Saturday, August 08, 2015

Machen On Public Education

I might lose my membership in the fundamentalist club for admitting this but I have never read J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. I finally started reading it this afternoon (for a couple of reasons) and it is delivering as I expected it to. I am highlighting like crazy and I only got through one chapter. For example, you won't find a more prescient view than this...
A public school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.
J. Gresham Machen (0100-12-31 17:00:00-07:00). Christianity & Liberalism (Kindle Locations 235-242). Mark Walter / The Calvinist Cafe. Kindle Edition. 
Yeah, that sounds familiar and he wrote this almost 100 years ago. America circa 2015 is living proof of the rightness of what Machen is warning about. Between the enormous bureaucracy, the agenda driven university system where we get our public school teaches and the rabid defenders of the educational monopoly in the teacher's unions, there really is no better system for dumping complacent, materialism conditioned and planting the seeds of rejection of parental convictions than the compulsory and largely monopolistic public education system. Little wonder that advocates of those very notions are so interested in expanding this compulsory and "free" system to younger ages and older ages alike in programs like Head Start and in pushing for "free" universal government preschool and post-secondary education.

The broader issues Machen raises are critical to understanding where the church stands in our pluralistic and often mushy and muddled religious landscape in America. Expect to hear more from the good doctor in the days to come.

1 comment:

Aussie John said...


Excellent read, written by a most wisely perceptive Christian who could foresee, from the evidence around him,where things were heading.. I read the much valued book when it was given to me around thirty years ago, and referred to it often since.