Reprinted from A Comprehensive Faith, edited by Andrew Sandlin (San Jose, CA: Friends of Chalcedon, 1996) 33-34.
The teacher who does not grow in his knowledge of his subject, in methodology and content, is a very limited teacher, and his pupils are “under-privileged” learners.
The teacher as student is, above all else, a student of God’s Word. To be a student means to advance and grow.
Our growth in teaching requires our growth through and under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. We must become good learners as a step towards becoming good teachers. Our profession is a very great one in Scripture: our Lord was a Teacher, and the Holy Spirit is our continuing Teacher. We cannot treat our calling lightly, nor grieve the Spirit by abusing our calling.
R. J. Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum
The Bible accurately identifies the fact that without vision, the people perish. For many of us, our original reasons for homeschooling pale in comparison to the strong motivations we now have.
Too few of us really knew what was at stake. We began with the Spirit’s prompting — in many cases living quite above our stated theology. But without a strong theological, intellectual base, well-meaning friends and family, an intrusive school board, or political legislators answering to strong and well-funded lobbies would have knocked us down and knocked some of us out.
The writings of R. J. Rushdoony (specifically his books on public education, Christian education, and the struggle between Christianity and humanism) provided guidelines to keep us on track. When my son was young, I would often threaten to send him to “public school” when he repeatedly failed to adhere to my instruction. But after Rushdoony taught me to understand the extent of the assault on Christianity and God’s law in state schools, I never threatened again. I realized that my threats would be comparable to telling him that if he failed to listen to me I would abandon him along the side of the road to the care of robbers and thieves.
Rush’s works do more than sound a warning. His Institutes of Biblical Law and Systematic Theology give homeschooling parents the “seminary-like” education that equips them to teach every subject from a godly, orthodox perspective. His experience and expertise have often led me along paths that would reap tremendous rewards for me and my children. Thanks to his teaching that every area of life and thought is subject to the law of God, from the time my children were very little, discussions on daily problems or situations were viewed from the perspective of where (not if) God’s law addressed it. Many times our dinner table has been the place of important theological discussions undergirded by a solid orthodox base.
But these are personal encounters with a writer and his work. The groundwork Rush laid by spearheading the Christian and homeschool movements, and his participation in landmark cases involving the rights of Christians to educate their children as directed by God, helped me even before I had the blessing of knowing him. For the work he and those who worked with him did paved the way for me to be able to homeschool without significant incident or opposition.
Additionally, there were the many people who had read his work and heard him speak and began to take dominion in the area of homeschooling support groups, magazines, legal assistance, and writing and designing curriculums, etc. In other words, others built on his work; as a result, there are myriads of good resources available to homeschoolers everywhere.
Rush didn’t stop there. He continued to write and challenge Christians to cast their bread upon the waters. He was not interested in becoming a celebrity-guru with followers who follow him blindly. Far from it. He lived humbly, took time to answer questions (even from children), and challenged people to begin a work in their own area and re-take ground for the kingdom of God. The quality of the people he drew to him over the years is astounding. Their books fill my bookshelves as do the works of many great men he referenced and on whose work he expanded.
Over the years, I have spoken to many home educators who have known Rushdoony, the work of the Chalcedon Foundation, and read his books. They agree with me that he has served as a prophet and mentor in the arena of homeschooling. Often, when our family meets another that has had the benefit of Rush’s teachings, there is an instant camaraderie and depth of understanding that is not always present with those who don’t have the same grounding.
R. J. Rushdoony, the Christian, the man, the theologian, the advocate, has had an impact that grows yearly. God has been gracious to us by giving us one who could help us understand our times and be prepared to apply His law-word to every area of life and thought. This good and faithful servant, we believe, will be remembered alongside other greats of our Faith such as Augustine, Calvin, and Knox. How blessed we were to be given a chance to walk alongside him as he did the work God has called him to do!