Yesterday morning, I read a story in our local newspaper about all the students in Colorado walking out of classes to protest a conservative AP History curriculum promoting patriotism and a respect for authority. I have discovered that learning about America’s injustices and the patterns of civil disobedience is a hot topic in American public high schools. Rather than waiting to explore all of our country’s muck while in college, let’s bring it down to the teenagers in high school. Does that sound like a good idea?
I am all for reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and other fine, older books that explore historical injustices and call us to repentance and what God requires of us in Micah 6:8 – justice, mercy, and humility. But some of the things that are taught these days in schools simply do not edify. And by what is selected to teach, there is not the bigger picture or any sense of proper balance provided for the young people.
Take for instance, the Puritans or some of our Founding Fathers.
I like what a teacher shared last night in a classroom in Idaho Falls:
We have been richly blessed by God. We are also in danger of judgment for having forgotten both God and those blessings. Among the founders of our nation were the Puritans who settled New England. Modern history has portrayed them as narrow-minded, self-righteous fanatics whose ways were quickly and rightly forgotten. But these were actually godly men and women who endured great hardship to establish a Christian society in America.
George Washington has been portrayed as little more than a deist, whose struggle was for personal fame rather than for genuine moral ends. But Washington was a devout believer in Christ. In a small prayer book written when he was about twenty years old, Washington implored:
“O most gracious God . . . remember that I am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences and ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices (of sin, praise and thanksgiving) which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me . . . Direct my thoughts, words, and work: wash my sin in the immaculate blood of the Lamb; and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit.”
Somehow that does not sound like a deist.
At the time of the American Revolution, John Witherspoon, then president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), wrote:
“He is the best friend to American liberty who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind.”
It is true that Jefferson was a deist. Benjamin Franklin was a skeptical unbeliever. Nevertheless, there was at this time and for many years both before and after the Revolution, a rich core of people who so knew Christ and so desired His will and glory in this land that they actually infused the theology and morality of Christianity in to the nation’s cultural and political fabric. Their money, which we still use, stated “In God We Trust.” Even Franklin, when as I have said, was an utter believer, did not hesitate to speak of the value of sincere prayer at the crucial turning point of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in May, 1787.
“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered . . . I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this great truth: “that God governs in the affairs of man” and if sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
He then called for regular, imploring prayer to begin each of the Convention’s sessions.
As our teens learn about all the problems of America in AP History, my desire is that they would get lengthy, healthy doses of Americans in the past who have looked to God for help in the midst of our problems.
And here is some good news. While some teenagers were walking out of classes on Tuesday, many teenagers around the country were praying on Wednesday. I am thankful for Christ Community Church and their lead in Idaho Falls yesterday for student prayer.