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A Philosophy of Christian Education

A Heartbeat for Heaven

A Philosophy of Christian Education

 “To train a child in mind and not in moral is to train a menace to society.”
Theodore Roosevelt

To speak of Christian education is to distinguish it from that body of information, that technique of delivery, that presentation of concepts that deny the reality of God and the essence of a spiritual dimension in the world. A battle line between the fallen angels and God was first drawn before man was created and brought to the Garden of Eden. So it was that when Adam was created his first temptation was whether or not to accept as true a body of misinformation. Man had to decide which forces he would unite with and he chose for a time the side of falsehood. The same temptation and challenge exists today. Individuals must decide between false education and true. One is deceptive, the other is not.

The name for the deceptive system of thinking according to the Christian is humanism. “Simply defined, humanism is man’s attempts to solve his problems independently of God.” In his arrogance, man does not recognize a need for God, which attitude has been reflected in the rudimentary writings. Searching the history books, it is soon discovered there are really only two lines of reasoning which permeates all literature: biblical revelation, and the wisdom of man. Individuals who are exposed to each must decide which one to embrace. To assist in the choice, it is helpful to understand the basic presuppositions that undergird the wisdom of man, and the wisdom of God. Concerning the wisdom of man, found in secular humanism, there are five basic tenets to observe. Each, when embraced, leads to inner frustration, and utter despair, while promising freedom.

The first tenet of humanism is atheism. The belief that God does not exist is the foundation of all humanistic thought. This is a step beyond that of agnostics, who simply argue that knowledge of God cannot be known for certain. The atheist asserts, with confidence, there is no God. To him, God is simply the figment of man’s fertile imagination. It was Descartes the famous French philosopher, who contemplated eternity, and then declared, “I think therefore I am.” Thus, man was deified and left with no external measure to judge his moral behavior, or explain ultimate origins of all things.

During the Age of Reason, a reaction in part against the bloody religious wars sweeping across Europe, men like Voltaire, and Rousseau, gave substance and form to the skepticism of the period. Later, German rationalists, such as George Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Friedrich reached the verdict, “God is dead!”

The second foundational tenet of humanism is evolution. Since humanists deny the reality of a sovereign God who created heaven and earth and all that is within, the origins of man must be explained in another way. Evolution is the faith of the person without God. The theory of evolution first gained world prominence when Charles Darwin published his book, Origin of the Species, in 1859.

To date, not one of Darwin’s scientific theories has been proven beyond dispute. The fossil record does not support the theory of one species evolving into another. The supposition of a micro, or macro mutation, also does not explain change. Only blind faith contends time, plus chance, plus matter, equals all of life and the universe. Order is declared to have come out of disorder, and through random natural selection the strong have survived to develop.

The third foundational tenet of humanism is amorality. If a person is to embrace the autonomy of man, than certain norms, and standards, should be determined for him, by him, alone. The end result of this viewpoint is crystal clear, as a steady decline in the moral fabric of society is witnessed. Sexual permissiveness, trail marriages, easy divorce, abortion on demand, inflammatory, explicit sex education is forced on the young children in the name of education, co-ed college dorms, homosexuality as a legitimate optional lifestyle, free access to pornography, acceptance of marijuana and hard drugs, profanity, and much more, declares that humanism embraces amorality. And who is there to say this is wrong?

The fourth foundational tenet of humanism is the autonomy of the individual. According to humanism, individuals are essentially good, with unlimited potential. If a person happens to act in an anti-social manner it is because society, not self, is to blame. Individuals are taught, since individuals are autonomous, it is proper to be self-centered, and self-sufficient. Feelings, rather than responsibility permeates the mind.

The fifth foundational tenet of humanism is reflected in a socialistic one-world view. Part of the rationale seems to be an outgrowth of certain fears based upon observation. To many, the world appears overpopulated, and so there will be limited resources to share with the many. Nature will become even more unbalanced than it is now, and there will be more slums, more disease, and more pollution. The proposed solution is to control, and regulate the limited resources. This in turn demands co-operation among the nations of the world. Through co-operation, it is argued, nations will become more interdependent, and therefore war will be a difficult option to choose in solving problems. Peace, love, and understanding are hoped to prevail as people talk.

The wisdom of God stands in contrast to secular humanism, with its basic tenets of atheism, evolution, amorality, the self-autonomy, and a socialistic worldview. The wisdom of God is what permeates the philosophy of Christian education as specific propositions are embraced.

The first Christian proposition is that all truth is God’s truth. In this maxim is the idea there is indeed ultimate truth, which can be known. Certain philosophers, such as Plato, despair of finding ultimate truth, revealed in physical and historical data. The theist contends God has revealed himself in His physical and historical creation. What God has revealed, what individuals discover to be accurate, and reliable information when it is valid, is declared to be first known by God.

The second Christian proposition is there is no division between the secular and the sacred. If all truth is God’s truth, there is no essential division between the secular and the sacred. Frank E. Gaebelein comments. “In all candor it must be admitted that much education called Christian has failed to see that this comprehensive fact of all truth being God’s truth breaks down, on the one hand, the division of knowledge between secular and religious; and brings, on the other hand, every area of life and thought ‘into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’ to use the great Pauline phrase. To put it bluntly, we have been too prone to set up a false dichotomy in our thinking, and thus in our education.”

The third Christian proposition is that proper education extends beyond time into eternity. In developing their case for Christian schools Claude E. Schindler, Jr., and Pacheco Ryle, record the following scene. “The Juvenile Detention Center: A drab place for distressed youngsters. In a counseling room I sat across from a young man who was gifted with a well-developed intellect. He had been reared by loving Christian parents. He himself claimed to know Jesus Christ personally; yet he was a runaway. His spirit, the part of a believer where the Holy Spirit resides, was not in control of his attitudes and actions; instead, his natural mind was in charge… I left the place more determined than ever to use every means I could find to convince parents, pastors, teachers, and administrators that we must develop young people who are Christ centered, young people who are strong in spirit and whose spirits are in charge of their minds.”

The Christian believes when a person rejects Jesus Christ as personal Savior there is an eternal separation from God. Likewise, to be saved is to accept the work of Christ on behalf of sinners, and to know life eternal. The opportunity for the gospel message, and the Christian principles being instilled are enhanced when the Christian philosophy of education is implemented during the prime hours of a child’s life. In this manner the child is being educated not only for time, but also for eternity.

The fourth Christian proposition is that individuals are accountable to God for every attitude and action. Accepting as true the Christian philosophy of education the following principles emerge, as set forth by David L. Hocking.

Principle 1. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the authority, authenticity, and reliability of the Bible as the complete and final revelation of God concerning all matters of faith, truth and practice.

Principle 2. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the centrality and authority of Jesus Christ in all that is believed, said or done.

Principle 3. The Christian philosophy of education is based on clearly defined goals and objectives that are found in the Bible.

Principle 4. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the conviction that knowledge of the Bible and Jesus Christ is essential to the development and growth of the individual in matters physical, mental, social and spiritual.

Principle 5. The Christian philosophy of education is based on a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.

Principle 6. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Principle 7. The Christian philosophy of education is based on a proper relationship between the family, the church, and the educational process. There should be co-operation, not competition.

Principle 8. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the establishment of proper priorities in the life of an individual.

Principle 9. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the sovereignty of God in all the affairs of humanity.

Principle 10. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the creation of men and women in the image of God, apart from any so called evolutionary process.

Principle 11. The Christian philosophy of education is based on the moral principles of the Bible which is the final authority of faith and practice.

Principle 12. The Christian philosophy of education is based on meeting the needs of people in their chronological, physical and mental development, as well as in their spiritual.

Principle 13. The Christian philosophy of education is based on Christian teachers who understand the basic principles of Christian education, who are personally committed to them, and who demonstrate that commitment in an effective manner.

W. Byrne notes, “God, not man, is central in Christian education. God is the end, not the pupil. To be like God is the great goal of Christian education. The result is, therefore, that the pupil becomes the focus of the educative process, but not the end.” It is this heartbeat for heaven that has made the Christian school movement so attractive to thousands of Christian parents in recent years. May the Lord allow Christian schools to grow for His honor and glory, and for the good of society.

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