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What do we make of a recent article from Tim Challies? Challies has a long history of attempting to defend the indefensible where the subject of children's education is concerned, so the fact that he's devolved to the point of offering up material like this is anything but surprising. Sad? Frustrating? Pathetic? Yeah. But not surprising.
The Challies article is brief and predictably unencumbered/unenlightened by Scripture references. I strongly encourage readers to take the time to read it through uninterrupted using the links here and above before we examine its remarkable similarities with the question asked in the opening of Genesis 3: “Has God said?”
That said, away we go...
The article begins with Challies announcing that, "My family is coming down to our final decisions about education." From there we get a brief rundown of the situation in some detail:
Our oldest is already safely squared away at Boyce College and the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, where he seems to be doing really well. My middlest, who is currently in twelfth grade, has already decided that she will also head to Boyce next year. And that leaves just the youngest, who is in eighth grade. We’ve got two major decisions left to make with her—what she will do for high school and what she will do for college.
High school comes first, of course, so we are just now sorting through the options. And while to this point, all of our children have gone to public schools from kindergarten all the way to graduation, that’s by no means a foregone conclusion when it comes to our youngest. As best we can, we are laying all the options before us and deciding what’s best for her and what’s best for the family. And with all those options laid out, and a big decision looming, I find myself grappling with this thought: What if God doesn’t care a whole lot about how we educate our children?
So after a parade of interesting presuppositions that we won't take the time to dive into here (but hope to examine in future posts), we arrive at The Question that is also the title of the article: What if God doesn’t care a whole lot about how we educate our children?"
Or, put another way: Has God actually said anything about children's education?
Where would we go to find the answer to such an important question?
If we're Christians, I mean.
We as Christians are indeed compelled to go to the sufficient Word of God as our standard for testing and understanding every subject and area of life in His creation (1 Thess. 5:21). This includes the subject of children's education.
Surely Mr. Challies understands this and will therefore quickly and frequently dive deep into the beautiful, life-giving details of the Word of God where it speaks most precisely to the subject of children's education as the basis upon which he will make his pronouncements and give his advice (implicitly or explicitly) where the subject of children's education is concerned, right?
Not at all.
And by "at all" I mean that he will use precisely zero Scripture references to support his elaboration on the dangerously stupid question he asks in the title and body of his article. Instead of Scripture, readers got more subjective, experiential "reasoning" from this man who has branded himself as "informing the reforming":
Over the past couple of decades, we Christians have elevated education into one of the most important elements in the successful raising of our children and, perhaps even more so, in their future salvation. We made it seem as if the decision about whether to put our children in public, Christian, or home school was going to be the determining factor in their future. Over these years I’ve read many articles and discussions about education. I’ve participated in many more. One thing I’ve never heard anyone suggest is that maybe it’s just not that big of a deal. And, honestly, I am beginning to lean that way.
Putting children in public schools -- schools that openly and explicitly reject Christ as King, dismissing His Word as the means by which we are to understand and pursue all true knowledge on every subject in His creation -- is "no big deal."
Let that soak in.
While it soaks, let's consider a few more relevant verses from Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate . . . (Genesis 3:1-6)
It's of critical importance to understand that Genesis 3 is all about education.
It presents, by God's grace and for our benefit, a crystal-clear picture of precisely how, where, when, and why the cosmos was plunged into darkness through our rejection of God as the essential core of knowledge.
When we understand that true education is the pursuit, acquisition, and application of true knowledge rather than a man-made system of systems by which we receive certifications and accolades so that we might be pronounced "educated" whether or not we revere anything that God has said in His Word, we will understand that the serpent's pitch in Eden was the first pitch for the very systems and approaches to education that Mr. Challies sees as "not that big of a deal.”
Public schools are built on the serpent's pitch in Eden. Their philosophy of education centers on the notion that we can, should, and must set aside the Word of God and pursue knowledge on our own. As such, public schools are as flagrantly and fundamentally opposed to the lordship of Christ as any institution or system in human history. So when we see things like drag queens, transgenderism, and homosexuality openly promoted through public schools, we should be anything but surprised.
We should be anything but surprised that the Genesis-3-foundation of public schools places them in direct opposition to every passage that explicitly addresses the subject of children's education as a primary topic for consideration.
Consider Deuteronomy 6:5-7, by which Christian parents are lovingly commanded to ensure a God-centered approach to the pursuit of knowledge for their children:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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.
Does this passage address only the waking time of children outside the normal business hours of their public schools? Is this a command aimed at squeezing in some prayer time or corrective re-education for 15-30 minutes a day after eight hours of rank anti-Christian, Genesis-3-style indoctrination? Is the God who authored this command and equipped His people to both love and obey it also a God who thinks shipping one's five-, six-, or seven-year-old off for day long anti-Christian indoctrination is "not that big of a deal" as long as we're sure to say grace before dinner and maybe read a Bible story before going to bed?
What about Proverbs 1:7, which claims that the Lord is the beginning of all true knowledge, or Colossians 2:2-3, which claims that Jesus is the One in whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are personally hidden. Do we believe these things or not? Jesus is either the personal point of origin for all true wisdom and knowledge ... or He is not.
Public schools insist that He is not, and they pursue/pervert education accordingly.
If Jesus is the personal Author, Definer, and Sustainer of every good thing in His creation, both material and immaterial, including law, logic, mathematics, aesthetics, economics, and even education, as Colossians 1:15-20 makes plain, then how can we claim to be seriously pursuing the study of any one of these subjects by insisting that students religiously ignore the Author of those subjects?
What would we say of a teacher claiming to teach the works of Shakespeare while diligently refusing (and insisting all students follow suit in diligently refusing) to acknowledge, much less study, the person William Shakespeare? How absurd that would be. How much more absurd then is it to dismiss the Author, Definer, and Sustainer of law, logic, art, and beauty while claiming to properly teach or learn about law, logic, art, and beauty.
Yet that's exactly what public schools do to our little ones every day by the tens of millions.
And what of the Great Commission given directly to the Church by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20?:
Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Shouldn't that crystal-clear mission statement from Jesus to His people play a central role in our approach to education? Doesn't that mission statement tell us a lot about the true nature and purpose of education in direct opposition to the Genesis 3 model promoted through public schools and enabled by the likes of Tim Challies?
It would be nice to see Mr. Challies interact with these or any other biblical references dealing clearly with the subject of children's education. Instead, we get wave after wave of subjective musings dripping with the residue one would expect of a man drenched in the Genesis 3 programming that defines the public schools he defends.