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home | Classical Christian Curriculum | The Nine Pillars of Classical Greece

The Nine Pillars of Classical Greece
Gary North
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Would you like your child to spend 12 years studying a curriculum based on classical education?

Let us say that I come to you with an offer. I tell you that I have a curriculum based on the ideals of classical Greece, meaning Athens. This is what "classical Greece" has always meant in the West: Athens.

You say you are interested, but first you want to know more about the worldview of classical Greece. What did they believe in? What were the foundations of classical Greek civilization? I offer you this list.

1. Pederasty. This is the homosexual union of an older married man with a teenage boy. The men often met the boys on their way to the gymnasium, the building in which the boys danced and played sports naked. The men then became the boys' lovers and teachers.

2. Demonism. The Greeks were polytheistic. Greek family life rested on a system of sacrifice to demons that masqueraded as the spirits of dead male relatives. So did clan life, which became political life. These demons also presented themselves as underground gods and spirits, who demanded sacrifices and special rituals to keep from destroying people.

3. Warfare. At the center of the literature of classical Greece was Homer's poem, The Iliad. It is the story of how Achilles' resentment against King Agamemnon raged because the king took his kidnapped concubine for himself. All the other men had concubines for ten years. Their wives stayed home and kept the ritual home fires burning -- to placate the departed family male spirits.

4. Slavery. At least one-third of Athens was enslaved. The figure was as high in Sparta. Every household owned a slave. This provided leisure for their owners, who despised physical labor as beneath them. It was a universal institution.

5. Autonomy. Greek philosophy was based on the ideal of man's mind as completely sovereign -- no personal God allowed.

6. Welfare State. At least one-third of all male Athenians were on the government's payroll in the time of Pericles.

7. Human Sacrifice. This is a basic theme in Greek literature. It was part of Greek religious liturgy.

8. Cyclical Time. They did not believe in long-term progress, or a final judgment -- just endless cycles forever: rise and fall, rise and fall.

9. Female Inferiority. Wives were only for procreation. They could not be citizens. They had no legal rights. A man needed a male heir to perform the ritual sacrifices to feed him after he died. Women had no political influence except as prophetesses and mistresses.

You say that this is not what you had in mind for your child?

Yet for almost 2,000 years, well-educated Christians have returned over and over to Greek philosophy, Greek art, and Greek mythology as the basis of formal education. They have mixed together rival views of life -- God, man, law, sanctions, and time -- and have called it classical Christian education.

These well-meaning but terminally naive Christian educators have always argued that the bad aspects of classical Greece were not part of this classical tradition. In other words, "by their fruits ye shall not know them." In other words, Christians should adopt a cultural tradition that was built on the nine pillars of classical Greece society, but then reject all nine pillars. They say -- but never show how -- the Bible can be substituted for these nine foul pillars.

In short, according to these educators, education is neutral. There is supposefly nothing inherently God-cursed about classical education, even though it is clear from the law of God that just about everything in Greek society was in rebellion against Him and under His curse.

Humanists teach that Western civilization grew mainly out of Greece and Rome. Western Civilization textbooks have always spent most of their early pages on Greece and Rome, not on Israel and the early church. There is a reason for this. Ever since the God-hating Renaissance ("rebirth"), humanists have sought to substitute classical culture for Christian culture.

I think we can do better. I think we can come up with a Bible-based curriculum, K-12. (I leave the college curriculum to others.)

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