to MIT where he got saved through a Campus Crusade program there at MIT, praise the Lord. He went on to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Math at MIT and did some graduate work. After that he joined the Air Force as a meteorologist, fulfilling his four years there, then he went to Dallas Theological Seminary and got his ThM in Old Testament Hebrew in 1968.
Then he began a ministry as pastor at Lubbock Bible Church in Lubbock, Texas. He served there for 12 years, and this is where during this 12-year period Charlie developed his unique approach to training believers through a basic Bible framework, and this is what we’re going to be exposed to this weekend.
In the early 80s Charlie went on to earn his Master’s in Atmospheric Science from Texas Tech, and from 1982 until 2006 Charlie was a staff meteorologist at the Department of Army in Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
He and Carol reside in Bel Air, Maryland, and they have four grown sons and grandchildren as well. It is our privilege to once again have Charlie Clough come and speak to us and impart the Word, and I pray our hearts are prepared in the Spirit, yielded and ready to have God’s Word implanted in our souls.
Session 1: Charles Clough
It’s always a pleasure to come back to North Stonington, to North Stonington Bible Church. In many ways it’s almost like Carol and my home church; I’ve been with you so long, through a whole generation actually. But this conference, if you will follow the handout, I’ve tried to design the handout so you can follow and use it to take notes.
We’re going to cover quite a bit of material but what my purpose in all this is to give you the encouragement that I think we all need to attribute to God’s Word, the authority that it merits. We are living, I don’t need to say or point this out, but we are living in a day when Christianity in this country is in a different environment then we’re used to.
As Christians and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have enjoyed in our history as a nation, probably a very unusual 200- or 300-year period if we compare our lives as Christians with the lives of other Christians throughout the ages. The story of Christians down through the years has always been one of trouble; it’s always been one of persecution; it’s always been one in which we find ourselves as believers in the counterculture, in the minority.
We are going to be involved I think in the years to come in a much more hostile environment and will require on our part a much closer walk with the Lord to have the wisdom of how to handle ourselves in these new situations.
I think already of Christian teachers in the secular school system that have a tremendous struggle to, to almost be forced to deny their faith in order to keep their jobs. I’m familiar with scientists who have to work with government-funded laboratories and who have to in order to keep their job, do scientific studies with which they do not agree. This is the environment in which we live, and so it’s, it’s stressful and we need to just go back to the Scriptures in a systemic way and so I hope I’m able to communicate that.
If you’ll turn in your Bibles now in the New Testament to Romans 12. I’d like go through our theme, Romans 12:1–2. This is the Apostle Paul and he wrote this to Christians in the capital of the Roman Empire. Keep in mind that this was the superpower of their day and the Lord had graciously opened hearts in people that lived in and around Rome.
Paul is addressing this and it’s a very significant epistle because Paul is basically arguing that the entire structure of the Roman Empire, morally and politically, is antithetical to God. So here he is, if we would use it in descriptive terms today, Paul is breeding an insurrection inside the Roman Empire, and so this epistle is that kind of a historic setting.
So if you look at Romans 12:1 and 2, I am following the New King James version, but you all have different versions, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,” and you’ll notice the word “mercies” of God, that this is a grace message because, the God of Paul and the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father is a righteous, holy God, and by that we mean that He does not conform to men’s wishes about ethics. God creates His own ethics because of His holy nature, and that is not compromisable. He will never compromise that essence.
Therefore the only way we can have fellowship with Him as fallen beings is for Him to give us that access by grace. He beseeches you by the mercies of God, because God has been so gracious to us, that you “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” And the Greek word there for reasonable, logikos, has the meaning … it’s reasonable, it’s rational, it fits. One of the messages that you want to grasp about the Scriptures is that they are rationally consistent and we’ll develop that in a few minutes.
He says, and this is critical, the next two clauses here, that you, “be not conformed to this world: but be transformed.” That is a command; it’s up to us to do that. He says I don’t want you to be conformed, and the Greek word there is suschematizo; it means “to jam into a mold.”
One of the things I’ve tried over the years, I guess it’s because when I became a Christian it was in the college environment, I’ve always tried to at least have close relationships with four or five college students. The reason I try to do that is I find that by understanding what those guys and gals are doing on campus that gives me an information databank on how the culture’s going, because the culture on the campuses is what the culture’s going to be for the next couple of decades, because you’re training the leaders that are going to go out and be influential people. So by understanding what’s going on in the campus that helps me understand how to get into the Scriptures and where to go in the Scriptures.
One of the things that is increasingly obvious to me is the tremendous power of the elite in the academic world to force every student on campus into a mold that they want those students to have. The irony here is that the average college student today in four years is paying between $80,000 and $100,000 and for those $80–100,000 they are basically getting indoctrination, not an education.
And so they face, and the good news is that I watch this so I know that it works, that when they are adequately trained in the Word of God, and they see after they get into serious dialogue on campus, often with a faculty, that they have an experience and I’ll give you an example. This has happened to four or five of the young people I work with and once a Christian young lady or a Christian young man has this particular experience it’s almost like they are inoculated against this molding pressure.
One young man I worked with who just recently graduated from a Catholic university in Baltimore. Keep in mind that’s an ostensibly a Roman Catholic campus. He takes a course in Macroeconomics; he’s a business major and he gets an A in this course. It’s one of the most difficult courses in the business majoring section of the campus, Macroeconomics, taught by a brilliant faculty member. At the end of the course the professor had watched this young man, he had watched his questions in the class, and the young fella did not necessarily fly his Christian flag, but the professor knew very, very well where his questions were coming from. A professor doesn’t teach ten years in a college campus and not really understand how to smoke out the faith of the students that are in his classroom, so he knew very well what was going on.
At the end of the semester when he got his A the prof went over to him, his name was Brook, and he said to Brook, “Would you mind coming into my office? I just have some questions for you” So the student went in there, and the student had not been belligerent at all, very courteous in the classroom, but clearly different than the mold they were trying to put on him. So the professor looks at him, and keep in mind this is a Roman Catholic campus, he looks at him and he says,” You know I can’t understand you. You are one of my smartest students and you still believe in God and the Bible.” This is a Roman Catholic campus; a campus by the way which has all kinds of posters about transgenderism and everything else until one weekend when the alumni visit the campus; those posters go away.
Now I’m telling you this story so you can see something here. This is a multimillion dollar business. One of the largest Roman Catholic campuses in the United States; very well-known, and here the management of that campus deliberately takes out all the offensive materials just for the weekend when their donors show up. What does that tell you? What does that tell you about the ethics of the management? So he calls the young man into his office and says, “I don’t understand how you can still believe in the Bible and be a Christian.”
God does wonderful things you know. There is a promise in the Word of God that when you’re under persecution, the Holy Spirit will give you the words. Brook had not studied Pascal and did not realize Pascal’s dilemma—Pascal the French mathematician put out years and years ago, centuries ago. But he looked at the professor and he says, “Well Professor it’s like this … all during this semester in this business management course you’ve taught every student in the classroom that every business decision has a risk and it has a reward and that if you’re going to make wise economic decisions you need to consider whether the benefits overcompensate for the risk.”
And he said, “So it’s like this…if I live out to the end of my life and I die and God is not there I haven’t risked anything. But if you die and God is there you’ve risked everything.” Now that was very Spirit-led that he said that in a gentlemanly way. But here’s the reaction, and this is the exact reaction I watched happen in four different young people. The professor looks at him, keep in mind, PhD, smart man, taught for ten years on the campus, and here’s his response, “I never thought of that.”
Now what does that tell you about the culture out there? Here you have leadership that is molding young people to the tune of $80–100,000 for a four-year education and they have never thought through personally these fundamental basic questions. Well, once a young person knows that they know these people are shooting with blanks, we don’t have to be intimidated. We don’t have to feel like we’re being crammed, rammed, and jammed into a mold. They can be transformed; they can be relaxed as Christians knowing the Word of God has been self-vindicating.
So I just tell you that story so when you read here in Romans 12, “… and be not jammed into the world’s mold,” and the word for “world” there, aionios, is the “age”, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in order that,” here’s the purpose clause, “in order that you may prove out what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So there’s the situation. Paul wants us not to be conformed, but be transformed.
I submit to you in this conference that this requires some effort on our part to walk with the Lord closely enough, paying attention to what He has said so that our minds can be transformed and they’ve got to be transformed because we’ve got a systemic problem in our culture today and we have got to overcome that and we can. God has given us, “… greater is He that is in you (greater is He that is in me), than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) We don’t have to be afraid, but we do have to pay attention.
I want look at the background of the culture and so what I want to do is show you at the beginning of the 20th century, which was the time when, something happened to the water in the 1800s, but the 19th century had a lot of problems and wrong ideas; wrong major ideas that got started in the 19th century have taken over 100 years to percolate to the surface. We are now experiencing the results of processes that have been going on for over a century of time.
At the beginning of the 19th century everybody was optimistic but one person was very perceptive and I’m going to take you to a quotation from Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell was known as one of the great mathematicians and logicians of the 20th century; a brilliant man but as early as 1903, keep in mind the date, 1903; Bertrand Russell had foreseen the 20th century. He was a mathematician capable of thinking from a starting point. So now I want to have us go through his statement. This is written in 1903. He clearly foresaw where the 19th century was going to lead. Here’s what he said:
“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving.”
See that’s Darwinism; that was fundamental. This had already been circulating for 40 years when Russell wrote this quote, so he’s clearly starting from where the 19th century left him; and he’s drawing conclusions about behavior and how we think and you can’t challenge his logic. I’ve asked several in an audience to show me where there is a logical flaw in Bertrand Russell. Given his starting point, here is the conclusion; you have to reach this conclusion if you’re a thinking person.
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms (just an accident); that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave.”
You see what he’s just done? Look at the first sentence; man is the product of causes that are random. His growth, his hopes, his fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but an outcome that is just an accident. Everything we do is just the result of an accidental collocation of atoms and then there is no future beyond the grave; that all the labors; up to that point, the word grave, he’s talking about individuals.
Now watch his next statements where he indicts the entire human race,
“… that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system.”
Given his premises is he wrong? Given his premises he’s absolutely right; there is no purpose, there is no ultimate utopia. So he says,
“… and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruin—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand.”
Now in the underlined section here’s his conclusion for living with those premises:
“Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
That was the wise perception of where the 20th century was going to lead. Bertrand Russell, the logician and mathematician, said,
“I am inheriting from that 1800s a worldview that will result in this, and the entire world will result in this.”
So as I teach this, and by the way when I come to the slides I’m going to say what slide number it is, for example, “This is slide number 2,” and the reason I’m doing it is because on the audio that will eventually be posted on the website here and at the Bible Framework people will have the audio track but they’ll also have the PowerPoint slides and so I wanted them know what slide it is that I am addressing so that’s why I’m saying this.
Now, slides number 3 and 4 are going to deal with the culture and I put those on your hand out so you can see them. There are movements of thought in the culture and you want to be able to grasp this because this emphasis shifts from time to time. It’s all unbelief, but there are certain ways, certain trends in the unbelief. In the Reformation that so dominated at least Northern Europe it was faith alone in Christ alone.
That’s the 1600s. That’s four or five centuries ago. It doesn’t mean all Europe believed this. It’s just that this was a very powerful thing that split Europe between the Protestants in Northern Europe and the Catholics in Southern Europe. There were religious wars, people died, people were burned to death over this argument. But here’s the Protestant Reformation that burst upon northern Europe, faith alone in Christ alone.
That quickly changed with the so-called Enlightenment in the 1700s. The Enlightenment was misnamed. The unbelieving secularists called it the “Age of Enlightenment.” You know what the Apostle John says in 1 John 2? Christ is the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment came with the incarnation of God walking on the surface of this planet. That was the Enlightenment. Christ said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
So here we have in the 1700s, and it’s taught in all classes, the Age of Enlightenment. It wasn’t an age of enlightenment. That’s a false saying. That’s attributing something to unbelief that only believers can believe in; an enlightenment. But the Enlightenment was reason alone in man alone, and notice it’s not just reason alone, but reason alone in man alone. In other words, man is alone. He doesn’t have any information from God. So the Enlightenment’s dream was to create something out of reason alone in man alone. That was the faith of the Enlightenment.
Then we come down to Romanticism and it’s not well understood. I think we’re appreciating more what happened. At the end of the 1800s there was a reaction against the Enlightenment because the Enlightenment viewed all of nature as a big machine and it made people feel very lonely. So there were people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and others who said there’s something wrong here with the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment doesn’t talk to me as a person. It leaves me as just a cog in the machine.
So here and there, not always, but here and there you have the rise of Romanticism. Now we think of romantic love, but it was deeper than that. Romanticism was personal experience and feelings alone in man alone, notice the shift. The Enlightenment was reason alone, and I point this out because we’re going to take this somewhere and I want you to anticipate where were going with this. There was a shift from reason alone to feelings alone and experience alone; so that’s Romanticism.
Now slide number 4 we take it further. We start with Romanticism again in the 1800s, personal experience and feelings alone in man alone. Now we come into the 20th century and we have Existentialism, which says, it’s self alone; I am a lonely individual. It is up to me to give meaning and purpose to my life. That is the existentialists of the 1900s.
Now we come to what our culture is facing. This is the postmodern version of existentialism. People have been raised, it’s the individual. There’s a shift going on now. Now it’s the social group alone that gives meaning. This is from the 1960s on.
There’s been a shift and we want to deal with that because that’s what we’re working with. These cultural movements contaminate every single area of life. They’re not just the isolated ideas of some academic. This is the mold that people involved in the educational establishment are compelling young people to live out. The media are doing the same thing. It’s not that they’re bad people, I’m not saying that there’s some sort of conspiracy-smoke-filled room in the back where people are deliberately doing this, I believe the principalities and the powers are ultimately behind this. So you have a mass delusion that’s going on, but wherever, however the details are, the point is we’re being very naïve if we don’t see this particular movement for what it is.
I want take you now to slide 5 because in spring 2016 at the University of Massachusetts, one of the workers for Ravi Zacharias’ RZIM Ministries was talking to students on numerous messages. He had come trained in all the apologetic questions about the reliability of the biblical text, and so on and so forth. But when he got to the campus of the University of Massachusetts he discovered that the students weren’t asking the classic questions about evil or about the reliability of the Bible. They had a more urgent thing and that sort of surprised him.
After reflecting on these students, he said that our culture today, spring 2016 on the university campus, trains students for the next generation of leadership. “Our culture has replaced self-discovery with self-construction.” See, in discovery you discover things about yourself under the providence of God but notice what’s happening here. “Everybody is expected to create and manage his or her own her own identity,” and we can take this up to gender confusion, and all the stuff that’s going on; it’s part of this, this is where it starts.
“Everybody is expected to create and manage his or her own identity. Personal achievement thus becomes the main means of justifying one’s existence. The pressure that this mindset creates is devastating,” and he points out how, for example, if a student is trying to figure out, “Who am I, what am I doing?”, because if the universe is meaningless where’s your sense of identity going to come from? It’s got to come from here doesn’t it? It doesn’t come from outside since God’s not talking, so I have to create my own identity.
Let’s say someone’s identity is tied up with athletics. Their identity is that they are an athlete. What happens when he has an accident that keeps him out of the sport for two years? Normally, that would be an adversity. But if your identity is dependent upon your athletic prowess, that’s your identity, what happens now when you have a physical injury and you’re knocked out? That is devastating; that’s what he’s talking about. That, he said, could lead to suicide. Why would such a thing lead to suicide, it’s just a medical accident? Because it threatens your personal identity, that’s why it becomes so lethal, so devastating to someone.
Once you start in this false place you reap the consequences of that kind of thinking. And so he said that most students are now desperate to find a purpose beyond their own meager hopes and wishes. They don’t want to have to sit there and do all the work necessary to create their own self-identity. Some do, but others are left just wandering around desperately wanting to know a purpose. What an entrée for the gospel! What a neat opportunity to come alongside, gain the friendship with these kinds of people, and share what real identity is all about. That’s what we want to do.
So we’re going to go on and we’re going to look at the Bible for a minute here. I want to think about how we ought to present the Bible. The Bible is cast aside in our own culture because there’s a feeling that the dead, the ancient, should not rule the present and the modern. So immediately there are people who say that the Bible is an old book.
I was at a political meeting in Maryland and we were discussing an issue in our state and our congressman had pointed out that he had voted for such and such an issue because that’s what the Constitution says and one young guy gets up in the back and says that the Constitution is old, we don’t want to listen to that.
This is how you cast aside things like the Constitution and the Bible. Why? Because everything’s changing they think. 2 plus 2 I thought was still 4 and you know 2 plus 2 was 4 back in the Roman engineering days, but somehow everything changes, they think. So what happens is when we mention the word “Bible”, it can be suppressed quickly in their minds because it’s an old book.
Here are some features about the Bible that you might share with people, some suggestions. When you open the Bible, you’re not opening a book. When you’re opening the Bible, you’re opening a library of books, are you not? There are 66 books in the library. Has is ever dawned on you that you have an entire library that is pedagogically sequenced? Now you can say to them that you understand that they may not accept this, but from the Christian point of view the Bible is a 66-book library over thousands of years containing a self-consistent message of God speaking to man.
When God spoke to man He spoke to him through different kinds of language—there are three languages in the Bible. He spoke through kings; He spoke through prophets; He spoke through peasants; He spoke through geniuses; He spoke through average people; He spoke through all kinds of different authors. He spoke to men who were suffering; He spoke to men who were wealthy; He spoke through men who were very well educated. He spoke through men who were not very well educated. Look at the variety; you have 66 different books and 66 different kinds of life situations and nearly 40 people that are articulating this.
This is far greater than one person’s opinion. We’re not dealing with a Mohammed; we’re not dealing with a Joseph Smith; we’re dealing with 66 different situations. So you’re getting a massive variety that goes on. Moreover, the Bible is self-authenticating in that the Bible gives us reasons why it’s reasonable to believe. If you can read the Bible, you will understand it is self-authenticating, it’s not dependent on some external authority.
Finally, we understand that it’s the source of transcendental truth, that is, truth that lasts; that’s above every society; above every age. That’s what we mean by transcendental truth.
Now when you go to looking at what’s going on with the Bible and Christian students, Steven Garber made a study not too long ago, and there are many studies about Christians defecting and so on from the college campus, that is they go to college and then flake out, but I wanted to find somebody who would study the Christians who were successful. Let’s not discuss the failures until we discuss the successes. Here’s what he said and this is slide number 6. Here are some features. He studied hundreds of students that survived the college experience, not only survived the college experience, but were successful in becoming Christian young men and women in life after college graduation.
Here’s one thing; he said they have a Christian worldview, they “know what they believe, and they know why they believe. Their worldview is big enough for the world ...” They have been trained not to be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy, but rather to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. They know that regardless of where their life takes them, whether it’s education, parenting, politics, arts, science, they are able to glorify God through their work.
That’s one feature of students that are successful. Now I submit to you that they didn’t get all those assets overnight. Those young people were exposed to the Word of God systematically over many years; that gave them that strength. This is not a five-minute do-it-yourself thing here, this takes consistent lifestyle.
The second thing he said, and this is important because we have so many people that get stuff on the Internet or they text people, they see it on Twitter or something, and they become isolated. Here’s the second characteristic of successful Christian young people today: “they choose their community based on others who have a biblical worldview”; they’re not loners, because none of us has enough capability to master every area; we have to rely on others in the body of Christ. You have to have fellowship; you can’t be a lone ranger flitting from one Christian group to another. Your place is in a local church over the years.
One of the problems that people who flip from church to church have is that they never see the long-term results of the Holy Spirit working. If you’ve been in the church for five or six years you have watched the Holy Spirit work with that person, or yourself, over a time period, and it teaches you patience. It teaches you the idea that things take time. We’re so impatient; we want everything in two minutes. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work on our schedule. He works on His schedule, and the only way you can see Him working is to be around Christian fellowship on a regular basis and that’s what these successful Christian students do.
But here’s the third characteristic and I don’t think I put it on the slide. The third one is also interesting. He says the character of these young people is not just taught, it is caught. They have mentors in their lives who are vitally important. He said those kids’ lives have been changed by life-on-life mentoring by someone else who embodies that worldview and that they have fellowship with over time. It could be a dad, it could be a mom, and ideally that would be great. It could be a college professor who takes them aside, who understands them.
We have young people going to a college in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and there is a faculty member who regularly sits down with Christian students and he trains them how to behave in a classroom where they have a hostile faculty member. He is saying, “I’m here on campus, I’m a Christian, I survive, it is possible to survive here but let me train you how to do it.” And that’s wonderful encouragement for an 18-year-old kid, a 20-year-old kid, to come there and talk to a 45-year-old professor who has been around, he’s been beaten up but he survived and he teaches there, he’s tenured, and so just to have that mentoring is so important and that’s what families are for, mentoring.
We want to look now at the biblical framework and here’s slide number 7. Here’s why I formulated the framework years ago. I just noticed kids coming from Christian homes who had been taught the Bible, who knew different Bible stories, and they would get on campus, get in a jam, either socially or academically, and it’s like they couldn’t retrieve the biblical information to make good decisions and they go into a panic. I found three problems, and the framework approach is designed to deal with these three problems.
The first one is they were unfamiliar with the flow of biblical revelation and you can understand how this happens. We go to a Bible study and we’re studying 1 Corinthians, and then we’re studying the book of Joshua, and then we’re studying the book of Revelation. See what we’re doing is skipping around chronologically and that’s okay. We have to do that, but somewhere we have to see that when God speaks in history He speaks century after century; there’s a progression that’s going on because our God is a perfect teacher. History is pedagogically administered and we have to understand God takes the human race through all kinds of things and I hope to, in the conference, tell you what I think He’s taking our country and western Europe through right now. There’s a progress that’s going on here; it’s not just a random thing.
The second thing is there was a piecemeal use of doctrine where you take one Bible truth and you project it, you discuss it, but it is disconnected from all the other biblical truths. The problem is if you look at this building you realize that there is a framework in this building. That roof is being held up by these guys; there’s an interconnection of structure. That’s the same way it is with the Scriptures. There are truths here, there are truths there, but they interlock and they mutually support one another. That’s how we can say the Bible is self-authenticating, because it gives you the rationale for every other part by the other parts, sort of like how the body works together.
Then we find a third problem and that is that the Bible can be perceived logically and propositionally as doctrine, e.g., the doctrine of justification by faith. But that doctrine sits over here while the history of Abraham believing God at a certain point in 2000 BC is over here. So now we’ve got the doctrine here, we’ve got the history over here, but they’re not interconnected.
Do you know what the danger of that is? How do we know God is faithful to His doctrines if it isn’t history? Isn’t history the place where we can monitor God’s faithfulness; that when He promises something in 2000 BC to Abraham, He still going for it in 1000 BC, still going for it in 0 BC?
You see, we know our God is faithful because there’s a historical record. Do you realize there’s no other religion that does that? No other religion has a historical record. Buddhism doesn’t, Hinduism doesn’t, there’s no history of fulfilled prophecy, of fulfillment of promises, that’s only in the Bible. So that’s why we want to have a framework approach.
I want to move on to another point and that is I want to deal with the issue of secular education for a moment. If you are a secular education teacher I’m not knocking you, I pray for you. There are Christian people that are working hard inside the public educational system and I don’t want the following remarks to be interpreted as that I’m trying to undercut them. I pray for them; they’re on the front lines, and as I said earlier, they’re being asked to almost compromise their faith to keep their jobs now. They have a hard time and you want to support them. I’m not criticizing Christian teachers in the public school system, but I am criticizing the structure of the entire package deal.
Here’s the problem: today Christians by the thousands are waking up over the bathroom incident of transgenderism. Is this the first time we’ve ever thought about the problems when we start dealing with bathrooms and restrooms? Isn’t this a little late to be thinking about the problems when it is obvious? Do we want to send our kids to first grade to be taught transgenderism, as they are in Maryland? What are you going to do now when your kid comes home and you’re sitting down at the supper table with him and he talks about Johnny thinking that he’s a girl. What’s the response here? We should’ve thought about this earlier, not when we get down to the bathroom issue. So the point here is that we need to look at education.
I want to show you two slides. This is sobering, and the one that is on your hand out, unfortunately because it was white type when I did it and had Larry do it in black and white, I forgot about this slide and it doesn’t show up too well but let me read this to you. This slide and the next slide I am showing you, slides 8 and 9, these are law journals. These are journals that will be read by justices in the court system because the average judge today is so busy, the dockets are so swamped, that the average judge today does not have time to do a lot of research. They get their ideas from the law journals. They have to. They can read a law journal in the afternoon and catch up.
Here we have two examples from contemporary law journals about education and I want you to watch very carefully. “This essay explores the choice many traditionalist Christian parents (both fundamentalist and evangelical),” notice they are targeting certain people, the fundies and the evangelicals. See, they know where the opposition is; they know us; we have a target on our back; they already identified us. “This essay explores the choice many traditionalist parents (both fundamentalist and evangelical) make to leave public schools in order to teach their children at home, thus in most instances,” notice the next phrase, “in most instances escaping” what? “… meaningful oversight,” see that? In other words, we [the elite] have to be in charge; we know more; and these parents are escaping meaningful oversight.
See the control? See the molding? It goes back to Romans 12:2, “be not conformed to this world.” “No, we want them conformed; we are the ones; we are the elite; we want them to be conformed.” “Society need not,” and look at this, “and should not tolerate the inculcation of absolutist views that undermine toleration of difference.” Wow, what a sentence! “Society need not and should not.”
What has this professor just done with “should not?” When you say something “should not,” you are making an ethical statement. By what standard, we should ask this professor? By what standard are you imposing that says this is wrong? I challenge your standard. “Society need not and should not tolerate the inculcation of absolutist views that undermine toleration of difference.” In other words, undermine our control, undermine our view of society.
And now watch this one. “If a parent subscribes to an absolutist belief system premised on the notion that it was handed down by a creator, that it (like the Ten Commandments) is etched in stone and that all other systems are wrong, the essential lessons of a civic education … often seem deeply challenging and suspect … Such ‘private truths’ have no place in the public arena, including the public schools.” Do you see the quote there? See where I put the little quotes? They’re “private truths.” Excuse me, when God speaks into history as the Creator of the universe, that’s a private truth? Were the Ten Commandments given privately or were they publicly heard? See we’re on a fundamental collision course here and we better understand what the gamble is and how to deal with this. We’re not the first people in church history to have to face this, but let’s just understand where we are.
Here is another journal: [There must be legal and constitutional limits on the ability of homeschooling parents to “teach their children idiosyncratic and illiberal beliefs and values”… [Government control must be exercised against] “parents [who] want to teach against the enlightenment….Parental control over children’s basic education,” now look at this one, “Parental control over children’s basic education flows from the state (rather than vice versa). States delegate power over children’s basic education to parents….” What does Deuteronomy 6 say? Who is the responsible agent for education in the Bible? Parents are. Who is responsible for public education with these people? The state is. Now you can’t have it both ways. We’ve got a conflict going on here that’s very serious and very basic.
That’s the situation we face. Then one more slide, number 10, and that is John Dewey. John Dewey taught for many years at Columbia University. I remember my mother getting her Master’s degree in Education, taking the train to commute into New York City to study under these people. Dewey set the tone in our country for the philosophy of education taught to thousands and thousands of people who are now principals of schools and teachers.
Here’s what he says and he’s right. You see something that’s truth. He says, “I cannot understand how any realization of the democratic ideal as a vital moral and spiritual ideal in human affairs is possible without the surrender of the conception of the basic division to which supernatural Christianity is committed.”
In context what he is saying is that every society where Christianity comes in, it divides society into the saved and the lost, doesn’t it? Now what you’ve done is bifurcated the society and that they don’t like, they want a homogenized society. So they recognize that the gospel is disruptive of their idea of what a community should be like because it sets up two communities instead of one community; a fundamental idea here.
Secular education seeks to mold people and here is what Gary Rieseberg in his PhD dissertation at UCLA in 1991 found. Here’s his conclusion of this molding process; he studied thousands of students. “At every level,” he said, “from junior colleges to Ivy League schools, both Christian colleges and secular institutions, somewhere between one-third and one-half of students who claimed to be Christians going into college claimed not to be Christians when they left.” So that’s the reality. We’ve got 20,000 Americans; I think it’s every week or every month, becoming Muslims in our country right now because the Christian philosophy is not understood.
Well for our conclusion let’s turn in the Bible to two examples of how the people in the Bible knew the framework of the Bible and used it at certain critical times. We could go into many passages but let’s turn to Joshua 24. Here at the end of his life Joshua wants to leave a message for a generation. We’re not going to go through the whole thing, but in verses 1 to 23 in Joshua 24, let’s just skim through pretty quickly. Notice what he is doing; this is his last message to the people. [Paraphrased]
“And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel,” see revelation, “Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, dwelt on the other side of the river in old times and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham,” see, here’s the event—the call of Abraham. “Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river, led him throughout all the land of Canaan and multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau: to Esau mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Also, I sent Moses and Aaron,” that’s the Exodus event, “and plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterwards I brought you out and I brought your fathers out of Egypt. You came to the sea; the Egyptians pursued your fathers.” He goes into the supernaturalness of their history. What’s he doing here? He’s reminding them of their history. A society that forgets its history suffers from collective amnesia.
You know, and you probably have people in your own family, as they get old they lose their memory. What happens to people that lose their memory? You get a feeling they’re not here. I can’t communicate how many tragedies we have in our homes with an old person who we dearly love and we can’t communicate with. It’s like they’re separate people.
That happens socially; that happens to whole societies. I have a friend who is an ex-Muslim from Iran and he says that he talks to people in Iran and what’s happening is the mullahs in Iran have blindfolded the Iranians; Iranians are not Arabs. Just because they’re Muslim doesn’t make them Arabs; the Iranians are Persians. He says, do you know what the mullahs have done to the youth in Iran? They have totally erased their Persian history, including suppressing their artifacts; destroying their artifacts as though they were never Persians.
Do you know why they want to eliminate their Persian history? Because the mullahs hate Israel and in Persia, who was it that established Israel after the exile? It was the Persians. Who had as a queen of their country a Jewish queen? Persia, didn’t it? Who had a statesman that had the greatest perception of the role of history of any person, any statesman, ever? Daniel. Persia. The mullahs say get rid of Persian history and we can mold them the way we want them.
So in our country today, what happens to American history? It’s gone. I visited a church in Florida and I was talking to a man who teaches music in the public school system. He is sitting there in the faculty lounge; he’s a veteran of Vietnam, and he turns to one of the teachers in the faculty room and he asks him what he is teaching about Vietnam. He says, “We don’t teach Vietnam.” So he asks him what he is teaching about the Korean War. He says, “We don’t teach that, it’s irrelevant.” Needless to say, after he figured out that they don’t teach World War II, World War I, the Depression, we might as well not teach the Constitution, I mean good Lord, that’s 200 years ago!
So everything changes; we can’t let the hand of the dead rule the living and so we eliminate this and in eliminating it, we successfully manipulate the whole group. “People who don’t know their history,” Hegel said, “are doomed to repeat it.” History is how you learn the consequences of choices. That’s what history is about; understanding that you can choose, yes, you can, but you can’t affect the consequences of your own choices; that’s the lesson of history.
So here Joshua wants them to understand that God did all this. He says, “I brought you into the land of the Amorites who dwell on the other side. I gave them into your hand that you might possess their land.” Then he goes into all the history and so forth.
Now down to verse 14 [paraphrased], “Now therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in truth. Put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt.” He says, “You people are always resorting to pagan deities. You never get rid of this and I’m telling you that you’re going to ruin the state and this nation by continuing your theological defection and your lack of faithfulness to the Lord. Serve the Lord, and if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served or the gods of the Amorites and so on, but as for me and my house we’re going to serve the Lord.” That was his conclusion. He narrated the great events of Scriptural history.
Now turn in the New Testament to Acts 7. Here’s another incident, life-and-death. Stephen, what does he do? He reviews the same thing that Joshua did. Stephen reviews the framework of historical revelation. Acts 7:2 [paraphrased]: “Brethren and fathers, the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia.” He starts at the same place Joshua does in Joshua 24. It’s the same key event. “Get out of your country; thus came out of the land of the Chaldeans,” and so on.
Abraham had no child, but He promised to give it to him for a possession, but God spoke this way. He narrates how God intervened in history supernaturally. Verse seven [paraphrased], “And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge and after they shall come out and serve me in this place.” That’s important because that was a prophecy of 400 years after Abraham and you finally get them coming out.
Now let’s think about 400 years in time. Right now, let’s just say 2016; 400 years ago was 1616; have things happened between 1616 and 2016? Now imagine if we had a prophecy by somebody that had lived in 1616; he was, say, in Plymouth, Massachusetts and he made a prophecy of the United States and it came to pass today in 2016. Would that give you a sense of the fact that whoever told that guy that prophecy knew what he was doing? See what is does? By understanding God’s words at a certain point in historical time and then watching those words come to pass it gives you the confidence that you can trust the Lord. He may take time but you can trust Him because He is faithful and you know He’s faithful because of His past behavior.
So Stephen goes through this in verse 9 where he starts talking about what happened in Egypt, and then he comes forth in verse 17 where he talks about the Exodus with Moses, and then he says in verse 30 that 40 years had passed and the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush in the wilderness of Sinai. What event is that? Mount Sinai.
See, these are the same events, the call of Abraham, Exodus, Mount Sinai; those are the great events of the framework. Men like Stephen; men like Joshua, knew that, not as isolated Bible stories. Think of a necklace; think of beads in a necklace, you pull a string and drop the beads all over the table. There is no rhyme or reason to the beads but when you see those beads artistically in sequence on a string, now you see something. That was there before but you couldn’t see it because the beads weren’t in an orderly fashion. That’s why I’m so adamant about the framework; it’s a way of seeing the orderliness of God’s revelation in the Scriptures. When you see that, you see the pattern. You don’t have to be like Bertrand Russell, that everything is random. No it’s not; look at the patterns for heaven’s sake. God promises certain things and they come to pass.
In the rest of this conference we’re going to go through the early part of the framework. Obviously, in five or six sessions were not going to be able to go through the whole framework, but what I am going to do is something that I haven’t done before and that is, I’m going to deliberately take key events of the framework and I’m going to set them against contemporary pressures that we face as Christians. We are going to look at some of the contemporary ideas.
We’re going to look, for example, at of some of the science issues going on with Creation. We’re going to look at some of the national histories versus the histories in the Scriptures. We’re going to look at the Fall and what the Fall has done to nature; what the Fall has done to man; what the Fall has done to this identity problem.
I have to take up the identity problem because that’s the new thing today; trying to figure out our identities. We’re going to do that. We’re going to go back and demonstrate once again for the thousandth time that the Scriptures are sufficient unto every good work and the Scriptures give us the answer to the identity problem. If we will only do this, and that is to take the truths of Scripture and the problems we face out there in the culture and bring them into full contact.
That’s what we want to do in this series; we want to bring the Word of God into full body contact with the culture around us, and by doing that, we can understand the difference between being conformed to this world and being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
“Father, we thank You for the fact that You have not left us alone in history; that history is going somewhere; that even today as compared to yesterday, You have moved history forward 24 hours. We thank You that we are 24 hours closer to the grand culmination that You are working towards in history.
We thank You that at this hour our Lord Jesus Christ reigns far above principalities and powers; that physically He ascended into Heaven and sits at Your right hand and is located somewhere in His humanity right now. We know that that “somewhere right now” is far above not only the principalities and powers of this age, but of any age to come.
We thank You that when Stephen gave his address, the Lord Jesus appeared to Stephen and the Lord Jesus got up from His throne and stood to receive Stephen into Heaven. We thank You for the great testimony that martyrs down through twenty centuries of Christian history have known; that to be absent from the body is to be face-to-face with the Lord.
We thank You for the assurance that come what may, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Thank You so much for Your all-sufficient grace, in Christ’s name, Amen.”