Excerpted from “Humanism and Education” — Chalcedon Report No. 54, February 1, 1970*
Men of faith build. The era of humanism culminated in a time of dissection; scholarship came to mean endless analysis of a dissecting variety. Psychology replaced faith, and self-analysis, action. Ulcers became the hallmark of a humanistic culture, man destroying himself. Then came the days of burning, when schools, state buildings, and cities became the targets of destruction.
In a time of destruction, growth is not too conspicuous. In a forest being cut down or newly burnt over, the little sprouts of fresh growth do not loom too large, but they are there.
The new growth is definitely all around us. The Christian school movement is the most conspicuous example. Since covenant children belong in covenant schools, Christians are steadily creating a new society by means of Christian education. A highly disciplined, better trained, and truly educated youth is in the making.
The Christian school is based on the logical premise that, while the gods of humanism are dead, the Christian God is not dead. Our choice of schools indicates our faith. If our God is left out of every area of life, or virtually every area, then we subscribe to the death of our God, or at least His basic irrelevance to our world. The growth and popularity of Christian schools means that, for more and more people, the God of Scripture is alive. Even as the growing collapse of statist education signals the death of the religion of humanism, so the growing strength of the Christian-school movement heralds the fact that God is alive and strong. By faith in Him, a generation is growing strong and holds a promise of reconstruction.
But the death of humanism in the days ahead will take down with it all those institutions associated with humanism, and today that includes virtually every church. Humanism has deeply infected and captured Eastern Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and Protestant churches, including “evangelical” churches, and they will pay the penalty for their infection and surrender.
Men of faith build: their eyes are on the future, not on a return to the past…
The future always belongs to Christ, because He is always Lord of history, the maker and sustainer of all things, and their absolute judge. Christ’s words to us in a time of burning, and of dying gods, is still this, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22). Nehemiah, when he began a work of reconstruction among the ruins, wasted no time in negotiations with the men of the past. He continued working on the walls, declaring, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” (Neh. 6:3). The schools, churches, and institutions of the dead must not hold us: we have a great work to do, reconstruction under the mandate of the sovereign and living God. Certainly, there is destruction and burning all around us: the modern Baal worshippers are turning on their gods.
And their gods are destroying them. Isaiah long ago warned his generation, saying, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isa. 2:22). But faith in man is the essence of humanism, and it is the foundation of modern politics and economics. God as sovereign Lord is able to create out of nothing. In humanism, statist man is given credit for the same power, the ability to create out of nothing, or so the humanist believes. John Law, the father of the economics of virtually every civil government in the modern world, believed that money and wealth can be created out of nothing. “I have invented a new kind of currency,” John Law wrote. “What is this coin you are holding in your hand at this moment? It is a piece of metal which bears an impression. What are you now in need of? Cash. I cannot create metal, but I am able to multiply the impression by having it put upon paper. And for my own part I maintain that it is the impression that is the cash. Just reflect! Yesterday, when the last of the cash in the Bank of Scotland was paid out, there were people who said ‘but the bills are still in circulation.’ I pledge my paper money on land, and I might pledge it upon the wealth contained in the ocean. The ideal method would be to pledge it upon nothing at all . . . But human beings have not yet reached such an advanced stage that they can accept confidence as their only guarantee. You are poor because you have no cash. I am giving you some. My paper currency can and must be always equal to the demand made for it. Thanks to it the inhabitants of this country will have employment, manufactures will be greatly improved, home and foreign trade will be extended, and power and riches will be gained.”
Law stated it honestly, this modern faith. Man the creator can create instant money and virtually instant wealth. The basis of this money is “confidence,” trust in man, trust in the state. But Isaiah warned against trusting in man, and he called attention to the debased coinage of his day as an offense against God’s order (Isa. 1:22).
Paper money is a fitting symbol for the dying world of humanism; like the temples of humanism, it too is being burned, in this case by inflation.
Wise men will keep the smoke out of their eyes and build. The whole world is ours to conquer in Christ. This is our duty and our calling, and we shall do it.
* R.J. Rushdoony, Faith and Action, Vol. 1, p. 514-516