Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Indoctrination Versus True Education

There is a false narrative going around stating that any kind of teaching amounts to indoctrination. Wrong. If that were true then nobody should teach anybody anything. Not anything. There would be no such thing as teaching. So let's clear this problem up.

 First let's talk about indoctrination versus academic education. Indoctrination is not the same as education.  Indoctrination is a negative term. Education is a positive term. True education is the free and open passing on of accumulated common knowledge, absolutes, experience, and proven facts as accurately as possible, which is implemented founded on objective standards toward human behavior, which standards come from God and only from God. (It can't have evolved from a blob of jelly.)  Becoming an educated individual is entirely voluntary. By contrast, indoctrination is a systematic forcing of narrow uncompromising ideologies onto unsuspecting groups. The classic depiction of indoctrination is the repetitive chanting of prepared mantras by closely-controlled school children.

The fact is, ideologies not founded in human experience and God are likely to prove nonbenevolent, that is, destructive, towards mankind (grateful nod to C. S. Lewis). These ideologies are further driven by propaganda. Propaganda, another negative term, is distorted information deliberately disseminated in order to condition and control a population, to gain power over people. Key word: distorted.  Propaganda is anything from outright lies to part-truths. It is not the same as emphasizing the positive and good, but it is the same as deliberately hiding the negative or corrupt. A classic book on this topic is Propaganda, the Formation of Men's Attitudes by Jacques Ellul, 1965.

Now about religious education which people are also generalizing and falsely labeling as indoctrination. True religious teaching, whether in a church meeting or the home, should exist in an open, free, and voluntary environment. Nothing other than true principles should be emphasized. There is no place for distorted information when it comes to the immortal soul. All truth, even that which makes a church institution or family look bad, can be used for spiritual growth. For example, if a leader of a church or a family member is found to have done some very bad things, this knowledge can be a learning experience about human nature and a call to repent of idolatry and put one's chief trust not in human beings but in God alone. (It's all in the scriptures.)

It is sad but true that governments, media, and schools are not the only institutions that use tactics of indoctrination and propaganda. Oftentimes people in charge of churches, supposed Christian religious entities, have little faith in God's plan and therefore decide that the regular people below them are not capable of understanding or applying the gospel. They think people are too soft and the gospel is too harsh. Because of this lack of faith they substitute philosophies of men for true principles and entice emotions rather than spirituality, all in order to get the people to merely comply. They tend to focus on human relations, outward performances, and getting along in the temporal world. (Listen carefully and see if this isn't happening in many churches.) Spiritual growth, personal relationships with the Godhead, spiritual guidance, sin, repentance, correction, and divine redemption are not emphasized, expounded, or explored. All too often what is presented and proliferated are human relationship stories, selective anecdotes, warm fuzzies, and efforts to enforce outward, temporal compliance with whatever the current campaign. As such, religious institutions are increasingly secularized. Except for some rote religious expressions and rites, many churches today could pass for self-esteem-building conferences, Kiwanis clubs,the Oprah Winfrey Show, or the Red Cross. Remaining religious expressions may soon be deemed politically incorrect and so become watered down or dropped as we witnessed when visiting Europe where according to the natives their beautiful neighborhood cathedrals are now empty and meaningless architectural icons. No Christ needed. No meat. Just chicken soup. The age-old human failings such as self-interest and fear and pride and unrighteous dominion are sins that stand in the way of true religious teaching and learning.

So yes, the terrible thing called indoctrination is rampant in our society, even in our churches. There is a noticeable lack of education going on, the passing on of real knowledge, spiritual and temporal,  unencumbered by self-serving philosophies and ideologies invented and propagandized by men. But whatever you do, don't confuse the two.

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