Education or Indoctrination? | Tomorrow's World

Education or Indoctrination?

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Today’s social engineers are failing to teach students what they truly need to know. How can you be sure that you and your children are being prepared for the future and are learning true and enduring values? The good news is that you can find true education for yourself and your loved ones.

Western education is not what it used to be. If you are a grandparent, you can see how different your education was from the schooling your grandchildren receive. From “new math” that encourages self-esteem as much as accurate calculation, to the social engineering that has in many classrooms largely replaced the “three Rs,” education in the Western nations today has fallen far from standards of the past.

Even though most of the United States’ first and most prominent universities were founded in the name of Christianity, most educators today ignore the foundation of truth—God’s word. Students are taught that there is no absolute moral truth and that there is no ultimate authority beyond the self. Instead of learning God’s eternal law and foundational Christian values, they are learning humanism and materialism.

So, how should you understand all of this? What approach can you take to defend yourself and ensure that you and your loved ones receive the kind of education that will help you and them survive and thrive in tough times ahead? And how can you understand what it means to gain a true education?

What to Learn?

When the citizens of Loudoun County, Virginia, held a June 2021 rally with the theme “Education Not Indoctrination,” they were expressing a concern that is becoming increasingly common across the United States. Rally organizers opposed what was called “a reckless and divisive agenda that is tearing our community apart, and indoctrinating our children instead of educating them.” This agenda includes “teaching ninth graders about rape, about group sex—things that are totally inappropriate” (“Rally opposing critical race theory,The Loudoun Times-Mirror, June 12, 2021).

And it isn’t just the state of Virginia. Increasing numbers of states and local school districts follow curriculum mandates that are upsetting many classroom teachers as well as parents. Some are told that they must not teach history in a way that fosters racism—a laudable goal, but subject to so much interpretation that some say it forbids the teaching of slavery-era U.S. history. Others are told that they must teach that their nation is “systemically racist,” yet that “anti-racism” requires them to teach differently based on the color of their students’ skin.

So, how and why did our educational systems shift their emphasis? By the 1960s, many universities had become havens of nihilism and anti-God sentiment. Beginning in the nineteenth century, they adopted the structure, and later the ideals, of the German universities and philosophers.

Key among them was Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously wrote, “God is dead; but given the way people are, there may still for millennia be caves in which they show his shadow. And we—we must still defeat his shadow as well!” (The Gay Science, 1882). Though he feared that banishing the idea of God would temporarily result in a time of chaos, Nietzsche looked forward to new values mankind could establish in the absence of devotion to a Creator. That anti-God philosophy lives on to this day in the minds of radical academics, liberal social architects, and ever-increasing sections of the general public. Time magazine even asked on its cover in 1966, “Is God Dead?”

Many intellectuals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw correctly that Christianity had strayed from its origins and taken on the pagan customs of the surrounding society. But instead of rebuilding modern education on true Christianity, many intellectuals sought to destroy that foundation altogether. They rejected one kind of false religion and its false education, but sought to replace it with godless education rather than godly education.

While increasing numbers of parents question the values taught in their children’s schools, we should first ask whether “value-free” education is even possible. What is the key to determining what children should learn?

Be Like the Bereans

Parents who object to the flaws in what their children’s schools are teaching are increasingly being shamed and even penalized. Is this God’s way? No. Unlike modern anti-God theorists who bully people into acceptance, God insists that His way is provable and rational. When the Christians of Berea received new teaching, they did not accept it blindly. We read that they “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Not only were they eager to learn; they proved for themselves that they were learning the truth! Even in the Old Testament, God assured His people that they could prove His truth. After promising blessings to those who obey Him, God urged, “Try Me now in this” (Malachi 3:10).

Today, when bright students remind left-wing instructors that no Marxist state has delivered on its promises, or inform right-wing instructors that human nature has made capitalism ideal for fostering social inequity, they are likely to be ridiculed—and even to see their grades suffer. But God knows that His way can stand up to scrutiny. To the extent that people live God’s way, it works.

Of course, Christians understand that no social or educational system without God will truly succeed. They know that until Jesus Christ returns to rule the whole earth, no system of government or education will be perfect. But they also know—from Scripture and from experience—what success looks like, and how they can make the most of it in their individual lives.

And it isn’t just Bible-believers who have seen the inadequacy of materialistic, anti-God philosophies. Scripture tells us that “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Even without biblical faith, an honest study of the creation will teach us much about our Creator. You may have read about Antony Flew (1923–2010), the British philosopher who shocked his atheistic colleagues when he acknowledged that through rational thought he had arrived at a belief in God. Unsurprisingly, this cost him friends and respect among his fellow academics.

Christians who trumpet Flew’s story often neglect one important part. Despite abandoning his former atheism, Flew never professed belief in the God of the Bible. His rational thought simply led him to acknowledge honestly that there must be a Creator God. Does this show any flaw in Flew’s logic? No. Christ told His followers, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). God is not yet calling most human beings; He will call them in the Millennium and at the Great White Throne Judgment. But even today, honest students of philosophy and science will still do as Flew did and recognize that there is a God whom we can know through His creation. Honest scientists and philosophers will admit that there is much they cannot explain through materialism alone.

What Makes Learning Possible?

Human beings were created to learn. But animals, too, can learn—so, are we just the most advanced of the animals? Most modern educators would agree with this false Darwinian idea. Yet the human brain delivers far more “performance” for its weight than any other species’ brain, and scientists are increasingly coming to consider the importance of consciousness as a factor beyond mere brain chemistry. This perspective, though not the prevailing scientific view, agrees with what Scripture reveals. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

This spirit Paul describes is not the Holy Spirit, nor is it an “immortal soul.” It is a spirit essence working with the physical brain to empower human beings far beyond animals (Job 32:8). This understanding harmonizes science and Scripture, and it explains an aspect of the human mind that remains a mystery to most educators. Education based solely on material and physical knowledge is woefully inadequate. When an educational system rejects the existence of God and of spirit, it rejects ultimate reality.

Character Education for Life

Even if our modern educational system is not producing all the answers we seek, should we at least be impressed by the system itself? Certainly, universities can successfully teach some areas of material knowledge. But true education, as Scripture presents it, goes far beyond knowledge production; it must teach the spiritual values that give all other pursuits their ultimate meaning. Can anyone be truly educated without knowing the difference between right and wrong?

The Apostle Paul powerfully condemns those who reject the reality of God: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.... Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18–22).

Throughout the Bible, indictments of anti-God education are very strong: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1–2).

God wants to develop holy and righteous character in His people, and He wants His people to grow in the kind of godly knowledge that will lead them to yield to His Holy Spirit and do good (cf. Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). By studying God’s word and applying biblical knowledge in everything we think, say, and do, we can begin to understand the impact of Jesus’ statement, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

But how does one recognize abundant life? The Greeks searched for wisdom and the Jews searched for miraculous signs of God’s power. The Apostle Paul explained that the Son of God embodied both of those elements far beyond the limits of mortal mankind: “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:22–25).

Indeed, God calls very few of those whom the world views as “wise” or “noble”—the rich, powerful, and intellectual. “Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise… that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26–27, 29).

That is how much God hates vanity. Those who think themselves so wise that they would “glory in His presence” are not the ones God will call. Rather, God will reveal His truth to “foolish” Christians if they have a repentant, humble, and teachable spirit. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:18–19).

Build on the Proper Foundation

The Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus Christ and the Apostles set an example for all time. It was an example of obedience to God’s spiritual laws—the Ten Commandments—and the way of love taught by Jesus Christ, who said to His followers, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

Sadly, much of the world remains in darkness and ignorance. Whole cultures, peoples, and nations are blinded by false education. We read a shocking statement in the book of Revelation: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). This great fallen angel, called “the Devil and Satan,” deceives not just a few human beings, but the vast majority. Simply being part of the third of humanity that calls itself “Christian” is no guarantee that one is not deceived.

But just what is this truth about which Satan deceives the whole world? Of course, there is scientific truth that can be tested and verified. Science can, to some extent, describe the “what” and “how” of natural laws—yet it cannot explain the “why” of our existence. Such truth can only be explained by the Creator. And what does the Creator say about truth? When Jesus was praying to His Father on the night before His crucifixion, He prayed for His disciples: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Yes, the word of God is truth. You need to prove to yourself that the Bible is the revelation of the Creator God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word translated as “inspiration” is theopneustos, which means “divinely breathed.” The World English Bible translates this as, “Every Scripture is God-breathed.” When Paul wrote this, the books that we call the “Old Testament” were the only canonized Scripture, yet today many Christians wish to ignore the plain teachings of the Old Testament. Even the New Testament itself tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed.

God Himself: The Greatest Teacher of All

True education must be based on the truth of God. All other foundations are ultimately worthless. Only a Christian with a willingness to learn from the Great Teacher and follow His example will build a proper foundation on which to receive knowledge. Jesus Christ taught His students, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He then listed several of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17–19).

Why are the Ten Commandments the foundation of true education? Because they plainly tell us what is right and what is wrong. They reveal the way of peace and prosperity that God intends for all humanity. What happens to those who ignore God’s plain laws? As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7–8).

King David wrote of the education that comes from a sound foundation: “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me” (Psalm 119:97–102).

God taught King David—and He wants to teach all His people. Once you begin to apply the spiritual laws of God as taught in the Bible and magnified by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, you can have greater understanding and true knowledge. As we read in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

As you seek to obey Him, God will reveal spiritual knowledge to you through the Holy Spirit. Paul goes on to explain the difference between the knowledge of a converted Christian and of an unconverted person: “For who among men knows the things of man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so no one has known the things of God, but the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that God has given us” (1 Corinthians 2:11–12, Jubilee Bible 2000).

Just as an animal brain cannot understand the “things of man,” neither can the carnal, natural mind of man understand the “things of God.” Paul goes on to explain: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned; it cannot be acquired by natural human intellect apart from the gift of God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

True Education Can Be Yours

Because it has rejected true education, our modern world does not know the way to true peace. But Christians can know the truth and can look forward to the soon-coming time when all nations will finally become students of the Great Educator. We need not shun the world’s schools and colleges, but we must approach them with a proper understanding. We can take advantage of modern educational institutions to learn marketable skills and expertise, or develop our language skills, or study the world’s history and sciences—but we must do so with our eyes open, being careful to recognize the difference between helpful education, which gives us skills and knowledge to improve our lives, and harmful indoctrination, which seeks to conform our values to the carnal and secular materialism so common in the world around us.

God’s word gives an inspiring description of education in the time of God’s Kingdom: “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people… nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:3–4).

Such peace will only come to the world through true education, in the coming Kingdom of God—but you as a Christian can have that peace now. A revolution in education will soon come to the whole world, but you can have the same in your own life by making your study of the Bible the foundation of all your other studies. As Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). That truth will revolutionize your life forever.


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