Author: Anthony Braswell
"Article printed in the January 2009 of The Pentecostal Herald - Education Issue. "
Many times it is the simple things that forever connect us to memories. For me, memories of my childhood school years can flood back in the simple smell of morning dew on a crisp autumn day. It brings back memories of those first days of school, the high aspirations of a new year, reconnecting with school friends, and sharpening that first new #2 pencil! (Which brings to question, if the #2 pencil is the most famous, why is it still #2? Hmmm?) Whether good or bad, your early connection to education has likely carried a long-lasting impact on your life.
The experience of education and how it is presented to help mold future generations cannot be discounted as merely augmenting human intellect. Christian Education, or perhaps better stated, "Christ in Education," is not a new phenomenon. Walter G. Fremont writes: "Once there was a perfect classroom with perfect students and a perfect Teacher. But not for long. Both of the students broke the Teacher's only rule, and He threw them out of the classroom. Ever after, all students were prone to break rules, and they all had to study in an imperfect environment. Only the Teacher remained perfect. He provided a way for his students to want to do right, and He ordained education as a means to help them do right. But the fallen students thought they knew the best way to educate themselves--apart from the Master Teacher." 1
The roots of religious education continued in early America as those who arrived sought expression of their religious freedoms. Schools in early America did not separate God from the educational equation, and our founding fathers, many whom were God-fearing men, believed that the Bible played an important role in education. The father of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams wrote in a letter on October 4, 1790, to John Adams: "Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system." 2
The religious influence that so predominately saturated education in early America has slowly been cut away by humanistic philosophy, modernism, and individualism in the public educational system of modern America. However, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and he will make your paths straight." As educational institutions lean more on their own understanding, the divide continues to increase between an Apostolic Christian world-view and progressive education.
This divide is nowhere more obvious than in the juxtaposing of Godly morals and the morals of modern secular education. The imparting of moral principles is integrated into the fabric of education whether taught or caught. A true "Christ in Education" experience places the emphasis on our Creator and His Creation in the educational process and combines that with a distinct Christian environment, modeling what is taught. This education can take place at the local church, Christian School, home-school, or in a Godly home.
Whatever the case, "Christ in Education" is on-purpose. It doesn't just simply happen. Ephesians 6:4-9 commands us to teach our children to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. But it doesn't stop there. We are entreated to take every opportunity "when we are in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up." (Deuteronomy 6) As followers of Christ we must take every opportunity to make God more familiar to our children. We must make the most of every chance to involve Christ in education, whether at home, school, or church.
Sometimes I work with parents who struggle financially to keep their children in our Christian School. Why do they make these sacrifices? Why does a parent give of his/her own time and resources to home-school his/her child? Why does the Sunday School teacher volunteer time and energy every week? Simply put, the words in Ephesians are being lived out in their lives. The challenge that faces Christian Educators is to hold fast to the foundational reasons they committed to this great cause.
Regardless of where you are teaching, know that you make an indelible impact on lives for Christ. You help shape their world-view. What can have greater impact? What can be more important? It is often stated that our greatest natural resource is our children. Should we stand by idly and allow our society and its ungodly influences to mold our greatest resource to their liking? The battle for our children is not for the faint of heart, and your influence could be the tipping point in a child's life. Don't underestimate the power of "Christ in Education"!
1 Walter G. Fremont, Teacher to Teacher, October 2003, Bob Jones University Press
2 The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, by William V. Wells, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1865, Vol. III, p. 301
Anthony Braswell is the Administrator of New Life Christian School in Bridgeton, Missouri. Garry Tracy is his pastor. He also serves on the Association of Christian Schools and Teachers board of the UPCI Division of Education ACTS.