More from Machen in Christianity and Liberalism.  Here, he discusses the value of a system of public education for a free society, and the danger of allowing that system to become monopolistic:

J. Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen

A public-school system, in itself, is indeed of enormous benefit to the race. But it is of benefit only if it is kept healthy at every moment by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of private schools. A public school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.

If only more Christians thought more deeply on the dangers of ceding the formal education of their children to the state.  Is it any wonder that so many children of Christian families abandon the faith as soon as they leave for college?  Why should this be a surprise when we – more often than not – take our children to church on Sunday to teach them about the glory and sovereignty of God, and then on Monday through Friday send them to the local public school and by implication teach them that what they heard on Sunday about God’s sovereignty doesn’t apply to math, science, history, and art, but that God can be neatly separated from those areas of endeavor – placed in a box, if you will, to be taken out and dusted off again on Sunday at church.

The most important duty of any Christian parent is to raise their child in the faith.  In this day and age, even more so than in Machen’s time, allowing a child’s formal education to be dictated by the state undermines Christian parents in that task.

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  3. The Child
  4. “For the knowledge of truth Scripture always refers us to objective revelation”
  5. Tending Towards Totalitarianism

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