Scripture: Deuteronomy 6; Ephesians 4:11–16
Education as the pathway to success is a more emphatic consideration than ever before, now that an increased labor force and rapidly developing automation seem to be threatening us with wide-spread and virtually incurable unemployment. This means that the real character of the school is something we ought to understand, especially since the legitimacy of the state or government as the sponsor and provider of education is scarcely questioned by most Americans. Is there such a thing as a Biblically-required, Christian school?
1 –The relationship of the school to the home:
All the functions of the child or student are supposed to be developed in that kind of institution which we call a schooL The responsibility for the rearing of children as such is placed by Scripture in the hands of the parents, not the government nor the church. For the Christian parent this means the Christian school, since he cannot conceive of a proper and sound development of the child apart from Jesus Christ. Instructors in the school ought to have their com· mission from the parents.
Questions for discussion: Why do many Americans regard education as properly a matter of community rather than of religious conviction? Is the baptismal vow as heard in the Christian Reformed churches relevant to the matter of Christian schools? Is there no point at which the government is involved in the administration of and attendance upon the schools?
2 –What kind of confession of faith must a school profess?
Can a school simply take over a church confession into its constitution? This appears to be the case in many such statements of basis and purpose in our private, parent·con· trolled schools. Let us be reminded that a school is not a church, and that the purposes of the school and of the church are different. We ought to be more busy than we are to develop Biblically true and helpful educational creeds upon the basis of which our schools can hold forth their testimony to Jesus Christ, the King. If schools must be confessional in character the state is ruled out, of course, for it must never function in terms of a particular statement of faith . And the school may never practise some pretended neutrality, for the very task of the school is to bring the child to Jesus in order that he may find and express himself in terms of the only Savior!
Questions for discussion: Aren’t the parent·controlled schools showing tendencies to acknowledge the state and the church to the obscuring of the school’s distinctive place and task? Is it really possible for a public school teacher to hide his Christian or non-Christian profession of faith? Is there a natural relationship between faith in Jesus Christ and education, or is this a mere shibboleth?
3 –What is the private domain of the teacher and the school?
This question means to suggest that the teacher and the school do have their particular task and importance, and that neither the government nor the church nor the parent ought to violate this area. Not that the state has nothing to do so far as education in general is concerned. The welfare of a nation is intimately bound up with the training of its youth, and a wise government will insist on proper standards of teaching and equipment, and will encourage the exercise of free enterprise in education by its interest and its support (even financial, if need be). The welfare of the church is also tied up with education, and the church must take care that the lambs of the Bock are really being nurtured in the fear and admonition of the Lord, Nevertheless, teaching is a recognizable, separate calling, and the government officer nor the parent nor the preacher ought lightly to override the competence of the teacher or the school board.
Questions for discussion: Ought a school to teach Bible history and Bible doctrine? Have we ever really considered the importance and needs of teachers so far as their salaries are concerned? Can Christian parents in today’s situation continue to support private schools in the face of rising costs without state aid? How can parents really cooperate ·with and support their children’s teachers?