Education: Its Purpose
Formal education intends to develop knowledge, instill values, and grow individuals into members of a society that interact productively and preserve the intrinsic principles of that particular culture for future generations. For Christians, education takes on an even greater significance as parents work through the difficult task of teaching their children to love the Lord with all of their minds as Jesus commands in Matthew 22:37. This requires that parents think carefully through the prospect of formal education: specifically, parents must address the concern that their children develop knowledge that is subjected to biblical principles that grow their children into productive members of the Kingdom of God and allow them to faithfully live out the scriptural mandate to pass on this education to their own posterity. By sending their children to government sponsored education facilities, parents inappropriately and futilely attempt to divorce the instructional education their children are receiving from their spiritual development as members of the household of faith, and they do so at the peril of disobeying God’s clear commands in His Word.
Paideia: Education as Inculturation
“But Mr. Davis, what does learning Math have to do with my child’s eternal state?”
“I believe that theology and biology are wholly different fields, and I want my kid to get the best education in each field by professionals.”
“I want them to go to college and get a good job!”
The above quotations and so many others have been used by faithful believers to justify sending their children to an educational institution that hates the one, true God they desire to serve, but God’s Word does not leave much room for entertaining these excuses. Doug Wilson sums it up beautifully in his book, Rediscovering The Lost Tools Of Learning: An Approach To Distinctly Christian Education. Wilson states:
…the moral responsibilities of parents with regard to education are considerable. These responsibilities include providing a Godly environment for instruction, teaching children to obey the first commandment by loving God with all their mind, evaluating Christian and secular school systems by the same standard, and recognizing the destructive impact this would have on their children. These considerations, when taken together, do indicate that a good, Christian education is a moral necessity. (55)
Education is not morally neutral. God makes it clear in Deuteronomy chapter 6:7-9 and Ephesians chapter 6:4 that He holds fathers responsible for the education of their children, and that He expects that education to be purposed toward growing them in the knowledge of and affection for their creator. The word that Paul uses when referring to education is paideia which can be used to mean an “inculturation” , a total immersion of education towards a governing or unifying principle. Paul indicates that this inculturation should oscillate around the logos, the Word that is Jesus Christ. If God holds parents responsible for educating their children into the knowledge and affection of himself, then every discipline must instruct toward that end. This challenge deepens when the command of Christ to love the Lord with all of the mind is considered. Secular education indicts parents with moral negligence because it catechizes children into the false pretense that the understanding of any element of God’s revealed nature through creation can be properly understood outside of Himself. It cannot. Parents must ensure that their child’s education is distinctly, wholly, unequivocally, and unashamedly Christian. In other words, parents are instructed to raise their children in the paideia of the Lord.
Salt and Light and Sacrifice: Offering our Children to the god of the Age
“But, if all the Christians pull their children out of public school, who will share the gospel with those children?”
“I am sending my kids to be salt and light in the public school.”
These lines of argumentation are without a doubt the most infuriating to deal with as a man who has been involved with the education of adolescents his entire adult life because they concede that the government education system is godless! Parents, nowhere in Scripture have I found a command that you are to send your children as cannon fodder for the pagans to evangelize or demonize with their godless ideologies. Government schools have become increasingly hostile to sound, biblical doctrine. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this video in which Chicago lauds the embracing of a radically and biblically perverse sexual agenda for all their students, but also understand that this is just the fruit of an approach to education that divorces God’s revealed Truth of Himself from growth in knowledge and wisdom. Stop sacrificing your children to the gods of this age by sending them like lambs to the slaughterhouse because that is exactly how secularists see the children they are gifted with every academic year: opportunities for conversion or sacrifice to appease the god of this age, the god the modern education system is designed to worship. Education will always be used as an instrument of inculturation, of creating paideia, because that is what God has designed it to accomplish. Education can not be used as a tool of Christian inculturation if it denies the existence of God and the consequences therein. Christian parents are in direct violation of God’s word and sinfully negligent in their duties as stewards of the children God has blessed them with when they neglect to ensure that their children are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Repentance: Turning Away and Turning Toward
Repentance involves a turning away and a turning toward.
Pull your kids out of government school.
Consider homeschooling. Consider private, Christian education. If you do not have a private Christian school near you, consider starting one where parents can partner together to share the burden of and encourage one another in the education of their children. I am not under any kind of pretense in denying the logistical difficulties that this kind of decision presents. I left my teaching position at the high school in my town in order to help teach at a local Christian school to the tune of a 40% pay cut. It was worth it. God has provided for all of my family’s needs, and I take great comfort in knowing that my children will attend an institution that preaches the gospel in every classroom. I am not saying it will be easy. I am not saying that it will not involve great sacrifice. I am simply saying that your children are worth it. Obedience to the Word of God is worth it. Jesus is worth it.
Postscript: A Word of Encouragement to Teachers
I want to take just a moment to address the thousands of faithful Christian men and women that are teaching in the government school system. I would like to add that I am grateful for your willingness to share the Love of our Savior in an increasingly hostile environment. You are deep behind enemy lines, and I pray that God will continually strengthen and encourage you as you seek to serve him.
I would encourage you to see yourselves as missionaries on foreign soil. While your job title may be 8th grade social studies teacher, you are truly an ambassador of the King of kings and your stand for truth may be the single greatest act of courage and love that many children witness during their most formative years. Do not compromise. Ever. Don’t give the godless pagan’s and their corrupt system an inch of ground as you proudly proclaim the truths of God’s revealed nature through creation and the ramifications of knowing this truth.
And also, know where your line in the sand is. How far will they have to push their radical, God-hating agenda before you have to abandon the ship as it sinks under the weight of God’s judgment? Prayerfully consider these things, and above all seek God’s wisdom and glory in everything you do.
(Editor’s Note: Your children likely are heading home this week for a long Christmas break. Here’s a serious question: What would it take for you to not send them back? Write out the answer, the specific steps it would take. It may indeed be impossible. But, at minimum, doing the thought experiment will put your head around it and give you the advantage of knowing what the scope of the task is.)