The best of Fred Hutchison
The crisis in education
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
April 4, 2013

Originally published May 17, 2006

The crisis in public education is well known. High dropout rates, low test scores, deficits in reading, math, and history, and inarticulate young people who do not read books are so frequently reported in the news that we have almost come to expect bad news about education. Why are these chronic problems so difficult to fix?

Answer: the stubborn adherence by the public education establishment to ideas about education that do not work. Today's post-Christian culture has produced false worldviews that have spun out false ideas about human nature and about learning and knowledge. As a result, bad educational models built upon these broken foundations now permeate our tax-supported education system.

When educators do not understand the nature of learning and knowledge, both the teacher and the student are trapped in a futile struggle. No matter how much money the taxpayers spend and no matter how many quick fixes are tried, the chronic failure will continue until the false educational theories are jettisoned.

Intellectual decadence in academia

One aspect of the growing educational crisis is intellectual decadence in academia. Whereas Western universities came into being during the twelfth century as groups of scholars in pursuit of truth, the modern university classroom systematically denies the existence of truth. Unfortunately, if there is no truth, then reason is dethroned from its exalted tasks, and is degraded to merely pragmatic calculations. By saying that truth does not exist, the education of reason becomes merely a pragmatic and utilitarian exercise, devoid of its noble calling. That is our current dilemma. Modern academia has lost respect for reason, knowledge, and the human mind.

Virtue was once almost as highly exalted as truth in Western establishments of education. The powers of reason were vigorously employed to understand and define moral virtue. In contrast, modern academia is propagating ideas of moral relativism and situational ethics. Reason is debased when it is used only for the calculations of self-seeking pragmatism or in the rationalization of vice.

The classical tradition in literary scholarship was highly honored by academia until the twentieth century. Today, many contemporary universities are following a multicultural fad that is hostile to the Western cultural and literary tradition. Many scholars are cutting themselves off from the great Western thinkers and writers, and are therefore languishing in intellectual and literary mediocrity and shallowness.

How did we get into this predicament? During the last two centuries, seven waves of bad ideas have swept over the educational establishment.

Seven historical waves of bad ideas

The seven waves of bad education theory in historical sequence are as follows:
  1. Rousseau's educational theories (1762).

  2. The progressive education movement of the late nineteenth century.

  3. William James' pragmatic theory of knowledge (1907).

  4. John Dewey's instrumental approach to education (1916).

  5. "Soft postmodernism": a collection of enduring liberal myths developed by a series of twentieth-century "social scientists" who jumped to hasty conclusions from sketchy research.

  6. Determinism, Structuralism, and "Hard Postmodernism" (emphasized from 1950-1970). An intellectual counterculture of Existentialism flourished at this time.

  7. Multiculturalism (current fad).
Strains of all seven waves of educational fallacies are discernable in the contemporary classroom. All seven sets of bad ideas work against reason and virtue and a culture of human flourishing. Due to space limitations, this essay will concentrate upon the first four waves of bad educational theory.

Seven historical waves of good ideas

In contrast with the above detrimental influences, we should note that there are seven historical waves of good educational theory that are a gold mine for digging up tried and true ways of reviving and reforming education. They are:
  1. Alcuin of York and the Seven Liberal Arts (800 A.D.).

  2. From Anselm to Aquinas: The medieval university and the search for truth (1100–1400).

  3. From Petrarch to Castiglione: The Renaissance project: A classical education to prepare the Christian gentleman for leadership in government, society, and culture (1350-1520).

  4. The Reformation educational program (1530-650).

  5. Private and parochial schools (17th-20th century).

  6. Noah Webster, William McGuffey, Horace Mann, and public education (19th century).

  7. Home schooling, Christian academies, Bible colleges, the Great Books movement, and the revival of Christian philosophy (twentieth century).
The high culture of the Western past was in no small measure the fruit of great education. The seven waves of good ideas that led to these impressive educational achievements will be offered in a future essay. Stay tuned!

Rousseau's subversion of education

The author of the first wave of bad educational theory was Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). He wrote his educational treatise in literary form in the book Emile (1762).

Rousseau did not want to expose his fictional young student Emile to any formally structured or disciplined program of education. He felt that a systematic approach to instruction would crush Emile's sensitive spirit and inhibit his natural goodness, wisdom, and potential. He insisted that Emile be sheltered from the pressures of institutions, peers, family, and society so as to avoid stunting his development.

Emile – as a sheltered, self-absorbed, and pampered boy – was Rousseau's prized student. Emile resembles a spoiled modern rich kid in a progressive school. Perhaps he also resembles the unschooled Rousseau of late adolescence, addicted to romance novels and seductively coddled and pampered by his mentor, who was a rich, aristocratic, elegant, and flirtatious French woman.

Rousseau wanted Emile to learn naturally from experience, nature, and his inner self. For example, he proposed that Emile should learn science from workshop crafts instead of from textbooks. Instead of teaching knowledge and wisdom to Emile, the teacher would be a facilitator as he and Emile walked hand in hand in a serendipitous process of discovery. Learning would not primarily come from information assigned to Emile to study and digest, but would mainly come from the lessons of experience or insights welling up from within himself. Rousseau and Emile would hold hands and waltz through a neverland of self-discovery and enjoy the magical education of serendipity. Instead of the teacher inculcating in Emile the accumulated knowledge of the past, Emile would start from scratch, like the "noble savage" in a "state of nature" – an imaginary concept that was Rousseau's favorite fantasy.

Emile, filled to the brim with Rousseau's self-indulgent and magical thinking, would be right at home with the New Age Movement, the human potential movement, the self-esteem movement, self-actualization psychology, and self-help cults. In his narcissism and scanty knowledge, Emile would resemble the intellectually shallow graduates of modern public schools.

Obviously, a scholar in a classical Christian institute would be miles ahead of Emile in edifying knowledge, salutary discipline, intellectual competence, and moral character. Emile, as a self-absorbed, undisciplined student and an unsocialized cultural barbarian, would cut a poor figure in comparison to a young classical scholar. He would be lacking the disciplines and social restraints of formal schooling and would be ignorant of classical works that stimulate the mind and instruct and inspire youth in the virtues. Emile's mind would be innocent of serious intellectual challenge, his aesthetic palette would be misdirected and undeveloped, and his character would be untested by instruction in moral standards.

The progressive education movement

The American progressive educational movement in the late nineteenth century took Emile for its inspiration. Instead of attending classrooms, reading books, and performing assigned studies, the modern Emile participated in "laboratories of learning" involving arts, crafts, projects and workshops, and other fluff activities to actively involve him in the serendipitous process of learning.

The intellectual, social, cultural, and moral damage done to countless Emiles in expensive progressive schools could be somewhat fixed by rich parents through private tutors. Tragically, the progressive education nonsense slowly leaked into the public schools, where the parents could not afford tutors to undo the damage.

To this day, a significant fraction of the elementary student's day is wasted in the fluff activities of crafts, projects, workshops, multicultural arts, drumming sessions, and entertainment posing as education. The more time wasted in fluff activities, the more test scores decline.

Public school teachers have been trained to cherish the little "Emile moments" of a child's self-discovery. Therefore, all these unstructured fluff activities lack direction and discipline. They are little more than playtime with crafts and self-entertaining individual or group amusements. However, most children get plenty of these frolics at home and on the playground. School should have the serious mission of developing the mind, instead of being a more elaborate version of the playground, romper room, game room, den for hobby crafts, or Sesame Street on TV.

At the college level, the core curriculum has been abolished and students are obliged to select many of their courses as one would select a sampler of food from a smorgasbord. Knowing nothing about many of the course offerings, students select many of their classes by impulse and whim as one would select a tidbit of cheese from a buffet. The modern Emile, as a college student, hopes that the fortunes of serendipity will transform his whimsical sampler of classes into to something agreeable, if not useful.

Bad theology leads to bad education

A tradition in American liberal theology began with Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), was carried forward and developed by William James (1842-1910), and was elaborated on and hollowed out by Paul Tillich (1886-1965) and Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). The latter two are sometimes called "neorthodox," but there is nothing orthodox about them. Pragmatic, modernist, minimalist, and heterodox are better adjectives for these theological liberals. The successors to Tillich and Niebuhr in this tradition of anti-orthodoxy were Richard Rorty (1931 to the present) and Stanley Fish (1938 to the present).

One can plausibly argue that Emerson's spiritual declension was decisively influenced by Rousseau, who Emerson often quoted. Therefore, we can stretch our chronicle of heretical theology and false worldviews from Rousseau to Rorty and Fish, an expanse of time stretching more than two hundred and forty years.

The purpose of sketching this lineage of American theological liberalism is to illustrate a general principle that theology, like the engine of a train, goes off the rails first and the other cars are subsequently derailed. Education is like the caboose at the end of the train that is carried off the tracks by cars ahead of it.

Bad theology is the engine of false worldviews, which in turn spin out bad educational ideas. Good theology, by contrast, leads to a true worldview that bears the fruit of good educational ideas that yield positive results in the classroom.

The "seven good ideas" in educational theory summarized above led historically to educational programs that were highly successful in educating the mind of Western man. These ideas were based on worldviews emanating from good theology. The truth of Christian orthodoxy is vindicated by her fruits.

The present failure of the education establishment was inevitable because of the bankruptcy of educational theory. Ideas flowing from false worldviews that emanated from junk theology have hindered the process of education.

Emerson and the roots of heresy

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was the young pastor of a Boston Unitarian church. Unitarianism is heretical because it denies the Trinity. Interestingly, this is a significant fact in our chronicle about what went wrong with education.

The Unitarian cult, posing as Christianity, gained a foothold in New England after the Puritan movement burned itself out during the period 1692-1720. Unitarianism lost ground during the "new light" movement of the Great Awakening (a pietist spiritual renewal and a period of spectacular revivalist preaching: 1720-1750). The "new lights" gradually faded (1750-1790), and Unitarianism and Deism surged. Unitarianism lost ground again during the Second Great Awakening (the founding of Christian colleges and sawdust revivals in rural areas: 1790-1800). By the time Emerson began his ministry in Boston, Unitarianism was recovering once more from its malaise because the quasi-spirituality of the English romantic movement in poetry, literature, and art was compatible with the quasi-spirituality of Unitarianism.

The Christian colleges founded during the Second Great Awakening were responsible for much that was right about education in the nineteenth century. Unitarianism, through its influence on Emerson, was indirectly responsible for some of what went wrong with education in the twentieth century.

In 1832, Emerson resigned from the clergy to become a lecturer for his heretical pantheistic philosophy/theology of "transcendentalism." He became the undisputed leader of the transcendental cult. Transcendental poetry and essays of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau gradually became favorites in college literature departments.

The poisoned apple of pantheism was at the core of Transcendentalism.

Pantheism denies the distinction between Creator and creation. Emerson started with the heresy of Unitarianism and moved into the pagan infidelity of pantheism.

One of Emerson's positions that deeply influenced William James was his rejection of authority concerning universal truth, if that authority came from the past or from above a person. Truth, according to Emerson, must come from human experience as interpreted from within a man himself. Since the inner man was part of the pantheistic godhead, man must be his own secularized oracle.

Never before had pantheism been so individualistic or subjective. The ancient pantheism of Stoicism was rational, social, and cosmopolitan. However, both Emerson and the Stoics agreed upon the existence of a universal moral law. But Emerson insisted that the moral law must be discerned by personal intuition.

Emerson's mystical pantheism of nature vaguely resembled the cosmology of English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), with whom Emerson was personally acquainted. Wordsworth's concept of learning and knowledge had similarities to the ideas of Rousseau. Emerson himself was a part of the Western Romantic movement (1750-1920).

Emerson passes his mantle

Only twenty-five years separated the death of Rousseau (1785), the founding father of the Romantic movement, and the birth of Emerson (1803). Rousseau was already an oracle of wisdom to romantics and progressives when the young Emerson was educated.

In 1842, Emerson visited Henry James, Sr., who had invited Emerson to admire his infant son William in the cradle. Emerson invoked his blessing upon the child who was to become his intellectual heir. That was the very year that Emerson wrote Experience (1842), which inspired William James after he grew up. The historical and intellectual continuity from Rousseau to James followed tight generational links of succession.

Interestingly, Emerson almost became the broken link in the chain. Only two decades after Emerson wrote Experience, he warned about the illusory nature of subjective experience. "Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion.... [L]ife is a train of moods like a string of beads." Experiences are lenses of many colors that "paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus." As Emerson aged, he became more aware of the limitations of man and more accepting of the status quo of the human community.

If only James had realized that by the time he read Experience, Emerson had already become disillusioned with the utility of subjective experience for seeking truth. Such a realization might have broken the chain of intellectual succession coming down from Rousseau – and the realm of education would have been spared a lot of mischief. Unfortunately, the disciples of heretics often cherry-pick what pleases them from their master's works and turn a blind eye when those heresies lead their masters to shipwreck.

William James and pragmatism

William James wrote Pragmatism (1907), which was extremely popular in America because of the Anglo-Saxon cultural preference for practical action. James developed a theory of knowledge based upon practical experience. If a bit of knowledge guides one in an action, and that action leads to a desirable outcome, the knowledge is to be valued. One's inner subjective experience is to be the judge of whether the outcome of the action is good or bad. The subjective approach for valuing experience seems to have been learned by James from Emerson's book Experience (1842). As already noted, Emerson got the idea from Rousseau and from pantheism.

If one is pleased with the outcome of an action, the idea that guided the action has what James calls "cash value." James is following the stick and carrot approach for valuing ideas. An idea that leads to an action that offers the reward of good feelings must be a good idea, according to James. An idea that leads to the punishment of bad feelings is a bad idea. Bad feelings are the stick, and good feelings are the carrot. The use of stick and the carrot is an effective way for training a donkey, but a faulty way for educating a man about good and bad ideas.

In America, James' concept of cash-value pragmatism is still widely praised, even in Christian circles. The Christians I know who have adopted their own version of cash-value pragmatism all have an anti-intellectual bias. Their favorite line is, "I don't want to learn any more until I have acted upon everything I already know."

Unfortunately, the concept of cash-value pragmatism, which seems sensible at first glance, is loaded with many short-sighted fallacies. Among them are these:
  1. Feelings are – in reality – an unreliable means of judging outcomes. Many fallacies are sustained by short-term outcomes that bring momentary good feelings.

  2. True knowledge might yield short-term negative results for reasons unique to the situation.

  3. Sometimes a negative short-term experience with an action is the necessary prelude positive long-term outcomes.

  4. A fallacy put into action can yield seemingly positive results by accident.

  5. One can feel good in the short term about a morally-questionable action if one gets what one wants.

  6. A good idea can be applied at the wrong time or in the wrong situation or in the wrong way.

  7. Understanding how to correctly apply a bit of knowledge does not come ready-made with the knowledge itself. Years might pass before the opportune situation and the understanding of how to apply a fragment of knowledge line up.

  8. Some of the deepest, truest knowledge might require a lifetime to bring fully to tangible fulfillment expressed in action.

  9. Some knowledge has no direct practical application but changes a person inwardly for the better. One might be enriched for a lifetime by insights about life and human nature after reading a great novel or poem, and never once think about practical applications.

  10. Sifting a piece of literature for practical applications while one reads might ruin the salutary effect of the literature.

  11. As one sifts through knowledge cherry-picking the tidbits that can be easily tested with concrete actions, one invariably skims off the shallowest ideas and leaves the deeper treasures untouched.

  12. The bias for action that cash-value pragmatism engenders can make people impatient with the slow process of serious study, and may lead to a contempt for knowledge. Wisdom grows slowly like an oak tree. Cash-value pragmatism is billed as a shortcut to wisdom, bypassing arduous study and deep reflection.
The fallacious concept of cash value pragmatism is inherently adverse to substantive knowledge, deep learning, and wisdom, yet has become a cornerstone of modern educational theory, as we shall see.

Free will, reason, and education

William James was eager to rescue free will from the clutches of the determinists in academia. However, to achieve this desirable end, James thought it necessary to deny universals, which are things that are eternally true in every place and in all times. He posited that if the world is fragmented and has no universals, a place for free will can be found. Notice how he had the temerity to invent a cosmos that would line up with his ideas, instead of conforming his ideas to the cosmos. When men stop believing in a creator, they try to usurp the role of creator for themselves. Their educational theories designed for an imaginary cosmos that they dreamed up do not work in the real world. In contrast, when men conform their ideas to the world created by God, their educational theories make sense.

Unfortunately, if there are no universals, as James theorized, there is nothing for the higher powers of reason to rise up to apprehend. Man finds in himself faculties that have no use in the artificial cosmos he has created. Only if a God created the world is there elbow room on earth for man to possess meaningful reason and free will and to pursue universals.

Free will can be a great blessing in a world of reason, order, and harmony. However, free will is an unmitigated curse in a fragmented world of flux and chaos such as James imagined. In a world inhabited only by the will, the feelings and constant flux would be a nightmare. Chaos is the worst of all possible conditions in this present world.

William James contributed to the revolt against reason by academia, which in turn brought forth chaos in the campus revolts of the late sixties and early seventies.

Prior to James, scholars and educators relied upon informed reason to evaluate ideas. After James, feelings and pragmatic calculations would gradually become the standard for evaluating ideas. This was to be an intellectual and educational catastrophe for the Western world. As a result of this cataclysm of the mind, the education establishment is now intellectually hollowed out. They lack the intellectual resources to evaluate their own theories and programs.

Interestingly, the campus rebels of the late sixties and early seventies used James' cash value pragmatism as their basis for declaring that courses not to their liking were "irrelevant." Incredibly, the stupefied professors had no answer to this crude and illogical critique.

John Dewey's Instrumentalism

John Dewey (American philosopher of education and psychology, 1859-1952) adopted William James' philosophy of pragmatism – and James reciprocated by applauding the papers that Dewey and his associates wrote. The ideas of James thus influenced educational theory through the pen of Dewey, his younger contemporary.

Like James, Dewey liked to experiment to see what works. He used the "cash value" test that he learned from James. He was interested in whether a theory can be put into action and whether outcomes of the action could be observed and measured. Dewey's pragmatic theory of "Instrumentalism" posits that ideas are instruments that function as guides for action, their validity being determined by the success of the action. The ideas that are practically workable are discovered through experimentation. Ideas are tools for the solution of problems arising from the environment.

If the solutions work, the ideas are true – recognizing that a different environment might require different solutions. Instruments of thought are thus tailored to a particular environment. Furthermore, since society is in a constant state of flux, and a particular instrument may soon become obsolete, solutions of the past are to be disregarded, and present solutions remain relevant for only a short while.

Dewey's central idea about knowledge was the diametrical opposite of the thesis of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the father of modern conservatism. Burke believed that the wisdom of past generations was woven into the social fabric that is our most precious heritage. Dewey theorized that the wisdom of the past has no bearing on modern problems. Time and flux changes man and society so decisively that the solutions of old problems are worthless today.

Dewey built into educational theory the notion that the Western intellectual, cultural, and moral heritage is of no value to modern students. Dewey wanted to throw the accumulated wisdom of the centuries overboard. The educational crisis will continue until we throw Dewey overboard, and recover from the sea of forgetfulness the golden treasures which he threw overboard.

Unlike Emerson, Dewey denied the universal moral law and universal truth. Dewey thought that morality is a social construct created to deal with the human needs of particular times and places. Since society is constantly changing, moral concepts are in continual evolution.

If morality is merely an adaptive, collective response to social needs of the moment, there is no sense of right and wrong involved. All social morality become rules of pragmatism. It is not surprising that the tax-supported education establishment promotes moral relativism and situational ethics. It can be argued that John Dewey is the founding father of the culture war, because he did more than any other man to convince students that morality is a cultural illusion.

The psychology of muddling through

A new school of psychology arose from Dewey's Instrumentalism. The psychologist diagnoses his client not as neurotic, but as "maladapted." The goal of therapy for the client is not healing, but learning to cope with daily life. The patient is offered instrumental guides to help him learn to adapt. It sounds fancy, but it is not much different than learning what works through trial and error, a skill every adult teaches himself in order to navigate through the world he encounters every day. The practical English call it "muddling through."

The psychology of muddling through has parallels with Dewey's educational theory. Classical educators regarded muddling through as outside the mission of formal education, and they were right. Just as children do not need to be taught fluff activities, adults do not need to be taught how to muddle through.

Dewey, who misunderstood the mission of education, proposed the creation of an institutional environment to shape good habits among students that presumably will lead to intellectual achievement. For Dewey, forming "good habits" is more important than teaching knowledge. Under Dewey's influence, therefore, educators began to forsake tried and true methods of teaching conceptual and factual knowledge. If a student is shallow in knowledge, he can still muddle through if he has good habits, or so thought Dewey.

Dewey wrote extensively about all the things that students can be doing other than acquiring knowledge. Dewey was interested in active group projects as a means of socializing students, teaching them "democratic values," helping them to adapt to their environment, and to acquire practical "real world" problem-solving skills. The fallacy of this approach is that one is handicapped in solving problems if he has a scanty stock of knowledge of concepts and facts in his mind.

Dewey's intellectual wilderness

Prior to Dewey, students had access to a rich heritage of intellectual resources. Mortimer Adler's Synopticon summarizes 102 "great ideas" that he distilled from 517 works of 130 great authors from the Western tradition. There once was a time when students read a generous sample of these great works and thereby had a working knowledge of many the 102 great ideas. Thus, they had a wealth of powerful ideas for their minds to employ for critical thinking.

Dewey wanted to teach the students to think critically, but his methods prevented that from happening. Modern students have a mental cupboard almost bare of the great ideas and of important historical and cultural information, and therefore lack the intellectual resources for critical thinking. Thinking techniques are not enough. One must have something to think about and a stock of ideas to use. The student, deprived of his intellectual heritage, gropes through the empty shelves where learned concepts were supposed to be. Finding nothing useful for the task, he must reinvent the wheel as though he grew up in a savage tribe.

Dewey has created an intellectual desert and then calls for critical thinking. He is preaching to the scorpions. Those in a desert do not have the luxury of critical thinking. They only have ears to hear messages of survival such as Dewey's pragmatic instrumental guides. Dewey took a world of educated, cultivated adults, furnished with a rich intellectual culture that features the 102 great ideas of Western thinkers, and turned the people into mere survivors in an intellectual wasteland. Instead of being the lavish spenders of a rich intellectual treasure, Dewey's scholars must live hand to mouth.

The only goal of survivors is to get through the day. Perhaps it was Dewey's atheism that caused him to view life as an ordeal of mere daily survival.

Dewey's false theory of knowledge

According to Dewey, all we can know of relevance is solutions applicable to a particular place at a particular moment in time. If this alarming notion is true, authentic learning is impossible. Anything you learn today is just as well forgotten tomorrow, because it will have no use or value in any future moment. Therefore, we cannot increase our stock of useful knowledge in a way that will be profitable all our lives.

We are reduced to an intellectual hand-to-mouth survival like a savage who must find his daily food today or go hungry. The savage is illiterate, so he cannot write down and accumulate knowledge beyond the frail embrace of memory.

Reading and writing have brought an accumulating treasury of knowledge to the world and made civilization possible. But Dewey tells the students that all they can know of relevance is practical techniques for getting through this day. New tricks will have to be learned tomorrow because of the endless flux of existence. Dewey's program, if carried to its logical conclusion, would wipe out the knowledge base of civilization.

But this is all a lie. We can only authentically learn, retain what we learn, and apply what we learn in the future if there are enduring principles for life, the individual, the family, and the community which will continue to exist long after we are dead. Pragmatism in a state of flux does not work. Pragmatism only works in a world that is stable enough in its properties that what works today will work tomorrow and can be written down in books for future generations to learn.


It is not surprising that test scores are falling or that many students do not read well, think rationally, write effectively, or speak clearly. Considering John Dewey's theory of education, it is surprising that the educational crisis is not far worse.

Recovery from the educational crisis will not be possible until the ideas of Rousseau, Emerson, James, and Dewey are relegated to historical footnotes of antiquarian interest. These men are a product of the false worldviews spun off from heretical theology and from the delusions of the Romantic movement.

The romantic revolt against reason that began with Rousseau had a subversive effect upon students and dampened their interest in ideas and knowledge. This revolt against reason has assumed many guises. Instrumentalism, Postmodernism, and Multiculturalism are merely the latest dreary fads for rebelling against reason. When I was in college, the depressing cult of non-conformist Existentialism was the anti-intellectual fad of the moment.

In contrast to the dreariness of the rebellion against reason, the search for truth is an exciting life-enhancing venture. The solid foundation for this search is found in the key doctrines of Christian orthodoxy and in "Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31