by Byron Snapp
When a state takes over the responsibilities for education from the church or from Christian parents, the state has not thereby disowned all religions but simply disestablished Christianity in favor of its own statist religion, usually a form of humanism. An excellent means of analyzing the religion of any culture is to study its concept of education." (The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum p.3) Although these words were penned by R. J. Rushdoony more than fifteen years ago, they remain extremely relevant to our day.
A recent court case shows the continuing relevance of these words. In the Houston area, a student was stripped and examined for non-existent signs of paddling. When the parents took the case to court a federal district judge ruled that "parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school." This incident provides a telling example of a major difference between Christian education and other educational formats.
Christian education begins with the fact that children are God's gifts to parents. "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3) Children ultimately belong to God. They are given to parents. Parents are to raise them in a manner that honors God.
Christian schools exist to help parents fulfill this responsibility. Our teachers instruct with the realization that the students are not theirs. We are answerable to parents and to God in our conduct and instruction here. Thus, parents receive weekly reports regarding their children's conduct and also packets containing graded papers.
Parents should not think they are giving their children to the teaching staff to meet educational needs, thereby relieving themselves of their responsibility. Parents have the responsibility to oversee their children's homework, help where necessary, and to deal with behavioral problems. We expect parental concerns to be voiced to the teachers, so that any problems might be readily corrected.
Christian education exists on the foundation that all facts are God-created; therefore, true learning cannot be separated from God. As children do not ultimately belong to man, neither does knowledge. By learning facts we learn more about our Creator, God.
Knowledge is thus seen in a whole new light. Through godly education, students should realize that math is not just a useful subject for those who plan to be scientists, accountants, or engineers. Studying math helps them learn more about the God of all things. History is not the learning about boring dates and dead people. Instead, it is the study of God working out his eternal plan in time and space. It is learning how God raises up some nations and puts down others. It is a study of wise choices and mistakes made by previous generations. Without a working knowledge of this information, a generation can easily make the same errors. Wise or foolish actions in history are determined by comparing those choices with Scripture. Every subject has new importance when studied from this perspective.
In this education, the Bible is more than a book for use in bible class, or a book by which one's ethics and character are to be shaped. Students are to be reminded that every thought is to be taken captive for the Lord (II Cor 10:5). For example, the early chapters of Genesis are foundational for teaching origins in science. Those chapters teach not only the order of creation but also that God's creation showed maturity or, we might say, age from the moment of creation. Adam was not created as a newborn infant but as a full grown man. He had a vast vocabulary and an understanding of its proper use as exemplified in his naming the animals in the Garden on the sixth day of creation (Gen 2:10).
Scripture teaches that God is a God of order. He has planned all things for a purpose (Rom 8:28, Eph 1:11). This facet of God's character is extremely important in teaching the proper order of words, punctuation, and capitalization in a sentence, or the proper steps in solving a math equation, word problem, or geometry proof. Other aspects of God's character as revealed in Scripture manifest themselves in other facets of school curriculum, properly taught.
The word "education" comes from the Latin word "educare" meaning "to lead". Teachers must have a goal to which they lead students. This goal must be either truth (God-created facts), or distorted truth (man-decreed "facts") that may or may not be actually true.
True Christian education provides the proper goal to which students are to be pointed, because the teaching is based on Scripture, which makes one "thoroughly equipped for every good work." We are living in an increasingly humanistic age. Currently accepted education philosophy clearly shows this. Man is viewed as his own god with the ability to solve problems and teach curriculum without reference to anyone higher than man. Thus in society children are also seen as gifts of the state, not of God.
Thankfully, there is an alternative. As children are educated to think God's thoughts after Him, we are laying the foundation for a better culture as our children become adults and prayerfully and wisely apply God-centered thinking in their families and cultures.
© copyright Byron Snapp, Chronicles
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