Home > Brandenburg, Education > Education: State, Church, or Home? (part one)

Education: State, Church, or Home? (part one)

April 11, 2007

A battle rages between home and traditional education. Churches say to the home-schoolers, “You don’t support the church.”  Home-schoolers cry, “The church doesn’t help home-schoolers.”  While many home-schoolers contend, “Home is the only Biblical way,” church schools argue, “It takes a church: look at the example of Jesus.” Public school advocates will say, “We’re missing out on a mission field; letting public school students go to the devil.” Since the Bible is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17), God’s Word gives us everything we need in order to understand how He wants children educated. Let’s see if we can sort out what Scripture says about education: state, church, or home?

We Know Home

Home schoolers, you can start cheering, because we do know that Scripture teaches home-schooling. I’m not going to break down Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for everyone, but you know how authoritative that passage is for educating your own children.  Parents are responsible; so if they take full responsibility, that’s not just good, it’s required. Yet, no Israelite family could practice those verses without its involvement in the congregational worship of Israel (Deuteronomy 12:11-12, 17-18; 16:10-11). Every Israelite home school needed the nation. In Deuteronomy 31:22, “Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.” Before dad taught his sons, he learned from the leaders of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5:31). Home schooling is a God-ordained means in the right context.

The Church and the Truth

The Nature of Knowledge

In education there is a concern with the nature of knowledge, that is, how we attain knowledge. It is common for the world to divide knowledge into two areas or types, secular and religious. The secular is the knowledge that deals with reason and the things of the world. The religious is the knowledge that deals with faith and the things of God. The secular is sometimes called philosophical, and the religious is called theological.

This twofold division was developed by Thomas Acquinas, a famous 13th century Roman Catholic so-called “theologian.” From his standpoint, there were two ways to arrive at knowledge–reason and revelation. He believed that both were true methods of arriving at a knowledge of God. He taught that by revelation we could know more about God, but by reason, independent of revelation, we will end in the truth. All of this is based on the Roman Catholic conception of the nature of man.

Roman Catholicism taught that from creation Adam was not quite perfect and had a tendency toward evil. To help him, God gave him a superadded gift of original righteousness called donum superadditum to assist him. In spite of the gift, Adam sinned. The result was that he lost this original righteousness–that was all the effect the fall had on him. Acquinas talked of his reason being wounded, but not in any sense that he could not reason properly or could not arrive at truth independently of God. Acquinas would say the Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose philosophy forms the basis of much of Roman Catholic theology, arrived at the truth in many areas.

The problem with this twofold division is that man was not simply “wounded” by the Fall. The Bible describes him as being blind, dead, and unable to receive or know the things of the Spirit of of God (Ephesians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4). The Scriptural picture is that he is totally depraved and totally unable to do anything good (Romans 3:10-23; 8:7-8; Jeremiah 17:9). In order to know the truth, man needs regeneration; he needs to be born again by the Spirit of God. Only then can he know the truth.

  • There is only one kind of knowledge, and it is theological.
  • Wisdom is from above (James 3:17).
  • God created the world, and He works things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
  • Everything in the world has the meaning and interpretation which God has put into it.
  • All knowledge is God-created, related, and interpreted knowledge.
  • One cannot truly know anything unless he understands it in the light of his relationship with God.
  • All unbelievers cannot relate knowledge to, with, or through God, so theirs is limited and distorted (Romans 1:18-25).

Only when our minds are in conformity with the mind of God can we know the truth about anything. The mind of God is as He revealed it in His Word. Since man is depraved, He cannot discern or understand the truth of God’s Word–it is only spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, only a believer can have real truth, for only a believer can subject his mind to the mind of God. Knowledge is a unit, and all that transpires in the history of men and of nations shows His guiding and controlling hand (Acts 17;26; Romans 13:1; Daniel 4:25). So can an unbeliever know 2+2=4?  Yes, but it is because that is the way our God created and controls the world of His, and He is the One Who makes it so.

This view that wisdom can be received only supernaturally, through God’s intended means, is the theme of Job 28, a good chapter to study to get your belief about the source of knowledge. John Gill spends time fleshing out the meaning of that chapter, and begins just his dealing with verse twelve:

Though there is a vein for silver, a track where that lies, and is to be come at, and a place where gold is found, and where it may be refined, and parts of the earth, out of which brass and iron, and bread corn, may be produced, and even from whence may be fetched brilliant gems and precious stones; which, though attended with many difficulties, in cutting through rocks, draining rivers, and restraining the waters, yet are got over through the art and skill, industry, diligence, and labour of men; so that their eyes behold every precious thing their minds desire, and they bring to light what have been laid up in darkness from the creation of the world: but, though these things may be found by search and labour, the question is, what vein is there for wisdom, or where is the place in which that may be found? by which may be meant the wisdom of God, as a perfection in him; which, though displayed in some measure in the works of creation and providence, yet not completely, and especially in his dealings with the children of men; in all which there is undoubtedly the wisdom of God; yet it is such a depth as is unfathomable by mortals:

No one should attempt a biblical philosophy of education without an intense exegesis of Job 28, which reveals the divine character of genuine knowledge and truth.

The Place of the Church in Knowledge and Truth

Authoritative education requires authoritative content. If we teach well, but teach the wrong thing, it’s still wrong, no matter how well students learned it. The truth is the content for education, as opposed to lies. Lies are the purview of Satan and the world (John 8:44; 16:11). God’s way is the truth (John 14:6; 17:17).

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), not one dad and his family. We can’t teach the truth outside of the context of the church. The whole New Testament is practiced in and through the church. The Holy Spirit guides through the church (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 4:1-7). Agreement among church members is how God will judge the world (1 Corinthians 6). Ultimate obedience to Christ, the Great Commission, occurs corporately through the church (Matthew 28:18-20). The model of Christ is fulfilled through His body, not any one individual (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12). The one who concludes otherwise, thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think (Romans 12:3).

When Jesus began teaching followers, He did not take a group of fathers and tell them to train their children. He took an assembly of disciples and taught them together. The Lord should be teaching everyone, and He can through His church. His leaders, perhaps the better students, He gave more personal attention than others. Whatever training the mother of James and John was giving her sons (Matthew 20:18-20), she needed the perspective of Jesus to get it right. Jesus is the head of the body (Colossians 1:18). The man that properly leads his family obtains his headship from the leadership of Jesus Christ in the church (1 Corinthians 11:3). No one possesses the fulness of the body of Christ, only a measure of that fulness, so every other body part needs the working of the other body parts to receive that fulness. Everyone’s children need more than their parents to receive the full measure of the body of Christ. Every home school should be a church school.

(to be continued)

Categories: Brandenburg, Education
  1. April 12, 2007 at 5:25 am

    This was a very good post. A couple of observations:

    1) The concept of education, lifestyle, and everything that marks our lives as Christians must be in the context of the local church. If not, we are going against God’s precepts and principles plainly taught in the New Testament.

    2) The local New Testament Church is the pillar and ground of truth. The question will arise about how the truth is disseminated to the members in the body.

    I raised a question in the earlier post about corporal punishment. When did God give the church the responsibility or authority to dole out corporal punishment on my children?

    These are the questions. You will never get an argument out of me about the authority of the Church under the headship of Jesus Christ.

    Good discussion.

    Art Dunham

  2. April 12, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Thanks Brother Art,

    When the children are exposed to the training of other body parts, they are still the responsibility of the parents. The terminology that has been used for this is en proxy parentis, in the place of parents. The children are in training still under the authority of the parents. The parents temporarily give their authority to the other body parts, and corporal punishment is nothing other than the admonition of the Lord, physical training methodology. The parents gladly turn this over en proxy, knowing it is a God-ordained method for training children.

    That is how I’ve viewed it. In Israel, everyone participated in the stoning of a rebellious son. Others can be involved in the restraint of our children. I want it. When my children are grown, they will have other authorities besides me. I want to see their interaction with those other authorities, including handling punishment, now, before they get outside of my authority.

  3. April 12, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Great site guys you have won a Thinking Blogger Award on my site.

    Lord Bless.

  4. April 13, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Brother Kent,

    Thanks for answering, but it is a little unclear to me still. First of all, the stoning of a rebellious child by definition is not the king of “corporal” punishment I am talking about. That was “capital punishment” doled out under the Theocracy of Israel.

    While I find your arguments enlightening and intelligent, I am still not convinced that they are Scriptural in nature. They are more “intellectual” and “anecdotal”.

    I do not have an “ax” to grind here. I just find this a little less than perfectly clear in the Scriptures. I do find my responsibilities as a Christian, husband, father, and church member clearly explained, but not this one about the church’s right to “spank” my children, with or without my so-called blessing.

    “en proxy parentis” is a legitimate term, it just doesn’t answer my concerns here.

    In Christ,
    Art Dunham

  5. April 13, 2007 at 11:02 am

    My point, Brother Art, with the stoning, was that the discipline of children could be authoritatively carried about by someone else besides the parents. Capital punishment is the ultimate end of corporeal punishment, both being the physical punishment that function as a deterrent. I understand that this is theocratic situation, but we are talking still about the spirit of the law, which I believe still applies in this NT age. I’m speaking principally, even as Paul did in 1 Cor. 9 when he quoted OT law as a basis for his right to remuneration as a minister of the gospel. If physical punishment is OK, then I think it is also OK for a dad to give someone else permission to carry it out. At our school, for instance, parents sign something authorizing physical punishment as part of the prescribed discipline of the school. Nothing says only the father can nurture and admonish his own children. Abraham gave authority to his trusted servant to find a life’s partner for his son Isaac, en proxy, despite that being his own responsibility.

    What say ye?

  6. April 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    The first thought I always have when it comes to education as it pertains to which was is right was that I survived the worst way… I often looked and look at the kids who grow up in a Christian Academy and hear them complain sometimes about the rules, regulations, restrictions, etc… and I think to myself that I would have been a better person today if I had those rules back then… Then I tell them that and almost uniformly I get the same reaction, but you don’t understand… And I say you are right, but I do know that the grass always looks greener where you are not eating…

    I have always imagined that the perfect school would be one where the parents should teach the children at home… But part of the day should be spent under the instruction of the Pastor at the church… Skills would be taught at church as well, music, manual labor, home-making, auto repair… etc… This would gives kids the social environment lacking in home schools… the religious instruction from the pillarandground(.org) of truth and parents oversee it all…

    I know that nothing man can come up with could be totally perfect, but on Biblical principles we can stand… Truth come the Bible, the church is to preserve the Bible, parents are to teach their children and children need to obey their parents and authorities…

    Enough rambling by me, Pastor V. is the Doctor of Education now, he can expound I am sure about educational formats…

  7. April 13, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Nice thoughts, Chris.

  8. April 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Brother Kent,

    Mostly I agree with you. Of course, I can give permission to anyone to admonish my children. The question I still have is “What is the New Testament example of this kind of admonishment or education in the church?”

    I look forward to more posts on this subject. Perhaps you can answer these “pesky little problems” for me.

    Would you not agree that the primary “job” of the pastor is to teach the parents, especially the fathers how to Scripturally train their own children?

    While much is said, particularly in the book of Titus, about people in the congregation teaching one another, nothing is said about teaching anyone’s children.

    Another question, is it right or wrong for wives to work outside the home when they have children at home? The answer to this question makes a lot of difference in your point of view.

    Again, if you say that we need church schools because things are not being done correctly in the homes of church members, so be it. But, then doesn’t that place it as “second best” at best?

    This is actually quite good for me.

    Art Dunham

  9. April 15, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Brother Chris,

    What social lacking is there in home schools? That is probably the most aggravating and insulting argument that home school opponents use.

    My children do a lot of social “networking” with children at church. My kids take horseback riding lessons, etc. If you mean that they lack the social skills of ridiculing others, bad language, and inappropriate preoccupation with the opposite sex, then yes, my children are lacking. By the way, my children know how to speak to adults, as well.

    Actually, most of the things I mentioned above are found in Christian schools as well as public ones. The rebellion level at the “average” Christian school is palpable.

    As to the pastor teaching the children: There is no command or example of that in Scripture. The father is to be the “priest” of the home, and he is to be taught by the pastor, and then teach his children spiritual things.

    It actually bothers me when I hear things like this. It is every Christian father’s responsibility to teach their children Scriptural truth. This is not religious education as you put it. This is Bible education from a father who loves the Lord and his children.

  10. April 15, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Brother Art,

    You asked, “What is the New Testament example of this kind of admonishment or education in the church?” The NT doesn’t say a lot about parents educating their children either—Eph. 6:1-3 and Col. 3 are about it. We are left with principles either way. I believe parents should educate their children, but in conjunction with the other aspects of training seen in the NT. If parents can do it, they should, and work in the other body parts to meet the image of Christ that they cannot meet on their own. Church evaluation is one way to be proven or tested. 1 Cor. 12 and Rom. 12 say body parts should work together for whatever it is, and we are required to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6). If we want everyone to get it, then we need to support the church helping everyone. We shouldn’t be loners in the training of children, instead wanting all the children to come along with our own. Between family and church, everyone gets what they should.

    Question: Do each of us represent the body of Christ singularly? If not, then aren’t we required to involve other body parts with our children? This has been a primary argument from me. John and James’ mother shows what happens without bringing the perspective to outside the home.

    I haven’t said anything about mothers working. Our church has the facilities to have day care, but we don’t do that because of our belief about mother’s staying home, this even though day care is a huge money maker (think budget). It would send the wrong message about the responsibility of mothers. Mothers should be heavily involved in education—they should be working at the school too where their kids are. Mothers at home does not exclude the home business we see with the Prov. 31 woman.

  11. April 16, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Brother Chris,

    Who said anything about being a “lone wolf”? Of course, every truth we teach our children comes from the Word of God. That truth is upheld by and distributed to the parents by the local church, the pillar and ground of truth.

    Your argument about the lack of specifics concerning parents training their children is noted. However, we at least have the commands and principles of the entire Bible about parents training their children. We have exactly no commands or explicit principles about the church doing it.

    You said:
    Question: Do each of us represent the body of Christ singularly? If not, then aren’t we required to involve other body parts with our children? This has been a primary argument from me. John and James’ mother shows what happens without bringing the perspective to outside the home.

    How far do you take this analogy? Are the other body parts to be involved with your wife and your relationship? This is an interesting principle, but where do you draw the line when there is no CLEAR precept of Scripture involved?

    The mother of James and John was incorrect on a lot of levels, but both of her children were adults. Her problem was one of wrong doctrine and wrong motives, but I don’t understand the correlation at all.

    The reason I brought up women working is simple. If a church school hires women with children as their teachers, I believe they are violating the principle of wives being “keepers at home” found in Titus. That is a clear teaching, not a principle that can be interpreted.

    I am not saying that a “church school” is wrong, but there are very few clear Scriptural precepts concerning it.

  12. April 16, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Dear Mr. Dunham,

    In my explanation of the perfect school you would see that what I meant by lacking in social skills reflects the very same arguments that you state that your kids have, the fact that it is revolved around the church. I grew up in public school, taught in a Christian school, so yes, I do know the other aspects of the “social strain” as well. I know the value (or lack there of) of them and the value of good social skills.

    I totally agree that a home school should be centered around a local church, that was what I was and am advocating, but the sad reality is that most/majority of home schools do not, and out of those that do, really how much involvement is there by the parents in a church? I can think of several examples of several formerly in my home church that were “home schooling” families, that had the “church” as the center of education, but in reality it was not. I realize I have only a small pool of observable resources, nor am I a deep scholastician, but I do not believe one needs to be in order to recognize a problem. I believe that most of the home schooling “groups” are (sorry if I offend anyone) extra-church institutions. That is the lure of them, maybe not at first, but eventually.

    As for the other too statements that you made, 1st… The Bible is the center location of truth, the church is to be the pullar and ground of the truth, so any true education should be revolved around God’s Word. We know that the church is comprised of many different members with many different skills. Example = I can balance a Chemical equation, and I can work out a Physics problem, but put me in front of a broken car engine and I will be calling Triple A to come tow it. A church works together to function as a body. A body could not function if they were all the same part, I believe the Bible even address that very fact.

    Then secondly, as far as women teachers go, I agree that woman should be keepers of the home (I realize I need to be careful seeing as I am not married). However is there not a model of older women teaching the younger women how to do things? If a woman can teach a child in Sunday School, Jr. Church, etc… why can a woman not teach them information the rest of the week? I am not wanting to equate “school” with “church,” but if God has given ladies the gift of explanation and working with children, should we, as the men, allow them to express that gift? Even further, if they are capable homemakers, should they not share that skill with the up and coming young ladies in the christian schools? Giving those young ladies an example of what a lady should be?

    It was a pleasure thinking with you Mr. Dunham.

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