Event: Christian Education Night
Title: Why Christian Children Need A Christian Education
Date: Friday, March 10th, 2023
Location: Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, Washington
Father, we thank you for giving us Christ, we thank you for giving us your Word, and we thank you for giving us as parents the awesome responsibility to raise godly offspring. Give us wisdom and tender hearts as we consider what your Word says about education, for we ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
In 1716, Jonathan Edwards began his studies at Yale College in Connecticut. He was 13 years old at the time and already knew four languages. English was his native tongue, at 6 years old he learned Latin, and by age 12 he knew both Greek and Hebrew.Jonathan was one of 11 children (he had 10 sisters!), and he was homeschooled by his father Timothy, who was a pastor, and his mother Esther, who was a pastor’s daughter. This was Christian education in the colonial era.
- As exceptional as Jonathan Edwards was (he would go on to become the president of Princeton, and one of the most important theologians of his time), his education was not altogether exceptional.
- It was common for school boys to be taught Latin and Greek, and to engage with the classics in their original tongue. Knowing these languages was in many cases a pre-requisite for entering university.
- In early America, there was a special emphasis placed upon learning to read so that people could read the Scriptures. Children would memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and learn the basic doctrines of Christianity.
- What we now call the “Ivy League Schools” (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, etc.), were once explicitly Christian institutions that existed first and foremost to train ministers and only secondarily civil servants.
- It was Puritans who founded Harvard, Congregationalists who founded Yale, and Presbyterians who founded Princeton. The University was a distinctly Christian institution that a had a rigorous and religious quality that is almost non-existent today.
- Where once school boys learned Latin and Greek, and entered the university in their early teens, today young men arrive at college enslaved to pornography and addicted to their smartphones.
- Half of the adults in our nation read at the level of a 6th grader, and one fifth of adults are illiterate. The US continues to fall behind other nations in Science, Math, and Reading, and the scandal is that we live in the most economically prosperous nation in the history of the world, and yet we have become a decadent, depraved, and depressed society.
- The Bible says that God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows, and this is just the most recent fruit of American public education, and that’s just the academic side.
- Where schools once existed to teach wisdom and virtue in accord with God’s Word, today government schools are full of godless immorality that look more like prisons than houses for learning, public schools have become inherently anti-Christian, and therefore in the truest sense, they have become anti-human.
- It says in Colossians 1 that Christ is “before all things, and in him all things consist.” It says in Colossians 2:3, that “in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” And the reason Paul says this is given in the next verse, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”
- Many Christians have been beguiled; they have been deceived by the spirit of the age. They have been taught that education is a neutral pursuit, that mathematics and science and English and history can be studied “objectively” without any reference to the God of history, or the Christ who enters it.
- Proverbs says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And so I ask you, is the fear of LORD reigning in government schools? Are the books and authors and teachers and topics they are studying sanctified by the Word of God and prayer? Or are they full of fools who know not God, and therefore lead the souls of many to destruction?
That is the sad state of public education in America, and this evening I have a modest goal, and that is simply to demonstrate from the Scriptures that: Christian parents are required by God to give their children a Christian education. That is my thesis, and I will give you three proofs (reasons) for this from the Scriptures.
- However, before we go there, I want to give you my own personal history with education so you know where I am coming from.
- I was not classically educated, but my parents (who were new Christians) gave me what I would a call a fundamentalist Christian education.
- So I was taught that the Bible was the Word of God. It is true, infallible, and authoritative, and therefore things like evolution were a lie.
- My parents listened to Christian radio programs like Focus on the Family, and I think that influenced them to homeschool me and my two sisters, and eventually we joined a Christian homeschool co-op, which I attended until the 9th grade.
- There was no Latin or Greek or Hebrew, but there was all the normal subjects, and the things my mom couldn’t teach, she found other people to do. So I had excellent English and science teachers through the co-op, and that socializing and structure there was very formative.
- Now there was no co-op beyond 9th grade, and so at that point we transitioned into the public school system and did so alongside a handful of other Christians parents and friends that we knew.
- And back in those days (2004-2008), gay-marriage wasn’t a thing, woke hadn’t happened, some of my teachers were good professing Christians, and the education was academically rigorous. It was a very good school in that regard. So for all my problems with public education today, I actually had a very good learning experience.
- Now at the same time, this was also when I fell into the most sin. I remember going to a school dance, and it was basically like an orgy with clothes on. And then after the dance, people go off and get into more trouble.
- And so for me as a teenager, with parents that were in the process of getting divorced, those temptations and opportunities to sin became more numerous irresistible. And so despite getting straight A’s, and college credits, and getting into the University of my choice, I arrived at college with a gaping hole in my soul, I was burdened with guilt and shame, and experienced a crisis of faith that took years to work through.
- Now I tell you all this because in the Bible, education is a lot more than just picking a school or a curriculum. In the Bible, education includes the things that happen outside of school hours. And so when I say that Christian parents are required by God to give their children a Christian education, I am talking about the whole of life, from morning till evening, from Sabbath to Sabbath, God is going to hold us accountable for what our children are taught and exposed to, and how we disciple them through that exposure to the world.
- So that’s a bit of my background, but let us turn now to consider Holy Scripture.
- I want to set forth 3 biblical reasons for Why Christian children need a Christian education.
#1. Because the fundamental purpose for marriage is the raising of godly offspring.
- The first command given to Adam and Eve after they were married was to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28).
- When Cain killed Abel, that was a failure to obey this command. It is disobedient to God’s purpose for marriage, to raise children who murder their brother.
- And this is made even more explicit in Malachi 2:14-15, where the prophet (speaking to unfaithful husbands) says, “the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
- The reason God wants faithfulhusbands and faithful wives, is not just because adultery is bad or divorce is bad (of course they are), it is because He desires godly offspring, faithful children to populate His kingdom. That is the fundamental purpose for which God gave us marriage: not merely to have children, but to raise godly children, children who will keep covenant with Him.
- It says in 1 Corinthians 7:14, that the child of just one believing parent is holy, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”
- In other words, the children of believers are set apart from the world. In the eyes of God, they have an obligation to keep covenant with Him.
- And so if God regards our children as holy, so also must we. They belong to Him, and therefore they must be taught to love and obey Him. That is the first purpose for marriage and the first purpose for having children at all.
- So that’s reason number 1, children need a Christian education because God desires godly offspring from our marriage.
#2. Because God commands fathers to bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
- This is the language of Ephesians 6:4, which says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
- The word for nurture here is the Greek word παιδείᾳ, and παιδείᾳ is this loaded word that signifies discipline, instruction, and training. In modern English we might call παιδείᾳ enculturation, and Paul says that fathers are to bring their children up in the παιδείᾳ of God.
- This is not a new command that begins with the New Testament, this is the same standard that God always had for his people.
- What we might call the John 3:16 of the Old Testament is Deut. 6:4, 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: 5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
- Do your children know Deuteronomy inside and out? Do you?
- That is what παιδείᾳ looks like. It is the self-consciously Christian enculturation that children are to receive, and Paul says fathers are responsible for making sure this happens.
- Who else but parents can do this: speaking and teaching God’s Word when you are sitting in your house, when you are walking by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. That is an all of life παιδείᾳ that only parents can do.
- And so parents, but fathers especially have this responsibility. In ancient Israel, the Priests and Levites had a special role in providing teaching, similar to how our churches and Christian schools function, but ultimately it is the father as head of the household, who must choose how this enculturation happens.
- Some duties can be delegated, some duties cannot (we can debate this amongst ourselves in the Q&A) But the bare minimum is that children are diligently taught the Word of God and diligently instructed in the Love of God. To love Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves.
- This is the sine qua non of a Christian education. Without the Word and without diligent and constant instruction from it, there is no Christian education happening.
- So this is the responsibility of fathers, and Ephesians 6:4 is about as explicit as you can get. Christian children need a Christian education.
#3. Because Jesus says, a student will become like his teacher.
In Luke 6:39-40 it says,
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
- This is a universal principle, that is really common sense, and yet millions of Christian parents continue to send their children away to be taught by unbelievers.
- Yes, we should plunder the Egyptians. Yes, all truth is God’s truth, but the world must be filtered by wise Christian parents and teachers, who know the pitfalls, who know the Scriptures, who see the dangers, and have learned to distinguish not only between good and evil, but between good and greater good.
- No man can give what he does not have. You cannot export what you do not produce. And so who are the people that are enculturating your children? Do you want your sons and daughters to grow up to be like them? Do you want them to grow up to be like you?
- That is the question you must ask when you consider a school, or a curriculum, the shows you watch, or the friends your children hangout with.
- Education is discipleship and discipleship is personal. And therefore the character and quality and virtue of the teacher is the measure of a good education. Do you want your children to be like them? Because Jesus says, student when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
So there are your 2-3 witnesses for why Christian children need a Christian education. And that’s a universal command for all Christian parents.
- Where the real challenge comes is with how to do this, and every family is going to have different obstacles and challenges they need to factor in.
- For example, boys and girls are very different and need different things.
- Every child is different and a wise parent must know their child and discern how to cut with the grain, what can they handle, and when.
- There are financial factors, there are time limitations, there are curriculum decisions if you homeschool.
- There are many questions we need to wrestle with but we must wrestle with them knowing what the final cause and purpose of education is: godly offspring. To raise children into adults who genuinely love God, serve Him, and love their neighbor.
Psalm 127 says,
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
And the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
So are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
They shall not be ashamed,
But they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
- God did not tell to raise nice little boys and girls who never get into a fight.
- He told us to raise weapons because we are the church militant. May God help us as we work towards that end. Amen.