Why Do You Insist on a “Christian” Education?
Posted in Tough Questions
Ultimately there are only two approaches to education; or to medicine or social welfare or entertainment or politics or philosophy or whatever. One is Christ centred or Christian. The other is human centred or humanistic. This is part of God’s creative order. There is a war going on. There are only two sides. And the war goes on until one side wins. We already know which side is going to win. And we are endeavouring to make ourselves, our families and our lifestyles clearly identifiable as being on Christ’s winning side. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23.) So why settle for something less than the best?
You Reap What You Sow
The Rev. Edmund Opiz said, “There is something wrong with our system of education because there is something wrong with our theory of education.” Because the NZ state education system, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1877, was based on a faulty theory of education, it is by definition a faulty system of education and is now producing a faulty product. This is known as reaping what you sow. It does take time for what is sown to germinate and grow to maturity when its fruit will be clearly recognized. The problems within the NZ education scene today have their roots way back in that Education Act of over 120 years ago.
For example, Section 77 of the Act, referring to primary schools, says, “the teaching shall be entirely of a secular character.” It has been said that originally the word “secular” meant “non-sectarian”, the understanding being that the education would be Christian nonetheless. (I have been unable to find this definition in any dictionary from any time period, so would suggest this represents a coup for the unbelievers of the time.) But having endeavoured to sow this neutral sort of idea toward Christian doctrine into the Act, the term “secular” has grown and matured to mean something very different. “In the absence of any ruling by the courts,” writes then Minister of Education David Lange on 23 February 1988, (and later confirmed by Minister of Education Lockwood Smith in a letter dated 15 April 1993) “the department has in practice taken the term secular) to mean ‘without any form of religious instruction or observance’.” Religion can be mentioned or referred to but religious instruction or observance is out. That certainly does not describe a Christian approach to education. It is an approach which sees Christianity as a separate and optional field of study. Maths, English, History and Science can all be totally understood and mastered without any element of Biblical Christian instruction or observance. In other words, the human mind can comprehend these things without God’s help. This is the humanist approach.
The Humanist Approach
It is, in fact, exactly the same approach recommended to Eve by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. She was presented with a sort of neutral approach toward God’s command regarding the fruit of the forbidden tree. She fell for it. Take what God said, sure, but don’t limit yourself to that. The serpent gave some interesting alternative ideas about the fruit, and Eve even added some of her own. (First mistake.) Instead of remaining totally submissive to God’s unerring, infallible Words on the subject, she placed those Holy Words alongside these new alternatives from both the serpent and herself. She treated them all the same. (Second mistake.) She judged their merits according to her own mind. (Third mistake.) And her own human mind made its own choice. (Fourth mistake.) This is the humanist approach. Note the process. Collect as many facts, opinions and ideas as you can, regard them as all having equal value, weigh them up and make your choice. Note also the consequences. Absolute disaster for the entire human race.
This is precisely the approach taken today in the state classroom, with one important difference. The child is still presented with a large amount of information and encouraged to make his own choice. But because of the secular clause in the Education Act, Christian concepts of absolutes, right and wrong, accountability to God, life after death are not included in the information presented. The original serpent himself didn’t have it so easy. He would definitely approve.
The humanist teaches that maths is a human invention, whereas Christians know it is God’s invention and man has discovered it. The difference is that as a human invention, it is tentative and can be changed and modified to suit. Absolutes are not necessary. Two plus two does not have to equal four when we modify the system. The problem humanists run up against, however, is that this “human invention” of maths matches all of nature so perfectly and is even consistently applicable in outer space and on other planets. If it is simply a human device, there is no logical explanation for this. Why, it is almost as if everything had a common origin and were tied together in some kind of harmonius unity. Morris Kline, a prolific modern writer about mathematics, says, “It behooves us…to learn why…mathematics has proved to be so incredibly effective…Mathematics is man-made… (Yet) some explanation of this marvelous power is called for.” Richard Courant, formerly head of the mathematics department at what used to be the world’s center for mathematics, the University of Gottingen, remarked, “That mathematics, an emanation of the human mind, should serve so effectively for the description and understanding of the physical world is a challenging fact that has rightly attracted the concern of philosophers.” Albert Einstein summarised the problem thus: “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
In English the humanist will by and large dispense with spelling and grammar as long as one is able to communicate. Accuracy is not a desirable goal, as it tends to reflect the idea of absolutes, an attribute of God which humanists would rather avoid. His method of dealing with absolutes is to shoot himself in the foot by making the absolute declaration, “There are no absolutes.”
The humanist approach to history is to assume the meaninglessness of the whole line of events, viewing them as chance unrelated happenings. In fact, history has been dumped in favour of the “value-free” approach to human events known as “social studies”. Because one society and its values are just as good as any other, we will have a look at the lot and get ideas of different life values which we may decide to adopt for our own lives.
The humanist approach does have a morality. It is like a smorgasbord. You pick and choose your own values and standards, you chop and change them according to your situation at the time. And so in sex education and AIDS education and Keeping Ourselves Safe Programmes, children are given “all” the “facts” about contraceptives, discuss “safe sex”, are told where to get free advice and supplies, how to obtain an abortion and where to find friendly, non-judgmental people to counsel you in this area, what constitutes a sexual approach, incest, exhibitionism, molestation and rape. “Facts” such as “incest, rape and sex outside of marriage are wrong” are not presented because they reflect Christian absolutes, and our education system is legally required to be “entirely of a secular character”. They will say that certain things are “inappropriate”, but that finally the child has to decide for himself. The humanist approach is to give the child all the “facts” (as they see the “facts”) and then encourage the chld to make his own “responsible” decisions. But Christians know that until the child has had developed and trained and disciplined into him a moral framework with which to judge the facts, he is unable to make responsible decisions, because he is unable to process all the facts according to any consistent or logical frame of reference. He can only arrange the facts as he would food from a smorgasbord, heaping on some that appeal and leaving others on the side. That’s why so many young peoples’ lives today resemble a dog’s breakfast.
The Christian Approach
The Christian approach is described and contrasted to the humanist approach throughout Scripture. Proverbs 3:5 is a very succinct summary: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” See also Isaiah 1:18-20, Psalm 1, Colossians 2:8, 3:1-3, I John 2:15- 17, Romans 8:1-11, 12:1-2, Galatians 5:16-26, Ephesians 4:17- 24, John 3:16-21. God’s words and man’s words are intrinsically different. One is the Creator speaking. The other is the thing created speaking. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-9.)
Educationalists have warned us about trying to balance the two. Speaking of the U.S. Government’s policy of taking a neutral rather than a Christian approach to education, A.A. Hodge wrote the following back in 1887: “It is obvious that the infinite evils resulting from the proposed perversion of the great education agency of the country cannot be corrected by the supplementary agencies of the Christian home, the Sabbath school or the church. This follows not only because the activities of the public schools are universal and that of all the other agencies are partial, but chiefly because the Sabbath school and the church cannot teach history or science, and therefore cannot rectify the anti-Christian history and science taught by the public schools. And if they could, a Christian history and a Christian science on the one hand cannot coalesce with and counteract an atheistic history and science on the other. Poison and its antidote together never constitute nutritious food. And it is simply madness to attempt the universal distribution of poison on the ground that other parties are endeavouring to furnish a partial distribution of an imperfect antidote.”
Note how Mr Hodge assumed a neutral approach was of necessity an anti-Christian approach. This is so. There are, after all, only two approaches.
The Christian approach is very unfashionable. It is intolerant of that which is wrong. It is one-eyed, narrow minded, biased toward the Scriptures, simple concerning evil and wise in what is good. It is black and white. It is divisive since it recognises and looks for right vs. wrong, saved vs. lost, good vs. bad, moral vs. immoral.
Critics say the Christian is out of touch with reality and that Christian education shelters children from the real world. Well, not long ago I was reading some Creation Science literature and discovered that my old childhood friend the Brontosaurus is worse than just extinct….he never even existed in the first place. Brontosaurus is nothing more than the result of over-zealous paleontologists and museum exhibit staff slapping together bones before determining for sure that they all represented the same creature. But any educator who does not view the child from the Christian perspective is just like those over-zealous paleontologists in that they compose, and teach to, a philosophical definition of a child which doesn’t exist.
They say that the child is an animal, a product of blind, chance, meaningless evolution and survival of the fittest. Although we may see a lot of this survival of the fittest philosophy in action on the state school playground, the Christian approach acknowledges that the child was created by God for a particular purpose.
The humanist believes the child is born neutral, a blank tape, or perhaps even basically good. All the evil is learned from society, especially from those who hold intolerant, black and white, judgemental views and superstitions….code phrases meant to refer to Christians. Christians know that the child is not neutral but is a born sinner in need of discipline, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness since it does not come naturally.
So although it was a shock to discover that Brontosaurus is a type of dinosaur that never even existed, it is even more shocking to discover that so many NZ classroom teachers are tailoring their teaching methods, class objectives and subject content to a type of child that likewise doesn’t even exist! The net result is surely to be that our children will graduate as a herd of functional Brontosauri, believing that they are “children” the like of which exist only in the theories of evolution-believing secular humanists. How can such children ever hope to cope in the real world when they are so sheltered from reality in the classroom? Exactly who is sheltering whom?
What is the difference between humanist and Christian education? “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God,'” (Psalm 14:1), while the humanist educator, as in Mr Lange’s definition of “secular”, effectively says it out loud! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). Yet with God legislated out of the state classroom, the students who sit in that classroom haven’t got a chance to grow in true wisdom. What is the concerned parent to do? He cannot hope to debrief his children and undo the damage done after each day in the state school. He must now have his turn to make a responsible decision. Either shell out for a private Christian school, or really do his whole family a favour and teach them at home. Home education is growing rapidly in NZ, among Christians and non-Christians alike. As Christian parents begin to reap the fruits of humanist education in the lives of their own precious children, they realise that Christian education doesn’t cost….it pays!
At all costs, parents must demand the right for themselves to determine what kind of education their own children shall have. Otherwise, just as Professor J. Gresham Machen warned back in 1926, “If liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children you might just as well give them eveything else.” “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21).
From Keystone Magazine
November 1998 , Vol. IV No.III
P O Box 9064
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