Interpreting the Christian School

By Roy W.  Lowrie, Jr.

The Christian Teacher (1960)

Men and women who were involved in this moving of God in education believe that the Scriptures lay the responsibility for a child’s entire training upon the child’s parents.  Parents stand as God’s representatives before their children, who are to obey their mothers and fathers “in all things.”  The parent is therefore accountable for all to which he subjects his obedient child and must assume responsibility for the type of schooling he selects for his sons and daughters – not merely on a college level, but perhaps more significantly on an elementary and secondary level.

(Oddly, many Christians are completely sold on Christian education on a college level, but are unconcerned about what their children learn in the earlier, formative years of schooling.)

Convinced of their personal responsibility, some Christian parents have concluded that the existing educational system is unable to provide what God would have for their children: an education which is Christ–centered.  Such an education does not imply a glorified five-days-a-week Sunday school.  Instead it involves an academically sound institution which offers the regular subjects of the comparable public or private school curriculum.  But these subjects are taught in such a way as to reveal the One who is the truth.

But why is one's attitude toward truth important?  Do not teachers simply impart subject matter, content?

American colleges and universities that prepare candidates for the teaching profession offer many courses in subject matter and effective teaching methods.  But the philosophy of education is another strong area of concentration in such curricula, and the prospective teacher is encouraged to formulate his own philosophy – usually a true projection of the teacher’s philosophy of life. Concurrently with his presentation of subject matter, the teacher’s philosophy of life is taught, perhaps rather incidentally.  This philosophy is absorbed by students, even though often there is little awareness that this is happening.

A non-Christian teacher cannot transmit anything other than his own basic viewpoint - whether that viewpoint be humanistic, materialistic (as is usually the case today) or religious-but-not-Christian.  Textbooks, other books and magazines, newspapers, and that expanding Cyclops, television – all promote the philosophy of the world, which is foolishness with God.

The most brilliant philosophies of men are not to be trusted; for they are natural, oblivious of the truth that is in Jesus Christ.  Natural man is blind to the true reasons for existence and purposes for living.  We do not blame the natural man for his blindness, yet we recognize that when he teaches – on whatever level – he will of necessity present false goals around which his students may orient their desires and life ambitions.  In contemporary American society, many of the schools tend to deify wealth, “getting ahead,” and implicitly press toward the mark of being the richest or most respected family in the neighborhood.  Of course there are other goals – a good and wholesome life, “world citizenship,” being faithful to whatever type of religion one may require for security.

But the arresting thing is this: students frequently are not in a position to distinguish between the true and the false coming to them from a teacher or the printed page.  They accept the teacher’s word undiscerningly.  (Those of us who teach know the embarrassment of being quoted as authorities over against the parent’s word!) Nor can any parent know everything that occurs during the education of his child in order to give counter-instruction where needed – even if there were time - for education is a prolonged and intensive part of the student’s total life.

Dr. Frank E. Gaebelein in his book, Christian Education in a Democracy says:

“It is easy to see how the influence of the most religious home may be smothered by a system of education which, despite its myriad activities, has no room for the Eternal.  From the Christian point of view the chief concern in regard to public education is not that its activities are in themselves very bad, but simply that they are exclusively of this world.”

Thus our adversary, the deceiver, secures with little open warfare a strong yet subtle foothold in the minds of our children. Can we not find instances of this in our own thinking, guided as it was during much of our education by non–Christians?  And do we think the situation is any better today for our children, who are being educated in the age of insecurity, cold war, the bomb, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley?

To put off Christian education until the college level is to place those who are most defenseless in the position of greatest danger.  Discrimination between truth and falsehood, morality and immorality, should increase with age and education.  And in saying this, I do not belittle the Christian home and the biblical Christian church; I merely emphasize the school, where a growing child spends the greatest part of his conscious life.

Education has always tried to relate its instruction to other areas of life and thought.  With current education’s philosophy of changing truths, education must be related to fluctuating notions about truths.  This sort of education can never be cohesive and thoroughly integrative.  Only as education is related to Christ the Truth, does it become truly related.

The teacher will always remain the major factor in education.  Although obviously needed facilities will always remain merely the proverbial “log.”  For it is the pedagogue who is the only gold in the bank of education.  This is why Christian institutions continue to flourish even though there are other schools on all levels of instruction which have better facilities and are more financially secure and more impressively staffed.

Teaching is not the act of the moment, but the outpouring of the life.  The life of Christ can flow only through a believer.  On those spiritual questions which underlie all reality and give eternal meaning to it, the most cable educators who do not have life in Christ are blind.  We do not criticize their blindness. But the question remains:

Shall we knowingly entrust the minds of our God-given, God-owned children to a blind man? 

Last updated by Lisa Lanpher Apr 18, 2013.

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