Why Education Must be Christian (III)

Adam thought, incorrectly, that it would be better to join Eve in her sin than to obey God and be separated from her. So, he ate the forbidden fruit. The external act followed upon the thought. “Out of the heart proceed evil acts.” Note that in the Bible the term heart usually designates the intellect, and only one in ten times the emotions: It is the heart that thinks. Sin thus interferes with our thinking. It does not, however, prevent us from thinking. Sin does not eradicate or annihilate the image. It causes a malfunction, but man still remains man (Gordon H. Clark).[1]

Perhaps the most important and fundamental role of education is to help children to think differently, that is Biblically. Paul made an indirect reference to this fact, when he said, “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (I Cor.13:11).

Growing up as a Christian does mean putting away childish and immature thoughts. But what do we replace those childish thoughts with? And what are our children to replace those thoughts with? It had better be more than sophistication.

Being Biblical and being sophisticated are not necessarily the same thing, for there are many sophisticated people who are far from God.

Noah Webster made this point in defining education:

The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and for the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties(Noah Webster’s Dictionary, 1828).

A true education is a Biblical one. It commences with the facts of creation: God made the world from nothing in 6 days, exactly as Genesis teaches. If He made the world as the Bible says, than it follows logically that all He says about us in His Word, is true.

This means that each of us is a person designed by God, made in His image, with specific gifts and talents, and this applies to all people. Concerning believers, it means that they were chosen by Him from “…before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4), so they have an eternal purpose that God has ordained, giving them great security and confidence concerning everything that happens to them, good or bad.

There is a sharp contrast between Christian, and humanistic education. Rousas Rushdoony (1915-2001) was a ground-breaker in exposing the humanism of state education. He had some excellent insights. The following chart from his book, “The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum” (p.172-173) begins to lay it out:

 

Christianity Humanism
1. The sovereignty of the triune God is the starting point, and this God speaks through His infallible Word. 1. The sovereignty of man and the state is the starting point, and it is the word of scientific, elite man which we must heed.
2. We must accept God as God. He is alone Lord. 2. Man is his own god, choosing or determin- ing for himself what constitutes good and evil (Gen. 3:5).
3. God’s Word and Person is the Truth. 3. Truth is pragmatic and existential: it is what we find works and is helpful to us.
4. Education is into God’s truth in every realm. 4. Education is the self-realization and self-development of the child.
5. Education is discipline under a body of truth. This body of truth grows with research and study, but truth is objective and God-given. We begin by presupposing God and His Word. 5. Education is freedom from restraint and from any idea of truth outside of us. We are the standard, not something outside of man.
6. Godly standards grade us. We must measure up to them. The teacher grades the pupil. 6. The school and the world must measure up to the pupil’s needs. The pupil grades the teacher.
7. Man’s will and the child’s will must be broken to God’s purpose. Man must be remade, reborn by God’s grace. 7. Society must be broken and remade to man’s will, and the child’s will is sacred.
8. Man’s problem is sin. Man must be recreated by God. 8. Man’s problem is society. Society must be recreated by man.
9. The family is God’s basic institution. 9. The family is obsolete. The individual or the state is basic.

 

The enormity of the contrast of these two systems of educational thought should not be lost on Christians today. To say that they are like chalk and cheese is putting it mildly, and any Christian who thinks that a working compromise can be made, is deceiving themselves.

Education therefore not only must be Christian, but anything other than a fully Christian, family based education, utterly devoid of State interference, should be seen as a compromise with paganism, unworthy of the king of kings, and utterly unsuitable for godly children.

Conclusion:

Elijah, as a typically uncompromising Biblical prophet, confronted the people of Israel with these words: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord if God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him…” (I Kings 18:21).

And this is the message a modern, inept, vacillating church needs to hear today, too. Will you hear, and act on it?

 

[1] “The Christian Philosophy of Education,” 1988, p.136.