Darrow Miller and Friends http://darrowmillerandfriends.com Reflections on the Power of Truth to Transform Culture Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:30:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 34033735 Resist Corruption, Serve the Kingdom of Heaven http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/24/serve-the-kingdom-of-heaven/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/24/serve-the-kingdom-of-heaven/#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:30:56 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19386 This is post 4 of 4 in the series “corruption” Your calling – serve the kingdom of heaven Vishal Mangalwadi asks, “Did Jesus ask us to pray that we might go to heaven, or that the kingdom of heaven might come to this earth?”[1] God is on a mission and

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This is post 4 of 4 in the series “corruption”

Your calling – serve the kingdom of heaven

Vishal Mangalwadi asks, “Did Jesus ask us to pray that we might go to heaven, or that the kingdom of heaven might come to this earth?”[1] God is on a mission and this mission is that His kingdom would come to this earth. His kingdom is where His will is done on earth as it is already done in heaven. His will is that truth, goodness (righteousness) and beauty would prevail. Corruption and all of its harm and destructive effects on people and the earth is not God’s will.

God calls us to join Him in His kingdom mission – starting in our own lives.

Of this calling, Mangalwadi writes,

It is right to be concerned with the flaws in our society, but the cross calls us, first of all, to come to terms with our own flaws and transgressions. We (human beings) are more important to God than our social structures.[2]

We must repent and ask for forgiveness for the sins that we have committed. Then we must go on to receive God’s Holy Spirit so that we may live by his law. … God’s law is summed up in the command to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourself.[3]

Mangalwadi goes on to say,

Corruption survives by fear, the fear of loss, the fear of not having, the fear of shame, of physical harm, and most supremely the fear of martyrdom and death. Therefore, a person cannot reform his community unless he is willing to transcend his community by surrendering to God alone… The cross is a rejection of the world and a giving of oneself to God for the world, in order to serve the world.”[4]

God calls us to serve the kingdom of heavenChoosing the cross is a matter of knowing God well enough to trust Him.

Standing against corruption in your own life, in the lives of those around you, and in your society requires a Holy Spirit empowerment that goes beyond miracles and signs and tongues. Mangalwadi writes, “The transformation that the Holy Spirit brought about in the disciples was to strengthen them to take up their cross in a confrontation with the kingdom of Satan.”[5]

What changed at Pentecost was not the disciples’ ability to do signs and wonders: the 72 had already been sent out to heal the sick and returned saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”(see Luke 10) No, what changed was that a fearful group of disciples now had courage and power to take up their cross in a confrontation with the kingdom of Satan so that the kingdom of heaven might come to the lives of those around them and to this earth.  In the end, this is the answer to corruption.

The same Holy Spirit indwells every believer. He guides us into all that is true. In all that is difficult, He enables us. In virtue, in patience and courage, we can resist corruption. And every small resistance will contribute to the eventual transformation of a society. May it be so.

  • Dwight Vogt

[1] Mangalwadi, 256

[2] Ibid, 258

[3] Ibid, 259

[4] Ibid, 252

[5] Ibid, 256



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You Can Stop Corruption! http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/20/eliminate-corruption/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/20/eliminate-corruption/#comments Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:30:57 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19375 This is post 3 of 4 in the series “corruption” [from part 2] Corruption is not moral in one country and immoral in another. Corruption and stealing are harmful to people in any country. The creation mandate applies to every person in every country, as does the “love your neighbor”

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This is post 3 of 4 in the series “corruption”

[from part 2] Corruption is not moral in one country and immoral in another. Corruption and stealing are harmful to people in any country. The creation mandate applies to every person in every country, as does the “love your neighbor” principle, and the commandment to not steal. There is a divine judge—God—who will someday judge every person.


What to do about corruption? Here are four suggestions.

First, stop it!

stop corruptionIf you are taking bribes, or giving bribes – stop it. If you are cheating on your taxes – stop it. If you are telling a lie to extract a government benefit – stop it. If you are making decisions in favor of the few based on their wealth and influence—stop it. You are hurting others. You are stealing from them.

This is easy to say but hard to do. People struggle because the incentives to go along with corruption are so great. It is especially difficult when not paying a bribe stands in the way of what seems to be a much greater good.

A friend of ours, Tom, and his partners had a fantastic development program going on in a country in Southeast Asia. The program was helping local farmers move to a sustainable cash crop. They had built a soybean-oil processing mill thereby creating a dependable market for local farmers to grow and sell soybeans. The whole project was eventually derailed because local officials kept putting up barrier after barrier in terms of bribes. They needed ongoing approval for various parts of the project and the officials simply would not sign papers without a bribe. Tom wouldn’t pay. Nothing got done. Eventually he had to close the factory and leave. The farmers lost their soybean market. Because the government was politically oppressive, the farmers could not complain. Did our friends do the right thing considering all the people who were being helped because of the project? This is the hard reality of corruption.

At other times the cost may be personal hardship. My colleague Scott recently traveled to a West Africa country. As he was leaving, the customs office at the airport wouldn’t stamp him out of the country unless he paid a bribe. Scott said he wouldn’t. The official insisted and after about 10 tense minutes, he relented. But what if he hadn’t? What if Scott had missed his flight? What if he had an urgent reason, say a wedding or funeral, to get home?

That’s the hard reality of corruption at the individual level. You know in your heart you need to “stop it” but other factors make it really hard.

Do you give in for the perceived greater good or do you keep feeding the cancer that is killing the nation in the first place?

There is no easy answer, but we do have a powerful God who desires to give us wisdom, courage, and strength in every situation through His Holy Spirit when we ask Him for it.

Second, speak against it.

As a pastor, a business owner, a neighbor and a friend, let people know that corruption directly undercuts the development of your community and nation. Corruption violates the principles put in place at creation by which every person, family, community and nation can develop and flourish. Corruption limits progress for all on all levels – economically, socially, physically and politically. It reduces productivity and wealth.

Don’t secretly (or openly) applaud the co-worker who is cheating and getting away with it. Remind people of the biblical principles mentioned above, and their implications. Let people know that corruption is not a victimless crime. The public always pays with a poorer economy and living condition. Corruption costs lives, dignity, freedom, health and money. It is a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. It depletes public wealth – roads don’t get built, education suffers. It corrodes the social fabric of society. It undermines trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. It hurts the environment where people live.

Speak out. Changing systemic corruption requires public disapproval and intolerance of corruption – which then shapes the culture, which shapes the systems and institutions of culture.

Here, too, there can be great danger and hardship in speaking out. Seek wisdom and strength from God.

Third, pull back the covers.

It is easy to do wrong when no one sees it. But, shine the public light on private behavior and people will often change. (For those who practice it, corruption is only sin if you get caught!) No one likes to be seen and known as a “wrongdoer.” Find ways to bring to light what is done in the dark. The framers of the U.S. constitution knew the heart of mankind was not to be trusted and built checks and balances into government for this reason. In one community of Brazil, young people are taking pictures of unfinished government projects and posting them on Facebook to put public pressure on government officials and contractors who are influenced by corruption. Social pressure can go a long way in changing behavior.

Fourth, promote free market exchanges and reforms.

If competing private companies are providing services, the customer can bypass the one that requires a bribe. No one pays a bribe if he has other options. If the government controls the rights to water in your town, and the water officials require bribes to get water, people feel like they have no choice.

Be patient and persistent. The Asian Development Bank has found that long-term success is more likely to come through patient and persistent economic, legal, and institutional reforms rather than short-term and largely reactive efforts to punish wrongdoers.

  • Dwight Vogt

… to be continued



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What’s the Big Deal About Corruption? part 2 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/17/corruption-big-deal-2/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/17/corruption-big-deal-2/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 15:30:28 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19360 This is post 2 of 4 in the series “corruption” [from part 1] Corruption violates at least four principles critical to the flourishing of individuals, communities and nations. These principles are foundational because they are tied to who God made us to be as human beings and the purpose He gave

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This is post 2 of 4 in the series “corruption”

[from part 1] Corruption violates at least four principles critical to the flourishing of individuals, communities and nations. These principles are foundational because they are tied to who God made us to be as human beings and the purpose He gave us to live out. …”


  1. The creation or dominion principle.

In Genesis 1:28 God gives all people a divine overarching purpose for their lives on this earth.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Nancy Pearcey warns against corruptionNancy Pearcey, in her book Total Truth, explains why this verse is called the Cultural Mandate.

The first phrase, “be fruitful and multiply,” means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, “subdue the earth,” means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, and compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less.[1]

God gives to every human being the purpose of creating and adding value to this world. Every person is made to create, to contribute, to add value. No one is exempt.

Corruption violates this principle by enabling a person to get value without adding value. The corrupt person does not add value. He does not contribute anything new or substantial.

The classic example is the feudal landlord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee to lower the chain. There is no added benefit, there is nothing productive added, there is no wealth created by the transaction. The land owner has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that should be free. He is taking the wealth of others without creating or adding any wealth in return.

To the degree this principle is violated, the development of a community, society and nation will be undercut.

  1. The love your neighbor principle.

In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus says that all the commandments are summed up in the command to love God and the second command to love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:14 says, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” God says the purpose of mankind on this earth is to love your neighbor as yourself. What does this mean?

corruption comes in everyday lifeIn simple terms, to love your neighbor is to determine what is good (and best) for the other person and then do this. It is to benefit the other. The word “benefit” comes from the Latin bene facere—to do good to. For example, plumbers love their neighbor by providing reliable piping for clean water and sanitation in a home. They may never see the homeowner, but their quality work contributes to the good of that person. In turn, the homeowner loves the plumber by giving a complete, on-time payment so the plumber can provide for his family. The eyeglass technician loves his neighbor by making a quality pair of glasses that helps another see clearly. The recipient loves back by paying a fair price for the glasses so the technician can feed his family.

These are business transactions, yes. But this mutual exchange of benefit and good is the essence of God’s design for human flourishing. This is why God gave the command to love your neighbor.

Corruption violates this principle. There is no mutual exchange of benefit when one has to pay an “additional processing fee” to get their paperwork done in a timely manner when it should have been done on time without the payment.

There is no mutual exchange of benefit when a government official …

  • Accepts illicit payments to facilitate access to goods, services, or information to which the public is not entitled.
  • Denies access to goods and services to which the public is legally entitled.
  • Receives an illicit payment to prevent the application of rules and regulations in a fair and consistent manner, particularly in areas concerning public safety, law enforcement, or revenue collection.

To the degree this love your neighbor principle is violated, the development of a community, society and nation will be undercut.

  1. The worship God principle.

Our cultures are ultimately a reflection of the God or gods that we worship. Another way of saying this is culture is downstream from worship. That is, the way we do politics, economics and social relationships is downstream from worship. Corruption, as woven into politics, economics and social relationships is downstream from worship.

Who is the God or gods we worship? What is the character and nature of the God or the gods we worship? When these gods are bribable, corrupt culture and behavior follows.

The living God, the Creator God of the Bible, is just. Deuteronomy 10:17 is one of the clearest passages on this subject: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

Is the god worshiped humanity itself, because “there is no god?” Is the god worshiped a person or one’s self? If so, humans are corruptible. Corruption creeps in when we deny God.[2]

Psalm 14:1 says:

The fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;

there is no one who does good.

Is the god worshiped the spirit world of Animism? Animism is the belief that spirits indwell animals, plants, rocks, rivers, the weather, buildings—all things. These gods are capricious and they can and must be appeased (bribed).

When the gods are bribable, corrupt culture and behavior naturally follows.

corruption is a form of stealing The Creator God of the Bible is incorruptible and will judge corruption. This God says “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Corruption is a form of stealing. It is ultimately a cost or a loss born by people who receive no benefit. That’s called stealing. We sin against God and man when we steal. We sin against God because it is contrary to His design for humanity. We sin against people because it harms them.

No community, society, or nation will long prosper and develop that worships a corrupt god. None will prosper and develop that is built on stealing.

Finally, morality is not relative. Corruption is not moral in one country and immoral in another. Corruption and stealing are harmful to people in any country. The creation mandate applies to every person in every country, as does the “love your neighbor” principle, and the commandment to not steal. There is a divine judge—God—who will someday judge every person. 1 Corinthians 6:10 says thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Dwight Vogt

… to be continued

[1] Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 47.

[2] Mangalwadi, 243



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What’s the Big Deal About Corruption? http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/13/corruption-big-deal/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/13/corruption-big-deal/#comments Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:30:30 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19339 This is post 1 of 4 in the series “corruption” Systemic corruption is nothing new. The Protestant Reformation is rooted in Martin Luther’s identification of corruption in his own religious community. In 1520 he wrote: I have come to see that they [indulgences] are nothing but a fraud of the

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This is post 1 of 4 in the series “corruption”

Systemic corruption is nothing new. The Protestant Reformation is rooted in Martin Luther’s identification of corruption in his own religious community. In 1520 he wrote:

I have come to see that they [indulgences] are nothing but a fraud of the Roman flatterers by which they rob people of their faith and fortunes. Indulgences are a swindler’s trick of the Roman flatterers.[1]

In many societies, corruption is a way of life, so woven into the fabric of the culture people hardly think about it. “What’s the big deal about corruption?” they might ask.

corruption happens in everyday placesBut it is a big deal. It sabotages the progress of individuals, families, communities and nations. Whether at the highest levels of government or every day transactions between common persons, corruption always undercuts the progress of people. It limits and slows the development of your neighbors, your community, your nation.

Why is this? Because corruption always benefits a select few while the majority pays the cost.

Corruption especially hurts the poor. When it takes a bribe, and not just good grades and ability, to get into the university, the scale tips away from the poor.

Some have argued that corruption can be beneficial, that it is a necessary evil. To this, the Anticorruption Policy and Strategy statement of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says,

The bulk of the evidence indicates that corrupt actions typically generate far more costs than benefits. A study of corruption in one country, for example, concluded that corruption intensified ethnic conflict, ruined the efficiency of municipal government and federal agencies, crippled the merit system of hiring and promotion, and generated an “atmosphere of distrust which pervades all levels of administration.”[2]

Corruption is not, as some claim, an unseemly but necessary solution to “grease the wheels” of an inert bureaucracy or industry. No, it puts grit in the wheels.

Corruption

  • Undermines the value of work and individual merit. Why earn a doctorate degree when another person can easily purchase the same?
  • Hinders legitimate business activity. How can you compete honestly in business when others gain unfair advantage through bribes?
  • Endangers peoples’ safety when it results in poor construction and products and the bypassing of public safety rules.
  • Shreds peoples’ support and confidence in government and public institutions.

corruption enslaves peopleCorruption is the antithesis of freedom.[3] In a free economy one person produces a product and another gives money appropriate to the value of the item. However, when you are forced to pay bribes to get the electricity on, the phone to work, and the water to flow, there is no equal exchange of value. You cease being a free citizen.

Corruption grows like a malignant cancer. One bribe leads to another. If you have to pay a bribe to get something done, why not be corrupt yourself? If everyone else is scamming the system, why shouldn’t you? If fact, you’re losing if you don’t. Dishonesty spreads like a virus. In 2016 the Asian Development Bank had a 34% increase in the number of firms and individuals it caught violating its Anticorruption Policy.[4]

Corruption works because it most often happens in secret. The average citizen does not normally see exactly who benefits and how much. Nor do they see what the cost is to themselves.

Corruption at the highest levels is often the perfect theft because most people do not see the thief in action nor do they recognize any loss to themselves. They just know that the economy is suffering or that a road did not get built correctly.

Corruption at the petty level of daily life is visible but people often view it as the price they have to pay to get what they need.

Corruption is a major issue all over the world.

What is corruption?

Here’s a standard definition of corruption: the abuse of public or private office for personal gain.

Vishal Mangalwadi defines corruptionVishal Mangalwadi, in his book, Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, defines it this way:

Corruption involves abusing one’s power to harass, coerce, or deceive others (individuals, institutions, or the state) to acquire value (money, service, goods, ideas, time, property, or honor) without returning proportionate value to them.[5]

Corruption violates at least four principles critical to the flourishing of individuals, communities and nations. These principles are foundational because they are tied to who God made us to be as human beings and the purpose He gave us to live out.

  1. The human dignity principle.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Every person ever conceived God created in His image. This gives every person intrinsic dignity and worth in the sight of God. Job 34:19 reads, “Who shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, For they all are the work of His hands.” All are equal in dignity and value in the sight of God.

Corruption violates this principle because it favors one person over another. It benefits the person who has money and power over the one who does not. It robs people of their dignity and their freedom. It enslaves.

To the degree corruption violates this principle, the development of a community, society and nation will be undercut.

  • Dwight Vogt

… to be continued

 

[1] Luther, Martin, Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (October 1520)

[2] Asian Development Bank, Our Framework Policies and Strategies: Anticorruption, p. 16

[3] Mangalwadi, Vishal. Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2009, p. 236.

[4] Asian Development Bank, Office of Anticorruption and Integrity: Annual Report 2016 , Institutional Document, March 2017.

[5] Mangalwadi, 237

[6] Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 47.



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Charlie Gard: What’s at Stake? http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/10/charlie-gard-reflection/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/10/charlie-gard-reflection/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 17:28:16 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19606 Columnist Todd Starnes has distilled a powerful question from the Charlie Gard matter: What kind of nation would kill a baby in his mother’s arms? That sobering question should prompt reflection by citizens and government leaders alike. A nation’s character is reflected in its answers to such questions. Government leaders

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Columnist Todd Starnes has distilled a powerful question from the Charlie Gard matter: What kind of nation would kill a baby in his mother’s arms?

That sobering question should prompt reflection by citizens and government leaders alike. A nation’s character is reflected in its answers to such questions. Government leaders especially influence the virtues, or vices, of a nation.

Charlie Gard and abortionThe answer to the question is simple: A nation that will kill a baby in his mother’s arms is first a nation that will kill a baby in her mother’s womb.

England, and the West, is well down that slippery slope that begins with the demeaning of human life. What happens now?

After all, it is the same human life at conception as at the time of natural death. The little girl or boy in the womb is human and nothing else. She/he is alive. If we do not value life in the womb, there is no reason to value Charlie Gard’s life or any other baby’s life.

A nation that would kill a baby in his mother’s arms is a nation that thinks

  • Darwin is right, God does not exist.
  • Human life is the product of a cosmic accident and has no purpose.
  • A baby in the womb is not a human baby, but a “product of conception,” “tissue,” a cancer in the mother’s body.
  • The State is sovereign.
  • The State defines what it means to be human.
  • The State has the authority to grant life or death to any citizen.

Such a nation will take the life of Charlie Gard.

A nation that protects the life of a baby in his mother’s arms believes that

  • God exists as the Creator of the universe and the Father of the entire human family.
  • Human beings are not only created by God, they bear the image of God.
  • The right to life is given by God and not by the state.
  • This right is inalienable.
  • This right is granted to all people no matter their age, race, sex, or health condition.

Such a nation will protect the life of the baby in the mother’s womb just as it will protect the life of Charlie Gard.

Which nation do you want to live in? One where the State is sovereign? Or one where God is sovereign? The choice is yours! Your choices will determine the kind of nation you live in and the nation you will help build.

We need to reflect on these questions, to determine the kind of nation we want for Charlie Gard, for our own children. And then we need to act. To fail to act is both a choice and an action.

Charlie Gard is a time to reflect on Edmund Burke's warning

It was the British Statesman, Edmund Burke who famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

What will England’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, do? If she does nothing, Charlie Gard will not simply die, he will have been killed by the government she leads.

Will our lives be marked by passivity in the face of evil?

Who is sovereign, the State or God?

  • Darrow Miller


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The Tragic Case of Charlie Gard http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/07/tragic-case-charlie-gard/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/07/tragic-case-charlie-gard/#comments Fri, 07 Jul 2017 15:10:39 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19592 A state has decided that parents cannot seek to save their child’s life. The state in this case is the National Health Service of Great Britain backed by European Court of Human Rights. The parents are Chris Gard and Connie Yates. The child is 10-month-old Charlie Gard. He has a

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A state has decided that parents cannot seek to save their child’s life. The state in this case is the National Health Service of Great Britain backed by European Court of Human Rights.

the Charlie Gard case decided by European Court of Human RightsThe parents are Chris Gard and Connie Yates. The child is 10-month-old Charlie Gard. He has a very rare disease that keeps energy from flowing to the vital body organs, resulting in atrophy to those organs and ultimately death.

Great Britain operates a socialized medical system. Healthcare is a managed economic problem rather than a human problem. In this context, the court has deemed that the state should not be liable for the costs of Charlie’s care. So Chris and Connie created a GoFundMe account to make it possible to take Charlie to the US to receive experimental, potentially life-saving treatment. The effort has raised almost $1.7 million from thousands of donors around the world.

There are number of ironies here. The first is that the state refuses to let Chris and Connie use private funds to care for their own child. Second, the state has decided that Charlie must die with dignity. And yet it will not allow Charlie’s parents to take him home to die in that loving environment. Instead, the state has decreed that Charlie will die in a sterile hospital setting. Third, the court of appeal was the court of human rights. And yet this callous action has established that it has no interest in human rights, neither Charlie’s right to life or his parents right to fight for his life.

Wherever the state is all-powerful and sovereign this inhumane situation is the outcome. Individuals and families become increasingly small with fewer and fewer rights.

But this issue is not simply socialized medicine as some would argue. The analysis must go much deeper.  Decisions like this don’t take place in a vacuum. A structure underlies this situation, something I call the four Ps. Program is derived from policy, policy from principles, and principles from paradigm or worldview.

PARADIGM (worldview) -> PRINCIPLE -> POLICY -> PROGRAM

In this case the program is pulling Charlie off life support as opposed to allowing him medical care. This program is driven by a policy, i.e. the state has final authority over parents. The state’s rights supersede parents’ rights. The principle is that the state is ultimately sovereign. And the paradigm that drives the principle is atheism. There is no God, thus the state is sovereign, thus the state’s rights trump the family’s rights, thus the program: pull the life support from the baby.

The principle, again, is who is sovereign. And there are three major options for the realm of sovereignty. If God exists He is sovereign. But if God does not exist either the individual is sovereign or the state is sovereign.

The family of Charlie Gard, not the state, has the right to decide

Charlie Gard case example of government tyrannyEach of these options leads to a distinct form of government. If God is sovereign, we find freedom. Freedom is the result of living within the framework of God’s sovereignty. In such a world real people make moral decisions they are responsible for and thus make history.

A world in which the individual is sovereign cannot lead to freedom but will end, rather, in anarchy. As we read in Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

If the state is sovereign this leads to tyranny.

When the individual is sovereign there’s no internal or external government. This is tantamount to license, the freedom to do wrong with impunity. The individual is slave to his or her own appetites.

If the state is sovereign you have tyranny. In the case of Charlie Gard the family clearly has the responsibility and the right to make wise decisions for his care. But the external government maintains absolute control. There’s no freedom. The individual, or in this case the family, is slave to the state. In tyranny the state is sovereign over family, church, and the political process.

But when God is sovereign we have the opportunity for internal self-government, i.e. voluntary obedience to God’s laws. This leads to freedom instead of anarchy and order rather than tyranny. In this concept God is sovereign over all of life and individuals are self-governing over their own life, over family, over church and over the state. The people are the ones who are responsible for the government, the government to the people.

What we find in the case of Charlie Gard is a sovereign state. It is all powerful, it has all authority and Charlie has been reduced to a pawn. His parents are pawns as well. In fact, the state owns Charlie Gard. He is the property of the state and they can dispose of him or can choose to support his life. Human beings–immortal creatures made in the image of God for His own purposes to reflect His glory–have been reduced to commodities owned by the state.

If we want to see a restoration of human responsibility, of human freedom, of the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we need to repent of such godlessness. We need to say again, “Lord, you are God of the universe and Lord of my life. As I live under your authority I am free.”

In this situation Charlie’s parents should have the authority and the responsibility to make decisions related to the life of their child. He deserves the slim chance of the life-saving health care afforded by doctors in the USA. May it be so.

Thanks to all who have rallied to the side of the Gard family. May we yet have a cultural reformation that restores our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Darrow Miller

 



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Teach Character and Understanding at Home http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/06/home-education-develops-character/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/06/home-education-develops-character/#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2017 15:30:28 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19272 This is post 5 of 5 in the series “colonial education” The first sphere of government in colonial America was the home. Home is where the foundation of character is laid and where self-government should first be learned and practiced. Man’s capacity to govern himself is in direct proportion to

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The first sphere of government in colonial America was the home. Home is where the foundation of character is laid and where self-government should first be learned and practiced. Man’s capacity to govern himself is in direct proportion to his relationship with Jesus Christ and obedience to His Word. Childhood is the optimum time to receive Christ as Savior and when the principles of Christianity are most effectually impressed upon the mind. Much of human character and felicity depend upon the education of the young mind for both the development of its faculties and the application of truth to choices and decisions.

So it was in the colonial home where fathers and mothers taught and modeled Christian character and established home habits of civility, morality, frugality, perseverance in well doing, self-governance, and the love of learning. The Bible was their primer for character education and the Book from which they taught their children how to read and reason with truth. Reverend Phillips, writing in 1869, described the role of the colonial American home with regard to forming the character and conscience necessary for Christian civil governance:

The Christian home has its influence also upon the state. It forms the citizen, lays the foundation for civil and political character … We owe to the family, therefore, what we are as a nation as well as individuals. The principle of home government is love—love ruling according to law. It is similar in its fundamentals to the government of the state and the church. It involves the legislative, judicial, and executive functions; its elements are law, authority, obedience, and penalties. The basis of its laws is the Word of God.[1]

John and Abigail Adams modeled a remarkable  home life

John Adams, second President of the United States, and his wife Abigail were careful parents. They lived on a farm in Braintree, Massachusetts and contributed significantly to the founding and constitutional eras of the United States. They left us a remarkable record through their lifetime correspondence of over 1,100 letters. Abigail was the daughter of a colonial New England pastor. She was home educated and spent hours reading the books in her father’s library. She, in turn, home educated their five children. Their first son, John Quincy, served America for more than fifty years. He accepted his first diplomatic appointment at the age of fourteen as secretary to the U.S. minister to Russia. His first instruction was in the Word of God. So well did young Johnny commit the Word to his heart and mind that it became for him both compass and anchor in his long life of public service.

It is in the home that character is developedJohnny was a patriot by the age of seven. While his father served as a statesman in Philadelphia, he watched his mother melt her pewter utensils to make bullets for the Continental soldiers. He served his mother on their Braintree farm, and at the age of ten, held a post-riding job delivering mail. It was at this age that John Quincy began his habit of writing. He is known for his personal diary that he maintained all his life, which comprises over 50 volumes.

His father, John Adams, never negated his responsibility to educate his children, even though he spent long months and even years away from New England in service to the new nation. In a 1778 letter to Abigail, he penned,

Education makes a greater difference between man and man, than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained by early education and constant discipline are truly sublime and astonishing. … It should be your care therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children, and exalt their courage, to accelerate and animate their industry and activity, to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel and creep all their lives.[2]

Tens years at home, under his beloved mother’s tutelage, was all young Johnny would have. At the age of eleven, he traveled to France with his father to serve him in his diplomatic role. However, Abigail continued her education of Johnny through her letters. A portion of a 1778 letter exhorts,

Improve your understanding by acquiring useful knowledge and virtue, such as will render you an ornament to society, an honor to your country, and a blessing to your parents. Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which were early instilled into your mind, and remember, that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.[3]

John Quincy Adams was the only president to continue public service after his term in office!

As a young adult, John Quincy served as a diplomat in various European nations, as Secretary of State for President Monroe, and as a Congressman from Massachusetts. He was then elected the sixth President of the United States. After his four-year term as president, Adams returned home and ran for a seat in Congress. He is one of only two presidents to continue public service after his term in office, which he did for eighteen years until his death. (William Howard Taft served as President for a four-year term followed by nine years as the tenth Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.)

He made many contributions as a legislator, not the least of which was his stand against slavery.

John Quincy Adams taught his children at homeIn 1811, John Quincy revealed his concern for the character of the next generation. He wrote a series of letters to his own son at boarding school on “The Bible and Its Teachings.” A portion of one of these letters follows:

I advise you, my son, in whatever you read, and most of all in reading the Bible, to remember that it is for the purpose of making you wiser and more virtuous. I have myself, for many years, made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. I have always endeavored to read it with the same spirit and temper of mind, which I now recommend to you: that I, with the intention and desire that it may contribute to my advancement in wisdom and virtue. … My custom is, to read four or five chapters every morning, immediately after rising from my bed. It employs about an hour of my time, and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day …

You have already come to that age to know the difference between right and wrong, and you know some of your duties, and the obligations you are under, to become acquainted with them all. It is in the Bible, you must learn them, and from the Bible how to practice them. Those duties are to God, to your fellow-creatures, and to yourself. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.” …

You will perceive that I have spoken of duties to yourself, distinct from those to God and to your fellow-creatures; while Jesus Christ speaks only of two commandments. The reason is, because Christ, and the commandments repeated by him, consider self-love as so implanted in the heart of every man by the law of his nature, that it requires no commandment to establish its influence over the heart; and so great do they know its power to be, that they demand no other measure for the love of our neighbor, than that which they know we shall have for ourselves as well as to them, and they are all to be learned in equal perfection by our searching the Scriptures.[4]

Colonial education successfully equipped five generations to think and reason justly with the revelation of God’s Word for application in every sphere of life. It produced the Christian character and conscience required for governing the first Christian constitutional republic.

  • Elizabeth Youmans

[1]  Slater, R. (1965). Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach. Foundation for American Christian Education, p. 19.

[2]  Hall, V., compiler. (1976). The Christian History of the American Revolution: Consider and Ponder. Foundation for American Christian Education, p. 606.

[3]  Ibid, p. 607

[4]  Ibid, p. 615.



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The American Revolution Was Fueled by Preaching http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/03/preaching-fueled-american-revolution/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/07/03/preaching-fueled-american-revolution/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 15:30:32 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19270 This is post 4 of 5 in the series “colonial education” Colonial preachers such as George Whitefield energized the American Revolution From the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s, public schools as we know them today were virtually nonexistent. Parents, pastors, and tutors taught the rising generation how to read, write, and

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This is post 4 of 5 in the series “colonial education”

Colonial preachers such as George Whitefield energized the American Revolution


From the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s, public schools as we know them today were virtually nonexistent. Parents, pastors, and tutors taught the rising generation how to read, write, and cipher and how to think and reason using the Bible as their primer or first book of instruction. In these 200 years, America produced five generations of extraordinary men and women who laid the foundation for a nation dedicated to the Christian principle of liberty and the art of self-government.

The private system of education in which our forefathers were educated included home, school, church, voluntary associations such as library companies and philosophical societies, circulating libraries, apprenticeships, and private study. It was a system supported primarily by private benefactors, although there was a veneer of government involvement in some colonies, such as in Puritan Massachusetts. All was done without compulsion.[1]

The Old Deluder’s Law of 1642 was passed in the Massachusetts colony. It stated: “All youth are be taught to read perfectly the English tongue, have knowledge in the laws and be taught some orthodox catechism.” Colonial America also had dame schools, in which neighborhood children were taught to read and write by women in their own kitchens.

Unlike modern America, in which the most influential voice in the culture is the media, in colonial America the pulpit served as the single most powerful voice to inspire the thinking and reasoning of the colonists. What fired the colonial pulpit was the influence of Reformers John Knox and John Calvin. Their teachings on the Kingdom of Christ and the authority of the Scripture gave rise to the colonial form of self- and civil government.

Jonathan Edwards' preaching helped fuel the American RevolutionThe colonial pulpit, which began with men like Joseph Cotton, 1630 Puritan pastor of Boston, remained for 150 years the primary educational influence for the colonials through the preaching of such clergymen as Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards (evangelical patriarch), George Whitefield (First Great Awakening), Dr. John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence), Samuel Davies (pastor of Patrick Henry), Jonas Clark (Lexington, 1775), and Peter Muhlenburg (“Give ‘em Watts, boys!”), to name just a few. These were giants indeed, men who faithfully led their congregations to think biblically. Some clergy even donned the garb of soldier during the American Revolution to fight tirelessly with pen and sword for the cause of Christian civilization on the North American continent. According to Yale historian, Harry S. Stout,

Over the span of the colonial era, American ministers delivered approximately eight million sermons, each lasting one to one-and-a-half hours. The average 70-year-old colonial churchgoer would have listened to some 7,000 sermons in his or her lifetime, totaling nearly 10,000 hours of concentrated listening. This is the number of classroom hours it would take to receive ten separate undergraduate degrees in a modern university, without ever repeating the same course![2]

The sermon provided colonial families an excellent educational experience. Sunday morning was not only a time to hear the latest news and see old friends, but it was also an opportunity to sit under a man of God who had spent many hours preparing for a two, three, or even four-hour sermon. Many a colonial pastor spent eight to twelve hours daily studying, praying over, and writing his sermon. Unlike sermons on the frontier in the mid-19th century, colonial sermons were filled with the fruits of years of study. They were geared not only to the emotions and will, but also to the intellect.

The sermon was one of the chief literary genres in colonial America. Listeners followed sermons closely, took mental notes, and discussed the message with their family on Sunday afternoon. Thus, without ever attending a college or seminary, a churchgoer in colonial America could gain an intimate knowledge of Bible doctrine, church history, and classical literature. Questions raised by the sermon could be answered by the pastor or by books in church libraries that sprang up all over the colonies. Often sermons were published, and listeners could review what they had heard on Sunday morning. They were often passed from family to family in a community, as fathers sat nightly with their families around the fireplace rereading the Scriptural references aloud and reviewing each principle with their children. Parents and pastors took seriously their role to educate both the head and the heart.

Sermons were also delivered on various public occasions, such as Days of Thanksgiving or Fasting and the election of officers of the local militia. They were often printed as political pamphlets, as pastors in the 17th and 18th centuries delivered dissertations on civil government. “The annual ‘Election Sermon’—a perpetual memorial that continued down through the generations from century to century—still bears witness [1860] that our forefathers ever began their civil year and its responsibilities with an appeal to Heaven, and recognized Christian morality as the only basis of good laws.”[3]

The years 1740 to 1790 marked an age of “mighty men of God!”—an era of remarkable patriot-preachers who, by their faithful preaching and their righteous lifestyle, laid the foundation for the American Revolution and the founding of the new Republic. “To the Puritan pulpit we owe the force that won our independence.”[4] England’s King George III referred to the Revolution as the “Parson’s Rebellion.”

George Bancroft, 19th century statesman and historian wrote, “the Revolution of 1776, so far as it was affected by religion, was a Presbyterian measure. It was the natural John Witherspoon was instrumental in the American Revolutionoutgrowth of the principles which the Presbyterianism of the Old World planted in her sons in the New World—the English Puritans, the Scottish Covenanters, the French Huguenots, the Dutch Calvinists, and the Presbyterians of Ulster [Ireland]. … The American Revolution was but the application of the principles of the Reformation to civil government.”[5]

Presbyterian Scotsman, Dr. John Witherspoon, was president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and was especially prominent in the independence movement. His influence as a pastor/educator was enormous. One crown official in the colonies wrote back to England that the labors of such clergymen as John Witherspoon so influenced the shape of the conflict that it had very much become a religious war. Witherspoon tutored James Madison, architect of the Constitution and U.S. President, Vice-President Aaron Burr, nine cabinet officers, 21 U.S. Senators, 39 Congressmen, three Supreme Court justices, 12 state governors, and numerous ministers, lawyers, judges, and other public officials. Five of the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention were his students. He nurtured a whole generation of statesmen with the Scriptures and the Covenanter’s view of civil government. He was elected as a delegate from New Jersey to the Continental Congress and served for five years. He was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence, and during his period in Congress he served on over 120 committees. “One realizes after seeing the character of these men why it is said that the colonists treated them with the kind of reverential regard that they refused to give kings and Anglican bishops.”[6]

The true alliance between politics and religion is the lesson that was inculcated by the colonial clergy. “The pulpit of the Revolution is the voice of the Founding Fathers of the Republic, enforced by their example. They invoked God in their civil assemblies, called upon their chosen teachers of religion for counsel from the Bible, and recognized its precepts as the law of public conduct.”[7] They prepared the new nation for the struggle for liberty with the Word of God and a deep trust in Him in their hearts. This was the colonials’ source of moral energy.

The results of colonial education are most impressive. America’s educational institutions—family, church, and school—produced generations of articulate, Christian men and women who could discourse on complex issues of self- and civil government. Samuel Adams, colonial patriot and father of the American Revolution, summarized the ideal of American colonial education: “To develop a wise and virtuous man, fit to be trusted with the liberty of his country.”[8]

– Elizabeth Youmans

[1] Carson, C. (1960). The American Tradition. The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.

[2] Christian History Magazine, Issue 50: Christianity and the American Revolution

[3] Hall, V. (1976). Christian History of the American Revolution. Foundation for American Christian Education.

[4]  Thornton, J. W. (1860). The Pulpit of the American Revolution. Reprinted by Bibliobazaar (2008). Preface.

[5]  Bancroft, G. (1875). History of the United States of America from the Discovery of the Continent, Vol. X. Little, Brown and Co., p. 310.

[6]  Adams, J. L. (1989) Yankee Doodle Went to Church: The Righteous Revolution. F.H. Revell.

[7]  Thornton, J. W. (1860). The Pulpit of the American Revolution. Reprinted by Bibliobazaar (2008), Preface.

[8]  Speech delivered in Boston, October 4, 1790.



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Christ-Centered Education Produces Leaders, part 2 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/06/29/christ-centered-education-produces-leaders-part-2/ http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/06/29/christ-centered-education-produces-leaders-part-2/#comments Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:30:07 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19462 This is post 3 of 5 in the series “colonial education” The Holy Family with Angels, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1646 All the great Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century—Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Sturm, Farel, Beza, and Melanchthon—were aggressive education champions committed to Bible-centered Christian instruction and discipleship. They understood that

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The Holy Family with Angels, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1646


All the great Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century—Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Sturm, Farel, Beza, and Melanchthon—were aggressive education champions committed to Bible-centered Christian instruction and discipleship. They understood that long-term church reform required educational reform at all levels. Given their limited resources, their achievements were remarkable. Martin Luther, the young German monk who ignited the Reformation in 1517, laid the foundation for renovating the church’s educational system. He was a strong advocate of Christian schools and Bible-centered learning. Luther promoted Christian education, not to gain church attendance or material wealth, but for the purpose of preserving the integrity of the gospel of Christ. He  warned us in the sixteenth century,

Above all, in schools of all kinds the chief and most common lesson should be in the Scriptures. … I am afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.[1]

John Calvin and John Knox were the foremost leaders of the second generation of evangelical Protestant reformers. Their influence, particularly Calvin’s, exceeded that of Luther. Both visionaries wrote educational plans—Calvin’s was a city-wide system for Geneva and Knox’s was a national system for his beloved Scotland.

Early American education bears the undeniable imprint of the Bible-centric educational philosophy of Calvin and Knox. Dr. Benjamin Rush, physician, co-founder of five colleges, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and founder of the Bible Society was the first American founding father to propose free public schools. He thought children should actually read the Bible for themselves, not just have it read to them. He petitioned society that the Bible should be the primary textbook taught in public schools in his publication entitled, A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book (1791):[2]

Before I state my arguments in favor of teaching children to read by means of the Bible, I shall assume the following propositions: First, that Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopts its principles and obeys its precepts, they will be wise and happy; Second, that a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way; Finally, that the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world. … I believe no man was ever early instructed in the truths of the Bible without having been made wiser or better by the early operation of these impressions upon his mind.

Writing is essential to education

Today, many young Christians sit passively in front of computers filling in endless worksheets or drawing lines to the matching answers from curricula written by secular humanists. They have not plumbed the riches of the classics with a master teacher nor been taught the skills of composition and rhetoric. It is writing that produces thinkers! With a bankrupt vocabulary and no understanding of God’s hand in the history of Western Civilization, communication for the twenty-first century student has been reduced to tweets, emojis, and selfies!

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, which contains biblical meanings of words, defines “education” as follows:

noun, [Latin: educatio, to lead out of.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 inspired this definition, which includes not only instruction but also discipline. It contains four active verbs indicating that education is not meant to be the passive institution it has become in the last 100 years. With the onset of the information era, education has been reduced to memorizing facts (not truths) in order to pass the next test. This process bypasses the spirit of the mind, and information is soon forgotten. Students are left with a recognition mentality of subject content, not a mastery of the subject’s principles as in the colonial era. English apologist Dorothy Sayers wrote in her essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, “although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.”

Education as God intended is teaching and learning. Teaching and learning, first and foremost, is a relationship. It is the heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind relationship between the teacher and the student that fosters both internal and eternal consequences. Children need teachers, not computers, masters of disciplines, not self-directed workbooks. The goal of Christian education is not the impartation of facts, but changed lives! When the imagination is inspired by truth and beauty and the mind is actively engaged in thinking and reasoning that conforms to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit enlightens the student’s understanding and he joyfully learns for himself. “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives the understanding” (Job 32:8).

Only education that honors God will build a nation

Dr. Rush made a bold claim in his essay: “teaching the Bible in schools would in the course of two generations, eradicate infidelity among us and render civil government scarcely necessary in our country.”[3] My study of this essay years ago is what prompted me to design an enrichment program to restore to youth the lost virtues of beauty, truth, and moral goodness. This program nurtures children by reading aloud the great children’s classics, by giving them a taste of Christian history, by cultivating Christian imagination through the arts, and by providing them a Bible to read for themselves. Every lesson is built on a biblical principle, and the children are guided to reason with and rightly apply truth to their own lives.[4] Hearts and minds are inspired and the joy of learning is once again ignited. Christian imagination is cultivated to dream God-sized dreams and to wonder at His glorious creation and His overruling hand in their lives and nations. In the words of twentieth century Christian educator, Dr. Mark Fakkema:

To educate the children of today is to construct the foundation of the nation tomorrow. Faithless teaching makes for unfaithful citizens. … We are in need of a nationwide education that honors God and teaches study content in the light of God’s Word.[5]

The decay of America’s culture cries out for the Church to repent of her complacency and impart God’s mandate for generational dutythe obligation of this generation as guardians and stewards of the nation to form the future leadership, and indeed the future, through Christ-centered education.

  • Elizabeth Youmans

 

[1]  d’Aubigne, M. (1846). History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century. Baker Book House, p. 190.

[2] The complete essay can be found online at: http://deila.dickinson.edu/cdm/fullbrowser/collection/ownwords/id/17784/rv/compoundobject/cpd/19843

[3] Ibid.

[4] This curriculum is available in four languages on the AMO® Program website http://amoprogram.com

[5] Slater, R. (1965). Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach. Foundation for American Christian Education, p. xix.



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Christ-Centered Education Produces Leaders http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2017/06/26/christian-education-produces-leaders/ Mon, 26 Jun 2017 15:30:59 +0000 http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/?p=19459 This is post 2 of 5 in the series “colonial education” Christ-centered education is sorely needed today “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well the maine end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (Joh.17.3) and

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This is post 2 of 5 in the series “colonial education”

Christ-centered education is sorely needed today


“Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well the maine end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (Joh.17.3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”[1]

The first call for education in the Bible is found in Genesis 18:18-19: “Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him. For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has promised him.” This is the heart of our Heavenly Father addressing the heart of an earthly father to train up his children in the ways of God, so that his family and future nation will be blessed and will, in turn, bless all nations. God gave the responsibility for educating children in the nurture of the Lord to parents.

early American education was home basedThe cornerstone of early American education was the belief that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). America’s colonial period reflects the fruit of parents who took seriously their role to provide their progeny a godly education, as well as a Christian model for righteous living. Like the practice of the ancient Jews, education and discipleship began in the home at mother’s knee and often ended in the cornfield or the silversmith’s shop apprenticing with father. Most colonial families had a copy of the Bible and attended church regularly. Dr. Lawrence A. Cremin, distinguished scholar in the field of education, wrote that during America’s colonial period the Bible was “the single most important cultural influence in the lives of Anglo-Americans.”[2] Parents taught the rising generation to think and reason with biblical principles, which prepared them to establish the world’s first Christian constitutional republic. Another word for constitution is covenant. The propagation of God’s covenant promises to Abraham has been dependent upon parents teaching the next generation His commandments and ways.

America’s first 150 years provide a strong model of education

Eighteenth-century clergymen were also instrumental in preparing the colonists in their struggle for independence from Mother England, a monarchy whose king violated their individual rights as English citizens. It was the clergy’s vigorous preaching and active participation in the war itself that gave the religious sanction and inspiration for the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Those first 150 years produced a model of education worth replicating in the family and the church today.

As sovereign ruler of the universe and the author of human history, God governs in the affairs of men and nations. History is “His story.” A Christian history timeline is a early American education was home basedhelpful tool to trace His providential hand in His story, so a simple Timeline of Education is provided for your reflection. It begins from creation to the founding of the United States of America, her flowering as the first Christian constitutional republic, and, sadly, the erosion of her educational underpinnings and Christian character. Tracing God’s hand highlights how He has used both key individuals and nations to move the Gospel and its effect of internal and external liberty from Jerusalem to the remotest parts of the earth.

God has always placed a great emphasis on His people remembering His mighty acts and teaching the knowledge of them to the next generation (Psalm 78:1-7). Sadly, few Americans are aware that twentieth-century, revisionist historians and secular educators have robbed them of knowing their Christian legacy by intentionally removing from textbooks all remembrance of God and His miraculous providence in the founding and constitutional eras. This has been a deliberate act to deprive Americans of their individual liberty. The American Church today is in need of a “Great Awakening” from her ignorance and lethargy in order to recognize and own God’s mandate for godly education and Christian discipleship. Too often, this mandate is met in the local church with an “educational” program for children designed to babysit and entertain them. Children hunger and thirst for righteousness and yearn for instruction that transcends the mediocrity and perverseness of the popular culture to inspire their imagination to nobleness of thought and deed.

Bible examples of godly education

This is precisely the testimony of Samuel, the child dedicated by his mother to education under the nurture of Israel’s high priest and educator, Eli. Samuel knew firsthand the tragedy of the omission of godly education and the lack of role models in a nation. He had witnessed its effect in the moral degradation of his people. His solution, which birthed a great awakening in Israel, was to establish schools of the prophets to restore to his whole nation the study of God’s Word and the knowledge of God in all subjects—in literature, history, natural science, and the arts. In only twenty years, Samuel’s restoration of biblical education turned his nation back to God and established her character and identity as God’s chosen people—a nation called to be a light unto the world!

Ezra's education of God's covenant peopleAnother biblical example of the role of godly education in deliverance from sin, oppression, and ignorance of God’s Word is the reconstruction project of the civil governor, Nehemiah, and the high priest, Ezra. After 70 years of exile in Babylon, the “Hollywood of the ancient empires,” God sent them back to the desolate capital city. Nehemiah and the returning exiles, with the help of the local Jewish remnant, rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days! He then gathered all the families into the marketplace to listen to Ezra, the premier Jewish educator, read aloud and teach the meaning of God’s Law (Nehemiah 8:1-3). Those who had been left behind in Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction had lost contact with God’s Word. As Ezra opened the scroll and began to read, the people soon wept profusely as God’s living Word pierced their hearts. They cried out to God for forgiveness and repented. Nehemiah called for a festival and the people joyously celebrated, “because they could understand the words which had been made known to them” (Nehemiah 8:12). Ezra then taught them their glorious, providential history (Nehemiah 9). Their ignorance of God’s miracles and guidance throughout the history of their nation had robbed them of their knowledge as a divinely chosen people. Once their understanding was illumined, they renewed God’s covenant in writing. The reconstruction work was not complete until Jerusalem’s families were rebuilt spiritually and her cultural institutions rested solidly on God’s Law! God was consecrating His people, so that in 400 years He could send His only Son to earth to atone for the sins of the world and fulfill His eternal plan for mankind.

  • Elizabeth Youmans

… to be continued

Dr. Elizabeth Youmans is founder and director of Chyrsalis International. With 30 years of pioneering experience in Word-centered education at the local and national level, she now imparts the vision for educational reform internationally by laying teaching and learning on the foundation of Christ and His Word. In 2002 she launched the AMO curriculum, a program designed to help children in impoverished communities to flourish, and become servant leaders in their communities. Elizabeth is the mother of four grown children and grandmother of eight grandchildren.

[1]  First Fruits of New England, a portion of Harvard College’s Mission Statement, 1643.

[2] American Education: The Colonial Experience 1607-1783, 1970, p. 40.



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