The Necessity of a Christian Education
So far in this series, we established that God has acted decisively in Jesus Christ in order to begin to take back this world from the lies and destruction of sin, death, and Satan. This power has been granted to believers through the Spirit, the Word, and prayer so that every lofty opinion of man raised against the knowledge of God may be destroyed and every thought taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). This process of destroying false ideas and retraining our thoughts to obey Jesus is what the Bible calls discipleship, training, wisdom. All of this entails a thorough Christian education.
A ProLife Education
As we noted last week, at the center of a prolife culture is the cross of Jesus telling the truth about our sin, God’s grace and justice, and the power of sacrifice. If education does not put the cross of Christ at the center, something else will necessarily take its place. And from that center, a different culture will emerge. In particular, remember what we noted about hard work, provision for your family, becoming a giver instead of a taker – these require a thorough discipleship, working closely with faithful Christian men and women who understand the cross of Jesus and see how it applies to being human beings, men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children, citizens and students and friends, employers, employees, and so on. If we are truly seeking to build a prolife culture, a world where the image of God is so valued and loved that abortion is an unthinkable insanity, we must see that desire connected to how we are teaching and training one another, beginning with our children and continuing through our entire lives.
In the Church
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:18-20). The command to “go” rests on the authority of Christ, which spans heaven and earth. This authority is the basis for all Christian education. All true learning must acknowledge this authority in Scripture and creation. The command is to go and make disciples of all nations. This also gives a sense for the breadth of the command. In order to make Russia and Somalia and America disciples, everything about them must be examined in the light of Scripture, every thought must be taken captive to obey Jesus. Jesus says that becoming a disciple begins with baptism and continues with teaching the nations to obey His commands. Every baptism therefore is a renewal of this Great Commission and a reaffirmation of our duty and commitment to teach all nations to obey Christ, including the nations growing up around our ankles. This mission was given to the Church, and it is still our central task today. This includes teaching judges, congressmen, parents, students, and children what God says about science, taxation, legal justice, sexuality, immigration, care for the poor, racism, protecting unborn life, and so on.
In the Family
One of the things Jesus commands is that fathers and mothers are to be honored (Mt. 15:4). This command presupposes that fathers and mothers play a significant role in discipling nations. “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:2-4). Fathers are to bring up (lit. nourish) their children in the paideia and nouthesia of the Lord. Nouthesia is teaching or warning. Paul says he wrote to the Corinthians as his beloved children in order to teach them (1 Cor. 4:14). Paideia in classical Greek culture referred to the training necessary for becoming the ideal citizen of a Greek polis, encompassing the liberal arts, athletic training, poetry, music, and philosophy – in short, it encompassed all of the necessary features of enculturation, of building and passing on a way of life. This means that a Christian father is responsible to see to it that his children are being nourished in a distinctly Christian culture. Interestingly, Paul wrote this to the Ephesians when there was even less Christian culture available to them than there is to us. Surely, Paul had what Moses instructed Israel in mind: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you 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 up” (Dt. 6:5-7).
What Education is For
Given all of this, a Christian education aims for far more than mere proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic. It aims at far more than mere vocational training. Given what Paul told the Ephesians, he was saying that Christians are actively involved in building a rival culture. Of course, because of God’s common grace throughout creation shared with all nations, there are aspects of every culture that reflect God’s glory and ought to be celebrated and employed by Christians as appropriate (e.g. certain laws of science, mathematics, arts, language, and so on). But these vestiges of truth, apart from submission to Jesus Christ, are actually stolen goods. And God is now calling all men everywhere to repent – to recognize Jesus as the world’s rightful King (Acts 17:30). And to the extent that the world rejects these claims of Christ, we are at war with the world. In our land, the American public education system was organized and designed in order to inculcate a godless culture. While for many years, prayer and Bible reading were tolerated, the foundational principles of the American public schools were essentially: the innate goodness of man and the salvation of the state. People are born basically good and education is the gift of the state affirming that goodness and setting all men free.
Damn the Torpedoes
In Psalm 127, Solomon sings that children are a reward from the Lord, that they are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. “Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” The mission of Christian education is the duty of training disciples of Jesus Christ who do not merely survive the unbelieving culture around us but rather go on to inflict much damage in the unbelieving culture around us: destroying strongholds, arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. Christ is our mighty warrior with a full quiver. In Him we have become the children of God, His great reward, and He is making us into sharp arrows.