I first met Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony in 1984 at a Christian conference in Denver after I had written Is Public Education Necessary? Believe it or not, writing that book turned me into a Calvinist. Rush had read the book and praised it highly. It was quite a thrill for me to become acquainted with one of modernity’s leading Calvinist theologians.
Rush, who was always quick to praise others, told me that he was greatly impressed with the work I had done to promote the teaching of reading by way of intensive phonics. He was deeply concerned with growing illiteracy in America, and so he made me a member of Chalcedon’s staff.
My conversion to Calvinism came about through the research I had done on the genesis of the public school movement. Its prime movers were the Harvard Unitarians, who wanted to get Calvinism out of education. They took over Harvard in 1805 and expelled the Calvinists. And so I wanted to know what it was they objected to in Calvinism. That required reading Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I was so impressed by Calvin’s wonderfully intellectual view of religion, that I also read the New Testament.
The question I had to answer was posed by what I had read: Was Jesus what He said He was or not? If He was, then He was the Messiah. If not, then he was an imposter. I decided that He was what He said He was. And so, I became a believer in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. No imposter could have imposed on millions of followers a religion based on false premises and false teachings. Mohammed could do it by the sword: submit or die. But Christianity spread by the word not the sword. It had to be believed by the inquiring mind.
I considered Rush to be my mentor, and visiting him in California was always a most exhilarating experience. We agreed on just about everything. He was very much interested in my work promoting Christian homeschooling, which he defended in courts around the country. He knew that there could not be a true Christian revival without good Christian education. I had the privilege of speaking with him at many homeschool conventions, urging Christian parents to provide their children with a solid Christian education.
He saw, before any of us did, that America was involved in a cultural and religious war between Humanism and Christianity. My book, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, covered much of the same territory of his seminal book, The Messianic Character of American Education. I emphasized the political aspects of the struggle while Rush saw the war in philosophical terms. Our two books complemented each other.
For me, the loss of Rush was the end of a very special friendship — a meeting of minds — that can never be duplicated. His memory will be with me until the end of my days.
- Samuel L. Blumenfeld
Samuel L. Blumenfeld (1927–2015), a former Chalcedon staffer, authored a number of books on education, including NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, How to Tutor, Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers, and Homeschooling: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Children.
He spent much of his career investigating the decline in American literacy, the reasons for the high rate of learning disabilities in American children, the reasons behind the American educational establishment’s support for sex and drug education, and the school system's refusal to use either intensive phonics in reading instruction and memorization in mathematics instruction. He lectured extensively in the U.S. and abroad and was internationally recognized as an expert in intensive, systematic phonics. His writings appeared in such diverse publications as Home School Digest, Reason, Education Digest, Boston Magazine, Vital Speeches of the Day, Practical Homeschooling, Esquire, and many others.