It goes without saying that Christian education must be founded on Biblical principles if it is to be genuinely Christian. In the first place, it is how Christians through their study of the Bible get to know God and understand His plan for their lives. Second, it is how Christianity is passed on from one generation to the next.
Adam, of course, learned from God directly. God told Adam who and what he was, what his powers were, and what his potential was as a creator, since God made him in His own image. God’s artistry in nature is beyond description: the peacock’s tail, the beaks and plumes of exotic birds, the faces and eyes of kittens and cats, the trees, the leaves, the flowers. The complex variety of design in nature is so astounding that the more we learn of its complexity, the more we learn of God’s creative hand and great supernatural power.
The Mission of Sinless Adam
Indeed, all that God created was to become the subject of this newly created, inquisitive creature called Adam. He had to take dominion over God’s creation, to care for it, to learn from it. God was quite specific:
Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen. 1:28)
What a gift, what a responsibility! Man was to be an effective steward of the living world and its resources. He was to administer them as efficiently as possible. To do this he also had to be a scientist, an objective observer of nature. We read in Genesis 2:19:
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
To fulfill the mission God assigned him, Adam had to become a lexicographer, an inventor of names, an arranger of knowledge. These are occupations all Christians must be fit to exercise if they are to live up to the expectations of their maker.
It is no accident that Christian civilization invented the scientific method, built innovative technology on the basis of scientific principles, and provided the economic and philosophical understanding that has made it possible for Christians to achieve the highest standard of living in all of human history.
Effective Christian Education
All of this rests on a clear understanding that human progress based on knowledge and love of God permitted man to make things better and better. Hand in hand with knowledge of God was knowledge of the world God created. That is the key to effective Christian education.
God left nothing to chance when it came to the education of children. He wrote very specifically in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
These are very specific commandments that, when obeyed, are the surest ways to transfer the knowledge and love of God from one generation to the next. People are often curious as to how the Jews have managed to survive as Jews away from the Holy Land, living in so many different countries for so many centuries. The answer is very simple: obedience to the commandments in Deuteronomy.
Here in America, it was Rev. R. J. Rushdoony who constantly reminded Christian parents that if they continued to put their children in secular, anti-Christian public schools, their children’s religion would be undermined and destroyed. He wrote in The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum:
The centrality of Biblical instruction is basic to the liberal arts of Christian education. But the rest of the curriculum must be revised in terms of Christian liberty, the arts of Christian freedom and dominion under God.
Rushdoony emphasized the need for Christians to understand the nature of law. For the Christian, “law is not under the state or a product of the state but an expression of God’s holiness and order.” Therefore, “the Christian school should also require a course in the nature and meaning of law.”
In his book, Rushdoony advocated a radical reform of so-called Christian education so that it conformed to Biblical principles, whether the subject be history, economics, or science. He wrote:
The sound curriculum will be the relevant curriculum, and relevancy requires two factors, a world of absolutes, and a world of change. It is not enough to hold to God’s absolutes: they must be continually and freshly related to the changing times…. [T]he purpose of Christian education is not academic: it is religious and practical. Man’s purpose is to build the Kingdom of God…. [A] Christian liberal arts curriculum should enable the student to exercise dominion over the world…. [He] must be schooled to see every legitimate area as an area of necessary dominion. He must be taught that the people of God must assert the crown rights of King Jesus over every area of life. There can be no compromise nor any diminution of this goal.
All of this puts Christian education in direct confrontation with the secular education of the public schools in which God is kept out. The public schools are not neutral when it comes to religion, Biblical or otherwise. They clearly follow the guidelines of the Humanist religion, which are spelled out in the two Humanist Manifestos.1 Rev. Rushdoony recognized that fact in his seminal The Messianic Character of American Education. He also recognized that we were at war unto death with the humanist enemy, and that Christians who put their children in humanist schools were aiding and abetting the enemy.
Education is at the heart of America’s future. Christians could easily shape that future if they were willing to put their children in good Christian schools. But are they? That’s a question that must be placed high on the Christian agenda.
1. A manifesto is a public declaration of motives and intentions by a group of some importance. In 1933 a group of thirty-four liberal humanists defined and enunciated the philosophical and religious principles that they considered to be fundamental to their worldview. They drafted HumanistManifestoI. Forty years later they drafted Humanist Manifesto II, a more comprehensive document addressing all of the social problems of the mid-20th century. Both Manifestos are a virtual outline for the liberal, secular curriculum in today’s
- Samuel L. Blumenfeld
Samuel L. Blumenfeld (1927–2015), a former Chalcedon staffer, authored a number of books on education, including NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, How to Tutor, Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers, and Homeschooling: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Children.
He spent much of his career investigating the decline in American literacy, the reasons for the high rate of learning disabilities in American children, the reasons behind the American educational establishment’s support for sex and drug education, and the school system's refusal to use either intensive phonics in reading instruction and memorization in mathematics instruction. He lectured extensively in the U.S. and abroad and was internationally recognized as an expert in intensive, systematic phonics. His writings appeared in such diverse publications as Home School Digest, Reason, Education Digest, Boston Magazine, Vital Speeches of the Day, Practical Homeschooling, Esquire, and many others.