History


An interesting story of a man who survived two atom bombs.

The twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre recently passed. I found three  good articles that remind us of that time and the continuing legacy of that event. The first recounts the context and history. It can be found here.

The second tells of the continuing legacy. It can be found here.

The third emphasizes how a number of the surviving dissidents have become Christians. It can be found here.

The last survivor of the Titanic dies. See the report here.


The first post in this series dealt with the definition of education. This post will begin to deal with the history of education. I have chosen to deal with the history of education by looking at a number of different influences upon education.

I see seven basic influences which have brought American education to where it is today:

First, the influence of the founding of the New World. American education developed from European traditions and institutions, which were then modified by colonial groups and settlers. The basic influence in the new world which set the “mold” for education was English Protestantism.

Before the Protestant Reformation in Europe (1517 is seen as the date of the Protestant Reformation), it was normally the privileged who received formal education. Martin Luther urged the establishment of government financed schools in Germany. Other reformers established schools in other parts of Europe. The purpose of these schools was to provide academic learning and teach the principles of the Reformation. In the 1600’s, many cities in Europe had public schools and colleges and universities.

The first settlers to America were primarily Protestants. Thus, it was natural to transport the ideas of Protestant Europe to America.

There were two primary vehicles the early colonists used for education. The first, and foundational, element in education was the family. For the most part, the early colonists followed the Bible very closely in its prescriptions concerning the family. The fathers were primarily responsible for the education of their children. Their wives and other relatives helped in the educational process. The elements which were taught were: reading (usually from the Bible and/or a primer), practical skills for earning a living, a sense of duty, and moral teachings.

The second vehicle used to accomplish education in early America was formal schools. These consisted of two categories. First, was the town-sponsored school. As early as 1630 a specialized school was in place in Boston. In 1647 the “old Deluder Satan Act” was passed in Massachusetts. This act required every town of at least 50 households to hire a teacher of reading and writing and those of at least 100 households to also establish a grammar school. It was called the Old Deluder Act because the act reads in part, “It being the chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of Scriptures…” The stated purpose of this act was that all could possess “knowledge of the Scriptures.” In other words, the purpose of learning to read was so that a person could read the Bible and thus obey God’s Word. Students were taught Greek and Latin in order to be able to read copies of ancient Biblical manuscripts.

The second category of formal schools was the church-sponsored school. These schools were scattered throughout the colonies. They provided free education. This helped the poor children to become educated.

The home was used to give an education to children and prepare them for life, either through entering a vocation or first going to college. It is interesting to note just how complete an education was provided in the homes. When at least nine colleges were established in the 1700s, including Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, they were founded on Christianity and emphasized classical studies. There were strict  entrance requirements.

In 1750, Harvard demanded that applicants be able to extemporaneously “read, construe, and parse Tully [Cicero], Virgil, or such like classical authors and to write Latin in prose, and to be skilled in making Latin verse, or at least to know the rules of Prosodia, and to read, construe, and parse ordinary Greek as in the New Testament, Isocrates, or such like and decline the paradigms of Greek nouns and verbs.” Of note is the fact that John Trumbull, the illustrious artist, passed Harvard’s exacting entrance exam at only 12 years of age.

Alexander Hamilton’s alma mater, King’s College (now Columbia), had similarly stringent prerequisites for prospective students. Applicants were required to “give a rational account of the Greek and Latin grammars, read three orations of Cicero and three books of Virgil’s Aeneid, and translate the first 10 chapters of John from Greek into Latin.”

James Madison had it no easier when he applied for entrance to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1769. Madison and his fellow applicants were obliged to demonstrate “the ability to write Latin prose, translate Virgil, Cicero, and the Greek gospels and a commensurate knowledge of Latin and Greek grammar.” (See The Founding Fathers and the Classics)

Where formal education existed it was available for the elementary ages. After that, students either attended universities or received vocational training through hands on experience and apprenticeships. High school, as we know it, did not exist (it can be argued that adolescence as we have it today is a modern invention).

To be continued…

“You all remember,” said the Controller, in his strong deep voice, “you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk. History,” he repeated slowly, “is bunk.” He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather wisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk. Whisk–and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where were Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk–and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom–all were gone. Whisk–the place where Italy had been was empty. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk …

-Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

What do Barack Obama and Bob the Builder have in common? In case you missed it, one of the primary themes of Barack Obama’s victory speech, as well as his campaign, was, “Yes, We Can.” I think he’s been watching too much TV – that is, children’s TV. But then again, this is the theme of the “self” culture in modern America. Yes, the human potential chickens have come home to roost.

In light of the action the government is about to take in regard to the bailout plan it would do us well to be reminded of the opposing voices of the past that echo down to us. Davy Crockett – yes, that Davy Crockett – is reported to have argued against the principle of such government spending in a speech before Congress. The Congress was considering giving money to the family of a war veteran. This is an excerpt from Crockett’s speech:

I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.

Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.

The fascinating background to the speech can be found here. You should go to the link and read this. Not only is it fascinating. It is important.

Note: there are some who wonder if this really took place since it is only found in the book, The Life of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward Sylvester Ellis. Ellis was born after Crockett died at the Alamo.

“However, there is a historical record that supports a similar story – the House considered a bill of relief for the family of deceased general Brown in April of 1828 and Davy Crockett is on record opposing that bill and offering personal support to the family. You can read the (very brief) summary of that in the Register of Debates here. Crockett’s comments are summarized at the bottom right of the page.” (This answer was given to a question concerning the historicity of Crockett’s speech and can be found here.)

From Gill’s commentary on 1 Timothy 2:

“nor to usurp authority over the man;” as not in civil and political things, or in things relating to civil government; and in things domestic, or the affairs of the family; so not in things ecclesiastical, or what relate to the church and government of it; for one part of rule is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding; and for a woman to take upon her to do this, is to usurp an authority over the man: this therefore she ought not to do,…

“but the woman being deceived was in the transgression:”…Since not Adam, but Eve, was deceived, it appears that the man is the more proper person to bear rule and authority, as in civil and domestic, so in ecclesiastic affairs; and it is right for the woman to learn, and the man to teach: and seeing that Eve was the cause of transgression to Adam, and of punishment to him and his posterity, the subjection of the woman to the man was confirmed afresh: and she was brought into a more depressed state of dependence on him, and subjection to him; see Ge 3:16.

John Calvin, in his commentary on 1 Timothy 2, while addressing the specifics of women in leadership in the church, also addresses issues such as the leadership of Deborah:

12 But I suffer not a woman to teach. Not that he takes from them the charge of instructing their family, but only excludes them from the office of teaching, which God has committed to men only. On this subject we have explained our views in the exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. If any one bring forward, by way of objection, Deborah and others of the same class, of whom we read that they were at one time appointed by the command of God to govern the people, the answer is easy. Extraordinary acts done by God do not overturn the ordinary rules of government, by which he intended that we should be bound. Accordingly, if women at one time held the office of prophets and teachers, and that too when they were supernaturally called to it by the Spirit of God, He who is above all law might do this; but, being a peculiar case, “Because it is a peculiar and extraordinary case.” this is not opposed to the constant and ordinary system of government.

He adds — what is closely allied to the office of teaching — and not to assume authority over the man; for the very reason, why they are forbidden to teach, is, that it is not permitted by their condition. They are subject, and to teach implies the rank of power or authority. Yet it may be thought that there is no great force in this argument; because even prophets and teachers are subject to kings and to other magistrates. I reply, there is no absurdity in the same person commanding and likewise obeying, when viewed in different relations. But this does not apply to the case of woman, who by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey; for γυναικοκρατία (the government of women) has always been regarded by all wise persons as a monstrous thing; and, therefore, so to speak, it will be a mingling of heaven and earth, if women usurp the right to teach. Accordingly, he bids them be “quiet,” that is, keep within their own rank. — “He therefore commands them to remain in silence; that is, to keep within their limits and the condition of their sex.”

13 For Adam was first created He assigns two reasons why women ought to be subject to men; because not only did God enact this law at the beginning, but he also inflicted it as a punishment on the woman. He accordingly shews that, although mankind had stood in their first and original uprightness, the true order of nature, which proceeded from the command of God, bears that women shall be subject. Nor is this inconsistent with the fact, that Adam, by falling from his first dignity, deprived himself of his authority; for in the ruins, which followed sin, there still linger some remains of the divine blessing, and it was not proper that woman, by her own fault, should make her condition better than before. Yet the reason that Paul assigns, that woman was second in the order of creation, appears not to be a very strong argument in favor of her subjection; for John the Baptist was before Christ in the order of time, and yet was greatly inferior in rank. But although Paul does not state all the circumstances which are related by Moses, yet he intended that his readers should take them into consideration. Now Moses shews that the woman was created afterwards, in order that she might be a kind of appendage to the man; and that she was joined to the man on the express condition, that she should be at hand to render obedience to him. Since, therefore, God did not create two chiefs of equal power, but added to the man an inferior aid, the Apostle justly reminds us of that order of creation in which the eternal and inviolable appointment of God is strikingly displayed.

While it is difficult to predict how a person from the 16th-century might address a contemporary issue, his writings and examples can shed light on his principles. John Knox spoke to the issue of women in leadership. Also, it should be noted, though I have read some of what Knox has written, I have not read all that he has written. An expert on Knox may correct my impressions of his views.

That having been said, Knox has been batted around on blogs concerning Palin. Some have tried to say that Knox cannot be used to argue against women in civil office because he accepted the legitimacy of Elizabeth’s rule. Some seem to think Knox is inconsistent and allows for women rulers when they are supportive of him. However, this misses Knox’s clear view of the Scriptures in regard to the argument and the complexity of having to live with the reality of women rulers.

Believing in God’s Sovereignty, Knox understands that God has raised these women up to authoritative positions for a reason. But this does not mean that we, as Christians, should try to argue that it is okay according to God’s revealed will that women seek and be given civil leadership. It seems that the majority of those who are now supportive of McCain/Palin are in disagreement with Knox. The following quote from Knox sets forth his approach in regard to Elizabeth.

If any think me either enemy to the person or yet to the regimen of her whom God hath now promoted, they are utterly deceived of me; for the miraculous work of God, comforting his afflicted by an infirm vessel, I do acknowledge, and the power of his most potent hand – raising up whom best pleaseth his mercy to suppress such as fight against his glory – I will obey, albeit that both nature and God’s most perfect ordinance repugn to such regimen. More plainly to speak, if queen Elizabeth shall confess that the extrordinary dispensation of God’s great mercy maketh that lawful unto her which both nature and God’s law do deny unto all women, then shall none in England be more willing to maintain her lawful authority than I shall be: but if – God’s wondrous work set aside – she ground, as God forbid, the justness of her title upon consuetude, laws or ordinances of men; then I am assured, that as such foolish presumption doth highly offend God’s supreme majesty, as do I greatly fear that her ingratitiude shall not long want punishment. (Knox’s History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland, Published in 1831 by Blackie and Son, Glasgow)

One of the questions raised by current events is not whether we accept God’s Sovereignty in this but whether we should be supportive in promoting and electing a person that violates Scriptural principles concerning leadership positions? And, obviously, there needs to be further discussion regarding exactly what the Scriptural principles are regarding civil leadership.

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