AMERICA'S PROBLEM WITH APOSTASY--Part Two
by Al Benson Jr.
James Turner, in his book "Without God, Without Creed" has noted that: "Even whild damning Deists, church leaders swallowed the Deist conception of a natural-law God. Even while lauding the converted heart, they absorbed the maxim that belief in God rests on intellectual assent to a demonstrable proposition. Even while preaching the blood of the Lamb, they devoured the Enlightenment's moralism and its God bound by human morality...The Enlightenment's animating principle in religion was to tie belief in God securely to the kind of clear, rational, tangible realities evident in the world as observed. What could not be so rooted (grace, spiritual communion, mysterious doctrines) either faded away or drifted into supernatural disassociation from ordinary reality." In other words, men had reached a point in their supposed intellectual growth where they were not willing to let God be God if they could not fathom just how He did everything. In a sense, they could not recognize His absolute sovereignty, even over areas they could not understand or grasp.
By the 1830s apostasy had grown rampant in New England. Turner noted that "Lyman Beecher's admonition that the republic's survival depended on 'well instructed' citizens echoed in Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, and scores of other school reformers, especially after the great influx of Irish immigrants began in the 1840s...Public schools consequently received wide support from Protestant ministers--and bitter resistance from Catholic clergy, resentful of Protestant flavoring of school curricula. Both sides knew what the schools were about."
Although Turner's book contains excellent information overall, I do disagree with him on this point. He seems to feel the public, or government schools favored the Protestants. I will admit they gave this appearance. In a mostly Protestant society at that time they had to, otherwise the vast majority of Protestants would never have been taken in by them. Upon reflection, though, we are forced to conclude that neither Catholics or Protestants really knew what the government schools were all about. They only thought they did.
Horace Mann, the Unitarian, realized what they were all about, though. Clergymen like Lyman Beecher should have understood where Mann and many of the other public school "reformers" were coming from. The late R. J. Rushdoony has written in "The Nature Of The American System" that "The 'public school' movement, or statist education, did not exist until the 1830s. Statist education began as a subversive movement and its bitter, savage struggle has not yet been written. The essentials of the drive which produced statist education are clearly seen in Horace Mann...'the Father of the Common Schools.' First and foremost, Mann was a Unitarian. New England Unitarianism was in the forefront of the battle for statist education. For Mann, Unitarianism was true Christianity, and with humorless zeal he fought for his holy faith." Unless Mann kept his Unitarian "light" hidden under a bushel, Calvinist ministers like Lyman Beecher should have known what he was and should never have supported any educational system founded or promoted by him and his Unitarian cohorts. Yet they did, which shows that, do some degree, whether they realized it or not, they had also been bitten by the apostasy bug.
To be continued.