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The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum: Teaching Bible

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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This is the third in a series of posts about formulating a biblical mindset when establishing a Christian curriculum.  The Bible is basic to all of education because it gives us the meaning of all facts and the purpose of education.

The following excerpt from (pp 44-47) of RJ Rushdoony's book The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum outlines a biblical view of teaching Bible. In it, Rushdoony points out that the Bible does not give us a multiplicity of facts which make up mathematics, paleontology, physics, biology, or any other subject, but it does give us "the truth about all facts." It declares all facts to be God-created, God-governed, and God-serving facts.  He asserts that knowledge and wisdom are united in a Christian faith which is Biblical and must be united with Christian education.  

Teaching Bible should be done with knowledge and wisdom. The Bible is God's revelation to man; it has as its purpose the communication by God to man of God's purpose and salvation. In teaching the Bible, it should be remembered, first, that the Christian school is a school, not a church. Its essential function is education, not evangelism. The two must not be confused. In some schools, the goal of the Bible class is conversion, as a result, instruction suffers, and grading tends to be in terms of a response rather than a solid knowledge of Scripture. The teacher's job is to instruct and to grade; the evangelist's function is to present the plan of salvation with conviction and regeneration as the goal. The evangelist's "grading" is different. The best foundation for evangelization is laid by solid instruction. Scripture declares, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). There is no better human instrument possible to assure a hearing ear than the Christian School and sound classes therein.
Second, the class should be given a clear-cut view of Biblical history and doctrine. Most Sunday school instruction is almost useless, because the average child has little sense of the unity of Scripture or of Bible chronology. Sunday school instruction is usually full of gimmicks to command interest, is a form of baby-sitting, and is too often a disaster to Christ's cause. The Christian School must make the Bible Class, above all, highly disciplined and thorough.
Third, Christian education can never be abstract. Our study ...must be historical and concrete. This also means that it then fulfills God's purpose. Solomon, in speaking of the goads and nails of teaching, says "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccls. 12:13). We teach the Bible; we teach the plan of salvation therein, and the way of salvation. We teach: the rest is left to the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the word...
Then, fourth, we must always remember that the Bible is not only the word of God but also the most exciting book there is. Our teaching should not deaden the excitement, beauty, and power of the Bible.
An illustration of a common obliviousness to this aspect of Scripture comes from a pre-World War II England. In a school chapel, the daily readings followed the Episcopal lectionary, which divides Acts 27 into several readings [extending over weeks -A.S.]. A boy without a Christian background, or else no knowledge of Scripture, was asked to read Acts 27:1-26. He continued to read beyond the appointed text. When the headmaster attempted to stop him, the boy told him to be quiet, because he wanted to see what happened. Would there be a shipwreck, and would the passengers be saved? The boy was reading the Bible intelligently. Too often, we ask people to study it in unintelligent terms, as though it were not a remarkably stirring book.
Fifth, the Bible should be read and studied as the word of the living God, an infallible and inerrant word, because no other word is possible from the sovereign and omniscient God. It is this book that governs Christian education and the Christian School. The teacher must grow in terms of that book in order to teach it properly. If our understanding of the Bible does not grow continually, we are not competent to teach Bible. Only those who feel its power and excitement can communicate it, and only those who know the God of Scripture can teach the truth about it.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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