Do secular universities have an agenda to undermine your child’s faith? I’m discussing this today with former college professor Renton Rathbun. Listen in, I know you’re going to be encouraged.
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
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Renton has been a classroom teacher for over 22 years. His teaching experience includes both secular and Christian institutions ranging from high school to college. He and his wife homeschooled their son, Daniel, who is now in college. Renton has spoken for homeschool venues such as the Foundations Summit as well as HomeschoolSummits.com. He also has preached in a variety of churches across the United States. Renton holds a BS in English Education and an MA in interpretative speech from Bob Jones University. He has also received an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, an MA in philosophy from the University of Toledo, a ThM from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and is currently a PhD candidate in apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. Renton is currently a Biblical Worldview Specialist for BJU Press.
Don’t Miss These!
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the Heidi St. John podcast. Today is Friday, April 17th. This is episode number 912, it’s Meet-My-Friend-Friday. You guys know it is one of my favorite days here at the podcast and I’ve got a new friend on the show with me today who’s going to resonate with you and you guys are going to be wanting to take notes. So get ready. My friend Renton Rathbun is here today and we’re going to talk about biblical worldview and why it’s so important that we pass one on to our children. Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So thanks for tuning in today everybody. I know because I’m getting a lot of emails from you guys and thanks for filling out the form over at Mailbox Monday—that’s helping me a lot. I know that a lot of you are starting to feel the frustration, the sort of set in. When Renton came on earlier today, he said, “How are you doing?” And I said, “Great for a caged animal.” I’m starting to feel that way, because we’ve been kind of in this lockdown mode for a while. And I’m going to just encourage you, the way that we have been for the past several weeks here, to really lean into communities of believers. And we need to be really leaning into God’s Word and what God says about fear and what God says about authority. And at the same time, we’re trying to keep our eyes open, right?
This is why Mike Ferris was on, this past Monday. And I’ve heard from a lot of you already who are really encouraged and quieted. I think he did a really good job of quieting your spirit. And so, we’re going to do that again today. Before I get started, a couple of things I wanted to let you guys know about. First of all, we really appreciate hearing from you. If you’ve got questions that you want to send for Mailbox Monday, you can do that by going to heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. You’ll see a form will come up and you can just fill that out. Remember you guys, please keep it short and sweet and to the point, it actually doesn’t help when there’s 16 pages of stuff I gotta get through to figure out what your question is.
So if you can just introduce the question and then give me a little bit of background, that helps my team put together the questions that we’re going to answer in any given week. Also, you may have seen, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble over at Facebook because Facebook doesn’t like me. So if you… I have a feeling just kind of a gut check about this. And I kind of think maybe the time is drawing very, very close when Facebook will completely censor Christian voices and anybody who doesn’t conform to the worldview that Facebook has. And so I’m trying to move people off of there, not off, like don’t come back, but away so that if there comes a point when I actually lose my voice over there, you guys know where to find me. And so the best place to do that obviously is at the podcast and over at the blog.
Also, we’re doing a lot of information about homeschooling and you can find out more at learnathome.today. So keep praying. I mean, I think our world is definitely, there’s something going on and we want to just lean into the Lord and be wise. Remember we said this a couple weeks ago—preparation for trouble is good. Panic is sin. So we’re not panicking, we’re just keeping our eyes open and ask the Lord to direct us. So speaking of asking the Lord to direct us, I had the opportunity, I guess it’s been a couple of months now, to hear my guest speak at a leadership summit that Bob Jones University Press hosted in Greenville, South Carolina. And my friend Zan Tyler, who’s been on the show with me several times was telling me—”You’re going to love this guy. It’s right up your alley.” And so, my expectations are pretty high and I got to tell you, Renton did not disappoint.
I was writing so fast, he had me laughing. He had me thinking, Renton has been a classroom teacher for over 22 years and his teaching expertise includes both secular and Christian institutions ranging from high school to college. He and his wife have homeschooled their son who is now in college himself. And I think you guys are going to be really encouraged. Renton has spoken for homeschool venues such as the Foundation Summit, which is where I first heard him, and also homeschoolsummits.com. And also, like all the guests lately, he’s really smart. So I’m going to try to keep up with him, he’s earning his PhD right now. Renton Rathbun, welcome to the podcast.
[Renton] Thank you so much. It’s good to be here.
[Heidi] Yeah, I’m really glad that you took the time to do this. I’m imagining that you don’t have as much on your schedule right now as normal, but it sounds like things at Bob Jones University Press are kind of rolling right along.
[Renton] Yeah, they really are. Actually we’ve gotten a little more busy than usual just because with all the limitations, we’ve been doing a lot of stuff—YouTube videos and conferences that way and things like that. So we’ve been busy.
[Heidi] It’s more work I think. Several people said, “Oh, it must be so great to be at home,” and it is great to be at home. I mean, I’m telling you what, the St. John’s are not sitting around, we’re getting stuff done. But this whole like video conferencing, Zoom call, it’s stressful and I think it really hinders communication because you’ve always got to work with the technical difficulties and things like that. So I kind of feel like in some ways we’re working harder. Do you feel that way a little bit?
[Renton] Oh yeah. It’s uncomfortable. It’s weird. You find yourself in every conference call that you do, especially with Zoom, and end up staring at your own face, it’s hard to concentrate. It’s just weird.
[Heidi] Yeah, it is. It’s super weird. We’ve never really been in any situation that I can think of, in my lifetime. And I keep telling my kids, most of our kids are at high school or adult now and I keep telling my kids like, I hope you guys are paying attention because you’re going to tell your grandkids about this. Like this is bizarre. I feel like we … Like who knew that when we set our clocks forward, we were like jumping forward into the twilight zone. Like, but here we are. Here we are. So you work for Bob Jones University Press and we’ve been doing some really cool things with them lately. We’ve got an awesome opportunity coming up because I’m going to be a part of an online Facebook party with BJU press.
And that’s really cool. And I’ll talk more about that at the end of the show today. But one of the things I love about BJU Press is you guys are very focused on making sure that your curriculum incorporates a biblical worldview into all the subjects that are being taught. And that’s kind of your job, right? Sort of to head up a think tank that develops ways to incorporate biblical worldview. This seems to be a passion of yours and I want to get into it, but I’d like to kind of start by just talking about where you’ve come from and sort of how you have developed this passion for helping parents teach a biblical worldview to their kids. I noticed when I was reading your extensive biography, which by the way is exhausting. I’m assuming that you never take a nap. I noticed that you have, it looks like a master’s in philosophy from the University of Toledo.
[Renton] That’s right.
[Heidi] And so, what does a person do when one studies philosophy, Renton? Enlighten me.
[Renton] They sit and think all the time. Actually…
[Heidi] Yeah, you guys have a master’s degree in deep thoughts. That’s what it is, right? A master’s of philosophy is like a master of thinking deep thoughts.
[Renton] Yeah. It kind of is. And it kind of can turn into something worthless if you pursue it too long.
[Heidi] Right, a little navel gazing going on.
[Renton] That’s right. What really got me into it was I was teaching at a college in Minnesota, and on 911, I remember watching all these things happen on the television. And from that moment on I really started to think about what it means to have a view of the world. What is it that we bring to the world when we see it? And we see these men who, because of their worldview, thought that an organized mass murder would be the best thing that they could do with their lives. And so I really started to think about that and it really started to change the way I was viewing the world. And so I ended up working on a degree in philosophy, which was not satisfying to me because I realized that you can’t just get a degree in philosophy. There has to be things you have to agree to. And so I decided to move on instead of getting a PhD in philosophy. My wife, who is much wiser and smarter than myself said, “You’re so frustrated with this philosophy stuff, why don’t you just go get a degree in theology?”
And so that’s what I did. And the combination has really been a help. The Lord has opened the door for me to teach philosophy for several years along with logic courses and things like that for a secular college, which brought about a lot of stories. And I was in trouble a lot. I was on a first name basis with our Chair who was actually very kind to me considering all the complaints.
[Heidi] I’m trying to like, I’m trying to imagine this young man trying to get a degree in theology and giving your theology professors trouble.
[Renton] Well, there was frustration on two ends, so on the end of me being a student working on a degree, I was still trying to fight that philosophical worldview, while I was trying to compensate and understand— okay, well how is it that theology works? Because I was coming from a completely different world. And then when I was teaching my philosophy class, I would get more and more blatant about a biblical worldview, which would make the students complain quite a bit to the chair of my department, then I would have to answer to that guy.
[Heidi] One of the things I thought was so interesting when I heard you speak in Greenville was that you’ve spent quite a bit of time on secular university campuses and so you have a very unique perspective. And I think you were talking about, your topic was: Is The BIble A Textbook—and like preparing our kids to be ready to have their faith challenged and their ideas challenged. And I know that when I went to college and the first thing I heard was, your parents are stupid. Like in so many words, that’s kind of what I heard. And I know that because of when I was listening to you talk, it was resonating with me. Parents listening to this are a lot of them getting ready to graduate their kids. Well now, thank you COVID-19, it might be off a year, but we’re trying.
Like we’re trying to graduate our kids and the question comes up a lot. What’s going to happen when they get into a secular university? We’ve seen George Barna, lots of people, pure research. We’ve seen all kinds of statistics that are alarming to Christian parents that say, hey, the chances of you actually retaining the heart of your child are pretty small if they get into a university that successfully challenges their thinking to the point where these kids question their faith. And a lot of parents go, “Oh, that’s not really happening.” But you say it is.
[Renton] Absolutely, it is. And it happens in a way that isn’t what many people think. There’s been movies and videos that people have put out that kind of give an idea of what a secular university might be like and it’s just not quite that way. What happens is that the student, your student goes into the secular university or college mainly because we live at a time that sending them away to these Christian colleges is so expensive, that if they’re already plugged into a good church, why not send them to a local college and university? And typically that’s not a bad idea. The problem is that I’m not sure we’ve really prepared our young people to do that. Because what happens is they’ll come and sit down in their seat expecting this rage against Christianity and some kinds of tirade against it, and instead what they get is they get a teacher whose pretty cool, who’s pretty smart, who has thought things through because it’s their job, in a way that maybe they haven’t heard before.
And that really cool, really smooth guy or a lady up there is starting to say, “Hey, who in here holds to a strong faith? They really believed in their faith?” And there might be kids that raise their hand, maybe your kid might be brave enough to raise his hand. And what they’re expecting is retaliation, but what they get is appreciation. And so they say, isn’t that wonderful that you hold your faith? And that’s just so great, we need that today. So important. I’m so glad you’re in my class. And they start feeling at home. And then what the teacher will do is they’ll say, okay, well, your faith is awesome and it’s great if you believe in your religious book and that’s wonderful, but today we’re going to talk about algebra, or today we’re going to talk about Shakespeare, or today we’re going to talk about…. whatever, to help them understand that your faith is wonderful, the Bible is a great, great thing— as long as it’s in its place, and you leave it there on the weekend. But today we’re going to talk about something that’s real, something that’s absolutely true, which we can really talk about. We’ll talk about reality in this class and you can save that neat little faith you have for the weekend, for when you want to imagine things. And as they keep promoting this, they then use the subject that they’re teaching to then espouse their values and beliefs in a very sophisticated way, what I call sophisticated unbelief. And it becomes attractive to the young people because the teachers aren’t trying to repel young Christians, they are trying to attract them because they see themselves not as these evil people trying to destroy your children’s face. They see themselves as saviors, that’s going to save your child from their faith, to free them to do the things that they really want to do.
And what does that do to our sin nature? Someone that you respect, that you kind of think is neat, that has taken an interest in you is now giving you that permission to walk away from all the things that seem to restrict that sin and it becomes attractive. And that is how the whole system works. It’s incredibly sophisticated, but even more dangerous than that, it’s incredibly genuine. They really do believe they are doing something good.
[Heidi] I found an opportunity several times to talk to people who work at abortion clinics and I’ve done a little bit of sidewalk counseling. And because I speak for a living, I meet all kinds of people. And it’s interesting to me that oftentimes the ones that do the most damage remind me so much of the snake in the garden, right? You will not surely die. You’re going to be like, God. Hey, everything’s going to be cool. It’s going to be fine. And with our kids, coming on to these, and you’re right, because when I talk to these, like an abortion care…. well, she called it abortion care, which we all know is not care. It’s like healthcare, abortion is not healthcare you, abortion is murder. But yet we talk about it and we frame it like that, right?
Abortion is healthcare and they were helping these women, they need help. They’ve been abandoned, they don’t have any money. Heaven forbid their child should grow up in poverty as if death is better than poverty. And all of a sudden the argument starts to sound believable and it starts to sound compassionate even though it isn’t. And when you were presenting this topic, one of the things that struck me so much as a parent, I have three kids still at home. Four of our kids have graduated now, but we still have three at home. And I’m always interested in teaching my children from a biblical worldview and obviously, undergirding their beliefs. But you really took issue and— I thought this was so enlightening—you really took issue with this idea of just opening up an apologetics book, right? Let’s say, here’s your archeological evidence for Christ. Here’s this, here’s that. And you took issue with it. Can you explain that to our listeners a little bit? Why do you think we got to do better than that?
[Renton] That’s a good question. I guess especially considering the PhD I’m working on is in apologetics, you would think I would be a big advocate.
[Heidi] Yeah. That’s why I was so shocked, because I read your bio like everybody else and I expected you to say here’s the best apologetics textbook in the world and you really went the opposite direction. But it was so eye opening. I told my husband, I leaned in I’m like, dude, every parent needs to hear this because it’s a shift in our thinking, but it’s a critical shift, from somebody who understands what these kids are up against.
[Renton] Yes. So our typical go to, and we did this too. We were homeschool parents, we’re looking for someone that’s going to link the subject to something biblical. I mean, it’s like the phrase that was so popular back in 2015, a hundred percent all natural, a hundred percent all natural. You’d see it all up and down the isles, and what we find out later is that that phrase has no meaning whatsoever. There’s no regulations on saying the word natural.
[Heidi] Yeah. And most of the time there’s nothing natural about it.
[Renton] Right. I mean, technically, at that time you could put all natural on a Snickers bar and it’s perfectly legal. And the same thing is happening now, we have biblical worldview, everyone’s saying biblical worldview, biblical worldview all over their materials because it sells. And so as a homeschooling parent, you see that and you think, oh, finally someone’s trying to do this and what you actually find out is that they’re trying to do not biblical worldview, they’re trying to do apologetics. Apologetics is wonderful, but apologetics is not the same as a biblical worldview. So a Biblical Worldview is trying to teach your young people how it is that I come to believe or have to value about anything. What we want them to understand is that it is through the story of Scripture that we get all those things. And that’s how we come to have beliefs and values so that we can judge what we see and interpret the world around us the way God wants us to interpret it.
Apologetics, on the other hand, is doing something much different. It has a different mission. So I put it this way, when I was doing the conference … When I was in the military they slowly introduced us to the world of being a soldier. It was a slow introduction. They first yelled at us for a while so we can get used to that. They made us do pushups and sit ups until we collapsed. They made us run until we collapsed. They gave us different discipline, teaching us how to take orders. All of that was teaching us the worldview of being a soldier, and that was important. What they did not do is the minute we got off the bus to start our first day of basic training, they did not hand us a weapon. They did not hand us a weapon because the weapon has a different job to do. We don’t get weapons until much later in basic training, and that’s because we first need to understand our worldview before we have a weapon that then helps us execute what we’ve been taught about our worldview onto our enemies.
So apologetics is kind of like that weapon. It is a method that we use in order to defend the worldview that we have, that’s what apologetics does. And there’s lots of different methods you can use to defend your worldview. Some are legitimate, some are terrible. But the problem that we have is that we’re trying to teach these methods of defending worldview before we’ve ever taught our children worldview at all. So we’re throwing a weapon in their hand saying, hey, defend the worldview and they’re still thinking well, okay. And so they use these little techniques that we’ve given them, the only problem is these techniques aren’t defending anything they really hold to yet. So we need to teach them what is it you need to hold to so that you can interpret the world around you. They need to hold to the story Scripture has given us so that we can then understand our beliefs and values so that when I look at the world, I can interpret it as God has told us to interpret it.
It’s not up to me to interpret the world, God has already done that for me. And so now I learn how to do that skill. Once I learn how to do that skill well enough, then I can say, well, what kind of a weapon do I need to defend this? The skill of a biblical worldview that I’ve been taught by my parents through the help of a good curriculum. And so now when I go into a secular university or college, I’m not just throwing up little tricks that I learned on the way because I’ll tell you this—the professors that are going to come against, know these little tricks, they have heard the little tricks. They know that when you find a trinket in the desert, and the Bible talks about the trinket being somewhere near there because there was a city near there, they dug, there was a city underneath the ground that the Bible said was going to be there. And now we know the Bible through it. They’ve heard all these different arguments. They know them probably better than our children do when they come with these little tricks.
Well, when they find that the professor already knows this well and they give a sophisticated reason why that little trick doesn’t work, then what is your child going to hold on to? If we’ve taught them to hold on to the tricks of apologetics or a method of apologetic that defends something they haven’t even bought into yet, something they haven’t even made their own yet, something they don’t even understand the skill to do yet, then they’re going to be devastated when the trick they thought, the trick that they put their faith into then gets destroyed. What we want to do is teach them how to put their faith into Scripture so that when they are able to view the world, their faith is in the Word of God that helps them interpret the world so that the Holy Spirit’s work is guaranteed to be done because that’s the only place that we have a guarantee.
It’s guaranteed that if your child knows the Lord and he studies God’s Word, the Holy spirit works. There is no guarantee that a really, really good apologetical method is going to be used of the Holy Spirit. I mean, it might be, but there’s no guarantee of that. There’s a guarantee of Scripture, that’s what we need to teach our young people to put their faith in.
[Heidi] Yeah. And so when you talk to parents about incorporating a biblical worldview, now you’ve just done a really good job of separating out apologetics from a biblical worldview. And I think oftentimes we conflate the two of them, right? And so we kind of think one is the other, and you’ve just said— No, it’s actually not. They serve different purposes. And so what we’re trying to do is to teach our children from a very young age how to interpret the world through the lens of Scripture. So like what we’ve always told our children is we take what’s coming at us and we sift it through Scripture and Scripture is what we lean into.
And right before we started recording, you were saying that one of the things that you do over at Bob Jones University Press, and I was so encouraged by this because I think parents need to know that this is where we start, is that you’re saying one of the things that you do, the primary thing that you do now is to help them to develop ways to incorporate a biblical worldview into every single subject that we teach. Because what happens is I think, and certainly I’ve been talking about this for years out on the road— a long time ago, I started telling parents I was on a one woman crusade to stop you from teaching the Bible as a subject in school and start looking at it as a handbook for life.
Because we teach our children, now you’ve got a spelling class and I’ve got math and now history. Now we’re going to say the Bible, and then they get out of your homeschool or they graduate from a Christian school, if that was what they were taught there and they go, well I did that, I graduated and now I’m done. And so we look at it completely differently. But you’re saying, if we’re teaching our children to see the world the way God sees it, then it applies to every subject. It is woven into every subject. And like I told you before, I’m looking at something like comprehensive sex education, which I talk about all the time here at the podcast. And even while we’re in quarantine, these agendas are marching forward. So the people that are pushing this worldview in this particular case, it’s not a biblical worldview, it’s a sexual worldview that is very, very twisted and very broken.
But I heard a woman speaking for Planned Parenthood just a couple of days ago talking about how they were going to … they are working very hard at ways that they can incorporate that. So she said, for example, a lot of your seventh graders are going to read Shakespeare this year. Well, they’re going to read Romeo and Juliet. This is a perfect time to talk about comprehensive sex education and talk about the word consent. And I was like, bingo. That’s what they’re doing. They’re taking this worldview, which is very antithetical to what God says, and they are weaving it into every subject in school, which is why you can’t opt out. And what we’re saying as believers, what I hear you say is this is what parents need to be doing. We need our children to hear God’s Word. How do we see the world from a biblical point of view in every subject? And so how are you guys doing that?
[Renton] That’s a great question. It’s something that is actually kind of surprising to people, how this is done because we’re not satisfied with merely relating the Bible to a subject or even just using examples from the Bible in a subject so that the Bible is mentioned in some way. We are looking to go much deeper than that. So to illustrate it, I’ll tell you this very short little story. For 15 years I taught in a public college and I taught everything from writing to philosophy to logic and things like that. And one of the classes I taught was an ethics course. And so it’s principles of ethics, most of the students are freshmen, sophomore level students. Almost all of them are products of the public high school. And so on the first day I asked the same question to all my students and I say— is it wrong to murder? And very, very thankfully, at least for my sake, almost all their hands go up and they say, yes, it is wrong to murder. And so that’s refreshing. And so then I say, okay, so…
[Heidi] We’ve set the bar really low now. What do you guys think about murder? Let’s start there.
[Renton] So then I say to them, I say, so what makes it wrong to murder? And I see the look on their face and the look on their faces, oh, I know the answer to this. And I wait, and then I watch the look on their face start moving from confidence to discouragement. Because they think they know what it is, but maybe they think I just can’t put it into words. And then they start realizing that they just absolutely don’t know. They know the facts, that it is wrong to murder because in the public schools, this is an ethic that they have to be taught. They have to know this thing. It’s wrong to murder. There are certain things that are wrong. But why it is wrong to murder is not discussed, they have no idea. I have students who say everything from, well, you can’t just go up to someone and take their life and take away their right to live. And I say, well, yes you can. I mean, have you ever been to Chicago?
It happens all the time. So yes, you can do this. So what makes it wrong? And what I found was they just kept repeating the question back to me, thinking they’re answering the question. So what’s going on? Are they unintelligent? Well, no. They’re untrained. They’re untrained about what it means to have a reason for why I believe X, or if I could put it this way, what accounts for my belief and this accounting for belief is the key to biblical worldview. It is the key to critical thinking, it’s the key to academic rigor, which is … I mean, because my point isn’t that my public school students didn’t have a good biblical worldview, my point is that they had no view. They knew that murder was wrong, they didn’t even give me a secular reason why murder would be wrong.
I would have been at least happy to hear..well, not happy to hear, but relieved that someone’s thinking. If someone were to say, well, actually murder really isn’t wrong because we’re all here by chance anyway, and eventually the sun is going to supernova and we’re all be dead and nothing really matters. But in order for us to have a society, I guess, we can’t murder. I mean that’s at least an answer, even if it’s horrible. But they didn’t even have that. And so what’s happening is in the public schools, as John Dewey planned from the start, he wants a socialized student that’s going to be a good citizen of the state, he does not want a thinker. And so as homeschool begins to gain popularity what we need to remember is as Christian parents who homeschool—this is important. Homeschooling is important to us for many reasons. One reason is we have the opportunity to teach real rigor in our courses where we’re giving our young people the opportunity to know and account for why they believe what they believe. And this is biblical worldview.
So even if I’m teaching something like two plus two equals four, let me tell you something that they’ll never learn in a public school, and sadly, a lot of times not in a Christian school, and this is what they won’t learn. What makes two plus two equaling four possible? Why is it that we are able to do the work of understanding two plus two equaling four, why? How do we account for two plus two equaling four? And that sounds like a tough question for young people, but it’s only a tough question because we hardly ever ask it. And so if we’re serious about biblical worldview, as we are at BJU Press, we ask those kinds of questions and then figure out how we can get the students in our product to make their way back to Scripture, to be able to account for how it is that two plus two equals four. What makes that possible and what is the purpose of it?
That is real critical thinking because now you’re taking a simple belief of accepting two plus two equaling four and you’re accounting for it. And that’s the key to good thinking, but it’s also the key to good biblical worldview. So that our students are beginning to start thinking this way. They start thinking that this world has already been interpreted by my God and He has given his interpretation through His Word. And that even though it might be hard and it might be a skill I have to start learning because maybe I haven’t been using that muscle for a long time, I can start learning that muscle and working that muscle so that every time I come across beliefs, no matter how simple they are, my first interest as a Christian young person is— how does my Bible account for the truth of the thing that I am learning today?
Even if they’re learning grammar and that they learn that the reason we learn grammar, the purpose of good language skills is that I am able to love my neighbor better that way. And we start realizing all these skill level courses that seem so distant from biblical worldview— are absolutely reliant upon it. And that is a long, long, long answer to your question.
[Heidi] Well, it’s such a great answer and I know that there are so many parents, literally are sitting on the edge of their seat right now going finish the question. So why do we teach our children that two plus two equals four. You left everybody hanging. They’re all like, they’re all waiting. Like all the moms are like taking notes. Come on, Renton is going to give us an answer. What’s the answer?
[Renton] Oh, good. Well, the answer is this. It starts in Genesis 1. When God made man, His first commandment to man before the fall, His commandment to man is: I want you to multiply. I want you to fill the earth and I want you to subdue the earth and rule over it. Now, God is not the kind of God that the philosophers talk about that is just all power and no relationship. Our God is a Father to his children and as a father speaks to his children and when he gives … when a father speaks to his children, usually fathers give direction to their children with the tools to get that goal accomplished. And so God gives man the tools to use to do that subduing and to do that ruling over the earth. Because what is man? Man is an image bearer of God. And as an image bearer of God, he is to mimic his Father. I mean, I’ll tell you what, as a father, there are times when your children mimic you and it’s the thing you want them to mimic.
[Heidi] Yes. Occasionally that happens.
[Renton] Occasionally that happens, I’ll tell you. And you know that feeling. If you’re a parent and your child has done something really well on their own and it’s something you’ve been teaching them, that feeling you get of yes something I did right.
[Heidi] Yeah, right.
[Renton] And maybe this child is going to turn out. And we get those feelings and that is a mimicry, right? They’re mimicking something that is good, that at our best we are doing and we’re saying like, Paul, mimic me because I’m mimicking Christ. Well, this is how we were made. We were made to mimic our Father. Our Father subdued and ruled over our earth and we are to mimic that in our own way. It’s not the same way of course, as God does, but it’s the creaturely way of mimicking our God. And so two plus two equals four is not just this brute fact that a kid has to learn and it’s boring — yeah, I get it. Two apples plus two apples equals four and it becomes a boring thing. It is one of the necessary tools that God has given man so that he might be able to obey Him.
Two plus two equals four isn’t just this blunt fact of the universe. It is a tool to obey my God so I can mimic my father. And that is our whole job as parents who are interested in homeschooling our children, is that we can make them mimics of our God. I mean, Ephesians tells us be imitators of God as children and that’s what we want them to be, to mimic our God. And that is that commandment. And so two plus two equals four seems like a very fundamental thing, but so is that commandment in Genesis 1, it is the fundamental activity that God told man to do and he gives him the fundamental tools to do it. And that’s what makes two plus two equals four exciting. That’s what gives it purpose and even gives you an understanding that the Bible is accounting for even something as simple as two plus two equals four.
So like I always say, no, the Bible isn’t a math textbook. The Bible is the book that makes a math textbook possible. So we can’t even have a math textbook without the Scripture accounting for every single word that’s in there. And if we are serious about growing our children in the love and admonition of the Lord, then we need to be serious about always connecting every single skill we teach them back to Scripture. So they understand that this skill they’re learning, as boring as it might seem at the moment, or as tedious as it might seem at the moment, is part of their work so that they might be image bearers of their God and be able to do the work that God commanded them to do.
[Heidi] Wow. And so the minds of parents everywhere right now are exploding, they’re like, oh my word. I’ve been doing it wrong. I’m as encouraged now listening to you, I’ve filled up another page of notes listening to you, as I was when I first heard you in Greenville because I think you’re bringing to the conversation that desperately needs to be had right now, a clarity that we need for the times that we’re living in. And I appreciate it. And I love, like I was thinking your new hashtag needs to be #allthebooks because if parents, if this is what BJU Press is turning out, if this is what you guys are doing, parents need to buy all the books. Like we need to go there and go, what’d you got for a third grade math student?
: Because I’ve got a kid right now who’s in fourth grade, my youngest is in fourth grade and she is right in the middle of her multiplication facts. And they’re just facts and she doesn’t like it and I don’t like it, but we’re muscling our way through it, right? And I keep thinking, God, give me grace for the seventh one. Like there’s a point in which I was just like, “Mom, do I have to do this again?” And I wanted to say, “No, I don’t actually care if you know math at all. How about we just make cookies and talk about the birds? That’s what I’d rather do anyway.” But I love that you’ve brought a practicality to it and a reason for teaching our children to see the world through the lens of Scripture. And I love that this is the mission of BJU Press. And I really love that you are at the helm of that.
What an amazing opportunity that parents have right now. Thank you COVID-19, there are 50 million kids being homeschooled right now. And if parents can take this opportunity and catch a vision for why educating our children from a biblical worldview is so important, I think we can see a shift in the culture away from the secularization and the moral relativism that we’ve been drifting into as a church for so long and back to the centrality and the authority of Scripture in our lives. So Renton Rathbun, thank you so much for coming on the show and clearing this up and all the parents who were just like, oh my word, I’m going to go back and teach basic math now. This can be so much fun. I think you’ve encouraged a whole bunch of people today.
[Renton] Thank you.
[Heidi] For more information on Renton Rathbun, I’m going to link back to the work he’s doing at Bob Jones University Press. And if you guys want information about the curriculum that you can find at BJU Press, I want to encourage you to check it out. I’ve got a whole bunch of them in my own personal library here and I’m telling you what, if you’ve been encouraged by what Rathbun is teaching you, you’re going to see it in BJU Press and in the books that they’re producing. So I hope this encourages you guys. Thank you again for listening today. Remember, we are right smack dab in the middle of our new study at MomStrong International. We are studying the resurrection of Jesus and why the hope of what God did in sending his son matters now more than ever has. Check it, momstronginternational.com. Thanks for listening everybody and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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Heidi St. John
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