A great difficulty afflicts those who are unfortunate enough to correctly predict the future in a disintegrating culture. The problem is that an essential part of the disintegration is the inability of the denizens of such a culture to see that the dire predictions have come true. Modern cultural critics say their piece and, like Cassandra, they are not believed. But in many ways their lot is worse than that unhappy woman’s because they are not even believed after the prediction has come true.
When considering claims about the future, we must note the vast difference between simple historical events and the continuing mental and moral disintegration that comes from perseverance in sin. For example, if I were to predict here and now, in print, that a giant meteor was going to land on the fifty yard line during next year’s Super Bowl, and then it happened, the chances are good that this claim would get noticed after the fulfillment. But if I told a man with a moderate drinking problem that if he didn’t quit he would eventually lose his wife and family, and then he became a drunk and lost everything, the chances are outstanding that he would not treat my prediction the same way. This is because drunkenness not only chases away wives and children, it also chases away the wits, and this includes the understanding that a man reaps what he sows.
For a scriptural example of this, Jeremiah had prophesied, for years, that the Babylonians were going to capture Jerusalem. The false prophets had claimed that God was supporting their rebellion. But when the event showed that Jeremiah was the prophet of God, and not the others, the people of Israel crowned their folly by claiming that Jerusalem had fallen because they had not worshipped the Queen of Heaven enough (Jer. 44:18).
When it comes to the crisis in modern education, the critics of that education have been proven right time and again. We are now at the stage where today’s jaded headlines are the over-the-top satire of yesteryear. The lesbian prom queen has tried out for the football team and is now starting at left tackle. And very few really notice. When these observant few point out that our school system continues to fall apart, the cry goes out that said school system needs more money. This is like complaining in a restaurant that your food is rancid, only to have the waiter reply that if you give him some more money, he’ll bring you another plateful. But despite all this reigning folly, there are a few who see what is occurring.
And this is for them. This brings me to the central point of this article—which is to commend and encourage those who have seen what we are up against, and who have decided to take it on anyway. Our adversary includes, not just the lousy government school down the street, but also the last three hundred years of cultural rot. And throw in for good measure the pale reflection of that unbelief that we find in so many Christian schools—unbelief lite. And these intrepid few have decided to do this, not because they are qualified for the task, because they know they are grossly under-qualified. If we had a significant number of qualified people around to fight the problem, this would be a sure sign that we didn’t really have the problem. Given the nature of our disintegration, the only people who are available to fight are those who recognize that they are not equipped to do so. The good part of this is that it means the battle is truly the Lord’s. If we win this thing, it most emphatically will not be on account of our prowess. For a long time now, we have been fighting armored tank divisions armed with wooden swords and trash can lids. The fact that we have been able to fight at all means that God has been kind to us. If we win, adequate gratitude will be beyond our capacity.
We do not have adequate weapons. The Philistines haven’t let us have our own smithies because we might make spears and swords with them, and so for generations we have gotten our knives sharpened down at the local government school. But then even these knives started coming back pretty dull, and so we decided to have at it ourselves. And, whaddaknow? Education. The beginnings of real education.
In the aftermath of 9/11, despite God’s mercies woven through it, we can still see the cultural rot setting in further. We have worshipped the gods of pluralism, and now we are resolved to worship them further. The constant temptation is to ask for a little more of the hair of that dog that bit us. But God is not yet dealing with us as we deserve, and so here are a few suggestions for classical Christian educators in the meantime. What are we called to do in the next ten years?
First, we must keep the antithesis. We have gotten as far as we have through drawing a hard line and a straight edge. There are two kinds of people in the world—those who love God and those who do not. Those who love God should not ship their children off to be educated by those who do not. Nor should they have their children educated by people who love God, but who do not really understand what that means.
Second, we must keep the vision. The Lord has shown kindness to us as we have sought to apply the classical and Christian vision for education. Mission drift is a great enemy. Pragmatic compromises are death for classical Christian academies. It can easily affect those educating at home, too.
And third, we must keep the clarity. When the bugle blows indistinctly no one prepares for battle. There are many who believe that to be distinct at all is rude, and to be distinctly classical and Christian is a grievous offense to them. I would feel bad about it if we were not in a war.