Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Email Debate With Dr. Marcus Newsome
Concerning Education in Newport News Public Schools

Preface: After meeting with Dr. Newsome, I took some time to reflect on our meeting, and emailed him my reflections. As you will see, he sent me back a short reply, in which he did not really speak to the debate that I was addressing. I replied in turn and am now eagerly awaiting his response. I have prayed over all of this and would ask all believers who read this to join me in prayer for God's Kingdom to come and God's will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven according to the Scriptures. (Please pray in agreement with the Scriptures. Please do not try to manipulate the will of the Lord. Find out what pleases the Lord - and pray accordingly.)
-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Hillman [mailto:danhillman1978@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 9:08 AM
To: Marcus J. Newsome
Subject: Reflections of our meeting
Dear Dr. Newsome,
I appreciate the time we had to meet yesterday. I noticed that your intern, Anne, was taking notes the whole time. I was wondering if you might have her email me a copy of those notes - or if she would rather - she could make copies and I could come pick them up.
I will be spending some time today and tomorrow - reflecting over our meeting - and will be posting my reflections on my blog: meditationsofdan.blogspot.com - which, again I invite you to read and comment on.
It seems to me that you are a man with a certain measure of genuine faith in Christ, but due to the deceitfulness of your heart and the pressures of this culture in which we have been raised, you have a very modern mind. The modern mind isn't all bad. As I said yesterday, most moderns abhor and do not tolerate racism. That is a "good" thing. But that is just a start - and all our "good deeds" are nothing but filthy rags - next to the holiness of God. The modern mind has a knack for triviliazing the complex when it suits them, and making extremely complex the simple when it suits them. The modern mind takes a fairly straitforward passage of Scripture like Proverbs 1:7 ("The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and discipline.") and then somehow, by jumping through a ton of intellectual hoops, justifies why teaching kids to fear the Lord in the public school system can not be done - but its ok because the state isn't really mandating anything that goes directly against God (Oh, really), and somehow kids are still learning true knowledge. This is of course an argument that either has false premises or an invalid form or both. The simple truth remains that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge - so if a student is to learn any real valuable knowledge, it must be in the context of the fear of the Lord. It is that simple.
The "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" argument for enforcing the ungodly law of the land (teachers not being permitted to vocally acknowledge God) is a classic case of simplifying the complex. I will not at this moment do a hermaneutical study of that passage of Scripture. But I think that it is complex and great care needs to be taken so that the Scripture is not taken out of context. Using your logic (which oversimplified the passage), Peter and Paul would have stopped preaching immediately when the authorities told them to stop! And then, where would we be?! But, thanks be to God, Peter replied to the authorities, "We must obey God, not men!" The modern mind of the "Enlightenment" is one which is not based on faith, but rather reason. Now, I do believe we need to be able to reason well, but anything that is not of faith is sin. So, the modern mind is depraved and needs to be renewed by the Word of God (Romans 12:2).
Here is reality: Teachers can do nothing of value without Christ. Indeed, teachers can not even take their next breath, much less provide valuable knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to children, but for the grace of God. Therefore, in appreciation to God and out of obedience to His commands, teachers ought to acknowledge God in word, thought, and deed. The psalmist said (under the inspiration of God Almighty), "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." And in other places, "Praise the Lord." Notice, "praise the Lord" is a command, not just a good idea. Indeed, God inhabits the praises of His people. In other places in the Psalms, it says to let the praise of God be heard and the praiseworthy deeds of God must be taught to the next generation. To neglect this duty is to treat God with contempt. Just as it would be wrong to neglect to teach kids how evil racism and the Holocaust were - it would be wrong to neglect to teach kids the law of God and the praiseworthy deeds of God - of how God has worked on man's behalf, and on how He has promised deliverance to those who put their faith and trust in Him today. God, on His own authority, has mandated this. I am a witness to this truth (that is I have heard from Almighty God on this and so testify to you). More importantly, the Holy Spirit testifies to this truth. He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
More reality: The Supreme Court has decided that teaching children to pray and to revere and obey the Word of God is unconstitutional. The ACLU has effectively declared war on the church. Sadly, many in the church are apathetic to this, as you have pointed out yourself. Sadly, many more in the church have decided to compromise: that is to play by the rules of the Supreme Court and the ACLU, so that they would not lose their "influential" positions (as if God needs you to begin with). The catch is, the Supreme Court and the ACLU will only allow you to retain your position as long as you are not too influential for the cause of Christ. The cultural mandates of the ACLU and the Supreme Court have gone directly against the cultural mandates of the Bible. To fail to recognize this is to deceive yourself. And how many times does the Bible warn against being deceived?!
A moral wrong can never ever be a civil right regardless of what the ACLU says, the Supreme Court says, or anyone else says. The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God do not permit it.
Proverbs 21:22 declares, "A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust."
Many modern evangelical American Christians agree with me 100% on all of this - but most of these people also are living with a defeatist attitude. Every once in a while, someone like Roy Moore stands up for righteousness, and then the ACLU and the rest of the secularists who have a vision for godless America, go to war against him - supposedly in the name of justice (which is really ironic, because without God there is no justice). So, most evangelical Christian Americans just shake their head, and comment that "its just too bad" and then go about their business - without doing anything about it.
Newsflash: The power of darkness is crumbling! See, here comes your God! He comes in power to save! By the power of God, as we lift high the cross of Christ with faith in God Almighty, He will accomplish His purposes. But if we shrink back in fear and in unbelief, and if we deceive ourselves into believing that by shrinking back and compromising we are actually being wise, then God will be most displeased. May God bless you as you seek to do His will on His terms without compromising. May God bless you as you seek to obey the cultural, social, and educational mandates outlined by God in His word - regardless of what any man has mandated. But may God frustrate you, discipline you, and reprove you if you do not live in submission to Him.
May we resolve to remember above all the cross - where Christ died for us.
I am praying for you.
In Christ's Love,
Dan Hillman
p.s. Quick question: Where do you attend church?
Note: In my meeting with Dr. Newsome, he defended his compliance with the Supreme Court and the ACLU by appealing to the Scriptures, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." In my mind, this argument is either invalid or has false premises or both. I do not believe that we can blindly follow whatever the government tells us to do when it conflicts with God's Word.

From: "Marcus J. Newsome"
CC: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (not disclosing this person's email address)
Subject: RE: Reflections of our meeting
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 13:41:00 -0400
I appreciate the opportunity to meet and talk to you in person. I hope our discussion provoked both of us to continue our search for truth, knowledge, and understanding, which is revealed only through the Spirit of God. Thank you for the courteous and respectful manner in which you conducted yourself.
Even though you have questioned my faith, motives, actions, and stamped me with labels, I have chosen to make no such judgments about you or your faith.
To your credit, you are the most focused and determined young Christian I have met during my two year stay in Newport News. As I stated yesterday, I desire to know nothing about you except, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I pray that you continue to grow in wisdom and maturity.
Marcus Newsome
P.S. I will pass your request on to Ann regarding her notes.
From: Dan Hillman
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 6:24 PM
Subject: Response
Dear Dr. Newsome,
Heeding my wife’s wise advice and the restraint that I believe the Holy Spirit has required of me, I have taken these past several days to think through and pray about your response before responding once again. I think you would agree that my wife was wise to encourage me to "sleep on it" for a few days. And now, by God’s grace, having patiently restrained myself and having had the opportunity to think and pray and rest (and I hope that you have had similar opportunity), I am ready to engage in this discussion, which, as you well know, I believe is of the utmost importance. May God Almighty give us both confessed hearts and ears to hear what it is that He would have us to do.
And now, to respond to you directly.
Among other things in your reply to me, you said, "Even though you have questioned my faith, motives, actions, and stamped me with labels, I have chosen to make no such judgments about you or your faith."
Sir, with all due respect, there are two contradictory statements in this sentence.
In the first statement, you made a certain judgment about me (that I have questioned your faith, motives, actions, etc).
In the second statement, you deny having made any judgments about me.
I believe that, as Christians, we ought to be logical. Educators especially have a duty to model for children how to form arguments based on logic. Ideally, as part of the educational process, children would learn – among other things – how to detect and expose fallacies in arguments and how to construct valid syllogisms. I would say that our society’s future depends on it. (Incidentally, this would be accomplished in the Dialectic stage of a student's classical education).
Secondly, while I freely admit that I have questioned your faith, motives, and actions, I would challenge the notion that I have "stamped you with labels." I have made observations about you, analyzed those observations, and have used words to describe that which I have observed. If you want, you can call such word usage "stamping with labels," but I would call it an analysis and a description. To which "labels" do you object? I would guess that you are objecting to the "modern" label. Is this accurate or did you have something else in mind that I am simply not seeing?
But more importantly, why the defensiveness?
When Jesus taught us, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," he was talking about a particular dark and evil attitude. He was confronting self-righteousness and meanness. Some people say, "The wrath of God is coming, and I’m glad, because you are going to pay the price for your sins." Jesus taught us not to have that attitude.
And I do not.
Jesus was not telling us to be unobservant and naïve. When we consider the whole counsel of Scripture, we see that Christ gives us commands on how to handle conflict. He does not teach us to assume the best about people. On the contrary, he teaches us that people are all sinners. He does not teach us to be passive or to close our eyes to sin.
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you."
In order to do this, we obviously have to use good judgment. That means that we can and should recognize sin – whether it be flagrant or subtle. In 1 Corinthians 5:12, the Apostle Paul says, under the inspiration of God Almighty, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?"
God has called us together as brothers in Christ and as friends. God has called us to be ambassadors for Him. I want to reaffirm to you that in Christ’s name, I extend to you my friendship, kindness, and charity. My desire for you is that you would be empowered as you do God’s will. It is also my desire that all the children of Newport News would come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and as His disciples to grow in true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. I want the Holy Spirit to be acknowledged and made welcome in the Newport News Public Schools. This is surely God’s will.
Up until now, you have not really answered my arguments properly. Had a trained logician been present at our meeting or read our correspondence, he would have surely noticed several red herrings in your replies to me. I would ask you to discipline yourself to reply to my argument point by point. If my reasoning is invalid, expose it directly, as I exposed your invalid reasoning (when you made a judgment about me and then claimed that you hadn’t made a judgement about me). If I have a false premise, expose it.
My three big questions to you that I would very much like you to answer clearly and directly are these:
1. Is it your goal to have the Holy Spirit welcome in the Newport News Public Schools? This is a "Yes" or "No" question.
2. Assuming that your answer to the first question is yes, what is your strategy to arrange for the school to be ready to welcome the ministry of the Holy Spirit? I’d like a clear response with Scriptural support, valid deductive reasoning, and strong inductive reasoning.
3. This goes with question 2 somewhat: Do you agree with me that the only three possible options that you have are either to quit, to not quit and begin to declare the gospel, or to embrace the "trojan horse" idea? Why or why not?
As a citizen of Newport News and more importantly as a fellow disciple of Christ, I am calling you to account. God is actively working in our community, redeeming sinners to Himself! Everything we do ought to be for His glory. There are spiritual authorities and powers that I believe are made manifest through politics and economics. These authorities have declared war on the church. There is no neutral ground. And while we debate all of this, children are being raised in an institution that does not nourish authentic Christian discipleship and wisdom. Indeed, it is illegal for a Christian teacher to encourage a student to follow Jesus Christ. If we do not humbly submit to God and dogmatically declare the gospel in love, we will end up fighting against God. In order to justify ourselves, we will probably abandon logic altogether and deny the truth that there is no neutral ground. Indeed, millions in America have already done this.
And children will suffer for it.
If I am wrong, then show me how I am wrong using Scripture.
Just this past week, at Peninsula Community Chapel, Pastor Tom Kenney preached on the need for God’s presence to go with us. In Exodus 33, Moses declared to God, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." "Here" was in the desert. "Here" was the place that they would die. So, Moses was effectively saying, "Unless your Presence goes with us, we might as well die." And God was pleased with Moses.
It is impossible to please God without faith and courage. It is time for Christians to quit going with the flow and blending in with our culture. It is time to establish a distinctively Christian community and to call unbelievers to repentance and faith. I want to support you. But I need to know for what you are fighting. In this nation, we are in a battle over ideas. Sadly, too many Christians seek to please people and will not engage in this battle. When Christians are silent and ungodly people are aggressive, we get societies like Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. We will surely reap what we sow.
Galatians 6:14 – "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." I am continuing to lift you up in prayer. My prayer for you is that God's Kingdom would come and the God's will would be done in your heart, in your mind, in your life, and in your speech on Earth as it is in Heaven. My prayer is that you may lead courageously and in humble submission to our Lord Jesus Christ according to the social, cultural, and educational mandates that He has specifically outlined and commanded in His Word, and that many people will be redeemed by the Lord due to the influence of God's work in you and through you. Amen. Let it be so.
Lift high the Name of Jesus!
In Christ’s Love,
p.s. An essay that you may find worth reading that might help you make the Newport News Public Schools a world class educational facility is "The Lost Tools of Learning" by Dorothy Sayers. But I believe that what I have addressed is of greater importance. Anyhow, the essay could be found at this link: http://www.brccs.org/sayers_tools.html


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