In Truth has Fallen in the Street J. Jusino has offered up a solid defense for consciously Christian education and pedagogy as well as a primer in Christian knowledge theory.
The relatively short length coupled with generous type size and spacing combine for a book that can and should be read by all.
Jusino’s central thesis can be easily distilled into three points. I will list these three and then examine each of them more thoroughly.
- Spiritual rebellion has a reciprocal and indissoluble relationship to faulty epistemology (epistemology, rooted in the greek episte = knowledge and the suffix ology = to study and containing the idea and purpose of knowledge)
- Metaphysical opinions (worldview) are inseparable from ethics
- Teaching is inherently ethical, thus it is not a neutral enterprise and there is a way in which it ought to be done
It will be impossible to keep the three main focuses widely separated as they all lend to one another and tend toward the same conclusion so it will be necessary to give at least some discussion to all three of them, albeit from differing perspectives, under each heading.
#1 Spiritual rebellion and the falling of truth
Regarding point number one above, Jusino clearly desires to drive home to the reader the link between the spiritual and the physical. He says on page 29 “The spiritual affects the physical, the physical affects the spiritual. They mutually affect one another.” Page 32 re-emphasizes the same point saying, “spiritual and physical realities cannot be divorced from one another.” Although this is a simple proposition it is largely overlooked by Christians in today’s world and the importance of its implications cannot be understated.
The way in which individuals relate to the physical world, whether through mental or physical channels, is primarily an ethical operation. Ethics, in turn, is the property of religion, i.e. the spiritual or metaphysical. Scripture is clear that the unregenerate mind is at war with God (Rom. 8:7) and only the saving reorientation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man can properly align man’s ethical goals with God’s ethical prescriptions.
On the reciprocal relationship between ethical obedience to God and knowledge, John Frame adds, “Very often in Scripture, obedience and knowledge are used as near synonyms, either by being set in opposition to one another (Hos. 6:6) or by being used to define one another (Jer. 22:16).” He adds that there is “a circular relation between knowledge and obedience in Scripture … They are inseparable and simultaneous.”
When man walks amiss to the ethical guidelines of God he restricts his true knowledge of this world. And as man ignores, misunderstands, or rebels againstGod’s nature and the world He has fashioned, he is not able to behave in a manner acceptable to God.
The present status of public education is one of refusal to give heed to God’s moral law, thus it walks in foolishness.
#2 Metaphysics and Ethics
As promised, this second point relates very closely to point one. The distinction can be more appropriately thought of as focus than content. Pages 34-64 of Mr. Jusino’s book repeatedly turns toward Christian knowledge theory and he deserves commendation for navigating the often treacherous waters with relative success.
To start, Jusino recognizes that there is a distinctly Christian approach to knowledge and that it is at war with the various non-Christian alternatives. He early broaches the question of whether culture is fundamentally a unified entity existing as a concrete aggregate of the constituent individuals or should be recognized as a plurality of persons acting independently of one another.
Hypothetically questioning if the Christian approach should place greater emphasis on the individual students and teachers or the educational system as a whole, Mr. Jusino answers, “The two approaches ought to work in tandem and as complementary to one another, letting no area be unaffected by Christ and His followers.” (p. 23)
Jusino perceptively asserts that there can be no knowledge without a foundation. To use slightly more specific language, there can be no epistemology without metaphysics (metaphysics dealing with the supra-physical, i.e. man’s spirit, purpose in life, God, etc…). To buttress this assertion a footnote on p.40 states “One reason science developed in the West and not the East is due to the distinct and strong influence of Christianity and the Bible.”
Why does the influence of Christianity and the Bible matter? Because Christianity imparts a metaphysical grounding for both knowledge (epistemology) and values (ethics). In Eastern religions where all reality is illusion, the advancement of epistemology and the various sciences are untenable since there is nothing worth seeking out. In contrast, the Bible asserts that God fashioned this world, that He made it very good, and placed man upon it to understand it and to rule over it. Throughout most of Christian history, theology has provided the impetus for man to explore, build upon, and cultivate the earth.
A man’s belief about reality will determine how he behaves. If man believes that physical existence is worthless or merely an illusion, he will deprecate it and make little headway in the physical world. If man believes that the physical world is important, intelligible, and created good, then he will be driven to understand and utilize the physical world. Non-Christian worldviews cannot provide an adequate knowledge of the world and Mr. Jusino ably demonstrates this.
#3 Teaching must be ethical
Having demonstrated that spiritual obedience to God, possession of true knowledge, and ethics are all inseparable subjects, it can only follow that there is a moral guideline to be followed in teaching. That is to say that there are some methods of teaching that are inherently immoral and sinful. To pretend that God does not exist or that this world does not exist is sinful and furthermore such belief destroys true knowledge.
True it is that men who do not recognize God as sovereign and creator can still have great knowledge of this world. But they do so only buy borrowing from the Christian view of knowledge. In the section titled Standard and Purpose, Mr. Jusino makes this very important observation: “Fundamental to knowing anything in science is the need for a standard in order to make numbers meaningful. Secondarily, but importantly, measurements are taken in an experiment which has a purpose, a goal, a reason for being conducted. Experiments are not done without purpose.”
Knowledge, in any sense, is impossible without a standard of reference and purpose. Only God and the Christian worldview can provide the needed standard and purpose. To teach on any subject while ignoring these two important aspects ultimately lead to a skepticism and relativism that destroys knowledge.
Establishing these points in the first seventy two pages of the book, most of the remaining space is dedicated to answering hypothetical objections to the thesis, and then a few final reiterations of specific aspects of the principles already discussed. As they contain no material central to the thesis of the book or not previously stated in the book they will be here emitted from review but the reader is encouraged to read these sections if purchasing it.
The only drawback from this author’s perspective is Mr.
Jusino’s relative aversion to Reformed theology. Despite what could easily be
considered borrowing heavily from the Reformed view of men and things, the book
contains a sparse collection of derogatory comments aimed at the broadly
Augustinian tradition and more narrowly against the Reformed doctrine of Total
Depravity. This author spoke with Mr. Jusino about the remarks found in the
book, particularly one footnote found on page 91, and I was impressed with his
generosity and humility in our discussions. I do hope that these
differences aside, Truth has Fallen in the Streets can be seen for the valuable
contribution that it is and that both Reformed and non-Reformed Christians can
add it to their arsenal of weapons with which to fight against the wisdom which
is of this world.
 John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, New Jersey) p.43