Leave Like Moses

It has been a long time since I was in public school. When I was in school I had many teachers who were Christians. But even in the early nineties their faith was kept under wraps. They could not pray for us or push us towards God. They could not reject a teaching because the Bible rejected it. And I went to public school in a conservative Southern state. It is hard to picture that has changed for the better in the last 20 years. Every story I hear is of schools becoming more and more liberal in their teachings on sexuality, politics, economics, etc. I know there might be exceptions, but my guess they are few and far between.

What would I say to a Christian who is teaching in the public schools? I would say:

Thanks for your work, labor, and love for the students. I know you see your job as a way of honoring God. Despite these things and all the good you have done, I would still encourage you to get out. You will make less money teaching at a private school. You might have to move to get a job. You will lose many of your benefits. Your financial security will be lost. Your reputation might be ruined. But given the current situation, it is the right thing to do.

Wouldn’t it be great to work at a place where you can talk about Christ openly? Wouldn’t it be great to tell your math students about the God who created this world with order so Algebra works? Wouldn’t it be great to pray with your students before class or to show them how history demonstrates man’s sinfulness and God’s kindness?  Wouldn’t it be great to pray with other teachers for a student who is struggling? There is little doubt that at this stage in history it would be a sacrifice to leave the public school system. But the New Testament is clear that those who sacrifice for Christ will have their reward (See Matthew 10:42, 19:27-30, and Colossians 3:24).

In particular I would encourage Christians working in the public school system to meditate on Hebrews 11:23-27, the story of Moses.

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.   

Moses left Egypt because he would rather suffer with God’s people than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He knew it would be painful, but he also knew that Christ was worth more than Egypt and would reward him. I believe this is where many Christian teachers in public schools are at. It would be a tremendous help to your fellow Christians if you left “Egypt” behind. I know you have done some good and I know you would like to do more good. I also know there are many Christian kids in these schools. And I know you love the students that come in each year. But at some point, as Jesus said, you have to let the dead buried the dead. The public schools are more and more hostile to the Christian faith. The constant hammering of the homosexual agenda, failure of a sexual ethic beyond consent, prominence of the evolutionary origins of man, rejection of truth in favor of feelings, revising of history, watering down of standards, lack of respect for authority, necessity of being politically correct, and the postmodern reading of literature all indicate that the public schools are not a place where a Christian teacher can consistently and publicly exercise their love for Christ their Savior and Lord. Therefore I would encourage you to get out and find a place where your faith in Christ, love for his Word, and understanding of His Lordship can be a central part of your teaching.

What if Public Schools Were Christian?

Yesterday I posted on how Christian parents are required to give their kids a Christian education. I was addressing the current situation where God has been jettisoned from public education.

But what would happen if government schools were Christian? What if we lived in a community where the curriculum was based on Scripture, the teachers were Christian, subjects were connected to God, and holiness in conduct was as important as a test score? What if there were chapel services and every class began with prayer? Would this change things? The answer is yes, but it still would not justify government schools as they are now. There are a couple of points to remember.

Christian parents have the right to delegate the education of their children, assuming that education is Christian. Christian parents do not have to teach everything. Even those of us who home school do not teach everything. We use videos, co-ops, online classes, etc. Christian parents are overseers of the education of their children. That is why I am not opposed to Christian schools. If the local community school was godly then a Christian parent could send their child there and not violate Scripture. They would be giving their child a Christian education.

But the government does not have the right to force the parents in their community to send their child to the school or to tax parents to support that local school. Why? God did not give the government oversight of a child’s education. The parents in Scripture are given primary oversight of a child’s education. You can have a community school but support of the school and participation by the parent must be free, not coerced. Parents should be able to opt-out without a penalty.

This is also an extension of Christian freedom and charity. Imagine a community is mostly Christian and the schools are run by Christians, but there are Muslims in the community. Should the Muslims be forced to attend or pay for the local Christian school? The answer is no. As a Christian, if you lived in a Muslim community would you want to be forced to attend their schools or to pay for their schools?

If the community was mainly Christian and they wanted a community school that was also Christian citizens could voluntarily put their money towards that endeavor. In this way, it is in one sense governmental because it is the local, community school and is viewed as such by the citizens. But in another sense it is private because funding comes not from taxes and the citizens are not forced to participate. In essence you have a private school that is voluntarily supported by the majority of the citizens.

Of course, the chances of this occurring in our present situation are non-existent. Therefore the best options for Christians are homeschooling or private Christian schools.

The two key points are: the government should not force participation in its schools nor tax its citizens to support those schools and parents have oversight of a child’s education, not the government.

Reality is Not Taught

Introductory Note: I was educated in public school. I have many friends and family who send their kids to public school. This post is not meant to be cruel. But we can look around and see that something needs to change with our country, communities, and churches. Educating our children in the Lord is one the best things our generation can do to turn the tide and more importantly to honor Christ. I know Christians can come through public school with their faith intact. But that is a sign of God’s grace and kindness, not a Christian’s obedience. Christians who sleep together before marriage can have good marriages. That does not make fornication okay. Just because someone got through “okay” does not make it right. I believe it is wrong for Christians to send their kids to public school. I am in favor of both home schooling and Christian private schools. Feel free to ask questions, raise objections, or comment. 

Here in West Virginia there has been a rather contentious bill that was passed by the our legislature that gave those who home school more freedom. It was spearheaded by many good people, in particular Brian Kurcaba, a state representative from my county who home schools his children. With this law being in the news it is a good time to once again state what the Bible teaches on the matter of education and how Christians should approach education.

I plan on writing a couple blog posts on Christian education and public schooling. The first point I want to make is that Christian parents are required by Scripture to give their kids a Christian education. Public school does not provide a Christian education and therefore Christian parents should not send their children to public school.

What is the purpose of an education? Why do children learn math and science, Spanish and English grammar?  Is education primarily the accumulation of various facts and skills so the student can eventually get a job? Or is there a moral dimension to education? Can it be an education if it does not train hearts and minds in the proper direction? Do we want men like Walter White, good at chemistry, but who use it make meth?

All men would, if pressed, agree that education will and must have a moral dimension. Education cannot be morally neutral. Children, whether they know it or not, are being taught every day what is right and wrong. They are being taught how to think about the world, what the great truths are that govern our lives, what is right, good, and beautiful, what is important, and what is not. Education is the shaping of a heart and mind and not just the passing on of facts.  Therefore Christian parents should not send their kids to be educated by those who do not believe in God or cannot express that belief in God in the classroom. Without God, it is not a true education.

The goal is not to learn math, science, etc. The goal is to bring glory to God and to love my neighbor by doing math and science. If God is eliminated from education we have missed the main point. As I tweeted the other day: To eliminate God’s authority from education is to eliminate the primary lesson that is to be learned.

God made this world from nothing. He rules this world. He redeemed it by sending his only Begotten Son.  He gave man dominion over the earth to serve one another and build his kingdom. We are sinners, made in His image, but separated from Him by our sins. This is reality, the world as it is. The Bible is clear that parents must bring their children up to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and to love their neighbor as themselves. This is not an option or suggestion. It is a command. Christian parents cannot afford to put their children in an environment where the essentials about the God, the world He has made, and mankind are blatantly denied or ignored. Here are some Scriptures to back up this point.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Our children are to be surrounded by the great truths of God’s Word day in and day out.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done (Psalm 78:4)

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

These are some of the obvious examples, but there are more. The entire book of Proverbs is built on the assumption that the son is being raised to loved God. It is a covenantal book. Joshua’s statement in Joshua 24:15, God’s statement about Abraham teaching his children in Genesis 18:19, Psalm 1, Psalm 112, Psalm 128, and passages like Romans 6 and Matthew 22:37 make it clear that our children are to be taught to think God’s thoughts after him, to bring him glory, and to serve our neighbor.

Our public school system has denied God. God is neither acknowledged nor taught. He is an afterthought occasionally prayed to before a football game. But he is not Lord. His commands on sexuality, holiness, respect, kindness, and greed are ignored. Darwinian evolution teaches a false view of origins, which influences all disciplines, not just science.  There is no standard for right and wrong other than what works. Pragmatism rules. Children are not taught how to glorify God in their studies or interaction with other students. Reality, the world as it actually is, is not taught. The most important things are ignored for the trivial. Self-fulfillment is the great goal. That is not an education, even if it does help someone get a job. Christian parents should want their children to grow up loving God, loving their neighbor, and loving Jesus. They should want their children to learn math and science in a place where God’s glory is the great aim. Public education does not provide this. Therefore, outside of circumstances where there are no other options (for example a single mother) Christian parents should not send their children to public school.

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Charles Hodge on Education

Last week the local newspaper here in Morgantown, The Dominion Post, wrote an editorial disparaging a new homeschooling law, which gives homeschoolers more freedom in their educational choices. I plan on responding to the article as well as writing several blog posts explaining why Christians must give their children a Christian education. In the meantime, here is a blog post I wrote in December 2012 which should help prime the pump. The initial quote is from Charles Hodge’s commentary on Ephesians. Hodge was a professor at Princeton in 1800’s, when it was still Christian. He was of the great American reformed men in 1800’s. 

“This whole process of education is to be religious, and not only religious, but Christian. It is the nurture and admonition of the Lord which is the appointed and the only effectual means of attaining the end of education. Where this means is neglected or any other substituted in its place, the result must be disastrous failure. The moral and religious element of our nature is just as essential and as universal as the intellectual. Religion, therefore, is as necessary to the development of the mind as knowledge. And as Christianity is the only true religion, and God in Christ the only true God, the only possible means of profitable education is the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is, the whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which he prescribes and which he administers, so that his authority should be brought in constant and immediate contact with mind, heart and conscience of the child.  It will not do for the parent to present himself as the ultimate end, the source of knowledge and possessor of authority to determine truth and duty. This would be to give his child a mere human development. Nor will it do for him to urge and communicate every thing on the abstract ground of reason; for that would be to merge his child in nature. It is only by making God, God in Christ, the teacher and ruler, on whose authority every thing it so be believed, and in obedience to whose will every thing is to be done, that the ends of education can possibly be attained. It is infinite folly in men to assume to be wiser than God, or to attempt to accomplish an end by other means than those which he has appointed.” (Charles Hodge on in his commentary on Ephesians 6:4)

Hodge makes some excellent points in this paragraph, a couple of which I would like to draw you attention to.
First, education must include the will and the moral character if it is to be called education at all.  I would add that education will be religious and moral in nature. The only question is will the religion be explicit or hidden. Public schools train our children to worship and form their moral character all the while claiming that they are morally neutral.
Second, God, since he is the only God, is the only right source of education. To try to gain a proper moral formation apart from God is like doing heart surgery with a butter knife. 
Third, notice how Hodge says that the child’s heart, mind, and conscience must be brought into constant and immediate contact with God’s authority. This is a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 6:7. And here is why an education that excludes the Lord is a lie and is no education at all. God really does rule the world through His Son Jesus Christ and we really are to trust in Him and obey him and his Word really is the foundation for everything. To eliminate God’s authority from education is to eliminate the primary lesson that is to be learned.
Fourth, God is to set the curriculum. That curriculum is to make our children like their Savior Jesus. That does not eliminate math or science or literature. But it does eliminate math or science or literature without Jesus.  This also means that returning some vague, amorphous “god” to public education is not sufficient.  It must be “God in Christ.” This also means the goal of an education is not to pass a test, get a job, get to college or make a lot of money. 
Fifth, any attempt to educate our children any other way is infinite folly and is a guaranteed disaster. We cannot eliminate the Creator and the Savior from our education and not also ultimately eliminate wisdom and joy and beauty and truth and righteousness. 

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If You Don’t Have It, You Can’t Give It

I just finished reading a wonderful little essay by C.S. Lewis called, “On the Transmission of Christianity.” It is in God in the Dock. The subject is education, not conversion. Here are a couple of quotes that I enjoyed.

“A society which is predominantly Christian will propagate Christianity through its schools: one which is not, will not. All the ministries of education in the world cannot alter this law.”

“As the teachers are, so they will teach.”

“A majority of them [teachers] failed to hand on Christianity because they had it not: will you blame the eunuch because he gets no children or a stone because it yields no blood?”

“Where the tide flows towards increasing State control, Christianity, with its claims in one way personal and in the other way ecumenical and both ways antithetical to omnicompetent government, must always in fact (though not for a very long time in words) be treated as the enemy.”

“If you make the adults of today Christian, the children of tomorrow will receive a Christian education. What a society has, that, be sure, and nothing else, it will hand on to its young.”

“As long as Christians have children and non Christians do not, one need have no anxiety for the next century.”