Friday, June 12, 2009

What is the Purpose of Christian Education? – Part 1

A week or so ago I wrote on Homeschooling and Charter Schools and in the course of writing the post I touched on some questions we as Christian parents need to answer. But before I get to the first question I will deal with what we need to remember as professing believers we have gotten ourselves to a place where changing course is imperative but will be difficult. It will take hard decisions and may often even mean financial hardship. The question though has to always come back to not what we feel we should do but what God reveals we should do. I think as believers when we seek the road that has to be traveled we need to answer first; should believers rely on the government and public education to educate their children. Then the question is; as believers are we to educate our children or can we leave this to “Christian schools.”

So with this all in mind here are the questions I posed previously, but I have reordered them:

1) What is the purpose of education/discipleship for believer’s?
2) Is the government to be involved in the education of my children at all?
3) Why are we so easily swayed by the money & items offered by charter schools?
4) Should not my children be in the public school to be lights in a dark place?
5) Why do we need to meet man’s standards for education?
6) Why do we need relief or a respite from the presence of our children?
7) Isn’t the method of education of our children a preference?

I begin with the purpose of education because we need to understand this aspect of the caring for our children before moving on. As I want to put the verses with each reference I will break this down into at least two parts.

When one looks in scripture for education you will not find the specific word education as we know it is used. Instead we need to seek out words such as wisdom, knowledge, discipleship and the like. We need to realize that God’s call to make disciples starts with our children.

So let us look at some verses that touch on the education of our children. After the verse I will give a brief comment on each.

First is Deut 6:1-9:
(1) “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, (2) that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. (3) Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. (4) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (6) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (7) 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. (8)You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (9) You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We will also look at this passage later when it comes to who should educate our children but this passage shows the necessity of teaching/discipling our children about the commands of God. We are told in V6 that we as parents, especially fathers, are to have these very same commands on our heart and then we are to not only teach them to our children but to do so diligently. Then Moses, in case it was not clear, reveals what is meant by diligently. We are to spend a large amount of our time discipling our children in all places in all of life. So the education/discipling of our children is primarily to instill in them the commands of the Lord and to let them see by our constant contact with them that those very same commands are on our hearts.

Next is Prov 1:7-9
(7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. (8) Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and forsake not your mother's teaching, (9) for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

This passage lets us see that the wisdom we are to teach our children does not start in some textbook or curriculum but in the fear of the Lord. That fear is only taught in scripture and is to be taught by the parents as V8 shows. The mainstay of the teaching of our children should be the fear of the Lord as revealed in scripture so that they can truly, by God’s power, be wise.

Prov 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

This verse makes it clear that the training of our children is to focus on “the way they should go.” This training is not found in a calculus book or some philosophy book but in God’s word. This does not say that math is not important or that other subjects are not useful. What I am saying is that those subjects are not where scripture has us start. A child that knows his 3 R’s but is not raised in the fear of the Lord or the way he should go is not prepared to be used by God. Again, as always. remember this is not about education as the world defines it but about education as God calls us to educate.

Isaiah 54:13
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.

This passage shows God’s heart for His people to know Him and in this verse for their children to know Him. So we can discern that the education of our children is to make sure that they are taught about God. Yes, it is God that will call them and change their hearts to know Him but God can and often does use the training of children in His word to draw them to Himself. For so many, education is all about everything but God however in His word it is clear that God is most interested in His people and their children knowing Him first and foremost. Education that does not have God at its center is not the education He desires for His people.

I will stop there and look at some other verses later. Keep in mind that my purpose here is, as best I can, to help us see that the raising of our children is not something God has left to our discretion. He has instead set forth parameters that narrow our options so that we can know what God desires us to primarily teach our children. Many of these principles have a cross over when it comes to why we should not allow the government to educate our children as their goal for education is not based on God’s desires but man’s. I would also hope that even for those that already are convinced that public schools are not for the children of believers would see that we need a firm understanding of biblical educational principles so that we do not simply “school at home” but that we would seek after God in all of the curriculum we use.

Till next time, Grace and Peace.

Series Posts
1) Christian Homeschooling and Charter Schools
2) What is the purpose of Christian Education: Part 1 & Part 2
3) Should the Government be involved in the Education of our children
4) Why are we so easily swayed by the money & items offered by charter schools?
5) Should not my children be in the public school to be lights in a dark place?
6) Why do we need to meet man’s standards for education?
7) Why do we need relief or a respite from the presence of our children?
8) Isn't how we educate our children a preference?
9) What if my husband says he does not want to homeschool?

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