step 8: principle 6–How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted

Of course local self-government begins–where else–with the individual. Then it moves to the family, the church, the city, the state and the the nation. As the seed is planted in the individual, all other spheres will reap the rewards of it.

As I stated in the last principle, America is the only country in the world with the balance of powers between state and federal governments. Local self-government is unique in its form here in America, creating unique communities all over the country, with their own laws and economic environments. This is individuality in another sense–each community as an individual is distinct from all other communities. And we have the freedom to change our communities or to move to a more desirable area.

What exactly is the “seed” then? It is the principle of self-government, planted in individuals by educating them (internally), and then externally expressed by demonstrating the principles.

What makes self-government “local?” A defined geographic area who govern and finance themselves exclusive of any other area. They choose their own leaders and govern their own affairs, having little dependence on taxes and people from other areas.

Applied educationally, this principle is planted in the students in the way we minister to our children as we educate them, elevating their Christian scholarship and the idea of free individuals. As I inspire my children and cultivate the Biblical intelligence that delights to answer to God and the Holy Spirit, I will begin to see that fruit evident in their lives. I make them accountable for their time, talents and property; help them to take dominion over their environment and become “Lord’s Freeman” and “Christ’s Servant.” (p. 68)

 There is much more he covered about church government and its role in shaping the country, but I could post all day about it, so I am cutting it short. :)

Step 8: principle 5– The Christian form of our government

This 5th principle may seem tricky at first. You may wonder how on Earth that applies to your personally. Let’s discuss that very thing.

The Principle of Representation

Ex. 18:25-26, Deut. 1:13 (Moses is the first example of this principle).

The Children of Israel chose their own representatives. Rev. Thomas Hooker used this principle in a 1638 sermon that inspired the first constitution in America–the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.

Christian form of our government

As we have discussed at length in past posts, everything works from internal to external, including the Christian form of our government.

The internal relates to the spirit of the Law. It includes internal government, private property and voluntary union–all of the things we must do of our volition.

The external is the letter of the law, with its rules and structure, including representation, separation of powers and our dual form of government.

Separation of powers

The first full expression was also in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, conscience is:

Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them.

Ms. Slater correlates this definition to the separation of powers individually. We 1) ascertain the duty (legislate), 2) act on it (executive) and 3) judge our actions (judicial). You can imagine what could happen if these powers were unbalanced:

1) seeing what needs to be done and not acting
2) not being diligent or overstepping our bounds
3) being overly critical of ourselves or not holding ourselves accountable

Dual form of government

America is the only nation in the world to have a balance of state and federal powers.

The law and the Gospel are the basis for our form of government.

The end of law is…to preserve and enlarge freedom — John Locke

The law is an instrument of grace, revealing our sin and affording a Saviour.  In the Gospel, God’s love and the Holy Spirit are both indwelling and outworking. Ms. Slater also says that the Gospel is both evangelical and political(p. 56). To read more about that you’ll have to get the book. (You mean you haven’t gotten it already!?) Maybe I’ll post about this later.

This principle applied educationally is as follows:

  • dual form of government: dual levels of responsibility and authority (children over one another, parents over children, God over parents, etc.) There are “two sovereign spheres within one sovereign body of law.”

  • law and the Gospel: class constitution, rules, order, law and love.

  • separation of powers: executing lessons (especially math)–identilfy, perform, check. Dive duties to them to perform, allowing them to be in charge, and then allow them to follow the same checks and balances.

step 8: principle 4–Conscience is the Most Sacred of all Property

That’s a mouthfull! And it’s also rich in meaning.

Property-the exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing; ownership.

Conscience- the principle within us, which decides on the lawfullness or unlawfullness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condems them.

Property is a privilege and responsibility (must have Christian character). It is an issue of stewardship.

Earlier generations felt conscience was a “distinct possession” (James Madison).

…In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights…Conscience is the most sacred of all property.

Conscience is both internal and external–thought and action. We can see the evidence of conscience in the behavior of those around us. You can see how the principle of individuality is demonstrated here. We have an individual conscience that speaks to us individually and we are individually responsible for it. We can only teach our children the difference between right and wrong, according to the standards in God’s Word. They are responsible to carry that out. This also implies consent. Conscience, as with all principles, is internal to external. You cannot force conscience. God works it from the inside out.

We had an interesting discussion on the heart and conscience and how they are related. Here’s a clip from that, with my response:

Q. As we teach these principles and try to plant seeds in their hearts, is this interrelated to conscience? Both(heart and conscience) are internal and both govern our actions and conduct, but is one causative to the other or vice versa? I appreciate your insights :-)

A. I believe the “heart” is the soul– mind, will and emotions. The conscience and heart work together. They are a sort of circuit, each affecting (and maybe infecting) the other, negatively or positively. When your heart is wicked you will have no conscience, and no conscience will allow you to do all sorts of wicked things. Conversely, a sharp conscience will prick the heart at the slightest infraction and the heart will not desire to do wicked, which keeps the conscience sharpened.

That is why all of these principles must work together to see the full effect in the individual. The conscience is only one part of the equation. The other six principles deal with the heart.

Mr. Rose talks a lot about how the principle applies to external economic property, but you’ll have to get the book for that!

Applied educationally, conscience is developed through stewardship of property, submission to authority, time management and diligence. You can discuss choices and actions, as in the way you choose to live/educate (assignments, supplies, time mgmt. etc.) and the consequences (and rewards) that come with certain choices of conscience.

step 8: principle 3–America’s Heritage of Christian Character

The highest example of Christian self-government is, well, Jesus. Of course He is our model and who we strive to pattern our lives after, hence the “Christian” descriptor.

To be self-governed, we must have the character to sustain it. And to do that we must have these seven principles demonstrated in our lives. To me, this principle should be listed last and be the sum of all the other principles. It encapsulates your life as you put into practice the other 5, with the first (individuality) as the basis.

The expressly peculiar stamp, mark, or character of Christ engraved upon the individual is causative. An effect is a history and heritage of those individuals whose Christian faith and life endured both external and internal conflict and trials. (p. 39)

The source of Christian Character is the Bible, a perfect combination of the Power of the Gospel and the Virtues of Christ. We need look no where else for instruction in righteousness. There is no other text that will so completely and succinctly train you to develop Christian character.

Educational application is sorely needed in today’s culture. There is a tremendous lack of true Christian self-government in America today. Some ways this principle can be applied:

  • provide curriculum “that reveals and teaches Christian character, or the lack of it.” (p. 42)
  • ensure that each subject is “rooted and grounded” in God’s Word so the student sees the standard for righteous living
  • as an educator, lead by example (ouch!!)
  • teach models of Christian character
  • provide lessons and tests that challenge and strengthen the student with reasoning, relating and recording (essays, projects, etc.) instead of fill-in-the-blank, rote memory and multiple choice.
  • afford students the opportunity to exercise authority and self-government in all subjects
  • enable the student to to take responsibility for one’s own character, instead of passing blame. They must accept responsibility for their successs or failure.

Why are we so concerned with teaching this principle? Ms. Slater states

This is why it is so vital to explain to new teachers and those who are uncomfortable with thinking governmentally that “while it might look as if we were dealing with the subject of Christian government–actually, we are teaching principles which are basic to every Christian in everyarea of life. For what constitutes the Constitution is what constitutes the life and character of the people.” Hence, the conclusion that “The qualities of a good ruler (effect) are also the qualities of those who are governed (cause) in a republic.” (T&L, 247)

step 8: principle 2– Christian Principle of Self-Government

He knows not how to rule a kingdome, that cannot manage a Province; nor can he wield a Province, that cannot order a City; nor he order a City, that knows not how to regulate a Village; nor he a Village, that cannot guide a Family; nor can that man govern well a Family that knows not how to Govern himselfe; neither can any Govern himselfe unless his reason be Lord, Will and Appetite her Vassals; nor can Reason rule unlesse herself be ruled by God; and (wholy) obedient to Him.  –Hugo Grotius, 1654

This sums up nicely this principle. We are governed from within. It is our internal thoughts that determine our external actions. If we cannot well govern ourselves then how can we govern any other sphere? This is based on individuality because we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. It is individual accountability.

God must be at the center or my will and appetite will be immoral (contrary to God’s laws). When He is placed front and center and we reason from His Word, that life and governmental philosophy will flow out to all spheres.

Educationally we apply this principle in that “God’s law is the requirement of the heart.” It is up to God to bring the changes needed for a child to grow into a proper citizen of His Kingdom. Ways we can manifest this principle:

  • accountaibility for property, thoughts and actions
  • requiring reasonable behavior
  • classroom (and home) environment control
  • all of the things that form the basis for a Christian Republic

To some Christians the idea of “self-government” may have pagan undertones. We are to be governed by Christ. And self-government is “me-centered”. But Christian self-government acknowledges the lordship of Christ and that He is the one aiding us in governing ourselves. He has given us dominion and over and over in His Word He instructs us on how to govern ourselves. He dedicated the entire book of Provebs alone to instruction on self-government. We are responsible for our own thought and actions (principle 1), so we must take an active role and be self-governed.

step 8: principle 1–God’s Principle of Individuality

This is the first in a 7-part series for step 8, covering each of the 7 biblical Principles of America’s Christian History and Government. They are not at all meant to be comprehansive, but merely some of my thoughts on these principles as I read each section in A Guide to American Christian Education.

“Everything in God’s universe is revelational of God’s infinity, God’s diversity, God’s individuality. God creates distinct individualities. God maintains the identity and individuality of everything which He created.” Rosalie Slater,  GACE p. 31

God created us in His image as unique individuals, with an outward identity amd inward individuality (p. 31) His Kingdom is based on individuality–salvation, service, relationship–we are all responsible for ourselves. You can see here why this principle is the one from which all the others spring. I am responsible for my own thoughts and actions, soo the other principles at work will spring from this most basic idea. It’s about me. And without the help of Christ we are hopelessly doomed to fail. (There is a vast difference between Christian individuality and human individualism.)

Educationally we can easily apply this principle. We see individuality (or the lack of it) in classrooms and homes all across the globe. I believe those that celebrate, encourage and require individuality are those that are the most successful. Individuality is seen in:

  • individual subjects
  • individual students
  • individual work
  • individual accountability

This is one of my favorite principles across the subjects because it is so readily seen:

  • Mathematics: individuality of numbers and equations
  • Science: individuality of creatures and processes
  • Literature: individuality of authors and their works
  • English: individuality of letters and words
  • History: individuality of men and nations
  • Geography: individuality of the Earth and its construct
  • Art: individulity of artists and their works
  • Music: individuality of musicians and their compositions

It is one of the most exciting principles, and one of the easiest to readily see. It will change your life when you meditiate on the idea that God created you in a unique and special way, with a plan in mind.

Starting with Me

God made me special–

Like no one else you see.

God made me a witness

To His diversity.

                                               –Rosalie Slater

Step 4: what Biblical Principle Approach is not

This is an interesting topic, no? Here are some things that Mr. Rose highlights are not found in the BPA. (The scriptures I have added to demonstrate these as principles in God’s Word.)

BPA is not:

  • the teacher dominating the subject or student.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 If the Holy Spirit is gentle to guide, we are to be also.

  • encouraging adults to copy what any other home or school is doing.
  • Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 1 Cor. 4:4-12 We all have unique gifts to bring to our home eudcation.

  • exalting methodology above content, or vice versa.

For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding {in the matter} for which I sent it. Is. 55:9-11

Jesus is higher than either and we need His help to remeber that. They are both tools to learn more about Him.

  • a coating of Christianity and knowledge.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Mt. 23:27

  • a cover-all, but God all-in-all.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:1-4

  • evolutionary but expansive. You can simultaneously teach every subject to every student though every grade, expanding the principles as they are able to receive deeper conepts. In another section Mr. Rose discusses this  on p. 126, quoting Ms. Slater

The message of salvation is not presented in evolutionary manner by degrees, or part by part, nor progressviely. The means by which the youngest may ‘also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus’ is presented full and complete from the first…The ‘little child’ learns the same Gospel as the advanced student of theology.

This is applied in the next column when Mr. Rose writes

The manner in which God brings forth fruit in nature is by infixing (setting in) seed–representative of whole, complete principles

We give our little chicks a seed at a time until they are able to handle more. But they receive the same principles, not matter what age or maturity. That’s wy this works for all peoples everywhere. The Bible’s principles are universally applicable. So your whole family can enjoy God’s principles together!

  • instant. There is no microwave to renew your mind, no instant way to conform into His image. This takes a commitment and a lot of investment of time and energy.

There is no expedient way to truly educate–no quick and easy method of producing the kind of character and scholarship able to withstand evil and ‘having done all, to stand!’ (Eph. 6:13)” p. 16

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:4

In BPA the subject and student are extensions of Jesus (Author and Governor). I LOVE this concept. Jesus is the focus of every subject at all times. We learn about science and math and HisStory to learn more about Him. The facts come naturally but they are not the focus, Jesus is.

Join us for the study in A Guide to Amercian Christian Education by James Rose.

step 2: defining BPA, 7 principles and 4-R’ing

Step 2 of the 12 steps in Mr. Rose’s book involve reading a short overview of the seven principles of America’s Christian history and government and what it means to 4-R. I will go into the seven principles in much more detail as the  study goes on, so I will only list them in this post.

Biblical Principle Approach refers to:

  1. rediscovery and reinstatement of principles on which the character of our country was built.
  2. Christian method of reasoning from the Bible.

The same principles that make you a better citizen in America also make you a better citizen in God’s kingdom as well. We are to think governmentally (you hear this phrase A LOT in BPA circles), which means to think “who or what is controlling, restraining, directing or regulating?” This will determine our worldview and our philosphy of education.

The more internal restraint you have, the less external restraint you need. This speaks a lot of how little we are internally governed as a society. There are rediculous laws and ordinances of all kinds to govern those among us who cannot control themselves. Our humanity loves rules and the more the better. The more God’s laws are written on our hearts (love Him, love your neighbor as yourself), the less of man’s laws we will need. His Word will have pre-eminence in every sphere of life.

I tell my kids from time to time, “The world would not be such a bad place if grown-ups could keep their hands to themselves.” Isn’t that true? We would not steal, sleep around or kill. But the hands are not really the problem, are they? It’s the heart that’s the matter, especially when the grown-ups were just children and no one taught them to be internally controlled.

The 7 Principles of American Christian History and Government

  1. God’s Principle of Individuality
  2. The Christian Principle of Self- Government
  3. America’s Heritage of Christian Character
  4. Conscience is the Most Sacred of all Property
  5. Our Christian Form of Government
  6. How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted
  7. The Christian Principle of American Political Union

These 7 principles apply to all spheres of life and to all peoples around the world. When I spend a week on each principle I will explain that in more detail.

4-Ring

the four R’s is a simple yet profound way of learning that we all do, we just have never thought much about. It is a historical method in which the four steps are exercised simultaneously. (You can search my archives for more 4-R information.)

1. Research God’s Word to identify basic principles by searching scripture for vocabulary. Get out your Webster’s 1828 dictionary and look up words to define from the subject you are studying. Then look up those word in your concordance.

2. Reason from Biblical truths and identify them to the student through each subject, concluding from Scripture the Biblical significance and governmental importance of the subject. It builds upon thruth researched.

3. Relate to each student through the subject, applying it to character, conscience and stewardship. The subject is the vehicle to learn more about God, not just a bunch of facts to memorize. This creates lessons that are truly alive for teacher and student, because they come from God’s Word.

4. Record what you feel you need to save by both teacher and student. Each should have their own record, whatever form that takes. Some like to keep an electronic notebook, some more like a scrapbook, others a type of journal and still others a traditional notebook.

We should take care what materials we use, Mr. Rose advises. Materials that teach external as the focus will present confusion.

The child and the subject are extensions of Jesus, the Author and Governor. We connect them together and we develop a student who can reason biblically and take dominion over all subjects.

God’s Principle of Individuality

When I read Mr. Rose’s Guide I was a happy mama. It validated some thoughts I had about the seven principles of America’s Christian history. I keep coming back to the principle of individuality over and over. I wasn’t quite sure if I was just using it as an easy out” for times when I couldn’t take more time to study. (Do you ever feel like you should be getting really “deep” insights when you study and that you should impart wisdom by the boatload? I have to constantly remind myself that I am planting seeds, not trees!) Mr. Rose offers something so helpful to me.

Starting on p. 31 he expounds on God’s Principle of Individuality. He talks about how this principle is foundational and the other six come out from it. It gives rise to the Christian idea of man and government. As God is the unique, individual source of everything, of course all other principles would spring from that.

That said, I am resting a little easier and not feeling like such a cop-out, relying on that principle so often. It is so elementary to the BPA philosophy that I am glad we are talking about it so often. We have also been spending a lot of time talking about individuality in all subjects and how important that principle is to the working of all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). It has been like an adventure looking for the individuality in each lesson we study. Some things we talk about are:

  • how geography shapes individuals and how all of geography is unique and wonderful
    history is His story and geograhpy is its stage. It is full of men and nations, all of whom are individual and unique in their contributions.
  • art is repleat with exciting people who use their talents in unique ways.

I could go on but you get the idea. Not all the seven principles are so easy to apply to every subject, but this is a wonderful one to start with beacuse it is woven through all of God’s creation.

Ten reasons to study science from the Principle Approach

Science is a terrific subject to view from the Bible because, like mathematics, science is orderly and predictable. Here are ten reasons I encourage you to study science from the Biblical Principle Approach.

  1. Science reveals God’s character: His order, His majesty, His creativity His consistency.
  2. You can study things in-depth, at your own pace. You can stop along the way and cover things as you desire, without being bound to a textbook’s schedule.
  3. Science illustrates God’s idea of government and affords children an appreciation of, and sense of responsibility for, creation (i.e. stewardship).
  4. God has many character lessons to teach us from natural science, such as diligence, patience and fruitfulness.
  5. Learning from whole to parts helps us study science in an orderly and easily understandable way.
  6. Principles can be taught to the youngest children, making it very easy to teach science to multiple grades. You simply add to the principles each year, highlighting what the children need to know at their own level.
  7. Learning science from the Principle Approach gives us a greater appreciation for God and His creation because we study in-depth, receiving inspiration from the Holy spirit and becoming “lively teachers”, not just textbook readers.
  8. Writing and defining science vocabulary gives students an appreciation for language. (And it’s a great way to sneak in some latin!)
  9. Accurate, excellent notebook work becomes future reference material because it becomes a part of the child’s body of knowledge and not just a worksheet that’s ccompleted and tossed.
  10. The child learns to love science and will teach himself as he or she learns the study skills necessary to master the subject.