Why Christian Education?

A growing number of Christians in the United Kingdom (1) are taking their children out of State Schools and are either educating them at home or placing them in a specifically (2) Christian school. Are they justified in doing so? Is it a wise step to take? Will the children suffer as a result? What is Christian education anyway? These are the kind of questions that people ask. Some Christians do not ask such questions but oppose Christian education on principle and for a number of reasons. Are they right? Their objections should be carefully considered to see whether they are valid or not, and if possible, answered.

(1 Christian Education is widely accepted and enormously popular in the United States, and increasingly so in certain other countries.)

(2 The qualifier is necessary because adding the adjective “Christian” to the name of a school does not make it Christian in ethos, nor does it guarantee that a truly Christian education is offered. The same applies to denominational schools.)

Reasons for choosing an education that is specifically Christian

1 – The Bible instructs parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

But State education, at its best, is not specifically Christian nor biblical today, and, at its worst, can be quite anti-Christian. This is the principle reason for seeking a Christian education. The Bible is quite specific:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! [5] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. [6] And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up”. Deut. 6:4- 7

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22: 6

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians.6:4

2 – There is a distinctively Christian world-view.

It begins with God. It recognizes God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and sees history as His story. There is a Christian view of science, literature, art, politics, ethics and in fact every legitimate subject in the educational curriculum.

State schools, almost always, present a secularized, humanistic world-view. Such schools, in the very nature of things, cannot adequately present the Christian view for several reasons: firstly, because the present multi-cultural, multi-faith society in which we live makes such teaching very controversial;  secondly to teach each subject of the curriculum in a Christian framework would not be regarded as being “politically correct”; thirdly because to properly present the Christian view of things with sincerity requires that the teachers be committed Christians themselves. Of course there are some genuinely committed Christians in State schools, but they are not entirely free to teach the Christian faith as they would wish, and their hands are tied. It is essential that children from Christian homes understand the reason for the hope that is in them, namely, the Christian Gospel and the Christian world-view.

3 – Many State schools find discipline a problem, especially since certain sanctions teachers would have used have now been forbidden by law.

In addition, peer pressure and bullying often introduce children to swearing, violence, alcohol, drugs, amoral or immoral music and lyrics, and other undesirable patterns of dress and behaviour. This means that the influence of such schools is contrary to biblical patterns of behaviour .

4 – Children need to be properly prepared and trained to face society as Christians.

Education is not just about passing examinations, but is preparation for life. Not that academics are unimportant. It has been demonstrated, in fact, that other things being equal, Christian schools can achieve as high or higher standards than State schools.

Christian Education teaches not only that lying, swearing, blasphemy, stealing, laziness, cruelty, etc, are wrong, but why they are wrong. Christians hold that there are moral absolutes. Many non-Christians do not believe in moral absolutes and therefore cannot honestly teach them

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Objections to Christian Education

1 – Children need to face the real world, not be trained in a hot-house situation, a Christian ghetto.

The hot-house analogy is interesting. Skilled gardeners put their tender seedlings in a greenhouse or cold frame to prepare them for planting out in the main garden. Christian education does prepare children for the real world, which is why God specified it. Besides, the Christian community is not a ghetto, but the Bride of Christ, and she is to keep herself pure. She is an army and needs training; the Body of Christ and needs to mature in order to be useful.

2 – Christian children need to understand other faiths, and also such views as agnosticism and atheism.

There is no necessary objection to teaching children about these other views in a Christian school. But Christians believe that Christianity is unique and is the only true religion; and that Christ is the only Saviour. Therefore these other views will be shown to be erroneous.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

State schools generally present all religions as equally valid which Christians cannot accept. Christians hold the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, and the Trinitarian God of the Bible to be the only true God.

3 – Christian children are needed in schools as salt & light in the world.

Christians are certainly to be salt & light, but children from a Christian home may not yet be converted, & young children will be unprepared to face the sceptical onslaught of older pupils, & sometimes even teachers. To be salt & light, a person needs to be born again and also to be ready to give an answer to those who question the faith. (1 Peter 3:15). Christian teachers are certainly needed in State schools, the more the better, for they will be able to hold their own and bear a good, reasoned witness. But to send young untrained, untaught, unprepared children into “battle” is as senseless in the spiritual realm as it is in physical warfare.

4 – There is no such thing as Christian Education. Maths and science are the same to Christian and non-Christian alike.

This has already been partly answered, but let us reiterate that Christianity is not just a point of view but a way of life. Nevertheless, Christians do view things in the light of the reality of God and the truth of the Bible. Every aspect of life is affected by this “world-view” for the genuine Christian. It makes an enormous difference to a person’s understanding of the various items on the curriculum if that person is a Christian. It may appear that certain subjects are unaffected by one’s beliefs; two plus two equals four for both the Christian and the atheist. But the Christian believes that to be so because God made it so. But apart from that rather abstruse matter, many subjects are indeed directly affected by one’s beliefs. For example, what is right and what is wrong, good and evil, in other words ethical judgments. Clearly one’s views on such themes do affect one’s attitudes to literature, art, sociology, history and even science, for example experiments on human embryos. Christians believe that history has a purpose and is moving to a certain goal. They believe that God is a God of Justice who opposes sin and will punish it.

In Conclusion

These are some of the reasons for Christian education and some of the objections. It is true that some Christians believe that the best way to counteract the five-days-a-­week secularized education is by two sermons and an hour in Sunday school. But rarely do the two circles of secular education and Sunday worship truly interact. This is why other Christians believe that we should not have the secularized education in the first place. Why deliberately allow children to drink poison on the ground that once a week we hope to give them the antidote ? Why allow error and damage to children in the hope of counteracting it in a rather hit and miss way on Sunday? It is far, far better to begin in the right way from the start, and bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord by giving them a truly Christian and Bible-based education.

Printed with permission by: Ⓒ Dr. Stanley Jebb, Alethinos Reflections.