We are indebted to Dr. Wayne Grudem for sharing six compelling reasons why parents should consider a Christian education for their children. In the following presentation, Westlake uses those six statements to support a case for Christian schooling.
1. All of a child’s education should be Bible-centered and God-centered.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
“Anger” in this verse implies strong negative emotions such as frustration, even bewilderment and exasperation. When children experience dissonance between what they are taught in the home and church as opposed to what their school teaches, one of the outcomes will be anger and resentment. The internal frustration is amplified by continual, day-by-day experiences. Parents do have a choice in the matter, and in fact are expressly commanded by the Apostle to avoid this kind of provocation.
But doesn’t this verse only apply to home and church?
Many Christian parents will object that they are obeying Ephesian 6:4 by providing intentional biblical instruction in their home and their church. They take great care to make sure their children are involved in vibrant children’s and youth ministries. And to that extent, those parents are in step with this verse. We should be thankful for strong Christian parents who are careful to do so. Two of the three institutions in the children’s lives are functioning well.
But have those parents considered the powerful influence of their children’s school and teachers? Just the amount of time involved is staggering. When children spend up to 40% of their waking hours in school, ten times as much as in church, there is a disproportionate impact in their lives. From the day a child enters Kindergarten until he graduates from high school, he will have absorbed 15,000 hours of classroom instruction. And if he is in a godless school, that’s 15,000 hours of consistently learning that the God of his family does not matter, that life consists of fulfilling materialistic dreams, that the answers to life are not found in the Bible but in themselves. If we give our children “training and instruction” that intentionally excludes God’s words for 15,000 hours during the most formative period of their lives, can we honestly say we have continually brought up our children in instruction that is “of the Lord?”
Consider Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Is there a part of the day which is excluded from this command? Could a Christian parent conclude that obedience to this critical parenting challenge is fulfilled by eliminating 40% of the day from godly education?
Psalm 1:1-2 says the blessed man:
walks not in the counsel (or advice) of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers,” but “on [God’s] law he meditates day and night.
Does this describe the child whose daily education is devoid of any reference to God?
2. Education should be positive and truthful.
Often parents are persuaded that it is wise to toughen up their children to the world by intentionally placing them under the negative influences of secular, godless education, that this will better prepare them to stand up for biblical beliefs. Is this what the Word of God teaches concerning parenting? Does it encourage parents to give a child 12 years of training in the way he should not go, and he will be made strong by it? Many may find that this makes perfect sense and even point anecdotally to instances where that approach has succeeded. But that wisdom is not from above. Instead, God tells us,
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6).
Christian parents will not find any scriptural support for the idea of strengthening their children through godless training. Most children will do their best to “fit in” with their school environment and find that they are being hardened to sin, viewing it as normal, and will develop a mind, not for Christ, but for the things of this world. Everything about secular education leads that way. Intentionally.
3. Peer influence should be positive and Christ-like.
Not only do many parents believe that godless education will strengthen their children, they also believe they will benefit from spending much time with other children whose moral standards and life goals are radically at odds with theirs. No doubt, God’s people are called upon to live as salt, light, beacons for Him in a godless world. But what does He say about our frequent companionship?
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor (Prov. 15:33).
There is much to be said for the positive influence of godly peers.
4. Every teacher’s pattern of life should be worthy of imitation.
Ever parent should also consider the power of teachers’ lives and behavior to influence their children. Listen to the words of Jesus:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).
This verse has powerful implications for families who are considering educational options. The very reason to send children to school is the expectation that the teachers will affect them, make a difference, and leave a lasting impact. A godly, Christ-centered teacher is a powerful ally for Christian parents.
The point is sometimes made that there are some wonderful Christian teachers in non-Christian schools, and that is true. We should be thankful for their presence and the light they try to shine in the darkness. But even the most dedicated teacher in government schools will admit that their freedom to engage their students in serious, life-changing instruction based on God’s Word is very limited. The most powerful weapon for the believer—prayer—is forbidden, along with discussions about what the Bible has to say about choices, behavior, depression, or any of life’s real challenges.
5. Only God-centered education gives true wisdom.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Prov. 9:10).
…in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).
At the heart of the issue of educational choices is the matter of truth. While a student may gain much information and acquire needed skills in a godless classroom, wisdom begins and ends with God. Leave Him out, and truth becomes distorted, reality is twisted, and eternal perspective is missed. Christian education leads students to view the entire curriculum, every subject, and the entire world through the lens of scripture. A biblical world view is the only one which is accurate. God’s Word applies to all of life, not just the home or church.
6. Christian schooling is the best hope for transforming society.
Jesus tells us,
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:13-14).
One of the strongest arguments for sending children to secular schools embraces the desire that they be salt and light in their culture. The sad truth is that few Christians are making an impact on society. People who have never been taught to think Christianly are ill-equipped to engage a fallen world with the claims of Christ. It is futile to place untrained children in a place where the very nature of the process is for the school to change them and not the other way around. Statistical studies repeatedly show that children from evangelical homes are walking away from the faith at alarming rates exceeding 70%. If a mission project resulted in the defection of seven out of ten workers, no doubt the leadership would reconsider its strategy.
The greatest hope for real gospel transformation in our culture is for training our children in Christian schools, preparing them to shine brilliantly for Christ.