“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
In a time in our world reeling under the weight of trouble, unrest, insecurity, corruption, and uncertainty, every utterance of the word “peace” ought to pick our interest. The promise of it ought to create in us an earnest desire about how to secure this promise. And the promise of not just mere peace but great peace for our children ought to make us seek this peace at all cost. And this great peace for our children can only be secured by their being taught the ways of God.
I’ve read a little of histories and realise that Christianity was the major force by which true and good reforms come about. The most developed countries in the world today were founded on thorough Christian values. They are in fact Christian civilisations.
Christianity was behind the health and advancement of their societies. A mere glance at their histories and one would see the prominent role scriptures played in the building of their healthy societies. So we, as Christians, hold the antidote to the healing of our own nations, if only we’d apply it to our hearts first.
It is really sad that the church which ought to be for the healing of the nations is in itself battling with many grievous diseases internally. The foolishness of the sermons coming from the pulpit, the carnality it creates in the pew, and the corruption it creates in the society is alarming. It is sad that statistically we have about 50% of Nigerians who claim to be Christians. Most of these go to church on Sundays, meaning we can say about 40% of Nigerians go to church on Sundays. But the nation is still sick, when only a little fraction of righteous men could reform a nation. If this 40% heard sound sermons, such that can heal a man from his own heart’s diseases, it would have gone a long way to heal our land. But the poor, time wasting, and in fact corrupt sermons, especially those about prosperity, stir the greed of the men who hear them. These in turn become thieves and extortioners in their work places. If people did not go to church, showing no interest in the ways of God, it were a different thing altogether, but seeing that we have about 40% of our nation going to church every Sunday, which is an indication of interest in the things and ways of God, and the nation is still sinking in corruption is a clear mark of failure.
To correct this error and to enable us truly contribute to the healing of our nation, we must return to true Christianity. The Christianity that is not void of the cross. But this does not have to do with just the once a week church gathering, we must also extend this to our schools. Especially through the Christian Religious Studies (CRS). Christianity and her values must be rightly thought both in church and in school.
I became interested in CRS curriculum when I once heard that in a particular school that I was conversant with they lacked Christian materials and that sometimes Christian students were made to read books of other faiths. I went to check the library of this school and was told that they had recently bought a new batch of Christian books. I was happy at the news, but I decided to take few copies of such books to read for myself and to know its content and I realised that though they were tagged Christian books and some having “best seller” on them, they were crappy and heretic books.
When I thought about this I realised that there was a need to have a standard list of books that were suitable for the consumption of Christian students. Books that must have been carefully and prayerfully selected that shall inform schools of what books should be in their libraries for Christian students and what books ought not to be there. People can’t just go to a bookshop and see a book with best seller and present them to students and have them read it. That would be to the destruction of the souls of these students. In thinking further, I also realised that the very CRS curriculum needs to be revisited and reformed to be an effective tool to shaping Christian students into great Christian adults with Christian principles who shall be a healing to our nation. Not the type of people we have in every area of society today joining and even spearheading all manner of corrupt practices, that is despite professing to be Christians.
I made a little study in this regard and it is this conclusions I arrived at I wish to present in this article. I’ll be focusing on the reform on CRS here. I may write about a good method of book selection for Christian students’ consumption in another article.
The Hellish Reforms Suggested By Dr. Rose Uchem
“For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.”
While going through some online documents that can be seen on the net about CRS curriculum, I came across an article by one Dr. Rose Uchem. I read the article and was disgusted at the wickedness it contained.
The summary of her argument is as follows:
- The MDG that prioritises gender equality is sacrosanct, the Bible not so sacrosanct.
- The CRS curriculum as we have impedes the possibility of achieving gender equality.
- The CRS curriculum must be changed to suit the MDGs and not the Bible.
- The Bible is imperfect and outdated. The Bible and the CRS curriculum therefore has to be updated.
You can see how that her whole argument smells of fire and brimstone. This is from the pit of Hell. I realised that this was a very old article and I wasn’t sure if the author still held these views. I tried to see if it were possible to see her contact and ask her if or not she still held these views, but I couldn’t find any means to reach her. However, I’ll still publish this for I don’t know how far this hellish article must have gone. At the time of writing this it had over 17,000 reads. So it must have gone far seeing how long a time it has been published and how many people have read it within this long period of time.
For the sake of brevity and conciseness I shall not dwell long on her hellish arguments in this article for that is not the essence of this article. But I have published individual articles on some of the issues she raised. The articles are as follows:
- DOES THE BIBLE SUPPORT SLAVERY AS WE KNOW IT?
- WERE THE BIBLE WRITERS OBLIVIOUS OF ASTRONOMY?
- ARE THE IMAGINATIONS USEFUL FOR ADVANCEMENT IN LEARNING?
- DID JESUS SEEK TO CORRECT THE OLD TESTAMENT?
You can read these articles to see more of what she claimed and how erroneous they were. They were so irrelevant to a reform of any kind. What she is moving for is not a reform of CRS but the scrapping of CRS and replacing it entirely with what we can term the New World Order. A movement that is neither “new” being as old as the fall of man, nor “world” being as local and remote as an abandoned mud hut, nor “order” because that which seeks to destroy order and leads to endless disorder cannot be order. It is this foolish New World Order she is moving to introduce into our schooling system. But this is dead on arrival.
A high degree like a PhD should not be seen as a rubber stamp for any crapily propounded views except it be PhD in Mythology. This woman, and people like her, should not abuse their high degree to subvert or obfuscate the truth. I believe when men saw the need to give people titles indicating their learning, it was to aid societal advancement in learning. That is to say that this person is learned and what he or she has to say should be trusted as valid and founded on proper research. But if this is what it is now used for, to promote myth and falsehood with the force of intimidating titles, then it ought to be scrapped altogether (and degrees never regarded as meaning anything) for this will not benefit us but will harm us greatly until we have become as brutish as barbarians holding to foolish myths. Knowledge will perish with us if this is how people use their degrees.
Brief History of CRS In Nigeria
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations… Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
(Matthew 28:19 – 20)
Now, I read another article by Dr. (Mrs) N.C. Njoku and Rev .Dr. D.I. Njoku which was so useful and relevant to my study. They are a couple I guess. They went down to the root of CRS in Nigeria and illustrated the cardinal importance it holds in our schooling curriculum. Though their focus was on Ebonyi state of Nigeria, yet it is useful to all places in which Christian knowledge is taught, both within and outside the state.
I on my own part did not study the curriculum at length because it is very broad. To have a wholistic view of what CRS entails, I’d have to go through the entire curriculum as well as all the approved books for the subject. Something that I’m not able to do at the moment. So I merely glanced through some of the topics treated at the WAEC level. I didn’t notice anything contrary to the faith except what was titled, “oral tradition.”
Now, there’s nothing like oral tradition in Christianity. Different civilisations may have used it in passing information from one generation to the other, but this was not so concerning the Bible. The whole Bible is a product of direct revelation. No hearsay. No story telling from parents to their young. This is a false assumption. The book of Genesis was not written by compiling stories passed down from old generations, but God revealed it directly to Moses who wrote the book of Genesis. If it were word of mouth, then who told Adam what happened in the five days before he was created? If ever he knew, it was because God told him. And if God could tell him, God told Moses too because it’s written, “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Exodus 33:11). I wrote extensively about this in my book titled, “THE WORD OF GOD,” in the third chapter titled, “THE ORIGIN OF THE BIBLE“ [the full book is absolutely free for download]. So I hope that whole error called oral tradition be blotted out of the curriculum. It shows how the curriculum must have been carnally drafted rather than spiritually drafted. So I suspect it needs to be revisited and redrafted after a spiritual manner.
Apart from this I didn’t see anything else. And having just a glimpse of what CRS entails, I’d not wish to put forward much of my own submissions. Rather I’ll just present the submission of Dr. (Mrs) N.C. Njoku and Rev .Dr. D.I. Njoku and make brief comments based on what I got from their insightful article and my personal experience while I was a student studying the subject.
From this article I got the brief history of CRS in Nigeria which goes as follows:
“Christian Religious Studies (CRS) is one of the major subjects missionaries bequeathed to Nigerian education system on the establishment of schools by the 19th century missionaries. The aim was to train people who will be of immense help to the colonial trinity goals (God/Christianity, government/colonization and Gold/commerce). In other to achieve the above, the major curriculum contents of their educational system were Bible knowledge, Arithmetic and English language for communication. To implement fully the contents, adequate attention was given to the understanding of the place of God in man’s life (Nsongo, 2001). During the missionary era, bible knowledge otherwise known as CRS was the core subject. Subsequently, after independence, government took over schools; there was a clarion call for review of curriculum in 1983. The call was as a result of criticisms leveled against colonial education, which some scholars viewed as being too arts oriented and as such lacked relevance to Nigeria upliftment, political emancipation and infrastructural development (Ocho, 2005). Ocho further explained that the situation led to the modification of the curriculum with greater emphasis on sciences and technological subjects.”
That is just an excerpt of the history of CRS provided by them. To see the full article please click HERE!
Is CRS Still Important?
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
(2 Timothy 2:2)
Sometimes we may feel like CRS is no longer important because the Bible says, “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11). So if we shall know the Lord without anyone teaching us to do so, why then is there a need to teach young ones about God? Why then is there the need to teach at all?
In a book I’m currently writing titled, “THE RESIDING MANIFEST PRESENCE OF GOD,” I explained that God’s promise to do something does not mean that we on our parts should just fold our hands. In this case, because the Bible says that we shall be taught of God does not mean we needn’t teach, rather it means we should do so according to God’s revelation, which is the Bible. For this reason it is written, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11). So God shall do his work but it shall be through human instruments. The teaching first is according to revelation revealed by himself and not by human studies. Secondly, he that ministers does it according to the ability that God gives. So it is all the work of God.
Have you ever been in state where you read something in the Bible and it became confusing, but you went on your knees and by divine illumination you begin to get clarification on the matter? Many have witnessed this. The Bible writers experienced it often. This is God teaching us. And are there not times when even listening to a sermon, something within you prompts saying “what this man is preaching is heresy,” only to later confirm it in the Bible or by some other teaching? All these are God’s ways of teaching us without the aid of another. But does it then mean we don’t need to listen to sermons and read the Bible for ourselves? Of course not…..
Christ himself taught his disciples, and in their teachings and writing of the Bible they were just mouth pieces of God. This is God teaching us.
Furthermore, when it says we shall not need to teach each other saying “know the Lord,” to know God is one thing, but to be thoroughly instructed in his ways is another. The Jews knew God, yet they crucified Christ. Apollos knew God and was well instructed, but because his knowledge wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t as effective as he could be. It is written concerning him, “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:24 – 26). After this, the following verses narrates how useful he became to the church. Without the teachings of Priscilla and Aquila he couldn’t be as useful to the church as he became.
In my book titled, “INSTITUTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN HOME,” where I wrote about parenting, I explained about how the way God commanded the children of Israel to teach their children about his ways implied that they ought to teach it with some level of obsession. This applies to us too. If God willed it then, then he must will it now, for the importance of the knowledge of God is as great now as it was then.
So we shall and have indeed been taught of God, yet teaching is still important. To inform, to strengthen, to edify, to console, to remind, and to build up. And that is why Paul wrote to Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2). He was teaching Timothy to teach, and that Timothy should commit this same teaching to faithful men (of course by means of teaching), and the purpose of teaching these faithful men is that they may teach others also. So Hebrews 18:11 does not in any way speak against human teaching.
So teaching is still of fundamental importance to us as individuals, families, church, and nation. The role that teachings in the ways of God plays is too important to be put into question. Just as Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315 – c. 367) wrote, “what it is godly to maintain it must be godless to dispute.” We must never be involved in the godless act of questioning the importance of teaching to our societies. The whole of our well-being, at any level of society, depends on our obedience to God, and this depends on our knowledge of his ways.
Seeing the importance of teaching to us at every level of society, the fundamental importance of CRS becomes apparent. The places where the ways of God are to be thought are in the home, first and foremost, the church, and in the schools. The individual would do himself a whole lot of good to be committed to personally learning the ways of God in the personal study of God’s word, personal prayer, and personal study of Christian books.
Some may say the school should be focused on technology and sciences while the church can be focused on teachings in the ways of God. That is that though CRS can be taught, it ought not to be prioritised. The truth however is that it ought to be prioritised. Why? Life today unteaches everything good and moral, it is therefore expedient that true virtue be retaught and maintained in our schools. Not that life can undo the workings of God’s Holy Spirit, but religious teachings serve as an encouragement to spur people on in good works. These good works are what builds a healthy nation. So we cannot over-teach that which is for the health of our nation and soul of the taught.
The church as we have it today is run like a business which as we have witnessed first handedly is counter productive and counter spiritual, in essence leading many who sought a blissful eternity to damnation. Just as there is need for reforms in CRS, there is a greater need for reform in the church system. We may not rely upon the church of today for that systematic teaching by which we can be sure that at a particular age a Christian person must have attained such and such amount of doctrinal knowledge. There is therefore a need to have a well tailored curriculum that shall systematically teach the knowledge of God’s word. While the church may be flexible and the topics treated each Sunday may be according to the whims of the preacher, the school system of CRS shall guarantee a systematic approach to teaching the words of God, as tailored in the curriculum.
Also, it is good to teach the Bible in the same place that other things are taught so that people can see the close relation between the Bible and other forms of knowledge. Sometimes you’d hear people say things like, “leave the Bible first, let’s talk on practical things…” This is because the pains taken to teach the practicability of other subject isn’t taken in matters of religion. We can take pains to prove the hardest laws of physics to ensure that students understand them properly, but we don’t take such pains to ensure that students are taught Biblical knowledge in a systematic way. Word upon word and precept upon precept. Hence when people say things like, “leave the Bible first…” they do not know that the Bible has a definite and practical stance on everything. And there is a close relation between the Bible and our service to our country in every capacity. Honesty, hard work, diligence, the fear of God, the understanding of the importance of knowledge and wisdom, and the need to earnestly pursue these, are all found in the Bible. So everything must be done in reference to the stance of scriptures, whether directly or indirectly, if it must be done rightly.
Even the nations who down play the role of religion don’t know that they’re still benefiting from the Bible. Their predecessors were thoroughly Christian and founded the system of a working society on their biblical convictions. As said before, a glance at the histories of great nations would prove this. So though they now trample on the very things their society is founded without a notice of a harmful effect, they’re still enjoying from the pure fount of God’s word. For us however, we can’t afford to lose it. Our young must be thoroughly brought up and grounded in the words and ways of God.
The Needed Reform
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
In the first part of my article titled, “ACTIVISM, SOCIETAL REFORMS, AND CHRISTIANITY” I wrote,
“First we must know the form before we can recognise the deform, and recognising the deformity we are to seek a reform at every point we notice a deform. What is the form? The form is the way God ordained things to be. A deform is therefore that which is out of the way God ordained it to be. A man that must truly seek a reform is therefore that man that is well acquainted with the will of the Lord his God. Without this knowledge he is absolutely unfit to seek a reform. Let him who seek a reform first of all go to the written word of God and to the place of prayer to enquire what the form really is, and only after knowing it can he indeed seek a reform.”
The will of God for CRS can be largely seen in the missionary zeal by which it came in the first place. And it must be maintained in the same zeal and wisdom that propelled the missionaries. Any thing that makes CRS to serve a purpose less than that for which it was established in the first place is a deformity. We must therefore seek to restore it back to its original form.
In the article by Dr. (Mrs) N.C. Njoku and Rev .Dr. D.I. Njoku, they presented the reason why CRS over time became a subject that has been handled with levity as opposed to the missionary fervour by which it was introduced. When talking about reform therefore, what is needed is to seek to do those things that shall end the levity with which CRS is being handled. Not the hellish things suggested by Dr. Rose Uchem.
Suggestions On Achieving These Reforms
“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.”
I’ll just share the reforms suggested by Dr. (Mrs) N.C. Njoku and Rev .Dr. D.I. Njoku, and add few of my own. Apart from the detailed explanations they gave on the way forward the following suggestions were outlined:
There is need for the school managers to not only organize, but encourage CRS teachers to attend workshops and seminars because the job of moulding human behavior is dynamic; hence regular attendance to seminars will equip them, with new approaches and methods for effective implementation of CRS curriculum among pupils.
There is need for administrators to support the teaching of CRS in terms of provision of instructional materials and allocation of adequate time to the teaching of the subject.
Both governments, society and school management should emphasize the teaching of the CRS. In other words, greater emphasis on the importance of the subject is required. The subject could be made compulsory at all levels of our education like the use of English bearing in mind the role the subject is designed to achieve in the learner.
Teachers of CRS as a matter of importance should be equipped through training and retraining so that they will be properly grounded in the pedagogical and theological aims of the subject. Effective teaching is dependent upon teachers’ skills and knowledge; and these variable must be sorted out to enable the teaching of the subject achieve its set goals in the learners’ lives.
I accept all of these suggested reforms as sound, valid, and very effective, unlike those of our other doctor madam. The only suggested alteration I have to make is to point 3, in the part that says, “The subject COULD be made compulsory…” While it is good to make that which is good compulsory, the matters of our faith does not align so well with direct compulsion. Compulsion would mean forcing students to attend a class they don’t wish to attend. That if they fail CRS they won’t be promoted. And so on. This would have a negative effect and may cause students to hate the subject and matters of faith in general. However, there is still need for compulsion, but the compulsion should not be directly on the child. Parents should be made to ensure their children attend these classes. So the compulsion should come from parents to their children, not school to the student. I suppose this would be more effective and the way to do this is by speaking to parents about why their children ought to take CRS. This could be done in the parent teachers’ meetings. And where a child is not taking it, in such cases parents could be spoken to in these meetings to confirm they gave their consent to their child not taking the subject. And there should be a modest attempt to ensure that they compel their children to take the subject. If they don’t want it, good and fine. The subject should be to help the willing. To make people willing should be a separate matter entirely, but must be pursued with the same zeal with which the subject is to be taught.
My own added suggestions are this:
- Teachers should be such as who are true Christians indeed. That they should be such as are born again. That is born of spirit and water. Jesus says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). If the words that he speaks are spirit and life, how then shall they who are not born of the spirit or born again to the new life of Christ teach his words? It is not possible. I have had CRS teachers who were not even Christians. One claimed that the Bible had errors. And she told us that in her days of schooling preparing to teach CRS, those spiritual people who claimed that the Bible was inerrant were made to fail. In essence only those who held the heretic view that the Bible had errors were certified to teach young ones. That is terrible. Another of my CRS teachers was very vindictive and hot tempered. She once told us, “if you put sand in my “gari,” I will put fuel in your fire.” People who demonstrate such un-Christian traits ought not to teach the subject. It’s a bit hard to know those who are truly born again. This difficulty has been a major cause of difficulty in having a perfect Christian assembly. Churches have often found that pastors wives, choristers, and people who initially appeared to be fine Christians enough to occupy such positions to be, not merely immorals or depraved, but be indeed witches, wizards and demoniacs in the long run. So it is really hard. I however suggest the outward sacrament of baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, should be a criteria. Then their lives should be examined also so that we can be certain that they’re Christians indeed. The life of CRS teachers, in terms of conduct, words, dressing, etc., should not be such as convey a wrong message to students. Their every outward disposition must reflect a deep inward spirituality.
- The subject should be such as lead students to Christ. While it is taught in an academic setting, it should not be taught as merely an academic study. It should have the effect of leading the students who are not yet saved to their Saviour. And it should help the saved to be further grounded in their salvation. In this way there would be a more natural disposition of students to wish to take the subject. I became particularly interested in CRS after my conversion in 2005. Before this time it was not something I interested myself in at all.
- Parents should be actively and consciously engaged, involved, contributing in the progress of the child. The subject can only be as successful as parents want it to be. Like all other subjects, parents’ contribution is key. I wrote in my book on the Christian home that teachers are only to assist parents in bringing up their children, not parents assisting teachers to bring up their students as is the case today. So parents need to be involved, carried along, and given suggestions and ideas on things to do to enhance the spiritual development of their children.
- Biblical Christianity must be taught in its simplicity but in details. Thoroughly researched, verified and Bible based traditions, histories, ranging from mode of Christian leadership, baptism, church traditions, singing traditions, dressing and all. The bane of the current curriculum is in trying to teach Christianity without the offence of the cross. We must teach Christianity as Christianity and this Christianity must be taught by true Christians. Every thing about CRS must be a form of full scriptural studies or a preamble to it. It must not be watered down to just mere story telling classes. Teachers of this subject ought to perform this task as a religious duty.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
As the Lord has said that great shall be the peace of our children when they’re taught the ways of God, we should know that this should not be treated with levity as their peace depends on it. I testify that in my growing up days, the teaching of the ways of God was very poor and so it must have been before my days, for decay does not come suddenly, and today we see the result. Unrest, corruption, trouble, insecurity, and uncertainty everywhere. Where is the great peace promised of God? Nowhere to be found, thus a sure evidence of a faulty approach to teaching the ways of God. If we don’t want our children to go through what is worse than we’re experiencing, then we must strive to ensure that they are indeed taught of God.
For this reason, the approach to the development of Christians in the matters of their faith ought to be revisited and every effort made to ensure that they have all it takes to be developed into fine and whole Christians.
We cannot bend the study of our most holy faith to any propaganda or foolish schemes of our times. We must uphold the faith in the face of these monsters.
We must maintain the CRS by the same missionary zeal by which it was born. Nothing less can sustain it. We must use the CRS as a tool to form pious minds and fit Christians for tomorrow’s challenges.
May the zeal of the Almighty aid in this mighty endeavour. Amen.
Prayer: Dear Lord and Father, it is your will for us to teach our young your ways even with some level of obsession. We pray that you shall help us to be able to teach our young your ways on every possible platform. At home, at school, at church, and others. Help us to play our part in ensuring that healthy spiritual meals are served to our young ones in schools. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.