By R. J. Rushdoony
April 24, 2017

Adapted from The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum

The dictionary definition of education describes it as "the impartation or acquisition of knowledge, skill, or discipline of character." The function of education is thus to school persons in the ultimate values of a culture. This is inescapably a religious task. Education has always been a religious function of society and closely linked to its religion. When a state takes over the responsibilities for education from the church or from Christian parents, the state has not thereby disowned all religions but simply disestablished Christianity in favor of its own statist religion, usually a form of humanism. An excellent means of analyzing the religion of any culture is to study its concept of education.

Not only does education find its foundation in religion, but the educational curriculum expresses the religious standards and expectations of a culture. The Latin word curriculum, from which the English word is taken without change of spelling, means a running, a race course, chariot, and is cognate with the Latin verb, currere, to run. A curriculum is thus the chariot, race course, or vehicle whereby a culture expresses its religious faith and standards.

The basic premise of the state school's curriculum is humanism, relativistic humanism. The liberal arts, the arts of freedom, involve the abandonment of God, truth, and law for the affirmation of man. This is an unconditional affirmation: all things are relative to man and have a pragmatic truth in relationship to him.

A Christian curriculum must be developed, therefore. The centrality of Biblical instruction is basic to the liberal arts of Christian education. But the rest of the curriculum must be revised in terms of Christian liberty, the arts of Christian freedom and dominion under God. Only by reclaiming the entire curriculum as the curriculum of Christian liberty, as the Christian liberal arts course, can education be again a liberating force, and man be delivered from the devastating and enslaving forces of amoral statism and anarchistic individualism. A Christian curriculum is thus a major and urgent necessity.

A state curriculum to be true to itself must teach statism. A Christian curriculum to be true to itself must be in every respect Christian.

Topics: Education

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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