Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back to the Bible?

The latest edition of Time has as its cover story the topic of bringing the Bible back into the public school curriculum. Good news right? Maybe. I've never been one to push for prayer in public schools and all that stuff. The ten commandments maybe, but in the secular sphere, I'm a little more comfortable with enforced pluralism, lest religious freedom for all be sacraficed on the altar of christian conservativism (here I'm thinking of a political movement more than a theological one).

The irony is that in a postmodern climate, (some may even argue post-postmodern) it appears that not all the vestiges of modernity have been eliminated in the public school system. The article contends that it would not be a violation of the separation of church and state iff (that's not a typo, but "if and only if" for those who may have forgotten stuff from their high school math classes) it is approached in complete neutrality. Sound good? Well beside the fact that most postmoderns have recognized what Bahnsen preached for years: namely, that such neutrality is a myth, there is more dissapointment ahead. The article further clarifys that by neutrality, it is intended that the Bible be approached as "an object of study, not God's received word" (p. 42). Oooops....there goes neutrality. Ironic, isn't it; scary even. The only thing more dangerous that presuppositions is blindness to your own.


jeileenbaylor said...

Could you give me the article title and author of that article? I was trying to look it up on their website.
Without reading the article it is hard for me to comment with knowledge, but I have to wonder if the benefit of the word would be greater than the problems with neutrality. I agree with you that it is definitely a problem that the schools would only use God's word as an object of study, instead of as God's received word. But don't you think that just introducing kids to the Word of God will be somewhat fruitful because of God's Spirit?

Nate Mihelis said...

The problem with neutrality is primarily that they think they are maintaining it, while their underlying bias causes them to undermine the "truth" they're teaching. I go back and forth on exposing them to scripture that the Spirit may work. Scripture can be employed as a tool for hardening as well a tool for enlightening. Ultimately it's the Spirit's choice here to be sure; nevertheless, from a human responsibility point of view, it may not be "helpful" to be taught the scriptures by someone who also assures them they are not really the word of God. There's already enough anti-god programing that's done in the public school system without intentionally mishandling the scriptures. I just think of how long it took me to rid myself of the arminian theology I was reared on. Ultimately the Lord brought me to an understanding of the doctrines of grace, but it took a while to get the bad thinking out of my head because of what I was taught by people with good intentions.

One of the "safetys" they would implement is that conservative christian teachers would be screened out of the selection of bible teachers. In fact, that's one of the concerns about implementing it nationwide: how to find enough teachers in the bible-belt regions who don't really believe what they would be teaching. Ooops. There goes the myth of neutrality again. It would be kind of like trying to find English teachers who didn't speak English so well to ensure the kids didn't come to embrace the imperialistic notion that english is superior to other languages.

The story was the cover story of last weeks edition by David Van Biema. If you can't find it onlines, swing by our place and you can borrow ours.

jeileenbaylor said...

I guess I didn't really think of the fact that it could be used as a hardening tool as well. Hmmm tough one. I'll have to stop by and grab that article.Thanks for the insite.

Tim Barker said...

Julie or anybody else,

Here's the link to the article on Time's website:

It a long one so you'll need to do 2
copy and paste moves. :)

jeileenbaylor said...

Thanks for the link Barker.

Man, I have to say, that after reading that article, I may be even a little more confused about my view. I mean, I definately see their point about teaching the Bible being patriotic. From a secular viewpoint anyway, I see why they would want to teach the basics of Moses, Paul, and Jesus. Afterall, the Bible is the world's best selling book, right? You would think that if a well-taught student didn't know any of the basic Biblical facts that they would be lacking something. But I guess that the question is, are they lacking just knowledge, or faith? Perhaps both. I definatlely understand your point about scripture hardening a person, but I am still wrestling with the questions in my mind about the power of the Spirit to bring about salvation... if not in that class, maybe down the road somewhere as the Spirit brings the Scripture back to mind. But then again, if only unbelievers are allowed to teach the scripture, they most likely will distort and twist it, can fruit still be brought from that type of perversion?
Any thoughts? I will have to continue to mull this one over.

Chris Bruno said...

Unrelated question:
Are doing a degree at Univ. of Chicago?

Nate Mihelis said...

Julie - still thinking myself

Bruno - I would like to, but I don't know if I can get in. Either way, we're headed to chicago soon.