Indoctrination or Training the Youth

Stop Religious Indoctrination Develops "Fee" Thinkers
Stopping Religious Indoctrination
Develops “Fee” Thinkers

The statement of this graphic is as much indoctrination as the indoctrination that the statement condemns.  Yet, even more than that, it contains a self-defeating logical fallacy that is so common today as to be ignored. The reason we will look at indoctrination over the next several posts is because the political season is upon us and full of charges and counter-charges of indoctrination rather than a reasoned discussion of the issues to seek well grounded solutions.

What is indoctrination? Merrill-Webster defines it as, “to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs.” Dictionary.com defines it as, “the act of indoctrinating, or teaching orinculcating a doctrine, principle, or ideology,especially one with a specific point of view.” And Wikipedia defines it as, “Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology. Indoctrination is a critical component in the transfer of cultures, customs, and traditions from one generation to the next.” Now, if we were just people of the world then we could debate the pros and cons of these definitions to solidify our current opinion on the subject. But, what does the Bible teach about indoctrination? “Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).” Christians fritter this verse away in the mistaken belief that it means everything a child is taught will never be rejected by him in his later years.  They then counter the truth of this statement with the hypothesis that this is not a promise but a…well, I am not sure what they eventually mean since they have attacked and weakened the Scriptures they claim to hold infallible!  Let us look at these two issues: the logical fallacy contained in the graphic and the truth of the Bible in this verse.

The authors of this graphic have taken the position that religious indoctrination is wrong because it prevents anyone indoctrinated from changing their mind when confronted with different information. However, history is replete with examples of people who were taught that only a certain belief system was true but rejected that hypothesis when confronted with different information. The apostle Paul was a devout Jew who changed to preach Christ until his execution. Martin Luther was a devout Roman Catholic who changed to preach salvation by grace when reading the Bible though he had been indoctrinated with a different understanding of certain verses. Anyone who has ever accepted Christ as Savior and become a Christian has changed from a “natural man” to a “new creation” when confronted with the truth of the Scriptures.  The demise of the USSR demonstrated the futility of “indoctrinating” people and expecting them to never change. If indoctrination was that powerful then there would have been no need for “secret police” in either Nazi Germany or the USSR to detect “wrong thinking” and punish those who were so engaged. Thus, this graphic makes an assumption, and wants you to make this assumption also, that indoctrination is complete and irreversible so it should never be allowed, especially religious indoctrination.

The graphic also makes an even more glaring, but almost invisible to modern readers, assumption — that there is such a thing as a “free” mind. To be free the mind must have no preconceptions and thus be able to choose among all possible choices equally.  But the mind is never “free” to choose for the mind always has built in influences. The human mind is, well, human so it is not free to consider from a dog’s perspective. The mind has a morality built in determining what is right and wrong as demonstrated by human history that such things as murder, lying, and stealing have always been wrong in all cultures (in a general sense). Finally, human history has shown the truth of the Bible demonstrating that man is a slave to sin or, if saved, then a slave to Christ (Ro 6:6-11). There is no “free” mind.

Now, our verse in Proverbs does not teach that indoctrinating a child, in the worldly sense, will prevent them from ever changing. This verse does mean that indoctrination is nothing more than training or educating a child in the truths that Proverbs has been teaching.  Laying the foundation of right and wrong will never leave the mind of the person so trained; however, they may choose to ignore morality and eventually sear their conscience (1Ti 4:1-2). Parents have ever obligation to train their children; in fact, I will go further and say that parents always train their children whether they mean to or not. Children learn by constantly watching and listening long before they learn to clearly articulate themselves. Parents do teach their children right and wrong, social relationships and how to live in the world laying a foundation of discernment that will remain with the child his, or her, entire life whether they become saved or not. Yet, their understanding of God, the source of all morality, is not enough to insure their compliance with the Bible; that takes a direct intervention on God’s behalf as demonstrated in the conversion of Paul.

Therefore, what is the purpose of the graphic? It is an indictment of the authors and supporters of this mode of thought. These people would have Christians never teach their children about the Bible so that they, the world, can teach their children a different set of values Though cleverly disguised as a “free” mind, which we have shown does not exist, their true intent is vastly different and can be summed up in this graphic which contains a quote of one of the “fathers” of modern American education, John Dewey.

Their Understanding of a Free Mind
Their Understanding of a
Free Mind

His blending together of psychology, pragmatism and progressive liberalism developed the public education system toward one goal — development of a people who thought as he thought. All opposing thought was “bad”.  His ideas have morphed into a myriad of systems that have one common goal, to defeat the truth of the Bible. The current focus is to label teaching one’s children about the Bible as, “Child Abuse”! Though it seems laughable today, it be criminal tomorrow. But this goal has been lost in the din of Left and Right politics which has all but overshadowed the true Gospel of Christ.

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today's churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master's of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).