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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Educational Foundations

Begin here.

Educating for Godly Policy (1)

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” Deuteronomy 6.1, 2

The flourishing of a nation
The full flourishing of Israel as a nation, and of each member of the people of God, depended on their hearing, learning, and doing all the commandments of the Lord. This is repeated over and throughout the Old Testament. It is the testimony of the true lovers of God that they desire to know and keep His Law (Ps. 119). By learning and keeping the Law of God, the people of Israel would astonish, attract, and bless the nations and the world (cf. Deut. 4.6-8; Mic. 4.1-8).

We must believe that this holy and righteous and good Law is the only proper foundation of learning for us, and that, by our keeping it, the Kingdom of God advances and the power of His grace is unleashed to bless the world today (Rom. 3.3; Matt. 5.17-19; Rom. 7.12). The Law is, after all, the Holy Spirit’s curriculum for growing us into Christlikeness (Ezek. 36.26, 27; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). The alternative to learning, keeping, and teaching the Law of God is to do whatever we imagine to be good works pleasing to the Lord. But the end of such a lawless project is disappointment (Matt. 7.21-23).

The Law of God was given to provide the foundation for all learning and all of life in ancient Israel. It would serve as the acorn to the oak of all subsequent revelation from God. As God taught the Law to Moses and Moses taught it to the people of his generation, so the fathers of Israel were to teach their sons so that they would teach their own sons, in perpetuity (cf. Ps. 78.1-8).

In every household and every community of the land, therefore, instruction in God’s Law was to provide the basis for a just society in which love for God and neighbor were the defining norms of social praxis.

A foundation for teaching and learning
We note here that education is more than instruction. Instruction is the transmittal of information from one who knows to one who does not. But education goes beyond mere instruction to require true learning in life, learning which, as Paul put it, leads to love (1 Tim. 1.5). The heads of Israel’s households were to teach God’s Law, not just so that all would “know” the Law, but so that they would “do” it. Obedience to the Word of God is the path to the blessings of God’s covenant. The children of Israel would show that they had learned the commandments of God as they lived them in lives of justice, evidenced by increasing love for God and their neighbors.

This commitment to the Law and Word of God as foundational to the education of the young was everywhere practiced throughout the pre-revolutionary period in colonial America. It was unthinkable in the colonies that young people should be submitted to any instruction for any length of time without being taught the commandments and statutes of God, including the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Parents insisted on it, colonial and local statutes required it, and local school boards dutifully saw to it in all their schools.

Since the middle of the previous century, assailed by specious invocations of “the separation of Church and State”, educational policy in America has increasingly denied a place to God, His commandments, and His Word in the public-school curriculum. Generations of American children have grown up in a “disenchanted” world (Charles Taylor), a world in which God, spiritual things, and the Law of God are deemed to be irrelevant if not oppressive, or at least a nuisance. The present crisis of morality, culture, and social upheaval is only the most visible consequence of that policy.

Off the foundations
American education is in a shambles because American educational policy has moved away from the fixed foundations of God’s truth and become mired in the shifting sands and unreliable tides of relativism, pragmatism, consumerism, and utilitarianism. The quest for holiness, expressed as love for God and neighbors, has been replaced by indoctrination for personal autonomy, economic security, and material happiness. Only a return to educational policy more firmly rooted in the fixed standards of God’s Law will return stability, dignity, and fruitfulness to what has become an educational house of cards.

The way back to such a foundation will not be easy. We do not expect the advocates of the secular worldview to make ready room for the Law of God in this or any of the agenda of public policy decision-making. We must be prepared to fight for every inch of ground, speaking the truth in love, teaching and advocating for God’s Law wherever we can, and serving our neighbors in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

Christians who seek a just and good society, who pray for the shalom of their communities and nation and are committed to working for its welfare (Jer. 29.7; 1 Tim. 2.1-8). And this means—as we have seen throughout this study of the Law of God and public policy—that we must also take up the cause of educational policy reform without apology, without fear, and without mincing words.

We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and we must work hard to show how public policies based in the Law of God chart the course of wisdom, common sense, human dignity, mutual respect, and societal and cultural flourishing.

So as we begin this brief discussion of the teaching of God’s Law concerning the education of our children, let us not shy away from the challenges, just because they seem so daunting. Let us, rather, persevere on task, making the most of every opportunity to fulfill our callings as salt, light, and leaven to our broken and hurting world. It is our only hope for prolonging our days as a people and a nation.

For reflection
1. At present, what place does the Law of God have in your ongoing education?

2. What opportunities for learning more about the Law of God might be available to you?

3. In your sphere of influence, what might you do to bring the Law of God more to the attention of the people you know?

Next steps—Preparation: Choose one thing you can to begin learning more about the Law of God. Get started carrying out your choice today.

T. M. Moore

Our bookstore offers three resources to help you grow in knowledge of, love for, and obedience to the Law of God. Please check out The Law of God (click here), The Ground for Christian Ethics (click here), and A Kingdom Catechism (click here). The Law of God arranges all the statutes and commandments of God under one or another of the Ten Commandments. It can be a useful guide for reflection as part of your daily time with the Lord. For The Ground for Christian Ethics and A Kingdom Catechism, read the table of contents and listen to the audio excerpts to learn more about each book.

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ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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