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THE 'SEARCH FOR TRUTH'
In view of the ostensibly non-normative approach of the Report Religion, it is not surprising to find that 'the commitment of principal and teachers to the search for truth and the pursuit of authentic community is crucial'. The 'authentic community' , a sort of secular monkery, perhaps, we have already considered. The 'search for truth' now comes for review.
Of course, despite the hope that the 'relationships between students staff and administration' should be creative and fulfilling' (p.238), we find a distressing datum. (How could we say 'truth', since we consider it contravenes fact - and since 'truth' is officially to be 'sought'? the point is not trivial.) To which datum do we refer from the teeming pages of the Report, which is ostensibly so non-normative? It is this. Speaking of the Junior Secondary Level, the Report divulges: 'These students have some completely new abilities and experiences. They have a level of altruism unknown in childhood, a longing to receive and give love...' (p.208).
In context, of course, where the completely new is in focus. this 'level of altruism' is not a simple gradational matter - unless the writing is not merely obscure but obscurantist. You would not say, for example: 'John, being now a Junior High child, has a level of altitude unknown. a peering over and a commanding... ' - if he had simply grown an inch or two. Besides, the unknown, novel level of altruism is explicative of the category 'completely new abilities and experiences'.
There is a radical novelty in the altruistic department - one which childhood could not provide. That is the line taken. Primary school studenthood could not perceive the things now to be revealed - no, we are not speaking eschatologically, but trying to appreciate the force of the completely new ... Junior Secondary date. The areas focussed must be relevant.
1s this, however, so? On a psychologically humanistic behaviourist model of some type (for there is a vast opening for models even within that setting), there may be some such concept. But what of a Christian, yes a Biblical Christian approach, one which does not reject what is taught in God's name therein as erroneous? On this basis, a very different result obtains. Now it might be said that in all fairness to the Report corps, this is only to be expected. Yet is it? Must a Christian position not appear? Then if Biblical Christianity be true, the Report must be false. True, we have already argued just that in several vital respects; but that is not to say that we may find such a result in THIS way, so readily, After all, the Report people could conceivably wish to accommodate or incorporate a Christian concept somewhere, if only as a symbol that it exists; or for other reason. Generalisations, moreover, should be general, not relevant only to certain preferred segments or sections. If science did that, it would not be science. If logic did that, it would not be logic.
This new datum must therefore be taken on its merits and used as evidence for our search for the religious distinctives of the Report, in its OWN position. The Biblical Christian position, then, is that when a person is born again, then 'he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 5:16-17). It is that "the wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8); and this follows the injunction "Do not marvel that 1 said you, You must be born again.' " That first speaker in Corinthians is Paul, the second is Jesus Christ, in John, is Jesus Christ: the position is not peripheral. Again, Jesus in John says: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (3:3). Thus there is an exclusion in kind, in category to those not so born, and an inclusion in kind, in category to those who are so spiritually reborn. There is thus created a difference radical and contradistinct in perception, in status and in condition. It is categorical and it applies (resultantly) to classes of people.
Those in this position, we find from Paul and from Jesus
Himself in Scripture, are radically changed. Though not free from
sin, from giving grounds for some divine displeasure (I John 1:10), they
are loosed in kind from the sovereignty of a dynamic which divides from
God and removes freedom as a datum.
'If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free Indeed'. This follows the datum that "whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin." Again, I John 3:10 "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: anyone who does not practise righteousness is not of God, neither he who does not his brother." I John 3:9 divulges more of the continuity of the 'family' consequence in the presence of God.
According to Biblical Christianity. then, it is not at all a question of the Junior Secondary level as a criterion - implausible as such a sweeping and grandiose assertion would tend to be to those watchful of youth. In its religious particularities, at various ages, it is not this: 'To him who reaches Junior Secondary Level, behold all things are become new, old things are passed away, and a new level in the category of transforming changes, a new level of altruism is discernible.' Not at all: in fact, at that or any age, Biblically, this change in not effected by years spent, but by company kept relative to divinity; and mode of company at that. Relevantly here, one recalls the words of the 10 year old for her class: 'Thank you for showing us a better way!' It is not the heart which changes with age so much as the capacities for its revelation. These continually may exhibit themselves, and some of the loveliest pity, is that of children.
In short, the Report approach is more related to ages of physiological change; but the Biblical change does not recognise this as a criterion for this type of moral transformation or escalation in a categorical fashion. One can only add: nor does one's observation afford any verifications of the categorical Report claims at this point. In other words, conversion is the Biblical models at any age: on the other hand, a phase of youth is the Report model, for this transformative access to a variety of morality, indeed, of spirituality.
Again, as a generalisation, this implies a non-operation of the Biblical concept of conversion in its Biblical setting. It provides ad hoc substitute. AS in conceptualisation, so in spiritualisation the Report has its view; and it sticks to it. Its adequate and logical foundations are at all times invisible.
Perhaps it is not surprising to find just this divergency of view in this topic when (p.75) it is also revealed by the Report ... position that 'Freud exposed to man his essential strangeness to himself'. A Christian-theist would not be likely to learn anything systematically reliable from the anthropological communings of a materialistically-bent reductionist - one whose categories emitted the essence of Christianity, which itself claims the essence of truth about persons and about man. It is not likely - true the heights of inconsistency can be found - but systematically the psycho-genetic statement is consonant with the above topic, and again, indicative of a position of considerable interest to us in our research.
It is true that Freud tended to specialise on certain kinds of repressive, regressive sin, and was seemingly obsessed with such a partial, inadequate and unscientific concept of sexuality, as a hold-all reductionism which Jung cordially despatched as lacking both a working interface between the alleged source of so much, and the apparent data to be accounted for, and scientific testability (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch.4, Section 1; and pp. 582ff.). The knowledge of sin, acute and accurate, however Biblically preceded him by thousands of years, both in generality and meaningfulness, since it related not to some incredible attribute of society to create conscience as a response to its intrusions and authority, something MOST apparent by its absence in the multiple explosions of history and philosophy, but to a logically adequate base.
It is not strangeness to himself, thus imbued with inadequate formulation, but strangeness to the only objectively and observationally viable source of sin-awareness, of right and good, and that, in essence, though like so much it can be diverted, is the relation between man, the creature, and God the obligation. THIS lack preceded Freud, again, by thousands of years; and it is not strangeness but sin which needs rectification. Increasing capacity for independence, of course, allows for increasing obviousness in its misuse, and hence as the child grows, its awareness has more grounds for becoming manifest, more scope. However it is useless to generalise in these things, empirically, for they indeed occur like the wind, and there is no cultural or psychological accounting for the timing. The tendency of the Report to generalise with a certain glow or flow, apart from its presuppositions, is, again, one of its most dangerous features.
There are then certain data about children and their altruism
or otherwise (A), about Freud and his reductionist pseudo-revelations (B),
casually presented as factual. Another and kindred datum is this:
the child so revealed to himself, potentially in this respect by Freud, as it would seem, is newly welling with something which seems to be thought of as altruism, having a new radical season of flourishing with the new Junior High age 'rings' of the growth of the soul. On such a model for such a scheme, small wonder we find: 'One purpose of religious education then, is to enable students to understand religion as a dimension of experience and meaning... It enables the student to acquire a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of the scope and influence of a religious faith, to test the internal coherence of particular faiths, and to check religious claims against his own subjective experience.' This area of the Report abounds with claims that it is 'only' when experience and participation with sympathy in areas of religions beyond the merely prepositional occurs, that the student can enter into decisive dialogue leading to apt choice.
First: the assumption is humanistic, anti-supernatural. It involves the anti-Christian system of symbolism noted. It incorporates basic ultimate agnosticism. The Christian claim is that the Spirit of God can and does move as it wills, and that a man - as abundantly shown - is not divinely incited to, but rather directed away from, just such Biblically defined promiscuity; and it is wholly in contradiction of this Report assertion (A).
Now let us be clear. We are not accusing the Report writers of failing to exegete Christian doctrine. (It is of course true that the Report maintains a profound distance from such an activity, to the point of actively teaching in an opposite direction with aplomb and resolve).
We are merely noting that their own assumptions, which are repeatedly wholly antagonistic to those of Biblical Christianity, involve religious content in their presentation. Again, not seldom, modes for their procedure relate to Biblical Christianity like a bull in a bird's nest. They are disruptive, dispersive, depreciatory and seemingly blind to issues of inestimable value. The approach is such that if adopted, Report Religion evicts Christianity from the State Schools in principle, ab initio - not merely as a taught item, as an establishment requirement, which is not at all the point at issue: but rather as a jaded and banal, a jejune and frankly WRONG presentation, which is included in the Russell Report pantheon, only to see it in its demeaned setting, like the Greek myths. Only the MYTH is the Report myth, which without logical or principial support, would found a new religion on the desirability of having something for all, starting with nothing for any, and contradicting its basic propositions, the one with the other, as shown.
Apart from its lack of rational ballast, and febrile flightiness, there are other considerations.
Where then is freedom? Has it lost recognition?
Since the Atlantic Charter in World War II, is it now a recluse? Is its
time done? or are its sanctions obsolete? Has need for it passed with Hitler
demise, or with Stalin's restive repose? But what IS there? Why then,
the Religion of the Report. But this is not even a world religion;
and the State of Victoria is ostensibly here looking for a secular
approach, not an establishment of a politically convenient or even a statistically
Elements of Authoritative Agnosticism
Let us enlarge on one item - the agnosticism. If it be held that that is ONLY as this empathetic, incorporating involvement of the students in multiple religions occurs, that he MAY aptly choose, then it is ONLY on the ASSUMPTION that any God there may be is not possessed of a distinct revelation of procurable content; or that there is no God and hence no pronouncement. If there is a body of truth of this kind, however, it is by no mean an a priori proposition that it cannot be received without a knowledge of what - as contra-distinct (supra) is error (e.g. contrary pronouncements). Thus it is not always necessary to know all the main misconstructions of history made, or all the chief errors in mathematics made in a given area, by former students, in order to appreciate the true, or to see the logical force of what is right.
Further, if any god has not divulged information, then of course we do not know ... a synonym for agnosticism (as a presupposition). It is true that in that event we could not even know that we could not know (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock Ch.3), or that ignorance was not wilful; but that is still an irrational option for the will. Its assertion as a position, in that setting, becomes an alogical preference. It means not that one does not know, is a simpleton or pitiable ignoramus, since one has not found out; it means rather that the situation is lacking in definition. The remedy for, and inherent flaw in such a position is shown in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch.1, but our present concern is the implicit agnosticism. That is a religious position, and is here constitutive of such.
Secondly, and most importantly, however, there is the assumption that it is by the informed religious susceptibilities, sensibilities of the student, by his experience that religious claims are to be judged. To this end, the Report 'does demand that students enter sensitively and imaginatively into the world views of various believers' (p.152) for its full implementation. The express countermanding of the divine Biblical directive here has already, in principle, been dwelt on.
Again, on p. 157, we find: 'It is only as the student develops some awareness of what a religion means to its adherents that he will have any appreciation of its influence in the lives of individuals and societies, any grasp of religion as a unique way of apprehending and interpreting reality, or any chance of entering into dialogue with religious claims.' (Italics added.) Partially reasonable, this dictum however transcends the case where a divulged supernatural God is in view, as we have seen. In a neutral Report -were one to be constructed outside man, in some way outside prediction - it would be necessary to say, 'Such and such things aid an understanding in some cases, of what other people are feeling, and their availability to the student finding a need for it, may well prove beneficial in the achievement of his particular objectives.' The result is hardly delightful; but then, neither is the assumption of some sort of agnostic rationality as a basis of 'neutral' kind, when its bias is blatant and categorical. The grounds of agnosticism do not hide themselves. In the report, in some areas, there is indeed little attempt.
Again, p. 161, 'A student is not ready to decide whether a Buddhist's experience, or a Christian's experience .. is ... genuine... or an illusion if he has little knowledge and understanding of them' (italics added). Here again, the view is - rather like that of some former educationalists for novelists, that it is only when you have intuitive, personal experience of various declines and declivities in life, immoralities and immaturities, excrescences or multiple psychic fractures, that you can write. Woes experienced are woes expressible: not otherwise. You CAN express, perhaps, if you have fallen into such woes; expression being a fundamental human capacity, in various measures. You CANNOT express unless you do, is merely an piece of philosophic adventurism, with unwarranted a priori intimations, assuming dead imagination, inept empathy and incredible inability.
Such assumptions, represent a theoretical aborting of the powers of logic, imagination and indeed, of God - relative both to an inscripturation and the work of His spirit on the spirits of men, More specifically, it seems to savour partly of existentialist and partly of behaviourist theories, without anything of the nature of demonstration to assist the dogma. For a religion, this one is more like Buddhism on the one hand, or the Moslem one, on the other, perhaps, in its singular lack of logic (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, pp. 1011-1026), here both generic and contributory. This is a sad deficiency in anything so 'objective' as to merit the description 'secular', one seemingly coveted for the Report Religion.
It has seemed good to establish in some little detail the context in this case before proceeding with a rather important matter: that of the experience of the rendered-susceptible-student, engaged in judging the religious claims. By his experience, as a knowledgeable budding savant, an exoteric, eclectic citizen of the modern world, the successfully so educated student may now pass through the sieve of his educated mind, the symbols (supra - for are there not largely symbols? the report has so spoken, as we saw in an earlier chapter) of various religious claims.
Knowing, with the assurance of the Report Religion, so established and secular, that these differences between the religions are mere clouds covering their underlying unity - knowing ALL THIS, KNOWING IT (as the Americans say, 'good'), he then judges. Well, let him judge: but before he judges, the matter is judged. If this approach is right, classical ancient Judaism is wrong, Muhammad is wrong and Christ is wrong: all a priori. Now let him judge. It is a little late to judge when the judge has already been indoctrinated by another client, and acted under his distinguished and irrational bias on his tour of inspection. This sort of umbrella does not keep out the rain of confusion or the wind of delusion, and its covering allows all too well, the 'protected' to get very philosophically wet in their pre-inclined path.
Now let us examine this situation Biblically - how will a student check religious claims against 'his own subjective experience'? We must consider this in order to find how the Report relates, once again, to this religion. The method appears, short of divine intervention, within the following context. Students "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart... " (Ephesians 4:18); students "being dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), and "by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:4) - and here in a 'we' category, the apostle places himself prior to conversion, most religious though he was: (Philippians 3:4-6), these students will resolve the little matter of religion. In this they are aided by what Biblically, is a series of errors of horrendous dimensions, made for apt and reverent consideration. Biblically, this is as wise as testing all the foods that have poisoned the poisonous planet, one by one, and seeing what reactions one has, on the understanding that they are undoubtedly of interesting nutritional value, to be respected intrinsically.
Far wiser when ONE religion has this to say, would chemical analysis of the food stuffs be, for it would not A PRIORI commit to the view that these foods CERTAINLY did not poison, are ASSUREDLY responsible for no evil, are all guaranteed to be apt and fit and proper for human consumption, without prejudice to health. It is not least for this reason that Christian Apologetics exists, for those interesting in checking without committing a potentially mortal act! It is not least for this reason, likewise, that opportunity to CHALLENGE the logic is given, so that the COMPETITIVE realities in religious fields maybe gauged, without committing the only life to the process. In other fields, we are justifiably more cautious. Here it is far more vital, for what takes the life, takes all. But let us further investigate the Biblical position, in discerning this ever present antinomy of the Report, relative to the Biblical approach. It is for this reason that it is, in simple, objective fact, an anti-Christian document, which would wish a government to spend funds, partly derived from Christians.
The "ignorance", it will be noted, of which Paul speaks, is beyond all ordinary circumstance (thus Paul, a Pharisee of the Pharisees and most highly educated, was not excluded from its reign over him); the ignorance is postulated of the person qua unconverted. Divorce from God is indicated categorically, and the ignorance is one of disposition, non-entry and non-alliance. There are no exclusions; the terms of reference are general. We reach once again our former divergence of Scripture from the Report Religion signally and systematically, and thence didactically.
It religiously affects personal results, value of personal
results and entire perspective in which to be operative, whether for education,
for amelioration or for transformation; whether for experience or for choice.
Indeed the divergence is vital. The 'deadness' has signally small contirbution
to make to a lively spiritual performance; just as the 'alienation' makes
difficult a sympathetic choice. The concepts are contradictory. Thus, again,
Jesus indicated that without being born again, born of the Spirit, there
is no SEEING of the kingdom of heaven, and no entering (John 3:3 and 3:5).
The unseen is not discriminated... And to enter it? a supernatural 'ocular'
performance, adjoined to the spirit, must precede. When it
IS seen, Jesus indicates, that supernatural act has already transpired.
It CANNOT be seen until it is the case!
Birth precedes sight; and birth in this case, is into an eternally different, divinely sponsored and received condition (I John 3:9).
Scripturally: not merely is spiritual adventurism denigrated,
as has sufficiently been shown (supra): indeed voyeurism in this
field is extraneous.
The Search for Truth
A little time ago, we conjoined this judging-by-experience concept with a certain pursuit-of-truth activity. Biblically the former stands revealed; the latter is now for more precise consideration.
We recall the school principal and staff in pursuit of truth. It was strange, since it is hard to pursue, for example, for a greyhound, what you have already taken.
Nevertheless, it is to be so, we read. Now the principal, who received particular mention - he has, to the point, significant powers in the area and has, we see, significant indices as well: the principal and teachers are committed to join in the 'search for truth' (Section 3, End-Note 2, supra).
Of the students, it is demanded. In what context? Why naturally in becoming sensitised, and artistic, and sympathetic and aware and all those other things which are so existentially necessary in authoritative agnosticism, so that the existential nescience should miraculously translate into some kind of thing which, for some reason or other, here bears the title of 'knowledge'.
Why of course, they are so necessary for a secular School? ... that is another matter. They must all - we remember that the case 'does demand that students enter sensitively ... into the world views of various believers' - they must all be involved. It is a process. It is indeed deemed a necessary religious process. None is excluded.
How then would Jesus Christ, whose view is so contrary to that of the Report Religion, join in, were He a teacher, a student or a Principal? How... His disciples! They were not all old, for that matter.
It is well the Report is so expansive and inclusive. What if it bowed to mere 'prejudice', such as demonstrable reality - that would shock it to its dogmatic foundations! What if it even considered some approach which did not categorically and religiously exclude competitive religions, where they were as assured as is the Report Religion! What if it did not even contradict them in its presuppositions in advance? What it changed so utterly and radically as to allow objective religion as an object of examination in its own right, from its subjective throne! Such things however are journeys stalled before started.
Let us then further examine its Hitleresque take-over procedure, as unapparent to some, as was Hitler's kindly union with Austria, before World War II... the anschluss. In Hitler's case, perhaps many did not realise his intentions, and perhaps some who were with him. It is never a case of assuming motivation; merely of watching behaviour in the field, and letting motives look after themselves. If someone cuts your throat, he may indeed have been concerned for a chest condition and seeking to help ventilation; but the fact would remain that his assault was an act of intrusion and presumption. That much is clear enough, whatever else may appear in the interstices of his motivation and psychic preliminaries.
Though, then, the Biblical Christian asserts on Biblical grounds, and no doubt with conviction that he has found the truth: for Christ, as does this author, he believes is the truth, with sublime monopoly in His expression definitively of the Father, and opening, exclusively of the way to Him, and His words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35, John 14:6): yet he must now perforce affect to search for the truth, join in the search! Woe to such a teacher, and gross is the folly to the children so manipulated.
Now we must be honestly alert here. There is no contextual question of merely refining a substantial truth already possessed, in some small or even significant detail. The quest is categorical, a search for the truth; and it is for one and for all. That is the position of the Report Religion, here.
Attitudinally, the student criteria are prescribed by the Report because of what the case 'demands', what is 'desirable' and so on. It is an inculcation not least for the purpose of desiderata in procedural perspective. Correlatively, these qualities are to be evinced by principal and staff who are duly (we say not demanded, nor yet perhaps commanded, but ...) committed to 'the search for truth' (p.238). The child-centred (p.40) course does not here withhold from the child what are deemed intrinsically sound human attitudes (p.152) at any level; and the staff 'commitment' is almost predictably in context of school atmosphere, and the 'quality of school life'. It does indeed involve 'communal authenticity' (p.238), a close and systematic correlate of 'the deeper unity of the human situation' (pp.166-7) with which we are, by now, so familiar.
There is no talk of pretending to search for the truth;
of engagingly reliving a search for the truth. Thus a science master
might sympathetically and empathetically relive his search for the truth
as he may deem it, in a certain experiment. But really, he may well
deem himself already aware of it. He could not in all conscience
say of the experiment as a demonstration of known truth,
and with this lesson objective:
'I am in this, per se, searching for the truth.'
Nor could the Christian Biblical believer assert it.
His text book is Christ, and his record is Scripture.
He knows where it is:
In sum: the site and substance of truth is already known to the Biblical Christian, in terms of conviction and the character of Biblical statement; he does not seek what he has. And what he seeks in growth, is on the basis of truth, revealed and possessed truth; and it is wholly antithetical to the groundwork assumptions, didactic practice and agnostic implications of the Report Religion in substance and methodology.
It would seem a shame to exclude the conscientious Biblical Christian teacher from the secular-religious program in this way. Especially is this so, when that program aims to be non-normative; and sensitive. Yet with what authority does this new religion demand, make commands which Biblical Christians cannot consistently keep. It is seen then that we draw near to the time for constructing from the foregoing, the Report Religion Creed. It will doubtless be a fascinating project, and we may extend it into a consideration of what form and format there may be for any putative Report Religion Church. But this must wait a little.
We wish now, however, to consider what one Principal once
- perhaps jestingly - referred to as a necessary evil in education.
It Is a matter of parents.