Darrow Miller and Friends

Freedom Comes From Religious Education, But Not Just Any Religion

Mike Metzger’s recent essay, The Fourth R caught my attention. (As we wrote here, Mike is the Senior Fellow and President of the Clapham Institute. His weekly DoggieHead Tilt blog is a regular part of my reading.)

Mike says the Fourth R of education was religion. He reminds us that the story of the Bible—Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration—is a call for Christians to make culture: “Making culture meant making something of the world, improving on it, so that people flourish.” Mike argues for the importance of education to the development of free societies, and says that the heart of education is religion. And the religion that made the West was not just any religion, it was the creed of Biblical faith.

This is the same argument that Vishal Mangalwadi makes in his latest offering, The Book That Made Your World

America’s founders testify to the importance of a religious (read “Biblical”) foundation for the education of free men and women. In an address on October 11,1798, John Adams, second president of the United States said:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. [emphasis added]

Likewise Noah Webster, America’s lexicographer and the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” writing in his History of the United States (1832) testified:

The Christian religion ought to be received and maintained with firm and cordial support. It is the real source of all genuine republican principles. It teaches the equality of men as to rights and duties; and while it forbids all oppression, it commands due subordination to law and rulers… The religion of Christ and his apostles, in its primitive simplicity and purity, unencumbered with the trappings of power and the pomp of ceremonies, is the surest basis of a republican government. [emphasis added]

In 1982, writing a cover story for Newsweek Magazine, How the Bible Made America, Kenneth Woodward and David Gates wrote:

For centuries [the Bible] has exerted an unrivaled influence on American culture, politics, and social life. Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of the powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world. [emphasis added]

Nations do not just happen; they are built. All people, as image bearers of God, have similar opportunity to build their nations. Where a people lack intentionality, the nation is built by external forces, with commensurate results.

When a society’s people are intentional about nation building, the question becomes Which religious framework will be promulgated through the educational process? Atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam … all are religious faiths just as Christianity is a religious faith. But only the latter has the moral and metaphysical framework for building free, just, and prosperous societies.

Metzger’s The Fourth R is a good reminder of what it takes to build a free society.

–          Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).


  1. Ted Spansky

    March 9, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Wow–a real stretch–as bad as the spin doctors of poltics to further a cause that does not need furthering .it has been written here:
    “America’s founders testify to the importance of a religious (read “Biblical”) foundation for the education of free men and women. In an address on October 11,1798, John Adams, second president of the United States said” simply not true.

    The founding fathers –or, lets be factual, the top 9 signers of the constitution were in fact not christian or any of the like–they were Deists. God does not need or want our praise–further, as self proclaimed intellectuals –we should take God’s gift of mind body spirit and do great things-that is the only way we can celebrate our existence in the Universe–otherwise it is a strict ruse, manipulation and bastardization of all of the worlds script. God wants us to step up to the plate on our own. Darn!

    To proclaim otherwise is going against what we are.