Educational Advice From Christian Authorities

Robert E. Fugate, Ph.D.

“Where the Holy Scripture does not rule I certainly advise no one to send his child. Everyone not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt; therefore we must see what people in the higher schools are and grow up to be. … I greatly fear that schools for higher learning are wide gates to hell if they do not diligently teach the Holy Scriptures and impress them on the young folk.”
Martin Luther, “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” in What Luther’s Says: An Anthology, ed. Ewald M. Plass, 3 vols. (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 1959), 1:449 § 1327 (cf. Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan, et. al, 55 vols. [St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1955-1986], vol. 44, § 25)

“Education is the nurture and development of the whole man for his proper end. … Non-Christian training is but literally an anti-Christian training.”
Robert L. Dabney, “Secularized Education,” in Discussions (repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1994), 4:230, 238

Secular state education “must ever be preposterous and untenable for sincere Christians. … It is pagan, utterly damnablethoroughly pagan. … [Christians must] assert the rights of Christian parents in the training of the souls they have begotten, of Christ in the nurture of the souls he died to redeem. … The education of the young should be Christian.”
Robert L. Dabney, “The Attractions of Popery,” in Discussions, 4:547f

“The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to feel, every hour of the day, that, next to making his own calling and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by God — this is his task on earth.”
Robert L. Dabney, “Parental Responsibilities,” in Discussions, 1:691

“παιδεία [training/discipline] is a comprehensive word; it means the training or education of a child, including the whole process of instruction and discipline. … This whole process of education is to be religious, and not only religious, but Christian. It is the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which is the appointed and the only effectual means of attaining the end of education. Where this means is neglected or any other substituted in its place, the result must be disastrous failure. The moral and religious element of our nature is just as essential and as universal as the intellectual. Religion therefore is as necessary to the mind as knowledge. And as Christianity is the only true religion, and God in Christ the only true God, the only possible means of profitable education is the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is, the whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which he prescribes, and which he administers, so that his authority should be brought into constant and immediate contact with the mind, heart and conscience of the child. It will not do for the parent to present himself as the ultimate end, the source of knowledge and possessor of authority to determine truth and duty. This would be to give his child a mere human development. Nor will it do for him to urge and communicate every thing on the abstract ground of reason; for that would be to merge his child in nature. It is only by making God, God in Christ, the teacher and ruler, on whose authority every thing is to be believed and in obedience to whose will every thing is to be done, that the ends of education can possibly be attained. It is infinite folly in men to assume to be wiser than God, or to attempt to accomplish an end by other means than those which he has appointed.”
Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (on Eph 6:4), pp. 360f

“The United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen. The claim of impartiality between positions as directly contradictory as that of Jews, Mohammedans, and Christians, and especially as that of theists and of atheists, is evidently absurd. … If it be not positively and confessedly theistic, it must be really and in full effect atheistic. … English common law is unintelligible if not read in the light of that religion in which it had its genesis. The English language cannot be sympathetically understood or taught by a mind blind to the everywhere-present current of religious thought and life which expresses itself through its terms. The history of Christendom, especially the history of the English-speaking races, and the philosophy of history in general, will prove an utterly insoluble riddle to all who attempt to read it in any non-theistic, religiously-indifferent sense. … A comprehensive and centralized system of national education separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social, nihilistic ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”
Archibald A. Hodge, Popular Lectures on Theological Themes (1887[1]), pp. 281, 383f; reprinted as Evangelical Theology (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976), pp. 242f, 245

Tyranny is being exercised most effectively in the field of education. A monopolistic system of education controlled by the State is far more efficient in crushing our liberty than the cruder weapons of fire and sword. … Every lover of human freedom ought to oppose with all his might the giving of Federal aid to the schools of this country; for Federal aid in the long run inevitably means Federal control, and Federal control means control by a centralized and irresponsible bureaucracy, and control by such a bureaucracy means the death of everything that might make this country great. Against this soul-killing collectivism in education … I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the gospel on the street corners and at the ends of the earth, but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism.”
J. Gresham Machen, “The Necessity of the Christian School,” in Education, Christianity, and the State (Trinity Foundation, 1987), pp. 68, 74f, 82 (first published in 1934). Machen was the leading defender of Christian orthodoxy from 1926-1937 (time of John Dewey).

“One of the chief enemies of human liberty for several thousand years — the principle, namely, that education is an affair essentially of the State, that education must be standardized for the welfare of the whole people and put under the control of government, that personal idiosyncrasies should be avoided. This principle of course, was enunciated in classic form in ancient Greece. It is the theory, for example, that underlies the Republic of Plato. But the principle was not only enunciated in theory; it was also, in some of the Greek states, put into practice. It is very ancient thing — this notion that the children belong to the State, that their education must be provided for by the State in a way that makes for the State’s welfare. But that principle, I think you will find if you examine human history, is inimical at every step to liberty; and if there is any principle that is contrary to the whole genius of the Anglo-Saxon idea in government, it seems to me that it is in this principle of thoroughgoing state control in education. … If liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might just as well give them everything else.”
J. Gresham Machen, “Shall We Have a Federal Department of Education?” in Education, Christianity, and the State,
pp. 87f, 98 (address given in 1926)

The Department of Education “represents a tendency which is no new thing, but has been in the world for at least 2,300 years, which seems to be opposed to the whole principle of liberty for which our country stands. It is the notion that education is an affair essentially of the State; that the children of the State must be educated for the benefit of the State; that idiosyncrasies should be avoided, and the State should devise that ethod of education which will best promote the welfare of the State. That principle was put in classic form in ancient Greece in the Republic of Plato. It was put into operation, with very disastrous results in some of the Greek States. It has been in the world ever since as the chief enemy of human liberty.”
J. Gresham Machen, “Proposed Department of Education,” in Education, Christianity, and the State, p. 101 (testimony before the House and Senate Committees, 1926)

“Obviously the schools are not Christian. Just as obviously they are not neutral. The Scriptures say that the fear the Lord is the chief part of knowledge; but the schools, by omitting all reference to God, give the pupils the notion that knowledge can be had apart from God. They teach in effect that God has no control of history, that there is no plan of events that God is working out, that God does not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. Aside from definite anti-Christian instruction to be discussed later, the public schools are not, never were, can never be, neutral. Neutrality is impossible. Let one ask what neutrality can possibly mean when God is involved. How does God judge the school system which says to him, ‘O God, we neither deny nor assert thy existence; and O God, we neither obey nor disobey thy commands; we are strictly neutral.’ Let no one fail to see the point: The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism
Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education, p. 73

“Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum … The result is that child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food … Modern educational philosophy gruesomely insults our God and our Christ. How, then, do you expect to build anything positively Christian or theistic upon a foundation which is the negation of Christianity and of theism? … No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”
Cornelius Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1990), pp. 186, 193, 200

“In the great spiritual warfare the forces of darkness are organized against the Lord and his anointed. Any organization that claims to be neutral, as do the public schools … is by that token denying Christ’s claims of absolute lordship over all things. As such they are serving the cause of the antichrist. To deny this is either wilfull blindness or woeful ignorance of the devil’s devices and the claims of Christ.”
Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1972), p. 209

“The whole range and content of education must be God-centered; that is, God must be the unifying principle and the interpreting principle of the whole curriculum.”
John Murray, “Christian Education,” Collected Writings, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976), 1:374

“It was with the 20th century that the politics of relativism began to flower into totalitarianism and slavery. Moral and religious values having been denied, there were now no restraints on the power of the state. … As long as relativism spreads, so long will slavery increase and the politics of slavery will dominate us. Education for slavery is the daily routine of modern, statist education, both in the Marxist states and in the Western democracies and republics.”
Rousas J. Rushdoony, “Relativism,” Chalcedon Report # 101 (January 1974)[2]

“For a church or for parents to have no regard for the fact that their children are receiving a godless education is a mark of apostasy.”
Rousas J. Rushdoony, God’s Plan for Victory (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn, 1980), p. 30

“Education ought everywhere to be religious education. … Parents are bound to employ no instructors who will not instruct their children religiously. To commit our children to the care of irreligious people is to commit lambs to the superintendent of wolves.”
Timothy Dwight, President of Yale 1795-1817[3]

“Education in itself is not profitable. Educated, unconverted sinners simply become more clever sinners.”
Jay E. Adams, The Practical Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling (Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2003), p. 61

“Learning alone [devoid of God’s wisdom] can make a man simply a learned fool. And a learned fool is simply a more dangerous man than a simple, ignorant fool.”
Rousas J. Rushdoony[4]

“Education apart from Him [the Lord] ceases to communicate anything but sin and death [Pr 8:36], and our statist education today gives abundant evidence of the devastation wrought by humanism.”
Rousas J. Rushdoony , “Communion and Communications,” Chalcedon Position Paper # 41 (July 1983)[5]

“If God is the key to all reality, then any education or living apart from Him is madness [i.e., insanity]. It is education for disaster and for suicide. If God be God, to act as though He does not exist is death. It means that any godless education, politics, economics, science, entertainment, or anything else is out of touch with reality.”
Rousas J. Rushdoony, “The Definition of Insanity,” Chalcedon Position Paper # 65 (August 1985)[6]

“Educated nations cause more evil than uneducated nations. … Nations did not wage such terrible wars during the unenlightened Middle Ages as they have done since acquiring higher academic standards.”
Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1988), p. 10

“Government schools are anti-Christian brainwashing centers, state indoctrination gulags.”
Peter Hammond,

Anti-Christian quotes

“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
Joseph Stalin in an interview with H.G. Wells, 1934

“Education should aim at destroying free will so that pupils thus schooled, will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished. … Influences of the home are obstructive; and in order to condition students, verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. … It is for a future scientist to make these maxims precise and to discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.”
Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (Columbia University Press, 1951)


[1] Horace Mann, the father of public education, died in 1859.

[2] Rousas J. Rushdoony, “Relativism,” Chalcedon Report # 101 (January 1974); reprinted in Rushdoony, The Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: 1991), pp. 876f, and in Mark R. Rushdoony, ed., Faith & Action: The Collected Articles of R.J. Rushdoony from the Chalcedon Report, 1965-2004, 3 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon / Ross House Books, 2019), 1:531f.

[3] Cited by Christopher J. Klicka, The Right Choice (Gresham, OR: Noble, 1995), p. 90.

[4] Rousas J. Rushdoony, Bread upon the Waters (Birmingham, AL: Cornerstone Publishers, 1974), p. 67; reprinted as A Word in Season, vol. 1 (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House Books, 2010), p. 92.

[5] Rousas J. Rushdoony, “Communion and Communications,” Chalcedon Position Paper # 41 (July 1983); reprinted in The Roots of Reconstruction, p. 193, and in Mark R. Rushdoony, ed., An Informed Faith: The Position Papers of R.J. Rushdoony, 3 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House, 2017), 1:34.

[6] Rousas J. Rushdoony, “The Definition of Insanity,” Chalcedon Position Paper # 65 (August 1985); reprinted in The Roots of Reconstruction, p. 293, and in Mark R. Rushdoony, ed., An Informed Faith: The Position Papers of R.J. Rushdoony, 2:611.

Excerpt from Robert E. Fugate, God’s Mandate for Biblical Education (Omaha, NE: Lord of the Nations, LLC, 2007)

ⓒ Robert E. Fugate, 2007

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