Why Christian School
Basket of Figs, August, 1990
“These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk o£ them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.…” --Deut. 6:6ff
Thirty years ago, only a few Protestant denominations were concerned about Christian elementary and high school education. Bible-be1ieving Christians spent most of their education dollars in Bible Colleges and Institutes. But the progressive deterioration of the morals, values, and educational standards of government schools made Christians take a new look at education. The 60's and 70's saw tremendous changes in pre-college education as churches of all denominations and sizes began school programs.
In the 80's a new shift came. Because of the advancing cost of Christian schools, many parents were priced out of the movement, and the home-school movement began. Many support groups for home-schoolers have been organized, and the involvement of parents in education has been a very positive thing. Without question, the educational achievements of both the Christian school and the home-school movements have been remarkable.
The Biblical principles which support Christian schools are clear:
I. There Is No Neutral Ground Concerning the Claims of Christ. Jesus said very plainly that “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Many years ago most American denominations entered into a compromise with the state that has been devastating for both the church and the state. The compromise was this: We will pretend that Christian faith is not essential for the teaching of reading, writing, arithmetic, and other “subject areas,” and the state will pay.
The church never really believed that the Bible was a non-essential, and so it geared up Sunday school programs, vacation Bible schools, summer camping programs, in order to teach youth. A sort of dichotomy of thinking resulted. We sent our children to public (government) school where it was pretended that the Bible and Jesus were not essential for knowledge, but in the Christian home and church it was insisted that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. As long as the national consensus was generally Protestant, the compromise seemed to work because Christians in the school system taught their values and their theology, often in a quiet manner. After World War II many non-Protestant groups began to object. As the consensus unraveled, so did the compromise.
As the consensus fell apart, Protestants found themselves increasingly on the defensive. School prayers were banned and Christian moral values were challenged. Christian holiday celebrations were forbidden and Bible study was out. Christians began to realize that Jesus, as always, had spoken the truth. Pretended neutrality is really hostility.
II. True Education Involves “Why?” as well as “What?” or “How?” It is not enough to know what to do or how to do it. Education is not complete without the “Why?” Why have sex? Why use drugs? Why make money? Why go to school? Why work for peace? Why have the death penalty? Why have guns? Why obey laws? Why have an abortion? Why be homosexual? These and other questions can be stated negatively as well as positively. Without a value system, they become impossible to answer.
Sex education programs in school do a good job in answering the other questions, but do a miserable job answering the “Why?” The “neutral” answers are, “Decide for yourself” or “Think of others” or such. Increasingly, Christians are seeing that these answers are not neutral at all, but hostile to Christ, Who teaches us to live for His glory and obey His commandments. For the Christian, sex outside of marriage is wrong because the Bible forbids it. It is sin precisely for this reason, not because it is socially irresponsible or injures others or spreads disease. All of these things are true, but do not go to the heart of the matter.
But how do you teach values without theology? The “Why?” is always determined by the god that the person worships. If that god is power, the answer will be different from the answer if the god is pleasure or wealth or fame.
Why go to school? The pleasure-seeker may well answer, “To make more money, so I can have more fun.” The left-over hippy from the 60's would answer, “I won't. I am going to drop out and turn on.” The power-seeking yuppy, “I need knowledge to convince people of my dream for America.” The greedy, “To make more money.” The altruistic visionary, “To save the planet and endangered species” or “to make this a better place” (“better,” of course, means according to his own light.) And so it goes.
III. What the church does speaks louder than what it says. “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say,” Jesus said (Luke 6:46). The compromise that the church made concerning education in America has in large part neutralized its public confession. In simple fact, government schools constitute a tax-supported religious system. These schools have a theory of the origin of the universe, the nature of man, a system of ethics, and theories of law and the organization of society. Because the Bible is by law and custom removed from this system it is not Christian, but an alternative and rival to Christianity.