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Christie Wright is a teacher and assistant principal at Highland Rim Academy in Cookeville, TN. She has two children, and is married to Southern Baptist pastor Jeff Wright. She seeks to teach and live based on a consistent biblical worldview. This interview helps Christians to see the importance of educating our children while acknowledging and submitting to the fact that this is God’s world, we belong to Him, and Christ is the only Way of redeeming our minds, hearts, and actions unto the glory of God in all aspects of life… including education. (Christie has agreed to participate in any discussion that takes place in the comment section of this article. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below.)
1. What is your foundation for education?
Education is simply the study of God’s creation and the study of our role in God’s creation as human beings. Since Jesus Christ is the means by which all of creation came into being, then He can be the only foundation for a legitimate education. Furthermore, all knowledge is knowledge revealed by God through natural revelation or scripture. Thus, scripture must necessarily be coupled with Christ as the foundation for education.
2. Based on what you answered as your foundation, do you believe this is the only correct foundation?
As there is one, objective, knowable truth found in Jesus Christ alone, then I do believe my previous answer to be the only correct one. Our society currently clings to a variety of false foundations, and while some may certainly be noble goals, none can serve adequately as the proper foundation for a legitimate education. We like to believe an education allows for our children to secure excellent jobs in their future which will lead to financial stability and thus, happiness and security.
2a. Why or why not?
A true education (as opposed to mere job training) is the study of God, man and the world. It is attaining a familiarity, understanding and fondness for the good, true and beautiful which exist in and out of the world. There is no other name or means by which humans can know anything true, good or beautiful, save Christ- the One through which all creation has come into existence. Apart from a framework which upholds knowing Christ as the pinnacle of all learning, a legitimate education cannot exist.
3. If you believe your foundation is the only correct foundation or superior to other worldviews, please explain why it’s superior to the Mormon, Jewish, or Muslim worldview. Basically, why Christianity?
It is the only foundation that claims to be THE truth, at the expense of all other claims. If it is truth, and if truth is by definition objective and exclusive (and it is), then the Christian foundation can be the only suitable foundation because all others are based upon lies. But this does not mean that only false established religions are wrong foundations for education; secular humanism or naturalistic worldviews currently form the foundation of government schools as well as many private schools. These worldviews are also based on lies and do not provide a solid foundation for any educational model.
4. Can general revelation and conscience build enough foundation for a biblical education from an unsaved teacher?
No. A true education answers these questions: Who am I? Where am I? What is my purpose? These questions cannot be answered accurately without special revelation found in Scripture, so legitimate education cannot take place without it. Anything else is simply technical training in order to fill a societal role (as employee, husband, wife, etc.). General revelation can guide one in the right direction to answering these questions, but without knowledge of the name of Christ, they cannot be fully and deeply answered.
5. What do you believe is the main goal of education?
To glorify Christ through the growing in knowledge, understanding and wisdom of God, His creation and man.
5a. Why do you believe this is the main goal?
If the goal of a human life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (and it is), then all endeavors must necessarily point in that direction.
6. Is all truth God’s truth?
6a. Please explain why or why not.
Again, Christ claimed to be the Truth, therefore, he is all truth and nothing that is true cannot be of Him, by Him, or for Him. For this reason, antithesis must be emphasized in all areas of education.
7. In Christianity, whose responsibility is it to educate our children?
The Bible grants the responsibility of education to the parents, primarily the father, as he is head of the household. This is not relegated to the sphere of Biblical education alone. Rather, the father is responsible for the full and complete education of his children. When Paul tells fathers to bring their children up in the admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) we must remember that the Greek word used here is paideia. This is the word first-century Greeks would have used to describe what we call education, but also what we call enculturation, so they must necessarily go hand in hand. Biblical teaching cannot and should not be separated from the teaching of mathematics, science, history, art, music, etc. because God made them for His own glory.
8. What role should the local church play in educating the next generation?
Church members should encourage and admonish brothers and sisters in Christ to follow and obey the scriptures in bringing up one’s own children. Members who are gifted and called to teach, particularly teach children, ought to do so in conjunction with parents, not in spite of them.
9. Should parents take their children out of the public school system?
While I believe parents are able to continue to teach their children a Christian worldview while their children remain in a government school, it is my personal opinion (as I don’t find it in scripture) that it is very difficult if not near impossible to do (particularly when dealing with very young children) simply due to time restraints. I believe it should take every effort of a Christian parent to remove their children, not just from the government system, but from any system (be it private or “Christian”) that does not uphold God as the creator and giver of all knowledge, teaching Christ above all and upholding an excellent academic standard.
9a. Why or why not?
For the same reason few Christians (if any at all) would place their children in a hypothetical, free Muslim school. Children will be indoctrinated by the doctrine upheld by the educational system they are educated in, regardless of what the doctrine is or regardless of how intentional the indoctrination is. Christians must understand that Islamic doctrine is just as detrimental and destructive to the development of a Christian worldview as a secular or naturalistic one. While older children (teenagers) can be trained and taught in their younger years to live, work and think Christianly amongst pagan ideas, smaller children simply have not had the time to prepare to fend for themselves in terms of ideas and practice.
10. Are there any qualities Christians can learn from the State in educating our children?
Surely every quality the State displays is not counter-Scriptural, as nonbelievers still benefit from general revelation and common grace. For example, the State generally (though poorly) attempts to create a system of accountability for students and teachers. This is an excellent quality for Christians to have. However, I don’t believe there are any qualities the State displays that Scripture does not speak to and that a Christian could not possess without the help of the State as an example.
11. How much should pragmatism be used in the education of our children?
A limited amount seems permissible, as not all pragmatism goes against Scriptural teaching. For example, behavioral consequences should naturally follow the behavior in order to best teach children about consequences and responsibility. It is practical that when a child throws an object, (s)he should pick it up. Pragmatism should also be applied when deciding what may or may not be developmentally appropriate for a child to learn. It is not practical to teach a 1st grade the fine ins and outs of formal logic, though a second language is very pragmatic.
12. In a perfectly biblical church, what would a foundation look like for educating the church’s children?
Again, I believe there is only one foundation for educating children, regardless of how perfect the system (country or church) is working. Christ is the foundation now, as we live among pagans, He would remain as such in a country where things were ‘perfectly biblical’ as well as in a perfectly biblical church.
13. In Conclusion, if Christians are headed the wrong direction in educating their children, what would be your suggested first step in the right direction?
When parents begin by developing and fostering their own Christian worldview, then I believe they are best able to discern the teachings, philosophies, and intentions of the government system (or any system, as all private-or even Christian- schools are not ideal) and, naturally, find them lacking. The best way to begin doing this is to immerse themselves in the Bible, in biblical teaching, and in the wisdom of our church fathers. (and might I add reading Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education by Doug Wilson)
14. Why is this your suggested first step?
Scripture provides the best framework for child rearing and has the power to transform and enlighten those who study it.
What do you think about Wright’s answers? Do you agree? Why or why not?