What Pastors and Parents Need to Know

by James A. Boyes, Host

Christian Education Awareness Network (CEANet)

June 26, 2000

The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making, ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to feel, every hour of the day, that, next to making his own calling and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by God--this is his task on earth.[1]

--- R. L. Dabney (1820-1898)

R. L. Dabney (1820-1898)
R. L. Dabney (1820-1898)

What a wonderfully powerful statement: "The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth." Nothing is more important than to raise, nurture and education your children toward the Lord. But we seem to have lost the significance of this parental/church ministry. Many Christian parents, pastors, and other church leaders no longer view education with the same high priority found in R. L. Dabneyís writings. Most Christian parents do not educate their children, much less educate them "for God." Instead millions, upon millions of young Christian children are sent each weekday morning, to government schools were the name of the Lord evokes anger and strife amongst teachers and staff. Is this what Jesus planned for his children?

Jesus and the Children
Jesus and His Children

According to Douglas Wilson, editor of R. L. Dabneyís On Secular Education, Mr. Dabney "was one of the most remarkable men of 19th century America. He was a preacher, theologian, poet, and essayist, as well as a staff officer for General ĎStonewallí Jackson in the War Between the States." Douglas goes on to say Mr. Dabneyís observations regarding state education are not only profound, but modern Christians would find his work prophetic as well.

One of the most important points Dabney draws attention to is our wrong-headed thinking concerning the education of the soul. He views education as being spiritual and the inculcation of our souls as a spiritual process. Why? Dabney explains:

"True education is, in one sense, a spiritual process. It is the nurture of a soul. Education is the nurture of a spirit which is rational and moral, in which conscience is the regulative and imperative faculty. The proper purpose of conscience, even in this world, is moral...

"But God is the only Lord of the conscience; this soul is his miniature likeness. His will is the source of its obligations. Likeness to him is its perfection, and religion is the science of the soulís relation to God. Let these statements be placed together, and the theological and educational processes appear so related that they cannot be separated."[2]

Can humans separate soul from spirit? (For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12). Can we separate spirit from mind? I think not. Yet we attempt to separate spirit from mind when we allow our children to be educated without God. Dabney tells us this concept of compartmentalizing education from oneís faith is completely contrary to Biblical thinking:

"The soul is spiritually indivisible. Those powers, which we name as separate facilities, are only different modes of functioning. The central power is still one. From these truths it would appear that the soul cannot be successfully cultivated by patches. We cannot have the intellectual workman polish it one place, and the spiritual workman at another. A succession of objects may be presented to the soul, to evoke and discipline its several powers; yet the unity of the being would seem to necessitate a unity in its successful education."[3]

This important interrelationship between soul and mind is but one of many reasons why Christians children should not be educated by those who are neither saved, know the Lord, nor possess a Christian worldview. Worldview? What is a worldview?

In many ways, a worldview is much like what modern folks call a "paradigm." We can think of worldview as an intellectual/spiritual filter upon which everything you know passes through. It is a perspective or viewpoint that all of us have which impacts why we think the way we do about fundamental issues. And because these issues (your belief concerning origins, your faith, who you are, who you to belong to, and where you are going when you die, etc.) are fundamental, everything else we know is affected by this worldview.

According to David A. Noebel, author of Understanding the Times, "[e]very individual bases his thoughts, decisions and actions on a worldview. A person may not be able to identify his worldview, and it may lack consistency, but his most basic assumptions about the origin of life, purpose, and the future, guarantee adherence to some system of thought."[4]

Hence, when it comes to education, the overarching worldview (whether it be Marxist, Humanist, or Christian) of the curriculum developers and educators, regardless of their intent, is passed on to the students. This transfer takes place for the simple reason that it is impossible to impart education, minus a worldview. And contrary to what most of us have been led to believe, there is no such thing as an objective, or "neutral" education (He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Matthew 12:30, KJV). The Biblical conclusion which pastors and parents need to grasp and respond to accordingly is this: non-Christian (or "neutral") education is in effect, anti-Christian education.

Is there a single, truthful and valid worldview under which education can take place? If all of education is subjective, it seems as though the Christian has no place to turn. Yet the Bible has the answer: There is only one true worldview -- Godís worldview (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6, KJV). And this is the only worldview under which Christian children should be educated. To do otherwise corrupts Godís children and robs Him of the glory of giving them His truth, wisdom, and eternal life.

Pastors, please remember that Christian children bare Godís image and therefore belong to Him; they do not belong to the State (Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. Matthew 22:21).

Pastors and parents need to begin to understand the importance of tying all the branches of knowledge (theology, math, science, history, geography, etc.) together, because they are each intimately linked with the Creator. Everything we know to be true, and everything we will learn to be true is so only because God has made it so. He is the author and sustainer of all that is (Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high... Hebrews 1:3). Thus He needs to be the focal point or hub of each and every subject that is taught. This runs contrary to modern-day child-centered learning taking place in state schools.

Child-, or student-centered learning stems from the Humanist worldview and is very much a part of the educational psychology mindset. However, pastors need to know that child-centered curricula attracts Christian children away from their Lord. It rests upon a philosophy which shifts the focus of learning away from traditional or classical academic content, toward the affective (emotional, attitudinal) process of learning. Student-centered curriculum constantly questions the childís feelings, experiences, and thought processes in an attempt to inculcate politically-motivated agenda (anti-Christian doctrine). This type of learning all takes place under the presumption that God does not exist; thus it is anti-Christian education.

When we teach science, math, and history without Godís worldview, we wrench and warp the subject matter to fit falsehood and philosophical darkness. This is what has happened to the subject of origins. If one believes we are the product of an evolutionary process, then one must conclude the same progressive process must be taking place in other areas as well (the cosmos, our legal system, the sciences, human psychology, etc.). The worldview that stems from evolutionary thinking has distorted much of our culture today -- a mutilation leading many children and young adults away from the Gospel. Yet surprisingly so, many of our seminaries fail to teach our young pastors the importance of origins and the book of Genesis to the rest of what we know. Therefore, I encourage and pray that pastors who read this and feel divided on this issue, will explore and review the many Creation-related links provided on the CEANet Creation Links page (see Related URL Address below).

Some pastors fail to properly address the Christian education issue because of their own mis-education. We can only respond and act according to what we know. But there are other pastors who are informed about this issue, and still refuse to respond (they have yet to inform and motivate their congregations to pull their children out of state schools and draw them back to the Lord Jesus Christ through a Christian education). One of the primary reasons informed pastors fail to act, I believe, is a fear of controversy. These church leaders are afraid of "rocking the boat." When it comes to Christian education, however, there are plenty of boats that need to be rocked! Nevertheless, is this fear of controversy, Biblical?

The New Testament authors and Christ, Himself, encountered controversy wherever they went. Whenever the Light of Godís Word is shed, it evokes controversy. Paul spent a large portion of his ministry in prison, because of controversy. Presentation of the truth will naturally evoke controversy in a world filled with falsehood. J. Gresham Machen, author of Education, Christianity, and the State, has this to offer concerning avoidance of controversy:

"Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end... Some years ago I was in the company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul, but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paulís teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and we can avoid controversy today if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.

"In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always with the church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth."[5]

With regard to education today, the church is unquestionably in error. The Christian church should never have given up her role and responsibility concerning this extremely important ministry: education. Had the church kept this ministry, the state would have absolutely no grounds for interfering with the education of Christian children, because such interference would be a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. But the church gave up her role to the state, she has turned her saved children to the lost in order to be taught doctrines which end in darkness and death.

What can pastors and other church leaders do? The first thing to do is to become better informed on the subjects of the mission and purpose of modern state education, the Christian worldview contrasted with other worldviews, and the significance of Creation and Genesis to everything else we know to be true. Once all of this is accomplished, the Holy Spirit will have the opportunity to light "inward motivational fires" to encourage and inspire the writing and delivery of sermon series articulated toward the Biblical purpose of education. Children are to be educated for Godís purposes, and glory. He must be at the center of what they learn. As a starter I highly recommend a complete review of the URL addresses below along with the education-related Scripture references located at the end of the essay "The Restoration of Education" (see Related URL Address below).

In closing, Iíd like to share with you a passage of Scripture which communicates the need for a restoration of Christian education as a parental/church ministry. According to the Word of God, Jesus is to be preeminent in all things; this would especially include the education of Christian children (Colossians 1:16-18):

16. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Reference Notes

1. Dabney, R. L., On Secular Education, Douglas Wilson, Ed., 1996, Canon Press, Moscow, ID, p. 3.
2. Ibid., p. 16.
3. Ibid., p. 16
4. Noebel, David A., Understanding the Times, 1991, Harvest House, Eugene, OR, p. 1.
5. Machen, J. Gresham, Education, Christianity, and the State, John W. Robbins, Ed., 1987, Trinity Foundation, Hobbs, NM, p. 30.

Related Links:

CEANet Creation Links Page

Summit Ministries 

Exodus Mandate Project

Institute for Creation Research (ICR)

The Restoration of Education

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