While the world has come to believe that mankind is growing increasingly more intelligent and sophisticated, it is apparent (obvious) to Christians that this is not the case. The philosophy behind this type of thought is Darwinian, thinking that mankind is growing better and better. As Christians view issues and events in America, the leader of the industrial world, we can see that while information and knowledge is increasing, intelligence and reasoning is declining. As Christians, we often think of the mental capacity Adam must have had to name each of the animals that God had created. But if we look into more recent history we would be amazed at the maturity and reasoning abilities of many of our country’s forefathers and our church leaders of the past.
George Washington, the “Father of our Country,” was working primarily on his own at the age of sixteen years and was the commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military at the age of twenty-one. Fathers and mothers, would you trust your sixteen-year-old to go make a living for himself? Does your sixteen-year old know several trades in which he could earn a living? Christians, do you know any twenty-one-year-olds that have the maturity to lead an army of citizens to war, and have the strategic knowledge to gain victories?
As we think of Christian heroes, we are reminded of Charles Spurgeon. C. H. Spurgeon was saved at the age of 15, he began preaching in his 16th year, and preached to 25,000 at one time by the time he was twenty-one years old. How many twenty-one-year-olds do we have in America today that could pastor 5,000 people and speak intelligently to thousands more?
Bob Jones Sr. began preaching at the age of 15, and scores of others were prepared mentally and in maturity to be men of God at what would be considered today to be young ages.
I believe the ages of these people seem young because we have not been educating our children to be leaders, as these men were. It is of primary importance to Christians that we begin a discussion about education with a biblical definition of the word. Education is “the bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.” (Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828). From this definition we understand that education is not just the imparting of knowledge. Education is bringing up a child; it is instructing him; it is forming his manners. Education does enlighten his understanding, but it should also fit or prepare students for their future occupations. I try to think of it in this way: Education is not teaching subjects or information (math, science, English, geography, history); education is teaching my students how to live as a Christian. It is obvious then, that our children’s education is our parent’s responsibilities.
It is parents who are responsible to “bring up” their children. Fathers are exhorted to do this in Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are the ones responsible to instruct our children. Instructing our children is seen eleven times just in the book of Proverbs. Parents are responsible to correct their children’s tempers and form their habits. It is our responsibility as parents to prepare our children to live in the world in their future occupations. This is the reason we do not leave our young once they are weaned, as animals do.
While most would agree that these statements are true, the majority of Christians today do not believe this in a practical way. Most of us have decided that our responsibility for the education of our children can be delegated to the schools around us. Americans, generally, have allowed our public schools to train their children. This was not such a bad situation two centuries ago when our public schools were, in essence, Christian institutions. In the 1830′s public educators began to see as their goal producing good citizens rather than training students to be good Christians. Public education since then has degenerated to training students to be servants of the state. Today the danger America is in because parents do not educate their children is obvious. As public education grew worse, churches across America began to start Christian schools. While this was the proper response to the situation and was, in fact, a return to longstanding traditions of religious involvement in children’s education, most of American Christian students in Christian schools are not getting a Christian education. The reason for this is that the administration of our schools and the providers of our curricula have misunderstood the most important parts of a Christian definition of education. They have made the mistake of believing that in school children are taught information. They think that they must be able to have students who know as much as public school students, or understand more complicated math or science concepts than students at the public schools. They have trained Christian parents to want their students to have the best programs, the highest outcomes, and the most information delivered to them at the Christian school. Therefore, they have developed curricula and methods of teaching that accomplish those goals, and sadly, Christian parents have decided that they cannot add to the education that is provided by their Christian school.
The question is where are the great leaders that have come from the huge expansion of Christian schools in America? The problem is that parents have delegated the authority of educating their children to the Christian school, and Christian schools have followed the false teachings of public educators, believing that it is their duty to inform and indoctrinate their students rather than teach them to live for Jesus Christ.
If you agree in any way to the assessments made here of American Christian education, you must also be wondering or asking, “How can we remedy this situation?” First, parents must take back the responsibility of educating their children. It is true that most parents could not teach their children all the information that their local school could, and it is not expected that they would. Christians that have a good Christian school near them should enroll their children in that school, but they should not think that the school will educate their child. Parents must be very interested in their children’s education and show their children that it is a very serious matter to them. Parents should strive to train their children to think, to form correct habits, to be ready to make decisions, and to be prepared to stand for God and righteousness.
Second, administrators, teachers, and curriculum developers must realize that teaching information is not the goal or purpose of education. Students should be taught that every worthy subject of study has a divine origin and purpose. Students should not be encouraged to just remember information or give rote answers, but they should be taught to evaluate the information according to biblical standards and determine what the cause of an effect was or predict the effects of an action. Students should be taught principles to live by, principles of living, and the important principles of each subject they study.
If we are honest we must admit that the information age has gotten us nowhere. The caliber of the typical American Christian is nowhere near that of the men who founded our country, and one of the primary reasons is that we have majored on information and have not taught our children to think, to reason, nor to live. Today, parents must reclaim responsibility for their children’s education. Schools, teachers, administrators, and curricula developers must re-evaluate the methods they are using and the emphases they are putting in the academic training of America’s Christian youth.