Friday, June 17, 2005

Christians and State Education

This is an interesting development in the Presbyterian Church in America. It follows a similar move last year at the Southern Baptist Convention. I suppose that when
The public schools are by law humanistic and secular in their instruction, and as a result the attending children receive an education without positive reference to the Triune God
eventually Christians will wake up to their God-given responsibilities and care about the influences on their children.

Our situation in the UK is different. State schools are still required to perform a daily act of Christian worship, though I understand this is very loosely interpreted. But it would be no surprise to me that in time this will disappear.

There are two issues for Christians, I think. Firstly, Christians must not be complacent about our children's upbringing, but I think often we are. Too many of us believe the most important influences on their children are the youth group or Sunday school. At the same time we don't take seriously our obligation before God to be the primary source if instruction in the faith. Education begins in the home with family prayer and worship, godly conversation, joy in the Lord.

Secondly, just what place do state schools have in the Christian education of our children? There are those who believe that the reason so many drift away from the faith is that the schools are not sufficiently 'Christian'. I am not one of those. I believe if there is a fault it is more likely to be at home. I have previously looked on state education as a means of educating children in aspiritual disciplines. They gain basic information and skills. In this view the state system is independent of the Christian faith, in the same way that going to the doctor or buying a pair of shoes is. There is no more need for acts of worship in school than there is to have them down at the Asda checkout. So I have not been able to advocate the Baker-ite acts of worship.

However, in recent months I have been more aware that
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7)
This is a chainsaw to the root of the view that knowledge can be aspiritual and independent. Solomon tells us that the fear of the LORD is foundational to all knowledge. Therefore can any subject be studied without reference to Him?

This raises other big questions. What is a genuinely Christian education? Can it be just a 'daily act of worship'? Or must it affect the subjects themselves and how they are taught? What does that mean for our one-size-fits-all National Curriculum? Can this be sustained without allowing a necessarily secularist, aspiritual worldview erode the spiritual nurture of our children?

I'm open for suggestions.

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