One area in which future-oriented Christians made great strides in the twentieth century is Christian education. Homes and churches in this country and abroad are graced with many multi-generational ties to solid Bible-based education. If Christian education has not changed the world, it has certainly changed a great many individuals, families, and churches. Christian education has created a growing, potent force on the Christian scene. In 2000, a candidate for the U. S. presidency saw his momentum suddenly and irreparably stopped when he attacked the religious right. Christian influence will gain yet more if we continue, among other things, to train up our young people in both the Faith and its significance to all life and thought.
Change comes incrementally to cultures, institutions, ideas, and individuals. While we would like to see every knee bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ right now, and we believe in the power of the Spirit of God to move men and nations, it is a lazy man's "out" to expect change immediately. Such a demand for instant eschatological gratification is little different than waiting for the rapture. We are more likely to see the growth of Christ's kingdom when we look back over time and see progress that mundane and even pain-filled faithfulness by many people made possible. This rightly obscures the works of men, and this is how it should be. There were no contemporary biographies of Paul, or Peter, or John, no tomes of their collected correspondence, or diaries of their travels. Their very real personal efforts are almost entirely unknown to us. They were, however, faithful; and they did the Lord's work. They thus share in His victory, as do we. Small, incremental acts of faithfulness and duty are also our primary means of furthering the kingdom.
Education involves years of repetitive, tiresome, and largely thankless faithfulness. It is difficult to see progress or the fruit that is born years later. Nevertheless, Christian education has been the most dynamic and fruitful area of Christian activity (in America certainly) over the past generation. It has done more than educate children; it has trained teachers, pastors, and entire churches and families in the necessity of thinking in terms of what they confess. To put it another way, Christian education has led to a new level of maturity in the church.
Chalcedon is an education institution. We teach basic principles of truth and train people to think and live in terms of those principles. Though we educate, we are not an academic institution. Chalcedon teaches Christians to think of themselves as children of the King whose duty it is to be faithful to Him and His kingdom. One aspect of faithfulness is instruction in the Faith and its implications, but there are many other areas of faithfulness that need to be taught. Some of these are areas of clear Christian duty, such as responsibilities in the areas of family, church, ethics, and charity. Other areas are those in which the Christian can promote a greater appreciation for the things of God by education and service. Thus, the ministry of one who gives medicine to sick, Third-World children is essentially the same as one who gives pro-life counseling to a young woman. The Christian political activist or lawyer may attempt to protect families in the statehouse or courthouse with the same goal as the minister who counsels families. The Christian artist can magnify the Creator the same as the preacher expounding an orthodox view of Genesis, or the believing scientist who gives a creationist lecture. The kingdom of God is wherever His reign is acknowledged. Life is full of a multiplicity of activities and obligations. Service in the kingdom of God is about conforming these many pursuits to the reality of His lordship.
Forty years ago, most churches saw Christian education as a diversion from their ministries. Thirty years ago, Christians thought political involvement was irrelevant to their concerns as Christians. Twenty years ago, many Christians felt communism was the greatest threat to both Christianity and freedom. Popular perceptions are frequently wrong, and it is often the small, faithful minority that moves ahead in spite of opposition from friend and foe alike. This was the pattern with the early church. Their individual actions seemed like John's to be voices crying in the wilderness. But their faithfulness and dutiful obedience led to great things. Great progress was made by humble efforts and God's blessing. Great progress has also been made in the church in recent years; though much of it is still in such infancy that it is difficult to view its breadth. Much more progress can be made in many areas. Our duty is to stay faithful and dutifully obedient to the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the intention of those of us at Chalcedon to do that and continue with our mission of teaching Christians to think as workers in the kingdom. What we perceive about the status of that kingdom may prove wrong; our faithfulness to that kingdom will, by God's grace, be blessed to great fruitfulness.