A Case for Christian Education
A foul stench fills the air: something is rotting. On the grand fields of our western culture, a predator lurks, envenoming its prey slowly, weakening it bit by bit until it posed no threat. Before us, we see this poor victim. It was once strong, but the constant bombardment over the centuries has brought it low. It lies in the dust, bloodied from the constant attacks. This once mighty creature has begun to decay. Who is this beast? It was once called Truth. What has become of Truth and can he be saved?
Truth once stood at the foundation of time, firmly planted and unshakeable; however, the predator, although weaker, was devious. Instead of facing Truth straight on, he poisoned him slowly, biding his time as the mighty opponent gradually sank into disadvantage. In his meager state, Truth has been overwhelmed. By the cunning of his adversary, Truth has been replaced by a twisted imitation called Relativism.
The pillar of society has now been replaced with a replica. This cheap copy has convinced our modern culture that Truth is not our foundation as once thought, but that he was flexible, and did not always apply to everyone the same. The standards could be changed to fit the needs or desires of the beholder. Sadly, mankind fell all too easily to this deception.
It began as early as Eden, the first and last scene of perfection on Earth, and the place where Truth dwelt before he was weakened. The Creator had clearly spoken Truth when He said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Now, the predator took the form of a serpent in that garden, and after the Creator had said these things, he slyly dug his fangs into the heel of Truth. To do this, he replaced Truth with this little deviation: “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.” With one slight of word, the cunning assailant smeared the character of Truth in the eyes of all mankind for all of time. As was said in Foundations of Christian School Education, “Our minds are affected by the Fall, so we tend to serve our own interests, limiting and interpreting what is found in nature by what we want or expect, by what supports our thesis and furthers our case.” No longer does Truth hold precedence over our understanding. Instead, our vision of real Truth is clouded by the interpretations of our individual desires.
Over the ages, philosophers debated the identity of Truth. His original physicality has been blurred. Our modern society has turned from Metaphysical thought and focused on one specific aspect of knowledge: the empirical world of science. Truth was judged by the senses alone, rather than drawing from multiple sources of thought. While much can be learned through empirical investigation, it is not enough to stand on its own. “Empirical data gave access to knowledge and understanding, but both metaphysical and empirical investigation were considered necessary if one was to have adequate information about existence.”
Empirical men have risen through the ranks of humanity as the new “philosophers” of reality. They often stress the absolute necessity of science, and how it is the real Truth. Modern science enthusiast and TV personality Bill Nye once said, “Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back.” Nye also said, “You can believe what you want religiously. Religion is one thing, but science, provable science, is something else.”5 Another intelligent empiricist of the day, Stephen Hawking, said “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”5 Others, like the slightly more aggressive Richard Dawkins, go so far that they attack any other source other than science. Dawkins once said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”5 By claiming this, Dawkins makes the assumption that science is the exclusive source of truth. In this, all these well-educated men agree: Truth is found through empirical means alone. They are leaders in the dominant worldview of scientism, where science is deemed the leading authority on who Truth is.
This pervasive scientism has lead to materialism. Materialism, very closely related to naturalism, suggests that there is nothing outside of the physical realm. If it cannot be explained through empirical methods or natural causes, it does not exist. This banishes all metaphysical ideas, such as heaven, hell, and even the possibility of the supernatural. In these newer, aggressive worldviews, science is king. Not only king, but also the dominant and unchallengeable ruler of knowledge, portrayed as a benevolent dictator, taking over for our well-being. Scientists like Dawkins belligerently push this “benevolence” of science. He longs for a world of knowledgeable people to advance our civilizations. He said, “The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America,” all because he assumes that any advances in religious or metaphysical thought is harmful to understanding Truth. While not all people have gone as far as Richard Dawkins in their hunt of Truth through naturalism, many are being influenced that way. The common layperson has been distanced so much from the inner workings and complexities of science that they have to put faith in those who have dedicated their lives to that study. This has lead to the acceptance of materialism and naturalism by the western cultures.
Since the mid 1800’s, naturalism has had a face. Charles Darwin’s journey on H.M.S. Beagle is known by many, but it is the resulting conclusions by the scientist that have shaken the entire world. In his groundbreaking publication On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Darwin explained a scientific mechanism, known as Natural Selection, that he claimed could explain the origins of all organisms in a fully natural manner. No supernatural causation was required. Using many years of data that he had accumulated from the Galapagos Islands and all around the world, Darwin attempted to show that all life could gradually change over eons into new life forms. A single cell could become a multicellular colony. A multicellular colony could unite into an organism. The simple organism could, after millions of years, become what we now call plants and animals. Further diversification happened, and thus we get to us, billions of years later. The arrival of a formal naturalistic theory like Darwin’s Evolution had been long desired by many. As Richard Dawkins said, “…although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” With the advancement of evolutionary theory, mankind had found a way to run away from an intelligent Creator. Now, mankind was considered the highest being that existed. We were the lords of our own existence.
Naturalistic Evolution now holds sway on many aspects of our culture. Academia, for one, tends to favor Neo-Darwinian thinking (an updated, but generally similar model of evolution as Darwin’s). The media and many politicians also serve under the banner of naturalism, touting the legitimacy of evolutionary science as the pillar of fact on which they stood strong. Popular TV host and educator Neil deGrasse Tyson was apparently confident when he said, “The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact.”7 Richard Dawkins agreed when he suggested that “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that.)” Statements like these are carefully formulated to lift naturalism and simultaneously, slam down any who would doubt their accuracy. They say science supports evolution, and imply that science is fact; yet are they correct? Can Truth be identified through the scientific method?
Apparently unbeknownst to many leading scientists of our day, science has limitations. One issue is noted in Foundations of Christian Education when it was said, “… human beings are finite and fallible. They understand the secrets of nature slowly and partially, so that what appears at one point to be true may later prove to be incomplete, misleading, or just wrong. Humility is essential in the study of nature, especially when one is drawing conclusions from scientific evidence.” Science, as the author suggested, is never complete. We are always gathering new data. Many times, that data will undermine a current theory or hypothesis, forcing us to go right back to the drawing board to reimagine a way to explain the phenomena around us. If we are not continuously learning new things, then science is brought to a stand still. Conversely, we see that, because of the constant fluctuations of understanding in science, we can never legitimately conclude about something as being absolute or factual. When people like Dawkins, Nye or Tyson claim that a particular aspect of science—such as evolution—is fact, then they show a blatant misunderstanding of the limitations of science. Until mankind knows all things, science cannot deal in unconditional truth.
Why the legitimacy of the phrase “evolution is fact” is technically erroneous, can we at least assume that the evidence science has gathered has been conclusive in support of evolution? Is it reinforced by enough data that we can rely on it safely? A large portion of the academic world would claim it is, at least to the general public. Behind closed doors, many will be unable to support the evolutionary theory from a detailed scientific standpoint. Renowned chemist and engineer Dr. James Tour, a man named among “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org in 2014, has constantly challenged evolution’s defenses. For over ten years, a challenge to chemical evolution has been posted on his website. He asks any evolutionist to explain to him how macroevolution can chemically occur. He has never once had a response. He has even directly asked Nobel Prize winners; yet even such distinguished scientists respond with silence. After describing his study on parts of our inner ear’s ability to pick up different tones, a biophysicist was asked the same question: how could it have chemically evolved? His response to Dr. Tour was “We all believe in evolution, but we have no idea how it happened!” It may sound offensive to many naturalistic evolutionists, but it seems that this worldview requires blind faith. These cover-ups belie the common adage that science is unbiased. For accuracy, we should reword it to say that science is unbiased, but scientists are not.
So why does all this matter? Why do the new views of materialism, scientism and naturalistic evolution relate to the story of Truth? Clearly, we see that a mere shadow of the real Truth is visible now through these worldviews. Truth originally displayed the Creator for all to see, but now through these degrading mentalities, mankind has “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Instead of the wisdom and power of an infinite and holy God, our western civilization looks to the created things, trying to use them to explain our existence in place of God. Instead of God being the center of our lives, man has raised himself up as a god of his own world. Naturalism puts mankind at the center, and more specifically, the individual. Each person tries to lord over their own life now, and there are none who can correct them. “What is right to you isn’t right for me” is an all too common phrase since truth is now defined by each individual’s wishes.
An inconvenient, and quite dangerous fallout from this trend is that people roam purposeless through their lives. When mankind becomes the ultimate entity in our perceptions of the universe, we lose divine purpose. Our destiny is to survive and pass on our genes, and our worth is the same as the slime from whence we came. What a terrible existence that must be! In an attempt to rise to godhood, mankind has instead lowered himself to one of no worth. This view leads down a slippery slope. Once a human is no longer built in the image of God, he has little or no value. An unborn child becomes an inconvenience to be swept away; the elderly and ill become a burden to society; the strong trample the weak. Atheism is a direct descendant of materialism, and the practices of racism, abortion, eugenics, and even Nazism and genocide—while not required outcomes of atheism—definitely require such a view to exist. How did we get so far away from whom Truth really was? The predator was wickedly cunning and mankind is easily swayed by desires of the flesh.
How can we escape the mire of immorality and false truths? How do we find the real Truth? Is it even attainable? Clearly empirical science is not up to the task. “All an empiricist can do is describe information received through the senses. Humans then become property, or things—nothing more than a group of parts that function together in a machinelike manner with no unifying essence.” Alone, empirical methods are unable to isolate the fundamental characters of Truth, but as simply one of multiple tools, we can get a better picture. Technically, science cannot answer questions of morality, questions of opinion, or even answer questions with supernatural implications. These are often questions we must ask in the field of metaphysics, rather than empirical science. Still, even with both at hand, to identify Truth, we have basically two options: Truth is not absolute and can be defined individually, leaving no ability for us to decide if something is real or not or good or not; or, we can see Truth as an absolute that acts as a standard against which all things area measured.
Those blinded by materialism cannot select the later; logic, however, demands that there be absolutes. To say that Truth is relative to each person is itself an absolute, forming a contradiction that fails to satisfy.
It is critical that people are equipped to discover who Truth really is. These doctrines of purposelessness have seeped into public schools and have bogged down our nation’s future. Is it not the target of education to prepare our youth for life? Gathering knowledge is valuable, but it is not the end goal. As said in the book of Proverbs, “By wisdom a house is built and by understanding it is established;by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Wisdom is the structure of the house, and knowledge is what fills it. Are not the foundations, walls, and roof more important to the house’s integrity than decorations and furniture? To put this in perspective for how we teach, we need to know that “Education is not an end in itself; it is a means to develop a response to our calling in life. Consequently, when we discuss a purpose for education, it must be related to an adequate purpose for living.” Without a purpose for life, our students will find no use for education. To find their purpose, students must be able to find Truth, and there is no better source than the Bible.
So now, the question arises, “How is biblical Truth applied in the classroom?” Clearly, Christian education must emphasize the ultimate purpose we all have: to reflect the glory of God and to worship Him. (Teaching Redemptively pg 50) This mentality must unify all aspects of Christian education, no matter the subject being taught.
In organizing teaching methodologies and curriculum, a core strategy that should be employed in the Christian school is to “weave themes such as stewardship, community, environment, worship, and the purpose of life into the study of academic subjects.” Teachers should draw the student towards ethical considerations whenever appropriate, and not in just Bible or philosophy classes, but all topics in the school. Science class should not be limited to discoveries of empirical study, but also what we should be doing with such discoveries.
Truth can definitely influence the natural behavior of individuals. When the fundamental goal of reflecting God’s glory and worshiping Him is lost, the purpose of the individual is also lost. This leaves students with noticeable changes in how they act. When they cannot see their purpose, things around them, such as their studies, lose interest. Once interest is lost, doubt and loss of respect often follow. If the individual is not focused on mirroring the Creator, then their actions will eventually become selfish, focusing inwards. Work becomes a monotonous routine.
How do we counter such a mentality?
The Truth required for this situation is again revealed in scripture: work itself must be seen as a tool used to learn more of and become more like our Maker. “Work is valuable to the Christian because stewardly exploration and management of the creation leads to growth in the likeness of God. It is thus a form of praise and worship of the highest order.” Work in itself can become a joy if the individual embraces it as an act of praise to God. As it says in Colossians 3:17, we are to do everything—every action or word—as if we were doing it for our heavenly Father. A truly thankful heart is a motivated one. “The students’ work of praising God in their studies will turn those studies from drudgery into delight. This is an important part of the vision we need for genuine Christian Schools.” Without this focus, purpose is lost, selfishness is central, and behavioral problems arise.
Even effective classroom discipline has its footing firmly planted in biblical Truth. A student grumbling about the unfairness of the rules could be compared to the grumblings of the Israelites under the Law. The Old Testament Law was given to us as our tutor to make us aware that there indeed is right and wrong. It signals the holiness of our Creator and demonstrates the consequences of our sin. Our school rules do more than just keep order and maintain an environment conducive for learning (though that is important.) They reflect significant truths that lay the foundation for students to understand and embrace their need for the Lamb of God. Another benefit to providing and enforcing school rules is that they help children feel secure and like they know what to expect. “Boundaries exist because the students need them for security.”
So here he lies. Truth has begun to rot on the fields of western culture. The predator’s grip on our future is suffocatingly tight and he keeps pulling the noose tauter. The hunter has led us away from Truth, promising us power and bliss; instead, we have fallen into darkness and doubt, unsure of our purpose anymore. We must rise above this. No matter how hard he tries, the enemy cannot fully overthrow Truth. Truth is still alive. It is an uphill battle, but education must furnish students with the tools to delve past the illusions and find their ultimate purpose in Christ. As Shakespeare said in The Merchant of Venice, “The truth will out.”
- The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2011.
- Braley, James, Jack Layman, and Ray White, eds. Foundations of Christian School Education. Colorado Springs: Purposeful Design, 2003. Print.
- “BrainyQuote.” BrainyQuote. Xplore Inc, n.d. Web. 4 July 2015.
- Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. Page 6. New York: Norton & Company, Inc. 1986.
- Dawkins, Richard. “Put Your Money on Evolution.” The New York Times April 9, 1989: sec VII p.35
- Tour, James. “Does Science Dispel Faith?” Issues 2015: 4+. Print.
- Graham, Donovan L. Teaching Redemptively: Bringing Grace and Truth into Your Classroom. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs: Purposeful Design, 2009. Print.
- Moreland, J.P. Love Your God With All Your Mind. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1997. Print.
- Greene, Albert E. Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs: Purposeful Design, 2003. Print.
 Genesis 2:16b-17
 Genesis 3: 4-5
 Foundations of Christian School Education, pg. 28
 Foundations of Christian School Education, pg. 7
 The Blind Watchmaker. Pg. 6.
 Dawkins, R. April 9, 1989. Book Review of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey’s Blueprint. The New York Times. Section 7, 34.
 Foundations of Christian School Education, pg. 27
 Tour, James. “Does Science Dispel Faith?” Issues 2015: 4+. Print.
 Romans 1:23 ESV
 Foundations of Christian School Education, pg. 9
 Proverbs 24:3-4 ESV
 Teaching Redemptively pg. 49
 Teaching Redemptively pg. 203-204
 Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education pg. 55
 Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education pg. 61
 Teaching Redemptively pg. 245