Believe it or not: A Church Day School is Biblical

The Ecclesiastical Church has no business to operate day schools. The Roman Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists are wrong in running their weekday schools. The task of the church institute is to preach the Word and administer the sacraments: It is not mandated to teach molecular activity, Spanish grammar, Civil War strategy and the dissection of frogs. Christ defined the church’s work when he commanded the apostles to go into the whole world, to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:18).

A preacher should point out the duties of his parishioners to conquer all areas of life for Christ, including education. But he has no business to do the teaching himself. He ought to remind them that they as Christians—not as members of an ecclesiastical church—should establish and operate schools that will be Biblically based. He should point out the principles, but they should actually put the principles to work.

The Christian Reformed Church has stated it admirably when it says in its Church Order, “The consistory shall diligently encourage the members of the congregation to establish and maintain good Christian schools” (article 71). It does not say that consistories shall establish and maintain schools but that the consistories shall encourage others to do so. This is Biblical: parental and not church schools (Deut. 6:7; 11:19; Eph. 6:4). Therefore, the Christian Reformed Church has not and does not operate Christian day schools. But its members do not as church members but as Christian parents.

The denomination is inconsistent, however, on the college level, where ministers and elders, representing their churches, supervise Calvin College. Such work is the task of educators, not ministers.

So, we assert round out: A church day school is not Biblical.

But, on the other hand, we want to say the apparent opposite by repeating the title of this article:

A Church Day School Is Biblical.

We say “apparent opposite” because it is not a real contradiction. Both statements are true if “church” is defined properly. In the first statement—“A church day school is not Biblical”—“church” refers to the ecclesiastical institution. But in the second statement, “church” refers to the church as a body of believers regardless of their affiliation or non-affiliation with a particular denomination. In the first instance, we are referring to the church as an organization; in the second, to the church as an organism. In this second sense, it is mandatory to say: “A church day school is Biblical.”

What is meant is this: All born-again, redeemed believers are inseparably united to Jesus Christ and one another. They form an unbreakable, organic whole called the Body of Christ. Regardless of their relationship to an ecclesiastical organization called the Church-institute—whether they belong to one or not, and to which one they belong -they are part of the invisible organism of true believers, called the invisible church.

As the members of this invisible church organism have a de facto union and harmony with Jesus Christ and with each other, so they should attempt to express that union in the visible realm.

Unfortunately, most Christians have desired to express this visible unity only in the ecclesiastical area. Thus we are all aware of the modern ecumenical movement that attempts to unite denominations. Such an effort is commendable when the unity is based on the Bible and a true Spiritual relationship to Jesus Christ.

But it is exceedingly myopic for Christians to express that unity only in the ecclesiastical area—in the church-institute. Ecclesiastical unity is only one manifestation of that inward unity in Christ. The inward bond of all believers in Christ ought to express itself in many visible areas, such as in politics, labor, sciences, and, also, education. Christians should attempt to relate the Bible to all school subjects. Since the government will not allow them to do this in the government’s schools, Christians must then try to do it in independent schools. And in the attempt to provide a Christ-centered, Bible-oriented school, the whole Body of Christ has an obligation to work together. The invisible Church’s oneness in Christ should be manifested in all areas of life, not only in the ecclesiastical church, but also in the Christian day schools. In this sense it is correct to say: “A Church Day School Is Biblical.”

Dr. Edwin Palmer is Executive Secretary of the Bible Translation of the New York Bible Society.