Poor Tim. Tim Allen, that is, of Home Improvement sitcom fame. Aside from his endless quest for bigger and better power tools and manly grunting, he actually contributed something useful to my own perception of things in an episode in which his wife wanted to watch ballet, but Tim wanted football. Always the clever schemer, he devised a compromise that appeased his wife by splicing recorded scenes together from both events, first the football game, then ballet. He humorously tried justifying the blending of events by adding humorous commentary: “Bone-jarring tackle!” — switch to ballet dancers — “And the peasants rejoiced!” It made for a humorous ending to marital conflict, but, of course, nothing was truly resolved.
Yet somehow, the image of peasants, poor and destitute, of desperate people rejoicing at meager success struck me as a sad, yet often mimicked, practice in education today. When a conflict rages between two opposing views, a faulty compromise is reached — and the peasants (who don’t know any better) rejoice. Because they don’t know any better, because they’re too desperate to discern, or because, like a tired Tolstoy character, they’ve just grown weary of trying to figure it all out. If you sometimes feel like one of those confused peasants — hold on! Stick with me for just a minute to consider a fresh approach to the conflict.
Peaceful Coexistence Is Impossible!
Consider this claim: Any educational system that does not actively promote a Biblical method of interpreting reality stands in flagrant opposition to the infallibility of Scripture. Like oil and water, capitalism and communism, ballet and football — the two cannot peacefully coexist in the same arena. If you don’t agree,that’s fine. Keep reading. Let’s look honestly and briefly at the two methods:
The Word of God presents a distinctive method of interpreting reality. It is:
1. God-centered “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Ac. 17:28). “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). “Apart from Him, life has no meaning.”1
2. Covenantal The triune God is relationship driven by nature — three and one in perfect harmony. He is the ultimate One and Many, without conflict, tension, or dispute. Because He is Himself relationship driven, all of creation is related to and through Him.
3. Purpose-driven Scriptures espouse a universe with objective meaning granted to it by a transcendent God for an eternal purpose. Consequently, history is moving in a linear fashion toward a victorious destination.
Each non-Biblical system, on the other hand, also presents its own unique method of interpreting reality, but all such methods seem to share the same essential qualities. They are:
1. Man-centered That is all they can be in the absence of any transcendent factor. At the very least, human reason is set up as the ultimate authority, thereby positioning man as the measure of all things.
2. Chaotic Without an understanding of the triune God, such methods view the One and Many in tension. The universe is a dialectical short circuit with no real answers, only constant competition between equally viable and equally destructive alternatives. Thus, the survival of the fittest determines the evolution of ideas, people, and animals.
3. Nihilistic. The universe has no objective meaning. We have no purpose. History is just a morass of mistakes that we are doomed to repeat to extinction.
Implications of Infallibility
Here’s the point: through the Bible, God has revealed His method of interpreting reality. In His light, we see light (Ps. 36:9). God’s light, by His very nature, is not capable of error. If He could err, He could not be God. That’s what makes Him, and consequently His Word, infallible. So His method of interpreting reality must be the true method of interpreting reality because He is infallible.
OK. You’re right. I can see I’m losing some of you at this point by the simplicity of this point. But others may be dazed and confused, trying to hearken back to a distant Sunday School class to remember just what exactly infallibility is. So here’s a brief refresher: God is incapable of erring. Note that it is not simply that He has yet to make a mistake, but that He could not possibly make a mistake; in fact, He couldn’t even want to. “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9). Because “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18) and the “truth of the Lord endures forever” (Ps. 117:2). In short, God is truth. But it’s not just that He is true; He is infinitely true.
God’s infinity may be the least understood of His incommunicable attributes (those that He shares with no one). His infinity is “the absence of all limitations and defects.”2 As God Himself queried rhetorically to Job, “Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 11: 7-10). His truth has no limits or defects, nor could it. It is infinitely true, infinitely holy and without the possibility of error. Consequently, His revelation of Himself and His methods in Scripture has “a theological and infallible certainty, which cannot possibly deceive the true believer illuminated by the Spirit of God.”3 To suggest that anything could even be mentioned as credible competition to God’s truth is sheer absurdity.
But now, back to the point. God is infallible. He has revealed the infallible method of interpreting reality. Any non-Biblical method is not — by definition — God’s method. Thus, we must conclude either that every non-Biblical method is wrong — by definition — or that God’s method may be wrong. But that would mean He is not infallible. That would mean God could be wrong. That would mean man could be right. And isn’t that what we’ve been saying ever since Eden? Could God finally be starting to “get it”?
Now let’s rewind. This point may have been lost in its own simplicity. It boils down to this — either God is infallible or He isn’t. Either His Word is incapable of containing error or it isn’t. There can be no question that the anti-God methods of interpreting reality employed in our government schools, most non-Christian private, and, yes, even some nominal Christian schools are diametrically opposed to the methods revealed in Scripture. We are left with only one question. Which method is valid? But know this. If we even entertain the notion that the anti-God methods may have credence, we have denied the infallibility of God and His Word. For you see, His truth is not on trial. Those who encounter it are.
Choose Ye This Day
So if you’re still courageous and concerned enough about being faithful to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you that you’re still reading you might wonder — where does that leave parents who send their children to be indoctrinated by anti-God methods of interpreting reality? With two choices:
1. Deny the infallibility of God. Tell their children that there is strength in diversity. Feed them a multicultural line about Christians needing to be more open-minded. After all, if we could just quit judging others, everyone would like Christians a lot more. And isn’t love what the world’s really all about?
2. Be honest. Explain to their children why they are submitting them to be trained in methods of interpreting reality that are at war with the very existence of his Almighty and infallible Creator and therefore could not possibly be true. They shouldn’t conceal the truth behind coy clichés (“You’re a missionary, son.”) or tired excuses like the following ones heard so often:
“We just can’t afford an education that uses a Biblical method.” Let’s see them try that on their children with other essentials of life. “Sorry, we just can’t afford food this week, kids.” No decent, or even wicked, parent could imagine saying such a thing. The truth is this: money is never the issue. The kingdom of Heaven has access to untold wealth. After all, the earth and it’s fullness belong to the Lord. Poor financial management? Too much pride to ask for help? Misplaced priorities? Yes, those may be credible excuses — credible, but still not valid.
“We can learn from them and then use that education to serve God.” Oh, please, not this decrepit, “facts are neutral” argument again. Are we still stumbling over such idiotic logic? But beyond the myth of neutrality, this approach is like training a child in demolitions so he can acquire expertise in construction. The purpose of the anti-God educational methods — by definition! — is to destroy the Kingdom of God, not to build it. Unfortunately, all too many parents have bought into this fallacious argument so that we now have a generation of Christians who excel at constructing kingdom edifices that are easily demolished.
“Well, the government is making us do it.” As if that explains anything but their own unwillingness to do the right thing in the face of incredibly mild adversity. Do the words, “We ought to obey God rather than men” ring a bell here? The sad part is that some Christian parents would rather not waste an education (read here money) on their kids (“After all, Junior’s not the brightest bulb in the box.”), except that the mean, old government is forcing them to perform their covenantal duty toward their sacred trusts on loan from God.
You know, come to think of it, I guess there is a third option for these parents. In fact, perhaps this option would just clear up all the confusion in the first place. Perhaps they should drop the façade. Deny the validity of Christianity. Dare to dance without their Christian costume.
And the peasants will rejoice.
1. Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh, "A Chaing of the Wind," Dayspring Music, 1991. Recorded by Steve Green on the album “We Believe."
2. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Banner of Truth: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1998), p. 60.
3. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing: Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1992), p. 62.