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Volume 15, Issue 1: Anvil

Letter to Dr. Dobson

Douglas Wilson

Dear Dr. James Dobson,

Greetings in Christ. This letter is in response to the remarks you made to the National Religious Broadcasters last February, and which were reprinted in part in your Family News newsletter in May. I write this in part because you say on page 7 of that letter, "Now that you've read my perspective, I'm interested in knowing what you think." This letter may not be exactly the channel of response you had in mind, but I hope it serves the purpose nevertheless.
I want to begin by thanking you for your many years of faithful service in the kingdom, as you have spoken the truth on many issues in the midst of a deteriorating culture. Despite the concerns I want to raise in the body of this letter, I do want you to know that I honor you for having made all the right enemies. Those principally responsible for trashing our heritage all know your name. You have spoken out for the unborn, you have courageously opposed sexual perversity, and you have risked a great deal in order to do so. I do honor you as a faithful servant of Christ.
That said, I do want to come to my concerns, and I want to state them bluntly. As your newsletter made perfectly clear, these are times that require plain dealing.
You were taking certain Christian leaders to task for saying that we should not seek to influence the culture through legislation, that the kingdom of God was not going to arrive on Air Force One, and so on. Now while I agree with them that politics is no savior at all, I certainly agree with you that we as Christians are called to engage our surrounding culture of unbelief at every level. While politics and culture are not saviors, they are to be saved.
My problem is not that you have made this case in your discussion with them, but that you are not practicing it.
Speaking of the government schools, you say, "Every day, it seems, some new effort to manipulate kids is becoming apparent." You said that this current attack on kids had a long history. You say that Christians who debate one another on church/state issues are leaving "boys and girls virtually defenseless." In talking about some of the horrendous activities going on in the California government schools, you said, "Sadly, the majority of parents either didn't notice or didn't seem to care."
Dr. Dobson, given what you clearly understand about the nature of the battle we are in, there is no excuse for your position that Christian parents in 49 states can consider the government schools an acceptable option among many. Those schools are every bit as godless as the schools in California.
You say, "It is hard moving against the tide of public opinion." This is something that many of us out here in the trenches understand, and have understood for several decades. We pulled our children out a long time ago, and began home-schooling or built Christian schools for our children to attend. We have sought to persuade many other Christian parents to do the same thing—but they look to you for leadership, and you didn't think it was necessary yet. The government school system across our entire nation is an aesthetic, moral, and doctrinal heliocopter crash, and you still do not think it is necessary. As grateful as I was to hear your comments on the government schools in California, your position is akin to having people in a burning house only evacuate certain rooms—the rooms where the fire is hottest. But the whole house is on fire.
Farsighted Christians in the nineteenth century saw what was coming. The founders of the government schools were hostile to the historic Christian faith from the very beginning. R. L. Dabney was able to predict in the nineteenth century that all Bibles, prayers and catechisms would ultimately be driven out of the schools. A. A. Hodge said that if the government schools were established, they would prove to be the greatest engine for the propagation of atheism that the world had ever seen.
What these prophetic men saw in the 19th century, our parents did not see at all. When I was a child, government education was the norm for Christian parents. But as the symptoms of the long-standing unbelief grew noticeably worse, about twenty-five years ago, a significant number of Christian parents began to see what had been predicted a century before. Tragically, however, many Christian parents still do not see, and continue to put their children at risk by enrolling them in institutions dedicated to teaching them that whether or not God exists, His existence is irrelevant to what occurs in the classrooms. To reapply your words that I cited earlier: "Sadly, the majority of parents either didn't notice or didn't seem to care."
Dr. Dobson, by your support of the officially agnostic government school system—unbelief mandated by law—you are helping such parents to remain in their uneasy truce with this particular form of covenantal neglect. You are a respected Christian leader, and they know you stand against the egregious abuses that we all see regularly. And because you have not yet identified our root problem in these culture wars—which is that you are willing to have our future leaders trained by our enemy—they remain where they are.
I want to say again that you have been in the cultural battle for many years now, and I offer the criticism here with the highest degree of respect. But I ask you to reverse your position on this now.
Douglas Wilson

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