Never in the history of mankind was the urgency of Christian education more pronounced. Taylor in his book, published last year, The Christian Philosophy of Law, Politics and the State puts it this way. “The battle for the minds of future generations of Americans, Britons and Canadians will be won or lost in the schools, and it is therefore imperative that Christian parents should establish Christian day schools without any further delay before another generation of Christian children are lost to Jesus Christ” (p. 41).
Yes, indeed, there is a hattie for the mind. And the lines are being sharply drawn—antithetically drawn. It is either the mind of Christ or the mind of rebellious man in opposition to the Christ.
We recall the prophetic words of the great Hodge when he pleaded with the Presbyterian church not to accept education under the control of the State. He warned: The day will come when the man with the most religion will give way to the man with the least religion, and the man with the least religion will give way to the man with no religion at all. Slowly at first, but exceedingly swiftly today, that prophetic utterance is finding its tragic fulfillment. There is open, blatant, fierce opposition to the mind and will of Jesus Christ in modern education. This is having a profound influence upon theology and the church also. Only that has meaning which exalts man and serves him in his insistence upon autonomous freedom and authority, opening the way to the full worship and enjoyment of the material world. Flouting the Word of God, man moves with arrogance and self-assurance down the road to moral decay and total ruin. Think of the millions whose minds are being permeated, saturated, with this diabolical emphasis. We can appreciate the few in our secular schools who are struggling against insurmountable odds to stem the avalanche of secularism and humanism in education.
But they are waging a losing battle because the only, exclusive protection against the insidious arsenal of secularism, and the only reliable standard for man’s thought and life is denied the predominant place which it must have, which it demands—The Word of God.
In sharp contrast to modern secular education, the advocates of Christian day schools must humbly yet firmly declare: We are the servants (slaves) of Christ. We want no share in the purposes, principles, policies, interests and spirit where such reflect and advance the philosophy, the heart commitment of secularism. Not the mind of tile humanist but the mind of Christ claims our full allegiance and obedience. Without apology we accept the Word of God as the norm for all education, for all life itself.
In that basic sense we as teachers must aim not to please men, but Jesus Christ. And only in so doing will we demonstrate genuine love for our fellow men and render them meaningful service.
Perhaps the greatest danger that faces our Christian schools and us, the teachers, is that of imitating the secular schools. It is the old issue of status, conformity. No doubt, this desire stems from the powerful urge to gratify the pride and materialistic interests of our sinful nature, the secularistic old man. It is so easy for us to slip into the pattern and mold of secularism because there are legitimate, necessary, and valuable insights to be gained from the secular schools. And there are legitimate material concerns such as good faCilities, good equipment, adequate salaries, pension plans, hospitalization, etc. However, when these become an end in themselves, when the predominant passion is to equal or outstrip the secular schools in the things they do and in the manner and spirit in which they do them, secularism has gained the mastery. Then, the distinctiveness, power, beauty, and conscious awareness of living alit of and for Jesus Christ as his slaves are shRed. Then education, whatever else it may offer, is no longer distinctively and effectively Christian. The fundamental thrust is missing.
Once we grasp the essential meaning of being Christ’s slaves our major concern as teachers will be clear. For then we see Our King in triumphant glory. And we know that this world is Christ’s and ours in him. The secular man will never accept this. He insists that the world is his. He wants to keep Cod out. He surrenders not one inch of ground to the Christ and his people. When Christ was about to be born of the virgin Mary there was no room for him in the inn. Christ is not welcome in his own creation. Yet we know that he is the Victor and that his power and authority stand behind us and operate through us. For us to live is Christ and the goal of all our teaching is the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. We know how crucial Christian education is for that Kingdom life.
For the Kingdom encompasses every terrain, all areas of learning and living. And our task is that of preparing the youth, the coming generation, for total covenantal Kingdom service -to be slaves of Christ, to seek the things above.
This is an exciting task -it has depth and scope, challenge and reward, struggle and accomplishment! And in its exercise one enjoys the thrilling experience of intimacy and partnership with Christ in the most earthshaking work—one that builds, through all the facets of time, the eternal city. We experience the riches and strength of Christ compensating for our poverty and weakness in the face of unrelenting opposition.
Then, in a very deep sense, we stand aloof from the lesser, earthly, material concerns. We have been freed from their dominance over us. We are free to give ourselves, from the heart, to the execution of our glorious task. We can seek first the Kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, knowing that Christ will add all these other things to us. Then teaching is our business, our life. We eat it and drink it for Christ’s and the Kingdom’s sake. Our eye is on the child in Christ—to give him our love and guidance, to provide him, with the resources available, the best in education for his Kingdom service. This we talk about, study, work at—it is our Christian profession and calling. For this we exist.
One can readily see how this conditions our thinking and action relative to the program and concerns of secular education. Secularism recognizes only a world in time—the now. It aims to get everything out of the present existence. And it seems to know how. It stands ready to reward the teachers, who pave the way to the full earthly material life, with high material benefits. This philosophy is reflected in the standards, curriculum, facilities, objectives, demands, attitudes and spirit. It holds the key position in motivating the teacher -make teaching financially worthwhile or we are not interested. Even the more lofty humanist concept of teaching for teaching’s sake crumbles under the universal pursuit after material gain. And, because God is out of their thinking, there is no longer the regard for authority which restrains men from unlawful and disorderly means of securing their so-called rights and dues. Teachers organize and strike for better wages.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me state that I believe the laborer is worthy of his hire. I have worked and will continue to work for equitable teacher salaries and benefits. But this problem must never hinder the teacher from devoting his heart and soul to his calling as Christ’s servant. If his privations are sometimes a bit galling, let him know that Christ sees all. He will never forget the material needs of those who are faithful. And the big reward is waiting to be meted out not that Christ’s servants lack reward in this life. Surely the Christian teacher will not flout Christ’s authority to secure material gain.
Finally, what about the so-called excellence of secular education -the luxury program, the knowhow? Again, in learning from secular education, let us not minimize our basic strength and know-how. How good really is secular education? Do its proponents truly know? Can they teach as Jesus did, with authority? Time alone will tell the story. We ought to be more wary of what they advocate. Don’t be too easily enamored by their program.
Let us be open to anything that can better equip us for our Kingdom oriented educational task. But let not secular man dictate our program. We communally are Christ’s slaves. In his Word we have the directives. Working together communally as Christian teachers, let us structure our educational pattern. And, by all means, let us not abandon Christian education in any place because the number is small, the quality of education “inferior” and thus resort to secular education. Rather let us find a curricular program, the financial aid and pedagogical equipment to buttress and supplement these smaller or “inferior” schools where parents understand what obedience to Christ means for education.
Taylor’s words, “…it is therefore imperative that Christian parents should establish Christian day schools without any further delay before another generation of Christian children are lost to Jesus Christ,” strike with a compelling force. The slaves of Jesus Christ cannot rest the task of education in the hands of secular man.
The material in this article was originally presented as a devotional address before the Midwest Christian. School Teachers’ Convention in October, 1967. We appreciate Rev. Haan’s willingness to reproduce the address on these pages.
Rev. B.J. Haan is president of Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.