Saturday, May 20, 2006

Our Nation's Counterfeit Priesthood

In a recent post I said the following: "In essence, the state became, and yet remains, a counterfeit-church, and its government workers, pseudo-priests."

I want to look more closely at the concept of our nation's false priesthood.

To set the stage for what follows, first I will take a paragraph or two to define the word, "priest."

In Old Testament Biblical terms a priest is a mediator. He stands between God and man, making sacrifices on behalf of others. An Old Testament (Old Covenant) priest was both a representative of the people to God, and of God to the people, and as such, mediated the Covenant between God and Israel. Moses' brother, Aaron, and his descendants (the Levites) became the line of the priesthood in Israel until Christ, the Messiah, arrived on the scene.

In the New Testament, Jesus is called the High Priest. What He accomplished on the cross completed what was begun in Exodus under the Levitical order. When He spoke from the cross saying "It is finished," He proclaimed the fulfillment of the old order (the Old Covenant), and He Himself accomplished what no Levitical priest could have ever done by mediating a New Covenant between God and man. Subsequently, because of what Christ did, all who trust in and follow Him are called priests, and His Church, is called a royal priesthood.

When this land we call America was first settled, Christ's New Covenant was not only seen as that which defined the relationship between the individual and God, it also served as a social contract for the many small communities that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries on American soil.

Through this New Covenant, settlers and their American-born offspring were assimilated, not only into their respective church communities, but into the larger, emerging, American society in the whole. So pervasive was this acceptance of Christianity and its New Covenant, that historian Sydney Ahlstrom, in his work titled, A Religious History of the American People, dubs this era of American history (the early 1600's to the mid-1800's) The Protestant Empire.

During this era of American history, the church (in its many denominational forms) remained the central unifier of the American people. We were held together by a common belief system, and a widespread, Judeo-Christian Worldview. The church's influence was so widespread, both in the colonial era, and in the early, formative years of our nation, that most everyone was assimilated into a culture undergirded by the truths of Holy Scripture, and ministered to through the churches that permeated every community.

The Church of that time functioned as a mediator of the social contract between the American people and God—a priestly role. Through the ministries of the Church, Americans were instructed in God's ways, and families were reinforced in their Christian values by the commonly-held Christian Worldviews of their neighbors.

But although America was clearly a Christian (particularly Protestant) nation, it was unlike other nations of that era in that it had no official state religion. Because of this, America likewise had no national priesthood, no state-supported ecclessiastical authority through which the ideals and values of the Church could be uniformly disseminated.

In response to this, Horace Mann, a state senator from Massachussets, began 1837 to push toward standardizing the public educational system in America. His goal—to inculcate moral values and virtues into the children. His reasoning was that because our nation had no officially sanctioned, state-supported church, we needed a consistent, organized system to convey America's values to young students.

Though seemingly good on the surface, Mann's vision had in its seed, a poisonous fruit. By shifting the responsibility for a child's education from the parent (supported by the church) to the state, public education set us on a course toward mass indoctrination.

Then, in the early 20th century, a man named John Dewey gained great respect in the sphere of public education. Influenced by Darwin, and fed by a passion for relativism (the denial of absolutes), Dewey co-wrote the Humanist Manifesto, and other works promoting his relativistic ideas.

Dewey's ideas, widely accepted by public educators for decades, have shaped the public education system into what it is today—a mechanism for assimilation of the young into anti-Christian ideologies. Whether knowingly or not, public educators have become the new priests of the American culture. Through the public schools, a religion is being imparted. It is no longer Christianity, but a religion nonetheless, spouting an ideology of socialism, hedonism, new-ageism, and in some cases, even nihilism.

Even as America's collective churches of the past performed a priestly, mediatorial role by instructing and thus and assimilating the young into American culture, so today the public educators are functioning likewise as the local priests in the community.

Church historian Sidney Mead in his book, The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America, had this to say in 1963: "the public school system of the United States is its established church."

The church stepped away, and the state stepped in.


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