AS THE PLUMBLINE TO BIBLICAL STANDARDS
By: Linda Schrock Taylor
December 4, 2005
"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land--not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord." --Amos 8:11
With a plumb line to measure the nation against His perfect standard, God showed Amos the underlying crookedness of the people. Although Israel was economically prosperous, it was morally bankrupt. Without the Written Laws, "the people were left in a spiritual vacuum in which they lacked a written standard by which to judge behavior."
Were Amos to measure America at this point in her history, he would again find a country out of plumb with too many communities, churches, families, and individuals thirsting for the words of the Lord.
"On Judgment Day, lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst, robust young men will faint of God-thirst…Their lives will fall to pieces. They'll never put it together again."
America is in the midst of a literacy crisis and our youth thirst for words. Millions of children being educated in public schools, or in private and parochial schools that have chosen to adopt public school values, standards and curriculum as their own, are not learning to read at any level that will allow them to function as literate persons. "According to the Nation's Report Card, 31 percent of 4th graders and 36 percent of 12th graders are proficient readers. Minority students score lower - just 16 percent of African American and 22 percent of Hispanic 12th graders are proficient readers." (U.S. Department of Education, Nation's Report Card, 2002)
This decline worsens with each graduating class, thus lowering the overall literacy level of the nation. An illiterate population cannot contemplate, confirm, or correct the crookedness in America, nor bring the nation back to plumb. An illiterate population cannot read and understand founding documents that detail the rights and responsibilities of Americans; cannot act to protect those rights; cannot fulfill those responsibilities.
This was not the case in colonial and revolutionary America. "In New England, the literacy rate was over 50 percent during the first half of the Seventeenth century, and it rose to 70 percent by 1710. By the time of the American Revolution, it was around 90 percent, certainly the highest on earth." New Englanders, Puritans believing in the importance of being able to read the Bible, taught their young children to read and mandated that primary schools be established in every town; grammar schools in some. Boys attended town schools while girls attended Dame Schools, (similar to a neighborhood homeschool.) In 1750 nearly 90 percent of women and virtually all men could read and write.
It was expected that everyone read and study the Bible since it was upon Biblical Law that communities and families were grounded. To ensure Biblically literacy, early churches established colleges and universities--Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth--to provide communities and colonies with highly literate leaders, ministers, and laypersons.
Communities and colonies, eventually states, and ultimately the union of the states, were held together because Bible ownership, Biblical literacy, and Biblical law "were interwoven into the fabric of their lives." In many homes the Bible was the only book a family possessed. In schools, the Bible was the basal reader until Bible-based textbooks like the McGuffy Readers; The New-England Primer; and The American Spelling Book (Blue-backed Speller) became available.
XIII, LESSON I
For the first time in history, Biblically literate believers could establish a plan for government based upon Biblical law. The process began with the arrival of the Pilgrims, themselves a product of Calvin's influence on Western Civilization, with their Mayflower Compact of 1620, which was a faith-based document. Calvin, like Thomas Aquinas, divided the Mosaic laws into three categories: moral, ceremonial, and judicial, and saw "the moral law as the division containing permanent abiding validity…Later, many Calvinists applied the implications of covenant theology to civil government."
John Locke, raised a Puritan, based his political theories on the covenant view of government and "…said that God's moral law, decreed in creation, is carried forward in the specific decrees of Scripture and obliges Christians and all men everywhere, and is to all men the standing law of works. Men are to obey the moral law revealed in Scripture and that according to the 'law of nature man ought to obey every positive law of God'."
From Calvin; to Samuel Rutherford with his Lex Rex; to John Locke; to our founding fathers, the importance of the Bible as a source of authority was interwoven into that fabric of life in America. The Bible accounted for thirty-four percent of the citations of the founding fathers; "The second-most-cited source was [William] Blackstone (1723-1780) whose Commentaries on the Laws of England are rated as the most famous treatise on common law. His God-centered view of law is out of fashion in today's legal community…[but] The founding fathers drew several points from Blackstone, the foremost being that all law has its source in God."
Until the Twentieth Century, Biblical standards were the basis for lawful decisions, in both personal and civic life. Now, as noted by Walker, the "God-centered view of law is out of fashion." As a result, much of America seems to be lost in a spiritual vacuum, lacking the Biblical standards by which to determine good behavior and censure bad. Lacking the ability to read the Bible, their lives fall to pieces, just as God warned in Amos, and they will never be put to right again.
Public schools have led the way in not teaching children to read, and they are responsible for the devastation wrought on the lives of Americans; on the American way of life. For pieces of silver, public schooling purposely rent the fabric that had protected the nation since the arrival of the Pilgrims. Godless leaders have foisted their ignorance---believing that the Bible should be kept out of their schools (certainly the schools no longer belong to the public)--upon the children of this country, and the consequences are grave.
How can schools be considered schools without the Bible? Joseph Sobran answers in "The Bible and the Schools,"
Sobran asks how anyone could possibly understand history--"the Reformation without knowing what Catholics and Protestants were fighting about? How can you understand the full significance of the French and Russian revolutions without knowing their religious background and their consequences for religious life?" and notes, " Nearly all the great literature of the last millennium also presupposes a knowledge of the Bible... Mark Twain, himself was not a believer; but he would have been astonished at the idea that you could be literate without knowing the Bible."
The Bible has shaped the way we think of ourselves…The banning of the Bible in public schools has imposed a massive ignorance on those children. It makes them uncomprehending of nearly every other subject, including the sciences, which arose in both response and reaction to Biblical teachings…you have to read the Bible even to understand atheism!…In the profound words of the nineteenth-century Anglican bishop Richard Whately: "He who is unaware of his ignorance will be only misled by his knowledge." That is one of the harshest judgments on modern education: that it propagates not only its ignorance, but unawareness of its ignorance.
Zechariah cries out for people to take heart but to get it right because the Time of Great Import is at hand. Americans can only do this by teaching children the stories, lessons and laws of the Bible; by raising children up to live lives; lead families, lead communities that are plumb with Biblical standards. Those lessons cannot be learned in the public schools because…basic literacy is not even taught there! Scholarship cannot occur in the absence of Biblical literacy, and…the Bible--the only book that will put all things right--is not allowed to enter those unhallowed halls.
Sixth Vision: The Flying Book
"I looked again---and there before me was a flying scroll…And he said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land…I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones." --Zechariah 5:1-4
NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 49530, USA,
© 2005 Linda Schrock Taylor - All Rights
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Linda Schrock Taylor is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.
E-mail is: email@example.com
Zechariah cries out for people to take heart but to get it right because the Time of Great Import is at hand. Americans can only do this by teaching children the stories, lessons and laws of the Bible; by raising children up to live lives; lead families, lead communities that are plumb with Biblical standards.