Do you hate clichés? Well, I have a few for you today. It has been said many times before, and I will say it again here, that ideas have consequences. Another common saying among students of history is that dedicated minorities, not majorities, have always played a major role in shaping human history.
A few Pilgrims looking for godly prosperity on far-away shores. A band of freedom-loving American Patriots pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a seemingly lost cause. Socialist ideologues of the 18th and 19th centuries and Nazi propagandists of the 20th. Radical homosexual activists and global warming fear-mongers. A small and passionate group of individuals can be found at the root of many a movement that has grown from a simple set of ideas to world-changing activities impacting countless people over many generations. My friend Kevin Swanson writes that history sometimes seems to play out in slow motion and that, in hindsight, we are able to study how the “powerful ideas of philosophers (…) shape the minds of the most brilliant writers, educators, musicians and artists,” which in turn form the course content of the liberal arts universities of the next generation, finally filtering into the mass culture. “It is a three step process,” he says, “and this is how the West was lost.”1
Hindsight may very well be 20/20, but can we predict how current ideas and trends will affect our nation by the year 2020? Researchers, such as those at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, have been developing something they call Psychohistory, the study of the psychological motivations of historical events, or how ideas spread through a society. Using computer models of a variety of social networks they looked at factors that contribute to the successful spread of a minority opinion to a majority view. What they found was that once an idea is adopted by just 10% of the population it reaches a tipping point, catapulting the idea or trend into the mainstream. So if only one out of every ten people believe the new idea it will spread very slowly, but once two out of every ten adopt it, it spreads like wild fire.2
The late Russian Communist leader, Vladimir Lenin, once said: “If we can effectively kill the national pride and patriotism of just one generation, we will have won that country. Therefore, there must be continued propaganda abroad to undermine the loyalty of citizens in general, and teenagers in particular. By making drugs of various kinds readily available, by creating the necessary attitude of chaos, idleness, and worthlessness, and by preparing him psychologically and politically, we can succeed.” Idleness, chaos and worthlessness: this is how our nation is being defeated, one child at a time.
The homeschooling movement is a very promising and encouraging trend and I am praying for an educational and discipleship tipping point to take place in the homes and churches of America in the next ten years. But right now the public schools are churning out droves of increasingly pagan, existentialist, nihilistic disciples of the anti-Christian philosophers of old and the Marxist professors and curriculum developers of today. (Have you researched how the Common Core Standards are coming to a homeschool near you?)3 I am convinced that if we are ever going to see real, lasting change for the better in America, Christians will have to repent from neglecting the training of their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and begin teaching them the Word of God—as they sit in their homes, walk by the way, rise up and lay down, day in and day out, every day, until their children go off to establish homes of their own and do it all over again.
If it Ain’t Broken…
But the public school system in America didn’t just come out of nowhere. It came from the humanistic and God-hating minds of social engineers like Robert Owen, Horace Mann, G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, and others, whose ideas have indeed had devastating consequences in the life of countless people, indeed on our very way of life. John Taylor Gatto notes in his must-read book, The Underground History of American Education, that “forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into conformity (…) so it might be regarded as a ‘human resource’ and managed as a ‘workforce.’ No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; they set a bad example. (…) School was looked upon from the first decade of the 20th century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance.” I agree. Our 28th President and a leader of the Progressive Movement, Woodrow Wilson, said this to businessmen: “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”4
Again, Gatto: “By 1917, the major administrative jobs in American schooling were under control of a group referred to in the press of that day as ‘the Education Trust.’ The first meeting of this trust included representatives of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the National Education Association. The chief end, wrote Benjamin Kidd, the British evolutionist, in 1918, was to ‘impose on the young the ideal of subordination.’” These men had very clear objectives. They desired a workforce, they wanted conformists, they needed a dumbed-down population that would follow the rules imposed on them by the smarter, smaller club of trusted educational experts, who in turn were products of the ideas promoted by the social engineers of the prior century.
We don’t need to reform America’s public schools. They are not failing. The public schools in the United States are doing exactly what they were designed to do: they are producing a (somewhat) reliable working class, a class that can be easily manipulated into conformity. Technology will make this control increasingly comprehensive and inescapable. The radical “isms” of the day will grow more and more pervasive in this environment of false tolerance until there is nothing left of the original vision of the Christian men and women who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this land.
A Dedicated Minority.
So how about some good news? God, in His sovereign wisdom, has also demonstrated a track record of bringing about history-altering and world-transforming changes through very humble and non-impressive means. Think Bethlehem. Think a handful of fishermen. Think the Upper Room.
Think homeschooling. Freedom-loving Americans like former Congressman Ron Paul are still hopeful. In a message entitled Homeschooling: The Future of Liberty, delivered shortly after his retirement from public service, Dr. Paul said that “homeschooled children are more likely to embrace the philosophy of freedom, and to join the efforts to restore liberty. In fact, I would not be surprised if the future leaders of the liberty movement where homeschooled.”5 Well, I am even more hopeful than Dr. Paul, for Jesus tells me that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.6 The apostle John tells me that there are “great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”7 And Daniel tells me that the God of heaven shall “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”8
Is there still hope for America? I believe there is. I believe our best years are ahead of us. I believe the homeschool movement is one of the most hopeful signs of God’s desire to use the American church to again spread His Gospel to those that are near and those far off. I believe we are on the way to becoming that City upon a Hill of Matthew 5:14 and echoed by Winthop, Kennedy and Reagan. This may require that we suffer persecution. It may cause many to fall away. But the Second Book of Chronicles 7:14 tells me that the Lord has made us an amazing promise, one that I am sure you’ve heard many times before: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
In case you’re keeping count, that is not a cliché. It’s a promise from Heaven.
This article first appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
1. Kevin Swanson, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West (Generations with Vision, Parker, CO, 2013) p. 2
2. I highly recommend “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell. While not a Christian book, it explains how ideas often behave much like epidemics do and what elements need to be present for critical mass to take place in the propagation of ideas and trend in society.
3. The Educational Freedom Foundation has created a database that provides information for homeschool parents relative to the Common Core Standards currently being implemented across the country. Their lists identify which homeschool-related companies and products have explicitly chosen to align with the Standards, which have some sort of coincidental connection, which are correlated, and which have pledged to remain independent. (www.theeducationalfreedomcoalition.org)
6. Matthew 16:18
7. Revelation 11:15
8. Daniel 2:44