Education is very important in any Christian’s life, and especially in a Reformed Christian’s life. God reveals himself in many ways through creation and in his word, and we have many Protestant Reformed grade schools and high schools to instruct our children in a Reformed Christian world view. The churches and families go to great lengths to ensure our children receive a God-glorifying education from Sunday school through graduating from a Protestant Reformed high school. The question after graduating is what to do once the diploma is received. The option of higher education is a popular one, but the Protestant Reformed Churches do not own or operate a college for general education. This means the graduates must attend a “Christian” college or a secular college in order to continue education. There are many benefits to continuing education, such as learning more about God’s creation and developing personal skills and talents. The dangers of attending higher education are many as well, including being instructed by wicked professors and being taught a false world view. With the proper attitude and discretion, a Protestant Reformed student would be able to attend such institutions without fear of being led away from the true church.
The benefits of higher education are much more than simply the earning potential a college degree brings you. God’s creation is vast and complicated; his handiwork is found in every cell and atom that makes up this universe, and the rules that God has placed to govern his creation are still being revealed to man even in this time in history. In Job 12:7–10 God tells us that he reveals himself in the creation: “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Through the study of biology, geography, geology, chemistry, history, and mathematics in a college we may more deeply understand God’s handiwork in nature.
A better understanding of God’s creation also serves as a constant reminder of his power and might. Knowing the things of which God is capable of leaves us with no excuse to doubt his power. Paul tells us in Romans 1:20: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead; so that they are without excuse”. Studying the sciences in college reveals many things to the Reformed Christian, leaving us in awe of what God is capable of. The laws of gravity, magnetism, the position of the sun, moon, and stars all serve as examples of how God so intricately created this world to sustain life and a college education reveals this to us more and more.
Another benefit of a higher education is the development and honing of our God-given talents. Each one of God’s children is born with strengths and weaknesses as well as talents and gifts that they can use to give back to the church. Again we can turn to scripture for what God has told us. In Romans 12:6-8 Paul speaks on the gifts God has given us:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
These verses can be applied to any talent that we may have, such as public speaking, teaching, engineering, mechanics, or information technologies. These talents can be further developed and sharpened by taking classes in college or by going to technical schools after high school. Once developed, these talents can easily be used in the church community for the glorification and service of God.
The Protestant Reformed Church needs men and women with a higher education in order to teach the students in the many covenant schools that we have been blessed with. Reformed education is one of the most important things a young child needs in his growing years. In order for our schools to continue to operate, we need certified teachers with a firm grasp on the subjects that they teach. This is accomplished through continuing their education in college. These teachers must also maintain closeness to the Reformed doctrines while they are in college and of course while they are teaching in the classrooms. Prof. David Englesma tells us in Reformed Education (2000) that “We certainly desire our children to have a good education; to develop their abilities to the utmost; to prepare themselves to take their place in life, according to their calling” (9). The covenant education of the children is a high calling, and as such we as a denomination should make sure that the teachers are as qualified spiritually and mentally as they can be through higher education.
One of dangers of attending a higher education institution is that these colleges do not give God the glory and do not teach that God created and governs all things. The focus is no longer on God and what he has accomplished, but on man and his accomplishments. The professors and students in these colleges do not profess Christ crucified, and some may deny that God even exists. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are warned to beware these professors and classes because the devil uses them to attack the souls of the righteous like a lion hunting its prey. The professors in these classes sing the praises of scientific discovery and inventions to men like Newton and Edison or Tesla, never mentioning that it was God who caused these men to make those discoveries to shed light on his creation. The professors in history classes mention religion as a passing fad and teach evolution as if it is a fact. These teachings are dangerous attacks on the faith of God’s people.
Another danger is the fact that professors and colleges wish to develop your talents into lucrative careers for personal gain. Colleges routinely ask for donations from their alumni, and if the alumni are successful in business, they can donate more to the college in the future. This takes the glory of God out of the equation and makes higher education more about making money and nothing else. The world with its greed and lust for material wealth gives no thought for the things of heaven or the new earth. The Reformed student attending a college should not be blinded or attracted by the potential money-making ability of their career, but should focus on how he can service the church and fellow saints with his talents.
A danger that students at colleges also struggle with is that they are no longer under the supervision of their family and sometimes no longer attending their regular church. This lack of parental supervision can lead some students to fall into temptation quickly and to turn to the entertainment and pleasures of this world. The Reformed student may be forced to live with ungodly or anti-Christian roommates, and this also makes it far harder to stay on the straight and narrow path of righteousness. In this situation, the Reformed college student should remember to “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). In colleges, peer pressure may be far stronger because the student does not have his parents or covenant friends there to steer them away from evil and back into the light. The constant temptation to skip church and to instead do homework or hang out with friends is a struggle many Reformed students have been given over to.
The benefits of Protestant Reformed Christian students’ attending an institution of higher learning can be easily exploited by applying their learning directly into the Godly instruction or labors in the church itself. Future teachers can use their education in their fields of study and in turn teach the students in our Protestant Reformed schools what they have learned from a Reformed perspective. Another way to exploit the higher education is to use the knowledge of business, construction, technology, or engineering to serve on the many committees in our churches and school boards to improve the building and operating of our facilities. If the Reformed student learns languages in college, the direct use of those languages in the translating of texts for the mission work is another clear exploit.
The fact that the covenant student is placed in an ungodly environment could also be exploited as a reason and opportunity to witness their faith to those around them. God tells us in Matthew 5:16 to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. As we know, God calls his people from every tribe and creed, so Reformed students can witness their faith in an ungodly environment in order to gain members for the true church. Friends and classmates made in the universities could easily be brought along to Protestant Reformed churches and exposed to the true word of God and could lead to the conversion of those attending.
The dangers of being forced into an ungodly classroom and being taught worldly views and theories can be mitigated by holding fast to the teaching of the Protestant Reformed student’s parents. God tells us in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. This is the calling of all of the Sunday school teachers, grade school and high school teachers, parents, and catechism instructors to teach the Protestant Reformed students to guard themselves against these evil professors and to put on the armor of God to fight off the assault of the devil on their souls (Ephesians 6:12). The covenant child should have the mental and spiritual defenses to distinguish between the truth and darkness when confronted with information in the classroom.
The danger of being separated from Reformed friends and family while in college can also be mitigated by attending a college that is in close proximity to a Protestant Reformed church. This allows for the student to live in the home or to frequent the home on weekends or on the Sabbath to flee the temptations of wickedness on the college campus. Attending a Protestant Reformed church while in college is very important, as is attending Bible Study during the week. There are many opportunities for the Protestant Reformed student to stay close to the church and to keep participating in the church community while attending college.
A Godly, Christ-centered education in a Protestant Reformed operated facility is only available through high school at this time, but Lord willing we will have the capabilities to extend that past the twelfith grade. Learning about God’s creation through the teaching of Reformed Christian teachers is a blessing that should be celebrated. The teaching of covenant children to live the antithesis should be stressed through their schooling so that when and if they are faced with attending a wicked establishment, they have the tools to not only defend their faith, but to let their light so shine in the classrooms of higher education (Englesma, 2000, 56).
Engelsma, D. (2000). Reformed education. Grandville, MI: Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies.
The Holy Bible, King James Version. Grand Rapids: World Publishing, 1989. Print.