The Need for Christian Education
arguments are marshaled against Christian schools and Christian home-schooling.
Those, such as myself, who categorically reject state (public) education as
insufficiently Christian, inefficient, and inherently unfair are, in for some
lively debates. The objections raised must be met.
Objection #1. “If you send
your children to Christian schools they’ll be in a sheltered, hot-house
environment and will be isolated from the ‘real world.’ ”
education is what shields a child from the “real world,” the world God created
and the world God speaks of in the Bible. Education ungrounded in God’s truth
from beginning to end is necessarily poisoned with un-reality. Christian
children should be exposed to non-Christian thinking later in their education
through a thorough grasp of Christian apologetics (the defense of the faith).
Biblical truth must be instilled before error is confronted.
Objection #2. “You should
send your children to public schools to evangelize other children and
teachers.” Soldiers are not sent into battle immediately after being drafted.
They require training in the skills of combat. Thus so with Christian children.
The young are not equipped to adequately counteract the entrenched secularism
of the public schools. Those in the state schools can be evangelized in other
Objection #3. “Christian
parents can debrief their children after school to counteract the non-Christian
thinking.” This could be called “anorexic education.” The child is gorged with
secularism seven or eight hours a day and then coaxed to vomit it up after
school. If Christian education was pursued such extremes could be avoided. It
is also questionable how effective such a method can be. Can a few hours a week
of discussion really neutralize the teaching of an entire week? While an
antidote may neutralize the effects of a poison somewhat, the best course is to
avoid the poison to begin with.
Objection #4. “We must
improve our public schools.” These are really “state schools.” We must here
squarely face a neglected dilemma. “Public” education supposedly belongs to
everyone. We all pay for it through taxes; we all have access to it; we all
must send our children there (compulsory attendance laws) or to an “approved”
alternative. Yet how can public school curriculum fairly represent all
those who finance it? How can it become “all things to all people” It cannot.
All education proceeds according to its worldview. Facts and values cannot be
separated. Education is not ideologically neutral. Eliminating “sectarianism”
(specifically Christian ideas) from state education certainly will not fumigate
the schools of religion. The religion of Secular Humanism will simply take its
place. A look at the history of state education will show that its instigators,
by and large, were far from Christian. This is especially the case with Robert
Owen (atheist socialist), Horace Mann (Unitarian), and John Dewey (atheist
socialist). Their goals have been implemented and are deeply engrained at every
level. On this, see Rousas John Rushdoony, The
Messianic Character of American Education.
access for Christian ideas in the state schools (such as Intelligent Design)
should be viewed as an emergency measure, not a final solution.
Objection #5. “But the public
schools are free.” No, they are not. We pay a high price of taxation (whether
we use them or not). Because of the inefficiencies of statist bureaucracy, private
(free) education is more cost-efficient. No culture can afford to subscribe to
secularism (see Proverbs 8:36).
Objection #6. “But how many
people can afford Christian education?” This is a difficult matter. But we must
think according to biblical principles first and foremost. It’s been said that
Christians cannot afford not to send their children to Christian
schools. They must not relinquish their children to institutionalized error
about the things that matter most. Financially, sacrifices might need to be
made. The church should band together in this, sharing her resources. Tithing
and giving must be applied to this end. In the long run, if state education is
dismantled—or even if an voucher system was put in place—more money would be
available for private education.
Objection #7. “But so many
Christian schools are unaccredited.” This may be so. But who is the ultimate
accreditor, Jesus Christ or human institutions? We must work to build a
Christian counter-culture not dependent on the recognition of the non-Christian
world. But this counter-culture should advance the kingdom into every area and
so become the dominant culture over time. We are not there yet. Yet we should
not sell our educational souls for the sake of accreditation. We must not be
“unequally yoked” to apostate curriculum.
Objection #8. “We’ve had some
bad experiences with Christian education.” Undoubtedly, many have had this
happen. We also have “bad experiences” with poor preaching, bad meals, and
irritating relatives. But this doesn’t lead us to condemn preaching as such,
give up eating, or hate our family members. You are either part of the problem
or the solution. If you jettison Christian education because of a few bad
experiences you are definitely part of the problem. You are also illogical. A
few bad experiences cannot be universalized to apply to all Christian
education. Furthermore, bad Christian education is better than good State
education. State education (see #4) is beyond reform in principle.
Objection #9. “It’s too late.
How can we change it all now?” Some thought it too late to deal with the
institution of slavery. But it was not. Christian ethics is governed by truth,
not expediency. Our culture gives us the context for our ethical deliberation
and action but it should not determine them. If it does, we have been
conformed to the world (Romans 12:1, 2; 1 John 2:15-17). We must expand our
Christian vision, not give in to the circumstances.
Objection #10. “If we
disestablish public education, many will not be educated.” We forget that
mandatory, State education is not as old as America. We did well without it for
a good long time. And state education today is not doing a sterling job of
decreasing illiteracy as is. Education should gradually be returned to the
family and the church, instead of being monopolized by the State. Christians
must also open their Christian schools to those who cannot afford to go
elsewhere. This is a long-term, gradual solution. We need the fortitude and
patience that only the Holy Spirit gives to be successful over time.
Samuel. Is Public Education Necessary?
(Old Greenwich: The Devin-Adair Company, 1981), 263 pages. A scholarly and
cogent treatment of the development of public education. Dissipates a score of
popular misconceptions. Excellent.
John Taylor, Weapons of Mass Instruction A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory
Society Publishers, 2010.
Paul A. The Christian School: Why It Is
Right for Your Child (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1974), 131 pages.
Short, but cogent.
Tim. The Battle for the Public Schools
(Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revel, 1983), 283 pages. LaHaye is
sometimes simplistic, but he exposes just what is happening in the State
schools and what can be done about it.
Rousas John. The Messianic Character of
American Education (Ross House books, reprint, 1995.)