Royce, our eighteen-year-old son, is currently attending the local community college. He’s in the general-education program, the idea being that he will complete that two-year program and then transfer to a four-year school. Okay, so far so good.
He comes to me a couple of nights ago complaining about his textbook for his World Civilizations class. The book is Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, and it is blatantly anti Bible. Mind you that the course itself is not religious in nature. It’s just a course about the multitude of civilizations that have flourished at different times throughout history. One of those civilizations, however, is the one the textbook describes under the heading “Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews.” That’s where the problem crops up regarding the Bible.
Here are some direct quotes from the textbook:
The Hebrew scriptures do not offer reliable historical accounts of early times, but they present memories and interpretations of Hebrew experience from the perspectives of later religious leaders who collected oral reports and edited them into a body of writings after 800 B.C.E.
The early Hebrews had recognized many of the same gods as their Mesopotamian neighbors: they believed that nature spirits inhabited trees, rocks, and mountains, for example, and they honored various deities as patrons or protectors of their clans. Moses, however, embraced monotheism: he taught that there was only one god, known as Yahweh, who was a supremely powerful deity, and the creator and sustainer of the world.
Historical and archaeological records tell a less colorful story than the account preserved in the Hebrew scriptures.
There are signs of intermittent conflicts with neighboring peoples, but there is no indication that Israelites conquered all of Palestine.
The recognition of Yahweh as the only true god seems to have emerged after the eighth century B.C.E. rather than in the early days of the Hebrews’ history.
I found it particularly interesting that monotheism (the worship of one god) supposedly didn’t exist in Israel until Moses came along and took the nation down that path for what were evidently his own nefarious purposes. I can just hear Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saying, “Boy, we sure thought we were worshiping just one god.” I guess that every time God says in the Old Testament, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” the quote is a lie made up by a later writer in an attempt to retool Israel’s religious history. (Yes, in a case you are wondering, that was sarcasm on my part.)
I’d also like to get Joshua’s take on Israel’s conquering of Canaan (and please note that I refuse to substitute the politically correct name “Palestine” for the land’s true name “Canaan”). Did Israel’s army, under Joshua’s leadership, thoroughly fulfill God’s command to either annihilate or drive out the various races that inhabited Canaan and in so doing claim the land for Israel? No they didn’t, and the Bible makes no bones about admitting that shortcoming and the devastating effects it had going forward as Israel occupied the land. But were all those resounding victories described in the book of Joshua nothing more than “intermittent conflicts with neighboring peoples”? Tell that to the slain inhabitants of cities such as: Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Japhia, Lachish, Eglon, Hazor, and Madon.
I know, I know, I’m not supposed to take the Bible’s accounts of those battles as undisputed fact. That’s how the academic world would respond to my previous paragraph. But c’mon, if Joshua and his army didn’t do more than win a few “intermittent conflicts” how did the land itself ever get to be called Israel? Surely Israel’s military efforts were quite impressive, regardless of whether or not those efforts got recorded in a book.
Look, I understand Royce’s situation. I myself went to public school for twelve years and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from a public university. For that matter, my wife Tonya has taught in a public middle school for close to thirty years. So, I’m not some naive babe in the woods who suffers under the delusion that our public schools are bastions of Christianity. (Truth be told, even many of our so-called “Christian” universities don’t live up to their founders’ stated purpose.)
I guess I just wanted to write this post to let you Christians out there know that textbooks with an anti-Christian slant are still being written and printed, and when Christian parents send their kids to any type of “public” school — whether it be an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, or a university — those kids need to know going in what to expect. Evolution will be taught as fact rather than theory. Traditional lines of gender and sexuality will be downplayed. Ancient Mesopotamian records will be deemed more reliable than ancient Hebrew records. And what passes for “truth” will always be dependent upon the most recent archaeological find and how the experts chose to interpret that find.
Still, though, it does get frustrating for the Bible-believing Christian. Royce isn’t the first Christian student to find this out and he won’t be the last. It’s all just a clear reminder that we Christians are a minority group in this world and we always will be until Jesus returns to walk this earth again. Christian beliefs were once valued in America, even exalted to a large degree, but those days are long, long gone, and to expect any public institution to adhere to them is little more than fool’s folly.