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Always one generation from ignorance

It is horrifying to see how many young people have never heard of the main characters of the Bible. It’s not their fault, of course. How can they know if their parents don’t tell them? Just as only one broken link can render miles of good chain useless, so 2,000 years of knowledge can be lost in a single generation.

Aware that the foxes have entered the henhouse of public elementary school education, I have purchased William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation.Bradford (1590–1657), a passenger on the Mayflower,was governor of Plymouth colony for decades, and leaves us a first-hand account. His opening words are as follows:

“It is well known unto the godly and judicious what wars and oppressions Satan hath raised, maintained, and continued against the saints from time to time and in one sort or other, ever since the first breaking out of the light of the gospel in our honorable nation of England.”

I daresay my granddaughter’s third-grade class will be skipping over these introductory remarks of the governor, as well as his report that an early harvest was disappointing partly because of the settlers’ laziness. That “weakness” of the colonists, as Bradford called it, was much ameliorated when the colony moved away from a communal (to say socialist would be an anachronism) model to a more capitalistic one:

“That they might increase their tillage to better advantage, they made suit to the Governor to have some portion of land given them permanently, and not by yearly lot; for by that means that which the more industrious had brought into good culture (by much pains) one year, left it the next, and often another might enjoy it: so the cultivation of their lands was much slighted, and to less profit. Their request was granted. …”

A graphic example from the Bible of the danger of forgetting one’s history—even very recent history—is found in the book of Daniel. In the compressed effect of time that book chapters afford, we go from the wonderful accounts of courageous Daniel during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to (one chapter later) the utter ignorance of these glorious events on the part of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar. When Belshazzar finds himself in sudden urgent need of an interpreter of a divine message, his queen has to bring him up to speed in a hurry about who Daniel was and what he did:

“There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar … made him the chief of the magicians … to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems. … Now let Daniel be called, and he will show you the interpretation” (Daniel 5:11–12, ESV).

It was too late for Belshazzar. If he had studied harder in school, he would have learned the true story of how his dad turned away from idols to serve the God of the Hebrews, and he might have followed in his footsteps.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.


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Yes. I have been praying earnestly for myself and my children; reminding them whenever possible that the God we serve is eternal and mighty to save.