This may seem like an old question of a lot of our readers. It is no wonder that it would. After all, we have been brought up with the idea of Christian education pounded into our heads from the pulpit and also in the Standard Bearer. Yet sometimes we as young people doubt the real necessity of our own – very expensive, I might add – Christian schools. Sometimes we feel that perhaps our ministers are over-emphasizing the role of the school and generally being a little too tough on public education. Sometimes we feel that education is outside the church’s sphere of influence just as the state is. And it is for that reason that I – as a questioning young individual – am writing this paper.
I would like to begin by quoting a very familiar Psalter number, taken from Psalm 119. “How shall the young direst their way? What light shall be their perfect guide? Thy word, O lord, will safely lead, if in its wisdom they confide.”
This psalm contains the most important thing that we must realize when dealing with religious education. That is, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Since education is a search for wisdom, we must begin with the fear of the Lord.
All parents vow when their children are baptized in our churches to see that they are brought up in the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments to the best of their ability. This means, first of all that education must begin in the home
The home is probably the most important unit of government and instruction there is. If the home is corrupt, education facilities, coming under the preaching, and other outside influences will very likely be ineffective. The home is the important thing. The home must be an expression of Christianity – with Christian parents taking the time to instruct their covenant seed in the way of truth.
Because the home is so important to Christianity, the home must remain pure. This is very difficult in the world of today to say the least. Many of our homes have a direct link with the world occupying a commanding place in our living-rooms or dens or rec-rooms. I am referring of course to the one-eyed monster, the television set. The T.V. is one instrument which can often nullify the work of parents to teach their children the truth – especially today. There is so little on T.V. that is worthwhile! Most of it is direct appeal to our sensual instincts. And sometimes we may say, “Oh, but Johnny knows what to reject – he knows what’s right and what’s wrong!” But when small children grow up with a television spewing forth the world’s deadly poison constantly, the effects can creep in. But I have deviated from my topic.
I think we agree that the home is the primary place of instruction. And this is why many people say that Christian schools are unnecessary. “I can teach my son the doctrine at home and he will be a witness at school of the Christianity we love.” It wounds very noble, I must admit. But the problem is that the children are at school a large portion of the day and what you can teach them at night cannot offset the ideas they mold in school. For children are very impressionable people, and the public schools are not neutral, but set forth ideas which go along with the philosophies of the times and not Christian principles.
This is why it is so important that we are able to send our children to schools where we know the teacher is a saint, teaching in a Christian school because he is motivated by a desire to instill in our youth a proper sense of their relationship with God and their fellow men.
Do we need Christian high schools then? Isn’t ten years of Christian education enough? The answers to those questions are Yes! And No! in that order. High school students are at the age where they really begin to dig deeply into life and it is very important that they are able to ask more mature Christians for their answers. In the public schools, the answers must be found thru the use of logic and reason – not reliance on God, but reliance on man and man’s intellect.
Now, so far I must admit I sound exactly like the ministers that we have heard explain why Christian education is important, i.e., 1. Our parents vowed to instruct us to the best of their ability in the Truth. 2. The home is the principal place of instruction. 3. The Christian school is an extension of the home. 4. The public school teaches a rationalistic, not-Christian philosophy damaging to our youth. 5. The Christian school on the other hand, preserves the idea that we rely on Scripture for our sense of values. These things we have all heard. But I am a student, and students are known to be natural skeptics. I must concede that I felt the whole thing was a little over-done. After all, only a small portion of Christians maintain day-schools. Notably, the Christian Reformed, and the Protestant Reformed Churches.
So now we must ask ourselves if Christian schools are really worth the price we have to pay for them? Could we attend public institutions and still come out all right? There was a time when I could have answered those questions “Maybe not,” and “Yes, I think so” in that order. But no longer. You see, I now go to a public institution of so-called higher education. I was appalled at what I encountered.
I would like to give a sampling of the things I have actually heard. In my English class – where my teacher was of a Baptist background, but had become discontent with Christianity, I listened as Christianity was equated with Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Brahmanism, and Sikhism! We were told outright that all religions were the same – only the symbols different, and therefore the important thing was to believe in some set of symbols whatever they were. But John leaves no room for that kind of philosophy when he says in his first epistle, chapter two, verse twenty-two, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?”
In my biology class I was told that the only possible view of the world is mechanistic – that is, entirely without the supernatural. Quoting from my textbook, “If outcomes of natural events were pre-ordained, then changes in conditions could not affect the outcomes. But since preordination does not exist in nature, it is erroneous to say that nature exists for a certain purpose.” This is of course, contrary to any scriptural approach to nature.
My political science class heard the professor telling us – “If you feel the war in Vietnam is wrong – protest it! Resist the draft, change the schools, and demand your rights!” Certainly such a breeding of disrespect for authority by our public educational system is responsible for much of the unrest of our campuses now.
Let me quote something my English professor said to me last semester. He knew my religion because I often wrote of it in my compositions. “Ken,” he said, “you will find that as you progress in your education, you will more and more reject the supernatural. For an educated person to accept supernatural events as recorded in the Bible is a very rare thing. You will realize that scholars cannot accept such views!” Believe me, that shakes one up!
I could go on…perhaps telling you of Mr. B. who said to our class that we were “all part and parcel of God. I you love something, that’s God. If you care for life, that’s God…” But I feel that I have made my point. The public school system leads to a denial of the supernatural and of the values dear to Christians.
I feel now – more than I ever did when I attended our own schools – that they are indeed very important. They are worth the price we are paying. They are worth much more. I feel that Christian education is vital to the proper bringing up of our youth – as an extension of the Christian home.
I began this article by quoting Scripture – so also would I like to end it. This time quoting Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 1 March 1970