By Rebbecca Devitt (14/10/2016)
Rousas John Rushdoony is one of the most well known theological advocates of homeschooling in recent history. Rushdoony is, perhaps, most well known for his preference of private schooling institutes (such as homeschools) over public institutes. His own schooling was spent in public school.
Rushdoony began promoting homeschooling in the 1960s. He was antagonistic towards educational progressives, such as Horace Mann and John Dewey. Dewey and Mann were humanists and social reformers of public schools.
Rushdoony said these men were doing no good. He proposed regeneration was needed in the form of homeschooling. Soon Rushdooney was instrumental in having homeschooling legalized in American states. He spent endless hours defending homeschooling and spent a lot of time during the 1970s and 80s travelling around America, testifying to the success of homeschools .
Chris Smith, a writer on Rushdoony, called him a particularly effective witness because he was one of the few men who were able to destroy the, usually, steely-nerves of the examining attorney. During a 1987 court case, Leeper v Arlington (I.S.D. No. 17-88761-85), Rushdoony was especially dazzling. During the case a positive homeschooling precedent was made.
In the case, the attorney Shelby Sharp, acting for a few homeschooling families and their curriculum suppliers, filed a lawsuit against all public school districts in Texas (of which there were more than a thousand). Leeper v Arlington was a lawsuit designed to end many class actions against homeschooling families in Texas. Freedom was up for grabs!
The judge had to decide whether homeschooling was an illegal operation or a legal private school. The case, reaffirmed on appeal in 1991, was decided in the affirmative. The appeal landed the homeschoolers with a 9-0 decision in their favor, as Shelby got the Supreme Court to uphold old laws in favor of homeschooling. Rushdooney became a hero as his expert testimony was the difference between defeat and success.
But Rushdooney’s didn't just want public schools off the homeschooling case. He bravely fought for the abolishment of public schools entirely. Rushdoony wished to change the public institutions into Christian places. He said control of the future required control of education and of the child.
Rushdoony thought the toleration of state education meant those who tolerated these eucational institutions were renouncing their power and children in society. This, he thought, was equal to the denial of Christ's Lordship over all of life.
Rushdooney, as well as all homeschooling advocates, have certainly made an impact on culture. in today's American culture many Republican senators and congressmen favor of homeschooling. It is now more socially acceptable to homeschool and homeschooling numbers continue to skyrocket. Homeschooling numbers are now more than ten times what they were a generation ago.
Probaby the best thing for homeschooling has been the formation of the Homeschooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which was established to defend homeschooling rights across America.
“We are very much in need now of Christian pioneers. This means a people who are zealous to grow and to exercise dominion in Christ.”
Rushdoony wrote extensively on homeschooling and founded the Chalcedon Foundation which published the Chalcedon Report. His homeschooling books include Intellectual Schizophrenia, The Messianic Character of American Education and The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum.
Aside from authoring his books, Rushdoony was an amazing man. He was a passionate disciple of Cornelius Van Til, another great theologian specializing in reformed apologetics and philosophy. Rushdoony furthered Van Til's works on total depravity, one of the five points of Calvinism.
Rushdoony read at least one book a day, six days a week for fifty years of his life, often refuting secular thinkers of theday. While Rushdoony died in 2001, his writings on total depravity still influence many.
In their time, these writings were in major contrast to secular thinkers of the day, like John Dewey, who held children were essentially good or neutral morally. Rushdooney would appear appear as a witness in courtrooms to defend the right of homeschoolers because he believed homeschooling had the ability to bring about moral change in secularly educated American schools.
Chris Smith ‘His Truth is Marching On’ 2012 California Magazine . Lee Duigon ‘Homeschooling's Greatest Courtroom Victory’ Chalcedon .
William Edgar ‘First Things’ (2014) . ‘Rousas John Rushdoony’ Theopedia . ‘Rousas John Rushdoony’ Wikipedia . Texas Home School Coalition Association ‘Leeper Case Decisions’ .